Thursday, August 23, 2012

Double decker parking....

Since we have been in Bangers .... now nearly two years....there have been noticeable changes. Every time I am out and about I see shops that have changed hands, there is new construction, more western style shops, new restaurants and new malls. Mall madness.......

Yesterday, a day off school/work for Eid,  Simon and I went out to explore 1MG, a new mall. This idea was totally unappealing to the kids who elected to stay home, or more accurately stay in the neighborhood.

As we descended into the underground car park we saw this....
This is double decker valet parking. Cool!! Car number 1 gets hydraulically lifted to the currently empty slot above and car number 2 then slots in below. I'd never seen this before.

Up from the depths and into the Mall, which is little complicated. Not all floors lead to the one directtly above, if that makes sense. The escalator goes from ground to second. To get to floor 1, you need to take the elevator/lift. Then floor three is just the upstairs of the shops on floor two, only accessible from the lower floor of that particular store. I'm assuming this was a design feature not an oversight, but you never know....

Anyway a strange mixture of shops from the Man U store, where cricket was featured on the internal TV!
The poor PUMA store....
Only in India!!

The Foodhall was very spacious and full of exorbitantly priced western food stuffs. But with an excellent additional service. Once you have selected your fresh produce, get it weighed and then get it chopped.  Not only get it chopped..... but choose your chopping style....julienne, diced, sliced.....Now that really is service....but in a land full of maids and cooks not sure of the value added.

As Simon's attention span for non-tech shopping is somewhat limited (that's putting it politely!), we then retreated into a coffee shop, which nearly approximated to Starbucks, and departed. Still no cars in the upper level parking booths. Altho' I was itching to try and press one of the magic buttons to see how it worked, I restrained myself!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Independence Day

"We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?"
Mahatma Ghandi

The answer to the great man's question.......I guess it is ongoing!

Independance day in India is celebrated with respect for the wisdom of our elders. A sometimes, somewhat forgotten angle in the western world where eternal youth is the aim whether by the knife, injectables, the latest magic berry juice or wrinkle vanishing cream. I was chatting with my Dad the other day when he mentioned being evacuated in WW11 to some big house in the countryside where his mother had been in service. What I were evacuated?, how long for? what was it like? Grandma was in service (Downton Abbey style?!?!!?)..but Grandpa was a head master? and so on. We learn about modern history at school but sometimes forget it is not all theory. There are still those alive who have lived it! Stories handed down that we need to ask about and listen to or they will be lost forever in the annals of time. Ads studies a bit about WW11 this year at school and I know who I will be referring him to for a bit of personal comment!!

Anyway, Vista gathered in saffron, white and green to celebrate.

Security had been seen (and heard) practicing the flag raising ceremony all week, which passed off without incident!

The formalities complete, we retired to the party hall. for what no Indian function is without dancing, music and food!! Kids from the neighborhood danced and sang. Medals from the previous weeks sports day distributed and breakfast was served!!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Chickpet revisited.....

It was February 2011 when I first visited Chickpet market and blogged accordingly.

So eighteen months later I am back. It hasn't changed but my reactions to it have. On my first visit, Lisa and I were both relatively new to Bangers and at Chickpet we were agog, senses reeling. This was unchartered territory, everything that moved was a photo op, something new and exotic.

