Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Hello Spice Lovers,

Sorry for being a bit spotty with the writing as of late. Life has been tossing me around a bit and it's been hard to gather my thoughts up into a coherent, well, anything.

The G family is launching off to Kerala for a week to see what there is to be seen. Stay tuned for details and pictures. Oh yes, there will be pictures.


Friday, October 12, 2012

What the Hell India - Marrying off Children to Avoid Rape

Hello Folks.

My apologies for generally being absent from blogging as of late - life has indeed been busy for me. I'm currently teaching 13 students and planning a recital. It takes up WAY more time than you or I think.

So. Another installment of What the Hell India is on the agenda.

The state of Haryana (which houses Delhi FYI) has an absolutely horrid record when it comes to rape. This week, a case has come to the attention of the papers of a Dalit (lower economic class) woman who was gang raped by multiple young men coming from richer houses.

 Here is Haryana for your reference:

Because everything in India has a political undercurrent, the Dalit leader from Haryana felt it necessary to weigh in. His opinion was that we just need to change marriage laws to get children married in order to avoid rape.

Ok, what the Sam diddly hell???

1. The Dalit representative had no answers for why this happened to married women or why married men where often the culprits.

2. He also ignored the fact that being married young often leads to spousal abuse and is responsible for a great number of malnutrition cases.

3. This is not the 18th century.

4. Marrying young is a foolproof way to ensure that the woman will be much less likely to be educated or financially independent.

The problem here is not when young ladies get married - it is a problem involving a patriarchal society with way too few protections for women. As much as I love this country, I cannot ignore the fact that women of all ages and socioeconomic niches are generally left out in the open when it comes to making women equal. Unfortunately, rape is a reality in India, one far too many women have to face. In an ideal world, no woman should have to worry about being accosted by a group of men while walking to her grandmother's house during the day. She should not have to stay inside during the night if no male is there to escort her outside for whatever reason she needs to go out. Unfortunately, India is a society that holds far too many men accountable that this is still as big of a problem as it is. Non-accountability added to non action on the part of society marks this action as passively acceptable. We are not in the stone ages anymore. Rape is never ok, no matter what the circumstances are.

My own husband has urged me not to go walking in the outside ring of our compound late at night. In general, for a woman with a tiny bit of common sense, this is common knowledge. Rape has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with control. And India has a very poor record when it comes to allowing women to control themselves; it's almost a national ethos. Even the idea that a woman belongs in the kitchen adds to the general idea that a woman has no right to control her own life.

India, this is not modern country behavior. This nonsense has to stop. The UN pleaded with the entire country to not take this suggestion of child marriage seriously at all. It will NOT solve this problem, it will only set the country back a few hundred years and add to the burden of problems this country is already facing. For the love of everything holy, can we stop treating women like weak little idiots that can't possibly control themselves, their future or their sexuality and just start valuing them as the half of society that they are? This is definitely one issue that breaks my heart on a regular basis solely because it's not at all rare.

Knock it the heck off men. And everyone, let's not accept solutions that set us back a few hundred years instead of calling this problem as it really is.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Mysterious Case of the Noisy Newspaper

Alright. So the kids are outside playing, I’m sufficiently caffeinated, and I’ve managed to avoid the never ending game of spider solitaire that usually gets in the way of writing. I have another fun India story for you. Hopefully you’ll find it as entertaining as I did.

I was reading my trusty Times of India paper and not The Hindu the other day (because the newspaper man must be asked at least 4 times before I get the correct paper on a consistent basis, but that’s a story for a different day) as I was sipping my morning coffee. This is quite the routine of mine and I do it pretty much every day, along with checking what blogs I can remember I used to follow. This day, however, I was behind on newspapers for 3 days. I settled in to plow through them all at once. My housekeeper Indira was here and was in the kitchen washing the dishes.

I was nicely reading some unimportant clip about Bollywood drama when the paper started buzzing. I’m not talking barely there vibrations from a fan or my imagination, I’m talking cell phone/adult toy type vibration level. I sat there for a moment dumbly looking at the paper thinking that papers are definitely NOT supposed to vibrate. Then the thought came to my mind that perhaps a rogue bee/wasp/hornet zilla had become stuck inside the paper somehow. We all know how much I love the bees.

I immediately did the most logical thing possible and threw the paper across the room. The vibrations stopped, so I went to investigate. I gingerly lifted one page at a time, ready to make my escape should an angry, sting-ey insect come out looking for vengeance. I found nothing, so I figured he had tumbled out of the paper and was waiting in some dark corner under a piece of furniture planning his next attack.

I grabbed the paper and sat down again to read. No one should be at all surprised that the paper started buzzing again. I of course let out a small shriek and threw the paper again. Indira came into the room concerned that there was something actually wrong with me. I of course was standing there like a cartoon with my hand over my mouth, embarrassed that I was screaming like a little girl about something I hadn’t even seen. I again, slowly sorted through the pages. When I got to the back, the paper started buzzing like mad on the floor. In the middle of the page long advertisement was a small black device. We figured out that it was light sensitive (which was why it turned on when I had the paper open, but not on the floor) but couldn’t really figure out why it was there. It seems like a super expensive, hassle worthy advertising trick, but I couldn’t figure out any other reason for it.

So. Indira had a good laugh about my imaginary bees and I sheepishly went back to enjoying my coffee.

Well played newspaper advertisement – you definitely got my attention, even if I didn’t buy that car.



Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Disappear/Re Appearing Act

Hello Masala lovers.

My sincerest apologies for disappearing into the internet ethers for a while. You can read all of my excuses here if you’d like.  My apologies also for dropping the ball with the What the Hell India project. Rest assured that I am still fully intending to continue that. Hopefully by tomorrow.

So. Bangalore has continued to treat me with the utmost respect and kindness. I still love it here.
I do not, however, really love fall here. It’s a bit too reminiscent of February in the northern half of the U.S. Minus the snow and freezing temperatures. Every day brings an overcast, grey sky that gets rather depressing after a while. I’m ready to be done with the clouds and the rain. It shouldn’t be much longer here. Winter is always beautiful.

Daddy G is again headed to the US in a few days. Hopefully for the last time this year. I’ve kind of had it with his job taking over every waking thought. Alright, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration (jeez, I still hate spelling that word), but not by much. Please dear, enjoy your nice long hot showers and not so expensive booze.  At least it’s only 10 days this time.

In other news, I have totally taken over most of the vegetables in India. My vegetarian repertoire in the US was sadly lacking, it isn’t anymore. I’m pretty excited about this. The only food related woe I have is finding a good ground meat shop. I have a serious yen for keema, which is ground meat mixed with spices and a few veggies. Serious yen. I’m good at cooking it and haven’t really had it in India. I have found a shop, I just need an excuse to haul Daddy G all the way across the neighborhood to check it out and make sure we won’t catch mad goat or mutton disease or something equally dreadful. He’s much better at knowing these things than I am.

One thing that I’m not too pleased with myself over is the health initiative that has gone nowhere. My vitamin habit have remained spotty at best (yet my hair has for the most part stopped falling out!!!) and my exercise habit, if you can even call it that, is spotty at best. Like once every 2 months spotty. I haven’t gained any of that weight back, and I suspect I’m still losing. I haven’t actually stepped on a scale since I left the US and I’m kind of afraid to lest that number didn’t actually move and I imagined the whole thing. I’m sure this isn’t true, but I’m still not checking. I now only have 1 pair of jeans that isn’t falling off my disappearing behind, and it’s pretty loose too, along with way too loose pajamas and even yoga pants.

