I’m going to write about this one which I taste 2 days ago instead of clearing my back log of notes on other noodles type, Ishita saw it in the cupboard and wanted the “pink Maggi” as at the ripe age of 3 she decided all noodles are to be called “Maggi” regardless of the brand.
This one is yet another variety from the brand Koka, which seems to the be one with the most choice, a fair amount of the range is available at Big Bazaar, making it fairly easy to get.
Now this variety is Tom Yam flavour, which as far as I know is a Thai flavour. I don’t have much experience with Tom Yam, as we don;t eat Thai often, and this is the first time I saw this noodle pack around.
The taste maker smells very citrusy, which is not surprising since one of the main ingredient in Thai cuisine is lemongrass.
Taste wise, it has a strong taste of lemon grass indeed, with a hint of chilli as an after taste, over all it’s not a bad flavour, but it has nothing absolutely memorable that will have me want to buy it again just for the taste.
Ishita didn’t like it, as exited she was seeing a pink pack of noodles in the pantry, she stopped after 2 fork full and I had to finish it on my own.
Be aware that the product contains MSG though, and that it’s not suitable for kids below one year of age, and people sensitive to MSG. Also to keep in mind is that the import sticker label it with the red square, which in India means it’s non-vegetarian, I haven’t check what meat goes in the taste maker though, but even though the name of the noodle doesn’t explicitly state it it does contain meat product.
The festive season in India kicks in with Ganesh Chaturthi in September and pretty much comes to an end right after New Year with the harvest festival known as Pongal in South India and by other names in other areas of the country. In between you have Navratri, Durga Puja, Diwali, Christmas and other festivals in all faith. needless to say that year after years the commercial aspect of said holidays is more and more exploited, encouraging people to buy more, and bigger every year. From a new saree to a new TV or a microwave it seems shops want us to believe spending our hard earned cash is the auspicious thing to do.
Now DH and I are fairly minimalist when it comes to holiday, we don’t really buy more stuff than usual then, we exchange gifts for Christmas, do crackers for Diwali, and chill at home on New Year. And that is about it. DH is not super religious and in his family it’s really Diwali that is celebrated, no other of the festivals, so nope we don’t do Ganesh Chaturthi, and we don’t do anything special whatsoever for Navratri either, no puja, no party, no dandiya party going (we aren’t really party animals both of us being fairly introvert). I don’t do Karwa Chauth either which is the next one coming according to all the promotional text messages I receive on my mobile phone these days.
For Diwali, we keep it very simple, sure we decorate the balconies with lights and put diyas around the home, on our terrace in Bangalore we even used to make a rangoli, and yes we do firecrackers, though never more than 3-4 boxes of mainly silent flower pots and “chakra” and a box of sparkler that we never finish and have to throw out the next year because they no longer work. For many Diwali we spent home we even went out for dinner, and we don’t even really care about the tradition of keeping it vegetarian, there have been many chicken dish on our table over the years…that’s how religious DH is.
We went celebrating it in Lucknow twice since we were married, and while it’s more tradition and ritual heavy, it’s still kept simple as his parents aren’t for big displays and feast which I appreciate.
In the past we’ve been on the lookout for deals offered during that time when a big purchase such as a laptop or a washing machine came, but that was because we needed the item, not for the sake of buying something new just because every media makes you feel like you have to splurge, half the time we don’t even buy new clothes, if that tell you how minimalist we are on the material aspect.
As for Christmas, well I do a Christmas tree, the tradition is deep rooted in my family, there is something fun decorating the tree with your kids, and I want Ishita to grow up with that spirit. We exchange gifts, because there is something fun in just surprising your loved ones with something gift wrapped, but while I have friends back home that buy several presents for their kids we pretty much keep it down to one or two max, because that’s not the quantity that matters, but the thought. Last year my Grand ma sent some money our way and I bought a gift on her behalf for Ishi, and then there was ours, that was it, I used some of the Grand ma money to treat DH to a remote controlled car because he has been asking for ages when Ishita will be old enough to play with one (while I knew all along he was the one really wanting one but needed an excuse), he couldn’t get enough of it, he was so exited seeing the gift wrapped box in the living room for over a week that he just kept asking like a kid when he could open it (he made it to the 24th could not wait any longer). And DH surprised me with a gift set from the Body Shop in my favourite scent: spiced Vanilla.
