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.
India Days continued July 9, 2012
Written a couple of weeks back….and continuing….
Delhi is hot as hell. I guess I am here during the monsoon season. Weird, almost each visit to India has been during these months. A colleague from Geneva was in town last weekend. We went to Chandni Chowk, the Red Fort and the Pacific Mall on Saturday afternoon after sleeping at The Taj. Wearing sleeveless today. No one else on the metro seems to be. Girls do not walk around with wet hair…like me! Maybe they think it looks too oily….the days can be tiring with the heat. Right from the am it’s bloody hot. I walk 5 minutes to the metro, then have to go through security. The great thing is I can be in the ladies only car. However, it is packed. Transfer onto another train after 30 mins of riding and pushing my way through the crazy crowd. Always get shoved as there is no concept of waiting for people to get off the train first. At some of the stations you see men run to get a seat. I’m not kidding. My colleague who was visiting from Geneva thought I was joking, until she saw it herself. It’s such a hoot. I want to film it but no cameras are allowed. Though I’d love to do a flash mob on the metro and see what happens. Maybe wear a saree….that easily comes off…and then underneath I’m wearing the shortest shorts and a tank top. Of course i have to wear a few janjhars on my ankles…and maybe a bhindi too. So ya, back to my journey. Then i get off and have to try to run across the road to the middle without getting hit. Then i usually have to wait on the island until traffic is not so bad and then run again to get to the other side! Then i walk about 12 mins to the office. By the time i get there, im soaked in sweat. It sounds like the stories some of our parents used to tell us…’I used to walk miles to get to school’.
I’m sitting at a place in Hauz Khas village called diva piccolo. Going to have dinner here tonight. It looks like I will have to head out to Bihar and Gujarat again to do some documentation. And I will be here for a week more than planned. So basically ill be here for another month…more. It definitely is not easy here.
I haven’t picked up any more Hindi than I already knew. today I saw men fighting on the bus. The bus driver was getting a beat down. It was not nice. My arm hairs stood up. Yes, I’m in India and I have not waxed my arms. Girls here hate hair on their body. I don’t feel full at all. That meal was not satisfying, which is unusual for India. I am usually satisfied with the portions and the quality of food in India. There is too much good food here…most of the time overly spicy though.
It’s the following day now and I’m on the metro. Feeling tired. Not sure when I’ll sleep like normal again. Insomnia has overcome me this past half a year. There’s always something to do. 1am, lets read. 2am lets watch tv. 3am, lets post pics on Facebook, 4am, maybe I should get 3 hours of sleep at least. After I leave India I’ll head back to Geneva. Figure I should go home for a bit. Then the states for a weekend. Then back to Geneva. I’d like to see some more of Europe while it’s summer.
On Saturday, I ended up going to the national art gallery, khan market, then INA market. I definitely cannot buy my chicken and fish from there, even if it’s more fresh and less expensive than in the shops. I don’t want to see live chickens being slaughtered, heads of animals and the flies, my goodness! Not my scene. Later that evening I went out for dinner with a few friends. We went to a restaurant called the yum yum tree. I met a girl there from the states and ended up going to a German diplomats residence with her. Wow, to see how the other people live. The house was massive, on a lot of land and had a fabulous pool. Him and his wife throw parties there often. The crowd was mixed. And the dj preferred playing African music for most of the night. Some songs reminded me of Kenya. the unplanned nights always turn out to be the best. Yesterday, I went to the park hotel for an all you can eat and drink brunch. 4 hours of both. We then hit the pool, where there was a private party with about a hundred Indian kids. The average age mus’tve been 22.
It is now Tuesday morning and I’m on the first leg of my journey to the office. It doesn’t seem as brutally hot today…well at least not this morning. Last couple of days have been long, trying to get a report done on our end in India, so that we can pull together 3 countries and do a final report in Geneva. I miss that I’m not in Geneva for the summer. My handbag smells like chicken. Probably cus there’s chicken in it. Not a live chicken or a head of one. Just cooked chicken breast.
A Fabulous West USA Tour June 10, 2012
It has been a while since I’ve blogged. I arrived back in Delhi at the beginning of May. Most of my time went to working on 2 proposals – to get funding for programmes in India. I headed to Patna, Bihar for a few days for an inception meeting. Did not get to see anything other than the hotel and conference rooms, as days were long.
On the 15th, I left for my long awaited trip to the West side of USA. I flew from Delhi to Phoenix. I have to say here that I tried No Jet Lag, a herbal medicine that is supposed to eliminate the feeling of jet lag. I landed in Phoenix 26 hours later and i have to say that I did not feel any jet lag that day or in the days thereafter. I hadn’t even slept in the 26 hours! I got to spend some time in Scottsdale, drinking and eating as the late afternoon turned in evening. Went to Crudo for more eats and drinks, then ended up at Roxy lounge. Pizza, mozeralla sticks and salad, late night! Good food. Good drinks. Good company. The next day, Zahra, who flew in from Toronto, and I began our afternoon with some yummy cocktails at the Biltmore Fashion Mall, which we realized later was not the mall we really wanted to go to- Scottsdsle Fashion Mall.
