Thursday, July 31, 2008

Felt Up

Going anywhere in Delhi means going through a security check that goes something like this… Walk through metal detector, stop, hold arms out while security officer either scans with a hand held wand, or rubs your body up and down with his hands, open bags close bags and move on. I am not a prude, but I like my space and sometimes I just feel the security check is well, just a bit much. Today, for example. I happen to be wearing jeans that are snug but not so snug you can tell my religion and a form fitting t-shirt which they then slowly move their hands over and I wonder what they are possibly looking for. There is nothing larger than a piece of scotch tape I could possibly be hiding under my nipple high-lighting shirt. And then they move down the leg and grab at the pockets. They feel something and then they grab again. While nobody has ever grabbed Sparky, he has certainly been brushed by countless security guys. And then comes the lower leg and backside feel. They get in real close, breathe a bit in my face and bend over, putting their face right in my crotch as they feel up and down the legs and then around the buttocks, giving each a little squeeze before standing up, smiling and waving me through. That happened to me four times today. It really makes me very uncomfortable.

And it is not as if these are really fabulous and sexy muscle hunks that make you think “bring it on and keep it coming…” and then ask “Are you sure you checked everywhere? You want to check again? I am almost positive I put on some weapons of mass destruction this morning. Hold on, let me think… Shave, brush, hair product, bronzer, nuclear war heads, keys, phone… Yep, I’m sure I got some on me somewhere… Perhaps I need to be strip searched… Just for the safety of the people…”

MAC and Me

A funny thing happened while walking through the mall today. I thought “wouldn’t it be great to be a woman just for a few?” and then realized I actually thought it out loud to Ankit and a couple of people that were walking in our general vicinity.

Let me clarify something – I have no cross dressing fantasies, gender confusion issues, or anything like that. We were walking past all these make-up stores… MAC, Clinique, Lancome and I realized that if I were a woman, I could walk in, sit down in a chair, be offered a non-alcoholic drink which I could pretend was champagne, get more attention than Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” and then walk out looking like a million bucks, without spending a single rupee. But instead, I am a guy. They throw soap and deodorant at us, try to get us to buy some cologne and get us out of the store as quickly as possible so they can go back to doing nothing while waiting for a woman to walk in when they can all go “America’s Next Top Model” on her.

But to be a woman for just a few hours, not dealing with PMS, menstruation, cramps and shaving the legs, but being able to change personalities and attitudes simply by changing the shade of lipstick. Innocent virgin pink, boring housewife beige, smoldering temptress red or cocksucking coral with the long lasting moisture crystals. And don’t even get me started on the colors of nail polish. I decided on the spot that I am probably an electric blue.

Before I knew it, Ankit and I were standing in MAC, and there it was… MAC shaving crème. I figured that was as close as I was ever going to get to painting my cheeks a flirty shade of bashful blush. And then suddenly there I was, buying Fix+, a light yet highly refreshing facial spray I can use anytime I need a quick moisturizing pick-me-up (I wonder if it will make me look dewey… Is the dewey look even in anymore?) and of course I couldn’t leave without the Lip Conditioner Stick with SPF 15, which will keep my lips moist and conditioned, without making them glossy or overly noticeable, which is great as I really don’t want to be strolling the streets of Delhi with “blowjob lips” – I would hate to give the wrong impression. But it doesn’t stop there, oh no, my wonderful little sales person also hooked me up with some samples. I hope she offered them because she thinks I will really like them and deserve to indulge ina bit of self pampering and not because she thinks it would be a fun trick to give me false hope for recapturing my rapidly dwindling youth.

So tonight, I have decided I am going to embrace my feminine side. I am going to use my Creamy Coconut Milk Body Scrub with Lemongrass, my L’Occitane en Provence Savon Extra-Doux with Shea Butter and then tuck myself into my bed with the crispy clean sheets and lay my head on the pillow that has been brushed with a special oil to help me sleep and fall into sweet dream sleep. I just hope I don’t have that dream again… The one where I lesbian with an oily T-zone and bad shoes… But if I am wearing electric blue nail polish, it might not be so bad…

Do They Know It's Not Christmas?

