Monday, September 24, 2007


Manuel has been cured of his little monkey obsession and I have none other than the monkeys themselves to thank for this. Manuel had been wanting a monkey since he arrived in India, seeing them as cute, cuddly little things that swing from the branches and steal the occasional piece of food from someone. Not too long ago, he stopped by my office where everyday around 4, the monkeys parade in from across the street and play for a bit in the tree outside my office before sunning themselves on the rooftop across the parking area. So there we were, Manuel, Ankit and I, sitting outside minding our own business, most likely engaging in some sort of sordid yet highly juicy gossip when the show started, the parade taking place just a few meters away. Manuel wanted to get closer and we kept him back, telling him how unpredictable the little darlings can be. He didn't believe us and thought we were just being a bit overprotective and overly cautious.

That is, until one of the monkeys thought we were all just a little too close. Manuel turned around and standing on the hood of the car about 2 meters away was a monkey sporting a rather scary look that basically told us to get the fuck out of there. Another monkey had chased away three other men who were holding it at bay with a plastic chair. Monkeys are not only mean little critters, but they carry lots of diseases with them and even a scratch can send a person to the hospital. Manuel was suddenly not so keen on having one.

We are both still missing Penelope, who we should have brought back with us from Bombay. We started our second day at Crawford market and after passing through the fruits where we kept ourselves entertained by watching the guys hauling in the big stalks of bananas and afterwards the spices where we were forced to smell every spice as though we were in a culinary Sephora, we circles past the pyramids of pineapples and watermelons to the animals. Some, like the chickens were there waiting to be killed and plucked, a scene we managed to witness which actually I could have done without, others were waiting to be taken home and given loving homes. And this is where we met Penelope. She was in a cage with the rest of the litter, and she was so small and cute and as soft and beige as cashmere and the other puppies were tormenting her, biting her and just making her life miserable. I assume they were jealous of her obvious glamour. I mentally adopted her, named her Penelope and off we went on the rest of our self guided walking tour.

It was not until later that evening, as we stood on the terrace of the hotel 30 floors above Bombay with cocktails in hand that we both said at almost the same time that we wanted that puppy. We had not once discussed her during the entire day. I asked Manuel what he would name her and without hesitation, he said "Penelope" - I knew it was a sign. We planned to pick up Penelope first thing the next morning and bring her home to Delhi. I spent the rest of the evening trying to arrange a seat of Penelope on the plane, but it was against the policy of the company we flew. I phoned another and got the same response. The only option was for us to come back by train, approximately a 15 hour journey from Bombay. I thought it would be great and Penelope could play with all the other animals on board. I imaged her running around saying "bark" to all the goats and chickens that would be traveling with them, but Manuel was not so keen on the idea of such a long train journey.

Her name has come up a few times since then and I think we both wish we would have taken the train. She was so picked on by the rest of the litter, I doubt she survived unless someone else adopted her and I feel sad when I think about her.

Malls, Malls, Malls

Here I am in the car, with a driver that doesn't really know where he is going. I am just trying to get to the office, but he missed the turn and now I am getting a mall tour of Gurgaon. As we drive down the street, he points to a structure that says "Metropolitan Mall" across the top and points and says "Metropolitan Mall". The road is littered with malls and so this gives him something to do as if merely driving was not challenging enough.

"Sahara Mall"
"Grand Mall"
"Mall construct. Be open 2 month sir. Very big mall. Many shop"

I just want to get out of the car and have a cup of coffee. I may sound a bit annoyed and you would be right. I have gone from having drivers who are musical to merely having musical drivers. My phone contact list looks like this:

Driver August 2
Driver Babulal
Driver Badia
Driver Cas
Driver Picas
Driver Pradeep
Driver Rahul Gupta
Driver Santosh
Mr. Singh (He is the driver coordinator and sometimes driver himself)

So every morning, it is always a surprise who will be waiting outside my door. Not only that, but I don't even keep a driver for more than one journey. A trip from the house to the office, to lunch, home and then dinner could have 4 different drivers. They are swapped while I work or eat and I have no idea who to call. To make things a little more fun, they don't speak English and when I phone, they don't ever pick up, they come running up to me, waving frantically like they are trying to flag down a ship at sea.

I like to be a bit friendly with the drivers, I do spent hours a day with them, but when I ask a question like "Where do you live in Delhi?" or "Where in India are you from?", I get the following response, almost without fail: "Ok, sir." I basically stop trying. This is really fun when I get dropped off at a restaurant by a driver that has no mobile and I ask him where he will meet us and again I get "OK, sir." So now I have to flag down a local walking down the street to give the driver instructions.

I miss Guddu. He is great driver, great attitude and personality. He was my first driver when I arrived, before I got his brother-in-law/stalker driver who started buying me gifts which included clothes and would just walk into the house completely uninvited. When Anjali heard the story, she told me he was making a move on me. I was not happy. This al escalated the one morning when he showed me the article about the married man with 2 kids who was having sex with guys and then killing them. I wasn't sure if he was sending me a message, but it freaked me out. I went to Holland shortly after that and when I returned, he had moved with his wife and 2 kids to Punjab.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Nik is on my list. My Facebook friends list, that is.