We had a long journey ahead of us the following day, so we just hopped over to a restaurant next to our hotel for dinner. Very Jersey Shore. We ended up in Phoenix because the original plan was to hang with Natasha Kassam in Youngstown and then do the drive to Vegas. However, Youngstown seemed too far from all the action and Natasha’s work got in the way of our plans. Zahra and I headed to Sedona the next day, after having the best pancakes in old town. Thelma and Louise picked up their red convertible and set off on their journey. Of course, on the way we had to stop at an American Walmart and Best Buy to get Norah Jones’ new cd. Walmart was the best! We stocked up on goodies like red velvet ice cream, turkey and cheese! The drive was amazing as we saw lots of cacti and enjoyed the hot air, roof open. Sedona itself was beautiful. Spiritual. Earthy. We had a fantastic view of the sunset from the hotel terrace, which was near the airport.
The following day, we left for the Grand Canyon. We got to the south rim, walked around, took some pictures, and then hopped back in our sweet ride, as Vegas awaited us! I had the most wicked driving experience. I felt like I was in a game. At some point, I was in Fast and the Furious, racing with 3 other cars. Zahra was a real good sport about everything. We made it to Vegas in only 3 hours and 15 mins, rather than 4. The Cosmopolitan Hotel. This would be our home for the next 4 days. Great location, right on the strip. Beautiful hotel. Super packed. The other girls that we were meeting up with were already there and were eating dinner at STK restaurant in the hotel. It was Zahra Hemraj’s birthday. Shazeen had also come down with her friends to hang out for those 4 days. 15 girls in Vegas! I must say that I found Vegas too overwhelming at first. I had a small panic attack after leaving STK, leaving Zahra to calm me down on her own. Perhaps it was too much after being in India, in not such glitz and glamour. The dressing was obviously very different too! I felt a lot better after I molested the red velvet cupcake that was in our loot bag, left in our room by Raheema, the birthday girls’ sister. What a thoughtful and amazing idea! After our quick showers, Zahra and I met the other girls at Club Marquee, which was in our hotel. It was quite big with different rooms and a huge outdoor partying area near the pool. Cabanas, tons of people and good music led us through the night. It was a fun night, nothing too crazy.
The next morning, we walked along the strip and had some breakfast at the mall across the street. We wandered through the different hotels and malls, taking in all that Vegas had to offer. The partying continued that night at white oak and XS. Wow, what a night! The next day was spent wandering on the strip, seeing the other hotels, and window shopping. The final day was spent sunbathing by the pool. By this point, I had gotten used to Vegas and wanted to stay longer.
Next, San Francisco. Got to Rahim and Raheema’s in Santa Clara. Rahim had bbcued and dinner was great. My birthday was spent in Napa Valley. A limo ride and visits to the wineries had been organized by Raheema, who I must say was so awesome. The company was great and everyone made sure that I had an amazing time. Have I mentioned yet that I got a ton of cupcakes too?! We went out for dinner in San Fran. Zahra and I did the hop on and off bus and went to a painting party in the hood! She was so worried at first…but very quickly felt at ease. We met biggie small. San Fran was quaint. Cute.
The last stop, LA. Loved it! Stayed with Buck, who was a great host. Hung out with Hafeez, Kiran and Sonal. It was so nice to hang with them. Huntley was swanky and we danced the night away. More cupcakes and red velvet truffle! The beaches were insane. I felt like I was in a movie while at Venice Beach. Hermosa, not Mimosa beach had a street fair going on. Really nice. Rahim had flown down for the night to hang with us. We all had a great time. Went to Hollywood of course and Beverly Hills. The last day, went to a bbcue. Good food again. And then back to Delhi….another 26 hours! The trip overall was fabulous.
Being back in Delhi was a bit difficult the first day, as I missed my good friends. I really realized on this trip how much I miss them. It was nice to catch up with Shazeen and meet my new friend, Ayesha, aka Junglee bheli. Seeing Rahim was good as always. And I finally got to spend qt with Raheema. Zahra and I had great fun together and it was nice to be feeling and wanting to do the same things almost throughout the entire trip! We had a lot of McDonald’s and Starbucks during our drives. It was nice to see the other girls in Vegas after so long. Buck has not changed. I love California! Thank you.
