Island Fun April 19, 2014
First time in Turks and Caicos. It definitely is relaxing. Some parts of it remind me of Mombasa, especially late at night when driving around the island. Went to Caicos Cafe for dinner yesterday. All the seafood was great. Totally burnt my face today. Ugh
Getting around is a bit crazy in terms of finding taxis. And then totally expensive when you do find one. I want to rent mopeds tomorrow.Conch is super popular here.
Oh ya on Thursday night we went to a fish fry. Had fried fish and jerk chicken. Good island food.
NYC Baby June 20, 2013
I have been in this city for a few weeks now. A little manic for me. Yes, perhaps I am getting old and all the commotion is more than even I can handle. There are days where I am so exhausted that I come home, fall flat on my face, and do not even have the energy to change my clothes. But then there are the energetic, blissful, Stargirl days! I have met some really interesting people on my train rides in the evenings – one girl who sat next to me lived so close to me in Geneva. Another 3 boys who were going to a concert and didn’t have train tickets, entertained me. We came up with a plan on how to not get them kicked off the train. Despite my efforts, they did have to leave in the end. One of those boys is friends with this girl who lives in Mombasa and has opened an orphanage. Of course, I found out the name and will have to stop by the next time that I am there.
Speaking of which, I really missed the water yesterday. After living by the water in both Mombasa and Geneva for years, the absence of it caused a feeling of panic in me. Well, perhaps not so much panic, but I needed peace. So, I headed to the waterfront – Hudson – and spent some time gallivanting and laying in the green grass. I saw the most interesting scene – one gay boy in an argument with 4 others. There were a lot of words being thrown around, none malicious or mean though, and definitely no physical violence. Lots of snapping fingers and tossing hands on the hips. The group of 4 than built an alliance which included about 10 teenage girls, whom perhaps most would label as ‘young thugs.’ I was very much intrigued and took a seat at a nearby bench to watch the production. I would have loved to have had a side meeting with the girls, to find out what sort of phase they were going through. How did they perceive this world with their coloured hair, piercings, very low pants and the need to lift up their tank tops every few seconds to show the world their sports bras? Where did they live? Did they sleep like that? After the drama was over, I walked into Chelsea, an area that I like wandering through and of course, came across a cute cupcake place. Well, they are pretty much everywhere in NYC. I do miss the 4 CHF wine after work though. That is probably the only thing that was less expensive in Geneva.
I have been to some of ‘the places to go’. Last weekend a few gal pals from Toronto visited because it was the birthday of the girl that I am staying with. One of them connected with a friend of hers and he was kind enough to take all of us to a few of the hot spots, all in one night. And last Saturday, I sat near Meg Ryan at Mercer Kitchen. I am sure I walk past many ‘stars’ all the time, but I would never know, unless it was Bradley Cooper, whom I would recognize right away. That was an eventful day/evening too and Sunday was automatically declared as a do nothing day. Sometimes one just needs to do absolutely nothing. And sometimes one has no choice but to do nothing because they cannot do anything!
There is a lot to do here no doubt, but I am not really in a tourist mode. I think over the last few years I have had my fair share of travel and there is a world greater out there than NYC. One can definitely not get bored here though. There are a couple of ‘things to still do’ on my list and I will be getting around to them soon. This weekend is a planned weekend.
The weather here is a bit manic though and I never know what to expect from one day to the next. I seem to dress inappropriately each day, and have had to go out and buy a sweater or a short sleeved shirt. Oh well. New wardrobe. Oh yes, many bikes around here, but none like Blue Beauty. She will always have a soft spot in my heart.
“I can sail without wind. I can row without oars, but I cannot part from my friend without tears.”
And now I must go for a walk in Central Park.
Kwaheri Kenya May 12, 2013
I have landed in Cairo airport. Not much of a wait before I catch my flight to Geneva. After flying from Mombasa to Nairobi I had a 6 hour wait time. This is going to be one long journey. Why can I never seem to pack right? Maybe I need a personal packer. I had to ask the two men in front of me to keep their voices down. I’ve never had to do that before. I had requested an empty row during check in so that I could sleep and right before take off another man changed his seat and took the aisle seat in my row. Wonder how I looked sleeping between 2 seats. At least I didn’t wake up with drool sliding down the left side of my chin, as that has happened before.
