Thursday, March 31, 2011

In the words of Madonna 'Holiday'

It's true what they say, sometimes you need to get away from the heticness (is that a word?) of Mumbai. Things that were funny to begin with like the staring men, the massive curbs, the lack of Bollywood action, the crappy supermarket, the fake Mcdonalds, the killing of innocent kittens (that wasn’t funny to begin with)  the loose stools (neither was that) is all getting too much! Soooooo we are off for a long weekend, all inclusive, private beach villa with private swimming pool over looking the sea Holiday in Goa and I for one cannot wait! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Only Way is Wedges!

It comes up to my calf!
 (please excuse the camera cord)
I refuse to wear flip flops or any footwear in fact which means my foot is within an a inch of the floor in Mumbai any longer as the streets are just filthy, therefore my feet turn black and my pedicures are for nothing! I now only wear wedges or at least four inch heels to keep my tootsies a safe distance away from the ground. I may fall over approximately 23476 a day, I have the cuts, bruises and possibly septicemia to prove it, but I think it’s worth it….…I say I ‘think’ it’s worth it as the curbs in Mumbai are huge! A walk to the shops is like a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro and the odds of breaking an ankle are significantly increased with a heel in tow, not to mention it takes a few seconds longer to run out the way of speeding cars which have totally ignored the red light and the pavement is sometimes non existent…. hmmmm… No! I will not be swayed by these life threatening factors- I like clean feet! I’ll stick with it! Heels it is! Wish me luck!
It should be named after me because I discovered it
I know, its a monster!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

These are few of my favourite things...

There was two of us, honest
My three favorite things are shopping, eating and drinking (alcohol) so imagine my excitement when I found out I could do all three at Good Earth in Lower Parel! I've spoken about Good Earth quite a few times within my blog, but just to clarify it sells the most beautiful home accessories and to be honest I could very easily live in the store in Lower Parel as it is decorated amazingly! I'm no expert but I feel it's a cross between Indian and Moroccan which gives the place a really rustic feel. The restaurant is located up an old wooden staircase, which is bedecked with colorful candle holders and garlands, as you walk through the main doors you notice the bright pink walls, adorned with beautiful chandeliers, Indian themed art work and greenery. The food is amazing too, a Moroccan style menu ,it sells starters, mains, desserts, tapas style dishes as well as beers, wines, cocktails and...Wait for it... Sangria!! I never thought I'd be drinking Sangria in India, I felt like I was on my jollies! I Loved it! You must go.

Good Earth, Raghuvanshi Mansion, Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Lower Parel Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013 tel:022 2495 1954

Monday, March 28, 2011

Something Fishy.....


When I found out Mumbai had a Sea Life centre, I already knew it was going to be crap, but that made me want to go even more! Paul wasn’t so keen after reading the minus one rating it received on Trip Advisor, but being the quick thinker I am, I pulled the “I moved to India for you” card, and before I knew it Ramesh was outside and we were on our way.  When we arrived, there was a queue of at least 50 Indians waiting to get in, women on the left, men on the right, ‘promising’ we thought, maybe the minus rating on Trip Advisor was not to be believed after all! I joined my queue and Paul joined his, within 30 seconds we were ushered to the front where we paid our 15 rupees each (around 20p) by a very friendly man who was making necklaces out of broken shells (ouch). We got the sneaking suspicion that they didn’t get many white people visiting the aquarium as all of the staff wanted to shake our hand before we walked in, If they treat the fish as well as they are treating us this is going to be great! I thought...They don’t…. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"We'll fight them on the beaches..."

