Wednesday, July 17, 2013

You'd better watch out, You'd better beware jolly old man giving out goodies but quite the reverse.............

This morning I attended a meeting - an OWC fundraising meeting in a high end sari shop in Bangalore (Deepam Silks).  It would hopefully be a mutually beneficial meeting (well really beneficial for our charities) in a day that was expected to be fairly uneventful and calm....dream on!!

When we pulled up at Deepam's my fellow OWC VP, A,  left her bigger bag containing her computer in the car and just took her purse. Her driver would remain in the car - you can probably see where this is going. The Deepam security guys/welcoming committee opened the car door for us and ushered us on our way into the shop. We had a fruitful meeting and will be holding an OWC event at Deepams to which I will go armed with camera to try and do justice to the amazing colors and silks.

While still in Deepam's, tho post meeting, A got a call from someone saying they had a bag of hers in their shop and could she come and pick it up. We thought this rather strange as A to her knowledge had not left or lost anything anywhere. We sort of blew him off and continued to peruse the rich and vibrant materials surrounding us. When we got back to the car, still parked outside the shop, A reached for her bag.....gone. A's driver was adamant he had not left the car. Putting two and two together, A rang back the guy who had called earlier. One of his shop's security guards had visited the local public toilet when he saw a bag looking very out of place! He rang his employer and as instructed brought the bag back to that shop. The employer/shop owner had then found A's business card in the bag and called. While looking for a business card or phone number, he discovered that her bag also contained another bag which it later transpired had been taken from another stationary car, complete with sleeping driver but unlocked while the owner was with his mother at the dentist. That second bag was now minus a phone, docking station and some other tech items. A's bag was minus the new tablet computer, a gift from her family for mothers day.

Feeling we were in the middle of some surreal dream - how can a bag be taken from a car with a driver in it?  we went back to Deepams. The only time the car door had been open was when we were being helped out by a couple of guys we assumed to be Deepam's welcome crew. Discussion, debate and we were led up the stairs to a tiny little room - more like a cupboard - Deepam's nerve center, the security camera screens. We rewind and replay, we see A's car pull up, we watch and then bold as brass someone rushes over the car, opens the door, takes the bag and is gone, driver sleeps on. On further scrutiny of the footage and a few replays it is apparent there are two perbs, a watcher and a doer. They watch the car pull up, presumably walk up and down the street several times - ascertain there is a bag conveniently positioned with long straps to grab hold off, the car is not locked and then they wait for the driver to nod off, maybe with headphones on listening to either Bollywood or some hindi chanting and then............the deed is done. The bold as brass, in your face cheek of it is mind-blowing. The simplicity of the plan and the sheer audacity is outrageous.

Purander naps in the car at the slightest opportunity, however short the stop and he quite often has the windows open. How many times have I left my camera or the kids an i-pad, readily available for any passing thief. And come to think of it there have been times Purander has been in the land of dreams in the drivers seat and Wills has got into the car and has been pulling his hair before he wakes up.

Next stop the police station to report the crime. They lambast A's poor driver who did nothing but fall asleep and is reduced to tears. They seem a little power crazed and there seems to be little sense of urgency. In fact it seems that the Cubbon Park area is singularly lacking in any meaty criminal activity today as the two holding cells are empty and the gun racks are full. Both are open. A settles down to write her statement when a very irate business gentleman charges in. Another similar incident - the gang has struck again. He was in a nearby Cafe Coffee Day, his driver next to his car - maybe having a smoke or a cup of chai - but next to the unlocked car. One guy susses out the scene, another appears out of nowhere, opens the door, grabs the previously identified target, and is gone. This time the perbs really did hit the jackpot. This guy was a builder who transacts in cash and must have just sealed a deal. The bad guys really did find Mr Moneybags!

By now I was feeling as if was in an Indian spoof of CSI.

Whereas my heart goes out for A and her loss, and I don't hold out much hope for it's return, it was certainly a day to remember. We sort of solved a crime, didn't catch the bad guys but got 'em on tape.  Detectives in the making!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mates from days gone by, old haunts and the kids.........

During our few days in London, the kids and I past by the first house I rented with some friends when I started work post uni. Susan, Jane and I were resident in 176, Eardley Road, within trembling distance of the rail track and in sight of Streatham Common Station for a couple of years. Were my kids in the least bit interested? - not even a flicker. When we drove on the top, front of a red London double decker bus past the Odeon on Streatham High Road where I first saw my all time favorite movie, Top Gun and came out "feeling the need....the need for speed".......still not a flicker, not even a roll of the eye. In Trafalgar Square, under the eye of Nelson as I regale them with tales of New Year Eve drinkies, jumping in fountains and kissing policemen, maybe a raised eyebrow of disapproval from Ads as he texts his buddy from India, currently in Singapore. When Sheila and I remember my visits to her at uni, which involved large quantites of water and someone's whole bedroom being displaced with them still sleeping into the quad and conclude that 'what happened in Brighton stays in Brighton', still no interest from the younger generation.

I do think that the great negative of Facebook and social networking is that nothing really 'stays in Brighton'. In the pre-FB days we could be delicious and delightfully naughty in the safety that nothing could come back to haunt you. I'm not talking about doing anything evil or sinister, just nicely naughty!!

