Posts Tagged ‘india’

Jessy Beatriz

September 25, 2009

After getting back from India I spent an outstanding two months at home in Cape Town. It was great hanging out with my family and friends again after basically five months away. It was a pretty busy time full of good and bad: I agonised over the direction of my PhD, had warm sunny work days at C & A’s, attended the funeral of a very controversial relative, and the 80th birthday of another, drank green tea with S, had D & R’s kitten scald me with hot coffee, hung out with S & little C, took J (intern friend from US) around Cape Town and spent most weekends hanging out with my sisters. But the first and most important event of the 2 months was meeting my first every niece. I missed her birth by, what like week. But its all good because I am rather chuffed that she, like me, is an April baby and I did get to see her the day she was born over Skype (“Look that’s your Tia Ilda in the laptop!”). So here we are meeting for the first time:

first timers

first timers

Yes, we both look a bit confused! Her: “Who is the new face?” Me: “Is she going to barf/cry on me?” I’m not much of a baby person (don’t love ’em, don’t despise ’em) but I did get attached to her very quickly. She has very large ambiguously coloured eyes and silky, silky hair. One of my favourite things about her is her repertoire of sounds: grunting, gurgling, murmuring and her..erm.. burps, which are rather phenomenal and usually lead to much giggling when they emerge from something which looks so like a cherub. So here she is, Jesse Beatriz:

cherub

cherub

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a typical absence

September 7, 2009

Well some things in life are unfortunate and come with high probabilities – good TV shows will get canceled, Lindsay Lohan will wear leggings and/or booties, charming politicians will probably disappoint us and new bloggers are likely to lapse on their updates. Even though I hoped to keep this blog going with at least a couple updates each month, I have to face facts and admit that I am in the herd of “lapsers”. I haven’t peeped in 2 months and 2 days! So what has been taking up my time online? Researching XNA game studio and narrative linguistics (for the FiD) and getting through my stupidly large collection of pictures from India. The latter is finally done and I’m trying to get most pics tagged. They can be found on my flickr stream…

sari shop girl

sari shop girl

Heftier things have been taking up my time in real life – I got home from India and met my gorgeous niece and hung out with my gorgeous friends. Then, two months later I came to Seattle  to see Dave (after a way-too-long 5 month separation) to embark on the long-in-the-waiting adventure of house hunting, buying and moving. For all these events I will be putting pictures up on flickr and blogging. I also plan to blog a bit about my MSR India internship and a few snippets from India itself … ok?

Hello?

Anyone there?

Oh well serves me right for making this space so uneventful lately 😛

what i miss about India

May 22, 2009

Well this was meant to be a post entitled “What I will miss about India” but I never got round to writing it while I was still there. So now that I’ve been back in South Africa for 2.5 weeks, I’m no longer predicting what I think I will miss but can report on what it is that I actually miss, and I’m limiting myself to five things…

1. Autos (as in auto rickshaws). They are loud, dangerous and the most convenient thing ever for getting to wherever you want to go whenever you want to go (as long as you have a fairly good sense of humour about having to argue for a fair fee often which is fun in and of itself). Some of my best memories of India are in autos. Staring out quietly from a speeding auto with the wind gushing though one open end to other. Late night rides in pimped out autos with blingy disco lights, piled four people in a three-man auto laughing our heads off and mimicking the honking of all the cars around us. Surprisingly coherent conversations yelled from one person to another through the engine din and swirling hair. And of drivers, some stoic, some downright sneaky buggers and other ready to show you pictures of their family kept under seats.

2. Flowers everywhere: garlanded every day fresh as offerings. Used as decor, floating in bowls of water and strung up in ladies’ hair. The smell of jasmin and the deep pinks and yellows. Watching people riding around motorcycles delivering flowers and garlands.

3. Temples everywhere: I don’t buy Hinduism but I respect how many temples there were and how many opportunities there are for worship in everyday life. I walked past a temple everyday on the way to work and found it had a calming influence and reminded me that starting out the day with a fleeting prayer was pretty good.

4. Food: Dosas made from a batter of fermented lentils and rice, gluten-free and delicious with coconut chutney. Fresh green coconuts with their tops hacked off with a machete and with straw dunked inside for drinking. Crazy sweet sweets made from nuts, ghee and milk, hello Mysore Gold! Fresh fruit juice made entirely of fruit especially the litchi juice from Cool Joint in JP Nagar and Malleswaram’s mango and sugar cane juice. Outdoor food markets which their piles weird never-before-seen-by-me fruits and veg and pyramids of eye-searingly colourful spices.

5. People: What lovely folks I was lucky enough to get to hang out with. I miss the many dinners, chats, charts (snacks) and enlightenments. People in India are friendly and lovely – even though, at first glance, there’s an unfriendly demeanour they are super welcoming.