What we aren’t minimalist about when it comes to the few holidays we do celebrate is the spirit, in Bangalore where we have lots of friend, they were invited at our place for a chill, no frill, relaxing happy time with good food, and discussion. Here in Mumbai we are pretty much alone, but that doesn’t stop us from putting emphasis on what matters: togetherness. In the end it’s not how many lights you have in your home, how fancy your decorations are, or the high price tag on your outfit, or even what bargain your stroke in store that matters. It’s how much value you put on sharing the festive spirit with those that matter to you.
Years later I still remember December 25th 2004, I was alone in Chennai because DH could not afford to come back by train for both Christmas and New Year’s eve. The house in which I was staying had a garden shed built for the landlady’s driver’s family, his wife could not bear the idea that I was alone for Christmas and dragged me to the garden where she and her husband were having family members over and she just told me to come celebrate with them, the meal was simple, the spirit was high. Probably one of the warmest, best Christmas of my entire life.
This year we are staying home for Diwali, and we have no particular plans made yet and that is actually a very appealing idea to us.
On Tuesday evening, DH surprised me with this:
For no special occasion at all, other than show his love as the note attached to it said in words I’ll keep mostly for myself. Husbands the world over do that kind of thing. My dad used to do for my mom. The difference being that in Switzerland you buy flower in a bouquet, most of the time in a supermarket, and throw them in a vase full of water at home.
In India I have received bouquets as well, but it’s far more common to see such big flower arrangement for sale, not in supermarkets, but very tiny flower shops that are pretty much opened on the roadside. And if you ask me, I LOVE these, they are far nicer than the casual, supermarket bouquet from back home, when gifted to me by my husband makes me feel super special, and I don’t need to find a vase to put them in (I don’t even own one, when I receive bouquet I put them in a copper pitcher). I don’t need to sweat about arranging them in a pretty way in said pitcher either.
Over the year the thing that amused me the most, is the fact that flower shops are always placed near a intersection, where cars and bikes slow enough to notice them, and probably grab a guy’s attention better for a spur of the moment gift to his wife, or providing super quick fix to the “Oh crap I forgot her birthday is today and I don’t want to face her anger” moment.
Back home the men have to first notice the flower shop sign in a row of many shop while driving, which is not a too easy task, if it’s raining and it rains a lot in Switzerland, there will be no bright flower display for them to notice. As for the supermarket…the hassle of parking the car just to buy flower is big enough so that to do it they will need to stop to buy groceries as well…Ick! What back from office guy does that? (In Switzerland that is, because men in India have less of an issue helping their wife in this department).
Giving me this particular bouquet, DH plotted a sweet way to do it: Placed the flower in front of our door with a note he quickly wrote on a page of his day planner, rang the door bell, and went hiding in the staircase hall. When I peeped through the hole nobody was there, so I opened the door a crack to check who was fooling around with the bell, noticed the flower, but no DH in sign. When he finally went out of hiding it was to give me a big kiss. once the moment over he was all exited to tell me that there was not one but two flower shops outside our complex he never quite noticed before and how nice that was. The flower were for one exceptional woman, mom and wife (awww), but we all know exceptional women marry exceptional men…
Parents of girls, beware, your cute little darling will start morphing into a fashionista by the time she reach 2 or so years old, and become downright opiniated by the age of 3.
I didn’t quite see it coming, before starting school last year Ishi didn’t care much about clothes, but now God forbid we choose anything for her, and in true girl style will fall in love with an outfit in the store and then refuse to wear it once home, I have a pair of shorts that is yet to be worn by her, shorts she could not tear her eyes from when we shopped during the August sale (at least it was on sale).