 I did actually take out my blow up… exercise ball (And here you thought I was going to bust out an inappropriate comment about a blow up doll. You were right.) and my kettle ball. I bought these two wonderful things almost 2 years ago and now they’re finally out of the packages. I still am looking for a good routine to really challenge some muscles with them. The inserts that came in the package were sadly not all that effective. I do have a community gym at my disposal too, but between my penchant for catching up on sleep in the morning, my housekeeper showing up at random times, and my 5(!!) piano students, that is kind of hard to swing. Excuses excuses.

I’ve been on a two day binge of deep cleaning and writing these past two days, and it has been glorious. My housekeeper cleans some things for me and completely ignores others. Those cobwebs that pique my irritation every time I walk by them are conveniently ignored, as well as the dirty ceiling fans. It is indeed time to bust out the cleaning chair and slop wet, soapy, dirty water all over the floor in an attempt to clean them. It has been slow going, but oh so satisfying. I find that leaving the cleaning to someone else here has not been good for getting things done how and how often I want them too. I know that I cleaned the entire house way more in the US than it ever gets done here. Tradeoffs I guess. I work a lot more here than I did in the US too. Daddy G has been trying to campaign to get more household help so that I stop bothering him to help me do stuff. Nothing doing Mr. The last thing I need is more responsibility by having more people to manage. I’d rather just spend a day cleaning myself and have you pitch in a little bit more than normal. He’s charming that way. J

I think I’ll stop here so I can go research a topic for some What the Hell. See you soon!


Monday, August 6, 2012

What the Hell India: Bomb Blasts

Listening to: Shadow of the Day – Linkin Park

There was a bomb blast in Pune recently. For edjumacation purposes, Pune is here:

One of the most amazing things (and one of my personal favorite things) about India is that it is truly a country that absolutely oozes diversity. You can’t throw a stick around here twice without hitting 2 completely different people. The wonder of this, is that for concentration of people combined with all these differences, the amount of violence seen is relatively low. Unfortunately, it does happen.

So here’s the What the Hell for the day. Bomb Blasts.  The Pune bombs were designed to be a terrorist act that backfired and didn’t cause as much destruction as it was meant to, thank goodness. As with other attacks of this nature, they were designed to cause chaos and fear and had cause roots in both political and religious retribution.

India does have its fair share of terrorists, both domestic and imported. What is unique about the problems that India has of this type is that not all of the terrorism is related to religion, as we are used to thinking in the U.S. In India, politics often inspires this level of violence too. In fact, if you are interested, Raajneeti  is an absolutely excellent movie about Indian politics if you can find a copy with subtitles and are into foreign films.

There are always the wars that occur between criminal factions that occasionally catch an innocent bystander. As you can imagine, religion does play a part in some attacks. India is a secular country. The two main categories of religious believe in this country are Hindus and Muslims. I’m not including Buddhists because they tend to leave everyone else alone. For many reasons, there is much bad blood between the two groups and sentiments against the other group from fundamentalists from either group sometimes wander into the hatred and violence arena.

I get frustrated with action of this type. It tends to lead to bloody, unnecessary, drawn out retributions that are born out of hate for others and what they are/what they believe in.  The tragic thing about this problem is that it is probably impossible to get rid of. Biases get passed from one generation to the next. Backward thinking in people determined to stay that way is damn near impossible to change. With India being what it is, there will most likely always be points of friction when people of opposing views are pushed up against one another. What bothers me about the bomb aspect if this problem is that the perpetrators don’t care about casualties in their personal wars. India isn’t short on violence – but it can never hold its own with modern countries when blowing up different people seems like a reasonable retribution option.  There are plenty of other types of crazy here (postal system anyone?) that wouldn’t hurt India as much in its quest for modernity as bombings do. Indians, this destroys your credibility and makes the world want to lump you in with the scary fundamentalist countries - which really doesn’t do this amazing place justice.  Knock that shit off.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Mood:  Hyper (my coffee must have been strong today) and Irritated (why oh why does the housekeeper feel the need to come at a different time everyday and be here when I have to pick up my youngest from the bus stop???)
Listening to: Blow Ya Mind – Eve and Gwen Stefanie

Hello Lovelies. I hope everyone is having a great week.

I wanted to tell you about a project I’m launching this week for Following the Masala. It’s called “What the Hell India?” I came up with the idea based on a previous post I had written during the A-Z challenge, which you can read here if you are interested.

India has the distinction of being an up and coming country. It is both a place where modernity has prevailed and ancient attitudes hang on stubbornly. I’ve been reading Times of India since we moved here. It tends to focus most of its stories on Bangalore, since that’s where the G family resides, but also includes lots of news from other parts of the country. Every few days, I’ll read an article that will make me stop and wonder what the hell is going on that this stuff still happens in a country that struggles to be up to date as India does. This is where we’re going to take a look at them.

Disclaimer: Most of these stories won’t be funny or comfortable. If you are a reader from India, you may even have strong feelings about a subject and/or me raising an issue as a foreigner.  I welcome comments, from any viewpoint on a subject. Please do let me know what you think of any of these posts. If you think I got it totally wrong or are missing an important aspect of something, please do let me know. I can only share from my own perspective, and one person can rarely understand every element of an issue.

Most of all, I want people – especially Indians - to be aware these things happen and that they’re not ok. This is your country.  I can sit and holler all I want as a foreigner, but it won’t do much good unless Indians decide they have had enough and won’t tolerate this anymore.
 I hope you guys enjoy it.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cooking Gas and School Mahem

Mood: Neutral. Don’t laugh, that’s the best description I can come up with right now. Not good or bad, just meh.
Listening to: Can’t Take My Eyes off of You

Our apartment complex has a gas vendor. We don’t have cylinders (like so many independent houses do), but we have pipelines to the gas room in our apartment complex. We all have meters for our cooking gas in the kitchen and for the water heater in the third bathroom (the other two are included in maintenance charges). When you move in, you go to the gas office in the basement under one of the apartment and you get a card, which you then charge with some money. The card then goes in a meter in your house in an electrical shaft outside the kitchen. Back when we moved in, it took us quite a white to figure out all of the complexities of everyday life here, including the gas. We put Rs. 300 (about $6 US) on the card, figuring we could recharge it whenever we needed to. Well, that amount lasted us for 7 months. So you can imagine how thrilled we were about cheap cooking gas. We used to pay much, much more in the US.

Since Daddy G came home and was craving some chicken curry, that was on the menu for Sunday, as was lentils with greens (still trying to grow my hair back!). I didn’t have much other food in the house as I tend to not make full  on meals if all four of us aren’t at home.

After stopping at my little local chicken shop it was time to get down to business. I love me some cooking. I get the radio blaring with some GNR, ACDC, Velvet Revolver, Metallica, etc and sing along while creating things I love to eat. It’s like going to church for me – music and cooking. Half way through, I noticed that the chicken curry was no longer bubbling, as it should have been. I figured that maybe the back door breeze (this is not anywhere as dirty or disgusting as you think it is gentlemen) blew out the flame, which has happened before. I discovered that the lentils were no longer cooking either. In fact, none of the burners worked. We had finally run through the money we loaded the card with.

