Wednesday, March 31, 2010
One of the things that frequently makes me smile in Delhi is the way they use the English language. Sometimes it is so flowery and vague I feel I must be missing something. Other times, they put things as bluntly and truthfully as possible - this headline is one of those times. No softening it and calling the main section of the plane coach, economy or anything else - they tell it like it is - Cattle Class.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
After I got dressed this morning, I realized that my outfit was a good reflection of my life over the past few years.
- Earrings from Brazil
- Necklace from India
- Ring from Finland
- Dress from a Utah company
- Jacket from a Seattle company
- Shoes from Dubai
Monday, March 29, 2010
Last week I stumbled across the link to an article about 21st Century Spinsters - since I pretty much fit that description, I couldn't resist clicking over to give it a read. I didn't have high expectations, I assumed I would come away feeling slightly sorry for myself.
Instead, I found myself celebrating, if just for a few minutes, my spinsterhood. While I do wish, like one of the women interviewed in the article, that I could brag about dating guys from every continent, the truth is, in most other respects I live a pretty amazing life. I get to live in and travel to amazing places. I have a job that sounds really cool (and, most of the time, is somewhat cool.) I have the independence to live life on my terms and spend my time doing the things that I enjoy, which typically means wasting too much time on the internet and listening to music. I can waste money on cute shoes and jewelry with only a little guilt. And I have an amazing family and friends who support and love me just as I am. So, yes, I life a pretty good life.
That being said, I, like many of my spinster sisters, still hold out hope that around one corner I'll find that guy who could be an amazing partner. But until that time comes, I'm going to keep celebrating my spinsterhood - and I'll live it to the fullest.
Ingrid Michaelson - Die Alone
Saturday, March 27, 2010
I found some old photos on my camera of a shopping trip I took a while back with my niece Miss M. It was my job to keep track of her while her mom shopped. That mainly meant running around behind her. Eventually I pulled my camera out hoping I could get her to stay still for a while and pose. As you can see from these blurry images, that plan didn't go over very well.
Friday, March 26, 2010
I'm not sure what is driving my shopping addiction in Delhi these past two visits, but I find I can't get enough jewelry or shoes here. I must have spent a bit too much time talking about shopping at work because a couple of my friends have offered to support my shopping habits by taking me to some of their favorite stores.
Wednesday was a holiday here so S and I met up and went to one of her favorite places to buy shoes - since I'd mentioned I was in love with all of the sparkly sandals I'd been seeing around town. I came home with two amazing and unique pairs.
Next we went to lunch and the restaurant happened to be in the same shopping center as my favorite jewelry shop. Which means I purchased a bag full of lovely necklaces and earrings. I really can't seem to help myself lately. The jewelry here is so unique and I get kind compliments here and at home when I wear it. Guess its a good thing I'm only here another couple of weeks.
I got home and was doing a bit of work, Lucy Woodward's "What's Good For Me, came on and one line kept playing over and over in my head: "I thought if I had more, I wouldn't get so bored." Do you think there is a message there?
You'll have to track this one down on your own - YouTube let me down. Pin It
I had one of those rare moments in life where I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be, that I was a valuable part of a team working together for a worthwhile goal. It was a moment of pure joy that stayed with me for several hours.
This evening I found myself in my navy, polka-dot dress in the middle of a group of co-workers (all guys, or course) in a team meeting. As we talked over the challenges of the past week and goals for the coming week, I looked around and realized that all my silly fears of being smart enough, vocal enough, or just plain old enough - were really just that - my silly fears. I realized as I sat there I had the respect of my peers and that I bring something valuable and unique to the team. That spark of knowledge and contentment with myself was an amazingly powerful feeling - one I wish I had more often.
How often do we (especially women) think we aren't good enough, pretty enough or smart enough. How often to we step back or aside for someone else and diminish who we are. Why are those moments of recognition, where we know exactly who we are and are happy with that person, so rare? Why do we struggle to recognize just how powerful we are?
I don't have the answers, I just know how amazing that moment of recognition was for me today. I hope you'll slow down at least once today, long enough to realize how beautiful life can be.