This past Saturday, thanks to the insane heat I took Ishita to the mall while DH was in office, as a trip to the playground before 5pm was a no no. Ishi’s idea of a perfect mall day, means first going on the electric train that circles an entire level of the mall for which I need to take a ticket for myself as I refuse to let a 3 year old unattended in a 15 minute ride out of my sight. Then once the ride is over, she promptly asked for the bouncy castle, which I think is a good idea because, a jumping toddler gets tired sooner and will or sleep early in the evening, or take a nice nap. The bouncy castle fee buys you 20 minutes of jumping, but Ishi got tired after 15 minutes, hopped down and immediately asked for “miam miam” (food) so we headed to the food court, I was not really sure of what I wanted to eat, just knowing that KFC or Domino’s was not going to happen, saw a momo (Chinese dumplings) stand and told her we could try this one, only to be met with a “no no no no” on a serious calm assertive tone and her taking a stride across the food court straight toward the back where KFC is, but then stopped dead in her track in front of the Chinese fast food booth seeing a lady carry a plate loaded with chowmein. She then pointed to it and said “Maggi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (all noodles are maggi for her), refusing to go any further, so we ordered our own plate of Chowmein (my my what did we put ourselves at risk of? The Khap Panchayat warned the nation just last week about Chowmein and hormonal imbalance!), for good measure I ordered some momos as well, and we start eating, not really making a dent in the monstrous portion of noodle in front of us. I then decide that since we are already in a mall, maybe I could have some fun myself, and decide to check Max which sells nice relatively cheap but good quality casual wear. Their kids line is the cutest, but I was thinking more in the line of getting myself a few new tops since my wardrobe is pretty basic since my last purge a few weeks back. I start roaming around, Ishita running all exited, but each tops I dared looking at were met with a big no from her, not that I would have bought any of them as they weren’t to my taste, she then ran to the kid’s section, which as usual is the cutest, but full of heavy winter wear we really don’t need in Mumbai, beside my mom brought enough long sleeved t-shirts and Fall wear pants with her last time she visits that are just now fitting. So we leave the store with me making a mental not to come back during the sale and buy the light winter wear we will need for her the next year.
Down to Westside we head, as 2 weeks ago I spotted two tops I liked but had no energy to try on. While there I found another one to add to the trial list, Ishita didn’t disapprove my picking them up, so we headed to the trial room with my loot. The first one is a short cotton kurta that looks more like a kaftan with it’s flowing sleeves. Ishita emit a loud appreciative “ooooooo Pretty” while I try it on. When I ask her if I should take it, she gives me a big YES, not that her opinion mattered because I liked the top myself, so we put that one aside, then I try a very casual t-shirt in orange with some native American prints on it, the thing looked nice on the hanger, but not on me, and I got no comment from Ishita, but when I asked her if I should take the orange one just for fun she said “No, this” pointing to the blue kurta I already agreed on buying. I then tried the next and last item: a stripped blue, black and beige t-shirt, to have a “pretty” from her again. I found it cute that she now needs to pass comment on my trial room looks, and interesting to see that we are on the same page.
Where her high fashion opinion is less cute is when it takes twice the time it used to take to get dressed to go somewhere due to her pondering which top and which bottom to wear and change her mind 5 times about it. Seeing where it is going, I’m glad next school year the decision will be taken for her by the school in the shape of a uniform.
As for her wardrobe, time to go purge that one of all the things she doesn't;t like wearing anymore, until now it was just getting rid of the worn out and too small, now I have to hide certain things I don’t want to see her into in order to give a chance to brand new outfits to get worn at least a couple of time before outgrowing them. Not that I even buy tons to begin with, as I always thought spending too much money on kids wear was a waste considering how little they end up being worn in the first place.
One f the things I hate about Mumbai is the weather, it’s hot and humid most of the year, the monsoon bring some type of relief but more humidity and Winters are always too short. But if there is one month I hate the most in this city it’s October, the monsoon leaves us in September, with a few occasional evening storms here and now until early October, and the days become even more uncomfortable than during the Summer, most probably because the monsoon brought some slightly cooler days and you just can’t bear to repeat a trip in the steam room so soon.
October is considered Fall even in India, but Fall in Mumbai plain sucks, thanks to heavy monsoon rains, it means that the ground has soaked itself in water that will beg to come out the instant the sun makes a comeback. I’ve been debating whether it’s the temperature that is too hot for comfort of it it’s the insane level of humidity that just make it worse, one thing for sure, a night without AC is horrible in October, we did that when we were in Navi Mumbai and just hated it because we would sweat under the blanket, but be eaten by mosquitoes without. Now that we have our AC in our new flat, I seriously don’t want to try going without until the nights get dryer.
