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Adventures from Here and There

Random Ramblings November 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 6:26 pm

Why do all second hand stores have that distinct smell? Do they use a special spray to get them to smell that way?? I find it odd that they smell different than first hand stores because my closets are second hand now. I mean once I wear the clothes for the first time, they become second hand. And my place certainly doesn’t smell like that. Perhaps they clean all the clothes in something that gives off that smell. But then wouldn’t you find a solution that smells a bit more inviting? Maybe I will just ask the second hand lady in the shop around the corner from me that sells everything from shoes to cutlery.

Today I went for an Excel training that I had signed up for 2 weeks ago. I’m not sure why I force myself to learn new things that I don’t need to know…well at least right now. I’ve rarely used it in my last…well, many years. And if I have, it’s just basics that I’ve needed to know. Today, we talked about….see I cannot even remember! I apologized to the trainer and left half way through. Shouldn’t I get a ‘half excel advanced training ‘certificate??

It never amazes me how I still cannot buy the right size shoes at this age. This time, I bought a pair of boots which were a tad big when I bought them and of course, since they are leather, they’ve stretched! And now my heels lift inside and move, scraping them during each step. How annoying and painful. If you look at my heels, you will see that they are not flat in the back. From years of wearing either too small or too big shoes, damage has been done. My uncle actually asked me this past summer what I had done to them. Maybe he’s too perceptive. I wish I could just always be in flip flops, or better yet, barefoot.

Geneva is beautiful right now.

 

First Time on A Plane October 16, 2012

Filed under: Projects in Countries — travelchokri @ 8:19 pm
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I arrived in Nairobi last Wednesday night. My first meal was eaten at Art Cafe. Then I headed to Nafisa’s, the friend from Tajikistan but has been working in Afghanistan but now in Kenya. I’ve written about her before.
Meetings in Nairobi went well and I stayed there over the weekend. It was so nice to see everyone again Thanks to those that made me feel like I was at home again. And omg, there are going to be so many babies soon!

Not much has changed otherwise, a few new buildings here and there. Tamambo, my favorite restaurant has shut down in Westlands. The expat scene has definitely grown since I was there last October. And the traffic is still madness!

I left for Mombasa on Sunday night and have been occupied by work since. I was out in the field yesterday, in Kinango looking at some of our literacy programmes. There were some good conversations with people in the communities and there seems to be a shift in perception on the importance of literacy and a greater sense of ownership of the libraries. Today, I engaged with staff from our different teams, in order to find out more about their early literacy initiatives, lessons learned to date, and the challenges they’ve experienced. As we expand this programme into the West Nile and Tanzania, it is important to document, share and discuss these elements, in order to go in with better insight.

One volunteer, an elderly man, shared a recent experience with me that I must write about. He lives in a village way inside Kinango. The drive was really rough this time in the pick up, as the roads are really bad, and then of course, as we got further in, there were no roads. Dirt and stone slates still embedded in the ground. My poor head and chest ached, as the seatbelt snapped against me a hundred times. Anyway, back to the older man. He was so energetic and lively, and a great leader to have in his village. He was given the opportunity to go to Nairobi by plane to talk about the literacy programme at a conference. It was his first time on a plane. When he and a few others traveling with him were in the air, he looked out the window, and he saw white everywhere. He asked his colleague what they were flying over, because whatever it was, had been covered with so much snow! He was referring to the clouds! What a great experience for him. At least he was able to sit on a plane once in this lifetime.

So usually, I am fine not having to release for hours…but yesterday in the field, I really had to go. There weren’t even any big trees, so I had to squat near a bush, watching out for any snakes, trying to make sure I didn’t spray my feet, and make sure that no one was within a few hundred metres of me…I’m sure someone saw me from a far! And to top it all off, I had forgotten my hand sanitizer.

Mombasa has definitely changed! New plazas, Java, Planet Yoghurt and many new apartments.

Back to the field tomorrow to do some home visits and chat with beneficiaries. Weather is beautiful right now. Not too hot. I don’t even need the ac on!

 

This and That October 7, 2012

Filed under: Random Stuff — travelchokri @ 1:22 pm
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I’m dreaming again…this time of Brazil and Columbia. Anyone else having the same dream?