Back to the Motherland May 8, 2012
The CIES conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico in April was informative and interesting. I presented for the first time, as one of my colleagues from Kyrgyzstan did not make it. I took one day off prior to and one day after the conference to see some of San Juan. Of course, one of the days was dedicated to the beach. It was nice spending some time with Linda and Nafisa, who also work within the network. On the way to San Juan, I had an 8 hour layover, which was planned, so that I could meet with friends. The bus ride from Manhattan back to Newark only took 45 minutes on a Friday evening. I met up with a friend of a friend’s to chat about education and development. Faizal K happened to be in NY too at the time for his birthday, so him and I met up for lunch. It was nice and warm and definitely walking weather. I headed back to the airport, met up with Linda and off we went to SJ. Linda and I have roomed together for the last 2 years. I learn quite a bit from her since she has been in the field for a long time, not to mention an AKF employee for ages! She is one of those genuine and honest people and you know that what you see is what you get. I ended up getting tendinitis somehow in SJ and could barely walk mid week. So of course, lucky me, fell not once but twice in the main lobby, hurting my other foot! Oh Shez.
On the way back, I reconnected with my long lost soul sister, Tasleem. Everything was the same in the sense that even though we had not seen each other in years it was almost like we had never left each other. We went for a great brunch and I got to see her place in Manhattan, which was warm and welcoming. It is amazing how her and I experience similar emotions and events in our lives at the same time, truly understanding what the other feels. Then I met up with pal Shaffin, whom I stayed with on my first trip to New York alone. Seeing him is always entertaining and light hearted. Farah, his tiny wife, met with us very late! I missed my connection from NY to Geneva on the way back from the conference. Luckily, I was re-routed but had a longer flight since it was not direct, but had a layover through Frankfurt. I ended up getting to Geneva 4 hours later than planned and went to work.
Back at home in the evening, I began to pack for my long trip to India. My flight was scheduled for the next day. In addition to the India packing, I also had to pack for my US trip, which is soon, since I will be flying straight from Delhi. In my hurry and scurry that evening and my 2 bad feet, I ended up getting into a small accident which sent me to the emergency room for 3 hours. Yes, 3 hours while my head bled. I am not sure if I was tired, physically and mentally exhausted or what. But I alternated between crying and laughing fits, that I think the staff thought I belonged in a straight jacket. My friend Kahila, who was super supportive, even though her and the doctor were flirting insanely, was amazing to sit with me through all of it. I had to ask the doctor to focus and concentrate on my head as I felt the conversations between the two were insanely inappropriate. What does dating mean in America vs Switzerland? Are Kahila and I lovers and would she be staying the night to take care of me? Yes, this was some of the conversation. He was very kind of course to email me only an hour later with a report and to let me know it was a pleasure to treat me. And of course to pass his regards on to my friend!
So I did end up packing for both trips in a timely manner and of course, forgot a few super important essentials, like underwear! Yes, I brought a few, but will have to pick up some things next week while in Amreeka! I am very much looking forward to that trip. For now, I will not mention what the plans are, but will write about it once I return to Delhi. The plan is then to be here for a month and a half in the sweltering heat. I am enjoying staying in my place. The last time I was here in March, I found an apartment to rent during the duration of my stay. I have TV, with English channels for the first time in years. Except for a brief moment in Kenya, I have not had TV in about 6 years. It is close to the metro. Oh yes the efficient metro. I must say something about that. It is fast and clean and there is a lady’s only compartment. However, at one station the compartment becomes mixed male and females, where there is a transfer. Never be the last person on this train. I almost got mowed down by the men. I have never in my life witnessed grown men running into a train, pushing each other so that they can get a seat. How did other countries learn about ‘subway etiquette’? Or is that just part of courtesy that some learn over time depending on the context within where they live? I mean how do you not wait for people to get off before you get on? So today I did something that I have seen other women do on the train. Yes, I am already becoming Indian…not sure that makes much sense when I am. I wanted to sit down and I saw a small space between 2 women and so I squeezed myself in and then I looked over at the other lady and with my hand told her to move aside and make room as she had some extra space there. Yes, I have integrated into society here. The metro station is not that far from my apartment which makes it quite convenient as walking alone after 6pm can be an issue in some areas. I feel safe in the neighbourhood that I live in- very residential. And around the corner is a plaza with food, such as McDonalds, which I have been indulging in. Yesterday was a spicy chicken wrap and a strawberry milkshake! There is also a cinema if I feel like watching a Bollywood flick, without subtitles. But then again, if John Abraham is in it, who needs subtitles anyway?! I will meet him soon. i can feel it in my bones.
The temperature has changed drastically since I was here a month ago. Dry heat. In some ways it feel like Mombasa heat actually. I think it is 40 degrees today. There is no beach of course as Delhi is not a coastal city, but there are some exquisite and superior hotels in India, which one can frequent. I believe a day pass can allow you to dip in the pool. I hope to travel over the weekends within India. When I am back in June I will head to Bihar again and Gujrat for work. I flew to Bihar the day I got into Delhi for an inception workshop on one of our proposals. I did not get to see any of it as we were out by the morning and back to our hotel when the sun had already disappeared. My grandparents are from Gujrat, so it will be nice to locate where they were born and grew up.
For now that is all I have to share. Will post soon. It has been sometime.