C and I have both been in Bangers for over 18 months, so yes Chickpet was cool, interesting and yes I was still clicking away, but instead of merely 'oohing" and "awing" we were also chatting off topic of the immediate surroundings.  It had to be an ultra big cart to be worthy of comment and this one certainly was.
In some ways it's sad that we are now somewhat immune to both the charming and not so charming things we see around. But it also means that we are living life less like a tourist and more like a resident.
As we were the only whites in sight, everyone was keen for a pic and I am always happy to oblige. The  sort of positive racism factor is always interesting. When Parunder (new driver) and I picked up friend C that morning, we were stopped at the security gate of her complex and asked what Villa/apartment number. I told Parunder I didn't know but they were the only white people. I couldn't have said that if they were the only non-caucasian people.
 The colors, crowds, hustle and bustle still amazes but more as to the sheer enormity of the logistics. So many, many people all going about their business. All those people, all those stories.....
some of them just hanging and other frantically busy...
Where do you put your models if your dress shop is on the second floor??? Well on the window ledge of course!!
As far as signage goes, the 'surgical show room' seemed the most interesting but no we didn't visit that particular gallery.
Even in Bangalore which is pretty dirty at the best of times, this street seemed awash with litter. As I stopped to take a snap a local came up to me and earnestly pointed out that the trash collectors were on strike and it is not always like this. I very rarely feel the locals in Bangers are proud of where they live and care if you see at at its best or not. So much acceptance and "it is what it is and will always be" so this was a welcome change. 
C and I then retired to Koshy for lunch, a sort of glimpse of faded elegance from the Brit days and full of local business men, old school accountant types and the odd foreigner. Chicken tikka, naan bread and sweet lime soda filled the gap. It's across the street from the Hard Rock. Both restaurants are tourist attractions in their own way. Koshy's was founded in 1940 and apparently visited by such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth 11 and a succession of Indian Prime Ministers. And the Hard Rock....well we all now about the Hard Rock world wide! Good old India, again the juxtaposition of the old and new, local and foreign, individual and 'brand'............

Extreme Makeover!!!!! Yes - this is me!!!

It's amazing what a bit of make-up, a designer outfit and a pair of high heels can do!!

My second trip to my clothes designer Rakhi's was crazy, crazy, a little girl's dream come true.......

The aim was an advert for the OWC Rangoli magazine....the end result me in a designer outfit in The Times of India Bangalore edition along side real models!!! Yes - you did read that right! Of all the bizarre, unreal, outrageous occurrences in our time in India this has to be one of the most extreme. And...I was on the same page as Roger Federer!!!!!!

First came the make-up. As I am not particularly pro in these matters I just sat there and allowed myself to be 'done'. Results looked a little heavy, but apparently that is what is required for the camera.
We then had to pose in different scenarios. We had to sit, stand, chat (funny how some one you can talk to non-stop under normal conditions you cant think of anything to say under pressure) in numerous different positions. I'd never have thought I could do this let alone find it fun. Maybe I am a closet exhibitionist! Maybe it was those heels again! I'm beginning to have a little bit of sympathy for Imelda Marcos! I seriously need to go shoe shopping for just one pair of outrageously high heels/platforms and throw practicality out of the window!!

I havent seen these pics yet so.........

Then, as Rakhi hadn't thought much of the pics the Times of India, Bangalore had taken of her catwalk at fashion week, the Times of India, Bangalore arrived with a couple of their models to take more pics. Things now got a bit more professional! However, as the models got changed into Rakhi's mother of the bride, Henley, Ascot line, I got told to put one on also....and the shoes...More attention was paid to detail, wrist watch off, this ring on, these earrings, hair back, this necklace......The Times of India photographer was way more particular - chin up, hips this way, one foot in front of the other, shoulders forward, hand down, look here, look there and attitude!!!
The real models were really friendly, down to earth..not at all haughty.
This day was so not what I do and yet I loved it - a chance to explore another side of me, discover something new about myself. I could easily have said "no", "can't do that", "don't do that sort of thing"....... and what an opportunity I would have missed. So reminder to myself......give it a whirl, you never now until you've tried......

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mark of passage!

Ads went, had a blast and returned.

We waved him off in the wee early hours at Bangalore airport. We handed him over to airport ground staff with his case, backpack and wallet of paperwork, all alone.

Then it was too late to second guess myself. Was he too young (12)? Was it too far (half way round the world)? Was it too long (25 nights)? No-one to answer those questions until he got back!

Yes, he was chaperoned on route. Yes, he was staying with friends he has known longer than he can remember and I trust absolutely. Yes, Simon would be in California a week later and would meet up with him a couple of times....but even so.

