The tales of an American girl living in Hyderbad, India

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My new hobby

I know, I know... it's been a looooong time since my last post. In that time, I've traveled to Bangkok and Mumbai (once again). Tomorrow I head back to SF for a couple of weeks (sooooo exciting!).

Anyway, this is just a short post about my new hobby, which is 'attempting to board all my flights in India using only the email printout of my flight itinerary'. This will probably come as a surprise to all of you living in the land of Homeland Security, but it's true: In India, you usually don't have to show any form of identification whatsoever at any point from check-in to boarding. You hand them your printed out e-ticket, and that's all you need to get in. I could hand them something that said, 'Macho Man Randy Savage', and 75% of the time I'd have no problems boarding my flight (every so often someone does remember to ask for ID).

Even weirder, I can hand my ticket over to a friend and let them check in on my behalf -- so I don't even have to be PRESENT to get a boarding pass. Who knows. I think only a statistician or security expert could tell us whether all the hoops we pass through in the rest of the world are actually any more effective than the Indian way, but at least they give the semblance of increased safety. Hmm...


Thursday, December 07, 2006

You can take the girl out of Boston...

Looks like despite living for periods in 6 other cities in the past 7 years, I'm still pretty much a Bostonian at heart. Haha... not a shocker, really. I am a little traumatized I got one wrong, though. I think it was either the frappe question or pronouncing Quincy correctly:

Dude! You're 97% from Massachusetts!

Dude! Me and Sully and Fitzie and Sean are gonna hit Landsdowne tonight after the game, hang out at the Beerworks. I'll pick you up at the Coop at 6.

How Massachusetts are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Boston

You definitely have a Boston accent, even if you think you don't. Of course, that doesn't mean you are from the Boston area, you may also be from New Hampshire or Maine.

The West
The Midland
North Central
The Northeast
The Inland North
The South
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


Friday, December 01, 2006

Suzie and her sari

I felt very Jane Austen-esque tonight because all of us girls were running around asking to borrow things from each other and helping each other suit-up. I also wore a petticoat and bodice, and an elaborate silk outfit. And once my sari was on, I wanted to take turns about the room to show off my figure.

Here I am getting ready. Isn't this the most MySpace picture in the world? I just wanted to show off my bangles and bodice (I thought I looked like a gypsy), but since I had to self-take the picture, it turned out looking kind of scandalous.

I looooove my sari, and since I'll never be able to put it on again without a lot of help, here is a photo montage to preserve the memories:


News from here and home

The last couple days have been kind of stressful and I think my body is rebelling. I feel achy and flu-like and had to stay home and spend the day sleeping in bed. If I still feel like this tomorrow I'll probably have to go to a doctor. Blech. Tonight is the holiday party, so I really want to make an appearance in my sari but I don't think I'll be able to stay long.

On a very cute note, this week I have Liz from Mountain View here training the team (I feel so badly for the state I'm in!), and what did she show up with in India but a bag of little surprises from Matt! I have the awesome-est boyfriend ever.

This bag looks familiar, by the way ;) . I'm visiting Mateo 3 weeks from today -- it'll be so awesome to say "Two weeks and X days" starting tomorrow!


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ESPN vs. Extraaa Innings

Today I learned about Mandira Bedi, the Suzy Kolber of India (reference for Matt's benefit, although from what I can read she's no Suzy Kolber when it comes to actually understanding the game), who is famous for 3 things:

1) Being a female cricket commentator.

2) Spurring Indian men to watch even more cricket than they already do, much to the dismay of Indian women.

3) Wearing risque 'noodle strapped' blouses under her saris.

Anyway, just thought I'd pass along important cultural references to my readers. ;)


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mumbai: Not the disaster it was last time

In fact, I actually had a nice time. I had an AMAZING meal with real wine at Indigo, which Conde Nast rates as one of the top 60 restaurants in the world. They even had a special menu prepared for me that said "Miss Suzie" at the top. I also shopped around a bit and did some of my best-ever bargaining on earrings.

Even though I had fun, bad stories are funnier than good ones so here are a few:

1) My cabbie from the airport put on the meter (which doesn't show price, just some random numbers that you match up at the end with the prices listed on an official fare card). But, when we arrived at the hotel he pretended not to have the fare card and quoted me an expensive price. I said that was illegal and wouldn't pay him till he found a fare card, so it miraculously appeared. Of course, he had over-priced me by 150 rupees. Then he pretended not to have change since he was mad I wouldn't pay a 33% mark-up on a price that was already 30% too much (we took the long route) according to the hotel. He was like, "Just an extra 50 rupees, ma'am." Trying to be all charming. And I'm like, "Why would I give you an extra 50 rupees? You lied to me. Is it because I'm American?" and he was like, "Yes ma'am. Please just another 50 or 100 rupees." Made me so mad.

2.) My hotel had a 'business suite' on the 8th floor with internet, but the person who was supposed to man it was MIA. I went down to the front desk and they told me they'd send someone up shortly to log me in. I asked if they could just give me a password and they were like, "No, ma'am." I waited and even went back down to remind them and was assured someone was on his way, but after an HOUR of waiting, still no sign of humanity. I had to leave for my dinner reservation and they were like, "Ma'am, the internet room closes in 30 minutes, so if you leave you won't be able to use it." I was like, "It's essentially been closed all day! I need internet and someone better be there when I get back from dinner.

