Wednesday, March 30, 2011

India-Pak Match- funny FB and Twitter updates (for those that were really watching the match )

Yes, I was also on my comp while the match was on :) and some of these are just hilarious ( FB friends ping me if you want your comment removed - you guys just cracked me up with your great sense of humor)

From Twitter:
anon: Not a great day if you need tech support – or any phone support
ishitavyas: Do your crime during India-Pakistan match. Coz even god will be busy watching this most awaited match.
anon: My boss just told me I can go ten min before the match, wtf??
Sportzfreak: Good lord. They're playing the Crusaders music at a Pakistan v India knock-out match
anon: There are bigger things in life than cricket - but not today.
CraigS007: Mark Pougash is the worst cricket commentator I've ever heard
FrankieClarence They are no asian on road! Some dedicated Cricket fans.
monikamanchanda: The best sign in the stands so far: "India has two religions Cricket and Cinema"
MomalCha: my family never sits together and talks. thank god for this cricket march ! we're finally talking again :)
Lemayol: Cricket match is currently watched by over 1.3 Billion people.
navmathur: wish we could buy a wicket....I need a wicket.....Please God....I need a wicket..........We will get a wicket in this over....Amen.
Its_Afra : cricket If India loses people in my country will destroy properties of the players,and kill people. Please win.

After the first wicket –
Zoranaless: clearly my threat of delirious sobbing worked..screwing up face again – God look at me.
Vinayalicious I am not want to tweet about cricket but after zaheer took wicket i can't stop me to tweet
AnujGurwara: 1 wicket gone Akmal pls go straight to the bus that takes u all across the border wait for others who shd be boarding soon.
andyhudson77 @bbcsport_oliver reponse Ben, my year 6 class is 90 percent Pakistan supporters and the place went dead quiet with that wicket!
purplesque: Hubby just found me another cricket stream when I lost my old one. THIS is why I married this man.

Post Game:
chaitu341: Sachin Tendulkar to divide his Man of the Match prize money among all the Pakistani fielders who dropped him.

From Facebook:
Peeyush Ranjan Feeling sick.. planning to work from home.. no really, I mean it!
Kunal Abhishek  Read in the newsp:
Afridi to God: God, please let us win today.
God: Can't. I open for India.

Srini Kandala a pakistani fan sends sms message to God to save the match for pakistan.. god replies back .. sorry not in my hand please call the number in Dubai ..

AFRIDI- hum sachin ko kisi bhi halat mei century nahi banane denge
SHOAIB- magar hum ushe rokenge kaise,wo to gazab ki form mei hai???
AFRIDI- hum under 100 all out ho jayenge.

Rajesh Mishra From Ram's post: "Pakistan cricket team is buying loads of sunscreen in Mohali to protect themselves from "YUVI"rays !!!!”

Suchandra Dutta Roy Shane Warne predicts India will win by 8 runs...I love u Shanie...wish you get more Liz Hurleys in your life.

Suchandra Dutta Roy A Pak's status on Facebook:"Indians beware of the Green Tsunami tomorrow.. U won't come to know what hit u"His Indian frnd commented:" You idiot, tsunami is blue in colour not green"

Aditya Prakash The thing about MS Dhoni is that he saves his batting skills for the advertisements he starts in.
Saran Dhanoa ‎80 runs 54 balls. i need alcohol.
Harini Lakshminarayan so this is what an ulcer feels like!!
Prashant Gaurav If India's runrate is plotted on a Graph, any heart doctor wl tell to go fr a bypaas!! :
Peeyush Ranjan Either Sachin is really God or he has fixed the match. Either way works!!
Jigar Thakkar Tendulkar: I will decide when I am out ... Shut up and start bowling
Srini Kandala there is always match fixing .. that will save the day
Prakash Mundra send manmohan singhji back...he seems to be the bad omen (lodar) for india