Maybe as they get older the brats may have an interest in their roots but definitely not yet a while, tho they are both very comfortable in the country of their ancestors.

I however, got to delve into my roots, seeing friends from days long gone. I have been blessed to have met many, many special people on life's transcontinental path but there is always something very special reuniting with those you have a long history with. It's not as if we sit and wax nostalgia for hours on end but there is that life-long connection. Theres a comfort that no-one really changes we just evolve. As people move geographically and enter and leave the different phases of life at different times, keeping in contact is not easy, or was not pre-facebook. One of my dear, long term buddies said that she counted her long term friendships among her greatest achievements. I think I second that.

Its amazing how we are all essentially the same, maybe just a little frayed around the edges!! Amanda, Anne and I, friends during our brown  uniformed days at Sutton Coldfield Girls Grammar met for lunch after a decade plus. Somehow we were just grown up versions of our former selves - we even took the same roles in the non-stop conversations. During these hours of frantic chatter and laughter - conscious time was limited the brats got to hang with my Dad. So "when will we three meet again, in thunder lightening or in rain?", not that I'm likening Amanda, Anne and I to witches but hopefully it won't be another decade or "when the hurly burly's done or when the battle's lost or won" but in the not too distant!

Ads did luck out as he saw 2 Godmothers and one of his Godfathers. In Bath the kids had only my Dad and me to entertain them but once in London they had 2 other youngers to hang with. Boys so easy -walk into the house and immediately seem to connect and that's them happy for a couple of days! They are communicating just via Minecraft or some other such computer activity. Ads and Sam are only a few months apart - Ads a few months older. We did visit with Sheila and Charlie in this very house, 14 years or so being at the fully fat stage while S was still at the fatigued but same shaped stage!

 Ads got some quality Godfather time at the science museum. New since my London days but very impressive.

(Had to include this one of Aunty S and Uncle C in infrared -thanks to the science museum! - not sure why the infrared has given them Rudolphs - they are both way more attractive in real life!!)

Wills' aim in London was to see Big Ben, mine to catch up with couple more friends. We got into London the best way - the 159 bus. Who needs an expensive tour when you can sped through the colors of Brixton, skirt the Oval, drive over Westminster bridge, get a great view of Big Ben, the houses of P and then pull up in Trafalgar square on a public bus.

We met my fellow intrepid traveller from Bangers, Connie, and chatted by Buck House. Great to catch up - Connie is a not so long term friend, but feels like one in the nicest possibly way.

Caught up with another uni friend watching the street entertainers in Covent Garden. Yes -Yoda is in mid air!
This was probably my best trip back to the UK in many ways. We are now one up (reunited with Simon) but also one down (Ads back in Cali exploring his not so long roots and reuniting with his not so long term friends!!) It will have been five weeks before the Towers Team is back to full force!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

There's nothing quite like a cuppa and a deckchair in an English Country Garden!

We were lucky enough to spend a few days in London with one of my oldest and dearests, the wife of one of Ads godfathers and mother of 2 gorgeous not so little kids, and the curator of a little peace of tranquility and beauty in the great metropolis, the big smoke.

There's something about the subtlety of the colors, the never ending shades of green which is a constant reminder that those rays of sunshine are temporary so enjoy and make most, the gentle mix of flowers...its all wonderfully and delightfully British! Even Ads commented that the "greens" are different in England, softer and wetter!

And the roses......I am not a rose expert but I know enough to know that roses are complicated - both as to flower and aroma, many species and cross species etc.etc. But for me they are just beautiful and an integral part of that English Garden.

"What a good year for the roses, many blooms still linger there"...they'll definitely linger in my photo collection.

My practical hands on, gardening experience is both short and sad....a few non-memorable pots of short lived blooms and I have managed to force a few tomatoes into existence but I imagine tending and producing an altogether wondrous display must be very cathartic. Maybe akin to baking for pleasure rather than for a never satisfied gang of little menfolk who gulp down without tasting.

All they need is some grass and a ball..............

be it in Bath, London or wherever! As long as the kids can find an open space, a soccer ball and in the little guy's case maybe a cricket bat and ball all is well with the world! The house we rented in Bath this year, as in previous years, was selected in part to be as close as possible to my Dad's pad, the center of Bath and a park!

Luckily the weather was kinder to us this year than last. I couldn't go so far as to say it was hot or even very warm but the wet stuff was pretty minimal. My Dad, now over 80, although not so stable on his pins knows his cricket and was all too happy to instruct Wills on the finer points of the reverse sweep and can still bowl spinners of all descriptions, tho his run up to the crease has now fallen by the wayside.

Add to the mix a variety of paper gliders, which like kites, never fly so well as promised on the packing....

Then there is always the dreaded mini-golf. For me mini-golf ranks with bowling and croquet (yep - I did have to play that too) as one of my least favorite pass times but my kids and Dad seem to find some very hidden pleasures and delights in the activity, so 5 rounds scattered through out time in Bath it was.

My Dad trying to extricate himself and ball from the rough of the 18th hole added a little excitement to the proceedings. Competitive edge still there at four-score plus!!

A spot of extended family croquet I think was the final use of the parks of Bath for the Towers this year!