And we are getting there, a few more weeks and we will have pleasant days, my skin is an excellent barometer when it comes to that, it’s still too humid to sleep without an AC, the days are still hot enough to make me sweat, but mornings are bearable enough, and my skin is starting to pull a little, nothing dramatic, but enough to remind me to rub lotion as part of my morning routine. I already look forward to being able to stay outside at the playground after picking up Ishi from school without melting into a puddle, and I know that the sweat pants and socks days are not too far from now. I’ve already made friend with my fruit infusion in the evening, kicked the diet coke habit at 11am in favour of another cup of tea (I always start my day with one, in cooler days, I follow with a few more).
And soon enough December and it’s festive spirit will come into our home.
Back in Switzerland, October was among my favourite months with all the Fall colours, and still sunny days, November used to be gloomy, and December downright dark and cold, with only the Christmas lights to feel happy about. I hated Winter there, here it’s my favourite season of all.
This morning is one of these days I stumbled upon an article one of my friend shared on Facebook that had me cough, gasp, choke and laugh possibly all at the same time.
North India has in general a higher rate of rapes than in the South, Delhi is the rape capital in the country and neighbouring State of Haryana not faring better, but hey they found the reason why rapes occur people, let’s rejoice, the Times o India reporting it:
Haryana khap blames consumption of chowmein for rapes
If you think I made that up, go read it here, but I warn you don’t drink and read at the same time, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for your death really.
YES indeed, some incredibly enlighten beings in power have come to the conclusion that the consumption of Chowmein, a popular Chinese dish in India is causing hormonal imbalance that lead to rape! good grief I’m glad we got that all sorted out, and girls please rejoice, because it seems wearing jeans and t-shirts is no longer the cause of the evil…just stay away from the chowmein ladies! They actually don’t mention if it is girl eating the stuff that make them secrete pheromones that will drive guys wild, or if it’s guys eating the stuff that makes them think with their wee wee instead, I bet they are still conducting highly scientific researches on the matter. But they found a proactive solution to the problem anyway, read the article further, it has been proposed to lower the marriageable age of girls from 18 to 16 to make them less vulnerable to rape, because yes if hubby dear who by law still can’t marry before 21 in India assault his 16 years old bride and force her into a match of mattress-a-thon then it’s fine, it’s not rape, the girl is a wife and must oblige and satisfy her husband’s will…sigh!
Now if you pardon me this leave me wondering if a) a it’s not the dal-sabzi-roti diet that is not responsible for killing brain cells that resulted in that kind of idiotic statement and b) If we should not declare chowmein a natural alternative to Viagra then.
On a more serious note, this is yet one more case of refusing to look at a problem seriously, Blame it on something instead of taking judicial measures and raise awareness and educate youngsters about sexual health, and self defence. The way I see it, if the chowmein is the evil here, fortunately the Chinese came up with Kung Fu as well which should prevent rape…for every ill there is a cure.
I mentioned it in passing last week: I made an apple pie on October the 2nd, DH was home, and it was just the perfect time to make a yummy one for breakfast. I wish I took a picture of the whole pie but it went away too fast (that’s how yummy it was) and all I got was the last slice taken the next day:
Now this is more of what we would call an American pie style back home, because Swiss style pies are actually named “Tarts” across the Atlantic.
I found the recipe here a while ago, and while I did make a few modification, it’s pretty much close to the original.
I used white coarse granulated sugar in the crumb topping mixture, apple cider vinegar in the pie crust, and only one type of apple and only 6 of them, not 12, but everything else was done the same.
The reason why I used only one type of apple, is simple, first I had only one type, then apples are costly most of the year in India, but right now is the peak season for Kashmiri apples which are Indian and cheaper than the regular lot of import we get from the Washington state or new Zealand. This is that time of the year you can afford experimenting with apples without feeling too guilty if said experiment turns out bad.