Suchandra Dutta Roy Come on, Buckteeth! Your turn to prove your worth

Suchandra Dutta Roy Let Misbah get his 50...someone needs too. We are a very sporting nation. :P
Murthy Meduri Flash news misbah just granted amnesty by manmohan :)
Jigar Thakkar Is falling in love with Misbah... Don't take ot the wrong way, strictly business
Sarba Kundu I knew Misbah will help us win..Go India..
Annies Ephraim a comment from twitter : Afridi to Sehwag: You just CAUGHT the World Cup matey..!
Vishwa Ranjan Thanks Umar Gul. Paise pahunch jayenge.
Kajal Kamdar Umar gul our 12th man :)

Ashish Aggarwal OT observation (mid-game): "There are no cabs on the streets of Toronto/Oslo/Hackney!" :)
Kajal Kamdar Commentators: u know u dot need to say something every ball right?
Jigar Thakkar  Either you're blue or you're green with envy

Peeyush Ranjan Looking forward to Saturday. Tendulkar will hopefully be the Hanuman and burn Lanka down.
Scott Plette Awesome to see my Indian friends so fired up over cricket. I have no clue what the rules even are, but now I want to stay up and watch. Go India!
Rachna Guru I actually called India to hear and virtually witness the constant fireworks and horn sirens going berserk! What pandemonium!!! WOW!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Goa - Madam, See, Like, Buy.

Things I learnt about Goa this weekend (on a no kids weekend with Peeyush)

Cows on the beach, ignoring the humans.

Goa, the beaches at least, is open for all. From the attractive topless lady, to the scary dude in a g-string, from the aunty in her salwar kameej to the uncle in his speedos sitting with a mug of beer in the waves. Yes, it is open to cows too.

Cats chilling on a wall near Anjuna Beach at 11am.

Very few people are up and about before 2pm. This includes animals. Everyone, however, seems to be up at 3am – it is the most happening town in India at 3am.

The Goan waters have a skyline at night. It seems that ships don't pay for permits but anchor in International waters in a row. Little boats carry stuff to them so they are exempt from paperwork and taxes. Well, they turn on their lights at night and you almost think there is a city out there.

You cannot keep saying a little prayer or making a cross everytime you pass a church, not in Goa, your hands will hurts and you will run out of prayers. Every second house seems to be a church.

Yes, we were there, down down there.

Strangers on a boat have a tough time using your camera. Resulting is really sad shots of your first para-sailing experience.

Vacations – with a toddler or with Facebook.

Vacation with a toddler

Vacation without one but with Facebook

You are woken up by a hungry toddler poking a wet finger in your ear. You wake up real fast wondering how the finger got wet.
You wake up in each other’s arms when sleep is all done. You check Facebook and update your status to make sure everyone knows how great your day is.

Breakfast starts of tons of whipped cream over waffles and end up with most of the cream in or on you. You gulp down coffee for strength.
Breakfast is a lazy affair – with cups of coffee as you talk and look at the ocean ahead. You check into foursquare and smile at your mayor status. It is an awesome day indeed.

After breakfast you pack up the stroller, the snack bag, the toys for the car, the toys for the beach, the post beach clothes, extra clothes, extra sunscreen, extra juice, extra whatever you have.
After breakfast you wonder which beach you want to laze on and go there.
You check into the beach.
At the beach you – yes you – make a sandcastle, a sand car, a sand princess, a sand frog, you chase crabs and you end up with a massive pile of broken sea shells and rocks. You swap positions with your spouse to replenish yourself with some beer so you can make an even bigger sandcastle with a fort filled with water.
At the beach you lie down with a book and a drink, maybe just the drink.
You take a photo of your drink and post it on Facebook.
Lunch consists of a few very expensive pieces of questionable chicken meat shaped into dinosaurs. Like the whipped cream at breakfast most of the ketchup is on or in you. The post chicken nugget ice-cream with sprinkles follows the ketchup on you.
Lunch is a seafood platter and you two feeding each other. And taking photos posting it on Facebook.