I figured, no problem, we can just go recharge the card. After grabbing my youngest to come along for company, we headed down to the basement.  There are 7 towers in my apartment complex that are all connected by a basement parking lot. I couldn’t remember where the office was, but I figured there were only so many places it could be. We slowly meandered around, checking each of the towers. We stopped in a shop to ask and she sent us across the complex. This was indeed NOT where the office was and I ended up wandering around for 15 more minutes before locating it in the last tower to be checked. Of course, their hours were Monday to Saturday. Oh was I pissed. Not only couldn’t I cook for my husband who had a serious yen after being in the US, I was worried the food wouldn’t keep half cooked until the next day, especially the greens I had soaked in salt water and chopped. I said a little prayer to the food gods and shoved everything in the fridge, pots and all, hoping I couldn’t just start up where I left off the next day.
We ended up ordering food (which was honestly pretty good) from a local restaurant, but I knew it wasn’t what Daddy G really liked. He’s one of those picky types who loves his Mama’s food. Since I learned from her, I make acceptable substitutes, restaurants do not. For dinner we had savory, spicy oatmeal. I love that stuff. It wasn’t a great culinary day, but at least we ate.

The next day, I went to the office first thing and with the assistance of 2 very polite guys, recharged my card. I managed to save all of the food I had started cooking the day before and everything came out really well, to Daddy G’s and my delight.

My husband had a good time laughing at how frustrated I got that the gas ran out on the day we couldn’t recharge it. Things like that happen here and either you roll with it, or you end up with an anger management problem. I would like to think I roll pretty well with life here, but every once I start getting twitchy. Like any time I deal with my kids’ school. You would think we deal with a government institution the way that everything turns out about 3 times more complicated than it needs to be. We’ve been having some drama with checks being returned due to signature differences. 

When I wrote the checks, I was standing in a stifling hot basement office in a line waiting to be seen in a cubicle by a harassed, cranky man whose name I won’t mention because I seriously don’t need anyone at that school hating me more than they already seem to. To be honest, my signature didn’t look at all the same trying to sign it under those circumstances and the bank returning them was valid. I found out about it from the bank and went the extra mile of hiring a cab and dropping off new checks (which I signed exactly like they should have been!) at the school. The school is now harassing me to send in Demand Drafts (which are like money orders for two other checks to make sure they get the money coming to them. I refuse. They are getting checks because I am not making a special trip to the bank when I have checks at home. Poor Daddy G listened to me rant for a few minutes and then asked me what the big deal was. The bank is a few minutes’ walk, why not just go get one. I told him it was a matter of principle and there was no reason why they couldn’t just take another check. There really is no point in fighting the school; it won’t do me any good and I’m aware of it. I just am tired of jumping through hoops to deal with them about ordinary matters. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hassle with schools and my oldest has been in school for the past 5 years. It’s a matter of principle.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Check it.

I'm over at my Just Passing Through blog. You should go check it out (if you don't already) for some Indian bees, Kanada movies, and a new skirt.


Monday, July 16, 2012

An Update on the War Against Clean Clothes

Listening to: Hindi music videos
Mood: Hungry. Shut up, that is too a mood.

There are days when I really, really hate living in India. But don’t tell anyone, ok? I don’t want to hear anyone say “I told you so!”

Today was one of those days. India has a thing with power cuts; I’m sure you can imagine with so many people trying to use a limited resource. Most people and bigger complexes, like the one I live in, have backup generators that supply limited power if the regular current goes out.  It’s both a great help and a source of endless frustration.

The problem with the backup power supply is the limited part. Certain things in our house take up a lot of power. See water heaters, microwaves and, unfortunately, washing machines. If you try to use said appliances, it overloads the system and everything shuts off for a few seconds. If you’re not smart enough to turn off the appliance tripping the system, it will continue tripping until you shut it off. This is a ginormous problem for my router. Every time the power goes out, I have to wait for it to reconnect. Addicted? Says who?

This past week, our power has being going on and off like a junkie who can’t find a steady crack supplier. Of course,  the power only seems to want to switch off when I’m trying to get something done. Like eat breakfast. And then I get all stabby when I realize that I have to wait for the regular power to come back on so I can make coffee. No coffee=irrationally angry Becky G. I am so not making oatmeal and coffee on the stove. Or when I’m trying to take a shower or give my daughters a shower. When you only have 1 hour in which to bathe two children and the power won’t cooperate, it’s enough to make you want to just leave already.

But the king of all kickers is when I’m trying to do laundry. I generally do laundry around 10 am, or when I’m finished crawling out of bed and making coffee. I do this so the laundry will be done when my housekeeper comes over so she can hang it up on the insufficient wooden rack.  I will never, ever be an early morning person. Ever. This is about the time when the power starts acting funny. There’s no logic or rhythm to it, it goes on and off randomly.  The irritating thing is I can pause the washer if the backup power goes on. But it turns off (i.e. wherever in the cycle it was is lost) after a certain amount of time if you leave it on pause, so it’s not on pause indefinitely. The power never seems to come back before the pause time runs out. I love my washer, but it doesn’t have a cycle dial. It has a colors, whites, etc. dial. So you can’t go back to where in the cycle it was and just continue the wash. You have to start over. Currently, the load in the washer today has been started 3 times. It only has a half hour left; I’m hoping it can get through this time.

There aren’t too many things that make me want to just pack up and go home, but this is one.
On another note of interesting things happening on this side of the world in my house, they fixed the bathroom sewer smell problem. Apparently, a waste water facility in my apartment complex exploded (no, I’m not kidding) and contaminated all the previously cleaned water, hence the smell. I’m totally thrilled about this!

Another not so awesome thing is that ants have built some kind of home in my wall. Their front door is right underneath my bathroom door in a corner. I see them going in and out of this quarter inch crack all the time. They don’t really bother anyone unless you have children who forget to put away a vanilla yogurt cup overnight and you wake up to about 80 bazillion ants on your kitchen table having an orgy. Then it kind of becomes a problem. At least they’re not the evil red bitey ones that live outside. I hate those things.  But we keep the house really clean and I will get to the store and buy ant spray one of these days.


(Actually India, I don’t hate you. Take me back, I promise to never say such things again. Please don’t take away all the yummy chaats and byriani!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Olfactory Fun

Listening to: Dr. Feelgood – Motley Crew. Kickin it old school today.
Mood: Happy – Got some work done today.

Hello there. Time for more stories about life in India. Today’s topic is smells.  India is not for the faint of nose. Or heart for that matter, but we’re talking about noses today. Pile so many people, animals, and foods in one country and olfactory overload is almost impossible to avoid.

We’ll start with the good smells:

The Air. When I first came to India with Daddy G 7 years ago (damn it’s been a long time!), the first thing I noticed when I stepped off the airplane is the smell. It hangs in the air here. It’s like a mix of incense, sweat, people, cows, burning trash and coconuts, because Daddy G is South Indian. It’s just a part of the air. You never get away from it, although after a while, you notice it less. I’m not saying it’s a bad smell. It’s just quintessential India. I thought about this smell before we got on the plane to move here. I was really looking forward to that smell again.For some reason, when you put them all together and un-concentrated in the air, it's not as bad as single concentrated smells.

The Food. India has some amazing and varied choices when it comes to food. For someone who is a spice and spicy junkie, it’s heaven. Even if I don’t cook a meal, at least one of my neighbors is, and it will invariably smell amazing. So amazing that I almost want to knock on the door and beg a meal. Almost, I’m not that shameless. Chat is also included here. Chat are small, usually savory snacks that people here munch on around 5 pm. Anywhere public you walk around this time, you’ll smell it. Spicy yumminess floating around – even if it’s from the typhoid cart trying to pass out poison pani puris. (small crispy shells with flavored water and other yummies inside)

Incense. Indians are big on incense. It happens to be a smell I love, especially sandalwood.

The bad:

Sewage. There’s no getting around it – this many people produce this much waste. Drains are not always covered. When it’s hot, it really gets gag worthy. This includes the recycled water they use in our toilets in my compound. My bathroom always smells like sewage and I hate it. Hard.