Paul is also scared of spiders and ladybirds
I fear this story maybe one of those where ‘You had to be there’ as Paul’s response to my action packed, face to face rendition was a less than enthusiastic ‘Good for you’. But I’ll go with it….
It was my first official outing with our new driver Ramesh. First stop was Good Earth in Colaba, I’ve been dying to buy a cushion they have with a picture of a Indian woman’s face on it, but Paul hasn’t let me because he said her face was too scary and it would give him nightmares (that will teach you to not like my stories Hanley!) Cushion purchased, the next mission of the evening was to find a car parking space and at 6.15pm on a weekday it wasn’t going to be easy. 
After waiting patiently for 30 minutes listening to Britney Spears’s Greatest Hits, a space became available. As traffic was trying to enter the Cricket Club, which is located at the end of the road, we had been required to shift and change our position a few times so we weren’t in the most ideal spot, in fact our unfortunate spot required Ramesh to conduct the most important 3 point turn of his career to date, one that involved avoiding a postal truck, a motor bike, a 4x4, a Suzuki Swift and reversing into the space! It looked impossible and time was running out, if we didn’t hurry someone else was going to park there, I couldn’t live with that, so I got out (as the car was moving because I felt it created more drama) and shouted ‘I’ll reserve the space Ramesh!’ I ran over and stood in the middle of it, declaring it was ours, but as I arrived a sneaky blue car started to pull in to MY space. I stood my ground and said very politely (the way English people do) ‘I am terribly sorry but we have been waiting a very long time, this is ours’. To this the man grunted, tried to run me over and managed to gain half of the space! This got me mad, very mad, it had been a long wait and granted my car wasn’t there yet but I was there first!  ‘Excuse me’ I said loudly ‘This is my space, move!’ He just ignored me! It was like I was Israel and he was Palestine, both at logger heads!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

El-e-va-tion Wooooo Ouuuuu

He must get bored, bless
In India , standing in a lift all-day and pressing the buttons is a job and this job is called ‘A Lift Man’. When I first arrived here, I couldn’t believe that this was an actual career option, but now, two months in, I’m not sure how I will be able to integrate back into a world where there is no Lift Man?
I found myself alone, standing in a lift for around ten minutes the other day, wondering why nothing was happening. The reason nothing was happening was because I had forgotten to press the button as I was so used to someone doing it for me! Another time, I went from the ground floor, up to the 20th floor, back down to the ground floor and back up again thinking ‘Wow this journey to the 5th floor is taking a long time’ the truth is I hadn’t pressed my floor, again! Yesterday, I trapped my hand in our apartments 1920 ’s style life as the nice lift man (not the kitten killing, cat strangling, Holi ruiner lift man) wasn’t there to slide it open for me! The list goes on and on! Life without a Lift Man is hard and full of perils and I feel India and I are very lucky to have them in our lives! Lift Men everywhere, I dedicate this to you:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ramesh- You're Hired!

Me, taking my duties very seriously!
I would like you to join me in congratulating our new driver Ramesh!
After a shaky start Ramesh was triumphant! He beeped his horn only 4 times within an hour and a half, knew Mumbai like the back of his hand, held the door open on numerous occasions; not only for me but for Paul also, called me 'Maaaam' and Paul 'Siiirrrr', spoke a little English, conducted the best 3 point turn I have ever seen in my life, (the manoeuvring of the car throughout the busy traffic was like a scene out of the Matrix-) and he had a moustache (that wasn’t even in the criteria, that was just a bonus) impressive, Ramesh, very impressive!
Commiserations to Suresh who dictated how much bonus payment he wanted as soon as he got into the car and didn’t have a moustache.
The dissapointing Suresh
The victorious Ramesh

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hula Hoops and Holi

I don’t know why but the word 'Holi' reminds me of Hula Hoops and ever since hearing the word 'Holi' I haven’t stopped craving the God dam things. I have scoured the street sheds or shops as they are more commonly known for a bag but to no avail. I’m not asking for the BBQ Beef or Cheese and Onion flavour just the original, ready salted, red bagged variety! Any help in locating a packet would be greatly appreciated.
Anyway, there is more to this post than my need for a potato based snack, this post is about our first Holi (Hula Hoops, Hula Hoops- stop it!!) in India. For those of you who don’t know, Holi has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of 'good' over 'bad'. On this day, people hug, wish each other 'Happy Holi’, get intoxicated and cover each other with beautiful colours.
Our Holi day was spent with friends and the battle the celebrations took place on our roof terrace. The first duty of the day was to prepare the Bhang. Bhang is basically a Marijuana based drink or bite which is supposed to
make you high so you enjoy the Holi Festival in the traditional way. I know what your thinking ‘Sophie, Marijuana – You’ve changed’ But who can argue with tradition? Holi without Bhang is like Christmas without Jesus, would you take Jesus out of Christmas?? Would you??
Bhang tastes like a mixture between grass and dirt which was actually quite nice, I had about 3 glasses, but it didn’t really effect me because I’m hardcore (not a hardcore drug addict, just hardcore in general)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pandas Eat It

