Friday, December 31, 2010

Good Intentions

And so we arrive at the very last day of this year. As always, there is that feeling of Where ever has the time gone by? I swear, we were *just* doing this last year......

Although I'm a not a resolution type of gal, I decided to go ahead and make some erm... guidelines for the upcoming year. And so, in no particular order, here they are:

1. Try something new as often as possible.
Beer Baron once told me that according to his grandma, trying or doing something new added an extra 72 hours to your life. We are still trying to figure out how that would work when it comes to sampling new brews; would the extra 72 hours cancel out the 72 hours we were probably loosing due to liver deterioration? In any case, actively seeking out new experiences seems like a good way for me to ensure that the adventures continue. And hey, they make for very good blog posts as well!

2. Don't spend more than 48 hours at time in my PJs.
Please note, I'm not saying that lounging around in one's PJs are not a good thing. I'm just attempting to put a cap on the number of days (at a time) that I remain in them.

3. Do NOT keep watching sappy movies like Love Actually or Sweet Home Alabama. They do nothing other than shine a very large and bright spotlight onto the fact that I am (and will probably continue to be) in a state of singledom.

4. Dance. All the time. Anywhere. Everywhere. Even if people are watching. Especially if people are watching. Something like this.

Happy New Year Readers. I've loved having you follow along on my mad little journey so far, and hope to see you again in 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Mega Christmas Wishes Post

Some years ago a friend came up with a very unique idea for a Christmas email. This year, when sitting down to compose mine I remembered his plan and decided that the statute of limitations on the rip off had expired and went ahead and created my own version of a Christmas message.

When thinking about Christmas, its always the memories from your childhood that tend to take centre stage. Good and bad... they come tumbling to the forefront. Whether it is that horrible dress your mother forced you to wear (Bandra girls on this list... you know the one with the bows and itchy fabric) or the excitement of making Christmas sweet with your Nana and the cousins or the thrill of the first notes of the Christmas choir. 

I could have written a deep and insightful (and sometimes humourous) account of my best Christmas memories... but that's not going to be any different from the rest of the festive greetings is it? So, thanks to the wonder that is You Tube, this is going to be an audio visual trip down memory lane!

When you sing in a Christmas choir, the festive season begins long before Advent Sunday. In fact, I remember one year when it was not even Diwali and we'd already begun with weekly practices. Through trembling tenors and shakey sopranos and with 80% of the singers not even able to read music, we somehow each year managed to pull off a fantastic performance the Christmas Eve service. Unfortunately, there are no recordings to share with you, so instead I give you The Carol of the Bells
 performed by a very unique ensemble.

Anyone growing up in North American will be very familiar with TV Christmas specials such as the Peanuts Christmas and A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We didn't have TV specials in Bombay. What we DID have were uncles and aunties and random relatives and family friends who lived in various parts of the Middle East who would tape (yes as in video) various programs and pass out these cassettes to their India based rellies. And thank goodness for their unabashed bootlegging and totally infringement of copyright because otherwise I would have never ever known about The Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, A Christmas to Remember.

There are so many wonderful songs from this program, both the old and well known as well as new (well, for 1984) ones that Dolly and Kenny belted out in true country style. My all time favourite that I'd like to share with you is a song who's lyrics are so apt, even all these years later. And yes, I Believe in Santa Claus!!

Whatever your personal Christmas traditions, the season is all about getting together. Friends and family from near and far. And over the years, Christmas has been the reason for some amazing musical collaborations that have produced some of the finest tunes ever. There's one such match up that I absolutely love. Here's David Bowie and Bing Crosby and their take on

 The Little Drummer Boy

To all of you on this list that have kiddos (or are about to pop some out), I say to you: Make sure your kid is introduced to the wonderful world of the Muppets as early as possible. Heck, I'd say that EVERYONE should know about the Muppets. The world would certainly be a much better place we all just did things like they do in Jim Henson land! (manamanah!)
So, I end this with this, the best of Christmas wishes to you and yours. May it be merry, may it be bright, joyful and triumphant!  But most of all, may it be filled with the joy and laughter of loved ones. Here's hoping that 2011 brings you the best experiences and wonderful times to look back on at this time next year.

Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and the rest of the gang have this special wish for you. 

Cheers to a wonderful today, and an even better tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pink. Not my Favourite Colour.

Pretty much all of Scotland has been getting slammed with the worst kind of winter weather. Snow, sleet and ice is all that the weather fairy is offering on the menu. It has caused the worst kind of chaos as this country is so not prepared for the ravages of winter storms.

And yet there were a small group of us that still managed to trudge in to work every single day. From 6pm to 10pm every night, we toiled away. There were at time anxious glances out the window as the snow started to accumulate to alarming proportions. Over the radio we heard repeated announcements for folks to get home early as there was fear that most main highways would soon be shut.

Last Monday, as the snow was gathering to alarming proportions, we asked if there was the possibility of getting off work early. After a lot of hemming and hawing, permission was given to leave 30 minutes early *only* if we made up the time later on in the week. Very thankful, we scampered off. The next day, we each got a call from work telling us that the back shift (that's us) was to be temporarily suspended due to the weather.

I must admit that I did enjoy the unexpected night off. It was actually the night of the epic foot-in-mouth moment, but hey it was still a night off and it felt wonderful to out and about like a regular person! But as the days went past, and the snow and ice melted and we still didn't get a call back to work, there was a stink in the air. It wasn't until last Wednesday a whole week later that we were finally recalled to action.

By this time, I had a sinking feeling about the whole situation. And right enough. As we all sat down at our desks, the manager came by and handed us all a letter. It's just about your contracts he drawled. It sure was. And the fact that this was our one week's notice of termination as the back shift was being cancelled.

Its not the fact that we've been laid off. Its not the fact that I've lost a job that I was counting on to see me through the next six months. Its how it was done and the really lame reason (change in company dynamics) that we were given. The reality is that we were asking too many questions, making too many "demands", actually bothering to question how things were done.

Today was our last day. Not one person from management stayed behind to acknowledge that 12 people were leaving. Perhaps even to thank us for our efforts? Wish us good luck? A Happy Christmas?

I'll miss the fun times with my colleagues and the security of a regular pay. But I cannot say that I'm sad to be out of there. I've been working for 10 years now and that was truly an interesting experience. But I am slightly thankful that I do not have to be part of that environment any more.

I am instead, going to focus on spending Christmas with my friend and everything else that the holiday season has on offer.

Pixy out.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kiss and Tell

Every year in the run up to Christmas, I always have that one special moment that seems to define the season for me. Its something, often a tiny and mundane act or event that is the trumpet blast The Holiday Season is on hand!!!! This year's was just a little extra special.

Last night I was at a bar with some friends when someone pointed out that I happened to be standing right under a bunch of mistletoe. All conversation came to a screeching halt as every single person in the group (and some from adjacent groups as well) turned to see who was going to do the deed. The seconds ticked away feeling like an eternity and I stood there just looking into my drink and wishing that the earth would open up and swallow away my public embarrassment.

After what seemed like an eternity and as people were starting to feel bad for me, my pal leaned over and gave me a loud *muuuuuah* on the cheek. Everyone laughed and the tension was broken and people were turning back to their conversations. Then, the unthinkable happened. Another guy - the undisputed charmer/bad boy/man whore of the group - turned to my pal and loudly exclaimed, Terrible! That's no way to kiss someone under the mistletoe. This is.....and before I or anyone else could react, proceeded to kiss me long and hard and if I'm utterly honest, very very well.

When he finally broke it off to the loud cheers of the bar, I wasn't sure if I was dizzy from the beer, the embarrassment or the fact that I had just had a total overdose of Christmas cheer!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hello Mouth, Meet Foot!

The scene: Comedy night at the local. Booth in the corner with some of my pals. Boy sitting in corner is a newbie; colleague of a friend.

The situation:
I am sitting diagonally across from boy-in-the-corner. At one point, I shift position and in doing so, slam my knee against something under the table. Puzzled, I look down knowing that it can't be the table supports. Turns out, its boy-in-corner's leg. He's so tall that his legs stretch right across the large pub table and that's his knee I've just slammed into.