Animals. Lots o stray dogs and cows also produce lots of stink and poop of their own.

Garbage. People here don’t always bother to find the nearest trash bin and most of the time, there just isn’t one. Trash is burned in the less urbane places too, like the village next to my house. Which leads me to…

Burning trash/coconut shell heaps. This is my Achilles heel. I can deal with the sewage smell, the animals and the trash, but the burning piles of disgustingness really get to me.  I’m glad I’m not pregnant. This one would have me puking every time I turned around.

Sweat. India is hot. Get a whole bunch of Indians in a room in the middle of summer and it is bad.

Automobile fumes. Lots of folks here have cars. An insane amount in fact. Nothing like choking on a nice big lung full of car exhaust when you’re on/near the road.

Eventually you become used to all of these smells, but every once in a while one will sucker punch you and you’ll be all, “Hot damn India!”, for good or for bad. Most days I don’t mind the bad smells so much and really enjoy the good ones!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On National Holidays and Traditions When You Aren’t Geographically Present

Listening to: Suraj Ki Baahon Mein - Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara 
Mood: Reminiscent
It is smack dab in the middle of the summer in the USA. In fact, it’s July 4th day (on my side of the world anyhow). For the first time in, oh, ever, I am not in the US for the 4th. There will be no barbecues, no fireworks, and no excessive alcohol intake with friends. In fact, the only extraordinary thing happening today is that I am launching piano lessons. With an actual student.  There’s a huge part of me that wonders what this girl’s parents were thinking agreeing to let me teach their daughter. After all, I’m the one your mother warned you about, even if I am qualified to teach piano lessons. I’m pretty thankful to that girl’s parents for giving me the chance to pass on my passion to someone else though. I’m terrified and thrilled at the same time. But hey, the take a chance and move around the world thing worked out well, so why not give this a go too? Wish me luck people. Better yet, wish that student luck.

I am so far off topic here I probably couldn’t find my way back with a compass.  Not that I know how to use one anyhow. Speaking of which: Camping. I have been seeing lots and lots o posts about camping, and I must say that I am green with envy. Our current geographical location doesn’t really cater to camping. Seriously, there is no such thing as campers in India that I’ve seen. The bigger problem with our family is that Daddy G is categorically opposed to anything that doesn’t involve actual beds and wifi. When I was little, my parents (bless their nomadic hearts) loved camping. We lived out in L.A. and had a tiny trailer hookup camper that my dad towed behind their silver Subaru. No, I’m not quite sure how the physics of that work out either – so don’t ask.  We made good use of the Arizona/New Mexico mountains. My favorite destination of all time was Ghost Town AZ. Seriously amazing place It was cramped and not always comfortable, but people, I’m about to break out into song here about the memories. It was glorious.

It looked like this:
I seriously don't know the physics of shoving 4 people in this camper.

When I got a bit older, my folks moved to IL and we bought a bigger RV camper and stowed it at a campground in Morris IL. If you’re from Morris, you’ll know that there’s absolutely nothing out there. Or there didn’t use to be. I haven’t been out there in at least 20 years. Again, some very magical times. I’m not sure how we didn’t out right die from catching snakes, making forts, throwing milk-weed pods, throwing things in campfires, and generally roaming the entire campground by ourselves.  So enjoy your camping people. I’m still campaigning over here to get Daddy G to even try it.

Holidays are a bit funny when you’re off somewhere else. I don’t think I really sat and thought too much about holidays abroad apart from Christmas. Aside from that one freakish year we moved to Key West and were there over Christmas, I wondered how different it would be. Obviously, no one celebrates the 4th of July here. They have absolutely no reason to. Indian Independence Day is at a completely different time. This is another instance of things that make me feel completely disconnected with life before we moved here. I’m not even quite sure what to do with this though. I think it’s a bit ridiculous to celebrate by myself. The kids don’t ask about it. I never thought about how easy it would be to absorb the local holidays/festivals – we are all over Diwali in our house – and be completely removed from events that actually mean more to me than I knew.  Actually, everything American just seems so far away, both from a physical and emotional distance point of view. This is most likely a defense mechanism on my part – after all, I can’t sit and mope around all the time missing things. It also shows you how your own reality takes over your brain space. I can’t live 2 places at once.  I guess I’m greedy. I want ALL the holidays. I wasn’t my past reality and my present reality to mesh seamlessly, which is absolutely, completely unrealistic.

I hope you all enjoy your summer vacations and your 4th of July holiday. To those of you who choose to indulge in the adult beverage of your choice, enjoy one for me and give an extra cheer for the fireworks for me. Have your kids jump in the pool one last time for me. I’m pretty sure my tenure in  India will end much sooner than I would like and I’ll find myself bemoaning the fact that I can’t find good byriani in the states.


Saturday, June 30, 2012


Hello people,

I know I've been largely absent for a week or so from this blog. I promise to be back on Monday to give you all some more of my fabulous writing.

It's just too beautiful in Bangalore this weekend and I'm having an attack of laziness.  Even brain work is just too much to ask from this lazy weekend.

Here's hoping you all have fabulous weekend!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm Following Myself

So I was checking out the stats for my blogs today, as I'm wont to do, and noticed that I had a new follower. Thrilled, I opened up the link and to my great surprise...that follower was me. Damn it. I think a worm hole just opened up somewhere.

Anyone know why this happened? I have 6 blogs, and it only happened for 3 of them. It just seems kind of sad to me. Like your mother telling you she's the biggest member of your fan club, kinda doesn't count. It's also in the same class as "liking" your own stuff on Facebook, it's just kind of, well, stupid, for lack of a better word.

So. Just in case anyone was wondering, I didn't list my own blogs in my blogger blog list and I can't quite figure out how to remove them just yet. I promise my head hasn't swelled up so much that I must follow myself.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Masala Chai

Last one for today. There is nothing like a great cup of Masala Chai - especially if it's raining.

For 2 cups Chai, you'll need:
~2 - 3 spoons of loose tea powder. Don't you dare use tea bags. Or cut open tea bags - that's just wrong.

~1 C water

~1 C milk

~2 green cardamoms, cracked so they're open, but the seeds aren't falling out

~4 small pieces of cinnamon bark

~2 - 3 whole cloves

~5 spoons sugar

Small metal pot

Fine sieve for straining

To Make:
Boil water, cloves, cardamoms, and cinnamon on stove in pot. When water is boiling, add tea powder. When water boils again, add milk. Heat until milk is hot but not boiling and tea is dark tan in color. Feel free to adjust time for how strong you like your tea - longer cooking=stronger tea. Add sugar to pot and stir well.

Strain tea through sieve into cups and serve hot. Enjoy!

Eggplant Curry

More Cooking Sharing.

Eggplant Curry
You’ll need:
~1 kg (2.2 lbs) small eggplants that look like this:

In India, this is all we find, but you may have to hunt a little in the US. I’ve never used the huge ones. They should be shiny, smooth, and not have holes. If you live in India, stick those suckers in some salt water for about 15 minutes and make sure you check for black spots inside when you cut them - that be bugs.

~About 3 Tbsp channa dal, that look like this:

This is NOT the same as channa (chickpea) beans, nor the fried Channa dal that people use for chutney. If anyone knows what this is called in the US, let me know. You can find them in an Indian grocery.

~About 2 Tbps Urad Dal that looks like this:

Urad dal is a white lentil. You can also find these in an Indian grocery.