I hope he's wearing a hard hat....
I know! Men painting a building in Mumbai! Brilliant! But no, this is not the reason I took this photo, I took this photo because the scaffolding they are standing on is made of bamboo and secured together with string! Yes bamfrickingboo and string!! I first thought maybe this was an isolated incident, but its not, ironically the Sophia Hospital in Mumbai which is currently being refurbished, is covered in the stuff so its either bloody strong or the men like hospital food. I’ve done a bit of research (well asked Akbar) and appaza they’ve been using bamboo scaffolding for hundreds of years in India, Japan and China and it’s just as strong as steel or aluminium? I’m not quite sure if I believe that as Pandas eat it but if it is true, you learn something new everyday!
.... and steel toe cap boots!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cat got your tongue??

I couldn't find a picture of cat being strangled
Yesterday I was sitting at the computer, updating my blog in fact, when I heard a terrible sound; it was like a cat was being strangled! Because I’m nosey  As a concerned resident, I went outside to see what all the commotion was about and you’ll never guess what… a cat was actually being strangled! I’m not sure what our place has against cats but I didn’t know what to do first? Do I grab my camera and take a photo for my blog evidence? Or help the poor thing? The blood of another feline on my hands was not an option! I shouted ‘OI’ at the top of my lungs! Clearly shocked at my head mistress like confidence the men dropped the cat and it darted to safety. Feeling remarkably pleased with myself I then took it one step further and shook my head and wagged my finger at them as if to say ‘I’m disappointed in you’. I felt it was necessary. Mother Teresa status reinstated I went back into the house and continued to write ‘Ask Akbar. Its Saint Sophie from now on guys.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ask Akbar

Quick game: Where's Akbar? (he is actually in this picture)
On Saturday we moved into our new place, which was actually really easy as we had approximately 568 people helping us.  We hired one of those mini van things which managed to fit in all of our baggage, plus 3 little men we stole from outside the hotel to help us perfectly! We managed to get the mini van and 568 helpers by asking Akbar. No, not an Indian version of the search engine ‘Ask Jeeves’ but a real life man who you can ask anything of and he will know the answer. It’s like magic! E.g. 'Akbarrrrrrr??? Where do I get a driver from?' – poof  (visiualise the cloud of smoke) - choice of three, 'Akbar?? Where can I buy a trunk for the top of my cupboard from?' – poof- an address and contact, 'Akbar I need Bollywood Dancing lessons!' – poof- 'My sons a teacher, he’ll be over next week', 'Akbar! I cant find tampons in India anywhere????'-poof- he transferred me to his wife, but you get the idea! And this isn’t even Akbars day job, oh no, hes actually a cool cab driver (not as in a cool dude cab driver, as in his cab has air conditioning) who can be found outside the Vivanta Taj President hotel most days. All I can say is Thank all the Gods (there’s loads in India ) for our new best friend Ask Akbar, ou, I mean Akbar.