Post lunch activities abound, you walk the local aquarium with its few star fish looking longingly at the ocean (I know they can see the ocean… but you get the point). Then you climb into the carousel, the bumper cars and the jump bumpy bus at the marina fun rides center.
You lie down with a book and a drink, maybe just the drink.
You smile and reply to all the comments from friend jealous of your check-in’s and photos. You post another strategically taken shot of your toes, the ocean and beer.
You pack up the stroller, the snack bag, the toys for the car, the toys for the beach, the dirty pre-beach clothes, the dirty post-beach clothes, unused sunscreen, extra juice, pebbles, broken seashells, two huge balloons, the stuffed toy you were surprised to win at the fun center and half eaten cotton candy. You take all this and the sleeping toddler to the car.
You pick up your book (or maybe not) and stroll in the opposite direction from the fun rides center.
You check for latest comments and catch up on what everyone else is up to. Up goes the photo of a sunset with a catchy caption – clever enough to garner plenty of comments.
At the hotel it is time for a bath, then a ‘fancy’ dinner at the Rainforest cafĂ©. The elephant trumpets in your ear and a strategically placed monkey freaks you out every time it swings above your head. Judgment impaired you order the chocolate volcano cake filled with chocolate sauce and ice cream. Sugar High.
At the hotel you soak in the tub, maybe with a bottle of wine, discussing the book or the hazy dreams you had at the beach. You debate hitting a happening club or the new French restaurant.

You chose one and update it on Facebook.
It takes time and energy to catch, bathe and then cajole a chocolate and ice cream stuffed toddler zoned out on sugar into bed. Weirdly the sugar seems to have slowed you down and you are almost asleep on the toddler’s bed.
You come back very tipsy and giggly and almost pass out on the couch.
You shake yourself up and let people on Facebook know how tipsy you are.
Finally you grab a glass of wine and sit in the balcony with your feet up. And those fifteen minutes right there feels like a vacation.
You wake up wondering if you really posted what you think you posted and hope it was a dream.
As deleting is not possible from your phone you unpack your laptop and pay for wifi so you can delete your status.
You lie there freaked out – wondering if everyone at work read it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Finding an expat house in Whitefield – the criteria

A grown up pool and club house at Epsilon
We visited Bangalore last March to look for a place to stay for the next two years. We had a relocation specialist to help us. We looked at houses in Whitefield and Indranagar then at some flats around Taj Westend before we settled on Palm Meadows. (Click here for a breakdown on some communities we visited)

Our children factored a lot in our criteria for choosing a place to stay. Listed below are our criteria for choosing a community and a house.

A very kid friendly pool at Palm Meadows.
Grown up pools are also there but kids go crazy on this.
Our criteria in choosing a community:

  1. Safety: We have two young kids and we wanted a place where they could play on the street without us worrying. A walk to and from the bus stop was not something that caused white hairs.
  2. Location: Close to the kids school ( with transport access) and close enough to work. We initially wanted to live in the middle of town but staying closer to the children's school is wise with Bangalore traffic.
  3. Friends: Not necessarily a place where our friends lived but a place with the potential to make friends. We had to find a community with like minded people – people with similar interests and children in the same age group.
  4. Convenience: It should be walking distance to places and within reasonable walk able distance to public transport. This allows you to get help from other parts of town and also enables you and your visitors to get an auto etc when and if needed. Having shops – grocery and medicine – around makes life easier. Having a mall or movie theater at a walking distance makes for good evening walks with a destination.
  5. Age: Age of the community was something we kept in mind. Too old meant houses that needed lots of work, too young meant construction going on. Ongoing construction was a no go for us. A well aged community also meant help that had engrained themselves there and a network of handymen and delivery services.
Our criteria for choosing a house:

View from an Epsilon house. Pretty but has potential for
being noisy and dusty.
Backyard in a Palm Meadows house.
  1. Budget: Houses in Bangalore can literally cause your jaw to drop. This is also one of the few cities that require an 11 month (not a typo -eleven month) rent deposit upfront. So, it is pertinent you know your budget before you start looking.
  2. Number of rooms: Our minimum was four bedrooms. It is unusual for houses to have more than four bedrooms in many communities for rent. We also wanted a puja room and an office. It is worthwhile to look at a few houses and then come up with your layout criteria.
  3. Garden/patio/terrace: We wanted some open space and there are houses with more sit outs and water features but less garden. We wanted a garden for the kids to play in and were clear about that.
  4. Beyond the wall: After looking at some houses I was carefull in what I saw beyond the wall of the house we were looking at. A temple, a field, a construction ground – these all meant strangers loitering around and impacted the safety criteria.
  5. View: view in Bangalore is not a view per say but I did not want to look at three houses our of every window and have people looking right back at me. Some houses had neighboring windows looking straight into each other.
  6. Bathrooms: Older communities tend to have bathrooms that are horrible, showers you cannot spread your hands in and tiles that look like they are weeping dirty tears. There was a time in India ( and is still in some places) where palatial houses had tiny kitchens and bathrooms – some rental houses have carried that tradition along.

Finding an expat house in Whitefield – the communities

We visited Bangalore last March to look for a place to stay for the next two years. We had a relocation specialist to help us. We looked at houses in Whitefield and Indranagar then at some flats around Taj Westend before we settled on Palm Meadows.

There are many options for houses and flats in Whitefield. We narrowed down on these communities based on our criteria . We looked at houses in -

Open floor plan in a house in
Prestige Bouginvilla
Prestige Ozone: The community was nice but the houses were not big enough for what we wanted. Its location is good (in Whitefiled but walking distance to Forum Value Mall) and some of the houses are nice. It has a pretty decent club house.

Prestige Bougainvillea: Some houses in the community are very nice. Spacious and beautiful but to get to a main road is a long walk. If you don't have a car on hand you will find it a pain to walk out to get an auto or bus. Also the houses are clustered together too much so you look at 3-5 houses from your villa.

Chaitanya Armadale: The houses looked nicer on their website. The concept is nice and it is right next to the mall on a main road but the houses are old inside and the ones we saw needed some renovations.

Palm Meadows palm lined streets
Chaitanya OakVille: One of my favourite – spanking new community of some sixteen houses. Very modern floor plan with a small pool and gym. Problem – sixteen house and no club house. Now it is occupied 80% but when we were looking we would be the second people to move in. Not something good for the kids.

Adarsh Palm Retreat: This will be the community to live in in a couple of years but in 2010 there was too much construction going on for us to consider moving in. Construction mean noise and lots of people around not sane or safe for kids. Their club house was also not ready but does look good in plans and promises to make this a sought after community to live in soon.

Beautiful Bathroom in a house in Epsilon.
Total Environments – WindMills of Your Mind : Another beautiful community under construction. This will be a nice place to live in in a few years but was/is not ready for renters. The houses are very modern and sleek. Villas have pools and very open floor plans.

Epsilon: very expensive and my favorite for its beautiful individual houses. The houses vary in the appearance and interiors and are amongst the most beautiful houses I have seen in India. Some have very modern interiors and impressive bathrooms. This is a community I would have loved to live in. Minus points were – club house and the community seems more grown up centric than kid centric, very expensive and very few options were available when we looked.

Palm Meadows: With over 500 houses this is a huge community. This is usually a turn off for me but when you are moving countries it is good to find a place with lots of people, your chances of finding a few you click with are greatly increased. It has an amazing club house – with four pools, a gym, tennis and badminton courts – basically you feel like you are in a resort when you visit it. It is also an older well settled community – the kinks have been ironed out so you don't have to figure most things out. There is a supermarket with Indian and foreign grocery, Namdhari fresh – for veggies, a DVD rental store,a dry cleaning store and ATM.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Take a trip - things I learnt last Thursday

Listening to soda bubbles in a beat up cab.
Kids really don’t care if they are travelling first class or third class (on a train or bus) – they find a spot to sit and enjoy whatever goes on. Adults care a lot about these things.

