Ramblings of a Slaint

Ramblings of my life in India and around the world

Friday, February 29, 2008

Birthday - #8

I am a leap year baby. It has always been something of discussion to people when they find out. Always they say "What do you do in years when you don't have a birthday" -- My response - celebrate ALL week!! Haha. But it is hard not having an actual birth day 3 out of 4 years. When people call to say happy birthday on either the 28th of Feb or the 1st of March, I often reply "thanks, but its not really my birthday". I'm not sure why it is such an issue with me.

But this year was a real one. I was looking forward to it, but also stressing out about it. Everyone else feels that it is so special, so I also begin to believe that it should be that way. But then I wonder what to do to make it really memorable! And then to add more stress on top, my last real birthday was amazing. Several friends who are in bands came together and played a special show for me and all my friends. I was surrounded by tons of great people who really made me feel special and loved. That was my last birthday in America....

So this year I gave the planning to Folo. He doesn't like to plan typically and doesn't usually have to because I love to do it. But i was confused and not sure what we should do. And he didn't have the ability to take off more than just my actual birthday, so we couldn't run off to some far off destination like we would normally. But thankfully my friends stepped in to help him out and I ended up having a wonderful birthday!

The birthday run down:
  • Breakfast at the JW Marriott - stuffed ourselves with bacon, real bread and cheese and other goodies
  • Death at a Funeral - we were at breakfast and saw that this movie was playing down the street in just 15 minutes, so we high tailed it over to catch it. Funniest movie I have seen in forever. I laughed so hard!
  • The Lives of Others - another movie, one that was originally on our plans. An excellent film that must be seen!
  • Small resting between events... but i wasn't aware of what was coming and didn't realize it was only a short rest!
  • Surprise visit by friends -- bringing homemade birthday cake, balloons, party hats, fake spray snow and presents!
  • Dinner at one of my favorite Thai restuarants -- driven in an AC car hired for the night. good planning, so we didn't have to navigate and deal with taxi drivers all night!
  • Bauchklang @ the blue frog - a new music venue that is amazing was hosting a band from Austria that was equally amazing. Check them out. Totally blew my mind. And was surrounded by really great friends who I realize make my life here what it is.

And then to top off the whole day, we got home to an email from The Adventurists saying that we had been chosen to participate in the 2009 Winter Rickshaw Run!!! They only opened registration for 24 hrs beginning on the 28th and ending on my bday. 70 teams were selected and I was one of them! YEAH! I never have won anything - no drawing, no raffle, nothing! So i feel that it was meant to be. Now we have to pay the fee to secure our place --- but now I am feeling a bit scared about it. They say that you seriously take your life into your hands by doing this.. it is not something to be undertaken lightly... and i know what they mean.. i've seen how people drive here! But we'll pay the entry fee and give it some more thought.. we have 28 days before we have to fully fully commit!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

stealing with permission

Since my last post was a complaint, I thought I would post a funny thing about Mumbai.

The other night I was at Sea View Hotel with some friends to celebrate a friend's birthday and watch the sunset over Juhu Beach. While there I was telling my friends how I loved getting glasses from different places - have one from the Jameson Distillery in Dublin and Whelans in Dublin and that the "Sea View" mug would go great in the collection. Stacie also said how she'd like one.

So we thought.. ok, we can slide one of these into our bags when we are ready to leave - no problem! But then M calls the waiter over and asks for two new glasses. We think our plan must be foiled at this point... then M asks the waiter how much it would be to buy these glasses. The waiter tells him "No problem, just take it, but quietly". haha. So we were given permission to steal the Sea View Hotel imprinted mugs!

Perhaps this happens in other places, but i feel like only in bombay if you ask to buy something will they tell you just to take it for free! Now I need to make at least 3 more trips there to get a collection of 4!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

this globalized world we live in

Some days I cannot figure out how the world functions with so many incompetant people running things!

So I try to book a flight out of India... it automatically directs me to the "india" website. Fine. I go through all the booking procedures, but then because I am a US citizen, it tells me to go back to the US page. I do.. but then as soon as I enter my billing address, in India, it takes me back to the India page!

Ok. so finally the hassle is completed. I think it is all over. I get to the final page on the flight booking which says "Booking Complete! You will receive an email notification shortly". Two days have gone by with no such notification by email. My credit card has only been charged a 1 dollar "pending" charge to prove it is real. I call the airline.. they say its all normal and within the next 24 hrs the posting should show on my bank account. Ok. Sounds good.

One hour later, I get a call from the airline's office in India telling me my credit card has not accepted the payment. This I know cannot be true as the amount being charged is tiny in comparrison to my credit limit. But the Indian lady on the phone tells me it's because the charge is too high!! She suggests I call my bank to figure it all out.

Ok.. still not insanely annoyed, but getting there. I call the bank. They say - no declines have been made and there is no reason why the airline should be having problems since I have plenty of credit and they have already done the "test" charge showing the number they have is correct. He suggests I tell them to call directly if they still cannot get it to go through.