Mombasa was great as usual. My second home. Major highlights included getting stuck out in the sea in a one woman kayak, current so strong that it was pushing me back. I had to find an alcove, grab a rope and pull myself in near a restaurant right before it started raining. It was a very interesting rescue mission. I had several local mean who were working at the restaurant come down to help pick up the kayak and bring both of us to safety. Feeding the giraffes at Haller Park was great. I’m not sure I like my hands being licked though. At least I’ve figured that one out. One quiet Sunday while I was in the home office with my friend Adrian, I heard a strange noise. I followed him into the kitchen and we realized that it was the water tank. The sound of boiling, sizzling water was coming through it. We began investigating, our faces right in there, when it got louder. Some sense knocked into me and I figured we shouldn’t be standing there. It took me some seconds to convince this guy, as he thought, like many men do, that he knew what the problem was. Literally 5 seconds later, the tank exploded. Massive steam came out and hot water poured out. We literally took cover. Actually he ran out of the apartment and some how I ended up n the side room, sort of like the laundry room, without an escape. We were lucky there was no fire. There’s a temple in a cave on a cliff, overlooking the sea. It was my first time there. I didn’t even realize I was standing under a gazillion sleeping bats. I didn’t venture completely in to see the gods/goddesses because I was wearing what my aunt refers to, as my chadee shorts. Bit disrespectful. I witnessed crocodiles eating piglets. I’ll miss my weekly one hour massages at home that’s for sure! Phoebe was my taxi driver while I was there. We connected instantly and had great chats during our rides to town and Nyali. Her daughter, very bright, received a full scholarship to attend the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa. A great experience for her and the family.
I think Mombasa is the only place where I want to get out of bed at 6:30 every morning. How can one miss that time of day? The sun rising. Cup of coffee on the terrace. Watching the fishermen start their day on their dhow boats. There was a period of 6 days where it rained non stop, but otherwise the weather was great. I became a lot closer to the people that I met on an earlier trip in October. They were all really great and hospitable during my stay there. It’s nice to have friends that don’t want you to leave, even if you’ve been staying in their place for 6 weeks already! Sophia, my 2 year old friend with the sweetest blonde, curly hair could make me smile just by looking at her. She’s full of energy and can already speak in English, German, Spanish and Kiswahili. And those cheeks!
I was supposed to leave Mombasa on May 3 but extended until May 26. And then left earlier because of a change in plans. I flew Egypt Air and I had to go to the bank and pay the change fee each time. One teller, and real pole pole (slow) styles. I could have bought a ticket and accommodation to Vegas with the amount of change fees I had to pay both times. On the way to Mombasa, even though no one believes me, the airline had a prayer/Quaranic citation playing for 2 hours in the early morning. And I don’t mean via headphones, I mean through the broken speakers of the plane. Isn’t this not allowed these days?
1.30 hours to go. It will be nice to see friends I made in Geneva and spend a day and a half catching up with them. Then I am off to North America. It has been some time since I have lived there and it will be interesting to see how long I stay.
Mentally preparing for the next adventure!
Intolerance to Rape January 13, 2013
Someone left their laptop at security and no one seems to want to claim it. What a great way to start the flying in the New Year, a new bottle of champagne being popped open on KLM…my first in flight drink of 2013.
I have read quite a few articles posted about the rapes in Delhi, the rape capital of India, during the holiday. I spent 3 months there, wandering on my own, as if I were invincible. Rape is common in many of the countries that I work in, and if you compare it to the population of Nairobi and rape cases there for example, I’m not sure which is worse. Of course, either way it is an incomprehensible crime and should not be tolerated. And these are only the reported cases of rape. In many countries, women are still blamed for this horrific act and are made to feel shameful and therefore, many cases go unreported. I read an article that insinuated that the Delhi police feel that some women deserve it. Now would you as a woman living there, want to report this crime when almost the entire police force is comprised of males?? But do not look down on India, for rape happens out West too. And even in countries where there are laws that are followed against this crime, many still go unreported.
I took public transportation each day for 3 months. The metro stations were always packed and there was no order. As people get off the train, others are trying to get on at the same time. I lost a shoe twice, but found it both times once the crowd dispersed. There is a compartment just for women on the metro. I think it was a wonderful idea, as more women are probably using public transport now, however, i do wonder how men will come to accepting and seeing women as equals, if such a seperation exists. Women can ride in the ‘both sex’ compartments, but if you were a woman there, would you? I rather not ride with all those men, just staring. In the women’s compartment I was also stared at, but probably because I looked hideous according to them. I was no doubt the only woman with my wet hair tied up. All others showed off their gorgeous locks. I did not mind my hairy arms or unruly eyebrows. And I love to tan, yes, in a place where fair and lovely is beautiful.
