Sunday, October 22, 2006

Green and Pleasant Land

I'm back!!!!! My feet are on solid ground, I have a cup of tea in one hand and a marmite sarnie in the other (it's making it very difficult to type). No more rushing to the toilet, cleaning my hands every five minutes or worring if the bus next to us is going to run us off the road.

I've been asked if I've taken anything away with me. Thats something I need to think about for a while. At the moment I have no great desire to visit India again. It's not somewhere I would want to return to for pleasure or work.

On another note click on the Flickr pictures on the right hand side to see some photo's of my trip. I've also uploaded some photo's of the completed garden. We still have a lot of planting to do but it's looking good.

Abi is now on her way home and I imagine she's approaching Darwin about now. :-)

Friday, October 20, 2006

White Water Whale Watching...

The weather's been pretty shocking since we've been here (overcast, grey and generally chilly) so when I awoke yesterday morning to blue sky, the occasional white fluffy cloud and a cool breeze, I thought 'what better day to go seeking whales'. On the walk over the Darling Harbour Bridge I wished I'd put on my shorts rather than my jeans, it was baking - I felt silly for carrying not only a cardigan, but a jacket too (just light) and was grateful for the suntan lotion I'd sprayed around everywhere!

We bought our tickets and boarded the boat, we sat right on the top deck (of 3) and set off for stop 2 at Circular Quay, waited for people to board there too and once we were all sandwiched in (pretty full trip) off we set. The minute we turned the corner form C/Quay round towards Rose Bay the wind picked up, enough for me to put my cardi on. Within about 30 seconds the sun had disappeared, the clouds turned from fluffy white to dark grey and the 'gentle breeze' turned into a full on gale (another 'waste of hair product, time & effort' day!) and I then put my coat on and buttoned it up (fully!) colar turned up and everything.

We headed in the direction of Manley and then cut out to the ocean, heading into the waves & into the wind it got a little choppy, but all was well. One of the deck hands climbed up the mast (there must be health & safety issues about this!) to search the waves for whales, but after about 1.5kms out there was no sight, so we turned right and headed down the coast towards Bondi, once we'd turned the wind dropped right off and as we were going with and not against the current, the roll evened out too, so it was relatively easy to walk around and assist ourselves in the search. Just as we were about to head a little further out, a sighting was made. A mother & baby were 'blowing' up ahead. Once they've blown they then have 'down time' which can be anything up to 30mins, but the infants can only do this for about 5mins, so we didn't have long to wait until they came up again, but they obviously don't come up in the same spot so the hunt was on! The boats are allowed to get within 100mtrs (Dad, that'll be circa 300 feet) of the adults, but when with calves it's 200mtrs. We followed them around for a while trying to ascertain which direction they were going in & at one point the calf popped up right by the side of the boat & then appeared to go underneath us. Now this is obviously closer than we're permitted, but all it means is the boat is not to move or attempt to follow them. Sadly we didn't get any breaching (full jump out of water), all we saw were the dorsal fins (as per the picture) and a couple of 'tail up dives' but not as pronounced as the picture here (due to the wave height probably!). Whilst we were all enthalled & trying to take pictures, the clouds were banking up behind us and then a weather report came through about the rain, so we headed further out to try to avoid it (it didn't work) - there was a mad dash for cover and it poured down, obviously the wind picked up too and that was me done .. I had to sit down and shut eyes (with the comfort of a little sick bag I'd taken off the crew - just incase!) fortunately all remained where is should, but we spotted no more whales either :-(

I would, without a doubt, do it again, but they are easier to spot in calmer waters (by all accounts!) and obviously it makes for a slightly more relaxing trip! The thing to see is the breach - I know it's all luck of the draw, but how amazing would that be to see 'in the flesh'...?

We came back to the apartment, had a quick shower & rearranged 'mad hair' and then we went to dinner with Rob's friends sister & husband and had a super Vietnamesse meal (my first time - quite yummy) I even tried a little bit of Emu (don't all faint) it was very dark meat (and in veg & sauce), quite strong taste but I couldn't say of what.... well, Emu probably!!

The weather so far today is still grotty (but dry) - Rob's now back home and I'll be off tomorrow :-) off to the Maritime Museum this afternoon as Chris wants to go on the submarine and then for a little retails therapy, although I've no room in my lugguage, so it'll be window shopping only for me.

Final trauma - all the leads we got for the Exhibition (400 dead) were on a scanner, which we then handed in to be downloaded, we were told we'd be able to access the information on a website as they'd provide us with a password and login - got all the info and had a quick look this morning, to be met by less than 200 details ... have shot off a bit of a frantic email to their technical department to find out what's going on and shall await their response. I will not be a happy girlie if it's not retrievable - but we shall wait and see..... This goes no way to convince me that there is anything better than a physical print out!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The final countdown

It's my last full day at work and I'm counting down the hours until I leave. It's 22 hours & 30 minutes before the plane takes off. Then another 10 hours and 40 minutes before I touch down at Heathrow.

