i heart alan jackson

This week, my heart rate has been higher than normal, according to the cardio machines at the gym. Yesterday, while I was doing the EFX, they had that awful techno music playing, like always. One of the workers went over and changed the CD, and what came out of the speakers? "It's 5 o'clock Somewhere," by Alan Jackson! I was so happy. Where it came from, I don't know. I'll probably never hear it there again, but for a few minutes it was great. I checked my heart rate, and guess what? It had dropped to normal.

I love hearing the music of my heart language.


new blog

(I'm still gonna blog here mainly.) But for my co-workers, I've created a new blog that is an entertainment review site for here in the Capital. I'd love for it to become a discussion between us about the places we like and don't like, because I am always looking for good new places to try out and see, but I just never know what's good or worth checking out. So please comment on that blog so we can help each other out. Even those of you who don't live here but travel here frequently can benefit. What's a travel budget without a place to spend it? :)



rules of the road

The rules of driving in this country are a bit...different than those of American roads. I'm sure so many of you from my hometown have received that forwarded email about the rules of driving in that big city. It's funny, and it's so true. I know I can't contend with that author's creativity, but I thought I'd post a few of the rules of the road in case you lost your mind and decided to visit us and take a rental car out for a spin.

Wrong Turns: In case you take the wrong "exit" off of a major road, there is no need to panic. Simply put you car in reverse, dodge the traffic coming at you, and back your car up until you reach the correct road upon which you want to travel.

U-turns: Similar to this are u-turns under freeways, or flyovers as they are called here. Even though the u-turn is physically designed for only one-way traffic, if you are wanting to save time but are on the opposite side of the u-turn it is perfectly okay for you to drive through it as well. Of course then it's not really a "u" but that doesn't defeat the purpose. Don't forget to honk though, that actually is important.

Horn Usage: Speaking of honking, it is an integral cog in the wheel of traffic flow here. Since driving in lanes is optional here (despite the roadsigns that encourage "Lane Driving is Sane Driving"), it is important to honk. A lot. This way, you can tell all the other cars, "Hello. I'm here." And the other cars do the same, and awareness of others has reached a level of utopia - albeit a very loud one.

Light Usage: Another way to be aware of each other is found in the mountains. If you are driving at night in the mo
untains, you don't always know if another car is going to come around the curve. So the method of choice is to just simply turn off your headlights. If you can still see some lights, then a car is coming. Luckily, I don't have the answer to the question, "What happens if both cars use this method?"

Right-away: No need to watch out for walkers. Pedestrians don't have the rightaway. They will watch out for themselves. Same goes the for the hundreds of cyclists on the roads. They know to watch out for themselves. Basically, if a vehicle is smaller than yours, you don't need to pay any attention. Only drive carefully around those vehicles that are larger than your own. Obey the size dichotomy of the road, and you will do just fine.

Beware the Bovine: There is one exception to this rule, and that is the cow. Now, your car may be bigger than the bull, but the animal in question doesn't understand these rules of the road, or he has learned through experience that he will be safe no matter where he walks. There is no need for an "I Brake for Cows" bumper sticker, because everyone does that already.

Or...Pretty Much Beware All Animals: There are other animals to watch for as well, but still not near as common as the cow. Last weekend, husband and I were on our way home from dinner when we saw another large animal in the mix on the roads...an elephant. Our friends who were driving their car stopped and let us take pics of the elephant, whose driver graciously posed for some pics before taking off. Where he was headed, we don't know, but I do know one thing - even the man driving an elephant knows and obeys these rules of the road.


your ticket to cricket

If I could bottle up this weather and sell it, I'd be a millionaire. I realize that in about 2 weeks, the weather will be considered nothing short of hot, but right now, with a high of 88 and the morning sun holding the promise of warmth and a summer breeze, it's perfect. I feel like I should be heading out to the lake.

Onto international news. I know it's probably not even close to your radar in the states, but right now, the Cricket World Cup is going on. Cricket mania is in full force - everywhere I turn, there are TVs on with either a match playing or news of a just finished or upcoming match. Everyone was so bummed yesterday that their team lost, but they're hoping for a win tonight.

So husband likes cricket. He bonds with the guys here by watching cricket with them. I have tried to like it, because I mean, it looks so much like baseball. And I love baseball. But unfortunately, it's nothing like baseball. I don't understand a thing about it. It's like a foreign language, and we all know my woes of learning one language; I don't have the room in my brain to learn cricketese too. But for the sake of the world cup, I just googled a summary of the rules, and here's what I found at wikipedia:

Cricket is a bat and ball sport played between two teams, usually of eleven players each. A cricket match is played on a grass field (which is usually roughly oval), in the centre of which is a flat strip of ground 22 yards long, called a pitch. At each end of the pitch is a set of three parallel wooden stakes (known as stumps) driven into the ground, with two small crosspieces (known as bails) laid on top of them. This wooden structure is called a wicket. A player from the fielding team (the bowler) bowls a hard, fist-sized cork-centred leather ball from one wicket towards the other. The ball usually bounces once before reaching a player from the opposing team (the batsmen), who defends the wicket from the ball with a wooden cricket bat. The batsman, if he or she does not get out, may then run between the wickets, exchanging ends with the other batsman (the "non-striker"), who has been standing in an inactive role near the bowler's wicket, to score runs. The other members of the bowler's team stand in various positions around the field as fielders. The match is won by the team that scores more runs.

