Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Cochi!

There is a giant stuffed doll of possibly some type of father time on the beach, christmas lights everywhere, santa hats, fireworks, ice cream, kids running, people selling noisemakers, dancing, music, it is amazing!!

Best wishes to all of you in the new year!!!

Allapuzha

Allapuzha, pronounced All - a - poo -rlrlzhzlrl - a. Apparently there is no sound in english for how to pronounce it! But it is beautiful! We went on a trip on a houseboat in the backwaters in Kerala. It was so nice. Two deluxe bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a kitchen and seats on the patio to watch the palm trees go by. The crew pointed out the sights, fed us, cleaned up after us and generally waited on us. It was so beautiful, and calm, and such a change from the big cities! I would definately recommend Kerala to anyone planning on doing a trip to India anytime soon!!

Chennai

Ok, Chennai is not a tourist city. Staying in the "tourist area", we were surrounded by hotels and freeways .. um ... My cousin must think we are rich, he booked us in another super swanky hotel. But unfortuately, L and R got sick, probably from some food. My dad ended up calling the doctor to the hotel. They were worried about health insurance until we realized the whole episode (including drugs) cost less than 12$. Whew.

L was sick on her birthday. However, the hotel brought in a delicious banana cake for her , we ate it the next day.

Chennai highlights were the beach (huge!) and the music/dance festival going on (we saw a few shows). Other than that, it was pretty dull, dirty, scary and overpriced. No rickshaw drivers used the meter and they were super aggressive, follow you around all the time. The coolies at the train station tried to charge us 500 rupees (12$) for carrying our luggage. We tried to take it back and they kept grabbing it out of our hands and then still charged us 500. We gave them 100 and then R yelled at them until they left!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Thanks to everyone who posted comments, its nice to hear from home!

Christmas here is not celebrated, however it is recognized by draping sheets of xmas lights over buildings, and having really creepy santas with full plastic face masks walking about. Scary, actually! Since there is no snow I keep thinking it is July, so it is very weird. I hope you are all having a great holiday and I am thinking of you all and missing the holiday cheer!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Bangalore / Mysore

Well, after a 25 hour train ride that included lots and lots of indian kids, numerous cups of chai, train biryani, vinyl seats/bunks, indian style train toilets and a whole lot of cockroaches, we arrived in Bangalore, 1200 kms away from Mumbai. It is SO much nicer here. Much cleaner, cooler (perfect temps of about 30 during the day but dropping to about 18 at night), more modern, organized, socially concious and LESS PEOPLE! Whew. I met my cousins wife and 2-year old daughter, who is infinitely cute, like all indian kids!! Unfortunately it is hard to communiciate with her since she only speaks tamil baby talk. We spent the day shopping at the high end stores ... fabindia!

The following day, we drove out to Mysore with my cousin and his family, a tourist destination. It is 139 km away, but takes about 4 hours to get there. It boggles my mind that we were in a newer model toyota vehicle, but there was no seatbelts, no airbags, no safety features whatever! After holding on for dear life for 4 hours, passing herds of sheep on the highway, goats, people walking, cows sleeping, bikes, a fmaily of 6 on a motorbike, 20 kids crammed in a rickshaw .... i could go on ... we arrived in Mysore. We saw the Maharaja's palace, which is huge and probably the best kept sight in south india. Although that is not saying much, because nothing here is very well maintained. There were probably 100,000 people there. My cousin had a talk with the security guard and we skipped the line. Ah, the disparity here. We spent the night in the swankyest hotel I could imagine (Sandesh the Prince in Mysore, look it up for me, RN!) The next day, we went to a temple, but the line to get in was 3 hours long so we just took pictuers from outside and went to the zoo! The zoo was almost nice, but just not well maintained, so the cages were out of date, and yes, the elephants looked sad. We then endured anohter 4 hour ride down the highway of death. However, the food is still delicious!!

We leave tomorrow to go Chennai, on the east coast. We will spend a few days there relaxing, recovering from all the constant car travel, and see some of the sights! I'm finding the non-touristy stuff is almost more interesting that the tourist destinations, since all you do there is stand in line with a million other people then cram into a room and try not to lose all your family members, then get pushed out again! I've been shopping a lot but I can't wait to do more! It's so cheap and EVERYTHING is pretty. I'm getting pretty good at bartering too!

"Facts" about india

1. I am terribly allergic to india. Whether it is the pollution or all the exotic plants, I have never been this bad before ... my eyes are so itchy!!

2. I am also apparently allergic to the sun. What the F!!

3. 1.2 billion people is a LOT of people.

4. If everyone did everything in an organized and systematic fashion, things would happen a lot quicker here, but about 40% of the population would lose their jobs.

5. What india lacks in quality, they make up for in service.

6. My mom is famous in india. People come up to her and ask to shake her hand. Then they say "hellohowareyouiamfine". Yup, just practicing their english with a white person!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mumbai!