I still have to say that being there was a wonderful experience overall and I’m glad I had the opportunity to get to know some of India in more depth. I do hope to go back to India someday soon and see places other than Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat and Bihar. Years ago I also ventured to Agra, Jaiper, Udaipur, Goa and Kerala. Still so much of it to see!
Venice, Part 2 of 2 Years in a Nutshell December 26, 2012
Last March/April, my mom, her 2 sisters, my sister and myself took a trip to Italy. Below is a description of one of our adventures. The first is my story and the second, my sister’s point of view. It’s interesting how 2 people can view the same situation differently.
And we arrived in Venice. It was slightly late as there was a flight delay from Rome, our prior destination. We finally figured out how to get tickets from the machine for the water taxi and boarded the boat. We were staying at 2 different hotels, as finding 2 rooms, one for 3 people and one for 2, were not easy to come by. The 3 ladies were very central and right off a main stop on the canal. Shaz (my sis) and I dropped them off, made sure they were settled, and then asked the hotel concierge directions to ours. It was only 10 minutes away, he said, but since it was further down on the canal and the path leading to it didn’t exist, we had to walk into squares and take a few lefts and rights until we found it. Both Shaz and I know we aren’t that great with map reading, but as long as we stayed on the side of the water, we’d be fine.
It was somewhat misty out and late, about 1130pm. The place was deserted and there were a few lights that helped us see the street signs. We saw a small bakery and a woman inside, laying out some delicious looking croissants. She was kind enough to let us buy 2, even though she wasn’t open, and passed our goodies to us through the grill. So we continue and I say to Shaz, ‘let’s walk on the path until it ends, then we can hang a left and continue through the squares.’ So we walk swiftly with croissant in one hand and suitcase being pulled by the other. All of a sudden, we see a man, clearly drunk, dragging one leg as he walked. He was walking fast behind us, and so we picked up speed. Shaz at this point was feeling uneasy and I told her to relax, it was fine. We continued to walk and then without any warning, the path at the edge of the canal ended. There was no left turn to make! There was nowhere to go. We heard the man and his draggy leg getting closer to us. Panic set into Shaz. The plan was to turn around, since we had nowhere to go, wait for him to approach us and then we run on either side of him, hoping he gets confused. And so we waited in anticipation. Shaz might’ve dropped her croissant at this point, but I had time for a couple of bites. And as he approached the dead end, we ran as planned. And we ran and ran, not knowing in which direction we were going. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants. And then a rat ran in front of me and I screamed, and probably scared Shaz. And then we ended up in one of the squares. We tried to read the map but it didn’t make sense. We went up some stairs, and down others. We turned left and right and crossed bridges and window shopped. We saw a young fellow and asked him for help but he said he wasn’t from there and so we continued to be lost. I rang the bell of a hotel, since at a certain time, the doors are locked. But no one came to our rescue. We were alone and it was late and an eerie feeling over came us. It was like being in a scary movie.
We ran into the young chap again a short while later and he asked us what place we were looking for. I was suspicious as he had told us during our first run in that he wasn’t from here. So I stayed a few feet back from him, and Shaz decided to engage in conversation with the guy. So he continues to tell us how he’s lost. I can smell the alcohol on him. So now, my younger sister, the kind person that she is, asks him where he needed to go. She explains to him where the water is and provided assistance to him. He continued to ask questions and I was not impressed at this point. He seemed shady to me and for crying out loud, we needed to find our hotel, as 45 minutes had passed. And so I had to say ‘Shaz, this is about us and we are lost and we have to go now’. And so we walked away from situation and 10 minutes later, found ourself at the same square again!
As we continued with our journey, 3 really big guys were walking towards us. Now, this made me panic for the first time. Oddly enough, Shaz seemed fine by it. I curled my fingers into a fist, and stared at their faces. I’m not sure what I was going to do, but thankfully a man, out of nowhere intercepted and paced back and forth, on his phone. The 3 guys just looked at us and carried on walking. We didn’t stop the man on the phone to ask him to help because he seemed very engaged in his conversation. It was a frustrating moment and I thought that maybe we should turn around and go back to the 3 ladies’ hotel and just sleep there for the night. But again, how would we get there when we didn’t know where we were?! There were so many small streets and dead ends, that it made Venice seem like a complicated maze. Over an hour had passed and se continued to get lost. We made a turn and ended up back on the canal. I saw a hotel and told Shaz I was going to buzz and ask them for help. Was I ever glad when I read the hotel sign and realized it was where we were staying! A 10 minute trip, took us an hour and a half! The next morning we made it to the ladies’ hotel in 8 minutes. We were pros, or so we thought. That evening, it took us an hour again when heading back to our hotel! And this pattern continued for the 4 days. We have no clue why we were able to find our way in the morning, but continued to get lost each evening. how bizarre.
