Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lal Bagh Park Flower Show

Gail arrived from Canada and yesterday we went to the Lal Bagh Park for their biannual flower show. I hadn't been there before so it was a treat to go - the park is lovely and clean with nice winding pathways and big trees. We even spotted two garbage cans and a spit container.

It was the last day of the flower show and thousands of people showed up along with us. There was a long line up to get into the 'piece de resistance,' the Glass House, which held the majority of the flower displays. We debated whether we wanted to join the masses and sure enough we did.

The line up went quickly and soon enough we were inside enjoying the colors and displays. The two big displays were of India Gate (I think) and the new Bangalore Metro - each made out of flowers.

The displays were beautiful but the biggest draw of the day turned out to be Gail, in her red and white capris, vintage looking sunglasses and sunhat. The locals targeted her and she was photographed more than the most exotic flowers of the show. She even got asked to pose with people's babies.

It was a very pleasant day, mingling with the locals, and enjoying the fresh air and flowers - a beautiful part of Bangalore.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Social Networking

Last night I posted that I was going to pick up Gail at the airport at 2:00am. Right after that I checked Facebook and had a message from Gail:

"I am  #@*#  STRANDED in Frankfurt! Will be...arriving a day later, tried to call you but no answer. Now no cell reception...URGH!"

She was still on Facebook so we could chat and she told me to check my email which explained everything:

"I am stuck in FRANKFURT overnight. It looked like it was a terrorist attack happening at the end of the row from some guy that looked like his name was el habbi with some unrecognizable passport.

It turned out to be some kind of seizure or fit or stroke of some kind. We were already over the frozen tundra and had to re-route back to Edmonton (1 hour) plus refuel, plus hasmat team so all flights to India were missed by 4 hours. I am sure it was the food that put him into shock! So new flight info is...
The good thing is I will get over my jet lag here. I have been kindly put up in some kind of concentration camp and of course internet and addaptor are not covered by the airline. However bought red wine at the airport for 2.49 per bottle/california zin. So email me back to let me know you got this. It was snowing when I much for booking the fastest routing!

Back on Facebook she summed it all up:
"I didn't think the chaos would begin till I touched down in India! Silly me!"

Sunday, January 23, 2011


In keeping with the corruption theme...woke up Sat. morning to find out that Bangalore, and the whole state of Karnataka was closed down due to political upheaval and an imposed Bandh. The governor has sanctioned the BJP chief minister's prosecution on corruption charges. BJP activivists in return staged demonstrations in Bangalore on Sat.

A few buses were pelted with stones, two lorries were burnt and some shops vandalized. It was an inconvenience as all stores and schools had to be closed. Buses and taxis stopped running.  I didn't know anything about it until 10:00am when I got a text from my driver saying he couldn't come because buses weren't running due to the bandh. At first I wondered what a bandh was - maybe just a spelling mistake. But then I saw the newspaper headline -" BANDH" - and figured out the city was closed down.

Not a big deal for me, we just stayed home - even the mall was closed apparently! But today (Sun.) it looks like the bandh is continuing until tonight. Not so good as I have to go to the airport to pick up a friend at 2:00am, plus I need to stock up the fridge. Not good to have an empty fridge when someone is coming all the way from Canada to visit.

Hopefully my driver gets here this morning and hopefully stores around here are open. Actually he has no choice, he has to get here somehow because he also has to pick up Michael this afternoon in S. Bangalore. These closures happen suddenly and really can throw the general public for a loop.

No problem today after all. My driver got here in the morning and I got the grocery shopping done. Mind you I've never seen so many people at Hypercity - I couldn't even push my cart into the fruit and veg section - it was packed. Bala Krishna picked up Michael this afternoon and I'll be off to the airport to pick up Gail in a few hours.

Reality Check - Not Everyone is Corrupt in India

My last post was all about corruption. But then I spent 3 1/2 hours at a charity meeting - discussing ways to fund 25 charities where it is clear that the people running them give, give, give. Give of their time and give of their money. They really devote their entire lives to whatever their cause is - whether it be sending slum children to school, picking vagrant women up off the street, or integrating blind children into the mainstream. Too many causes to list and there are millions in India alone who have started charities like these. So, where there is corruption there is also good.

India must balance out the corruptors and the givers...and then good must overtake evil...sounds like a superhero is needed to make this country work!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

India's biggest problem is corruption. It is rampant. You want to know why there's garbage strewn everywhere, why education is poor, why health care is poor, why so many Indian people are poor? It comes from the top - corruption. Politicians, business people - and then it dribbles down to the middle class and lower class. The upper class takes from everyone and everyone else takes from whoever they can: politicians, police officers, rickshaw drivers.

Corruption is such a huge problem I wonder how India will ever get themselves out of this mess? I've had Indian people tell me it is just a game, a way of life - how much can I get from the next guy? It's not even a moral issue anymore - it's just the way it is. Money goes into unworthy peoples pockets rather than education, medical care and a trustworthy political system.

I read about a couple of interesting initiatives recently. One is an office in Bangalore that has opened to take complaints about police stations that refuse to hear complaints (unless a bibe is paid - right?). What next - an office to take complaints about the office that takes complaints about police stations that refuse to hear complaints? Try to keep up with me ok?

The second is a website called Ipaidabribecom for people to vent their frustrations and tell their story. Have a read:

New Delhi (CNN) -- In India if you ask citizens about corruption almost everyone has a story. Bribes and kickbacks have become a part of everyday life for many.

