Posts in "Personal"

I’ve Seen The Future. And It’s Green.

About two years (and a whole lifetime) ago I had my palm read by a fortune teller. You can read the outcome of that over on the Can You Read My Mind post.

And now, nearly two years to the day later, I had my fortune told again, but not by a palm reader, this time it was a little green parakeet (or parrot if you want the Indian word for it). Seriously, a little bird that’s kept in a tiny cage picks up some bits from a pile and based on that it can tell you your past, present and future. A bit like in A Christmas Tale, but replace the ghosts with a green bird.

So based on which cards the bird chose, the fortune was able to tell me (via a translator) the following:


– The course and education which I studied was different to what I actually wanted to study or should have studied.

– Just a few years back I had some associations with some girls which was not so good (nothing’s changed there then!)


– I have a good time to get married right now (yikes!)

– What I have now is much better in terms of relationships with friends and my life now is much better and what I’m choosing to do is much better than what I was doing before.

– I will not expect my parents money, or any of their wealth, or rather I would not be keen on taking it. I am more keen to make my own money than to take it. (doesn’t that make you feel much better, mum?)

– Apart from my job which I am currently doing, I will be having another income which pays me well. (seriously, how do they know this stuf?!)


– Some good news will come will come in 20 days (I will post back here on the 4th March, watch this space I guess)

– I have the opportunity to go to different parts of the world from India (Kenya!)

Funnily enough, the American client we were with and my boss had their fortune told as well and especially in the case of my boss the parakeet was particularly accurate about their past.


New Camera Photos

This is just a bit of a boring post to show some pictures taken with my new Sony camera. It was £142 and I bought it from eBuyer (although they seem to have put the price up since I bought it). The camera is the Sony DSC-W270 and it has a 5x optical zoom, 3200 ISO and an optical anti-blur, which is extremely important for my shaky hands.

1. The Kitchen 🙂

My parents kitchen

2. The kitchen while trying out the anti-blur!

kitchen with anti-blur

3. Zoom!

Kitchen Zoom

4. Outside my parents house

outside parents house

5. Standing from the same position as above but zoomed in as far as it can go – see how sharp it is, despite my stupid shaky hands!

more zoom

6. Inside my parents house without the flash on, testing the light sensitivity!

Light sensitivity of the sony camera

7. Inside the house with the flash

Internal photo with the flash

8. Another internal shot without the flash

Internal shot without the flash

9. Picture from the same position as above but with the flash

photo with a flash

10. If you want the best seat in the house…move the cat!

move the cat

11. Flowers in my parents back garden

purple flowers

12. Close up of one of the purple flowers from the picture above. Using my awesome photographic skills I seem to have managed to get the camera to focus on the leaves rather than the flower. Erm, blame the autofocus!

close up purple flowers

13. Another flower from the garden, once again, managed to focus on the flower to the left rather than the one I was taking a picture of…d’oh!

another purple flower

14. Yay! A pretty flower. Taken in the interests of testing my camera! Honest!

pretty flower

15. Close up of the apple tree in the garden

apple tree close up

16. Random shot of a cup of drinking straws. Random.

drinking straws

17. A close up of my Dad’s, err, “organized” toolbox!

toolbox parts

18. A very forlorn cat trying to work out how to use a door

forlorn cat

19. A bowl of fruit taken using the flash

bowl of fruit

20. Same picture as above but taken without the flash and on the “natural” setting mode

another bowl of fruit

Well, hope you weren’t too bored by this post. And if you were thinking about buying the Sony DSC-W270 camera, hopefully you can see what it’s capable of. One thing I noticed was that the battery seems to run down pretty quick.

No Kissing Please… We’re British!

I love being an expat, I love working in a different country, and most importantly I love being in a place where you don’t have to wonder what the weather will be like – it’s always shorts and t-shirt weather. It’s always lovely and hot. Give me blazing sun over winter blues anyday.

I’d say 95% of the time I love being in India. The other 5% of the time I’m trying to bargain with theives Auto drivers.

One of the best things about being an expat is the sheer variety of people you get to meet, from all over the world. I have my little clique, as everyone does, and yes, it’s full of Brits with the occasional American to mix things up. (I’m sure my Scottish friend will take exception to being called a Brit though!).

Today, for example, I was playing football at the American International School (the private, $20,000 / year school for foreign kids) and there must have been at least 10 different nationalities. We even had a guy from Burma! Burma I tell you! I didn’t think they were allowed out of their country.