Monday, March 14, 2011

He, he, he Gaylord

ha ha haaa
When we met our new landlady for the first time she started telling us of all the marvelous things the House Keeper could do for us. ‘He will take your washing to the launderette, make the bed, go shopping for you, pop to Gaylord’
Trying not to choke on my own laugh I repeated ‘Gaylord?’
I could see my husband shaking his head out the corner of my eye as if to say –‘Don’t do it’
‘Yes Gaylord the bakery’ she replied with the straightest face I have ever seen in my life.
Now I tried with all my might to hold it in but there was nothing I could do- the biggest guffaw of laughter left my mouth, and I couldn’t stop, tears were streaming down my face, the poor landlady couldn’t understand what was happening and neither could I.
My husband clearly embarrassed changed the subject.
But Gaylords though?? I’m sorry but that’s funny, even in your 20’s!! Ou I'm off again, ha ha ha haaaa!

Gaylord Restaurant/ Bakery, Mayfair Building, 79, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wheres Dad when you need him….

We have just purchased a beautiful giant mirror and crystal chandelier from an amazing Antique shop in Colaba which needs wiring up. Normally I could rely on Dave Goddard, father and electrician extraordinaire, for all my electrical needs but as he is living in the UK I need to look elsewhere.  As I couldn’t locate a Yellow Pages (do they still exist?) I took to the streets (well, our hotel front desk) and asked if they could recommend an electrician, “There’s a man next to the florist opposite the hotel” the guy said. “Ok” I replied, and walked merrily across the road. This is what I found….

Notice the massive underpants on the washing line in the background!
Needless to say the search continues!

This post will change your life

The con in action- sooo professional
I think that title built your hopes up too much; this post won’t change your life, but it will certainly stop you getting caught looking at my blog at work! Today I was on a website and it had a link saying ‘Quick your boss is coming, look busy’ I clicked on it and a spreadsheet Bill Gates would be proud of came up! The best thing is it works! Paul (who is some peoples real life boss) saw this spreadsheet on my screen and said ‘Wow, you have been busy’ I don’t know why he thought I would be creating such a complex spreadsheet as I don’t have a job, but I went with it and made up some bull about how important it was to our life and guess what?? He bought it and left me alone! I was so proud!
 So based on the success of my research I am totally ripping this idea off and putting the link on the right hand side of my blog, so now you have no excuse not to read my blog when you are at work, well unless you are busy or dead. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Warning: This post contains ‘Too much information’ but I think it’s necessary.

My new best friend
The most common question which I have had from friends regarding my moving to Mumbai hasn’t been; ‘What is it like? Or How are the people? Or How are you are getting on? It has been…. ‘Have you had the sh*ts yet?’
I was very happy as for the first 5.5 weeks of being here I have had the pride and satisfaction of saying ‘No we have both been fine, thank you for your concern’ and feeling proud of my iron insides…. That was until Friday…. Dressed up to the nines I met up with Paul and his work colleagues as it was our friend Fabrice’s birthday, we first had drinks at Geoffrey’s bar at the Marine Plaza hotel on Marine Drive then made the hour long drive to Ju Hu (which rhymes with woo hoo which is one of my favorite things to say) The first stop on the list was Aurus which has lovely views of the sea and Ju Hu (there it is again) beach. After a strawberry Mojito I was ready to hit the town hard, Paul wasn’t. We said our good byes and made the long trip back Colaba! Less than impressed I nursed my husband to health over three days, although I felt sorry for Paul I also felt secretly smug that I hadn’t caught it- Big mistake on Monday night around 1.00am it started- I’m still recovering. Well it was bound to happen sooner or later!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Puss in Bin

RIP Flea (that was its name)
Yesterday Paul found a tiny, little kitten outside our house, it couldn’t have been more than a couple of days old, so god dam cute, I just wanted to munch it! ‘Can we keep him???????????? Pleeeeaaaaassssseeeee???????’ I asked Paul, Paul had already started to make it a bed out of old boxes so I presumed the answer was yes. Feeling like Mumbai’s equivalent to Saint Teresa I wrapped it up in a bright orange towel (I don’t know why the colour of the towel matters) and left it outside (it had fleas) just for a moment whilst we nipped to the shops to get some milk and flea treatment. After skipping home (because that’s what happy people do) we peered into the corner where we had left it…. there was the bright orange towel but no cute and munchable kitten?? We asked the lift attendant if he had seen it, ‘Don’t worry Madame it has gone’ he said, ‘What do you mean it has gone?’ I replied- with concern  ‘I threw it away’ he said ‘You threw a poor little, innocent kitten away you heartless *!!@/$ ?’ Is what I wanted to reply but instead replied ‘You threw it away?’ ‘Yes Madame’ he said looking very pleased with himself.  Like two 7 year olds who had just been told they can't have a kitten, we skulked back in to the house and started to contemplate life without a kitten, it was hard, very hard. Luckily ‘When Sharks Attack’ was on Animal Planet to cheer us up. Phew! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tesco this is Not!