You pay a fine for not having a print out of your e-ticket on an Indian train.

A bus conductor can say he gave you change back and you cannot prove otherwise. So, don’t leave change with him till end of the bus ride.

When you are upset do not post on facebook using your mobile. There is no way to delete or edit your post. And typos can cause very bad words to show up in your status.

Pineapples grow above the ground – I guess I should have taken the tour in Hawaii.

People are nice. Nicer than we give them credit for. Maybe it is people in villages but I have decided that people are nice (except that bus conductor)

Don't order mushroom soup in a place that advertises "Cremy mushroon soup". The waiter was rather surprised that I was disgusted by the sweet milky soup. He said I should have asked for the salty version !!!!
A bridge on the way to the pineapple farm.
You should not pay to cross dodgy bridges ( like the capalliano bridge vancouver). Your local village is likely to have scarier things.

And lastly I need to get out and about more. The world is just amazing.

Letting go of bitterness due to True Indian Hospitality

We went on a trip to small town near Jog Falls last week. On a local bus there I was cheated by the bus conductor. This had left a bitter taste in my mouth. By nature I am on the kinda naive - believing in the goodness in everyone - side but on this bright sunny freshly cheated day I was bitter.

On the drive back from the falls the driver (of our cab for the day) saw a friend of his walking up the hill. He offered him a ride. Despite beingbitter I bit my tongue as it was a hot day and the road was steep. Few minutes later the driver asked if we wanted some sugarcane juice. Even though (still bitter) I felt this was some ploy to stop us at a preplanned juice stall it was hot so I agreed.

Ankit helping with the sugarcane pressing process.
Video at the end of the post.
Minutes later we were off the main road, winding past sugarcane fields and leaving behind a trail of red dust as we made our way to the friend’s house. The kids jumped out of the car with renewed energy and the excitement got to me as we traversed paddy fields to a freshly harvested sugarcane field. This was as old school as sugar making gets. Sugarcane was harvested and then the juice was extracted using a big squeezer powered by two buffaloes. The juice was slow boiled right there over a wood fire and made into jaggery. I had read about this and now I was standing in the middle of it.

Enjoying a bite and the show
- watching the men operate the juicer
The buffaloes were chilling on a break so the driver, his friend, a farm help and Ankit moved the contraption and fresh juice was made. We washed up at a stream there and then I drank the sweetest juice ever. It was amazingly good.

Seeing our obvious admiration at the jaggery making we were invited into the farmer’s house. His mother fell in love with the kids and we were piled with more jaggery than we could carry back. For the first time Ankit saw what he called reverse bargaining – I offered double the money the man was willing to take.
The welcoming amma - grandmother.
Moneywise he took a token amount just to get me to stop.

When I was a child my mother threatened to wash my mouth with soap if I said a bad word. Leaving their house I felt like my mind needed a good soap washing for having bitter, malicious thoughts about someone who opened his fields and home to us. He got me back to believing in people again (kinda as I will not leave any change with a bus conductor ever again) and gave me a taste of true Indian hospitality.


When I was a little…

Ashvin washing up in a pond.
The fifth time I uttered these words in two days I realized that I was happy but more importantly - I was growing old. This is something sure to happen to you if you take your kids someplace time slowed down at and retrace a few steps of your childhood. We went to a village a few days back.

On the train ride there I told Ankit how at his age I loved getting up on the top berth and reading books all night long.

Hours later, as we boarded the local bus, there was the story of me rushing to the back seats of  buses with my friends. Those seats threw you high up when the bus went over potholes. It was like a rollercoaster.

I think I held back my excitement and did not utter ‘when I was little’ till we reached our bed and breakfast and stood near a mango tree. The little raw mangoes bought back too many memories and another story of how we stole them. About how un-ladylike I was as I lifted up my skirt to carry as many as I could back home (I was five).