It was 1:00 am when we finally left the Aunts and Mom in their hotel room. We dragged our luggage down the stairs and made our way to the concierge to ask him for directions to our hotel. The kind man at the desk gave us a small map and highlighted our seven minute route. There was no way it should take longer than seven minutes according to him. With our luggage clickety clacking behind us, we made our way onto the boardwalk. Near by, a bakery had begun their early morning baking of delicious croissants and delectable sweets. Shez and I were able to knock on the gates and get two chocolate croissants…yummy! With the croissant in one hand and my luggage wheels clicking against the cobble stone boardwalk, we were on our way to our hotel.
As we walked, talked and ate our croissants, I couldn’t help but soak in the smell of the water splashing against the walls of the canal and the beautiful stars floating above us. As I was lulled into this fantasy world, I started to hear a thud…drag…thud…drag. What could that possibly be, I ask myself. So I turn around. And that’s when I see him…hunched over, dragging his left leg, eyes locked on us. Shez! I say. We need to get out of here. This guy is going to do something to us!!
As I turn around and look ahead, I see we are approaching a dead end. To the right of me is the canal and to the left are little alley ways where we can make good our escape! But Shez, being the eldest and the wisest, says lets keep going, he’s just drunk. Just drunk? Just drunk? His leg is dragging because he’s hiding a sawed off shotgun and he’s planning on robbing us of our luggage! All I could think about was what was in my luggage that I could take out to use as a weapon…tweezers? Hairspray? My roll brush? Wtf!! It’s just Shez, myself and this dude. He could chop us into pieces, shove us in our own luggage (mine was locked by the way so good luck to him 😉 and throw us in the water and no one would be the wiser! We finally reach the end of the boardwalk and he’s right behind us. He decided to follow us to the end! I looked at Shez and said I’m outta here! With my luggage in one hand the chocolate croissant falling out of the other (awesome) I bolt around one side and she runs around the other. With my 50lb bag flying behind me we start running down the alley. Zig zagging through any open street we can find, climbing up stairs and running across bridges on my to climb down stairs. The weight of my bag is taking a toll on me, but I know I have to run!
We finally take shelter between the crevice of two buildings so we can catch our breathe. The wheels of my luggage are worn… I’m surprised they are still attached. As we slowly begin to catch our breathe, Shez says, see I told you he was just drunk and wasn’t following us…and then…I hear it again…thud…drag…thud…drag! The drunken bastard is following us!! We start running again! Up and down alley ways not knowing which direction we are headed or where we are. The streets are empty. The bistros are closed. Not a soul is stirring. We decide to stop to figure out where are. Luckily I still had the map in hand. As we try to position ourselves and the map to face north, we begin to walk down the alley looking for a street sign. With our luck the sign we see isn’t on our map. By this time it’s 2 maybe 3 am and I’m exhausted and just want to crawl into bed. We find ourselves walking and walking, taking a left turn here and a right turn there…only to pass the same building for the third time.
Out of the blue, a curly headed boy comes out from one of the side streets and asks us for help as he is lost. I show him our map and we try to figure out where we are. It’s at this point that Shez decides to pipe up and says we have to leave. I felt so bad because he was lost and didn’t have a map like we did. Shez says, of all the people that you should be scared of, it should be him! But he was lost I said. That was enough of that conversation. So we keep on walking trying to figure out where we are, but no luck. At one point, Shez says, lets just go back to moms hotel and sleep there for the night…and how, pre tell, are we going to get there?!? We have no clue where we are. Tired and miserable, we keep on walking. Our luggage clinking behind us. We see a building with a light on and excuse to ring the doorbell. I stood there, in anticipation, hoping someone would answer the bloody door! But not a soul in sight. So…we keep walking. As we turn the corner and walk down another alley, three men, alcoholic beverages in hand, come out from another. They start to walk towards us. At this point, I can’t even think about what I could take out of my luggage to help us. Then I hear Shez say…we’re dead. Awesome. If she says we’re dead…we are definitely dead. As they keep walking towards us, getting closer and closer, all I think about it is how I’m going to punch them all in the balls. And that’s when it happens…a security guard with a gun belt walks out from another side street, steps in between us…he’s on the phone. Phew. The three men turn and walk the other way. We need to get to our hotel. Before we can ask the security guard for help he’s on his way chatting on his phone. We turn down another side street and see light pouring through a door. We decide to walk towards it hoping someone will be there. The doors open. It’s our bloody hotel. It’s 3am.