Still peering under the table I exclaim, Good heavens... that was you. My, you certainly are one long fella.

There is dead silence as everyone at the table processes that sentence, followed by a gale of laughter as me (and boy) turn very red.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

The first flakes were falling just as I got home from work on Friday night. We'd been expecting it all day; there was that sharp chill in the air that just screamed "Snow's Coming!" People around me pulled their coats tighter and stepped up the pace, eager to get home as soon as possible. I spread my hands and turned my face to the heavens. There was something so magical about the first snowfall of the season that it always felt like an almost spiritual experience.

As I watched from my window, the wind rattled against the pane whipping up the light flakes into a flurry frenzy. By the time I woke up the next morning, it was a Bing Crosby dream world outside. But Ma Nature wasn't done.

The snow continued to fall all day on Saturday, then through most of the night and as I sip my Sunday morning cuppa it's still falling. Knowing just how ill prepared Scotland is for this kind of weather, I am already dreading the commute in to work tomorrow morning. But for now, I am warm and cosy on the couch watching hangover TV and very glad that I have nowhere to be, but at home.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In Sickness and in Health

Spain was amazing, but coming back to bone chilling temperatures has done nothing good for my body, already tired out from the long days of sightseeing coupled with the even longer nights of wine and song! I boarded the flight home with a sore head and an itchy throat and by the time I landed in Scotland it had escalated to a full scale fever and horrid swollen glands.

Speaking (or rather, croaking) to my mum the next morning, she poured out all sorts of Mother type home remedies to me. Haldi (turmeric) and milk, that's what Nana would always say, was her advice to me. I rang off promising to take a dose immediately. Except when opened the fridge I saw that we were all out of milk. And I really wasn't feeling well enough to drag myself down to the store to get some.

I curled back on the couch and buried myself under layers of quilts willing myself to get warm. The heating was on, and yet it felt like I was sitting in an icebox. My mum, ever vigilant called back in an hour to check if I'd followed her instructions. She clicked with impatience when I told her the situation. I hastened to reassure her. I've mixed brandy and honey in hot water and I'm sipping that right now. It's soothing my throat and warming me up as well. 

Mama laughed and said that she wasn't sure that would have been Nana's first choice. Nope, I replied. But I'm sure that's what Papa would have suggested!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait. Eventually!

The vacation that was supposed to be is, finally the vacation that actually is!

And if you don't happen to speak cryptic, that just means that after all the cock ups, cancelled flights and various other bureaucratic glitches, I'm finally packing my bags and heading off to El Torro land tomorrow. Five days in Madrid where I'll meet up with university pal Peaches and his wife. Sadly, its not going to be possible to reconnect with my Spanish pals from over the summer as this is exam time and they're all loaded down with assigments and cannot make the trip over. Hopefully I will get to grab a couple of minutes with the one that lives in the city.

From Madrid, its on to rival city Barcelona where there are more lovelies to meet up with. Old family friends who I haven't seen in about 10 years. Its going to be quite the reunion.

So, look after yourselves my lovelines while I'm away and I'm sure there will be much to chat about once I'm back in two weeks.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Only Constant

Last summer my parents finally got down to replacing the front bay window. They took away the old one which was the original window from when the house was built back in the 60s and also (thankfully) got rid off the butt-freaking-ugly awning that resided over the window. This spring my dad and brother revamped the garden putting in flower beds and planting a plethora of perennials and annuals that have totally transformed both the backyard as well as the front garden into a riot of colour and beauty.

When talking to my mum earlier today she told me that they've just finalised with a contractor with regards to doing up the kitchen. The old and outdated flooring, counters and cabinets are all going; new appliances are moving in and the old walls are literally getting busted down to make way for a window/counter top looking into the dining room.

We knew that there was work to be done when we bought the house. Some of these changes were long overdue; we didn't even have a properly working dishwasher for crying out loud and the backyard had been a tangle of weeds when we moved in. Everything was moving according to plan.

I love that my dad, the consummate gardener has the rose bushes that he has always wanted and that my mum will finally have a kitchen that is a help, not a hindrance. But I'm just a little sad that I'm not there to share in these little (and big) events. So much is changing. Will I even recognise places and people when I get back home?

