Friday, March 29, 2002
Shopping at "FoodWorld" recently:
jute doormat US$0.80
mini loaf onion bread $0.12
6 bananas $0.18
sm. dish detergent $0.21
stainless dosa turner (spatula) $0.46
20 green chilies $0.03
liter milk (must be boiled) $0.32
sm. ghee ("rich man's oil", butterfat) $0.46
200 ear swabs $0.44
40 peeled cloves garlic $0.26
sm. jar mango pickle (bone chutney in Trinidad) $0.68
I have a shower curtain...I HAVE A SHOWER CURTAIN! And a co-worker brought me a bowl (I can stop eating cereal out of a water glass)
Interior construction has begun on the flat adjacent to mine:
I got home at 4AM, banging started at 9AM (you'd think they were bankers, but they're barefoot masons & woodworkers)
India has a lot of polished marble & granite; everything probably starts as a 2-ton block of stone (even a coffee cup). Then the banging begins.
I tried stamping on my own floor in retaliation, but I made little sound on the tile & could have hurt my foot
I tried shouting obscenities out the (still screenless) window & here's my best: "I hope your sister marries a Paki".
I need a Kingfisher...oh, now I remember...I haven't had a beer in weeks
Thursday, March 28, 2002
Back at the ranch, I'm in touch with CB Richard Ellis Inc. (building management):
toilet leak has been fixed
intercom worked for about 2 minutes
hallway light is out, making it difficult to find my key hole (yeah, don't go there)
phone has been installed with a ringer almost as obnoxious as my doorbell
"electrician" awoke me this morning to fix a perfectly fine breaker
an hour later, someone else awoke me looking for the electrician (I gave them sign language for "not my job" & disconnected my door-squawker)
From my employer:
I have a 2nd towel & wash cloth!
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
Let it be known, there's a nice selection of TP here...I don't think anyone else is using it! Some folks have their bidet hose, I have Godya, quilted 3-ply. Aloe impregnated is a nice touch back at CasaLally.
Monday, March 25, 2002
I was told new apartment was finished & that I needed to get out of hotel. I've never seen worse "new" construction. Fixtures are rusty, screening is missing, drywall is gouged, paint is splattered about, tile is cracked, grouting is incomplete, caulking is filthy, & the toilet leaks on floor. The company furnished the place: small bed w/ 1 sheet, 1 towel, no toilet paper or shower curtain. I need a table for the bedroom, I'm tired of laying everything on the floor. No phone, Internet connection, or lamps (only bare florescents). Doorbell sounds like a screeching bird. There's been no time to shop so I haven't needed my gas hotplate. Thank God for orange juice & bananas. The Vice President of Human Resources finally intervened at 10PM my first night & got me bug spray, blanket, water, a glass/plate/silverware. Did I mention the toilet leaks onto the bathroom floor when I flush? I'm not sure why I haven't succumbed to the paint fumes tho I have this feeling in my lungs today like I'm always on the verge of a cough. OK, I'm finished whining now ;^)
Sunday, March 24, 2002
ClanLally has slapped me around for not posting recently. It's been a busy & exhausting week (9AM-2AM). While I run the India Call Center for a pc oem, there are often new biz opportunities to support. This past Monday, my boss' boss showed up from the U.S. to "sell" an additional India HelpDesk to another pc oem. This would involve 400-600 additional techs & another building (quite nice). We prepped on M-Tu, the prospective client was here W-F. The presentation went well & I'll know next week how we were judged compared to 3 other India HelpDesk operations (Delhi, Mumbai, etc.).
I've not seen much of my new flat. I get in at 2AM & go directly to sleep. I did have 2 housekeepers come in today & clean it. An electrician also arrived to fix one of my ceiling fans. Plumber arrives tomorrow to fix a leaking toilet.
Research from the University of Northumbria: chewing gum improves your memory 35%.
Sunday, March 17, 2002
I finally got to go GeoDashing to one of this month's waypoints near Chengalattu & was successful as co-worker Ragu, driver Rao & myself traversed ponds, levees, water buffalo, cows & goats to reach the waypoint.
500 activists assembled 300m. from the Orissa Assembly to demand the handing over of land for the Ram temple in Ayodyha. As soon as the House adjourned for lunch, the throngs stormed & trashed the Assembly building. This legislative structure hasn't been attacked since the student riots of 1964 & 1971. 3 more have died in Gujarat state due to stabbing & police firing into crowds. The mobs were throwing stones & "acid bulbs" at each other.
The government has subsidized LPG (cooking gas) another Rs.20 per cylinder (they had budgeted for Rs.40). The price of a tank now stands at Rs.244 (US$4.80).
China's Three Gorges dam under construction on the Yangtze River will concentrate 155 billion cubic feet of toxic waste water that normally reaches the sea. The cocktail of arsenic, lead, mercury, cyanide & other heavy metals will affect farm land & drinking water. The dam will also flood 137 cities & towns, 1100 villages, 1300 factories, 4000 hospitals & clinics, 40,000 grave sites, 178 garbage dumps & 123 sources of radioactive waste.