I don’t actually own a proper pie dish, but the great stainless steel Indian thali just works wonder, we have two with high rims, and two shallow one left, we no longer eat with these, they serve as cookie baking sheets, tart dish, preparation plates, and now pie dishes in my kitchen. We had more, but we discarded them overtime, because we used them to put under potted plants in the past, that’s how versatile that piece of dinnerware is. In the case of my apple pie it turned out that it was the right size for the amount of dough mentioned in the recipe though, but thanks to the heat and humidity prevalent in Mumbai, I would or make it more in advance and store it in the fridge longer than what specified in the recipe as I found out the dough stay sticky and once thinned down is impossible to handle without breaking without support. So what I ended up doing was rolling it out directly on some baking parchment and then lift the corner of the paper directly onto the pie dish, using the parchment to line the dish in the process instead of greasing it, worked perfectly.
The pie didn’t last more than 24 hours as DH and I could not get enough of it, Ishita was on a cake boycott day (yes these happen!) and refused to take more than a bite, not because she hated it, but because that specific day she was not in mood for it…or any food for that matter, her only interest was to say no to everything and drive us batty with it…ah family time!
A few days ago one of my friend shared an article about Dutch culture and what Americans can learn from it, you can read it here.
As a Swiss I must say many of these Dutch traits are true for the Swiss and probably a good part of Europe. But the one that stroke me the most was this one: Don't spend more than you have.
In Switzerland we live and breathe this one, and is so different from India and especially middle class India. Like most Swiss I had a credit card, pretty much used only for booking holidays as it offers an insurance on the purchase. My credit card was on direct debit, meaning that at the end of the month the money was deducted automatically from my bank account, and even 2-3 Swiss francs missing would result in immediate blocking of said credit card until the balance had been paid. Now I can’t be sure people with the option of paying bills themselves has the blocking clause, but I never met a Swiss person who did not pay the full balance at the end of the month. It’s not in our habit back home…period.
We don’t do purchase in instalment much either, at the most a car, but even then, most of my compatriots will be the one to save money in a saving accounts for years to meet unforeseen expenses and then buy a car in cash, and if all they can afford is a 2nd hand one then be it. never will you see a credit scheme offered on a Fridge or Stereo the way it is offered in India, because people will rather go without than go get a debt of any kind.
And so you can imagine my surprise when I arrived in India and see that people don’t blink about even buying a TV on EMI, even if they are interest free. before reaching India I had no idea you could even use a credit card the next month without paying the due balance, and that the only penalty you’ll get for it is pay interest. A couple of years down the line, DH and I had taken quite a few EMIs, some valid, some well discussable…I will not go there, but with it came the realisation that priorities in India seem to also be totally different from Switzerland and it has I’m afraid a lot to do with the cultural background.
Swiss are people that do not feel like standing out too much, even the riches are considerably “vanilla” and simple on the outside simply because rubbing your status in someone’s face is considered massively rude and tacky in Switzerland. It’s ok to have money, it’s ok to spend it on good things, it’s NOT ok to go make a whole show out of it for all to see in the obvious “look at me I have money and you don’t” way. With this logic, the Swiss, regardless of their social status, will first deal with the necessities such as eating well, paying rent, being healthy and paying insurances, saving money for other things all along. Once that has been done, if they have the cash to spare, they will spend it on hobbies, or indulgences but never in an amount that is more than they can truly afford. If what they are drooling over is a LED giant TV, they will save it every month bit by bit, rather than go to the store and go into a financing scheme, because should an emergency strike they’d rather have the savings to pay for that rather than ask neighbours and friend the money to fly across the globe to see a family member on their death bed when if they didn’t buy the TV on instalment they would have had it all along. You could say that we are a nation of safe, non risk taking individuals. And before I move on, let me tell you the cost of life in Switzerland is quite high, higher than in India for many a thing.