But then again, so much has changed about me as well. I am, in many ways not the person I was when I left. Will they recognise me?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Lady Justice, You are Blind Indeed

Somewhere in the midst of the fun and laughter and revelry of the night out in Soho last month, my credit card was stolen. I didn't notice the loss until the next morning and called the company right away. They canceled the card and assured me that there had been no charges made although someone had tried - unsuccessfully - to use the card to buy train tickets to Manchester. Cheeky sods! The new card came in the mail some days later and life went back to normal.

That is until I received my bill and the first thing I notice is a £300 ATM withdrawal made the same night my card was nicked. Raging, I called the credit card company and filed a disputed charges claim. This was on a Friday night two weeks ago. Today, I get a notice in mail dated the Monday after that first call informing me that "their investigations into the fraudulent claim is complete and I am liable for all charges".

When I called the fraud investigations department, they were unable to tell me what kind of investigation they had completed. They only thing they kept saying was that because my PIN number had been used, I was liable. The inference was that the chip and PIN technology was fool proof against fraud. Apparently they haven't been reading the papers or following the news. And sadly for me, it is the same bunch of numpties who are apparently the "experts" in the world of fraud. These are supposed to be the gatekeepers and the watchdogs of finance.

No wonder then, the whole bloody world has gone to hell in a hand basket.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat?

A few months ago I interviewed for a job here in G Town. Unlike most other times, I didn't need have to spend the days before researching the company and the job role in my usual pre interview agenda. I didn't have to google the office location, or look up the interviewer. These were things I already knew because I'd been working for the organisation for the past 8 months. I'd assisted with planning three large fundraisers and through those events, helped the organisation raise over £85,000. Suffice to say, they knew me, knew my work and my strengths and capabilities.

At the interview I outlined a 15 month fundraising schedule that I had developed that included introducing a new range of events that targeted the 21-35 year old population; a group that I felt the organisation had failed to tap in to as potential long term donors. My plan included a list of event ideas, potential dates and venues and details on how to market these events to the target population using social networking tools. It was smart, comprehensive and guaranteed to raise their fundraising levels by at least 20% over the next year.

They listened to the entire proposal, smiled and nodded. Then they pushed aside everything I'd said and decided to focus on the fact that I didn't have access to a vehicle - which they stated was integral to the role - and that I didn't have an established donor network here in the city (or the country) that I could tap in to for support and outreach; also something they stated was integral to the role. I pointed out that I had somehow managed to do the job (rather successfully at that) for the past 8 months and hadn't let either factor be a hindrance to my success. Still, they weren't convinced and a few weeks later, I got a letter informing me that I hadn't got the job. It was a bitter pill to swallow. I was so sure that my past actions spoke volumes for my capabilities and deep down I felt I deserved the job far more than any of the other candidates. Fortunately, I left soon after for the south of England and soon the sting of that loss was a distant memory.

Some weeks ago, I received an email from the same organisation that was a call for volunteers. I checked the date and knowing that I had no other plans, confirmed my help. I even roped in a friend to go along as well. Last night at the event, we sold tickets, manned stalls and generally helped out all evening. I knew a lot of the other volunteers there as we'd worked together before at other events and it was a generally fun filled night. It was the first time that I was meeting anyone from the charity since the interview. It was also the first time I met the person they'd finally hired, but with two jobs in hand and a plan for a third on the horizon, I was in a much better place than six months ago, so it wasn't a big deal at all.

This morning I got a text message from the Fundraising Manager. Let's meet up soon. I have a proposal for you. 

I'd been tricked before. So, this time, I'm hoping for a treat. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where Have All The Nanas Gone?

It is a truth universally known, that early morning phone calls are always to be mistrusted. For whatever unexplainable karmic reason, good news will come to you during the day. But that phone call or text message or pager that you get in the wee hours of the morning - that will always, always be helped along by an ill wind. And so, when my phone rang at 10:43 am today and caller ID said "home", I knew that picking up the call would definitely put a damper on my day.

