Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Self Protection for Women by: Sheila Haddab

Most of you know that Marc has a passion for Martial Arts and have been doing lots of different forms of Martial Arts since he was about 13. When we left SA he was very worried that he wouldn't be able to train. Luckily he's been keeping it up with K1 boxing in Vietnam and now Ninjutsu in Bangalore.

The school that Marc trains at, is affiliated with the Bujinkan group and brought Sheila Haddad to Bangalore to conduct a Self Protection Course for Women. Sheila has been training and teaching martial arts since 1989. She holds a 15th degree black belt in Bunjinkan Budo Taijutsu/Ninjutsu, under Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi and she holds rank in many other martial art styles that I don't even know how to pronounce. Check out her website: Saido

The Ninjutsu team at a party for Sheila on Thursday ,12 July.

Marc recommended I attend the Self Protection Course, which I'm very happy I did. It was a full day workshop with 17 other ladies keen to learn how to "Kick Ass". The course was not just about the Physical skills, it covered: Rape Awareness and Prevention, Verbal Strategies etc. Click here for more details on the course.

Tara getting things ready for the course on Saturday, 14 July.

Marc was one of the three "punch bags" that let us ladies beat them up.

We all received certificates of Attendance.

Marc and Sheila

Nikolaj, Shiva and Marc after a long day of being beaten and battered by ladies.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Trip to Delhi and Jaipur (The Pink City in Rajasthan)

We got back from the North today...Marc had a sales review and their annual kick off of 07/08 in Delhi. We decided to make a weekend of it.

I flew with on Thursday morning and explored Delhi on Thursday and Friday. JJ (Marc's colleague's) wife Sheena kindly entertained me for two days. I was pleasantly surprised to see the City the 2nd time around. Besides the heat (37DegC) I thought it was cleaner and the traffic was a lot less congested than in Bangalore. Apparently it wasn't always like this and they have taken serious action to clean up the city over the past couple of years by introducing CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and the metro has improved the traffic situation. These are all things that we are looking forward to see happening in Bangalore one day, hopefully soon!

About Delhi and New Delhi

Sheena and I visited the following sites:
Rajpath & India Gate - Flanked by ornamental ponds and lawns, Rajpath is host to the Republic Day Parade. The two secretariat buildings and Rashtrapati Bhawan on the Raisina hills are located on the two sides of this immensely broad road. Previously the Boat Club, besides the Rajpath, was host to many demonstrations and Rallies. India Gate is towards the eastern end of Rajpath .India Gate is a 42m high stone arch of triumph. It bears the name of the 85,000 Indian Army Soldiers who died in the campaigns of WW1, the North-West Frontiers operations and the 1919 Afghan Fiasco. Below the arch is the memorial to the unknown soldier. India Gate is surrounded by green grass lawns and trees. The Parliament House- Sansad Bhawan or the Parliament house is the supreme law making body in the country. It is the center of power and politicians decide the fate of the Indian Democracy here. Visitors are not allowed inside the house but when the house is in session, visitors may take permission to go inside and watch the proceedings of the house. The parliament consists of three halls- Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the central hall. For the foreign visitors permits are given only after they obtain an introductory letter from the respective embassy.

Humayun's Tomb - Built by the wife of Humayun, Haji Begum in the mid 16th century, this red sand stone structure is considered to be the predecessor of Taj Mahal. The structure is one of the best example of Mughal Architecture. Humayun's wife is also buried in the red and white sandstone, black and yellow marble tomb.
Qutab Minar - In 1199, Qutbuddin raised the Qutab Minar either as a victory tower or as a minaret to the adjacent mosque. From a base of 14.32 mtrs. it tapers to 2.75 mtrs. at a height of 72.5 mtrs. It is still the highest stone tower in India, one of the finest stone tower in India, one of the finest Islamic structures ever raised and Delhi's recognised landmark. It was completed by the Sultan's successor and son-in-law, Iltutmish. The tomb of Iltutmish, which he himself built in 1235, is nearby, Its interiors are profusely decorated with calligraphy, though the dome has collapsed.

I also accompanied Sheena to her Gurdwara (temple) http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/carolrb/sikhism/gurdwara.html on Thursday and she gave me a lot of in sight into the sikh religion and other religions as well as the history of Delhi. She has recommended the book City of Djinns by: William Dalrymple about the historical capital of India, Delhi, which I have just started reading.

On Saturday morning bright and early Marc and I took the train from Delhi to Jaipur the capital of Rajasthan. Marc resting after a busy two days and a late night with the SOS team.
We stayed in a heritage hotel Hotel Bissau Palace, which was great. The rooms are very basic but clean and we loved it. It really gave us the sense of Old India. It is located outside the Pink City wall in the heart of it all....markets, cows, pigs, dogs, elephants, camels and a lot of people!!
We had to pass this elephant on the main road going towards Amer Fort.

a camel over taking us on the left...

Anybody for bacon? Grimm...there are pigs everywhere, eating the rubbish.

LOL ;-) It looked like this goat was addressing his flock.

We enjoyed the medieval forts, old palaces and Marc particularly enjoyed the armory and weapons on display at the City Palace.

Outside the City Palace we were lucky enough to see snake charmers which was the highlight of the weekend for Marc as he's always wanted to see them.

Guards at the City Palace.

Elephants ready to pick up their next load of tourists.

Our ride, Gorry. Poor thing!

It was an experience but we felt very sorry for these poor elephants that probably have to go up and down a 100 times a day.

The walk down from Amer Fort

Just one of the many amazing buildings at Amer Fort.

Female laborers at Amer fort.

Gaitor - memorials to the former rulers of Jaipur.

a dog resting on top of a tomb surrounded by 13 other tombs.