So all this schmoozing and hobnobbing with foreigners (I’m British, we’re not foreign, regardless of which country we’re in; they all speak our language [tongue is in cheek here and not meant to be taken seriously!]) brings up a problematic dilemma.

That of the social kiss.

To a Brit, personal space is everything, an acceptable form of greeting is to extend your right hand and have a firm handshake. Applies to guys and girls. If you are very close to the person (and they are of the opposite sex!) a light hug may be acceptable, if it’s initiated by the girl (note to guys; don’t initiate the hug, let it come to you. Could cause all kinds of problems otherwise).

So, I now have to navigate this social kissing minefield with foreigners from all over the world (and we are talking just the females here, don’t get any funny ideas). Honestly, for the poor British, who are perfectly happy with the formal handshake, social kissing is enough to give you cold sweats and shivers down your back.

I mean, do you go right cheek then left cheek? Or the other way round? Do you making a kissing noise? Do you just plant one kiss? Do you kiss the air or the cheek? Should you initiate the embrace? What if she leans in and you don’t realise and leave her hanging? Some people do three kisses, how are you to know? What if you accidently kiss on the lips?

Gah. This kissing problem is something you don’t consider when you move abroad. Consider yourself told, if you are thinking of moving abroad and not confident with your social kissing, you could be outcast and ostracized from the expat community. “Did you hear about Jeff? Monique went to greet him and he actually kissed her!”

And to Anita, if you are reading this, I’m really sorry! We don’t understand social kissing!

Well, Bring On 2009

So that’s the end of 2008. Did it bring you good fortune? Did it bring you laughter and tears? Did you make new friends, and lose touch with old ones?

For me (well, this blog is about me), 2008 has probably been my best year, possibly ever. I’ve got a great new job, live in a fantastic (and random) country and hooked up with loads of cool people and doing something that probably 99% of people would ever have the courage or inclination to do.

There’s no way I want to get to the age of 80 and look back and say “I wished I had…”

Such a lot has happened, and I’ve learned so much. I’m really looking forward to 2009.

Do people still make new years resolutions? I’m going to tempt fate and list some out here…

      1. Learn Tamil. I really want to learn the local lingo. I’m going to buy CD or course – books on Amazon have very bad ratings, so will have to hunt it out
      2. Give people proper and indepth feedback at work
      3. Keep a physical work diary to become more organized
      4. Drink less – ha ha! Only kidding!
      5. Earn more money from my little websites

A friend suggested that I write a poem for my first blog entry of 2009, but since I’m not that creative, I decided to post my favourite, and the worlds cheesiest poem instead. It’s extra mature cheddar cheese with an additional cheesy topping!

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Really Stupid Things To Do – Part 533


Of all the stupid things to do, this one probably doesn’t rank up there as one of them, (for a list of the most stupid things to do, these guys take the crown). But on a list of really annoying things to do, this has to be right up there.

This afternoon I had a total brainfart (possibly due to the incredible amounts of caffeine I drank earlier) and managed to put my mobile phone in the washing machine. I now have one very clean, but one very broken mobile phone.

Please don’t tell anyone 🙁

Why Mac’s Don’t Cut It In Business

Sad Mac Strikes Again

OK, so I was using Apple Macs before they were cool. I even had my very own Performa 630. I grinned and beared when my mates were playing the latest, coolest games and I had, umm, snake? For a few years I was the typical mac fan boy, before anyone had even heard of macs and way before it was ‘cool’ to like them. We’re talking the mid-90’s here.

Anyways. I grew up. I moved on. The Performa was retired to the rubbish tip (33 MHz and 8mb RAM only cuts it for so long, and besides, Snake II was out and needed more power). I got a PC.

And guess what? It did everything that the Mac did. And it played Half Life, Championship Manager and FIFA.

So, it left me thinking, what can a Mac do that a PC can’t.

Fast forward to 2008. My boss is where I was 10 years back. A Mac fanboy, blinded by Steve Job’s polo neck jumpers. He uses a Mac because, well, it’s just cool, isn’t it? With absolutely no logical reason to use a Mac, he insists it can do things that the PC can’t.

Like the ability to be used for…business?

At the weekend we had a large business meeting at the hotel. Aravind was waxing lyrical about his presentation that he was producing in Keynote and how it blew the pants off my Power Point Presentation.

Long story short. What happened when we got to the meeting? The ‘business ready’ Mac was unable to connect to the projector because it didn’t have the right cable port!

PC – 1
Mac’s – 0

(my fullest apologies to the site I ripped the image from. Google Images. What an inspired idea!)