It was my mum, calling to tell me that my dad's aunt had passed away. She was the last of her generation on my paternal grandmother's side of the family. I never knew my own grandmother as she had succumbed to ovarian cancer much before I was born. I am named for her and I share her passion for music and her talent for dance. Aunty Eye was her younger sister and almost everything I know about my grandmother came from her; but even after hearing all the stories, I feel there was so much more I could have learned, so many more questions I could have asked.

And that's what troubles me the most. As each grandparent, great aunt and grand uncle passes away, there are fewer and fewer voices that can reach back and decode the mysteries of the past. Suddenly it feels like a race against the passage of time and already I know that I am falling further and further behind. But, I wonder, is the sense of this loss a sorrow for their mortality, or is it that I know that I am just another step closer to mine?

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Last year I found out by chance that a lot of my friends here in G Town had never taken part in that oh-so-delightful Autumn activity otherwise known as pumpkin carving. I decided that it was my bounded duty to spread the good cheer of Halloween and with that in mind I invited a few friends around for a night of carving. It was a fun night; lots of laughs, good food and getting to know new friends. And a whole lot of folks who lost their proverbial pumpkin carving cherry!

A few weeks ago, some of the friends who'd come to last year's party cajoled me into organising another such evening. Last night, as I looked around at the gang gathered around my living room I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had established a tradition of sorts.

Today there was more evidence of further integration into local culture. Come 8 o'clock and I'd settled in to watch X Factor - the results show. Drama and his boy got me hooked the weekend I was in London and I'm now cheering along with the rest of this island. Again, it seems trivial but its just another thing that makes me feel more at home. Makes me feel like I belong here. Here, in this adoptive home of mine.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Character Reference

At a meet up with friends Tigger and Roo last night, we got talking about our year end holiday plans. Roo is from Oz and Tigger is from Finland, so both are relative-less here in G Town. They told me about their plans to be with Tigger's folks for Christmas and she listed all of the little Finnish customs and traditions that she was looking forward to. When it came for my turn to tell of holiday plans, I shrugged despondently. I'd been invited to spend Christmas with friends from Newcastle, but seeing as how I worked until 10pm on weeknights - and Christmas eve is a Friday - it was going to be impossible to get to theirs in time for a holiday celebration. Almost all forms of transit shut down by 5pm on Christmas eve and don't start up again until Boxing Day.

While Tigger murmured her sympathy, Roo gave me a quizzical look. Pixy, you work on expenses right? Spreadsheets, money, allocation of funds... the likes? he asked. Wondering at this rather abrupt change of topic, I nodded in agreement. Yes, that was essentially what I did at work. His brow cleared and a big smile spread across his face. Good Heavens!! he yelped. Good Heavens, Pixy. You work with numbers and money and you're probably going to be working late on Christmas Eve. You're a real live Bob Cratchit!!! 


Friday, October 01, 2010

Divine Intervention

There was an email in my inbox this morning telling me about the death of my mum's cousin. He had been very ill for a while and for the last year bedridden, so it was a blessed death. Later, as I was speaking with my mum I mentioned how October 1st seemed to a popular day for our family. Today is Nana's one year death anniversary.

My mum murmured her agreement. After all Pixy, she said, Prim* Nobert was Nana's godson and he was really very fond of her. He must have remembered it was her death anniversary and decided that would be his as well. Now laughing madly, I told my mum that no matter how much he liked his Godmother, it would hardly be up to him to pick his time of passing. My mum was silent for a bit and then spoke. You're right. Prim Norbert wouldn't have been able to do anything, but Nana could! 

And although I rang off still laughing madly, somehow I could totally see my grandmother being on some kind of welcome committee up in Heaven saying to a perhaps bemused and disoriented new arrival. Sit down baba, have a sandwich. You look tired. After all, its been a long journey to get here.  

*Konkani word used for older cousin

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Weekend or How I Got Screwed by the French

The bags were packed, the plans had been made and it was all systems GO for the mega meeting of summer camp friends in Madrid. Yes, I had planned to take a chance on the "3 months advised" rule hoping that my UK work permit and the fact that I had not one, but TWO jobs to come back to would sway immigration in my favour. Then, the Air Traffic Controllers of France went on strike and my outbound flight was canceled forcing me to put the kibosh on that adventure. That was the first screw-over.

