Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's That Time of Year

Once again this time is year is the strangest time for me. Friends and family back in Canada are getting used to fall (it's a season) and enjoying the changing colors of the leaves. Monday is November which brings the eternal rains or even snow. Everytime I see the date - Sept., Oct., Nov. - I can't believe it. How can it be "fall" when it's so warm and I'm still wearing summer clothes?

Here in Bangalore the flowers in our back yard are blooming with a vengeance. I love the hit of sun and warmth every morning on my way to yoga. I love walking outside at anytime, day or night in a summer top or wearing a summer dress around the house. The pool beckons.

But there is no fall. No fall colors, no fall clothes. There's nothing that says the year is moving along - maybe that's why people here just take everything day by day. When there is no fall, there will be no winter either. It is so ingrained in me that when I look at the date I just can't believe it. I look outside, I look at the fans whirling, I feel the A/C cooling. It is the strangest time of the year yet I will relish it and be thankful for it because next year will be a different story altogether.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More Maldives

The rest of the Maldives trip was not as adventurous as the snorkelling trip. It was pure relaxation. It's only a 2 hour flight from Bangalore to Male and then a stunning 45 minute seaplane flight over the tourquoise waters and tiny islands to the island that we stayed on.

The water is warm, the sand is soft and white, the food is plentiful and tasty and there's really not much to do. Alanna's favorite part would be the desserts and Craigs would be the pasta. If eating were an Olympic sport they both would have won gold in their respective categories. (desserts/pasta). We read, we ate and once a day we dragged ourselves to the snorkelling boat to swim with the fish.

The coral is dead from el nino. But there are lots of variety of colorful fish. And of course seeing the turtle swim right underneath me on the last day was a site to see!

The Maldives are spectacular and so are the prices. The islands are small (ten minutes to walk around ours) and the elevation gain: seven feet. So as you can imagine it's hard to get much exercise. Luckily the tsunami a few years back didn't hit hard or they would have been wiped out completely.

With global warming the Maldives are endangered so we are so glad to have been able to experience them now. So close, but so expensive. Who knows if we'll ever make it back again?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maldives Snorkelling Gone a Little Bit Wrong

We spent a week in the Maldives and snorkelled every day. The first day snorkelling was a bit of a farce. It was cloudy and windy and the current was strong. The snorkelling boat took us to the house reef, about a 15 minute boat ride offshore. There was a big group of people from China with us, many of whom wore lifejackets and did not speak English. One young woman had on long black leotards, another one wore a matching pink bathing suit, pink snorkel gear and pink floaties!

We arrived at the reef and the local guide jumped in the water to tell us which way the current was going. He gave instructions (in English) to follow the current to the left and keep the reef on the right. The water over the reef was shallow - we were to be careful not to touch or damage the reef.

The kids and Michael jumped in the water, they are strong swimmers. I got caught up behind a few people. Finally I jumped in and started swimming towards the reef and to the left. But then I hear “Help, help.” One of the people wearing a lifejacket was panicking and obviously couldn’t swim. Her husband was holding onto her, yelling for help.

I saw the guide jump in from the boat and because I was close I turned back towards them. He got there first and got things under control so I turned back towards the reef. I looked up briefly and what do I see but about eight people from the Chinese group standing on the reef all huddled together. One of the first rules: “Do not touch or stand on the reef.”

The current took me away from them and I started looking for the rest of the group. They were too far ahead so I started to enjoy the fish and snorkelling. The current was really fast and I quickly moved away from the boat and the rest of the people.

By now the boat really should have moved down current in order to pick up snorkellers. But the boat wasn't moving - they had to stay there to rescue the group stranded on the reef.

I continued on enjoying the snorkelling but realized I wasn’t going to catch up to Michael and the kids cause they were moving just as fast. I saw a buoy up ahead and thought I would hang onto it for a bit and stop moving. But the next time I looked up I was way past it. There was no way I could swim back to it, the waves were getting bigger and the boat was getting smaller.

Eventually I decided this wasn’t fun anymore so I waved both my arms towards the boat and someone saw me and waved back. Good, I thought, they will come and get me. So I snorkelled a bit more and looked up and the boat hadn’t moved. I waved again and this time they came to get me. When I got onboard, many people from the big group were already back on the boat. Their legs were scraped up pretty badly from the reef - I could only imagine the pain.

Now I thought the boat would go towards Michael and the kids who I couldn’t see at all at this point. But the boat went in the opposite direction, to the drop off spot. There was still one couple standing on the reef, waiting to be rescued.

When we got close the guide jumped out of the boat and swam towards them. The boat turned around to find the others. We finally found five of them including Michael, Craig, and Alanna all hanging onto the last buoy in site. I swear if they didn’t grab ahold of it they would have ended up on a current to Australia like Nemo. There was nothing in site but the horizon!

Picked them up and then back we went to pick up the last couple. I'm sure their pride hurt as much as their scrapes from the reef, but they were all safe and everyone else was too. A bit of a crazy first snorkelling trip but each day thereafter got better and better. The sea calmed down and on the last day we even saw a turtle. Hey, now that I think about it Michael agreed to give anyone 500 rupees if they found a turtle - where's my 500 rupees?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Time to Fly the Coop

We've been living in India for almost 16 months. We've done pretty good, been pretty positive, but sometimes life here can get to you.

All sorts of little things are in need of being fixed in the house and the landlady is fighting every little thing. From electrical problems to mold problems to A/C problems to shower door problems to BUG problems. One part of the problem is getting the landlady to pay for it, another even bigger problem is getting people to come and fix things. First they have to come and look at it, then they have to go and get their tools (no - no one comes with tools), then they have to order the part...and then they come back and fix it or they just ignore it and don't come back at all.

Then there is still the grocery store issue - yes I have plenty to choose from now in the area. If only I could go to one and get everything. Now I try a different strategy. I go to one store but have three lists. If they have everything on list #1 that's what I will make for dinner. If they don't I proceed to list #2 etc.  But it's the standing in line (at this one store) that bugs me - where people butt ahead and I end up waiting for twenty minutes in line.

There's other things but I won't bore you. I haven't complained (much) in 16 months so hopefully this is just a blip. Oh, oh, oh, did I mention last Saturday night Michael and I got all dressed up (just the two of us) and went downtown (45 min) to a nice restaurant. Only one other couple in the restaurant and we sat down, they gave us the menu and then we asked for the wine menu - "uh, sorry, it's a dry day." Yes, it was Ghandi's birthday/peace day and so no drinking aloud. Well, that was a quick dinner.

As I was saying hopefully this is just one little bit of negativity. In fact there's only one thing to do when in a rut and that's get out of it - get out of town - so that's what we shall do for the next week. See ya later, back in a week!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Let the Games Begin

Watched the opening ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games last night. They went off beautifully, India can be proud of the show they put on for the world - dancing, drumming, culture, color and history (and there's a lot of that to show off). Jai Ho!

Last week the Ayodhya decision was made. The three judges ruled that the Ayodhya land will be split three ways: one part going to the Muslims and the other two to Hindu groups. Although the case may be appealed and end up in the Supreme Court, there was peace in India after the verdict.