Plunging into Village Life in the Heartlands of Wayanad

It was serendipity that brought us to Wayanad, a mountainous region in the north-eastern part of Kerala. With the long weekend coming up in the early part of October 2017, we wracked our brains for something to do. It never occurred to us that we should go and stay on a working farm until an email landed in my inbox.

This is what the email had to say.

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8 Words From India We Should Add to the English Language

Over the course of the last nine years in India, I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I can barely speak any of the local languages. To anyone that asks, I quickly point out that in Chennai at least, almost everyone speaks English to varying degrees of proficiency. In my office, amongst the marketing, sales and account management teams, the default language is English.

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For that, I can thank the agitations of the early 1960s when the central Government of India wanted to impose Hindi as the national language across the country. The political parties in the south vehemently opposed the implementation of Hindi to conduct all official business and so the Dravidian movement was born.

In a big F-You to the central Government, English was selected as a second language taught in schools in the south over Hindi. The result? A population that is at ease talking to foreigners but will have great difficulty communicating to their fellow countrymen from the north of the country.

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50 (ish) Things I Learned After Demonetisation

It’s been 50 days since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on TV and gave the nation a collective heart attack. Demonetisation took out 86% of the cash value from circulation. Imagine that. All the money you had at home turned into worthless paper until you went to a bank and deposited it all, declaring everything you have to the income tax department. Since then, exactly zero rioting has broken out and the political opposition is still figuring out how it feels about this whole thing.

I, on the other hand, have experienced many highs and lows from demonetisation. Here’s 50 (ish) things that I have learned since 8th November.

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How JFK Airport Saved My Christmas

“Honey,” I said, in what I hoped was my best loving husband voice, “something happened in New York that I need to tell you about. You are going to find out sooner or later so it’s best if you heard it from me.” It was perhaps also my guilty voice. My wife’s face, which up until that point had been blissfully happy that her husband had returned from his trip, was instantly a conflict of emotions. Was it something good, was it something bad, was I about to confess something that would test the very fabric of our marriage? It was quite possibly all those things.

Ask my office manager to describe me in so many words and the adjective “absent-minded” might be mentioned. Naturally, I bristle at the idea that I’m a forgetful person. However, she would point out the times I lost my company ID card (twice), left my ID card in the food court, left my intern in the office without telling her that we were all going out for lunch, left my phone back in the office (several times), and once, to my horror, misplaced the corporate credit card (it later turned up several months later at the bottom of my desk draw).

My wife might agree with my office manager. Every trip we go on, her every second question is “have you got your passport?” Puh-lease! Like I am ever going to lose such an important document. What am I, five years old?

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Chennai Expat Guide Launched!

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that the Chennai Expat Guide book has been launched!

The book is the only guide that expats moving to Chennai need to adjust to life in the city. Based on my own eight years of experience living in the city and filled with the funny stories and anecdotes of over 50 contributing expats it covers every aspect of relocating to Chennai.

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A Most Distinguished Guest

I’m told by my team mates that there are plenty of advantages of being a foreigner in India. For example, they claim that whenever we go out for dinner together, they get better service in restaurants. Now that’s not for me to comment on because I’ve got nothing to compare it against. I’m friendly to waiting staff and they mostly seem to be friendly to me.

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The Uluru Outback Adventure

If someone said to you why not spend nearly a thousand pounds to fly four hours into the middle of a desert to look at a rock, you might politely enquire what medication that person is currently taking.

Incidentally, that’s exactly the reaction I got from my wife when I suggested we forgo a trip the Great Barrier Reef and go to Uluru instead while on our Australia holiday.

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Chennai Rising – What Happened After the Floods

It’s been a couple of weeks since my blog post on what happened before, during and immediately after the Chennai rains. What was meant as an update for family and friends on what was going on (OK, mostly to reassure my Mum, who does worry so), seemed to have captured the attention of Chennaites around the world.

There has been no let up in the relief efforts of people all across Chennai. While now we can say that with a very few exceptions, most people have been rescued from their homes or the water has receded far enough for them to get out, rehabilitation is in full swing.

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As Chennai Sank, Humanity Rose in its Place

I don’t think November and December of 2015 are going to be two months that I forget for the rest of my life. Every year in Chennai, the Northeast Monsoon (NEM) pours rain all over the city. When I first arrived in Chennai in 2008, I remember that like clockwork the rains would come during the night and then clear up by morning. The last few years, the rains have been erratic and last year it was as if the NEM didn’t even happen.

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Where does one go for Christmas in India?

Listen up Internet. Can you help my wife and I? We want to go somewhere for Christmas but we just don’t know where! The only requirement is that it’s in India, we shouldn’t have been there before and there should be some things to do or places to explore.

This will be my fifth year outside of England for Christmas. Last year my wife and I decided to switch things up a little and booked ourselves into the Hilton Colombo. She was working for the Hilton so we got a nice staff rate on the regular price. To top it off, the head chef at Hilton Colombo was British so he laid on the best Christmas dinner I’ve had in a long time.

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