Not wanting to totally miss out on a vaykay, I called my friend Drama in London and asked if I could come crash at his for the weekend. Fortunately, it was simple enough to change my return flight from Barcelona into tickets to London and back. After a delightful dinner catch up with a T Dot pal in Chinatown, it was off to Soho to meet up with Drama at a mutual friend's birthday do.

That night, I must confess I went a little party-mad. It wasn't just the birthday boy who was at the receiving end of complimentary rounds, I was not doing too bad myself. A chance encounter at the bar had lead to some flirty chit chat with a tall and handsome blue eyed stranger. The five minutes at the bar turned into flirty chit chat for the rest of the night once we realised that we were both there for the same birthday party! Huuuum, what are the odds? When we said goodbye at the end of the night, I figured that was it. So it was pleasantly surprising (and quite flattering) when the birthday boy texted me the next morning to ask permission to pass on my phone number to Blue Eyes. 

One text message and phone call later, we were meeting up that evening for dinner, drinks and much more flirty chit chat. And that was the night I got screwed by the French again. Only this time, I didn't mind as much.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Take That Slamming Door!

The reason I had been so skeptical about the meeting with True's manager was because there had been so many others in the past who had taken my details to pass on to their friend/manager/boss/ etc and nothing had come off it. My lovely friend, the beautiful (and totally mentally unhinged) Tigger had also passed on my deets to her manager-lady, but I'd long since heard that standard response Thanks, we'll be in touch. 

Then yesterday I got a call from Tigger's manager-lady inviting me to an interview. Again, I went with little expectations. Again, I was thrown a curve ball as we had a simulation exercise mid way through the interview after which I was offered a job!

Its not anything grand; over-the-phone market research, minimum wage. However, the great part is that I can pick my work days which means that I can still schedule things so that I'm working about 32 hours a week and still have 2 mornings/afternoons off to continue with my research for the G Town tours.

Perhaps I'm mistaken here, but it truly feels like the Universe is finally playing on my team!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Doors Slamming, Windows Opening

It's only the very foolish who would think that once things start to go well, nothing but good will follow. There's still going to be things that will go askew. Its a cosmic reality. 

Being a tour guide was supposed to be my dream job. A combination of history, storytelling and being touristy; would anything else fit as well for me? It was all I had ever wanted in a job.... and then some. I worked hard to get in and spent countless hours doing research, putting together the perfect script, tapping into the inner actress to hone my storytelling skills. It was a proud moment when I lead my first group and I was so excited that I could barely stand still!

But not all was sunshine and lollipops. The company had a strict minimum 20% repeat rate that every tour guide had to maintain. The higher the repeat rate, the better the shifts you commanded. Also, living in G Town and having to commute over an hour to Edinburgh each time was also taking a toll. Both physically and financially. There were days when I'd travel there but the tour wouldn't run. Other days, I'd bust a gut for a group, but they wouldn't bother tipping, so I'd run at a loss. And let's not even get into the joys of having to lead a walking tour during a Spring downpour! Still, I persevered and gave it my all. Even so, my repeat rates were hovering dangerously close to the minimum threshold; I was in danger of loosing the one job that I'd wanted more than anything else. When I left for England at the end of June, I wasn't sure if I would be coming back to guiding. I was right. On getting back, I tried to contact the manager and team leader to ask to be put back on the rota. Emails, text messages, phone calls... all went unanswered. After two weeks of trying, I gave up. A few months ago, such a blow would have reduced me to a blubbering mess of tears, but not now. I took it as a sign that it wasn't meant to be. I'd given it my best shot and I'd truly enjoyed the 2 months that I'd spent as a guide. Also, I wasn't quite sure I wanted to continue working for a company that wasn't even professional enough to call and let me know that there wasn't a spot on the rota for me. That was just plain bad business manners.