Walking along some fields.
 The next day we walked through paddy fields and had to cross a few irrigation trenches. I had spent many days in fields behind my grandmother’s house creating little dams and watching our slippers float down the tiny canals. My kids got to hear all about it.

Then sugarcane sticks showed up and another story followed as I demonstrated the steps - peel, gnaw, spit – to eating a fresh piece of sugarcane.

There were many more moments like that and when I finally got time to reflect I realized somewhere in all of this, I felt happy, I felt like a kid and then I felt really old.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I kill at night and I enjoy it

His ears are looking exceptionally big due to my bad
 shot and also due to the mosquito bite. I kill for him.
I switched the fan off. It was hot but the swirling wind would not let it settle in a place long enough. Also the whirring of the fan made it hard for me to hear it. The still fresh red swelling on Ashvin's ear was a clear indication of its presence. Like every night I was puzzled by a lone mosquito making it past the netted window into our bedroom. Puzzled is always my first reaction to it, almost as if I do not want to believe or acknowledge its presence. 

Then strategizing starts.

With the fan off, I present some bare flesh for it to land on. My left arm is the fleshy choice of the day.
 Then I listen and watch and wait. It is usually not long for a creature with a brain that tiny to give in and come whirling along. What is surprising for its brain size - its swift reaction time.
On a good night I can kill one in midair – before it lands on me. Today is a bad night and it darts away as I smack myself nice and hard – again and again. I see it flying away, towards a wall. I jump off the bed and follow it. It lands on the wall and I smack it. I smack it harder than I smacked my arm. A spot of blood on my hand - mine and Ashvin's I think, a little creeped out – is a vibrant sign of success. I switch the fan on as I go to wash my hand. The hunt is over and I feel satisfied, victorious, and very pleased with the amazing mosquito killer I am.

Disparity - dealing with the maid's child (not so light reading)

We live amongst a few rather affluent people. The kids here all visit the US or UK or some similar place every year. They go to high end schools, are well versed with the Wii and latest gadgets, and all have good manners. They are rich kids. In a house down the road there are three children. These are the children of the cook and maid of the house. They live in two rooms attached to the house. The oldest amongst them is Sapna, one of Ashvin's best friends. Sapna is not a rich kid. In India there is a huge difference between rich and not rich.
As she sometimes does, Sapna joined us for a walk today. We went to the mall and had an ice cream each. We walked around a bit and then Ashvin had to use the restroom. As wanting to use the loo seems to be contagious amongst kids we all queued up at the family restroom. When Sapna was done I asked her if she had washed her hands. She said no, she did not know how the get the tap to work. I showed her how to move her hands so the motion detector would kick in. Then I asked her to use the soap pump and hand washing was done. From the corner of my eye I saw Ankit watching all this – very attentively. I had seen the same look when I had taught her to use a fork on a visit to pizza hut.
Ankit had only seen equals amongst kids before he came to India. In Sammamish there was little discrepancy in social or financial standing amongst kids. How strict your parents were was the biggest delimiting factor. Here I have watched him sometimes watch attentively and at other times look away when he encounters children financially different from him. He has mentioned he is more grateful for what he has and once even chided Peeyush for grumbling about having a lousy day. On his way to school, Ankit had seen a little girl – barely six he said – trying to chop wood. For a few days he allowed no grumbling in the house. We had no right to grumble he said.
Sapna is well fed and clothed; she goes to school and speaks English really well. She is a happy child. I am not sure what the implications of my taking her to restaurants and teaching her about things alien to her are going to be. Will it embed in her a want to achieve all that or will she be dissatisfied with the life she has. I am not sure if I should do something more, something less. For now, I try to see her just as Ashvin's friend and I try to treat her as I would another friend of his.
And from the corner of my eye I watch Ankit, attentively, to ensure he stays sensitive and does not let the frequency and commonality of the Sapna's around him numb him.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hiking around Bangalore

I have been on two hikes in Bangalore. Just two but they have been such good experiences that I am planning on tripling that count shortly. This is mainly due to BMC Bangalore  (Bangalore Mountaineering Club) that arranges hikes – a day hike, a night hike and a two day hike – EVERY weekend. I love them. They arrange for food, transportation and a guide. They are awesome.
The first hike I went on was to SavanDurga. It was an 'adventure' hike and consisted of a short trek, cave exploring some rappelling, zip lining and kayaking. I took Ankit ( 11 years old) with me and it worked out great, though it is advisable to have a chat with BMC before taking a child on a trek. There were seven other people besides us and we had a great day. A really good start for a preteen on a proper day hike.