Fabulous weekend…Indian summer. Yesterday, I made it to a dance class that I used to go to last year. It was great to be jazzing and jiggying with it so early in the morning. Ran errands after that and then Kahila and I wandered through place de molard and lunched in old town, as we watched the costumed Ninja Turtles, detectives and other brightly masked characters playing out whichever fairytale they were in.

We strolled by the lake and found a little boat to carry us away. It was labouress! We were showered by the jet d’eau. It felt like being on the Maid of the Mist, though I’ve never done that. Finding a parking spot for our boat was a challenge as the large swans felt they owned the place. Which probably should be the case.

I walked along the water until I got to my place and rested for a couple of hours before getting ready to go to a housewarming in Chambessy. Friends from Kenya have moved here. I fail to understand how I can handle such complex transportation systems in places like Delhi or London with such ease.  I have a ‘feel’ for it. But when it comes to simple, more direct ways of traveling, such as in Geneva, I find it virtually impossible to get to my destination without misplacing myself. What should have taken me 15 minutes, took 1 hour and 45 minutes, by the time I got off the wrong train, caught a tram back to the main station, found the right train and then walked to the complex. All that exercise…I deserved a few drinks, double helpings of food and a plateful of brownies and apple crumble. Okay, so maybe I over did it.

People from here and there were at the party. I had met Estelle once before. Interesting one. She works in the area of climate change and corruption. Her husband I believe, works for an oil company. Contradiction. He was not there. The two of them have managed to be in the type of marriage that many in my field choose…married but living apart. It has been 10 years for them. At least he will be leaving the States soon and moving to the Netherlands in the new year. But I wonder how they will merge when they both end up living under the same roof some day.

Estelle, like me, seems to put her trust in other people’s hands while traveling to foreign countries. We shared our experiences of getting into strangers cars, having coffee with ‘dangerous’ folk, meeting some of the most interesting people because of these experiences, and feeling as though someone must be watching over us. I know that I must come across people who are not so ‘pure’ at times, I just cannot see it so easily. For example, a few weekends ago, Kahila and I went out in Geneva and met an interesting group. Well, they seemed ordinary to me, but she picked up on some vibe and sensed that we were not the ‘best’ to be hanging out with.  She was also able to pin point to a certain degree why she felt they were who she thought they were. Without getting into so many details, I would never have figured it out. It was only when one of them said to me at some point in the night…’sometimes you will meet good people, and sometimes not so good, you should be careful’, did I realize she was right and that he was warning me himself about the people that he was amongst. I think her intuition is strong and though she is super friendly and outgoing, she can still spot the shades of grey.

Well, at least Estelle and I have found one another. Tomorrow, we are going to go to the dance class together. It will be her first time. I hope her eyelashes do not fall off.

Yesterday night, I came home to the smells of the bakery. Yes, I still live above the tantalizing bakery where I am succumbed to the smells of bread and croissants by midnight. Often, I cannot resist. Yesterday though, there was no room in the belly.

Today, it is time to prepare for my next adventure. Kenya, I am coming. Mombasa, I shall be home soon.

 

Play more, wonder often a… September 18, 2012

Filed under: Random Stuff — travelchokri @ 12:49 pm
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Play more, wonder often and daydream.

This post is slightly different, in that you are the thinker, writer or artist.

Everyone should get their creatvity flowing once in awhile. For some, this comes naturally, while for others it can be a difficult experience. Try to create a story based on the following scenarios. Write it down or draw a picture to tell the story!

1) Your boss tells you that you are in charge of designing the new office. What does it look like?

2) You have just discovered that aliens exist.

3) On your door step, lies a bag with a million dollars.

There is no such thing as being born creative. Everyone has a creative side to them waiting to come out and play!

 

What Are You Thankful For? September 17, 2012

Filed under: Random Stuff — travelchokri @ 11:53 am
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Today I am thankful for having shutters on my windows in Geneva. I actually did not know these existed until a friend stayed at my place and  I came home and they were shut! Up until then, the sun would shine in early every morning through my white curtains! I chose white because I like the simplicity of that colourless colour. I actually have to wash them soon as they have not been cleaned ever since I put them up. But I was worried about the sunlight coming in before and that is why I never took them down…but now I know that I have shutters and they are okay to be removed for a day or two.