~3 red onions, peeled, and chopped to small pieces

~3 green chiles (either Thai bird chiles, or jalapenos) you can change this as per how much you want it spicy, like this:

They should be cut in half lengthwise. Yummy!

~Handful of green curry leaves, 2 – 3 stems, looks like this:

They’re called Curry Patta here and have a strong peppery smell.

~1 tsp salt
~ One large pressure cooker
~One wooden/metal spoon for smooshing the eggplant after it cooks.
~Oil – any cooking oil is fine, but I prefer Olive or Sunflower.
~1 tsp turmeric powder
~Chopped Cilantro for garnish

To Make:

Heat oil in pressure cooker until hot, but not smoking. Fry Channa dal and Urad dal in the pressure for 1 minute. Turn heat to medium. Add onions, chilis, and curry leaves. You’ll probably need an air vent/fan at this point, but hang in there. It’s not so strong when it’s done.

Fry onions, chilis, and leaves until onions are browned thoroughly but not burnt, stirring occasionally. Cut eggplants into small chunks, removing any stems/leaves (insert pot joke here), adding to pan as you cut. They turn brown if you leave them out. Add 1 tsp salt and stir a little. Remember, you can always add more, but too much will screw up a dish big time. Place cover and weight on pressure cooker and turn heat to high. When your cooker starts whistling (or screaming, like mine does), turn heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.

When done, turn heat off. Either very carefully (with a silicone mitt if you have one) let off the steam from the cooker, let it sit and cool on its own for 10 minutes or until pressure is gone, or run it under cold water for a minute or two until pressure is gone. Carefully open lid (there will still be some steam) and set aside. Using wooden or metal stirring spoon, stir well, being careful not to splash on yourself, mashing eggplant chunks against side of pan. Stir in turmeric and cilantro. Taste for salt and add as needed.

Serve with flat bread or rice.

Making Yogurt

Hey There. Lately, I’ve been getting my cook on. A lot. Thought I would share some fun knowledge for those looking to experiment.

Home Made Yogurt (or Heaven for those South Indians who are addicted to yogurt rice, like me)

You’ll need:

~1 qt milk (or however much yogurt you want)

~At least 1 spoon yogurt with active cultures. I like Danone best in India. I’ve heard Whole Foods has a good one in the US. You’ll have to look it up. Active cultures is the key word here. I always put 2 – 3 large spoonfuls, but I’ve been told this isn’t necessary. This is referred to as Starter.

~1 large glass/metal/plastic container that can hold the milk and has a tight fitting lid.

~1 large pot – milk expands as it cooks

~A fine sieve for straining the milk

To Make:

Bring milk to a steady boil, watching constantly. No kidding – milk that boils over is a huge mess and it happens in the 2.6 seconds that you turn your eyes to see something else. Before it comes close to boiling over the edge of the pot (and it doesn’t matter how big the pot is, the milk WILL boil out), turn heat down to low and stir with a wooden/plastic spoon until it has stopped expanding. Leave milk to simmer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, turn heat off and leave for 15 minutes to cool. Milk should still be hot to the touch after 15 minutes, but not hot enough to burn you. Adjust sitting time accordingly. Place starter yogurt in the bowl and pour milk into bowl through sieve, stopping as needed to pick out any clumps from the sieve. Do not stir, do not put your fingers in there. Cover completely and firmly. Cover with a towel and set in a corner overnight, or for 8 hours where it won’t be disturbed at all. Seriously, don’t pull off the lid and peak, or stick your finger in there and check out the texture. After the time is done, you can take off the lid and check. It will look wobbly (homemade always is) and watery. Stick your finger in and check if you must, but unless the milk was WAY too hot or not hot at ALL, it will be fine. Stir a little with a spoon to mix together water and creamy part and recover. Store in the fridge.

Homemade yogurt lasts for quite a while, but keep an eye on it. If it starts turning different colors (pink, green, etc), it’s time to toss it and make a new batch. If you like it, make sure you cook a new batch before you run out! Do not use starter from a batch that was not good or spoiled.


The Sweet and the Bloody Annoying

Listening to: Sweet Child O Mine – GNR. Bliss.

Mood: Chillin like a villain. Seriously, that never gets old to say. Dork card: in full force.

So seriously. You people have GOT to stop encouraging my blog addiction. How in the world will I do some actual writing of my own/working/ensuring my kids don’t burn my house down if I can’t stop reading and collecting all the blogs. I cannot believe how many amazing people I am reading every day. Not everyone who writes is a rock star, but you people seriously are amazing to keep up with. Consider my mind blown.

My house has currently been taken over by an army of dickish blood suckers. The rain has indeed brought the bastards out in numbers. I hate it. As I mentioned in The Pigeon Post, we don’t have screens, so unless every single last crack and crevice of the apartment are sealed at least 5 minutes before dusk, we end up looking like spastic dogs with massive flea problems with all of the scratching. I’ve seen them sit and laugh at mosquito coils/sprays/oils. I absolutely hate mosquitoes. I think I might hate them more than cockroaches. That’s some serious hate yo.

Maybe Lady in Red can help me out with this question. Is there a way to block specific numbers in India? Or a Do not call list? I get no fewer than 6 automated calls a day in Kannada, and occasionally English from the phone company on my cell. I am so tired of running around trying to find the phone only to answer it and listen to an overly pleasant voice advertise something I can’t even identify. It’s annoying as all hell.

On to the bakeries. I have a love hate relationship with the bakeries here.  I’ve waxed poetic about Dil Pasand and complained horribly about how bad the local bakery is about western style cake. I’ve come to learn that the local bakeries have things that they specialize in, and if you stick to that, you’re gold. If you try and get foreign type stuff, you’re better off sticking to the bigger, more popular bakeries. Daddy G’s brother in law is a Mallu who’s family is from Bangalore. The man has all of the great tips on food and snacks here, along with everything else. Seriously, dude is useful. Anyhow, we had some cookies and cake at his house the last time we visited, so when they came to visit, we decided to try the local bakery for providing sweets. I about heard the Hallelujia chorus when we tried the cookies. I’m not sure what they’re called, but they look like lumps of dough. They taste of almonds and crumbly goodness. I will get the names and get back to you. Due to the unfortunate incident on Daddy G’s birthday of the Western style cake with frosting being absolutely awful, I was hesitant to try the local cake from this bakery. I asked the kid behind the counter (seriously, 16 at most, and of course trying his best to grow a ‘stache) for pinapple cake. He mumbled something in Kannada and showed me the bottom of a cake studded with fruit. I had some horrible premonitions of fruit cake, but fortunately, this cake was amazing. Very light texture with a pineapple flavor. Yes, there were a few pieces of dried fruits stuck on the bottom, but they just added to the goodness. Without frosting, just how Daddy G likes it. Seriously, I don’t know what’s wrong with the man; liking frosting should be mandatory. But anyhow, hooray for a great local bakery! If you are ever in the vicinity of Bangalore India, find yourself a little bakery and ask for pineapple cake. Yummy!

Back soon with some recipes. Been getting my cook on.


The Case of the Stinky Clothes – Or why a Clothes Rack is IMPORTANT (Ahem Daddy G!)

Listening to: Zoobi Doobi from 3 Idiots – seriously, a great sone
Mood: It’s Monday, so…as good as can be expected.

A few weeks back, I went to hang out with Daddy G on our bed while he worked. I am smack dab in the middle of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, so I thought I could make some progress. A few minutes later, Daddy G turned to me and said “Ugh, woman. Go take a shower. You smell.” Because, you know, Daddy G is the epitome of tact when it comes to me.