"Every day, I see corruption. So, even if we need licenses and all that, it's something you put on the table first and then the license comes," marketing executive Rachit Kapoor said.

"If you go to a government hospital, you will not be admitted for treatment unless you know some employee or you bribe staff," said Deepak Kotwol, from Delhi. "Your building plans will not be passed until you bribe municipal officials. This has become part of life now."

Now there's a website for citizens to vent their frustration, without fear of retaliation. They can click on a link at and tell their story.

"If you look at the kind of reports that come to us, the emotions of the people who report an experience are of disgust, of anger, of fear," said Raghunandan Thoniparambil, who helps run the site through a non-profit organization called Janaagraha.

"There are two kinds of corruption. We are basically looking at over-the-counter corruption, what is very widespread but perhaps relatively small amounts but that affects citizens directly. And then you have grand corruption, what happens behind closed doors, people are taking huge bribes, there is a feeling that huge bribes don't affect citizens so it's okay, these things happen. But I don't think so; I think that has very serious implications to the country. And I think one of the biggest problems in India is that our corruption laws are extremely weak," Raghunandan Thoniparambil said.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


After living in India for 19 months I think I’m finally feeling settled. I thought I was settled after six weeks but now I don’t think so. I was in the “adventure” stage for the first year. Everything was new and exciting. Then things started to get a bit frustrating. And now, as long as nothing major happens I just feel like this is normal. Maybe I’m kidding myself, is that really true – what is “normal” in India? I guess I’m more into a “normal” routine now than ever before. I’m kind of focused on two things right now and they are taking up most of my time: yoga and charities.

I go to yoga five or six times a week now and I feel like I am really improving. My Iyengar teacher has three classes a week (1 ½ hrs) and then I usually go to the Ashtanga class (1 hr) three times a week. I am learning a lot in the Iyengar class and always feel challenged. The Ashtanga class is quite repetitive doing a few asanas, 20 sun salutations and about 15 min. of pranayama. The thing is – it’s not like going to the gym - it doesn’t feel like work. It is tough and strengthens the body – I’m doing handstands and headstands and all sorts of twists – muscles strengthen and stretch in a good way. I’ve never found anything else that I would want to do six days in a row.

The charity committee is taking up more time now as all 25 charities have submitted their applications for this year. I’ve had to meet with each of the four that I am responsible for and go over all the paperwork, collect receipts from last year and make sure last year’s project is complete. We also have to check financial statements and tomorrow the committee will meet and start deciding what we will fund this year.

So that’s what’s been happening lately but of course the routine will get a good shake up soon – a friend of mine is coming to town for two weeks; cooking class in Goa; Craig goes to Leadership Camp; another photo competition...and of course more yoga and charity work.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This Will Make You Smile!

One of my friends on the OWC Charity Committee made a real difference to a child's life a couple months ago. Please have a look at the article about Anand. (NOTE: you might have to click on the article a couple of times in order to enlarge it so it is readable):

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Six Months and Counting

Well, we are back in Bangalore for our last six months. Christmas vacation was wonderful in Canada - visiting, eating, everything was familiar - there's nothing like being home for Christmas. But there was also the shopping - not for "things"  - but grocery stores and wine stores and kitchen stores. The choices! Seriously, when we went into this new wine store we just walked around in awe. Michael actually asked the clerk, "Where should I begin?"And then the grocery store- the fresh fruits piled up, the cheeses, the breads and meats - all in one store! Again I just gazed around not knowing where to start.

There was fast food and restaurants and Starbucks. We didn't overindulge that much but it's just knowing that you have choices, that you can have something if you want it. And knowing that what you buy is good quality. It all made me a little less eager to get back to Bangalore.

But here we are back in Bangalore and all of a sudden I feel the clock is ticking fast. We walked out of the airport and it too seemed familiar... and warm. It was 2:30am but lots of Indian people were there to greet their friends and family. Ladies in sari's sat outside chatting like old friends - but probably they were strangers. The Indian people are very social and friendly.

Our driver met us right away and we walked to the van. He pulled forward so we could get our bags in but maybe he didn't put the emergency break on or left it in neutral because after he got out of the van it started to roll forward. He ran back, jumped in and hit the break just before it would have hit some trees. We just looked at each other and smirked- we're back in India! Always interesting, never boring.

We got home and into bed at 4:00am, didn't make the kids go to school even though the principal sent out an email that there would be a math and english test on the first day back and anyone who missed it would be given a zero. Oh well, some things can't be helped.

Michael, on the other hand had the pleasure of getting up first thing and going to the FRO (Foreign Registry Office) to get his visa extended. He had tried to do it in Dec. and made a couple frustrating trips but the paperwork was never quite right or something was missing.

I got a call from him at 11:30am with a few choice words that once again the paperwork he was given from work was wrong. He needed a copy of his work contract, signed but the one he had wasn't signed. Always a big hassle going to the FRO office. Luckily he was able to get a proper copy and eventually he got his visa extended to June 14th - so that's it, the final date for us. We'll be leaving India on June 14th.

Today the kids and Michael are off to school/work and I just got back from yoga; now sitting outside enjoying a very warm day. The pool is closed for two weeks but that's ok. The banana's are ripe from our own tree and a big pile were on the counter for us when we got home. And now I'm off to get groceries as the cupboards are bare. Here's to the next six months!