I dont want to have raised 'hot house kids'. I do want 'free range' kids but was this the right way?

I have such good friends here and there and in-between, who reassured me that he'd be fine, it'd be good for him, he'd come back walking a little taller (hopefully only metaphorically speaking - he's only got a couple of inches to catch me) and more confident.

It was a long three plus weeks punctuated by some monosyllabic texting and two phone calls. Luckily for my sanity, the wonderful friends who put him up (or put up with him!!) kept me updated by photo and email.

As the three plus weeks progressed I got less concerned about him and more proud of him. He seemed to be not only having a great time, but conducting himself like a nice young man. Sometimes maybe you need a little distance to appreciate.

As I met him at the airport in the very early hours he seemed surprised that I was looking excited to see him...."Mom,  I've only been gone three weeks"

A huge thanks to everyone who made Ads first solo trip possible and a hugely successful experience for him.

A mark of passage indeed!
My Mom once gave me a card, which I still have, with a picture of a dove flying high in the skies on the outside and inside she had written "Keep flying higher, I know you will reach where you want to go." And I pass those words on to my Ads!

Adarsh Vista Annual Sports Day

This was a morning of fun organized by the MC of our neighborhood. As so much in India it all came together at the last moment! After near cancellation due to lack of support the last email threatening the event would not happen brought forth a flurry of enthusiasm. The evening before I could hear kids practicing up and down the lanes of Vista, Wills included. Mr Adam "I'm not getting involved" Towers meanwhile kept his distance.

I was the keeper of the results, complete with clip board, and by the end of the morning knew a lot more Vista kid's names and how to spell them! There was a good spread of events from sprints and relays to lemon (for the younger) and egg (for the older kids) in spoon race, sack race and three-legged race to the biathlon (cycling and running) and swimming.

Unfortunately, taking my responsibility of correctly recording 1st, 2nd and 3rd very seriously, I got in the way of Simon trying to record on film Wills (in the orange t-shirt) sprint for the tape!

The age group cut offs were a tad flexible. Mr Adam "I've changed my mind and will now take part" Towers who is now only 2 inches shorter than me and only 2 weeks short of 13, quite fairly, was removed from the 8 to 12 age group to be with the older kids, where he was still the second tallest. He came second in the sprint and paired up with the winner for the two man relay, which of course, they then won. Not quite Bolt and Blake but even so.... His attempt in the three- legged race was a little lacking in elegance and grace. The girls swept the board in this one, much superior team work!!
You can see Ads back left, he and Desu, his partner , both in red bringing up the rear of the field.

Wills took part in most of the events in his age group and also got pulled into the older age group (8 -12) to make up a pair for the two man relay where they came in second.
It was a lot of fun for so many of the kids in the 'hood which took several volunteers but not much else....some chalk, some ribbon, a whistle and that's about it.  The simple things plus time (not money) can give the best results - happy kids, community spirit......

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gotta get up early tomorrow.....

Wills and I have already been re-introduced to the strange administrative operations at Indus. We ventured in to primarily pick up PE uniforms. As well as the t-shirts and shorts he wears on non-formal days, he is given 3 pairs of long track pants (never wore last years), one sweater with sleeves and one without (again neither worn last year). If I hadn't been worn and frayed by my time at the account's table I would maybe have rejected these items but no doubtedly that irregularity would have thrown the system into chaos and not been appreciated by those in line behind me. On entering the sports hall you pick up an information card which has to be signed off by accounts before you can proceed any further. One of the senior guys from accounts rides our school bus and has always seemed a 'not get involved, non-stick teflon' type. When trouble/noise errupts on the bus he hides further behind the folds of his newspaper. So seeing him at the accounts table didn't inspire me with confidence. I was armed with Simon's spreadsheets showing we were all paid up to date. But did my information reconcile with that on the accounts guys laptop. Of course not. He reckoned we owed thousands of rupees. However after a bit of hoohah our debt miraculously disappears and we can move on to the next stage. This quite often happens here. If you are adamantly not going to do something, it gets let go.