For my second hike I chose a night hike. No Ankit on this one. The pickup was at 9:30pm and we were dropped back to Bangalore at 11am. This was to NarayanGiri and was a short – too short for my liking – hike up a big boulder hill. Snuggling in a sleeping bag ( provided by BMC), chatting with newly made friends, watching lights go off and on while waiting for the sunrise was worth the disappointing hike. The other amusing and entertaining disappointment was a group of nine girls that joined the hike to celebrate someone's birthday. Not hikers by choice they provided a lot of laughter with their questions, whining and lack of decent footwear. They did provide all the material for my post – How not to hike like a girlie girl.

When moving here I was scared about places to hike and visit. I am not comfortable enough to do this on my own (or just me and my kids). Not knowing the language, lack of trails and a safety number to call are all deterrents. However, the presence of groups like BMC really help – with Rs 700 all inclusive hikes. At this point this is working great for me and I am looking forward to a lot more boulders to climb around Bangalore.

Dealing with queues in India – Hey, I was in line!!!

I was in line to buy some ice cream. Just as it was my turn and I was about to step forward, a guy jumped in front of me from nowhere and placed his order. I was surprised and angry. This was not the first time this happened to me. The first few times I had kept my anger bottled in and caused a little ulcer so this time I asked him – "Where did you come from? I am in line." He said "Sorry, I did not see a line. " Well, I was part of a big fat line right there. Mistake I had made – fallen prey to the US personal space concept and not stepped right up nudging the person in front of me as he was done.
There are two types of queues in Indian – the long snaky kind and the crowd line. In both you have to watch your spot and stick to the person in front of you.

Attacking the Crowd Queue: Often people line up horizontally and laterally at a counter so you have a "crowd queue". At that point everyone thrusts money out and yells. Seems pretty inefficient to me. Especially inefficient as I generally end up getting nowhere in these situations. After losing out a few times I have figured out my strategy – get in between two women (if you are woman that is) and squeeze yourself in. It is a like a massage maze. Don't be shy and if you are totally creeped out think of a nice shower once you get home (I will discuss India and its fascination with talcum powder and aversion to deodorant someday). Think of it as a challenge - part of Amazing Race or whatever rocks your boat. Then see if waving a Rs. 500 note or exact change is more likely to get their attention. Shyness will not get you far. Map, plot and attack it like a game. At the end of such an event you are most likely to get a token. A receipt or a coin that you need to take to another counter… and another crowd queue.
Navigating a snaky queue: These are usually long and everywhere. If you are female try looking for a ladies queue. Get over your aversion to violating personal space and having yours violated. Feel free however to stamp the feet of anyone of the opposite sex getting too close. It works as a good warning sign. Then the goal is to stick to the person in front of you and not let others get in. Also it is very advisable to bring extra family members and seed them in parallel queues.
I am going to take the kids on a train tomorrow. Today's minor loss in the queue world has me all prepped up to take on anyone and anything that resembles a queue. If my being polite does not work I will nudge and push and maybe even don a Lady Gaga costume (shock and awe).  Bangalore station - queue one up for me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I like brown and no I don't want to be bleached.

The whitening creams make you white - instantly.
Like chalk on your face white. Looks more white in person.
 Once in a park in Sammamish a little boy walked up to me and asked me who I was. Ankit was in the park so I pointed to him and said “His mom.” The little boy was not convinced. “You can’t be. He is white and you are black” he said. Black. Hmm. I was brown, not black, but to give due credit to him - in that park I was the blackest person.