India is a culture that is a bit louder in your face one, people tend to place status high on the list. It’s ok to be loud and brag about your wealth, real or not in India, it’s totally fine to flaunt it for all to see as a sign of superiority. And it’s fine to spend more than you have in order to keep the image going, borrowing from family and friends to host a massive wedding for the community. Buying the biggest TV money can buy on EMI even if it won’t fit in your living room well and all you will watch are serials and the news which do not really benefit from high definition, keeping in mind the prime purpose of the purchase is to show off above all. In fact one thing I have seen more than often in India are people that will pronounce fruits and nuts a luxury and not eat them on a daily basis so that they can buy a material sign of status in it’s place, and it’s not uncommon seeing people go to stores like Big Bazaar flaunting their finest wear, gold and smart phone arguing over the price of the most budget rice in the loose grain section pinching paise on food like they could not afford it, while in Switzerland you are likely to find people going to the farmer’s market every weekend buy their produce at a higher price than in the supermarket wearing generic brand worn out jeans and tees and no designer bags or accessories simply because they want the best on their plate in order to keep healthy.
DH and I are fruit and nuts addict, we spare no money on groceries, and my in-laws find our eating habits a bit odd, fruits for breakfast every day is something they just don’t get, because these are costlier than making poha, upma, or pakoda, to them it seems like a waste of money. But the truth is that I might have “contaminated” DH’s thinking there, he visited Switzerland and Europe on quite a few occasion and admired the simplicity of people and how setting priorities right actually allow my fellow citizens to enjoy their life better, once the need to impress the community is taken out of the equation, you end up seeing things much differently. True we enjoy branded good, and have a nice big fridge now (which we bought on EMI to still be Indian), but we bought it because we needed it and couldn’t care less how stylish, IN or in fashion it is. In this same perspective we still have a tiny cathode tube TV we bought in 2004, it still works perfectly well, and frankly we don’t need a HD TV now, we barely watch it, when it is on it’s to play Dora the Explorer or a Cricket Match, we don’t need supreme image clarity for that, and whoever feel the need to laugh at us for our lack of idiot box style quotient is no real friend of ours so what they think doesn’t even matter. And yes we spend nearly 50k on a birthday party for a 3yo because my in-law requested it as it was tradition, but we both resented it and are glad to be done with that one. And like many people from our generation in India we are questioning these traditions that siphon banks account, the way I see it we are moving toward an India that see the value of money and priorities a bit better than the generation before us.
As for me, the Swiss, well as much as I think my compatriots are smart spender, I must admit that loosening a little from time to time and indulge isn’t that bad either, as long as it’s not reckless spending.
I didn’t hear you!
If I had to sum Urban India in one word, the world would be LOUD, it’s loud in your face, assault all of your senses at once and can be confusing. But out of all the loud definitions, today I will write about how noisy a place that can be, and no cities are really spared, some worse than other, some areas of said worst city better than average, but if you move to India to live there, be prepared to have loud decibels a pretty constant in your days and possibly nights.
The most obvious of all the noises is the never ending honking of car/bus/trucks/bike/auto horns…honking is a national obsession that I would rank right behind cricket. People honk to warn they are coming, to warn when they are overtaking someone, to ask someone to get out of their way, and I’m even convinced some think it has some magical powers seeing how they honk and honk on no end at a red traffic light, clearly they must think it will or make the light turn green on command or make all the other vehicles vanish from the road. They honk in a parking lot, when stuck in a line, in no honking zones such as residential buildings and hospitals…it’s pretty much honking and beeping the whole day long. 9 years later I’m pretty much immune to it when staying home, I can totally phase that one out, it still annoy the crap out of me when I am out probably because all my other senses are equally assaulted and there is nothing like a few honk honks to stress you out.
Still in the traffic noises department, you have to bear with farting auto rickshaw noises, noisy trucks, coughing buses, day and night.
In a city like Mumbai chances are you are going to live near a construction site, regardless of where you live, the whole city is in perpetual construction/demolition mode. Where I live it’s a brand new residential apartment building complex that is taking shape, they are building around 10 high rise structure, and have been since we moved in last year in August, it’s nearing the end, but it could easily be another year of hearing concrete trucks, excavators, drilling, cranes, hammering and cling clanging. Fortunately we are lucky, they observe the rules and are done with the loudest work by 6-7pm and completely done with work by 10pm, at least we can sleep in relative peace and quiet. but there are days that are so bad I need to close all my windows, which I can do only if it’s not too hot, as a) I don’t have any AC in the living room and b) I don’t like running high energy bills just to keep the noise out.