I seem to be colliding with Christmas. I’m not sure if there is some rupture in the time continuum or perhaps I am playing the lead role in my very own version of Groundhog Day set to a “Best of the Christmas Classics” soundtrack. In the past few years, India has been invaded by that ultimate symbol of unimaginative middle class suburbia, the shopping mall, and just a few short kilometers away from my front door stands the main entrance to the one of the shiniest and upscale ones in Delhi, Select CityWalk. Like most self respecting malls the world over, there is always music wafting through the air and more times than not, it is the instrumental versions of all your favorite Christmas Classics. I first noticed it when I arrived back from Europe in February. I was trying to shop and for some reason found myself humming “Winter Wonderland”. It took me a few seconds to realize that the music I my head was actually not in my head, but coming out of the speaker system. I immediately phoned Ankit to check the date and time and sure enough, it was a couple of days before Valentines. I chalked it up to an oversight on whoever was in charge of supervising the CD player.

But after several visits during several months, I noticed not only do they love their Christmas Classics at Select CityWalk, I hear them all over the place. Always an instrumental version. Ringtones, doorbells, ambient music in Chinese restaurants. I’m dreaming of a fried wonton…

At every major intersection in the city, every time the cars stop at a light, out come the vendors selling everything from one-time best selling novels to current issues of Vogue, old issues of IKEA catalogues (not that there is a singe IKEA in India), sticky stars to put on the ceiling, hand towels in assorted colors, tennis racket shaped mosquito zappers, steering wheel covers and on it goes, each week bringing with it a new theme. A few weeks ago, that theme happened to be dancing Winnie-the-Pooh thingies in complete Santa gear. It was 104 degrees outside. In the shade.

A few weeks later, Manuel and I went out to dinner and passed a shiny silver “Happy New Year” banner hanging across the doorway of a restaurant. We decided not to eat there just in case the food was not any fresher than the décor. We opted for another place to eat and all through the meal, in that really annoying sound of a toy keyboard was a looping medley of poorly played Christmas carols.

I finally came to the conclusion that as Christmas is only celebrated in India by a tiny portion of the population, nobody knows or recognizes these songs any more than I would recognize the song about a little dreidel, dreidel, dreidel that was made out of clay. But today, there I was, shopping at Select CityWalk as “Do You Know The Way To San Jose” played on the centrally located piano, which happens to be one of those that plays on it’s own and the keys move as well as though the ghost of Liberace had decided to spend a day of his afterlife hanging at the local mall. Anyway, I was convinced that the mall had finally gone all Grinchy and got rid of Christmas, at least until the holidays rolled around in a few months. And then I walked into Tommy Hilfiger.

Today is July 31. I walked into Tommy Hilfiger as everything was “up to 70% off” and suddenly I was slapped across the face by George Michael. From what I can gather, last Christmas he gave someone his heart and the very next day they gave it to someone else. This was not some musical background ambient music, this was full Christmas lyrics. At high volume. I was stunned. My whole theory went out the window. I think I might spend the night downloading some Hanukkah songs to burn on CD for them and they can give Christmas a bit of a holiday... Just for a week or so...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dinner With Danielle

Last night I had dinner with the fabulous Danielle. We met about a month after I moved here and for me, it was love at first sight. She’s one of those amazing people that have lived in all over the place, speaks half the languages on the planet and everything she owns has a story. I am currently looking for a comfy bed, something I am having a difficulty finding in India. I asked her about her bed, which looked amazingly comfy as I was wandering through the house waiting for her to put on the finishing touches for dinner. The response began “When I was in Bogota…” Then I eyed the amazing carved tortoise on her floor and after I commented the response began “When I was living in Jamaica…”

While I have known Danielle probably longer than I have known anyone else here in India, she and I have never really done anything that was just the two of us. There is always Anjali or Chris and Poul, or Stephen and Pierre or all of the above. Not that it is a complaint in any way, it has been a few months since all of us were together and I could really use a dose of all of them. It was just an odd revelation for me that we hadn’t spent any alone time and it was really great just having her all to myself for those few hours.