 Bleaching is the Indian equivalent of tanning in the US. It is rather popular in India but bleach? Me? I could have digested this offer in the park in Sammamish where I stood black in the very white park. In the parlor where I was the white person, I sat startled and amused.

No, I did not get my face bleached (maybe near Halloween if Michael Jackson is still hep this year) but between the bleach offer, and constant skin lightening commercials on TV and that little boy's comment in the park I have been feeling rather dark brown these days. The good part is I love dark brown. I love all shades of brown. Black and White too.


It is interesting how skin color preference differs between India and the US. I don't think there is anything wrong as long there is no prejeduce associated with it. I have not seen a single tanning bed or "sun tan" parlor in India. While in the US I did not see one commercial for a skin lightening cream. The grass is always a shade better on the other side.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

International, CBSE/ICSE, Alternative, Home – Options for schools in Bangalore

Good schools in Bangalore can cost you between INR 50K – 9.75 Lakhs a year ($1000 to $21,000). The class size varies from 20 – 55 children in the class. Most schools have a bus and lunch service. The curriculum varies from ICSE/CBSE to IB/ IGCSE (see legend at the end of the post) to "Curriculum prescribed by the Ontario Ministry of Education". Like the cost and curriculum there is a huge variation in teaching style but there are options. That is the part I iterate on the most – now in India there are options.

When we moved here I was rather lost on where to start a school search. I knew what ICSE and CBSE were but little about IB and IGCSE. Considering that my children are rather ( ahem … very…) weak in Hindi (a requirement for ICSE and CBSE schools) we opted for an International school. Even with international schools the choices in Bangalore are plenty. What they offer and their fees can vary a lot.
Reviews from friends of the school and its location were both criteria that made us zone in on TISB.

During our search here we were not completely aware of the alternative schools present in Bangalore. I had heard of the Valley school and love the concept but I also know Ankit well – he does well in a structured competitive environment - so making the decision to keep him in a school similar to one he was in Seattle seemed like the right choice.

Besides these options, twice in the last month, I have met moms that discussed homeschooling with me. This used to be an alien concept in India but seems to be a budding trend. There is a group in Bangalore that caters to such parents and it has over a 100 members.
Below is a breakdown of schools into International, Traditional and Alternative. The fees are just what I found from looking around so please use them to get a rough idea. I came across some good blogs/reviews and have linked them too. Let me know if you see any corrections or have any comments.

LocationCurriculumCost per year in INR
School yearBlogs/Reviews
International Schools
TISB – The International School of BangaloreSouth
Sarjapur Road
RF: 250K
YF: 400K to 600K
August -
Sarjapur Road
350KAugust - June

Jala Hobli  
YF:365K to 975K
August - June
Canadian InternationalYelahankaOME
RF: 25K
YF:310K to 510K
August - June
Ryan InternationalMultiple locationsICSE60K to 90K June- March
GreenWood HighSouth
Sarjapur Road
ICSE & IGCSE100K to 180KJune- March
Inventure AcademySouth
Sarjapur Road
YF: 1,00K to 215K
Indian/Traditional School
National Public SchoolMultiple locationsCBSE
Bishop CottonsSt. Mark's RoadICSERF: Varies
YF: 30K
St Joseph's Boys High SchoolSt. Mark's RoadICSERF:25K
Delhi Public SchoolMultiple locationsCBSERF: Varies
YF: 60K
Alternative Schools
Valley SchoolKanakapuraICSE80Kto 110K (maybe more for NRI)June-March
PrakriyaSarjapur RoadICSERF: 20K
YF: 70K
Fee varies per student

vishwak blog
VidyaShilpYelahankaICSE & IGCSERF: 24K
YF: 66K

Registration Fees
Yearly annual Fees
International Baccalaureate Diploma Program
International General Certificate of Secondary Education
Indian Certificate of Secondary Education
Central Board of Secondary Education
Curriculum prescribed by the Ontario Ministry of Education