Horrified, I turned on the geezer and took a shower. I didn’t even realized that I was smelling funky and I had gone for a doctor’s appointment earlier that day. After I was done, I picked up my dirty laundry and noticed the smell was coming from my clothes, not me. I didn’t cook that day, wasn’t sweating much at all, and the clothes were clean that morning. Thinking how strange that was, I just threw them in the wash and went on with my day after giving Daddy G a hard time for his incorrect notion that I stunk.

A few days later, Daddy G came home smelling the same way my clothes had the day before. He was pissed that he had gone through the day smelling of bad cheese and just stink. He knew it was his clothes and was mad. I asked him why he had worn those clothes in the first place if he knew they stank. Apparently, he was in a hurry and didn’t notice it in the morning. A likely story, the same thing had happened to me. I urged him next time to just throw the offending piece of clothing in the wash. I do wash almost every single day anyhow, so it wouldn’t be a big deal to get it washed, ironed and returned. Trust me; he has plenty of work clothing.

I asked him if he knew why our clothes smelled funny because in the past 30 years of my life, I’ve never run into this before. He told me that in India if the clothes weren’t dried completely, they generally got to smelling bad. Cue the lightbulb. A load of dark clothes and pants was put away with a few seams or something damp.  I had never run into this in the US. Even if the clothes were damp, the air is generally dry enough, except in the middle of summer in NY (*Shudder*) that they won’t smell and will dry by the end of the day. It may be something in the recycled water that is used for the washing, or just the rain in the air lately. We laughed a little about how people must have been gagging behind our backs and I took the opportunity to poke Daddy G again about that hanging clothes rack that will probably never materialize at our house unless I go buy it myself.

Well, today I opened the armoire and a wall of clothes stink hit me. After valiantly fighting back my gag reflex, I went through the closet piece by piece and ended up washing most of Daddy G’s pants. Hopefully, I’ve found them all. Ugh.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Check it out!

Ladies and Gentlemen, if I can have your attention for a few minutes, we have some blogging love to be passed along. First off, if you haven't checked out A Beer for the Shower, you must. Just do it, these guys are awesome.

Secondly, Brandon and Bryan, at A Beer for the Shower, are offering a free promotional download of their book, The Missing Link, for the next five days.

Everyone needs to hustle their little butts over to Amazon and get on this. These guys are seriously funny. Even if you don't have a kindle, Amazon is kind enough to send it to your desk top instead.

Thanks Lady in Red for the heads up! If you haven't checked her out, go now, I'll wait. 

Non promotional blog coming up soon, hopefully.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Can't Handle My Cheese

Listening to: Hallelujia - Rufus Wainright
Mood: Calm

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a sad day. I’m being forced to give up one of my favorite foods.  My system just can’t take it anymore.  That food is pizza. Ha, and you thought I was giving up alcohol or sugar. Not even close. You can pry that stuff out of my cold dead hands. It’s not so much the pizza that I can’t handle, it’s the cheese. My beautiful, strong, tart, excellent with wine, cheese. Crap.

One of the great things I’ve found out about India is that Dominoes and Pizza Hut have moved in. I understand that I’m not 18 anymore with a miracle metabolism, but a taste of home like this is definitely welcome.  So the other day I ordered 2 pizzas (no, not just for me you pecker), because mama had a serious yen for some cheesy, tomato-ey goodness. My digestive system was absolutely hateful for a few days after that. Thinking I had eaten some funny chaat (Indian street food snacks), I got a yen for a grilled cheese. Thankfully, India has discovered sliced cheese. It’s not as good as the ones in the US, but when that’s all there is, you take it. My digestive system proceeded to make me feel like I was dying again for 3 – 4 days.

So. Yes. I want my 18 year old metabolism and ability to eat anything back. How can I be expected to forgo my Indian equivalent of pepper jack smeared with mixed fruit jam? (Go ahead and try it, I dare you. It’s life changing.) Le Sigh. The sad thing is that I’m totally willing to put up with the gastric chicanery on an occasional basis just so I can eat food with cheese in it. Viva le dairy or some other such nonsense. Hallelujia.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Things that I can’t Blame for Being Bitchy and Crazy

Listening to: The Time Machine on TV
Mood: A bit Down

So on the advice of a friend, I went to the doctor (read hospital, because that’s where the actual modern doctors are) to test both my thyroid and my hormones to see if I could get some answers to the great hair shedding issue and more recently, the urge to chuck things at anyone and everyone for no reason at all.  I was desperately hoping that there was a pill I could take that would make me feel a bit normal again and grow hair.

Unfortunately, that isn’t in the cards for me right now. All of the tests came back as normal. So. No thyroid problems, no hormone problems. I am back to square one with advice to improve my diet and some advice to get some more sleep and try meditating for the mood swings. The whole diet advice just makes me frustrated. I don’t seem to get solid answers on this track and I’m really at a loss as to what to do about my diet. I eat healthy. Like crazy healthy. Whole grains, lots of vegetables, lentils, and lots of fruit. Since no one can seem to pinpoint exactly what I’m missing, it’s damn near impossible to know how to improve my diet, even though that’s all I’m told.

So I no longer get to blame being a crazy bitch on a hormone problem. While he’s way to polite to say it, I’m pretty sure Daddy G was looking forward to finding some answers about this too. So apparently I need to just step back and get a grip on life. It’s not hard, it’s not stressful, so why should I give in to getting frustrated so quickly. I guess it’s good to know that I’m not sick either. I’m definitely thankful to know that. I was just looking for an easy answer that would have been easily fixable. 

So now I’m basically going on a mad hunt to see what I can do about the diet. Let us see how this turns out.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Bachchans and Dancing

Listening to: Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode. Oh 80’s, you produced some great music.  I still expect an apology for the Bangles though. What the heck was that??

Mood: So cheerful there may be rainbows shooting out of my butt. Let me check. Damn, no rainbows.

Oh hello there, how are you today? I’m doing peachy. My apologies for disappearing, life has been rather busy as of late and my drive to write dove down the rabbit hole, much like my sanity, but we’ll save that for another post. My work has picked up a bit lately as a co-editor took some time off to pop out a baby. I’m happy to have the extra work, but it certainly does keep me busy. I also have had my hands full trying to launch project piano lessons. It looks like this may actually happen people. I’m both thrilled and terrified. Mostly terrified.  I’ve also been busy making sure to get my children to school (this is only the first week) and properly clothed. Trust me, it’s not an easy thing to do when the uniform store decides to close due to lack of stock the week before school and the G-lets move about as quickly as molasses in the morning.

So. On to the thoughts of the day. Are you familiar with Amitabh Bachchan? 

This, my friends, is what The Boss looks like.

He’s an actor in Bollywood who very well may be the most awesome actor ever. I’m not talking hot-ness, although he does do a certain thing for me occasionally (he’s old enough to be your dad B, this is just sick!), I’m talking about his acting chops. The man is seriously gifted and still going. His son Abhishek is also a current leading man in Bollywood. 

If you keep up with those looks, I may change my mind about you.

While I feel he lacks the gravitas that his dad totally owns, he has his own decent acting skills. Throw in a little Ajay Devgan (now this does something for me all the time), a catchy song, and bam, we have a movie – Bol Bachchan.
Um, yes please!

I find it a bit ridiculous when Bollywood names songs or movies after actors/actresses. You cannot imagine how much I rolled my eyes when there was a song about Bipasha Bhasu, even though I like her ok as an actress. How big must this guys ego be that not only is he one of the oldest and most respected Bollywood legends, he’s also getting songs/movies written about him. But come on people, catchy songs with legends who are hot and I cannot get this song out of my head. They totally make me want to get up and dance.