Got it now? Yeah, me neither.



Yesterday I had chai with Doctor and Auntie. They had some friends visiting, a man and his grown daughter. This man had lived in the states for several years, studying and working. Not to generalize, but a lot of South Asians are knowledge seekers, and he was typical in that regard. He was very intelligent, and told me all about Europe and the foundation of different languages. He even told some American history, and if you know me at all, you know I love history. So he's telling me things that your average American 6th grader would know, like that New England was the early colony of the British and the original US flag had 13 stars representing the 13 states. I was so impressed that he knew so much about a country that wasn't even his that I nodded along happily, encouraging him. Then he said, "Of course, now there are 52 stars because there are 52 states." My nodding stopped. Since both he and Doctor are elders, they are to be highly respected in this culture, so I didn't correct him. But Doctor looked at me and asked, "Is he right?" and I said hesitantly, "Actually, there are only 50 states..." and this man shook his head and said, "No I am positive there are 52 states. Hawaii was the 51st, and Puerto Rico was the 52nd." I felt like I was talking to Joey on Friends when they were playing that name-all-the-states game and he was convinced there were 56 states, South Oregon being among them. Anyway, back to the scene at Doctor's house. After some pressing from Doctor I had to say that no, Puerto Rico is not a state. I did say that Hawaii was the last state, so then that got us talking about Alaska. They both told me they remembered Alaska becoming a state long before the 1940s. (not true, but I didn't correct them because they didn't ask) I just found it humorous that they were so arrogant about their knowledge of America.

However I think it's pretty cool that they knew so much. I can name maybe 15 of the 28 states here in this country that I live in. Maybe. And I just now had to google how many states there are total. :) If you were to ask me about their history, or which one became a state last, forget it. So considering a few extremely minor details, their knowledge, if not their ability to concede to an American's firsthand knowledge, is pretty impressive.

And that makes me think of the arrogance we have in the states about other countries. How many times have you heard this statement: "Well, if they would just eat the cows, they wouldn't starve." Even I've said this growing up! Religion views notwithstanding, a cow provides so much more nutrition left alive than killed for the meat. And besides, knowing that cows eat this here, would you want to eat their meat anyway?

I didn't type that to criticize America; on the contrary, I wrote it so that this wouldn't seem as if I'm making fun of Doctor and his friend. Even though they, and the countless other South Asians, believe that they know more about America than I do, we ourselves have lots to learn about other cultures as well.


the day the bird went berserk...

Yesterday I came home and husband was very excited to tell me about our first non-human, non-insect house invasion - a pigeon! It somehow flew in and then was trapped in our bedroom. Husband had to help it out, but of course took a couple of pictures first. And of course, the pigeon left us a present. I'm just glad it was a pigeon and not anything of the rodent family.


festival of colors

The people in the Capital are a lot more serious about their holi celebrations than those in the Himalayas. The main reason is because it's still really, really cold in the mountains in March, and here, it feels very spring-like. Holi is celebrated during a full moon, so last year it was Mid-March. We celebrated with Priya and her family, and we used only powdered dye, and then raced back inside to change and wrap up, because it started to hail. But we watched on TV how the crazies in the Capital were dancing around as people hosed them down in dye and water.

Well this year, we got to see that for ourselves! Not that we ourselves are celebrating, but I've been outside a bit watching everything going on. All week, we've been dodging water balloons! I've only been hit once, from one of the neighbor boys across the street, but husband has already been hit 3 times! The boys (and we've even seen girls!) will hang out on their balconies, waiting for innocent passers-by to pelt with water balloons from their vantage point! My friend, Jaya, told me to not even think of going outside on the actual day of holi! Here are pics of the snipers in action:I took this right before he dumped a bucket of water on some kids!

Our next door neighbors' son. Notice the water gun, poised in the air!

But this morning, when I heard screams and shouts in the park behind our house, I just couldn't resist. I thought I'd climb to the roof to get some pics, but when I snuck up there, the boy who lives in our building was up there, filling up water balloons. Luckily he didn't see me, so I quietly retraced my steps. I opened our back gate and took a few pics before retreating pretty quickly when our next door neighbor came running up with a water gun:

Then I watched from the garden as brightly colored boys and men walked up and down our street. Here are the pics I've taken so far today as I've cowered under roofs and awnings, like a spy in a paintball game:

holi cow!

On our way out to eat last night to celebrate a friend's bday, we saw an unusual sight on our street. This weekend is the celebration of holi, the festival of colors. It celebrates the arrival of spring, and people buy powdered dye to throw on each other. On our street, someone had made a little bonfire which had drawn 6 cows to it. And then someone had decorated the cows with the dye! Holi cow!


Pier Ek

Apparently Pier 1 has a factory here that makes all the wonderful and cute things you see in the states. And when they make defected products, they go from the factory to the little markets in the Capital. And so yesterday, my friend took me and another friend over to a market where the Pier 1 reject pillow covers are sold. (Thanks for that, AS!) Click here to see the ones sold in the stores in the states. For $35. A piece. Now look at the pic of the same pillows, sitting in my living room, after buying them for $4.50. Total. I love this country.