Fell asleep last night to this gorgeous song, Brooke Fraser's "C.S. Lewis Song"
Thursday, March 25, 2010
After spending more than a week showing you some of the more glamorous aspects of Delhi, I thought I'd share a bit of the other side (although check back in tomorrow when I'm planning to share some of the finds from my holiday shopping trip.)
There are construction projects going on everywhere in the city as they prepare to host the Games in October - from a new Metro, new roads and flyovers, new and refurbished stadiums, new sidewalks and parks. It seems that everyday we take a new route to and from work as our driver works to keep us from getting stuck in traffic.
Most construction work of this type is done with lots and lots of unskilled laborers who come in from the rural areas hoping to make a small living. In many cases the mother and father work together on these projects with the children either playing in the vicinity or working along side their parents. I can't tell you how heart breaking it is to see a young child trying to dig a hole or carry a bowl of cement.
Many of these families build tent shelters along side the project they are working on. These tents villages come up over night and will stay in place few a few days or a few weeks while the family is working in a particular spot. When the work is done, the tents will be suddenly be gone as the family moves on to a new project.
Driving past these tent villages is a daily reminder to me that 42% of Indians fall below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day. Feel like helping? One of my favorite charities to support those in the third world is kiva.com. For a donation as small as $25 you can loan money to a business person in a developing country. Over time the loan will be paid back and you are free to take the money out of the system or re-lend it to someone else. I love that through kiva you are not just giving someone a meal for a day you are helping them build a business that can benefit them and their family over a long period of time. Giving to kiva makes driving past sights like these on a daily basis a little easier.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A final set of photos from the wedding - a few shots with some of the wonderful people I've met here.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The wedding was over the top - as is the typical wedding in India. There were hundreds of people there, enough food to feed twice that many, flowers and lights everywhere and a team of photographers capturing every moment. Here are a few pictures.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I've teased long enough - it is time for the great reveal. This is one of the scariest post I've ever done since I typically do anything to avoid publicly sharing pictures of myself. But after teasing for a week, it is only fair I share the end result, please be kind.
I spent the weekend in full on prep-mode (it wasn't really necessary, but it was a good excuse.) I was scrubbed, moisturized, waxed, buffed, polished and plucked - and thanks to rock bottom price of these services in Delhi it all costs less than a facial back home.
The wedding invitation said events started at 4:30 on Sunday, but thanks to a call to a couple of friends I knew the earliest I should bother showing up was 9:30. Indian weddings almost never start on time and when they do start they move very slowly - as the friends and the family of the groom work to slow his journey to the wedding site (in this case the groom arrived on horseback with a full band parading with him.)
The friend who had helped with get my top and who had planned to help me get the saree on was sick, so I Googled how to wear a saree and gave it a go myself. It took several tries, and a lot of frustration before I was willing to walk out the door. I was pretty confident I was pinned tight enough to keep it on, but I was worried I'd somehow committed a faux pas in the way I'd wrapped it.
I called a taxi company that typically send cars and not the mini, mini-vans that others send, because I wasn't sure I'd be able to manage the step up into the van. The car showed up, I got in and did my best at giving directions and we headed off. We only went a few blocks when the driver pulled over and told me his lights weren't working and I needed another taxi. He took me to the nearest stand and, sure enough, I ended up in a mini-van anyway. I clumsily managed the step up and was once again on the road. I arrived at the wedding later than planned, but luckily I quickly found a kind friend and a private corner so my saree could be sorted out - no faux pas's were committed, but I had the pleats tucked in backwards.
The wedding was beautiful, and I had a great time (I'll post more pics later this week.) I am so glad I made the effort. I've had the adventure of trying something new, I've been able to share a bit of Delhi and India with all of you, and I received a ton of compliments last night (and that always does an ego good.) My friends seem genuinely happy that I had tried their style of dress (one even supplied a bindi for my forehead so I'd be completely fitted out.)
One of the guests sought me out, asked a ton of questions, introduced me around, answered my questions about the wedding traditions. She later told me that she sought me out because she saw me walking around and thought I was so beautiful - one of the nicest compliments I've ever received. As I met the bride for the first time even she took the time to tell me how beautiful I looked in my saree- and considering how stunning she was, it was an honor to hear.