New Zealand's Nathan Astle blazed a double century off 153 balls, the fastest 200 in Test cricket. In fact, 3 of the top 5 fastest ince 1982 have occured this month! It's time for the "juiced ball" mantra or checking for cork.
Last week, we learned of the equipment failure for the National Trapshooters. Today we read that preparation for the upcoming World Cups have skidded due to a lack of ammo. The import license for India's NRA has expired. What are the chances of that happening to Charlton Heston's NRA?!
Friday, March 15, 2002
Well, 2:15PM came & went (I was snoozing before I was called back to work early).
Troops in Ayodhya maintained the peace, VHP didn't push it past a police barricade. There will be other days.
The VHP has decided to go ahead with puja at 2:15PM today regardless of the Supreme Court ruling. The leader is willing to face tear gas, bullets or death. He claims to have 2000 selected people with him. Chanting is expected thruout the country at that time. Ayodhya has a military presence of 10,000 CRPF jawans, 4000 Home Guard & 2000 policemen. They had a second flag march this morning as a show of force while placing anti-riot vans & water cannons at strategic points. It seems unlikely the VHP will get far on the 1km route from its workshop to the government acquired land.
Thursday, March 14, 2002
I was reminded that I didn't report the lead story from yesterday's paper...
As expected, on 13 MAR 02, the Supreme Court turned down the Central Goverment's plea to permit bhoomi puja (symbolic prayer) at the undisputed site in Ayodhya. The Court upheld the 1994 apex court judgment of "status quo": "no religious activity of any kind by anyone shall take place on the 67 acres of land".
We'll see what the VHP decides to do on 15 MAR & how many kar sevaks can get back into Ayodhya (or how many have remained hidden & never left).
Bamboo scaffolding! There's an art to this stuff. It looks great on the front of a building or billboard. Watch the bare-footed workmen & you'll see some natural climbers. And if you've ever stood a ladder or framework on uneven ground, you'll appreciate bamboo's build-to-fit. What do I know? I've only handled the iron & steel.
Wednesday, March 13, 2002
Dinner in the company canteen (Rs.25=US$0.50)
-always vegetarian, served on a plate with a banana leaf liner
-always flatbread (chipatti, poori, etc.) that I use as a pincher while others use fingers
-usually a kurma (gravy)
-often a curried vegetable (beans, brinjal [eggplant], aloo [potato], etc.)
-cracker (well done crepe)
-spicy pickle (mango or lime rind)
after finishing that plate (quite filling), it's on to "dessert"
-rasam (pepper water: chile, tamarind, garlic, mint..."good for digestion")
-and one time, mysorepak (cane fudge named after the city of Mysore)
There's a sink where everyone can wash their well used (right-hand) fingers.
The plague (pneumonic) announced 19 FEB 02 in Himachel Pradesh was possibly the first incidence anywhere in the world in the 21st century. Interestingly, the most effective antidote, tetracycline, was discovered by an Indian, Dr. Subba Rao.
The skeet event of the National Shotgun Championships has been moved from Meerut to Delhi after the clay pigeon relaying machine (vintage 1982) suddenly stopped operating. The previous day, the same machine left a loader in need of 5 stitches when its lever came out of the latch & struck the loader's forehead.
I was able to shop this past afternoon for NaviCaching items thanks to the assistance of co-worker Ragu: plasticware, mini torchlights, notepads & pens. Chennai shopping at 4:30PM is VERY congested. I'm a mark for every vendor! We plan to GeoDash this Saturday near Changalpattu.
Sunday, March 10, 2002
-death toll totaled 431, more than 1/2 of them in Ahmedabad.
-the VHP has scaled down its demand for the Goverment acquired land in Ayodhya from 67 to 42 acres (where they've wanted to build a temple after tearing down the 15th century Babri Masjid Moslem mosque 10 years ago).
-on 15 March, sants (monks) and kar sevaks (religious laborers) were to hold a puja (prayer) to begin the laying of temple stones.
-a swami (also seer, & founder of the VHP) has suggested to the VHP that the government be given an extra 3 months to meet their demands.
-the government, however, is legally bound to maintain the status quo & will only allow a "symbolic puja" on 15 March if approved by the Supreme Court on 13 March.
-tens of thousands of kar sevaks are being moved out of the Ayodhya area to reduce tensions & rail service back into the area has been greatly reduced.
On another note, Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas is being challenged:
-the thesis of a British historian promotes a 1424 map housed at the University of Minnesota that shows Europe & the Atlantic including Puerto Rico & Guadeloupe.
-Gavin Menzies, a former Royal Navy sub commander, credits Chinese Admiral Zheng He, a Grand Eunuch who commanded 7 voyages from 1401-1433.
-other historians agree that the fleet reached east Africa.