Fast on the heels of that disappointment, came the Spanish debacle. A meet-up of friends from summer camp had been planned for Madrid and I was to head off to San Fernando and Barcelona after that. But that too t'was not meant to be. First there were problems with my passport as I had two months left on validity and the Spanish Embassy's website stated that it was "preferable" that there were three months validity. This would mean that I'd be at the mercy of the immigration officer upon arrival, and we all know just what wonderful souls of humanity they are. The last straw was this morning when I got an email from the airline stating that my outbound flight has been cancelled due to a Air Traffic Controllers strike in France. Flights scheduled to fly through French airspace have been diverted and those that cannot have been cancelled. I'm taking it as another sign.

That's the doors slamming part. Now, for those slowly opening windows.

Firstly, I'm going to get my documents together and apply for a new passport. I've saved the money on the outbound flight as the airline gave me a full refund. I've taken the money from the return flight and applied it instead to a return ticket to London for this weekend. If I cannot have a full on holiday, I'll take a mini break for a fun weekend with my pals. Also, I have a friend from the T Dot who's currently visiting London and it will be nice to catch up with a homie!

As for the dream job, well, I have a bigger and better plan. It may sound totally crazy, but here it is: I'm going to start my own tours right here in G Town. I already know that there's a huge gap in the market for walking tours aimed at the backpacker population. None exist. I've looked online, spoken to hostels and hotels and spoken with the tourist information services. There's the hop-on-hop-off bus tours, but that's it. I already know much of the history of the city and Scotland in general. Friends who have visited me have already benefited from a rough version of a G Town tour. I know I can do this. I WANT to do this. It will take hard work, long hours and loads of patience on my part, but I'm ready for it.

I'm taking charge and I'm making sure that the window opens. Heck, I'll bust a new one into the wall if I have to. This is one dream that will not be allowed to just slip away.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

You're Patience is Requested

Dear Readers,
I do apologise about the random nature of my recent posts. I've been trying to catch up, but there's been a whole lotta crazy that's happened right through the summer and also after I got home. There were a bunch of posts that I had to abandon half way through as I fled to deal with some sort of crisis... or merely to the staff room for a (few) pints. Reading over my notes, I am loath to just delete those posts as I feel that they best capture my raw emotions over the summer experiences. However, remembering what I meant by often cryptic words half strung together in a random grouping is proving harder than I thought!

And so, I ask that you please put up with me for a wee bit longer as I try to untangle the threads of the past and catch up with the present all at once. I'm not posting them in chronological order, so sometimes you may have to go two steps back in order to go forward! (A fine mirroring of my life, don't you think?) But, do stay tuned; this will all be sorted soon enough.



Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Another Milestone

Today marks one year since I moved into my twee apartment here in G Town. Through the last year, its been the one constant of goodness. Literally, my place of refuge. And of course Rain Man, my very mental, very sweet and totally crazy flat mate who (amongst other things) introduced me some of my best pals, given me a hug and kind words when things have been down, helped me settle into the city and just generally been an overall great candidate for the Flatmate of the Century award!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leaping Capasity

There were a flurry of meet-ups after I got back. Lunch dates, coffee dates, movie dates, random walks through Kelvingrove Park dates. For a single girl, I was sure dating a lot! One of those dates was with a friend True, who I hadn't seen a long long while. She had volunteered for the two charity projects I'd helped organise and we'd kept in touch. Over coffee in Ashton Lane, we caught up on the past few months. On hearing that I was back to job hunting, she offered to pass on my CV to her manager. I thanked her, but didn't think too much about it. After all, there had been so many people who'd said they be able to help but nothing had ever come off it.

Even when a few days later I received a call from True's manager inviting me to a meeting at their offices, I assumed it would be a quick chat about my CV and past work experience followed by the customary statement: Thank you for your time, but we don't have anything right now. We'll be in touch if something comes up. I wasn't expecting anything more.

Imagine my surprise then, when I was introduced to the HR Director who was going to sit in on the "meeting". The surprise turned into abject horror when I realised that this was no mere meeting over a cuppa. This was a full scale interview. One that I was scant prepared for. Other than glancing at the website, I hadn't really done any proper research into the company or their product. Somehow I blabbed my way through the questions; an whole hour of them! And even then, it wasn't over. They asked me to do a test! Fortunately it was a relatively easy typing and word speed test. Feeling rather weary by now, I headed back to the meeting room. A beaming HR Director shook my hand with frank exuberance and before I could even comprehend what was happening, I was being offered a job. Twenty hours a week; part time, but a permanent position.