Can't say this is an experience I want to repeat, lets just leave it at that.
Rob, live from Kolkata, for Blogging News at 9.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Crispy Ducks Revenge!!! :o(

Well it had to happen at some point!!!! I have the dreaded Dehli Belly!! Not something I enjoy experiencing when stuck in a cab in heavy traffic. A friend of mine once said that he measured the quality of his life in India by the distance he was from the nearest bathroom. I can understand that feeling.

I put this down to a Chinese I had on Friday night. It was the spiciest thing I've had since I've been here. How you can make a very spicy Chinese???? It's supposed to be tame. The crispy duck was awful and I should have finished at that point. Did I???? Noooooo!!!!!! I couldn't let the Piper family down. Nobody in Abi's family leaves a Chinese untouched. I had to finish it or I would have to return home hanging my head in shame. I felt rough on Sunday, stayed in the hotel on Monday but came into work Tuesday. Today (Wednesday) I awoke with stomach cramps and rushed to the bathroom. I'll spare you the details but let me just say it's an experience I don’t want to repeat.

I'm taking antibiotics and diarrhoea tablets in the hope it will clear up before I leave on Friday. I really should have started them on Sunday but fingers crossed it will be fine tomorrow. For the time being I'm going to stick to a diet of bread and lots of water (bottled of course!!!). I hope you aren’t reading this over breakfast :-(

Attached is a photo of my shirts after they returned from the hotel laundry. Check out the cardboard bow ties. Excellent idea!!!!

Have a great day.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Abi's down under .....

Well, I thought I'd add a line or two too, seeing as this has built up a bit of an audience :-) I'm currently sitting in a darkened hotel room in Sydney with the wind howling through the balcony door and the rain pouring down .... yes, it is true - where ever I go, I always seem to attract the poor weather. Yesterday was a stunning 37degrees, blue sky and brilliant sunshine (landing at 05:00), but last night as we sat on the terrace overlooking Cockle Bay Wharf (the bay end of Darling Harbour) the wind picked up enough to blow the unoccupied chairs across the floor and ruin my hair!! We managed to battle on and did eat our scrummy Thai dinner outside, but I was glad of the cardi I'd taken 'just incase'.

It was then onto the Toohey's bar on the corner for a couple more drinks before heading back to the hotel. For those of you who don't know, I'm away with Chris (boss) and we'd met up with a guy from another company who Rob & I met for dinner a few weeks back, as he's looking to open an Australian 'arm' of a UK Company and wanted to pick my brains with regards sales areas / markets and opportunities as they work predominently in the construction industry too. I've already assisted him with the likes of relevant legislation and some leads, but told him I wasn't interested in using him in any sales role, whilst he set up his own business, but he thought that he'd ask Chris anyway - it felt kind of good when he was told that no, it was I who had the say with regards to Australia, and whatever I'd told him, was where Scafftag stood :-)

Jet lag kicked in and I called it a night about 1am, but the guys went to another couple of bars and Chris got in gone 3am. I set the alarm this morning for 9.30, read for a bit and then went back to sleep, eventually crawling out about 1pm and we went out through Sydney, under the bridge, through the Rocks, down to Circular Quay where we had some dinner & then had to go & purchase umbrellas to escape the rain :-) We went up to the 17th floor of the hotel to look at the view & have a martini (shan't be partaking in another - it was supposed to be on 'crushed baby apples' but was like pure vodka with an un-pitted olive!). Then the Scottish Footie started & it was off to the Sports Bar downstairs .... his side is winning though, so unlike Rags, he's happy (so far)!

Tomorrow we have to set up for the exhibition, but I hope the weather will improve. It's about an hour on the ferry to the Olympic Park and it's the first time I've been there, so I'm looking forward to seeing it - it shouldn't take more than 1/2 a day to set up the stand, all being well everything will have arrived & be waiting there for us just to assemble, we're then off to the Botanical Gardens for a wander & a view of the fruit bats.

As Rob'll know ever since we've been coming to Sydney, I've wanted to do a whale-watching cruise, but we've never done it. Then on my last trip it was out of season, so tonight I went via the boat trip place & found that viewings are guaranteeed until November, so I'm going on Friday - keep your fingers crossed for me!

Well, that's about my lot for now my bed is calling, so I trust all is well in the rest of the world & I'll update again soon xx
Editors Note: Whale watching, I'm so glad I'm not going, I'd spend most of my time with my head in a bucket :-) Just finished watching Bolton beat Newcastle and I'm off to bed. Another fun filled day in Kolkata awaits. What joy.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pot and Kettle

I’ve had some interesting comments over the past few days. Please keep them coming, it’s good to know people are reading this and I appreciate the feedback. One person in particular made a comment regarding attitudes to different cultures and poverty in general. I appreciate that there are many differences between the UK and India or what I refer to as the Western culture and the ‘third world’. It’s been pointed out to me that this ‘difference’ is religious & material.