Delivery

Delivery

ICT4Dancing

May 6, 2009

Last week was kind of crazy. I finished up my last round of experiments for my project at MSR India on Monday, then on Tuesday I furiously recorded data into spreadsheets and started working a presentation for my final pow-wow to the TEM group. The pow-wow pretty much consumed Wednesday and afterwards it was off to a farewell/birthday party consisting of about 3 hours of high-energy Bollywood dancing at Zero G. This is touted as one of the most happening places on the Bangalore night-life scene, particularly on Wednesday nights when they have their famous Bollywood night. Zero G is a club on Laverly Rd. right at the top of a building. The place is half outdoors and half indoor and the setting is pretty swcheet. The amusing thing about Bangalore’s night-life scene is that it comes with some serious restrictions which, I think, are meant to curb garrulous hard partying. The weirdest of these restrictions is that drinking and dancing may not occur simultaneously – yes this is not a joke, the Bangalore police commissioner is very dedicated to protecting the eyes of unsuspecting innocents from the wild, uncoordinated flailing that might occur when a good buzz (or more) is set ot music. Another, recently imposed, restriction is that everything – clubs, bars and many restaurants close at 11:30pm – 11-freakin-30!! After this time no more alcohol is served, no more dancing may take place and people are expected to scurry to their burrows like good little boys and girls. This meant that at 11:30pm, the last song was announced, lights were cruelly faded up to bright and, after a minute or so, people started blowing whistles to encourage us to leave. Not really the nicest mode of parting I must say. But what made it better was that, once outside waiting for cabs, everyone sang happy birthday to me at midnight 🙂

Zero G was followed by a midnight dinner at the Taj Hotel’s 24 hour restaurant Mynt, which was all very pretty and fancy. Conveniently there was a piano in the hotel lobby and Kentaro regaled us with what one might describe as a peice of music on the opposite end of the music spectrum to Bollywood hits. I think we probably had dinner till about 2am during which there were two casualties, David and Divya, who simply fell asleep at the table. The life of a Microsoft researcher is brutal like that – don’t know say that no one ever warned you!

After getting to bed around 3am, I dragged myself out of bed on Thursday (my actual birthday) to begin my last day at MSRI. There were last minute meetings, data backups, administrative tasks (which were a bit tricky since it was also Admin day and all the admin folks were away on a fun day) and, finally, packing up of my desk *sigh*. Thanks for a great 3 months and an awesome farewell TEM!

my first week in India

March 20, 2009

I am, again, going to rely on e-mail conversations I’ve had for a blog post. Cara mailed me asked me this:

How are you? What is India and where you are living like? How are the people and what are they making you do? to which I responded:

I am fine. India is loud and crowded and colourful, the place where I’m living is sparse and spacious. The people at first glance seem kind of unfriendly in their mannerisms but in actuality turn out to be extremely friendly. The are making me sit in an air conditioned office with free coffee and read lots of papers while I come up with a research project to do.

In general I have had an up and down time settling here and at first was feeling pathetic and lonely. When I arrived I had a weird impression of the place I’m staying as being not that nice. In actuality it is pretty fancy in that it is clean and spacious and has hot water and is also in what is considered a swanky area which is quite boring quiet but just a short walk down the street and you start to reach very alive over crowed streets teaming with auto rickshaws, shops, people, cars and motorbikes. It turns out that someone extended their stay in the place I was supposed to be in so I got put somewhere that is bigger and slightly closer to the office – its a big apartment with three rooms and I’m in one of the rooms. It has its oddities like peeling paint and weird plugs and switches that don’t seem to do anything. For my first two nights there was one other guy staying in one of the other rooms who helped me to order dinner walked me to the office on my first day since I had no idea where it was. But then he moved out and I’ve had the place to myself which has been a bit lonely. At the same time work has been a matter of “Here are all these people doing cool work with access to such and such under-privileged community, read up on their work and come up with project”. The food is *all* spicy *all* the time and I, at first, I was eating that much because there was only so much I could handle. But now I’m getting really into it and, actually, eating vegetarian here is awesome because vegetarian is the rule rather than the exception and they have a huge variety of veggie dishes.

lonely apartment

lonely apartment

Towards the end of the week things got better, the other interns (who have all been here for a while already) are actually very friendly despite seeming a bit unapproachable at first. So where I was holed up alone in my huge apartment in the evenings at first (because I’ve been advised not to walk around along after dark), the latter part of the week was way more social. I was invited to watch the cricket (where I had to shamefully fess up to not following cricket much to the horror, and I do mean horror, of the MSR director) and then I went out to explore a nearby Malleswaram complete with open air market and temples and noise with two new friends from the office. Today I went out with my mentor, Ed, and his wife, Page, who recenly arrived here, we explored the streets some more and got most excellent food. And finally over the weekend I discovered that I had a new roommate. Also I went out to meet with an NGO I might work with and afterward went to CTR (Central Tiffin Room) which is reputed to have the best butter dosa in Bangalore.

flower emporium

flower emporium

saturday garlanding

saturday garlanding

All in all an interesting week!