Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Good Read - Baby Proof

Besides the strange title, this was an excellent read. This book is well-written, Emily Giffin has a talent with words, and even though I thought the plot was a bit predictable, I had a hard time putting down.

Baby Proof(2006)A novel by
Emily Giffin

Claudia and Ben seem to be the perfect couple. Ever since their first date, when they discovered that neither saw children in their future, the path of their relationship seems destined to succeed. They envisage a life filled with freedom, possibility and exploration. Claudia and Ben are together because they want to be, not because children are caging them with eighteen years of obligation. But things don't always stay the same. Ben's best friend and his wife get pregnant, and suddenly Ben changes his mind. He does want children after all. This is the story of a couple at a crossroads - and a woman who must decide what she wants most in life. BABY PROOF explores searing emotional consequences and impossible dilemmas with sensitivity and wit, depth and lashings of heart.

Cohiba Club - Here is to, "3 Great Years"!!

As you can see, I've been a bit of a book worm lately. My graphic design class starts at 8, followed by Yoga and Bollywood Dancing on alternate days and in between I do my course practical and I read. Yes, I know..."Student Life" is the bomb!!!

Other than our daily routine... life in Bangalore is just, "life in Bangalore". So, there is not much to report on.

Jacqueline is still with us and enjoying her Indian experience. So much so that it's her shoes at the front door that reminds us that we have a tenant. I can't believe she's been here for 3 months already.
Saturday "Night Out"...
"Catching up" over dinner

Cohiba Club- Cigar Bar & Restaurant - We thought it would be fitting to smoke a Cuban. Well, that's if you can call what I'm doing "smoking". Now I know why I've never smoked...
Marc and I were reminded about how time flies when we made a toast to our 3 Years together.

"Little did we know when we met (Sunday) 3 years ago that we would be living "life in Bangalore""!
On our way home - In true Jacqueline style she embraced a street seller that she bought a rose from. The girl admired Jacqueline's bindi's and asked her to give them to her, which she of course did with a smile. "It sure does take a special kind of person, doesn't it"!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Good Read - If You Could See Me Now

In this charming novel, internationally bestselling author Cecelia Ahern shows that sometimes not seeing is believing!

Readers and critics alike adore Cecelia Ahern for her lighthearted yet insightful stories about modern women and their often unusual situations. In If You Could See Me Now, she takes that theme a step further, offering us a heroine who is entirely believable, and the new man in her life who is, well, slightly less so.

Elizabeth Egan’s life runs on order: Both her home and her emotions are arranged just so, with little room for spontaneity. It’s how she counteracts the chaos of her family -- an alcoholic mother who left when she was young, an emotionally distant father, and a free-spirited sister, who seems to be following in their mother’s footsteps, leaving her own six-yearold son, Luke, in Elizabeth’s care. When Ivan, Luke’s mysterious new grown-up friend, enters the picture, Elizabeth doesn’t know quite what to make of him. With his penchant for adventure and colorful take on things large and small, Ivan opens Elizabeth’s eyes to a whole new way of living. But is it for real? Is Ivan for real?

If You Could See Me Now is a love story with heart -- and just a touch of magic.
Let's be honest once you get older the thought of an imaginary friend is laughable but why not? We could all proberly do with one at some stage just to remind us to have a bit of fun and mischief!
It's a easy read and I really enjoyed it!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Good Read - Echoes (I Loved it!!!)

I recommend this book to anyone who needs a good story to get away with. Pass the hours enjoying a plain, good story. It's like reading a slice of life, someone else's life.

Two very different children are growing up, shouting their hearts' desires into the echo cave, praying that their destiny will lead them far away from the town in which they live. Castlebay, in winter empty and grey with wind and sea spray, becomes all bustle and colour in the gaudy days of summer – and Tom O'Brien's shop on the edge of the cliff besieged by holidaymakers.

One of those children with ambitions to leave Castlebay is Clare, Tom O'Brien's younger daughter. A favourite with the local schoolteacher, she wins a scholarship to University College, Dublin and seems all set for a path of academic glory. The other child dreaming of escape is David Power, the doctor's son, also bound for Dublin university, and probably a dazzling future as a specialist.