Manuel's Visa

When last we left Manuel, he was having a bit of a holiday in Paris brought about by his need to renew his visa. As he is from Spain and holds a Spanish passport, his visa takes five working days to process and so he decided to give himself some buffer time and stay in Paris for two weeks. The first time he had his visa done in The Hague, it took just two days. The second time he had it done in The Hague, we submitted it on a Monday and picked it up on Friday. This time, he applied in Paris a week ago Monday and still no visa. We don’t know why and we don’t know how and when that will get sorted. His flight is due to leave Paris tomorrow, but if he does not get his visa today, then he has to change his flight… But to what date? Please keep your fingers crossed that it all works out.

Our first house guests are arriving on Saturday, just hours after Manuel is scheduled to make an appearance here in Delhi. Two girls from Paris that are planning to backpack around the country for a few weeks. I am jealous. I want to backpack for a few weeks. As much as I love me some luxury hotels and champagne brunches, I also enjoy just going budget, finding cool yet inexpensive places to stay, letting the winds of chance blow us where they may. I have had some pretty amazing experiences that ay. Yes, it means going out of my comfort zone, sometimes so far out that I almost need a compass to return. I am ready to just pack up a bag, go to the train station and just get on a train. Any train, going anywhere and just seeing what will happen. I still have about thirty holiday days left this year (Eat your heart out America! THIRTY days. More days than most people have fingers and toes combined – I can see the green glow of envy from here) and perhaps I will use some of those to do just that type of adventure.

Design Deficient

When I wrote that last post, I had no idea the pig pile of stinky stuff I was stepping into. It seems that making over a blog is not as easy as, let’s say, total reconstructive facial surgery. No, this is far more complicated and I have come to realize that I am simply a complete idiot. Style sheets, XML, HTML, gadgets, widgets, small handheld appliances of the battery operated variety… None of it makes any sense to me. Ankit sent me an sms wondering where all the color had gone. I thought of suggesting I was making a tribute to the glory black and white days of Bette Davis cinema, but knew he would see right though my feeble attempts at covering up my lack of templating skills. So I have decided to do what one does when in India – Find someone to do it for me. I do work for an advertising agency. I am surrounded by creative types, digital types and the occasional nerdy type, but that is neither nor there.

So now all I have to do is find someone I could bride, coerce, would be willing to help me out…

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Makeover Time

This morning I woke up, looked at myself long and hard in themirror and decided it as time for a makeover. Not for me, but for my blog. I have been tossing around the idea for a few months and even Manuel has been going on about how boring my blog looks. As the first step in any 12 step program is admitting to having a problem, I have decided to leave denial in Egypt and face the facts. But didn't have a clue as to where I should begin. Do I give it some highlights? Perhaps a cut and color? Agnaetha style blue eye shadow here and there? So I added a few things here and there and nobody said anything at all. I didn't even get a simple 'Is that a Twitter feed on your blog or are you just happy to see me?' comment. And so this morning I took the decision that what I need is to toss it all out and start afresh - from a design perspective that is.

Why do I seem to be going through this blogging mid-life crisis that has me wanting to trade in my car for a Ferrari? Well, I hate to admit it, but it is good old fashioned jealousy. I have tried and tried not to succumb to it, I just don’t think jealousy is a good shade on me, but there you have it. I was fine when I wrote my little blog and didn’t read any others except for a couple of close friends *waving at Ulco, Stephen and Ankit* but then one day, in all innocence, I Googled David Sedaris. I thought for sure he would have a blog, but he doesn’t, or at least not that I could find – David, if you are reading this and you have a blog, lemme know… And thanks for signing my book in Amsterdam – and stumbled onto “Citizen of the Month” a blog by Neil which then led me to Sizzle Says and then onto “Loralee’s Looney Tunes” and a bunch of other blogs I enjoy reading.