I learned a lot this past week about the importance of trying new things, being willing to step outside of my comfort zone and embracing the culture in which I spend so much time. It really is amazing the lessons I learned from the 6 yard piece of cloth. Thanks for following along and encouraging me. And finally, here it is in full:
One of my favorite India songs and clips from Slumdog Millionaire to get you in an Indian mood (aren't the boys adorable.)
Friday, March 19, 2010
Walking out of the office this week I saw a car parked out front with a VIP sticker on the window. Something looked a bit odd, so I gave it a double look. Turned out the sticker actually said VVVIP.
I can't help but wonder about the classification system - how does one go from being a VIP to a VVIP to a VVVIP? Who makes that call and gives you the sticker? How much more special is a person treated when they are a VVVIP?
If I were a VVVIP I think I'd want a nicer car than the Ambassador this ticker was attached to - a Bentley at least.
A quick saree update - I picked up the shirt and petticoat from the tailor last night - all is ready to go. Saturday is about prep - facial and man/pedi so I'll be ready for the big event Sunday! Is the anticipation building? It is for me. Pin It
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Welcome to today's installment of the Great Saree Adventure, and thank you for the comments on previous posts, knowing you are following along has made this twice as much fun.
Tonight I found myself again at Mrs. J's house, this time along with my friend S. Master Ji the tailor arrived with the beginning of my shirt (he wanted to check the fitting before he finished.) As is typical for me here, the chest was a bit tight, but other than that it looked great. He even agreed to make a petticoat for me to go underneath and to tuck the saree into - so all my clothing needs will be taken care of by Friday evening.
Which means I was able to move on to the really fun stuff - jewelry. While I was in the saree shop, the attendants recommended antique gold jewelry, which fortunately for me I've been dying for an excuse to buy. I stopped into my favorite jewelry shop, but couldn't get past the sticker shock on the first visit so I walked away.
Days later I was still dreaming of the pieces I'd seen, so I caved in and decided to treat myself, but only after a bit of haggling to get the price down. I walked back into the store, they instantly recognized me, and before I was to the back where the good stuff is, they had the pieces I'd fallen in love with set out just waiting for me - I decided it was karma.
So with a shot of my sparkly, sunny new jewelry, here's a little Steve Azar"
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Welcome to part two of the Great Saree Adventure, which is as much about the great kind of people I've met here as it is about my saree.
When I bought the saree this past weekend I was thinking that I had nearly two weeks until the wedding, imagine my shock when I realized I had less than a week. This is a problem because typically when you buy a saree it comes with a piece of fabric that you then take to your tailor and have them use to make the top and things like that don't happen overnight.
When I arrived at work on Monday I started asking friends if they knew of a tailor who might take a rush job. One of my colleagues stepped up and said she'd make a few calls for me. She got her mom involved and next thing I know I had an appointment with a tailor Tuesday evening, right after I picked up the saree. My friend's mom had called and some how convinced her tailor, who usually takes 1-2 months per order, to do a rush job for me. At 7 PM I showed at Mrs. J's house (who I'd never met before) and sat down for a visit and some wonderful fresh juice which was prepared when I explained I didn't drink tea or coffee while we waited for her tailor (yes he makes house calls.)
When he arrived, she kindly explained that I wanted my shirt a bit longer than usual (no way am I baring my belly!) This led to a LONG conversation in hindi with much measurements of the fabric. The fabric had been specifically created with bands of the printing placed where the waist and the arms would end on the normal length, but since I wanted mine a few inches longer there wasn't enough fabric. Eventually we all decided to go with a fabric dyed to match with the printed bands added after the fact, seems like a workable solution to me.
How kind was it for Mrs. J and the tailor to spend part of their evening helping out a total stranger at the request of my friend. The more I travel the more I'm convinced the world is full of amazing people, you just have to see through the differences to realize it.
As I dashed out the door due to a call from my driver telling me he had to leave Mrs. J presented me with a little goodie. I thought it would be a savory, vegetable type thing, but instead it was a sweet. I love when I'm brave enough to try new things, like wearing a saree and strange looking food.
Finally got around to downloading the new Lady Antebellum and am loving this song:
I'm feeling a bit Irish today and thought I'd share a playlist of my favorite Irish musicians.
Posted by Jamie at 9:44 AM
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Last year when I attended the reception portion of a wedding in India, I promised myself that if I were ever lucky enough to get invited to a second wedding I was going to get brave and buy a saree to wear. So, when I got invited to a wedding last week I knew I was going to keep that promise to myself.