The paths of these two characters are destined to criss-cross in a quite unforeseen way, and eventually both roads will lead back to Castlebay. The end of this long drama of ambition, betrayal and love is played out in the seaside town where it began, against a backdrop of whispered family gossip and the tangled skein of past friendships.

Maeve Binchy brings to this story of a marriage all her warmth and power of insight, but as in Light a Penny Candle, the magic of her writing is not just in the story. It lies also in her creation of a supporting cast, from Angela O'Hara the schoolmistress whose priestly brother is not all he seems, to Gerry Doyle, Castlebay's photographer and resident Romeo. And above all it resides in her uncanny ability to recreate the echoes of childhood or the memory of being a teenager in a very particular time and place.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Weekend in Pondicherry

Happy Easter!!! It was time for another weekend break. We decided to go to Pondicherry over Easter and had a fabulous time. It took us about 6 hours to reach Pondy, which is 320km from Bangalore. It was a stressful 6+ hours in the Indian traffic and with our driver that sometimes forgets that he doesn't drive a milk truck anymore.

We had lunch at Le Cafe, a lovely French restaurant whilst trying to sort out our accommodation (notice, I'm not complaining)! Once we found another place to stay and our motorbike (Honda 125) was delivered to the door we could relax and start enjoying the welcomed getaway. Marc was in his element on the back of the motorbike and I, nerves at first enjoyed the ride around this really great town once I got in to it.

We spent the weekend cruising around the former French colony, soaking up the sun (Marc has the farmers tan to proof it), chilling in restaurants, a swim in the Bay of Bengal, a visit to Auroville http://www.auroville.org/ which was very strange but interesting...rather fascinating, check out the website!

We had breakfast on Sunday morning before heading back to Bangalore. The return trip was even more nerve wrecking as Nagraj decided to try a different rout. 7 Hours later we arrived home safe and sound, which is always something to be thankful for.

Looking at the photo's of the weekend the traffic stress was soon to be forgotten.

We made a quick stop at the Gingee Fort http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gingee_Fort So well fortified was this place that Shivaji ranked it as the "most impregnable fortress in India" and it was called the "Troy of the East" by the British.

If it's not cows, tractors, water Buffalo's, bicycles it's the occasional elephant on the side of the road that always makes for good scenery.

We stopped in Tindivanam to get Marie biscuits and bananas to sort out the sugar levels, and to stretch our legs in order to minimize the stress levels, but it didn't seem to help.

In Pondicherry: We drove around town looking at antiques e.g. beautiful carved doors, dowry boxes, brass pots etc. These are all items we hope to purchase during our stay in India! We'll just have to make sure that we are not being hackled when we do so!!

This was another nice restaurant Le Terrasse, very basic. No decor, they've got plastic chairs and tables without table cloths but yet it just has a great feeling about it and the food was good.
The 'Rangoli' (drawing on the ground) is a sanskrit word which means a creative expression of art through the use of color. In ancient India, rangolis were used to decorate the entrances of homes, a floor-painting which provided a warm and colorful welcome to visitors. In Indian cultures, all guests and visitors occupy a very special place, and a rangoli is an expression of this warm hospitality.

We stood outside this Hindu temple and watched people being blessed by an elephant.
She takes the coins and then places her trunk lightly on your head. I decided to feed her instead but she didn't like the Rs 10 grass and tossed it one side. I also didn't get a blessing out of it. She clearly knows the difference between money and grass.

Walking out was like running the gauntlet with street sellers and beggars on all sides. Of course being the "tourist" that I am, I fell for it and bought a set of paint powders and stamps to make my own bindi's. Just a petty it doesn't work like he demonstrated. I'm sure they show you how it works, using decent stamps but the stamps they sell you are useless. I wonder if the paint isn't just coloured spices too.

We then took a ride to Auroville which is approximately 14km from Pondicherry town. These are a few of the funny things we saw along the way:

One to many "full kicks" (wiskey and rum) I think.
A couple of goats using the heap of furniture as a jungle gym.

This guy climbed off his bicyle to smile for the camera.
Fish anyone?