But then the comparisons start. They consistently get comments number in the upper double digits and at times in the triple digits. I have written over 250 posts and don’t think I have enough comments to use all the fingers on both hands. And then the insecurities start. Are they funnier? Sexier? Wittier? Offering free porn? I wonder what I can do differently, better than before. I get feedback from friends and people that read it ‘I love your blog” or “I was laughing out loud when I read your stories” – Hey, it wasn’t MY idea for me to start blogging - but somehow that doesn’t translate into people leaving comments or having masses of total strangers worshiping and adoring me.

And then I get angry. When Al Gore invented the Internets, it was touted as being the great equalizer. Anyone that could type or learn to type could participate. Race, gender, money, social standings, religious preferences, sexual embarrassments and bad hair didn’t matter. Now I discover there are “Top Bloggers”, “Mommybloggers”, “Dadybloggers”, conventions like Blogher and blogging awards like "Alltop" and I want to be a part of that. Suddenly I feel like I am in school again, being the last person picked for the team – well, not picked really, I was more assigned as I was the last one left. I try to tell myself it all doesn’t really matter, but it does. Shallow? Maybe, but it bothers me. Should it? Probably not. But when have I ever been known to be rational? It is certainly not one of my better fitting, pec-flaunting shirts. And aren’t we writers supposed to be an eccentric and insecure bunch?

I would like to think I write for me, but I don’t, at least not exclusively. I write because I love it, it relaxes me, it is just something I feel I have to do, but I also write because I want people to read it. I don’t want to be the lone blog on the shelf that nobody pays any attention to. When I go into a bookstore, I sometimes by the lonely, dusty book because it makes me sad to see it sitting there on the shelf, a story told yet untold.

So there you have it. Part creative desire, part vanity, part self improvement. Those are the reasons I have decided to makeover this blog, at least from a design perspective and am hoping to launch that with a virtual cocktail party in the coming days. The posts will remain as they always were, but if I can get more people visiting and commenting by offering free porn, then I would be a fool to say no.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hula With Talula

When I was growing up, like a lot of children, I hated my name. I despised it. Not the “Robert” part, but the rest of it. I hated my middle name which is “Reeve”. All my classmates seemed to laser in the fact I hated it within the first few minutes of the school year and spend the rest of the year tormenting me with it. I also hated my last name, “Selander” and all the kids would call me “Robbie Salamandar” on the bus and until I would cry. I didn’t even know what a salamander was, but I didn’t like it. When I was older, it became Robbie Cylinder, another name I hated but didn’t quite have the power to reduce me to a sobbing blob. My mom is a HUGE soap opera fan and I used to wonder why she didn’t name me something like “Storm”, “Bolt”, “Thorn”, anything what would sound exotic and exciting and look fabulous in lights.

Now I like my name, I like how it all sounds. There is even a “Second” at the end of it, which I really like. That caused a bit of a problem when I moved to Holland. The only people that have a number after their names there are members of the royal family and other assorted aristocracy. I was not pleased to have to explain and explain that I was in fact not of blue blood. I was not of noble descent and I had absolutely no claim to any throne save my being the very last person left on the planet, and even then the odds were not in my favor.

So I can certainly empathize with a certain nine year old girl in New Zealand who was given the name “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii”. What were her parents thinking? Were they thinking? First off, it is grammatically incorrect, as if she were a live television broadcast of herself –“Live, from Hawaii, it’s Talula and her Hula!” But I think the most unforgivable part of giving a child a name like this is not starting it with “Princess” – Now, doesn’t “Princess Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii” have much better ring to it?

Pass me my ukulele, this calls for a song…

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Manuel and Me

This past week has been a bit surreal for me. Manuel is in Paris and for the couple of days before he left we were having some pretty heated and intense conversations. Not fights, just heated conversations. I had been questioning if Manuel was actually happy living in India and a couple of times suggested he take a bit longer in Europe to consider if India is really a place he wants to be. I think what Manuel heard is that I anted him to stay in Paris and so after a bit of a tense phone conversation the day before he left, Manuel asked me if I wanted him to come back. I started my sentence with “I don’t know…” and was planning on finishing it with something along the lines of only if it is what he wanted and if things would change and we would get our life back to how it was when he first arrived.