Wills get measured for formals - at least 10 measurements taken, so they'd better fit. Adam will have to sort himself out and locate the tailor when he gets back. I did pick up (though I did summon Parundar to help get them back to the car) Ads' huge pile of both exercise books and text books. It appears he is studying 'The Merchant of Venice' this year, physics looks scary, biology includes drug addiction, cloning and biotechnology, maths includes some trig, matrices, in fact a bit of everything. He is going to be busy this year!! I got his PE uniform gesticulating that he's a couple of inches shorter than me and much skinnier. I hope he hasn't overindulged on American food these last three weeks or he'll be exchanging for a bigger size!

We also pick up Will's school shoes. I seriously don't think these could be more aesthetically unpleasant, and they are also far from practical. They are far too narrow for his feet, so we have to get a extremely long pair, so he can actually squeeze his feet into them but this comes with a loss of stability. They have totally smooth soles, so Ads starts the year covered in bruises as he slips and slides on the marble floors. The leather is as hard as rock until it suddenly looses all form and shape part way through the year. I suppose they go pretty well with the equally hideous dark green nylon socks. 
The bus guy visibly quaked when I approached to confirm Ads' and Wills' place on bus 3b. Hopefully the bus experience will altogether be more controlled and timely than last year and our paths will cross less often!

Another summer over all too quick, another school year about to begin. Just got to locate a backpack, pack some snacks, fill a water bottle, remember to set the alarm and Wills will be starting second grade tomorrow! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Foray into Fashion!

Since we have arrived in Bangers we have had so many new experiences, some of which have been way beyond what I could have ever imagined. I am as you know, low maintenance (probably far too) on the beauty treatments, lazy on getting dolled up, extremely basic on the make-up front, haven't blow dried my hair and hardly got out of my flip flops since we got to India.

So me at Bangalore Fashion week, not exactly where you'd expect to find me!!

To backtrack, through the OWC I met clothes designer Rakhi, not only an expert in her field but a wonderful lady, warm, generous and full of fun. She is based in London but splits her time between London and Bangalore. Her original and high end line is Mother of the Bride, Henley, Ascot, garden party at Buck House......totally gorgeous, complimented by ball gowns and bridal wear. However, she also has a more casual designer line - flowing, flowery, flirty and pretty without being too girly. She invited a few of us to her Bangalore boutique. Its not a shop as such, but a comfortable sitting room with racks of clothes, tailors stitching away upstairs. We tried on the most beautiful clothes and felt like a million dollars. But there will be another blog on this later as we did have another even more "girls dream come true" visit to Rakhi's........

Rakhi had a catwalk in Bangalore Fashion Week (BFW). BFW happened over 4 days in a set up hall with catwalk in one of the 5 star hotels in central B'lore. Each day there were a series of Indian designers strutting their stuff (or rather the models were). The designers had an hour slot in the darkened room, spotlights on the models doing that catwalk walk (hips and shoulders forward, one foot literally in front of the other to get the 'sway'), a multitude of photographers at the ready. Though no amateur pics allowed so this is as good as mine get!

Managed to find a pic of Rakhi' clothes and a model in action. You can see Shuba and me, just. Mine is the dark hair in the front row that sort of sticks up!!

Shubha and I got glammed up and headed off. It was a people watchers paradise. A venue for the young and trendy, dressed to the hilt, some looking wonderful and some not quite having it together. We had front row seats for the show and so could see the models up close, see the odd pink bra strap slipping out, the black thong showing through, a couple of safety pins here and there!! And back stage Rakhi had tales to tell of the chaos and panic before the elegance and grace we see out front. I will write more about the beautiful clothes on show another time as I was lucky enough to get very familiar with them!!
Another experience, not what you'd expect when you think of the experiences one would have in India but this is part of the attraction of this crazy country - you never know what will happen next week!!

This was my fav. dress from our time at Rakhi's and the 'em, love 'em!!!

"Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world"(Marilyn Monroe)...well it sure felt like it!!