Cuisine of Goa

One of the big things that I was worried about when I first came to India in 2006 was the food. I’m a self confessed fussy eater, and the list of things I don’t like could be turned in to a book 500 pages long. However, this worry was unfounded because the food in India is simply amazing. Fast forward to 2008, my Mum had the exact same worry. One of the big problems is, that in the West, we think everyone in India eats rice and curry. The thought that there are any other types of food is not considered.

Once again, this ignorance of India has no basis, as I think India has one of the most diverse and varied diets in the world. Because it’s so big, and has every climate from cool and temperate to tropical, it means that virtually every type of food known to man can be cultivated in India. As such, the diet consists of every vegetable, every fruit that you have heard of in the West plus double that amount again that you have never heard of. This variety probably makes India one of the best places in the world to eat.

Goa is certainly no exception, and you should come here with an open mind.

What looks like a run down native fisherman shack can produce some of the best food you have ever tasted. True, if you let your mind wonder and think about the conditions the food is prepared in, it might not be as enjoyable, but if you accept the surroundings and try the local cuisine, it will blow you away. Quite how they can russle up the fantastic dishes in a palm tree shack on the edge of the beach is anyones guess, but they do, and your taste buds will love you for it!

Goa: Where everyone has a story to tell

OK, so in my last post I said that Goa is the equivalent to Benirom or Daytona. I wasn’t far off the mark, but it’s not entirely accurate either. It’s a bit like one of those Greek island resorts where the tourism is aimed at the middle aged and families with young children. There is a certain attraction for hippy types, or those that simply want to get out of the rat race.

We are staying in an area called Calangute, which the tourist book describes as the armpit of Goa, over commercialization, young indian men off their faces, hawkers, fruit sellers the lot. But actually, it’s really not all that bad – and anyone who’s been to a Spanish resort will know how bad it can get! As you walk down the road towards the beach, you go past the tourist shops all selling the exact kind of thing – it does beg the question, if they are all selling the same stuff, how do any of them make any money.

As a foreign tourist in Goa, you are a magnet for the hawkers, but unlike other places, although they share the same desperate persistance, they are also extremely polite. From the 10 year old girl who has perfect English and asks for 10 rupees to have your picture taken with her (and on a very serious note: there really needs to be some education to the kids about talking to foreigners), and claims that there’s “no school” today, to the much older, and more experienced hawkers selling you their wares from a coat hanger – yes, really!

You really have to keep your wits about you, and in most cases, be exceptionally rude – because if you are polite and give them the time of day, they will stick with you like glue until you buy something – all the while being very friendly, chatty and inquisitive though! If you are anything like my Mum who will try and be nice and give non-commital answers, expect to come off the beach loaded up with so much cheap tat that you could very well start hawking yourself!

If you have to buy something, or can’t bare to see the 8 month pregnant lady selling her wares (which is the same as everyone elses) in the blistering heat, it’s important to remember to bargain. The hawkers will start very high, so you should start very low. It’s amazing how a cheap bangle which they swear blind is solid silver (but leaves a suspicious green mark hours after putting it on) can go from 500 Rupees to 50 Rupees. Use the classic bargaining technique that you already bought something and it cost 20 rupees, and watch how quickly the price tumbles.

At first the hawkers are ok, but pretty soon it becomes tiresome and bothersome. There are two effective ways to deal with it though!

First, don’t answer, don’t reply, and don’t even look at the person. Even if they ask you questions, don’t reply, or if you do say anything, say a firm “No”. If they place a shawl around your neck, don’t touch it or feel it, continue walking and ignore it at all costs.

The second advice if ignoring them doesn’t work, is to head down to the sea and go in up to your knees! Works a treat every time, none of them will follow you in 🙂

Anyway, the highlight of the hawkers in Calangute is Rodney and Del Boy. Everyone gives themselves Western names, so Deva becomes David, Sandeep becomes Sandy etc. So we weren’t too surprised when one hawker told us his name was Rodney. The penny dropped when we met his mate “Del Boy”. The two guys could be attractions within themselves as they quote lines from Only Fools and Horses in their everyday language. They even tote their wares around in a big suitcase. I can’t imagine what’s going through their mind, or why they decided to model themselves on Del and Rodney, but it will keep you amused for some time as they tell you all their wares are “pucker” and how the other day Rodney was such a “plonker”. Asked where Uncle Albert was, and you are told he’s looking after their shop.