When Manuel first came to India, we spent our weekends exploring the city, wandering aimlessly through streets and neighborhoods taking in all the local sights and sounds. We would usually follow that up with a trip to Aqua or QBA for cocktails or perhaps 360 at the Oberoi or Ploof for dinner. Lately we have fallen into that trap of sitting in front of the TV, not really talking and life has become something that happens elsewhere. I’m not sure how we went from not watching any TV to becoming non-communicating couch potatoes. It was that realization that prompted the trip to Jaipur a couple of weeks ago. I felt we needed a bit of an adventure injection and was hoping that would help kick-start things in a different direction.

Before coming to India, Manuel and I didn’t really know each other. We had met in January 2007, just a week or so before I left for India – I will save that story for another post in the coming days. We spent months chatting on MSN and having the phone calls here and there, but after that initial 24 hours together, we didn’t see each other until he arrived in Amsterdam and from that moment, we were living together. It might seem hasty, but it was the only way to give it a go. Having done the long distance relationship thing once before – and that was only with 200 or so kilometers between us and living in the same time zone – I was not up for it again. So, we both jumped in without really knowing the other person apart from those initial hours and some online chats. As anyone online knows, a persons online and offline personality can be very different. Fortunately for us, we clicked immediately when we saw each other again in Amsterdam and I don’t have a moment of regret.

So when Manuel heard the “I don’t know…” part, he responded quickly by saying he was going to stay in Paris. I was stunned. I had suggested he stay in Paris a few weeks and think things through, reconnect with friends and maybe see some family, but I hadn’t meant that he should stay there, unless he decided India (or I) were not for him. When I got home that evening, I couldn’t even talk to him. I as angry and hurt and felt quite betrayed. Eventually we started talking and that made things a bit worse. I get very emotional and am a person who vents. I talk, I write, I discuss things. Manuel completely shuts down and doesn’t say anything and then an hour or two later, sometimes the next day, he comes back with his point of view. So what I feel should be a conversation turns out to be first my download, followed by Manuel’s sometime later and then we gradually get into conversation mode. That coupled with my complete lack of patience – Yes, I have been known to be a bit impatient every now and again – can easily lead to hurt feelings on both sides. And if I am feeling hurt, then I want the other person to feel as miserable as I am. I have been both blessed and cursed with a very quick mind that can form and deliver some pretty intense zingers in micro-seconds, often with some pretty devastating consequences. It's something I have learned to keep in check, but when emotions flare, out they fly.

Manuel shocked me with a statement he made before he left that has been on my mind since he mentioned it. He told me he didn’t think I was happy in India. I thought I was, but I realized I wasn’t as happy about it as I liked to pretend. The main reason is that here I am something of a second class citizen. On the one hand, an expat here gets fabulous benefits, a great salary, invitations to parties, etc. But on the other hand, can’t get a credit card, can’t invest, can’t participate in any programs to cut taxes and save money, can’t buy property, can’t exchange money into any foreign currency, etc. So life is something of a half-life and all the while I pay a ton of money in taxes. These things are really getting on my nerves, perhaps more than I should let them.

But I may have just stumbled across not only a solution to that issue, but also something that could lead to a whole new life. I was in a meeting yesterday working a pitch we are doing for a new client in the area of investments. I mentioned I was pretty out of touch with that world in India as I can’t even get a basic credit card and someone told me to just set myself up as a company. It costs about 40 US Dollars and then I need to have about 200 US dollars in an account as capital. That will give me the rights to own property (I can own for less than I am paying now) and get a credit card. In addition, I have also come across a fabulous business opportunity with a very good friend of mine that I think is going to change a lot of things. More on that later as things develop.

So now Manuel is in Paris and he is coming back on the first of August. I miss him and am looking forward to him coming back. I am also looking forward to getting everything back on track. The good news is, that all the things that weren’t so good between us, are easy things to fix. At the core, we love each other and enjoy each other. We each need to tweak a few things and then I think everything will be great. I am so looking forward to it!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Last week was one of those weeks that make me wish I could put my life on e-Bay and sell it off to someone else. I don’t mean the things in my life like that guy from Australia, I mean my life itself. Let someone else live it. Perhaps they would do a better job than I seem to be doing at the moment. Lately I have just been feeling so disconnected so out of touch with my own life. I’m not sure exactly what to do and it all has me questioning every aspect of my life. My work. My friends. My relationship. Myself.