We arrived in Mumbai after taking off in a snowstorm, stopping in Milan, and eating lots of veggie meals (you get served first on a plane if you order a special meal, haha!) Had to circle the airport in mumbai for half hour, traffic jam on the runway. got off and waited for an hour for our luggage, didn't come. THen we spent another hour in the mad crush of 100 other people who also had no luggage. good introduction to india, hot, loud, chaos and no guarantee that we'll ever see our luggage again. SOmehow even though we were 3 hours late and there were a billion people at that airport, we found our parents!

We are staying in chembur, a suburb of mumbai where my uncle lives. at first i thought the hotel was pretty bad (1300 rupees or 40$ a night) but after seeing some other places, its pretty good. Clean, locked and a western style bathroom!! Plus, room service. service is so good here, there is always 25 people just waiting to serve you. At first it was very unnerving you feel bad if you don't want anything, but you get used to it.

I am loving the food and LOVING the chai. mmmm they know exactly how much sugar to put in. We have seen the suburbs, local markets and shops, and gone downtown to the touristy area. Went to elephanta caves, colaba causeway, victoria terminal (we take the train downtwon every day) gate of india, etc. I have to say with traffic, pollution, poverty, etc i don't really like the city. i had a bad pollution cough for 3 days. i like the suburbs better.

tomorrow we are off to bangalore on the 24 and A HALF HOUR train. phew. this country requires a lot of travel time. we have traveld by rickshaw, taxi, rented car, hired van, train, boat ... oh, and we finally got our luggage 3 days after we landed, all shrink wrapped for us. At least it allowed me to buy a couple of bengali shirts (which are much more appropriate for the heat than the clothes i bought) and learn how to barter (for toothbrushes and underwear no less!)

can't wait to see more relaxed areas of the country. M, I understand your pain about the bathrooms and general uncleanliness. I am washing my feet and hands frequently. But other than that it has been a very interesting and eye opening experience so far! Looking forward to seeing the beach.

ps. it is 35 degrees here. SO hot!! For some reason my sisters refuse to use the ac so my hotel room is less than comfortable, but not so bad with the fan. but im learning to be used to it. drink lots of water and no makeup!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Off to the Fatherland!

I'm heading to India for three weeks!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The cutest sweater EVER!!!

No, not for me ... but made by me! So cute!!! I made this for K's baby ... the shower is on Sunday and I just finished today (Friday) so I'm very happy I finished in time. SO CUTE!!!!

The pins are still in for blocking in the picture, but you get the drift ...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The trip of the purses

Well, the flights did not turn out to be too bad. I tried to do it on tiredness alone, so needless to say I still could not sleep. But I managed to keep myself occupied with movies, music and reading, so even though I was nervous the whole time, it really wasn't too bad. The only bad part was the end of the 4.5 hour flight home when the pilot announced some "bumpy" weather into Calgary and the plane jiggled us around like dice for a few minutes. Other than that, I was ok ... Next time I think I'll try gravol though!

So flights aside, I had a pretty good trip!! It started in Toronto -- we got in late, slept at the airport hotel and left in the morning to head to Gravenhurst. Not a very exciting town, I must say. Also our hotel was not very desireable either. It reminded me of camping. Oh well, at least there was running water and a bathroom! The cottage across the lake was beautiful though. It was a former boys camp so there were about 7 cabins on the land. Although we were busy the first couple days with the wedding photos, after everything was done, we were able to relax. People were playing bocci ball, relaxing in the hammock, swimming, boating, wakeboarding, hiking, everything. It was a lot of fun. The wedding was very simple, but very classic. Beautiful. The photos turned out amazing, T did a great job. After the recption was winding down, we pulled out the fireworks we bought on the highway and set them off -- the bride and groom were so excited, who gets fireworks at their wedding!! It was a lot of fun.

Then off to Montreal. It seemed like our trip was divided into 3 sections -- cottage country, friends in Montreal, and family in Toronto, 3 totally different trips. Anyways, Montreal was fun. Spent the first day in Ste. Catherines / St. Denis / St. Laurent area for shopping, drinking and dining. Spent the second day in Old Montreal, where we did the tourist thing, shopped, went peddleboating, and drank on the port. It was nice. This is where Tino bought me a purse, handmade by a Quebec artist:













It's very nice, made by the same artist as the purse R bought last time we were in Montreal.

Then off to Ottawa. We spent about 4 hours visiting L and my parents. It was nice, T got to meet B finally, and we got to see L's new house. It was really good to see them, I was sad it was so short though. Oh well, at least it was something. And L sent us off with chocolate zucchini cake, mmmmmm!!!

Then off to Toronto. This is where T's sister K gave me a purse, handmade in Vietnam from where she had just returned:










So pretty!! I love it. We did a lot of visiting in Toronto. Went for sushi and a fancy dinner in the Distillery district, visited a lot of T's family and drove to NY for outlet shopping. This is where I bought a Coach purse for a ridiculously cheap price:










Gorgeous.