I asked a few questions around the office, did a bit of browsing and research on the internet and marched myself into one of the shops I've been admiring for the past couple of years but have been too intimidated to go into. Satya Paul is a more modern take on sarees, which for some reason feels a bit more comfortable to me. I walked into the store, found a smiling face and started asking questions. I didn't want anything too ornate, but wanted it to be fancy enough I'd feel comfortable at a wedding. I was worried about keeping it on and wanted to make sure the shirt was long enough to cover my stomach, because I'm not ready to experience that part of the culture.
The people at the shop were amazing, they patiently answered my questions helped me try on the saree so I could have an idea of how I'd look (I felt so feminine) and gave me tips that I wouldn't even have thought to ask about. They also pointed me to a saree I wouldn't have picked up, but is the perfect color for me and is the perfect mix of modern and flash for a wedding.
I'm going to milk my saree adventure for a few more posts - mostly because the saga is just beginning. I picked up today after they added a "fall" which is a double layer at the bottom where your feet hit the saree when you walk to make it last longer, next up, a tailor to have the top made. Then I have to find the perfect jewelry and shoes. Check back tomorrow for the adventure with the tailor, for now, I'll leave you with a peak of the fabric (above.)
On the way home from the shop, I heard this song from my second favorite Irish group, The Corrs, only behind U2, of course. It is such a happy song. One of my favorite concert memories was seeing The Corrs at the winery just outside of Washington with a good friend. It was pouring buckets (rare in Seattle when rain usually means a drizzle) until minutes before they were supposed to come on, suddenly the rain stopped and didn't start again until after the show - which was AMAZING! They are one of the groups that are even better live.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Delhi has been hosting the Hockey World Cup (in the US we call this sport Field Hockey, if that helps you get a visual image.) Saturday was the final match between Australia and Germany, we lucked into a set of tickets and decided to make a night of it.
I've never seen a hockey game so I had no idea what I was in for, but since I'm a sports lover in general I was excited to learn something new. My work group is primarily Australian, so there were a few happy folks when the Aussies won. Its a fun, fast-moving sport that I wouldn't mind seeing again. All, in all a great way to spend a Saturday night.
And yes, they played this iconic song a time or two.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Have you picked up on this week's theme?
I listened to a bunch of U2 last weekend and was reminded again why they are who I'd chose if I could only have one artist with me on a deserted island. Not only do they have a deep history (which means lots of music) they write and perform songs with a passion that isn't often matched.
I had a couple of their CDs in my car last week when I did the roadtrip from SLC to Aurora. Driving back as I sang my heart out I realized U2 was a big part of the soundtrack of my life and I decided I would devote a week of posts to their music. I didn't know what that would mean post wise, but somehow I'm not surprised that it ended up also being a week devoted to family, love and home.
I was going to close the week with my favorite U2 song, only problem is I can't pick one. So instead here is the one that for me defines the journey of life, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." As a bonus I found a vintage clip of Bono explaining the song.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I'm a big fan of the internet phone service, Skype. I use it for work and to stay in touch with my family. Because everyone in my company travels so much we all make it a practice to put our current location in our Skype profile so if someone needs to contact us they can work out the time difference and avoid calling in the middle of the night.
When I'm in Utah I typically just put Salt Lake City in the status - but for some reason last week I changed it and put the name of my hometown, Aurora instead. This generated several messages asking me exactly Aurora was. I even heard from a Brazilian friend, currently living in South Africa telling me that she lives in a development called Aurora.
How do you explain a place as small (and wonderful) as Aurora to people who've never experienced it? I'm not really sure, but I've always secretly thought U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name." Was a pretty good start.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
A few months ago I complained to my mom about a dark patch of skin under my left eye. I hated looking in the mirror and seeing it. My mom told me that her mother had a similar mark. I won't go so far as saying that I now like having the mark on my face, but I do find myself thinking about my grandma now when I look in the mirror.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
As I mentioned yesterday I spent some time with my grandpa while I was in Utah, he has Alzheimer's which has gotten progressively worse over the past few years. He's finally reached the point in this terrible disease where he needs to live in a place where he can have round the clock professional care.