I think part of the issue is that I just constantly feel sad and alone. It’s not a new development, I have had that feeling my entire life. Even during the happiest times, there is that undercurrent of melancholy and isolation. It just doesn’t go away and I don’t know why. I have a great job. I am in a relationship with a great guy. I have wonderful friends. I have lived a pretty incredible life. For the most part, I enjoy my life here in India. There are moments when I feel like pulling out my hair and the hair of all those around me, but all in all, I like it.

I just don’t know what’s causing these feelings and I don’t know how to make them go away. Sometimes they are very intense and sometimes they are just lurking in the shadows, but always there. I’m not depressed or anything like that, it is more like I feel cloudy inside.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Road to Jaipur

Last Friday I was sitting in my office when suddenly I had a brilliant idea, a road trip to Jaipur. I have been wanting to visit Jaipur since arriving in India 18 months ago and for some reason or other, never actually did it. Manuel had a birthday party Friday night, so we started out at 6 on Saturday morning, our driver Ashok looking alert as always. For the 5 hour trip, about an hour is spent just getting out of the Delhi area, but once out, everything changes. The landscape is greener and the hills are almost surprising after being used to the flat terrain of Delhi. That is also the same area when the camels start appearing with regularity.

When I was growing up, we did a lot of road trips and would often pass the time looking for out-of-state plates or we would make lists of things to find on the journey and the person who saw the most things on the list was the winner. In between those games, we would play the games of children like “Don’t touch me” and “Don’t look out my window” – Manuel passed his time pointing out camels.

Ooooh, there’s a camel there.

I kept myself occupied on Twitter via my iPhone. The great thing about something like Twitter, is that it lets me share a trip like that with my best friend (or anyone else who cares to follow, for that matter) even when he is 12 ½ time zones away. Sometimes that is the hard part of living abroad. I see so many wonderful things that I know certain people would just love to see. So, I decided to take them along with me and it was great. The next best thing to having them here. And the best part, it is all instant and live. If I saw something I knew someone would like, I immediately sent it and a minute later I had a response. Brilliant!

Look, there’s another camel.

About two hours into the trip we decided to stop for breakfast. The original plan was to stop at Neemrana Fort, but there as a wedding happening and so the place was fully booked and they were not accepting non-guests for breakfast or even a coffee, so we stopped at a roadside place to stretch and have a bite and 20minutes later we were speeding down highway toward Jaipur.

A camel… I like it to see the camels on the road like this.

Oh my God, there’s a naked man walking on the road.

I turned around in time to see the backside of naked walking man. Just the sight of him was enough to keep Manuel buzzing for about ten minutes. The rest of the drive down was often interrupted with comments like “I don’t understand why the man he was walking down the street without the clothes” or “I can’t believe the man was just walking with no clothes!”

One would think he had never seen a naked man strolling down the highway before.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Queens, India

How long does it take to go from New Delhi, India to New York, USA? Apparently it’s only a ten minute walk.

Yesterday evening I took a little stroll around the area and found my self in Amar Colony Market, which is less than ten minutes on foot from my front door. I found a Café Coffee Day and ordered my new signature drink, a Cranberry Granitas which for anyone who doesn’t know what a granitas is, it is basically a slurpee, or as Starbucks likes to call them, “Frappucinos”, which are basically overpriced slurpees. So there I was in Amar Colony testing out the new Vodafone service on my iPhone. I am in love with the map feature that then pinpoints where I am. Something addictive about it. It is like my own version of “hide and seek,” I go someplace and see if technology can find me. But yesterday, the little gadget placed me on Long Island. In New York. Oddly enough it put me just a few miles from here I used to live, almost like the past was reaching out to me, beckoning me back. So while I was sitting in Amar Colony, India/Williston Park, New York, I decide to click a picture of my surroundings and post a Tweet. Within seconds I got a reply back saying “It looks like Jackson Ave in Queens to me.”