Not quite sure what to expect, we reached Auroville. "an universal township where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony..."
Inside the library where they have the history of Auroville on display, quotes from the Mother and photographs of this fascinating but strange place.

The memorial to Mahatma Gandi on Pondicherry's Beach Road.

Pondicherry by night, on a motorbike... What an experience!

Le Cafe on Dumas Road - Nice restaurant.

The trip back:

How funny... I wish there was, but there aren't many of these around India. And sadly, if there is a bin they don't make use of it.

This is what the roads look like. If it's not a railway crossing, it's weat being laid in the road for the cars to drive over.

Every couple of kilomiters people are sweaping, sifting the wheat which they apparently use to make ragi mudde (A meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, includes ragi mudde, which is a round ball made by boiling raagi in water). Hey, 100% for ingenuity. I'm sure it beats thrashing the wheat by hand!

What is supposed to be a river....The Monsoon season can't come soon enough.

South African Legend...We stopped behind this auto in Bangalore! We thought this was pretty cool!

If your interested...

PONDY : FACTFILE http://www.pondichery.com/english/
Pondicherry town is the headquarters of the Union Territory of Pondicherry which comprises Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yaman and Mahe - four widely separated towns, the first two enclaves in Tamil Nadu, the other two enclaves in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively, made one by their French connection.

Legend associates Pondicherry town with the Sage Agastya, who travelled from the north and settled here. Recorded history talks of Pondicherry being, for almost 300 years, the centre of Anglo-French conflicts, and, later, the retreat of Indian freedom fighters, including Sri Aurobindo.

Pondicherry became a French colony in 1675 and stayed with them till 1954, when Pondicherry merged with the Indian Union. Pondicherry belongs to history - at one time an obscure village, later a centre of trade with the Romans, then a place of learning.. Francois Martin, Dumes and Joseph Francois Dupleix were the most famous Governors who administered Pondicherry, which still retains its French character.

Today, the Pondicherry of the French is to be found in the policemen's red kepis, on quaint signboards, in a few houses, in the statues of Dupleix and Joan of Arc, libraries and in the accented Tamil, English and French still to be heard. But this oval-shaped township, with the streets aligned at right angles is not like any other Indian town either. Its skyline from offshore is typical of the French-influenced Mediterranean settlement as is its town-planning.

Neat, pleasant, and charming, Pondicherry has a beautiful beach and a sea that is always warm and refreshing. It has been made world-famous by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot, Auroville. And in what still remains of its French connection there is a uniqueness that makes it different from the rest of India.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

"Friday Pub Night" at the Appel Pub

We were invited to a pub night at the Appel pub. You have to love expat life....we get to meet such interesting people from all over the world. Friday evening felt very familiar and almost "Proudly South African". The hosts Martin and Jacqui Appel are South Africans and know how to throw a party. Looking at their pub you can tell that they are great entertainers.

There were masks (Madiba, Bush, Bin Laden) hats, flags and other pub gimicky things that makes this a truly great "home pub".
Marc, Martin (the Host and barman), Suresh and I
Janet (SA) and I feeling right at home, surrounded by all things South African.
Marc and Suresh pouring "Springbok's" for everyone. Castle Lager on the bar counter. Well, considering that the MD and FD of South African Breweries India attended this party one would imagine that there would be SAB products available.
John (an Ausie, that didn't feel very comfortable with a "Springbok" in his hands), Kevin and Jean-Mark (the SAB men). Jean-Mark is French but he did drink the shot and said "Ama Bokke-Bokke". I'm not to sure if he actually knew what we was saying.
Jacqui (Hostess and party animal) with their daughter Bronwen.
Mari-Louis and hubby Inder (another two party animals).
The boys performing for us.
Everyone in the room put a hat on..."Let the show begin"!
Dancing and singing the night away...until 2 am!!
Robin, Jaqui, Mari-Louis and Janet
And then there was this gorgeous "bell of the ball" Bella.
I wouldn't quite call it the dog of the house, Bella is more like one of the family members and she was even dressed for the occasion.

Thanks to Jacqui and Martin for a fantastic evening. We look forward to many more such gatherings in the Appel pub.