The other thing about the hawkers is that they all have a sob story to tell. Now depending on your level of naivety and compassion, you can make up your own mind whether to indulge the stories or whether to dismiss them out of hand. Sticking to my cynical self, I think that the stories are just that, stories to tell the tourists to get some more money out of us.

Kerala – What Western Tourists Should Know

Kerala – What Western Tourists Should Know

In my previous post I lampooned India’s tourist industry by writing some fake tour guides for 3 completely lame tourist attractions – attractions which the Indian nationals queue up for and visit in their hundreds. However, what is apparent, is that the things that entertain Indian’s (standing on a bay shouting your name and listening for the echo) is not what entertainers Westerners (who, quite frankly, have been disney world’ed to death and if it doesn’t go upside down 400 times, soak you through, take 5 years off your life, and cost $50 to get in, it’s not ‘entertaining’) are wanting from the experience.

So, here is a (rather lame) Westerners guide to Kerala

First off, the place is green (as I may have mentioned in my previous post). The views are spectacular and well worth the money. It’s like a combination of the Austrian / Swiss alps, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands. If you are all for inspiring vista’s, panaramic views, mountains rising out of the mist, thundering waterfalls, then Kerala is the place for you. In the morning the mist can be seen in all the small valleys (if you are in a high up resort) with the mountains poking out, and slowly, as the sun heats the air, it all rises, joins together and passes through you and overhead.

Up in the mountains, there are huge tea estates. Seriously huge. As far as the eye can see kind of huge, there are miles and miles of tea plants. As a Brit who loves tea, it’s great to finally see the plant where it is grown and find out which part of the tree the tea comes from. Your impressions will be: a) it’s a lot smaller than you imagined and b) what part of the tree does the leaf come from.

If you are driving up to the mountains, make sure you get the driver to stop so you can get out and take some photos (if you want), because they probably won’t stop (tea trees are not interesting, right? But it’s good to actually see them up close). You will also see the ladies picking the tea with bags strapped to their back, so when you go back home to your friends and drinking your cup of Tetley, you can say, with authority, that you have seen the actual tea plants the tea came from AND actual people picking the actual leaves. Wonderful conversational piece. Go ahead.

The other strange thing that happened was the driver brazenly drove past three Elephants, and we had to cry out just to get him to stop. Again, it’s a Western thing, we don’t see Elephants in the street! You get to sit on the elephants and feed it fruit. No comment on the conditions the animal is kept in, but it’s probably not great 🙁

Beyond that, the recommendation is to either admire the views, or simply to ask your driver to drive around, because the real attraction is the scenery – and very good scenery it is too, they must have seen Lord of the Rings and thought, “hey, that’s a good idea! We can have mountains like that too!”.

There are some cultural things that you can do, and I use the word in the loosest sense of the word. You may have to ask around before you go, because my mother received an ‘ayervedic massage’ (say what now?!) – organized by our travel agency – in a freezing cold hut. We also watched a show about Lord Krishna (maybe, who knows?) which was very…cultural. If you are not in to the bizzare, abstract, downright weird, then you should probably give that one a miss too. If you are really going to be a culture vulture like my mum, then go ahead, knock yourself out. And if you do find out what the play/show/art/performance is about, be sure to drop me a line because I was totally lost.

From what I could tell of the story, the girl (played by a guy) was a real hussy and tried to lure the green guy in to bed. The green guy being very traditional refused and said they had to get married first. The hussy just wanted to get some action and persisted until eventually the green guy cut off her breasts because she wouldn’t stop. Then he went and told his father about what happened (and presumably got a bitch slap upside the head for being so stupid).

I could be gravely mistaken though.

Hmm, I’m writing this blog from a houseboat on the backwaters in Southern Kerala. It’s pretty cool, you get to see a completely different way of life, with women washing clothes in the river, washing the cutlery in the river, washing their kids in the river, washing themselves in the river, before finally, catching their dinner from the river. However, there’s also the cynic in me that half thinks: these guys are being paid to be rural and traditional for the high paying tourists.

Again, very scenic, and only slightly ruined by the number of white tourists gawping at the culture. Damn culture vultures!

Keeping with my penchant of comparing everything here to the way things are back home, the houseboats are like canel boats that you can take short breaks on, but over here, they know what a house boat is! It makes our canel boats look quaint, a little funny and a bit like a noddy toy. The Kerala houseboats are really big, really nice, well furnished, have great facilities and even better meals onboard.

Anyway. Next stop: Goa. India’s equivalent of Benidorm, Malia or Daytona.