Watching him lose part of himself over the past few years has been extremely difficult to watch, but I can't help but be grateful for all the years we had together. I grew up next door to my grandparents and they were a part of my daily life. What a gift to have a lifetime of memories.
Most of my early jobs involved yard work, my mom and dad would help me line up jobs in the neighborhood, they supplied the lawn mower, the gas and the reminders, but it was up to me to get the job done - or it would have been if my grandpa hadn't kept popping up to give me a hand.
My first time on an airplane was with my grandparents (it was also their first and only time on a plane) when they took me to Hawaii. We had such a great time together and still talked about the trip nearly 20 years later. I think this trip was at least partially responsible for my love of travel, which is what led me to this crazy job, although I remember that first plane ride as being much more pleasant than air travel today.
My grandpa was the head mechanic at a gypsum plant and I could occasionally talk him into taking me with him to work. I was so proud to be his granddaughter - it seemed that everyone knew and loved him. He'd give me a tour of the plant, patiently explaining how everything worked. I think my tours of the plant were the beginning of my love of process and finding the most efficient way to get a job done.
It is hard to see my grandpa as he is today, but I'm grateful for our wonderful memories and I'm incredibly grateful for the people at the center who are giving him the care he needs at this point in his life. Mostly I'm grateful for my belief that there is a life after this, a time when he will again be whole in mind and body. Until that time I pray we will all have the strength we need to walk this path along with him.
Monday, March 8, 2010
It was a crazy few days but I managed to spend some time with every member of my family during my whirlwind trip home. I saw Tiny T take a few stumbling first steps, I reassured myself that Miss M still knows who I am, and perhaps hardest of all I spent some time with my grandpa who may not know exactly who I am anymore, but who seemed to recognize at least that I was someone he loved.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
I won't be watching the Oscars tonight - I'll be on an airplane where I hope there will be a great movie selection - if there, is I may finally get a chance to watch a few of the nominated films.
I do have an Oscar wish and I'm hoping putting it out there will make it come true. Ryan Bingham's "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart is amazing, I'd love to see it win and for more people to discover this talented artist.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Taxes - I hate this time of year.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
It's always good to be in my home town again. No matter where I travel nothing feels as comfortable as Aurora. I'm so grateful that I was lucky enough to grown up in this tiny community.
On my last visit home I got a tour of the house I grew up in (thanks to J & J.) As I walked through the house I couldn't help but think about a song from Miranda Lambert, "The House that Built Me."
Listening to this clip made me wish I had musical talent and could be like Miranda and listen to a set of songs, fall in love with one and make it mine. Instead, I'll settle for listening to a song and passing it on, hoping you love it as much as I do. Pin It
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
It seems that this is one of those weeks where songs just keep reaching out and grabbing my mind.
I stumbled across this song months ago when I listened to an Eli Young Band album on an airplane in their entertainment system. I liked this song so much I picked up the CD when I found it on sale at Target. I hadn't thought much more about it in months, until I read an article this week that the band was finally putting out the song "Guinevere" as a single.
Apparently they hadn't planned to release it, but fan reaction to the song changed their mind - to the point that they pooled their own money to make the video.
What caught me about the song the first time and even more so as I've listened to it this week is that a few of the lines hit a little uncomfortably close to home. While I would appreciate having the line, "for as much as she stumbles she's running" applied to me, I hope I never think "forgiveness ain't nothing but a lifeless tire on the shoulder of her soul that never rolls."
I'm on an airplane again today with a "pocketful of memories" as I make way home for a very quick stay before I take off again. I can't help but wonder if I could survive my somewhat crazy work life if I didn't have, like Guinevere, "a handful of records" to turn to when I need to land.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I'm packing again.
Monday, March 1, 2010
When I was trying to come up with a name for my blog I knew it had to relate to music, I landed on lyrical because nearly every time I find a song I like I find myself compelled to track down the lyrics so I can better understand the the meaning of the song. I believe in 100 years students will study the lyrics the way we used to study 18th and 19th century poetry - maybe not songs like "Sexy Chick" but perhaps songs like Ben Harper's "Diamonds on the Inside."
This is the type of song I could easily see a student breaking down and analyzing in a term paper. Its the sort of song you can listen to over and over and pick up on a different lyric and meaning depending on your situation at that moment.