Then if the outdoor decibels weren’t enough there is the household noises, the one that is the most constant being ceiling fans, you can’t live with them, and to be fair they don’t make a huge amount of noise, but still enough for one to increase the volume on the TV drastically during the hot season as compared to Winters. My cousin who came to visit us for the second time last year said she wasn’t used to having the fan running all the time and that it was a noise that she found hard to phase out while sleeping, but the fan is of course completely and absolutely necessary most of the year.
And then you probably have what I call the worst of the worst in matter of noise pollution: Festival noises.
Don’t get me wrong, festivals are cool, it’s supposed to be louder than usually, the problem is that the rest of the year is anyway loud and noisy, so it seems most of the country is hearing damage and breaks loudest loudspeakers every festive season, to blast some music on no end. Recently we had Ganpati festival, where Ganesh is celebrated high in colours all across the city, each residential area or building usually have a big idol displayed for people to worship daily during that time, last year it was quiet, nice and cheerful. This year I don’t know who in the housing society thought it was a good idea to get a microphone on during prayer time so that devotees willing to sing could do it for the whole building to hear. The problem is that it’s pretty much like karaoke, you have those with a fair singing voice, and you have a whole bunch that sing in the key of OFF and make all those who didn’t go down for prayer time cringe and shut themselves in. When the live singing wasn’t going they put a tape on the loudspeaker with proper devotional chorus sang in a soothing way, still loud, but at least sang by professionals. DH who is Indian and Hindu found the “karaoke” singing horrible himself, and I kid you not, twice a day while it was on, nobody could do anything but listen to it, no one could watch TV, answer the phone or even hold a conversation with their family inside their home without shouting in a vain attempt to cover the noise…that’s how loud it was. And I’ve gone through the navratri singing last year which yup was on loud speaker in the building for 9 nights and drove both DH and I insane, again letting people sing live on a microphone. I don’t get it, never will, those who attend the puja are all gathered down, they are the ones that cared enough to go, they can sing together and they would probably hear themselves without a microphone, so why assault all those that made the choice not to attend the puja with some nasal, shrilling singing? And why hiring a audio system and play music from a tape when one could hire a few well singing pundits and traditional instrument orchestra instead, which would make it that much more festive and probably less offensive to the ears as well? not to mention keeping dying cultural traditions alive?
And if festivals were the only occasions, fine, but political rallies are loud with Bollywood music and slogan shouting as well. To me it seems that the message gets lost in the noise, and will irritate the crap out of those not attending. Once in Bangalore, in our relatively quiet residential neighbourhood we had a political rally going, the loud music played on scratchy antiquated loud speaker went from 8am until close to 10pm! On a WEEKEND! DH and I fled the house for a solid portion of the day simply because we could do nothing else at home.
Now I used to live on the side or a noisy road in Geneva, the reason why I was out of the apartment every Saturdays during the day. Nights were still noisy enough with drunkards zooming at high speed toward the French border. And for that I found some relief in India as nights are relatively quiet, with just the few stray dogs barking and the few odd cars honking.
But when I went back to Switzerland for 2 months in 2008, I found the lack of noise unsettling, that’s how bad India’s noise level affected me. Nights without the noise from the ceiling fans where though, days, disturbingly quiet. Not that there is anything wrong with quiet, I LOVE quiet, but a few years living in India and you totally forget there is even such a thing in the first place
We all have these once in a while, and since I posted on my Facebook page about the fact I wouldn’t blog much until probably next Monday, and would at the most give you a run down on my whirlwind days, here it goes.
Last week on Wednesday the school handed us a circular informing us quite last minute I might add that Friday 28th would be Grand Parent Fun day in school…why so little planning I wonder, because in my case that means one set of Grand Parent in Lucknow, my mom in Switzerland, and my Dad sailing around somewhere between the Fiji Islands and New Zealand…none could of course make it. The school added that if no Grand parents were around we could put whatever distant relative we had in the city on duty…ha, problem again, we are the only one living in Mumbai, the school then told us that since it was not a full day, we could just skip the day if no family was around, the next day probably seeing that half the kids had no dadi, dada, nani or nana around it would be smarter to include parents, telling us all that anyway it’s just a 20 minutes affair of games and snacks. I decided not to go, the 28th was DH’s birthday and I had plans to bake a cake and needed to go run to the supermarket to buy a few things for it.