Here I was in Delhi, trying to lead a simple, ordinary life with a few bubbles here and there and suddenly I find myself hooked on Facebook. I have been neglecting my Wii, turned my back on the Twilight Princess and instead have been adding applications, sending hot potatoes, virtual booze and poking people. And it is all Nik's fault. I never would have signed up had it not been for his request. Nik is my style guru, my connection to all things hip, happening and fabulous. But now here I am, a complete and total junkie. I can't get enough. I want more and more and more. It's like cyber crack and I am in danger of overdosing...

And it appears I joined in just the nick (no pun intended) of time. Scanning through pics from friends of mine, I find that they have posted the most unflattering image of me they could possibly find. It's not like Stephen and Pierre don't have other pics of me. We see each other pretty much every weekend when they are in town and there is almost always a camera around. But which pictures do they post? The ones taken when I was in hiding from the bad hair police for fear of being thrown into some jail with the latest Bollywood criminal. Its an outrage. Even as I type I am plotting and planning my revenge.

All joking aside - and I am not joking about the Aqua pics, Pierre - I am really feelin' Facebook. It's great to sort of hang out with the friends I would be really hanging out with if they lived closer. Last night it escalated when I discovered over blueberry mojitos at Sevilla that Stephen and Pierre have Facebook profiles. I wasn't surprised Stephen had one, but Pierre never really struck me as being so hip and happening, and he has had one for awhile. What planet have I been serving donuts on that this has completely escaped me? I have only had one for a couple of days. Not only does Pierre have a profile (where one can find the before mentioned bad image of me), he stays online via his mobile and added me while we were standing at the bar. I was immediately jealous and ordered another drink. I tried to access mine via my mobile, but the darned thing doesn't let me online. Maybe just as well. If I am going to be smoking virtual crack, then perhaps it is best done in the comfort of my own living room.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Multiple Personalities

I feel like I am going through a bit of a personality crisis. On almost a daily basis I get invitations to join one online community or another. Orkut, Classmates, Facebook, LinkedIn, Multiply, Friendster, MySpace and on and on. And as if those communities were not enough, there are communities within communities. Each of those communities gives me the chance to reinvent myself, to be funny, intelligent, artistic, business-like or whatever. It is like a virtual DNA pool that can be reconstructed on a whim. I feel like a Cyber Sybil. I have so many personalities out there I can't keep track of them, much less the friends or enemies that those personalities have made. It boggles the mind... But that does not stop me from continuing. It's like a drug. How many friends can I collect? How many people will mark me as a hottie? Write on my wall? Leave me a scrap? Propose marriage?

In fact, in India I saw lots of ads for sites that specialize in getting people married and so I decided to register myself at just to see what would happen. I was curious what my market desirability would be and who would contact me. I know I should not contaminate the database, but looking at some of the pictures and profiles there, I would say that had been done long ago... So I created a profile but did not include any picture and over the span of the last 2 months, I have received exactly 1 response from a woman in the UK. She's 39, wheatish and moving to India soon. Today, I decided to post a picture... And not just any picture, but one of me on the beach in Lakshadweep with my hair spiky and tattoo on display to see how my rough and sexy surfer/beach bum look goes over.

I have had profiles on other Indian sites and the response was overwhelming. If I was online I would have over 100 messages within an hour, my mailbox filling up faster than I could read them and empty it out. Most of them were pledging eternal devotion, claiming true love and inviting me to move to some place I had never heard of before. I would get some real doozies like this one:

i love u....
donno y,but i seriously do...
u luk like a real trust worthy guy,n a guy i was alwaz lukin 4...
y don u meet me atleast 4 once....m sure ul nvr b disappointed...
reply anything,but plz atleast say sumthing...

Or even this one:

hye my sweetdream really i like u very i do propose u..i know i am to far to u & i can sent ony 2 messege in a day so why i do my one messaege west to sent u..but actualy in different because its doesn`t metter that everyone can get like self...but metter is that who is can impress u & whom u my beloved i do just sare my feeling with u that i like u very very much & i would like to met u one day in delhi if u do travel for india...i don`t know u will like me or not but i like u its true...maybe lot of guys like me but i don`t like them but u r my real if u here i can be very close to u...yaap i need some close to me because i am alone in my i looking who can understand my feeling

They all gave me a warm and squishy feeling inside and I just felt they were all too good to keep them to myself and so I started sending them to friends of mine in a "Message of the Week" email. But when I could not respond, that Indian hospitality turned ugly. I would get messages only a couple minutes apart from someone and then get told to fuck off after they had sent me the fifth message in 10 minutes that I was unable to respond to. Of course, a little while later they were giving me another chance at love.

Near Death Experience...

This morning I woke up as I do on most mornings, hit the snooze on my phone which doubles as my alarm clock a couple of times and rolled over for an extra ten minutes of power sleep before hopping into a nice a cool shower to start my day. It was when I opened the door from the bedroom that panic struck. The rest of the house was filled with the unmistakable smell of gas. I immediately shut down all the electricity and switched off the gas. No need for a coffee, I was wide awake. That is actually the second time in 3 months that I have had an issue with gas and it is not at all a fun experience. As it happened, one of the burners had been left on after cooking dinner. The only thing that probably saved us was the fact that some of the windows were open and so it didn't get too backed up. It is only now, when writing this that the potential disaster that could have happened is actually sinking in... But here I am, all in one complete piece.