Disney Dreams

I can still hear the words and melody as if it happened only yesterday…

Thank you Mickey,
Thank you Donald,
Let’s all give a cheer,
The whole world wants to thank you,
For thirty happy years…

It was 1985, the thirtieth anniversary year for Disneyland and I was working at the Magic Kingdom in an area known as Main Street Foods. That means I bounced between Town Square Café, where I usually worked and sometimes did my shift at Carnation Ice Cream Parlor where all the cool and hip people worked. I was a busboy, which meant clearing the tables, making sure there was enough ice, replacing the syrup cylinders for the soda fountain, washing dishes, removing the trash and then every Sunday, there was a thing known as Sunday Night Close. That was when everything got cleaned until it sparkled. All the brass was polished, all the ice melted, all the stainless steel wiped down with a protective coating of oil until there was not so much a fingerprint in the place. Town Square Café is located near the entrance of the park, and is the first restaurant you pass on the way in. It is a breakfast and lunch place, serving lots of omelets and eggs, which the young children feel they should use as finger paints all over the tables and chairs and walls and floors while their parents look and snap pictures of their cute offspring.

Carnation Ice Cream Parlor was even worse. Chocolate, caramel, strawberry sauce, butterscotch and melted ice cream all over the place. Just looking at the place made you feel sticky and gooey and in want of a shower. But it was a cool place to work. Lunches were usually spent behind Coke Corner in the unused boats for the Jungle Cruise or behind Town Square Café where the characters would rest in between parades. It was common to see Mickey or Minnie without their heads on (always a girl underneath those costumes, or a little person in orange tights you knew was Donald. I had major character envy. Of course I had heard the stories about Chip and Dale getting mugged or one of the Three Little Pigs being chased around the park, but I was desperate to be a character. I was even more desperate to be in the parade.

All of the parades go from Small World, in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and down Main Street passing Carnation Ice Cream Parlor and Town Square Café. Each time they would pass, I would sneer and give dirty looks under my "Disney Attitude" exterior. All anyone saw was a smiling, happy me. Inside I was fuming. I was so jealous I invented a new shade of green. By the end of the first week, I knew all the words, all the steps, all the hand motions. All I was missing was a costume and float! And then one day there was a posting for parade and character auditions. That was it. I knew it was going to be my big break. I could feel it in my bones. This was going to be my first step on the road to Broadway! I would ride that float all the way to New York.

I went to the audition which was located in one of the backstage areas behind Bear Country. As we walked in, we all gave each other dirty looks. It was very “A Chorus Line” but with Disney attitude. We were all taught a little dance number that would take us from one end of the rehearsal hall to the other and given a few minutes to rehearse and make it our own before performing it in pairs for the judges. When my turn came up, I gave it my best Disney smile and off I went. By the time I reached the end of the routine, we would each find ourselves in front of a judge who would point us in a certain direction. Mine pointed me to the left, and after that all us lefties were asked to leave.

The dreams I dreamed were crushed by a little mouse named Mickey at what is supposed to be the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The New Sultan

I have moved to East of Kailash, but East of Kailash is not, as the name would lead one to believe, east of a place named Kailash. I am actually east of Defence Colony, south of Lajpat Nagar, west of Nehru Place and north of Kailash. NORTH. It is a ten minute walk south to reach the Kailash Market, where I just went for lunch. So where, I beg to know, does the “east” in East of Kailash come from? There is a Mount Kailash in Tibet, which would place me southwest of Kailash in that case. Perhaps East of Kailash just sounded better than North of Kailash or South of Lajpat Nagar. I can honestly say that West of Nehru Place doesn’t really roll off the tongue as other names do. It's all so very confusing...

I did take a stroll around the area and discovered that I am exactly one street removed from Amar Colony, placing my little abode directly East of Amar. That sounds exotic to me. Dilemma settled.

I hereby dub myself the new Sultan of East of Amar.