We were amazed by the history and antics of these rulers and the amazing detailed carvings on the tombs.

There were monkeys everywhere outside of the Gaitor being fed by people.

We enjoyed a dinner on the rooftop whilst listening to the enchanting Muslim prayers echoing from about 4 different mosque around us.

Cooling off...

The rows of shops next to the Wind Palace were the vendors only know hard selling and do not know the meaning of NO thank you.

This crazy man that pulled Jim Carry faces at Marc for a small fee that hopefully fed him that day.

Our very comfortable train ride back to Delhi on Sunday night. We booked a Fist Class AC sleeper and we were lucky to have it all to our selves. Very weird considering that the rest of the train and other trains that we passed were so full that people were standing and hanging out of the train.

Jaipur was a great experience. Looking past the filth, masses of people, the hawkers that haras you at every opportunity and the intense heat...we are keen to explore and are looking forward to planning our next trip further into the desert. The Blue City Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer are some of the other destination on our list.

About the sites we visited in Jaipur:

CITY PALACE AND S.M.S. II MUSEUM - situated in the heart of the old City, it occupies about one seventh of the old city area. The palace is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture, it houses a Seven storeyed Chandra Mahal in the centre, which affords a fine view of the gardens and the city. Diwan-E-Am (Hall of public audience) has intricate decorations and collection of manuscripts, Diwan-E-Khas (Hall of private audience) has a marble pawed gallery Mubarak Mahal has a rich collection of costumes and textiles. There is a Clock Tower near Mubarak Mahal. Sileh Khana has a collection of armory and weapons.

JANTAR MANTAR (Observatory) - built in 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the huge masonary instruments were used to study the movement of constellations and stars in the sky. Enormous sun-dial still provide accurate time, which are subject to daily corrections.

HAWA MAHAL - built in 1799, by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, is the most recognizable monument of Jaipur. The 5 storied stunning semi-octagonal monument having 152 windows with over hanging latticed balconies is a fine piece of Rajput architecture. Originally designed for the royal ladies to watch and enjoy the processions and other activities, on the street below. Now it houses a well laid out museum. The display “Jaipur past and present” is the special feature of this newly setup museum.

AMER FORT - The old capital of the Kachhwahas stands atop a range of craggy hills. The fort is remarkable as much for the majestic grandeur of its surroundings as for its sturdy battlements and beautiful palaces. It is a fine blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture. The solemn dignity of it red sandstone and white marble pavilions, when reflected in the lake at the foot hill, is a sight to behold. The original palace was built by Raja Man Singh, the additional extensions were built by Maharaja Mirja Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh lIthe last Maharaja of Amer, who built a new city called Jaipur, where he shfted his capital in 1727.

The palace complex is lavishly ornamented and displays the riches of Amer. Sheesh Mahal chamber of Mirrors. Diwan-e-Am or the Hall of Public Audience is a beautifully proportioned hall open on three sides and stands on two rows of ornamented pillars. Diwan e-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience has delicate mosaic work in glass. Sukh mandir is guarded by sandalwood doors inlaid with ivory. Throughout the massive fort finely carved lattice windows, exquisitely painted doorways, halls and finely sculptured pillars crave for attention.

The old city of Amer was the seat of power and bustling with life and prosperity. Other worth seeing sites are Jagat Shiromani Temple, Narsinghji temple, the stepwell of Panna Meena and fine carved royal cenotaphs on the road to Delhi.

GAITOR - (6 kms) At the foot hill of Nahargarh stands the memorials to the former rulers of Jaipur the place has some gracefully carved cenotaphs in white marble.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The next time you complain about the service at a Supermarket

I thought I'd share this with you...maybe you'll think twice before you complain about the service at a Woolworths Food next time.

Not that I'm complaining because it's just the way it is here and it is something I've got used to doing over the past 9 months. I have to go to 3 or 4 different stores to buy the essentials, which was a bit of a mission where we lived before as it was quite far out of town and doesn't really have a selections of shops around because it is a developing area.

We've been exploring our new area and were very happy to find a couple of supermarkets, a bakery, Health and Glow (similar to a clicks), a couple of restaurants, coffee shops, DVD rentals and a butchery near by that have certainly made my shopping outings a lot easier. We love it!
Coles and Mosk Road are the two main shopping streets in Fraser Town.

There is also an outdoor market where I could buy fresh fruit, vegetables and even meat. Not... I think I'll rather buy mine from stores with refrigerators.

The local butchery - Ok, so it's not exactly the Pick n Pay meat section but it will do and the meat is very good :-)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Adios Jacqueline

Marc and I dropped Jacqueline off at the airport yesterday. It was a sad day having to say goodbye to my baby sister after having her around for more than 5 months.

A big hug for big sister!

It is going to be very strange not to have her around (when she was actually around)....No one to chase out of bed in the morning, not to hear her beautiful voice or see her smiley happy face. Not to mention all the help around the house cooking dinner, making us tea at night etc. etc. She was a great house guest, "the best"...She'll be missed!

A very teary eyed goodbye...

Along with the 15kg that she lost in India, all the old clothes that doesn't fit, toiletries that she didn't have space for in her suitcase, I also think she left behind a piece of her heart. She really and truly loved her experience and was very sad to say goodbye to India, Marc and I, great friendships, her local auto driver, the kids from Christel House School, the orphans and aids patients that she worked with, that touched her heart.

In turn all of us will sorely miss her generous, friendly, kind hearted, light spirited attitude and she has many notes and gifts from the children, sms's from locals that proves how much she has in fact touched their lives.

Marc made sure that everything was in order with her itinerary before we gave her one last wave goodbye.