-Mr. Menzies contends that the 107-strong armada of 1421-3 reached the Caribbean, Latin America & circumnavigated to Australia under the command of Zheng He's fellow eunuch admirals Heng-Bao & Zhou-Man.
-this will make for a hell of a parade in NYC...calling all eunuchs!
An article entitled "Know Your English" (not applicable to our Call Center)
The jist was to clarify odd expressions:
-"tight" & "wicked", while having separate meanings, can also be commonly defined as "excellent". Yes, you know who you are, you're a 3-in-1
-"pound the books", "study animal" & "out to lunch" are pretty well known
-"grade grubber" translates to a teacher's "apple polisher"
While trimming the budget, the Governor has announced a new university which would focus on the economic & social uplift of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes & Most Backward Classes.
Saturday, March 09, 2002
Kudos to ClanLally for the first snail-mail to arrive: a pic of my would be niece, Erin. She misses me & never knew how good she had it!
International Woman's Day (bits from the news)
-"Women's Day Gesture: Gora Bai, 43, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of her husband, walks out a free woman on Friday"
-"The Prime Minister has urged political parties to consider the suggestion made by the Election Commission to give 33% tickets to women during polls"
Otherwise -"A 35 year old youth has been detained under the Goondas Act for illegal sand quarrying"
Rumor from the US -Syracuse University basketball (The Orange) has already choked & possibly been eliminated from The Dance, i.e. March Madness
Thursday, March 07, 2002
Permit me to step back momentarily from news/events & share the joy of a haircut at the hotel spa. For Rs.500 (US$9.60), the cut was as detailed as I've ever had. There was no annoying clippings or itch afterwards as a vigorous scalp & shoulder massage eliminated all. For an additional Rs.500, I enjoyed a relaxing facial, manicure & pedicure. Why did I wait 51 years?
Back to regular programming...
-The courier has delivered a silk "dhupata" for Ellen W.'s b-day & now she might need to do a WebSearch to figure out its wearing ;^)
-Automobile advert seen on billboard: "Ford Mondeo - refined aggression" (as Chennai compares well with NYC taxi drivers)
-Unrest has cooled in the NW state of Gujarat, but tensions may reappear on 15 March, a due date on challenged temple property
-Yesterday, I skipped breakfast to finish my 2nd trip to the Immigration ofice...I'm legal
-After Immigration, I also skipped lunch to spend my first hour in the hotel gym (props to Keith G. for a smart start to my day)
-Dinner in the company canteen (Rs.25=US$0.50) included an interesting sauce for topping rice: rasam. It had all my favorites (garlic, mint, heat) & "is good for digestion" (possibly due to tamerind)
-Today marks 2 weeks in Chennai & this afternoon, the company showed me another flat for living consideration. This one is wonderful & I look forward to its finished construction/furnishing in 1 week. It's about 1km. from work, clean, western style bathroom, quiet & breezy. Pix will follow. My thanks to all concerned!
Monday, March 04, 2002
Extra, Extra: Ellen W. scores "hat trick" at Salmon Creek Indoor Soccer.
Saturday, March 02, 2002
-The Maruti 800, India's most popular car, has a new Special Edition at Rs. 2.31 lakhs (231,000=US$4620)
-The Officers Training Academy in Chennai has accepted 6 Jamaican women for training that leads to short service commission in the Army. Cuba has also expressed interest in their women being trained. In 1998, the Academy trained 10 cadet women from Uganda. Women are not inducted into combat arms.
-From "The Hindu" sports pages: cricket, hockey (field), bridge, chess, table tennis, & badminton
-Religious unrest continues in the NW (nationwide bandh evoked little response in the state of Tamil Nadu where Chennai is located)
--Fire is a weapon: 5 burned alive in a car, 8 in another. 105 burned in housing complex, 65 in another & 30 elsewhere.
--"shoot-on-sight" curfew extended to all 34 cities & towns in state of Gujarat.
--2 Army brigades airlifted from border areas will conduct flag marches as show of force. There is concern over reducing forces on the Pakistan & Kashmir borders
-A "stray" female panther has been spotted in & around the Chennai zoo which houses 4 males. The cat is said to be in heat (who's checking?)
-Doppler Radar, the "dream machine", has been installed in Chennai to better watch cyclones
Friday, March 01, 2002
Gujarat in flames (local headlines)
-another conflict between the Muslims & the infidels (this time the Hindi)
-Hindu monks travel to prayer meetings via train & "someone" torched the Sabarmati Express...58 died
-right wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (social group) has ordered bandh (strike) where biz, gov't, schools, even entertaining cable channels are shut down
-BJP is the ruling party in the state of Gujarat & supports the VHP...police are "absent, outnumbered or looking away"
-retaliation is against Muslim colonies (housing complexes) & industrial areas by fire, stabbing & looting (220 dead)
-curfew in 26 cities with shoot-on-site policy (10 dead)
-bottom line: idle hands are the devil's whatever