I am sad however because I totally forgot to call Ozzy while I was there. I just had so many other things on my mind. And I just found out that Laura was there as well that weekend! Too bad, I totally could have met up with them. Sorry guys, I'm such a bad friend. Anyways, it was a good trip. Very interesting, as we got to see so many different lifestyles in a short amount of time. It's great to be home though!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Panic attack coming

I never used to be afraid of flying but for some reason, the past couple of flights I have been on have been hell. I've been scared and nervous the entire time, and they were only 1 hour flights each. I'm petrified for my upcoming 4 hour flight to Toronto and thinking about how bad it could be if I have a panic attack is just making it worse.

Logically, I know there is no reason to be afraid. I know flying is safer than driving and basically all forms of ground transportation, but I think it's the lack of control that scares me. That and the fact that there is no illusion of safety, as there is when you are in a car. In a car, you always feel like you could just get up and walk out. Not so in a plane. You are trapped.

Anyways, I have to get over this, as I fly quite a bit. This will be my 6th trip this year and I have at least one more planned. So I need some strategies to not be afraid of the flight. Sleep would be the best option but I cannot sleep in moving vehicles. How can I make myself sleep, short of taking sleeping pills? Should I get drunk? Help!! Any ideas?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

In Ottawa

I spent the long weekend in Ottawa ... visiting sisters and kittens! So much fun. On Friday we went to this amazing nordic spa in Quebec ... http://www.lenordik.com. It was an outdoor spa - and it was -1 outside, but it was still so relaxing! There was a sauna, steam room, hot tubs, cold baths, a fireplace, and an ice cold waterfall that nearly stopped my heart .. whew!

Saturday we went to Montreal for the day. Shopping shopping shopping! And eating. And I had maple syrup on snow, yummy! I finally got to go to this Simon's I've been hearing about and it was great. Did a lot of walking, but it was worth it. The bus ride there and back gave me time to knit, I'm almost finished the right front of my sweater now. Not looking forward to the back, it will be tedious I think, since it will be so big!! I don't like it when I don't make progress.

Today we had Easter dinner on the farm ... got to see the baby goats, so cute! But now R is back to TO with BW and the kitties, just me and L left. Will go home tomorrow. It was a good weekend!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Sockaholic

Well, for some reason I keep knitting socks.I don't know why, they are not fun to knit. You have to use little tiny needles, and little tiny thread, and it takes you about as long to knit a sock as it does a big poofy sweater.And the socks I knit aren't even that nice. The heels are the hardest part, and I still haven't gotten a handle on getting them tight enough so that there are no holes.These ones with cables were kind of nice but doing cables with #1 needles is a bitch!
So I just finished this pair, I haven't even sewn in all the threads. I made them because I was trying to get rid of the leftover wool. But I chose the wrong colour for the heels and cuffs, because I ran out of it in the second sock! So instead of having two socks with two different coloured toes, I undid half of the first sock (ok which is REALLY hard when you have such tiny stitches!!) and changed the toe so there was enough wool for the second one! Ugh. It was a chore.So tell me why I now want to knit another pair! I have leftover pink wool from the first pair I knit. I have a friend who has a 2-year old daughter. And for some reason I have this overwhelming urge to knit little pink kid socks with a ruffle! I know I will hate doing it, never mind the fact that I'm still knitting my sweater, but I still want to! I keep telling myself .. I have 2 5-hour plane rides to Ottawa and back, I could probably use shorter needles than the ones for my sweater on the plane (otherwise you keep jabbing your neighbors with the needles, they don't like that very much).

I don't know ... they might just never get finished!! But I think I will probably still start them. No sense in letting cute pink wool go to waste, right??

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Sweater Commitment

I have a new project ... After looking for sweater patterns for two months I finally settled on a pattern that was free and not TOO hard, and hopefully it will turn out the way I see it in my mind!!

I still cheaped out on the wool though, I just don't think I'm a good enough knitter to spend 100$ on wool for a sweater I might not like in the end ... People always talk about the first sweater they knitted, and then the first WEARABLE sweater they knitted. I'm still waiting for that one, so until then I'm buying cheap wool! I made the sales lady climb up on ladders all over the store to get 8 balls in the same dye lot, I don't think she liked me very much!

So I've started the left front. The pattern itself is easier than I thought, but the collar and buttons look like they are going to be very difficult. The whole pattern is in shorthand so I'm having a little trouble figuring out what everything means, but I just sort of make stuff up when I'm in trouble and so far its worked out ok ...

The only problem I'm having is the left side of the cables and the knit bars ... I keep getting loose stitches. I've tried holding the wool tight, I've tried twisting the first stitch, I've tried purling through the back of the stitch, I've tried everything I've read about on the web and I still can't get it to tighten up! Any ideas???? I understand blocking will help but can you wet block a sweater that is 75% acrylic? I can just see that stretching it out like crazy.

Well, I think this will probably take me quite a few months to finish, but I'm optimistic that it will be a good sweater. Here's hoping!