Looking at the India I’ve seen I would say that, like us, status is also sometimes judged by material wealth. We don’t have a caste system, but a class system. No so much based upon who your family is but what you earn and the way you present yourself to society. The differences are difficult for me to understand. How people can live and work surrounded by poverty. How you can sit in a 5 star hotel while people stave outside. I appreciate that things MAY be better in the ‘next live’ but don’t most people live for today or at the very least ‘this life’. Everyone has their own idea of what a comfortable life would be. Some may want to win the lottery, others may want to retire to a nice part of the country and some want a change in job or a full stomach every day. This is determined by the environment you live in and the people you interact with. Who am I to say what is right or wrong?!?!?

So ‘pot stirrer’ keep those comments coming. I’m interested to see what you say next. Will you reveal your identity?

I’m off to explore the city tomorrow. I’m not feeling too well today. A bit of a spicy Chinese meal last night and a very hot curry the night before. I think it’s time to rest and recover. ONLY 5 MORE DAYS AND I’M BACK….Praise the lord!!!!!!!

More to come tomorrow – be good :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Kolkata Morning News

Its 9am on Friday morning, Abi is halfway to Singapore and it’s another hot and steamy day in Kolkata. In a couple of hours I might just catch a glimpse of Abi’s plane as she flies overhead. It seems strange to think that yesterday she was 4 ½ hours behind me and tomorrow she will be 4 ½ hours ahead of me.

I’ve been here a week and I’m starting to get over the culture shock I experienced on arrival. India is difficult to get to grips with when you come from an organised Western society. The traffic seems chaotic, most buildings would be condemned in the UK and the poverty is appalling. Just this morning I saw four guys riding on a small motorcycle and another guy washing himself in a puddle at the side of the road. We refer to our hotel as the ‘Oasis’. It’s like a small, tranquil haven in the middle of the cesspool they call Kolkata. Sorry to sound a little harsh but that’s how I feel.

I don’t think I’m working this weekend so my colleague and I are trying to see what we can do this weekend. Apparently a tour of the city, stopping off at the major sights, will take a couple of hours. There isn’t a great deal to see, have a look at Wikipedia’s entry on Kolkata for the highlights. Other than that I plan to spend some time by the pool reading and then preparing for next week. I might just head down to the bar at some point and have a few cold Kingfishers!!!!

I’d like to thank everyone who contacted me about my blog. Long may it continue!!!! Right, I must get on, more UK jobs to outsource and lots of eager Indians to train.

Be well :-)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I MAY be back

After several comments regarding the blog I MAY bring it back. Watch this space for updates :-) In the meantime here's a photo of a cab (exciting eh!!!) and a video (click here) of Kolkata for anyone who wants to see what it's like. The commentary is boring but the video gives you a resonable idea of what the area is like. Makes for interesting viewing, especially as they've used Footloose for the soundtrack. I mean, can you see Kevin Bacon coming here!!!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Last Post

The blog will no longer be updated due to lack of interest & the fact I can't be bothered. Thanks for visiting sis :-)

Monday, October 09, 2006

A passage to India

Just arrived in Kolkata and it's been a bit of a culture shock. We arrived at 5 in the morning to 34 degrees of hear and 90% humidity. That certainly gets your attention. The arrival process was pretty straight forward, nothing much to comment on. We found our driver pretty quickly but were hustled from the moment we left the terminal. People wanting to carry our bags, give us drinks or do ANYTHING for a few rupee’s. I kept one eye on my bag, held on to my rucksack with one hand and had the other on my wallet. My colleague and I managed to get into the car and off without incident.

Driving in India!!!! It seems to be a national sport that involves breaking as much of the highway code as possible in the shortest time. I don’t have time to describe the number of near misses but take a look at this video and you’ll see what I mean.

The hotel is fine, very western in it’s appearance and the staff can’t do any more to help. I asked if I could upgrade my room (very small and on the ground floor). They were full Sunday but this morning the duty manager came to my room and took me round the hotel showing me every class of available room. I’m now on the top floor in what they call the ‘Taj Club’. It seems that I have 24 butler service (something I’ll have to try later).

Work was cancelled this morning as a strike was called by one of the local political parties. We’ve been told to stay in the hotel as there may be demonstrations. I’ve been preparing for tomorrows presentations and watching the odd movie.

Food!!!! What not to eat. I’ve been told that most things in the hotel are OK to eat but I’m sticking to fried foods and anything well cooked. So far so good but I have another 12 days to go so who knows that will happen.

Hopefully I’ll have time to update you tomorrow on my first day at work and the cab ride to the office. I’m soooooooooooo not looking forward to that!!!!!