I am thankful for finding my thick socks yesterday in an old bag at the bottom of my closet. It is starting to get cold here and I was wondering where I would find such socks in Geneva. Socks are hard to find in this city. Fun socks at least are not easy to come by. And the cost of 5 pairs back at home is what I would pay for one here! I found my brown polka dotted ones. I have them in my purse in case my feet get cold. Right now they are keeping  my ipad warm.

And this weekend I have to be thankful for the CSI Miami dvd that I found in a box. I do not have cable. The movie store down the road has been closed down. I cannot get netflix and sites such as Sidereel do not work half the time because they are blocked in Switzerland! I needed something to do on Saturday night and Mr. Caine kept me company. Okay fine, I know it is unrealistic, but I like the shots of Miami. I imagine myself on a beach when I see that.

So what do you have to be thankful for today??

 

Something Beautiful August 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 4:53 pm

I close my eyes and think of all the things i do not want. And visualize them rolling by, vacuum cleaners, 3D TVs, new phones and cars and handbags, a neat house  in the suburbs. I think of how unhappy these things would make me and then I am free. If you don’t want these things they can never truly have you. Then I think of wood and I think of my bones as wood, something slow and put here a long time ago.

Author Unknown

 

The Visitors August 13, 2012

Filed under: Random Stuff — travelchokri @ 8:39 pm
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It has been nice having people visit me in Geneva ever since I got back from India…literally, one day after. Faridoun from Croatia, or is it London or actually is it Kenya?! came on the Sunday and hung out here until Thursday. We went to the fete, rode bikes, ate a ton of food, sheesha-d, drank lots of coffee, and had interesting chats with other ‘out there’ people. Faridoun, I hope the talk on Ted X goes amazingly – human trafficking.

Next, came Nafisa from Nairobi. Well, she is really from Tajikistan, lived many years in Afghanistan and now has moved to Kenya and works in the same field as me. We did not indulge in Russian vodka as she loves to do, but instead we went to the fete with some others from here and there – nice to meet you Andwele and Scott from Afghanistan, well not really from there…and see you in Toronto Andwele. We went to an outdoor concert and had some interesting concotions and on the way home we wandered into a giant trampoline, leaving me with a few cuts and bruises. The haunted house was not scary at all but Nafisa kept screaming just for the sake of it. False advertising. She left for a wedding in Montreux. Not her wedding but some friends of hers who are not from here either but decided to have their wedding at one of the most expensive places that you can have a wedding…Switzerland. I wonder if they served Swiss food – racelette and fondue?

Then Farrah re-entered my life 4 days later. This was a much more chilled visit together, as my Farrah is almost 8 months pregnant.  We met up with Laili and had chais and went baby shopping. So I think in the 4 days of hanging out with them I must have got sympathy pregnancy (even if i am not the partner of either of them) or what is it called…or hysterical pregnancy? Because I was feeling tired and needed afternoon naps like them. I also felt stomach pains and then today, my tummy was out to wazoo! Maybe it is just bloating. Yes, I have eaten horribly the last few months, that it is probably just catching up now. I guess the bottle of Prosecco did not help either. Prosecco, not proscuitto as a dear friend keeps calling it.

Farrah and I of course could not go 4 days without shopping together and I ended up purchasing  a wallet which was very much not needed. It is getting personalized with my initials right now…well not right now exactly to be specific. We ate a lot too. I mean she was preggers and I was beginning to think I was, so can’t blame us. We watched an hour show of fireworks which is supposed to be second best to China. It was crazy. It was like all of Geneva was out that night. I am impressed with Farrah’s ambitious nature while she is preggers – we watched it all, except for when we took a break at Starbucks for chai lattes and chocolate chunk cookies. We enjoyed the fete and went on rides and played games. Didn’t win anything but that is okay. I wore red lipstick. She wore flat shoes! She went on the swings. I went in a ball in the water. It was peaceful and I would like one myself. Then I can float in the sea, not in Geneva as there is the lake and not the sea. But I can take it to a sea and blow it up and get in. But how will I get back to shore? Maybe I will float to the Maldives. I must remember then to take a picnic in case I get hungry. And a good book. Oh and yes, my docking station with plenty of batteries. It would be nice to see a rainbow from my ball and perhaps I will see fish that sing.