This is my new local supermarket..............
Health and safety would have something to say about this
It gets worse...
Losing the...
....... I think thats all to be said.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

“Toot Sweets, Toot Sweets…..”

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the maternal sort, however I can’t help but have a little soft spot for some of the children who beg around Marine Drive. Being a sucker for a compliment, every time a child called me ‘pretty lady’, I’ve given them a sneaky rupee or two; this has not gone unnoticed, now when I walk through that area its like a scene from the Pied Piper of Hamlin! Earlier this week I was caught by one of our Indian friends and was told not to give them money under any circumstances, as the chances of them keeping any of it is very slim, but its Ok to give them food. Well I thought I’d do one better than food and started giving out lollipops, which proved far more popular than rupees! I was extremely pleased with myself until Paul pointed out that I was now like the Child Catcher out of Chitty, Chitty bang, bang! “Lolly pops” “Ice creams….”   Thanks babes! Boring chapatti it is then….
No Paul! We don't have the same nose!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Move Over Tony and Guy...

Yes that is barbed wire- security first!
I’ll be honest, if I was in a hairdressers in Walsall and an Indian person got out their camera and started to take photos of me having my hair cut I’d be a bit miffed and I suppose if an English girl gets her camera out and starts taking photos of gentlemen getting their haircut in a barber shop in Mumbai they would be a bit miffed too! But that didn’t stop me.
Paul and I had made it our mission of the day to find him somewhere to have a hair cut which I didn’t think would be possible as the majority of haircuts I’ve seen have been taking place on the street- no joke!
Told ya
We eventually stumbled (literally the pavement outside was missing) across Air Cool. Impressed with the owners play on words we decided to head inside.
It was packed to the rafters! I felt like I was in a 1920’s Movie! As well as men having their hair cut and dyed they were having shaves with cutthroat razors, I was on the edge of my seat! Surprised at the sheer amount of people who wanted a short back and sides on Saturday afternoon I also couldn’t get over the amount of staff Mr. Air Cool had, around 30 barbers – one for each chair, the men who passed the barbers the equipment, the men who swept up the hair, the men who wash the hair, the men who clean the chairs and the man who takes the money.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There’s no one quicker than a Kwikfit fitter….

After being in bed for the last 2 days for no other reason that I couldn’t be bothered to get up, aka addicted to the first series of Glee; I decided to go on an outing. My first stop was to be a place called Fountain, I was told it’s the place to go. Lovely I thought, a beautiful fountain, I’ll spend the day there, it might sing like the one in Barcelona! On the way the taxi driver said something to me, it sounded like ‘How do you do?’ I thought that’s very odd but said ‘fine thank you’ and carried on trying not to be sick as we passed through a very smelly part of town. We then took a sharp turn and stopped directly outside a slum, a little bit apprehensive I turned to my left to see the Indian version of a Kwikfit....

It even looks smelly
The taxi driver hadn’t asked ‘How do you do?’ at all, he must have actually said ‘I need to go and change my tyre do you mind?’ -It didn’t sound like that.
After a few minutes of holding my breath, (a moment longer I would have passed out) we were back on the road and shortly arrived at ‘Fountain’; not a fountain at all but a market remminisant to one that can be found in Bloxwich, Walsall full of poor quality clothes and knock offs! I asked to be taken back to the hotel immediately. An adventure though.