Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Goon Squads

Staying on course
A neighbor and I left for the golf course about 6am one Saturday morning.  The early start means a return before our families are even awake.  It also means we miss the morning news.  Somewhere about the 11th hole,  we were informed by our concerned wives there was a bandh. 

The Signature 18th Green

The Clubhouse is a well disguised trailer.
(Photo courtesy JPRaguso)
A bandh is a general strike with the specific aim to shut down the city.  Whatever group or political party that calls for the bandh sends out their 'goon squads' to block traffic,  shut down businesses, close schools and throw stones. Occasionally,  they overturn busses and set cars afire.   They are out to ruin everyones' day.   
We finished our golf round, headed home and found the road blocked.  Nobody was getting through.   So much for a few quick holes and back home.   Fearing a stone throwing mob, the safest thing to do was to sit tight and play another 18 holes.  First we had to stock up on food -- before the other golfers finish and realize they're stuck too.  We had a nice lunch and then the worst happened -- we got word the roadblock was lifted and we could go home. 
Where Ikea when you need it ?
We have amassed enough books, knick knacks and electronics to warrant bookshelves.  The usual furniture showrooms didn't have what we wanted, so we headed to the local furniture market.   They sell wholesale furniture and can also make custom pieces.  You even get to haggle a little bit -- it's fun. 
Not seeing what we wanted,  we left a deposit with a furniture shop to make a couple bookcases.  Two weeks and many phone calls later,  there were no shelves.  Unhappy about the whole thing, Javeed,  our savvy driver, called the Corporator.  The Corporator is like a city councilman with henchmen.  It's not clear if the henchmen are a prerequisite for the job or if they come with the office,  but these are the basis for the goon squads mentioned above.  
Javeed returned to furniture shop along with the Corporator.  Once they saw the Corporator,  they quickly returned the deposit money and apologized.  The Corporator told them they still needed to make and deliver the shelves in 2 days.  Another week passed and still no shelves.  Hearing the news from Javeed,  the Corporator and his squad headed over to the furniture shop,  got the money and threw all their furniture in the street for good measure.  Like a temporary eviction over a couple of $30 bookshelves. 
Javeed wasn't there for the "eviction",  but returned the next day.  They sat him down,  got him some tea and asked his forgiveness on their knees.  Really.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Creeps

Life in India is generally a pleasure.   It's been something of a vacation (for me).    I do admit there have been more than a few times when I've longed for the good ol' USA.  The next few blogs will relate to this topic. 

Winter is pleasant here.  Weather is like southern California.  The last rain was early December and temperatures range from 80's in the day and 50's at night.  That's as cold as it ever gets.  The absence of freezing is a boon to the insect community.  They keep on growing until eaten by something bigger.  

While in Sri Lanka, I grabbed a towel from the clothesline and slung it over my shoulder.   The Giant Centipede that was in the towel was now crawling underneath my shirt and up my spine.  Animal instinct (the creeps) took over,  and I whipped off my shirt to reveal the beast which had luckily fallen to the bedroom floor.  Becky says it was 8" long,  but it looked 2 feet at the time.  Her first instinct was to call everyone to our room,  "hey everybody, look what was crawling inside Doug's shirt." 

Giant Centipede:
Insectus Surprizus

I have new respect for hanging laundry.