So Friday comes and I decided to first enquire about a gift I purchased for DH on Monday and see when it would be delivered, and nothing seemed to indicate it was even in Mumbai in the morning, so I headed out, for just one hour, after which we came back sweaty, sticky and in the case of Ishi exhausted enough to cuddle with the dog on the sofa and fall asleep, leaving me assistant less in the kitchen to bake the cake. By the late afternoon, the cake was baked, filled with custard, iced and ready to eat, and I finally got to know that the courier company in charge of the parcel delivery was First Flight and just updated their tracking status as reached Mumbai…good that meant it would come the next day!
DH came back from office early, we enjoyed cake, happy happy and lazed around in the evening.
The next morning he had to go to office, so I was all alone with Ishita, but because we were expecting a courier and I was too beat to do anything we stayed home. Speaking of courier, I logged on the tracking page, and saw…surprise surprise that they came on the 28th and found the door locked, funny when the parcel tracking page was updated as reached Mumbai in the afternoon and that the only time I was out of the house was between 11am and noon! Nobody called me, or left a note either…but hey I know the drill, not even DHL bothers in India, so why would First Flight which is the worst of the lot do it.
But since I know they are bad, I decided to call them to check if the delivery would happen this day itself. I found two offices in Mumbai, but only one phone number and one email ID (sounds fishy, how can two office in two location have the same number?) I tried calling and nobody picked up, so I sent a mail, that till date hasn’t been answered, after sending the mail I called again, and again and again until a lady picked up and gave me 2 different phone numbers without answering my question, I called these two numbers, only to be informed by a recorded voice they were invalid, call back the number that worked for the lady to give me a 3rd number which you probably guess was…yup! invalid! So I called again, to be put on hold for an eternity at which point I hanged up, and called again for 10 minutes straight without anybody picking up, and when after said time the lady picked up I was pissed and informed her she had to stop giving me wrong invalid number to get rid of me and tell me if YES or NO the second attempt delivery would be done this day or not. She put me on hold forever again after telling me that no she never gives wrong numbers. Furious I go back to mad dialling for another 15 minutes before she deign pick up again and blast her for he incompetence, she informs me that it’s not her job to do customer care service or even go fetch the manager, she tries to give me a 4th phone number to dial to talk to said manager, I refused, she put me on hold forever, and after that refused to pick up the phone ever again, despite my calling for over an hour straight. I let the merchant know about the courier crap, the guy is appalled and promise me to try on his end, and then suddenly out of the blue comes the delivery guy with my parcel. Not a word of English, looking all shabby, unprofessional at his best. Let the merchant know I finally got the product and he then informed me he was angry with First Flight and would discontinue their tie up with them in the next 15 days…A small victory.
DH loved his gift, I got him a small replica of box iron of the type normally filled with coal and used by street ironing booth people. DH’s one is an ashtray and it comes from Happily Unmarried if you were wondering.
On Sunday we went for brunch to mark DH’s birthday, and by Monday I was glad Ishi was in school again, but failed to realise that it was then October 1st. While picking her up the teacher informed us that the next day was a holiday as it’s October 2nd and Gandhi’s birthday…darn I totally forgot! At this point I was dreading another day of Ishita’s madness in the house with no escape as the post monsoon heat and humidity is on full blast and will continue until mid-November, but realised that thankfully it also meant DH would be home for the day.
And now here we are Wednesday, I just sent a hyper toddler to school and finally have a tiny breather, that will be short lived as right after school we are heading to a friend’s place for my little group’s monthly kitty party/playgroup.
Thursday I will get another normal quiet day to just breathe a little, on Friday DH is headed out of town for a business trip from which he’ll be back the next day in the evening, and then it’ll be grocery shopping day on Sunday…so yup not much rest until Next Monday.
And of course I forgot to add that yesterday I baked an amazing apple pie and yes I will write about it in detail soon.
A quick update and a promise to be back to blogging soon.