Wednesday, August 23, 2006


WARNING - evidently not for the weak of stomach (sorry Sambo!)

I am an incredible secreter of mucus lately. I had no idea it was possible for one person to produce this much snot. I've had sinus infections in the past, but this one takes the cake. For the past two weeks, I've done nothing but blow and blow and blow my nose, turning it into a red, raw, sore chunk of cartiledge protruding from my sad little face. If I don't blow it, I can hear the gunk rattling around inside my head, and if I do blow it, it almost kills me. *sigh* I'm on day 5 of anitbiotics, and while it's getting better, I'm still a prolific producer. I'm almost a little proud. I wonder if there's a world record for this sort of thing... hm. (that thought has gotta be the product of of the fever...)

p.s. New pics have been posted on FLickr

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Monkeys in a cage

Yesterday was Indian Independence Day, a free play-day off work. The Prince of Perth and I decided that it would be a great day to go hang out in the park, get some sun, read and generally be lazy. I also wanted to take my camera and see if I could capture just a little of the feel of Bangalore and India. After a half-hour stuck in traffic in a rickshaw, being gassed out by busses, trucks, scooters and everything else, it started to pour down rain. It is the monsoon season after all. Not a great start to our adventure, but we stuck it out, hoping that the rain would get tired and go away. And 15 minutes later, that's exactly what it did.

The rain left, but we were still stuck in traffic. As we rounded the bend, and the entrance to the park came into view, I was suddenly very aware of why traffic had been so bad. I have never seen so many people in once place in my life. It seemed the entire 8-million-person population of Bangalore had the same idea as we did. A sea of color unfolded before us, dotted by thousands of black-topped heads. In the distance we saw our goal - the iron gates of Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. With a deep breath, and hands over pockets with phones and valuables, we dove in head-first and made our way to the ticket line. PoP went in first and paid. He took his hand off his pocket for 5 seconds. Unfortunately, it only took 3 seconds in the crowd before PoP was shouting at me, "Call my phone call my phone!! Someone's just nicked it!!" It rang a few times, but in vain. The thieves shut it off immediately, and disappeared into the swirling masses. C'est la vie.

Once we had our tickets, things took a major turn for the better. I hung my camera around my neck and through the gates we went. The crowd thinned a little. Not much, but enough where you could walk without touching someone else.... Kind of... ok, ok.. it was REALLY crowded. But it's India, everything is crowded. The park itself was stunning; I could only imagine what it must be like on a non-holiday afternoon. Wide lanes cut through the central area of the park, while narrow dirt paths wound through the trees and grassy areas, allowing you a glimpse into a world of peace in the midst of so much chaos. The trees in this park are even more amazing than those I have described before. One of them had 7 full-size trunks that melded into one at the base. Massive. Beautiful. Around another little dirt path is the lake, which is fenced off so that you can't get in it or near it, but you can watch the water birds like egrets, pelicans and geese from the sidelines. While we were standing there, a cast of hawks (yep, that's the official name for a group of hawks - I had to Google it) soared above us, circling in the drafts and waiting for a fish to make the fatal mistake of coming too close to the surface.

As we walked around I took pictures of people, plants, birds, and the scenery. Snap snap snap. So many colors, so much contrast. Interesting faces, unbelievable greenery, totally indescribable - I'll post the pics this week as soon as my internet is up and running (should be Friday!!).

Finally, we found an empty (shocking!) patch of grass nearby, shook out the blanket (or rug as the evidently call them in Australia) and proceeded to do exactly what we came to do. We pulled out our books and had a little lie down in the sun. It didn't take long before I got that strange feeling that we were being watched. Not such a strange feeling I guess, when 5,000 pairs of eyes are watching your every move. I sat up and looked around and literally every person within my field of vision was staring at us. Men, women, children, whole families... all staring with mouths hanging open at the foreigners. Soon I started to notice even stranger things. Like the brother and sister team (about 8 years old) that circled our blanket about 10 times in a row, sneaking shy glances over at us when they thought we weren't looking. Like the couple leaning up against a tree who took out their video camera and filmed us for half an hour. Like the boys playing catch who kept throwing the ball closer and closer so that they would have an excuse to talk to us. Like the 20 people who asked to take our picture. Like the 3 and 4 year olds that families would send over to shake our hands, and once they touched us went running away with huge grins on their faces. It was crazy. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to relax when you know someone else is watching your every move, some even documenting it. Somehow, I think I finally understand how animals in a zoo must feel. No wonder certain animals don't breed in captivity. It's a little disconcerting. I went to the park to observe, and ended up being the observed.

Once we'd had our fill of being the afternoon's entertainment, we shuffled off to find a tiny restaurant purported to have the best dosas in town. Again, we were the only foreigners in the place, so it had to be gooooood. We were seated at a shared table with two sweet old gentlemen, who took it upon themselves to make sure we knew what things were, and to stir our tea. even though PoP speaks Hindi fluently, the gentlemen wanted to help us out anyway they could. We pigged out on dosa masala, idli and puri. After the meal, we had a cup of the best tea I've ever had - spicy, creamy and piping hot. All this goodness was a grand total of 100 Rps - just over $2. We've vowed to do more exploring to find the great local places like this one, and stay out of the larger, fancier, more overpriced restaurants. And just after we made the declaration, being the hypocrite that we are, we promptly went to the Library Bar in the Leela Palace, a Kempenski 5-star hotel, for a glass of posh red wine to wind up the day. Sometimes, it just has to be done. I went home exhausted, stuffed, and completely satisfied with life. Not bad for a mere monkey in a giant zoo.