Anyway, when I got back sure enough there was a guy waiting for me, but he made me sit and wait for 15 more minutes while he checked his PERSONAL EMAIL ACCOUNT! If he had been doing his job, he could have been checking his email ALL DAY. I got so mad I was like, "Do you get paid to be here? Because I'm PAYING to be here and I've been waiting HOURS now to use this for work." He was like, "One more minute ma'am" and tried to be charming and tell me about the wonderful hotel bar while he slowly typed personal emails with one finger. He also tried to leave the timer logged in, probably so that I would pay for his personal internet usage as well as my own.

The only positive was he typed so slowly that I was able to see the login and password so I could go back and use internet later without his supervision (also since I knew from experience that he doesn't bother to do his job, so no one would see me sneak in and get free internet.

3) I had an hour to kill at a mall before going to the airport and my bag was SOOOO heavy, so I decided to just get a pedicure (I was at a mall and sick of walking around and shopping). It was the worst pedicure of my life. The guy tried to cut off a blister on my pinkie toe. I get chills just thinking about it. I'll probably get tetanus or something. He also whittled my big toenails to a quick even though I specifically asked him to keep them long about 4 times.

4) I got stuck in 1.5 hours of traffic on the 5 mile trip to the airport, and only arrived 40 minutes before my departure. Also, my cabbie (a nice, honest one) dropped me off at the wrong terminal. The security guys said it was only a 5 minute walk to my terminal, but I couldn't see it and everything is '5 minutes' here so I was skeptical. Anyway, I set out on foot and a relentlessly annoying rickshaw driver drove next to me for about 10 minutes (not exaggerating) and kept being like, "It's 2km to your terminal ma'am. 30 minutes walk. Very far. I give you ride." and he WOULD NOT go away. Finally, I was like, "Is it really 2 km or are you just trying to cheat me?" And he said, "Very far, ma'am. 30 minute walk." So I said, "You better not be lying to me or I'm not going to pay you" and just got in because if he was telling the truth, I would have missed my plane and I've DONE things like that before because I've either been too cheap or stubborn or untrusting, and that would have sucked.

Anyway, my terminal was about 50 feet away -- not exaggerating -- I probably could have walked faster, and he tried to charge me 110 rupees! Plus, he lied. I gave him 10 (which was WAY more than I should have) and told him he didn't even deserve that because he was a liar and a cheat. He was like, "I am a good man, ma'am. You American. You give me more money. 10 rupees is very bad."

Anyway, those are my maddening Mumbai stories.


Five not-so-Easy Pieces

This scene reminds me of a lot of some of the experiences I've had recently:

Bobby: I'd like a plain omelet. No potatoes, tomatoes instead. A cup of coffee and wheat toast.

Waitress: No substitutions.

Bobby: What do you mean? You don't have any tomatoes?

Waitress: Only what's on the menu. You can have a number two - a plain omelet. It comes with cottage, fries, and rolls.

Bobby: Yea, I know what it comes with, but it's not what I want.

Waitress: I'll come back when you make up your mind.

Bobby: Wait a minute, I have made up my mind. I'd like a plain omelet, no potatoes on the plate. A cup of coffee and a side order of wheat toast.

Waitress: I'm sorry, we don't have any side orders of toast. I'll give you a English muffin or a coffee roll.

Bobby: What do you mean "you don't make side orders of toast"? You make sandwiches, don't you?

Waitress: Would you like to talk to the manager?

Bobby: You've got bread. And a toaster of some kind?

Waitress: I don't make the rules.

Bobby: OK, I'll make it as easy for you as I can. I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.

Waitress: A number two, chicken sal san. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?

Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.

Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?

Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sari shopping

Today Charise and I went shopping for saris to wear to our office holiday party. You'll have to wait to see what we ended up with, though, because they are not the saris in the picture! I'm not convinced they'll stay on, or that we'll be able to put them on at all.

I'm proud of us because we did it totally by ourselves. First we bought the silk, then we went to a tailor and got fitted for little bodices and petticoats to wear underneath.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Okra for dinner

I know all my posts are about eating, but that's kind of my life. We were joking today about how odd it is that every weekend we arrange for drivers to pick us up and bring us to fancy hotel restaurants. I can't imagine this being my social life back in Les Etats Unis.

Tonight it was the tiki-inspired Marriot. Matt, we'll have to go there when you visit. Lots of Easter Island-esque rock decor and torches everywhere. Kind of looked like the set of Survivor.

As with most Indian hotels, it had a lavish buffet. Here's Emily with a custard fruit, one of the more fascinating examples of local produce:

Here's the whole group:

The rest of this weekend will be busy. Tomorrow I'm going sari shopping for the holiday party (also at the Marriot), and on Sunday I'm off to Mumbai. Hope it goes better than last time!



Thanksgiving was fun... Roy and Leigh Anne graciously invited all of the expats to their house for dinner -- and they somehow found real turkey, pumpkin pie, wine, stuffing, etc. It was a good time and I think most of us were done in by the tryptophan around 9:00pm.

Here's Roy carving (one of) the turkey(s):

Here's everyone intensely focused on eating:

And this is the recovery period:


Team dinner at Fusion 9