Which brings me to my next thought. I told Daddy G last night that we need to make a date to go out dancing. You may think that Daddy G came to grievous bodily harm for laughing when I suggested this, but you would be wrong in this instance. “Oh man, you really want to go dance in public?” was all he replied.  You see, I usually try to avoid bodily injury if he’s just telling it how it is. Which is unfortunately exactly the story here.  My name is Becky, and I can’t dance worth beans. You’ve heard about white men not jumping? This girl can’t dance. At all. Of course this never stops me from trying, but it always ends up with me looking like an epileptic chicken in front of a strobe light. 

One of these days I’m going to learn how. Take a class or some such thing. Once I decide to do something, it gets done properly. When I have time, I am going to learn how to dance. And I am going to dominate at dancing.

In the mean time, I’m ok with the spastic chicken look. As long as we’re having fun. And alcohol. Alcohol just makes it not matter so much at all.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

This That and the Other

Mood: Stabby. Someone is doing construction in the apartment above ours and for some reason, must pound on the floor all the time. For the past week. Stabby people.

Listening to: Minority – Green Day.  As well as the pounding.

Another post full of random, scattered thoughts coming your way. I probably should be working right now. Am I? Psssht. Absolutely not. The urge to spit out things floating in my head was entirely to strong.

So. Emraan Hashmi. For some reason, I can’t help but enjoy this bugger and his acting. I’ve heard that he’s an absolute ass in real life and seems to think he’s God’s gift to actors worldwide.  I’m not sure if this is true or not, but so the rumor goes. Emraan, honey, if this isn’t true, you should hire some new P.R. people. I’d love to love you for your personality too. Anyhow, I love how this guy emotes. In a recent article I read, the author thought that Emraan fit best in a simple setting where his acting/emoting skills could be on display because that was a true gift of his. I completely agree.  One more thing Emraan – no with the long hair. Just no.

This, Lovies, is Emraan. In case you didn’t know, I’m not a fan of the mustache at all (please Indian guys, for the love of baby potatoes, just stop it!), but he totally pulls it off. You just know he’s about to break into song or some type of romance. His face just screams it.

This is a favorite of mine, just because it looks like he's having so much fun. I get such a kick out of masculine dancing confidence here:


Ok, moving along.  I know this is childish of me to get so excited about, but I got my very first blog spam comment the other day. Aw, my little blog is getting so grow up. And we’re done with this. So thanks random bike shop for trying to advertise something that has nothing to do with my blog for free, but no.

The day the fans are cleaned will probably have to be today. I’ve been putting this off for WAY too long. Ceiling fans in India have the tendency to get disgusting really fast from all of the dust floating around. Mine are no exception. I foresee some entertaining moments where I try not to fall off a chair while slopping soapy, dirty water everywhere. Note to self: Do not wear a white shirt. Fortunately, I like this kind of chore as long as it’s not getting in the way of other things that need to be done. Unfortunately, I have work on my plate, ideas bursting out of my head, and kids that cannot wait another 5 minutes to eat for the 86th time today.  You both need to go do school already. Like now.

Indira has been pulling the nosey mother in law card with me again. Yesterday, it was because I had not cut a mango that my youngest was eating. Daddy G has this funny possessive streak about mangoes. More specifically, the way they are eaten. The proper way to eat one is to thoroughly smoosh  a whole mango, pinch the stem end off, and suck the juice and pulp through the hole. So this is the way we’ve been taught to eat Badami mangoes – which are absolutely amazing by the way. Indira decided that this was a ridiculous idea because my daughter was getting mango everywhere. Um…I do believe that’s what sinks are for. Trust me, she’s washable. She also got after me today about not having veggies in the fridge. Seriously? My fridge is stocked full of fresh, homemade food. Why do I need excess vegetables in there getting stale? I do know how to plan grocery runs. I’ve been doing it my entire adult life. You don’t cook for us anyhow, why does this worry you?  Just because you don’t see me cooking (and this is on purpose because without fail, you feel the need to take over and do it for me) does not mean people in this house are not eating veggies. Completely the opposite. Back up a bit please!

What’s new in your world? Drop me a comment people. I don’t bite. Well, most of the time, but I promise I’ve had all my vaccines.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Putting Myself Out There for the End Goal

Mood: Ever so Happy and Content
Listening to: Piya Haji Ali – A.R. Rahman, because the man is a genius

Warning: This post will be a wine soaked one. I’ve heard they can either be brilliant (mostly to the drunken idiot doing the writing) or stupid, I’ll leave it up to you. You’ve been warned.

There has been a lot of talk lately in the G household about business ideas and how we really do need to get busy on deciding how to bilk society out of some money through a home grown business. The problem with this burst of mental activity is that neither Daddy G nor I have ever run a home business. Hell, I’ve never even been in an office (or cubicle!) or my own.

Daddy G came up with the idea that we should somehow be capitalizing on the fact that we brought a real live piano to India in a shipping container. In fact, since I am able to play the piano, I should give lessons!

Whoa there Sparky. Let’s slow this enthusiasm train down a bit hmm?

Let’s get this out there first thing. I LOVE the business idea. I am all about that. Love it.  The piano idea….well…it’s taking a little while to adjust to.

I guess I am qualified to teach piano lessons. I took lessons for 12 years (6 years old – 18 years old) when I was younger and participated in various competitions and qualifications. Mainly Syllabus programs. We do indeed have a real live piano in our apartment. I do not have a problem explaining what I know in terms that people can understand. I am currently teaching my two daughters to play the piano. The problem begins with the fact that I’ve never wanted to teach anything. Ever. I just don’t see myself as teacher material. Can I teach? I’m pretty sure I can. Do I want to? Well, erm, not so much. Let’s qualify a little. I do not mind teaching for a determined amount of time. What I do not want is to get pigeon holed into teaching piano lessons for the rest of my life. Just not my cup o tea. Yes. Hyperbole, I am great at it. The thing is, I’ve been a housewife for the past 10 years. I am at a point where I crave getting out of the house and put my business degree to good use. I do not want to get stuck in my house for something that I don’t really enjoy. As it is, I have an insane amount of free time and I love it.  Why should I get stuck at home long term to teach lessons. I got a business degree for a reason – that’s what I want to do.

So here’s what’s floating around in my brain. The initial business idea that Daddy G and I had was an after school center for kids. There is generally a dearth of after care options for people who work in Bangalore, so we thought this would be a good place to start. I like children. Well, I like them most of the time. So Daddy G was thinking that teaching piano would be a great place to get an idea of whether or not we really wanted to pursue the entrepreneurial ideas. It would also give him a better idea on how I would do dealing with other people in a business setting. To be fair, I’ve never had an office job. I also am not a rockstar at confrontation and telling people what to do. I think I’d do an ok job because I can tell my kids what to do all day long, but apparently, as Daddy G kindly informed me, life doesn’t work exactly like that. He wants a test run before we start investing G family funds into a business venture. Fair enough. I want to ensure that our little experiment has an end date. I don’t mind teaching lessons in combination with an afterschool 
program, and indeed that is part of the plan, I just don’t want that to be as far as our idea goes.

There’s also the little problem I have with not entirely feeling comfortable performing in front of others. Looking back, I absolutely do not know how I was able to do competitions and recitals for the 12 years I was in lessons. These weren’t little gatherings either, the piano was up on a proper church stage with lots people  These days, it takes quite a bit of alcohol and gritting my teeth to play in front of other people. There are very, very few friends who have ever seen me play the piano. Daddy G likes to joke that it is only a decorative object in our house. The relationship I have with my piano is complicated. I love it like an extension of my body. Like with singing (which I am also decent at), I am just not comfortable showing off in front of other people. As I’ve mentioned before, music is a deeply personal and almost spiritual thing for me. I generally keep my cards close to my chest, and playing music in front of other people is sharing with them something deeply personal. Above all, I have a fear of not playing well. I know I can play, but I absolutely hate making mistakes when playing for others.