We watched a dumb movie, the name I cannot remember. We watched a funny but disturbing movie called Project X. We wondered if teenagers today are really like that?? Some of it must be true. Farrah worried about the future of Bug (the thing inside of her). But Bug will not turn out like those wild ones. For he has Kuku Masi to keep him on track. The only things I will teach him are how to draw on his bedroom walls, and eat off the kitchen floor. Yes, I will teach Bug wonders. Yesterday, we watched 16 Candles. I watch it at least twice a year for the last 6 years. I think that only North Americans can really relate to that movie and it is very culturally contexted (i do not think that is a word, but neither is confuzzled and i like that one). Whenever I would get non North  Americans to watch that movie over the past 6 years, they would get bored and not relate to some of the quirkiness in it. The Brat Pack. What a cool era.

Well, now, there is just me again. Until Thursday that is, then I am off on another adventure. Goodnight.

 

Madness in Geneva? August 9, 2012

Filed under: Random Stuff,Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 8:24 am
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Being back in Geneva has been alright. I was somewhat worried as to how I would feel after being in India for 3 months, surrounded by madness. This is a calm and quiet place. I guess a good one after 3 months in chaos. The Fete is on, which is the Geneva festival in the summer, so whenever I have the need for craziness, I just go there. It is 2 mins away from my place. The Middle Eastern folk are no longer here, as it is Ramadhan. Last year, the city was full of bhurkas and fabulous cars, which they fly down to Geneva for the summer. Strolling along the water, roller blading and biking have been somewhat tougher with all the people around, but still doable.

I have been getting more sleep than usual, which is good. Perhaps the days of insomnia are over? The energy is still there and it is difficult to find things to do at all hours. I work 9 to 14 hours a day, depending on where I am. I sleep for 4 to 5, which gives me 6 to 9 hours to play with! I read. I write stories. I blog. I facebook and now instagram! I watch movies. Go for walks. I meet with friends. I sometimes do scrapbooking. Tried knitting. Looking at online courses.  I think the next step might be meditation.

I had friends come into town the following day after I landed, and they continue to come. I went on a trampoline with visitors and fell many times. Farrah arrives this evening. My pregnant Farrah. More strolls along the lake and picnics at the waterfront. Cannot forget shopping and eating good food.

I am having many chai lattes again from Starbucks. Why do they call it chai tea latte? Isn’t chai and tea the same thing? Yesterday, a man was talking so loud on his phone and walking around, as though we all wanted to hear what he had to say. And then he complained about his drink twice about how watery it was, while he was still on the phone. Be nice. And get off the phone and explain to the person what the problem with the drink is. I felt like pouring it on his head. Did I say that out loud? I remember when my brother was about 6 years old. I was reading the famous Superfudge, by Judy Blume, which still happens to be one of my favourites. Fudge was being a pain in the butt and not eating. So his brother said…’eat it or wear it.’ I recall wanting to try that myself so I pushed my little brothers buttons and ended up creating a scenario where I could use that line too. Poor thing, he ended up with milk and cereal all over his head and lap. He pays me back now with carpet burns whenever I go home for a visit. He is much bigger than me now.

Dima left for Sri Lanka today. She was my noisy neighbour. She used to have parties through the night on weekdays too. One day before I met her, I banged on her wall with a broom very loudly. But I do not think she got the point. Then one day, I was watching a movie at 11pm at night and the girl had the audicity to knock on my door and ask me if I could keep it down…that she was trying to sleep! I did. Then some time later, I needed a bottle opener. I knocked on her door because I could not find mine. We became friends from that day onwards. I think we saw each other at least once a day ever since that day. I will miss that girl.

Time to go.

 

What A Ride! August 2, 2012

Filed under: Random Stuff — travelchokri @ 9:13 pm

Two years ago, life took a different course for me. It was not easy, but today I see how it all made sense. I have had the most amazing experiences and met some of the most fabulous people on this journey.  It has been a truly remarkable ride!

I must thank my family and friends for all their support in the past 2 years. From the bbms to skype chats, thanks for the laughs and encouragement. The trips here and there with old friends and new ones, added to the adventure. I must thank all the special souls that have walked into my life. Every individual has left their mark on me in some form or another. I am whom I have become based on these encounters…bits and pieces of many of you.

I know I’ve said this before, but there is always a reason for everything, even if we have no bloody clue what it’s all about.

The world is an amazing place; complex, yet so simple.

We all have the strength to choose better for ourselves.

 

Goodbye India July 26, 2012

Filed under: Travel — travelchokri @ 12:10 pm
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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.