Goodbye India July 26, 2012
I leave India tomorrow. I know I’ll miss it for sure. Geneva will seem rather bland. And small. And no good food and no McDonald’s and Dominos delivery! I won’t get pushed and shoved on the metro, causing me to lose my shoe. And which old ladies will give me dirty looks when I watch movies on my iPad that show ‘ adult ‘ scenes that I was not aware of. No more shopping. Nothing to buy in Geneva. And can I make deals with the auto drivers? Nada. I will miss my favourite antique store in the Red Fort, Tularam, where I spent time amongst the antiques, listening to the shopkeeper talk history and his mother, about modern life. No one to practice my Hindi with. And I busted out words in Gujarati that I didn’t even know I knew! Whose going to call me Madame? No more women in colorful Indian suits. No more men seen spitting or peeing on the side of the road. No more messy Hugo. And no more places to hang out after 7pm, when everything closes in Geneva. How about the many temples and gorgeous hotels? And no more red velvet, but I’m alright with that! I will move out of E52 in Saket area. Hand in the old skeleton like keys. Leave behind the Time Out Delhis. And my tin box from Nepal. No room in the suitcase for that. No more dodging traffic and having to run across lanes frantically. No more bag and body screenings everytime I use the metro or go to the mall. Hauz Khas galleries will be missed. And having to find Airtel recharge for the mobile at the worst times, no more! Goodbye to the young boy at PVR near my place that sells me jhanjar (anklets that have bells). And no more American shows in English! The crazy cat that rips apart my garbage will be history. She’s still super skinny, despite the McDonald’s fries I leave behind for her! Oh my goodness, no more mangoes, mango shakes, mango sandwiches, mango soup or mango paneer! And those Bihar bananas are the best I’ve had in my life. Yes, you will be missed India. I will never forget the flight from Gujarat to Delhi. Second worst ever. And cant forget the friendly flight attendant who buckled mine and mansi’s carry ons into the seat next to each of us. And how he played along when we told him they were our children. He even brought bottles of water for them!
But I am looking forward to the beautiful summer in Europe. I have a month to enjoy it. Wearing nice clothes and carrying fun handbags. No one will look at me funny if i walk around with wet hair. I wont have to worry about sewage smells or jumping over liquids on the streets. I will see blue skies and mountains and breathe in fresh air again! Maybe my sinuses will unblock. Fresh, white chicken and great salmon again! And chai lattes from starbucks! Walks near the jet d’eau. Seeing friends and catching up on the drama over the last 3 months. And yes, many visitors coming through in August! A normal toilet that works all the time is the best. French instead of the other many languages spoken in India. But thank god no more hooting! That is the worst. Dude, there is nowhere to go. Stop hooting! One lock on the door only? Yes, no more bolts and chains and grills on windows. Such different worlds. No matter how many times I do this, I am still amazed, as if it is my first time to such places.
Things to see and do in Delhi
Red Forth! Chandni Chok, Lotus Temple is supposed to be amazing, though I did t end up there, Khan Chachas for kebabs, Oberoi Hotel to chill, Hauz Khas village for everything, Humayun’s Tomb, GK 1 for shopping of all sorts, SouthExtension 1 for sarees, Try Frontiers. Khan Market for many things. Geetanjslis for spa services. Dili Haat and INA for local market experiences, take the metro, have a coconut, Connaught Place to wander, Wenger’s for dessert, Modern Art Gallery, Kingdom of Dreams…never got to it but hear it is worth seeing, Silver Line for jewelry, Turtle Cafe in Khan Market for books. Great carrot juice there too. Fabindia for organic products and cotton kutis, DLF and Emporia Malls, Mamagato for great watermelon martinis, Elma’s in Hauz Khas for dessert, Napa Dori for great travel bags. Go to an all you can eat and drink buffet on Sundays. There are many. Great mangoes. ESP. during the season. Global Desi for funky kurtis. Forrest Essentials for natural face products. Lodhi Gardens.