My Plan: I’ve been playing with my patio door open, knowing that other people can hear me. Even if I make mistakes, I keep playing.  I'm hoping this will up my comfort level. I also figure if this is what Daddy G needs in terms of getting some confidence in terms of my playing for other people, let’s do it. After all, I uprooted and moved half way around the world for the adventure of a lifetime, why should I be scared of this either. Bring it on. These Dutch genes don’t back down from scary stuff. I’ve also been open with Daddy G about my ambivalence about teaching on a long term basis, which is also a pretty big deal for both of us. As with all married couples, it gets complicated sometimes, and this is one of those places. We’ve both kept open minds and a determination to see this through.

I’d love to hear your input. As usual, I love comments. Is anyone doing it entrepreneurial style? Holla.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Starting the Day off Right

Mood: It’s hot outside. Dutch people don’t like excess heat.

Listening to: 9XM music videos. I think Bol Bachchan may be my new favorite song. I can’t get it out of my head anyhow.

Today is an ode to breakfast. You know, the meal your mother told you never, ever to skip. Indians take a totally different  approach to breakfast than Americans do. Americans are all about sweet and fatty for breakfast. Almost all breakfast there has lots o sweet.  A typical breakfast in the US would be a bowl of sweetened cereal, scrambled eggs, toast with jam, pancakes with syup, waffles with syrup, ham, bacon, or any combination of the above. An average South Indian breakfast would consist of Upma (savory cream of wheat with spices and vegetables) and pickle or sambar, idlis (steamed rice cakes) with sambar (thin spiced dal with vegetables), dosa (very thin crepes) served with sambar or chutney (savory thick sauce made from tomatoes, coconut, or mint and cilantro), fruit, coffee, tea, or any combination of those above. Mostly savory stuff. I LOVE South Indian breakfasts, but it took me a long time to get used to not eating uber sweetened stuff.

When my inlaws came to visit me in the US when I was pregnant with my second daughter, I noticed with interest that they ate oatmeal for breakfast every day. My mother in law especially is very health conscious. I used to eat oatmeal when I was a kid and liked it okay, but it was the presweetened flavored packet type. I thought maybe it would be a great idea to get started with that again. After we moved to India, I had to figure out how to make regular oatmeal (there are no pre-sweetened packets here) and to tweak my recipe a bit. Here’s how I make oatmeal if you’re interested in trying it. It’s pretty awesome. I've heard both sides of the argument with oatmeal - it can either keep you full or make you hungry. For me, it keeps me full, which is awesome in ensuring I don't really feel like snacking before lunch.


Pick a flavor (I prefer apple cinnamon) Dump 2 packets in a microwave safe bowl (I use glass because I’m suspicious of plastic – true story). Add a few spoons of cranberries (or any other dry fruit that you like, I’m a fan of sour things). Add a few spoons of chopped nuts (almonds are my favorite, but it really doesn’t matter which ones). Add a spoon of ground flax seed. Add enough milk (I prefer skim) to cover by 1/3, or just read the packet directions. Stir a little and cook for 2 minutes in the microwave. Tada! Stir and enjoy. No sugar required as it comes in the mix.


Dump ½ C quick cooking oats in a microwave safe bowl (see above). Add 1 C milk (I prefer skim) milk. Cook in microwave for 2 minutes. Add some chunks of fresh fruit (or dried fruit if you have access to it, we don’t have dried cranberries in India. Boo India.), pineapple and papaya are my favorite, but not together. Mango is also awesome. I have yet to ever get apple to cook correctly. Add 1 spoon sugar (this is optional, but I’ve never been able to let go the slight sweetened flavor in oatmeal). Add a small portion of chopped nuts (again, any kind) and stir well.  I haven’t found ground flax in India, but if you have it, add that too – it’s good for you.

So now you know what I’ve been eating for breakfast for the past 6 years. I’m a creature of habit. When I find something I like, I usually stick with it. I’ve also been successful in getting my kids to eat it by adding a little bit of chocolate syrup.

What are your favorite breakfast ideas?


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Twitter Pated

Hello Everybody,

If you're into the twitter thing (and I'm still trying myself to understand all the hullabaloo), I'm on twitter now.  Check it out. I'm not sure how often I'll use it, but hey, let's give it a go. You can find me as Becky G or bloggingbroad. If anyone is knows how to find a link for people to check out on twitter - I'd appreciate a line. I apparently am to old and crotchety to figure that out.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Unqualified Plumber

Mood: Impatient - Indira promised to make byriani today. We all know how I feel about that subject.
Listening to: Take it off - Kesha

Our housekeeper Indira was doing the dishes yesterday when she came out with a concerned look on her face. “Uh oh,” I thought, “This usually means she wants me to do something.” I was right.

“Madam, sink is running slowly Madam. Please call plumber for tomorrow.”

Damn it.  Le Sigh. A couple of things created this response in me. The first thing was that I really, really don’t like calling strangers on the phone. I don’t know why and it’s not a phobia type thing, but I really would rather not. Second , even if I ask Daddy G to call for me, he will not do it and then the plumber will come to the house while he’s not home. I’m not really scared of that either, but I’ve heard so many horror stories about service people coming to a house and taking advantage of an unsuspecting lady if the husband isn’t home. The third reason was that this would be the 3rd time in 6 months I’ve called the plumbing service for this exact same problem.  Our apartment complex has both electricians and plumbers who will come for free (unless something extra has to be installed that is your fault) if you call. They come the same day and are generally good about fixing the problem. The plumbers are also whiney little girls (not literally, mind you) when it comes to doing the work. The first two times they came, they actually asked me why I didn’t pour acid down the drain because it was clogged. Well, probably because it’s not my apartment – I rent, I didn’t want the owner to get blamed for wrecking the pipes if something happened, and I didn’t want to be responsible for replacing the pipes in the entire building. Besides – it’s your job, you’re the plumber. Not how I wanted to spend my morning.

I have been a fixit type for as long as I remember. My mother always stressed to me that you can’t trust a man to come along and do or fix something for you. Hallelujia for that lesson Mom, it was a good one. As a result, I’ve had my own hand drill and tool set since I was 18. I know how to use them too. I’ve been breaking into apartments (all my own, after locking myself out) and retrieving rings and contacts from drains for as long as I can remember. I have yet to blow up the plumbing or spring a serious leak in anything that required an actual plumber for help. I'd rather just do something myself rather than being dependent on someone else to do it.

With this in mind, I decided to check out the sink before calling the plumber. Sinks in India (at least the newer ones anyway) operate the same as western ones. The aerator just unscrews, most of the time easily. After taking it out, it was apparent why the water was not coming out of the tap at full force. The aerator holes (all 50 microscopic ones) were clogged up with dirt and tiny rocks/sediment. I’m not quite sure where they’re getting this “clean water for washing dishes” but I call bull. I couldn’t figure out how to get the aerator open (it was clearly 2 pieces) and I didn't want to break it, so I grabbed a pin and cleared out all the holes by digging out the bigger rocks and pushing all the dirt and junk through to the other side. After screwing it back in, it works fine.  I’m glad I didn’t chew out the plumber, it’s not his fault the water is dirty.

Phone call and visit averted. Insert sigh of relief here.