Ok... more annoyed.. the India phone number I was given is continuously busy.... finally I get through and explain that there is nothing wrong with my card and the bank has not declined any charges. I tell her she needs to call them on their free international customer service number. But this lady tells me that she is not allowed to make outgoing calls! But she in fact just called me 10 minutes before! After a short burst of yelling at her, she obviously consults her manager who OK's the COLLECT (i.e. free) call to the states to speak with my bank!

And now.. I sit waiting to hear back from "Suma" about what the status is.

I just wonder.. how this world can function with so many hassles like this. I am sure that the reason it's not going through is because the India credit card machine has a malfunction or the line is down. But this cannot be a reason for them.. they feel it must be someone else's doing. GRRR.

So we'll see... if it succeeds then I will be flying to America in March, but if it doesn't then I might just give up and take the Indian stance that it wasn't meant to be!


Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Valentines Day!

I had a wonderful valentines day. went to a really horrible crap movie (Fools Gold) with some girlfriends, then came home to get ready for my 'surprise' dinner. I say surprise in quotes because i was pretty sure that it was going to be at the place I wanted, but folo wouldn't tell me where exactly!

Folo came home with roses which was very nice. and another special gift--- a necklace to match my earrings he got me a few xmas's ago. I'd been eyeing that necklace for a while, so was very happy to get it! Then went to our nice dinner ALL the way in town - took us over 1 1/2 hrs to get there! Thai food that is authentic and excellent! Came home stuffed and happy.

Now i am back to regular programming... scheduling myself a trip to to Chennai for a counselling workshop for working with children. Should be interesting and hopefully I learn some stuff. All of this is in preparation for a potential programme we are hoping to start with HIV affected children in Mumbai. More to come on that as plans are more in place.

And tonight I am attending a "girls night" where i will be taking homemade tortilla chips, 7 layer dip and ranch dip! fun filled night of eating fatty foods and gossiping :)


Thursday, February 7, 2008


In all my time in Mumbai I have not been as cold as I have been this winter! Its amazing. Really, its absolutely perfect weather. But most people here aren't used to it and don't have any way to deal with it. At night all the watchmen build fires to sit around, but they even do that when we don't feel like its cold! Everyone is walking around with shawls tied over their ears (i think they think if the cold gets in your ears you will get sick?!?).

But even I don't dress appropriately for this weather -- I am so used to wearing short sleeves, open toed shoes, thin pants, etc that I leave the house like this and soon realize that I'm 'freezing'!

It's been nice and warm (in the sun) during the day and chilly at night. Yesterday I was out in the rural areas where i was sweating and got sunburned, but on the way there in the morning I was so cold even with a sweater, hood and closed toe shoes! This is the weather I like if I could choose. If it was like this year round I just might live here forever!

The paper today said that yesterday was the coldest Mumbai has seen in 46 yrs. It was 9.4 C (48 F). Thats pretty cold when you have very few winter clothes, marble floors and a drafty house meant for hot weather!

I'm not used to keeping my windows closed all day, but for the past week I've had to do it or else wear my jacket as its cold with the wind whipping through the house! Folo has been wearing his hoodie to work for the past three days as well.

The cats are a bit cold as well I think. They haven't been sitting on the floor much unless there is a rug down, have been sleeping in the bed with us and if we are on the couch, they are laying on top of one of us to get warmth!

I am trying not to complain about the cold though because the longer it lasts, the longer it is until the horrible hot 'summer' starts! For now I am going to enjoy my cold nose, toes and fingers and curl up on the couch with a cup of hot tea!


Sunday, February 3, 2008

silent rants

I haven't quite gotten around to moving all my old blog posts over - i have until the end of Feb to save them all. HELP! i have no idea how to do it unless i just copy and paste the text from each one and put them up individually. there must be an easier way moving from wordpress to blogger!!

Rantings as of late - movie theaters in india
I have had the rare opportunity lately to see movies during the day - girly, sad, English language movies. Unfortunately the cinema is also the only place where couples and youth in Mumbai can get some 'alone' time. This means that they pay the 2.50 USD or 3 dollars to sit in an AC hall and talk on the phone, chat and laugh together and basically do anything but watch the movie!!! Very annoying to me when I really want to see the movie. If it was a funny movie I could probably deal, but the last two films I went to see were sad movies and I really wanted to get so sucked into them that it made me cry. But those really touching moments where everything is quiet on the screen is prime time for holding stupid conversations in the theater. grr. Any you know me, i can't keep my mouth shut. I can't resist telling them off. To which I get about 2 minutes of silence before it starts again. No more day time movies for me.

A silent protest:
Apparently last night my building and most of my street held a silent protest! I SOO wish someone would have told me, I would have been front and center. Our building is directly opposite a posh restaurant/bar where all the rich like to strut their stuff and squeal their wheels, oh and honk their horns. Apparently I am not the only one irritated by the nightly blaring of horns. All the kids were out and everything - close to 500 people apparently. Hopefully they will do another one soon that I can be part of! Tonight, amazingly things are pretty quiet outside.