When I headed out this morning, I hoped for nothing more than a chat over coffee and potentially making a new contact. Somehow, I've now returned home with an offer of employment and I start in 3 weeks.

Back in June I wrote about my lost mojo. The fact that I had allowed the events of the past year to beat me into submission and alter certain basic features of my personality. I had chosen to forget about my otherwise fearless capasity to leap into a new situation; take a chance, make a splash. It seemed at the time, that my spirit had taken a royal beating and old friends like Curly, Penguin Pal and The Blonde One who know me well implored me to at least try and "find my way" again.

Well, its taken some time but I can truly say that I feel like I'm back. The real me. The old me... with some new and (hopefully) improved aspects.

A new job, a new start, a new lease on life, a new beginning.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am back at Leaping Capasity. Bring on the World!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A New Chapter

An eight hour train ride home is the perfect opportunity for me to take stock of the weeks gone by. There are many things that will forever be linked with my memories of life at summer camp. Some good, some not, but over all its been one helluva crazy roller coaster ride. Its only been a few hours, but already I'm missing the hustle and bustle of camp life. True, over the past two weeks our numbers had shrunk and a lot of the staff left last week, but even so, there were still enough people around. Its going to be very strange being on my own again. I wonder how I'm going to like it.

Looking out the window, I see mountains. We must have crossed the border into Scotland some time ago. Not too long to go before I'm home. I'm not at all sure what the next few weeks will bring me. I don't even know if I'll be calling Scotland home for much longer. What I do know is that I'm no longer the same person I was when I left here seven weeks ago. Being away from G Town and let's face it, being well out of the way of Beans has been a very good thing. The time away has helped me refocus on what's truly important - ME. In a few short weeks I have gone from being a sad and lonely dumpee to a happy, carefree and vibrant being who's even managed to have herself one hot  (HOT) summer fling!

Yes, I'm going back to a quiet home. Then again, after having to share a life with 400 odd other people anything will be quiet in comparison. But its not going be a lonely life. There are friends that I've missed over the summer and who I cannot wait to see again. Talk to, do some much needed catching up. There are job applications to send out; not the most pleasant task, but it has to be done! There are still so many places in and around G Town that I want to explore; the traveller in me will never rest.

Only another hour or so and the train will pull into Central Station. I will take my bags, step off the train and head off. It's time for me to write a new chapter, and I hope you'll come back and read along with me.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

After the Drought comes the Thunder

I love my job and I love my colleagues, but 24-7 with the same people in a confined space is enough to make you want to kill even your bestest pal. Which is why, on my days off I usually flee the boundaries of campus at the first available opportunity and spend the day as far away from anything and anyone work related.

Today was the first time I broke that rule. Still, if you could spend extended periods of time in the company of this fine specimen of mankind, wouldn't you stick around as well?

French group leader. Artist. Musician. Boxer. Body of a minor Greek God. Studying law. Knows how to move those hips VERY well. Doesn't snore.

The rain poured down all day today. Indoors as well, a storm was raging. Thunder, lightening.... the works.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Book Review - The Tained Relic

A random stop on one of the shopping trips with the kids took me to a book sale where I just couldn't resist a 3 for £5 deal. One of the books I picked up was rather interesting in more ways than one. A murder mystery that not only spans several centuries, but one that is written by multiple authors.

The story begins in the year 1100. It is the time of the First Crusades and the Holy City of Jerusalem has just been recaptured by the Crusaders and their zest to avenge Christianity results in the slaughter of innocents within the city walls. One of these innocents is the man who had been entrusted with protecting a very special relic - a piece of the True Cross stained with the blood of Christ. As he dies, he curses the invaders and the relic that brought about his untimely death so that anyone who touches the relic will die a horrible death as soon as the relic leaves their possession.

Five different authors tell the story of the relic and its path of destruction through time from the walls of Jerusalem to Devon in the later 12th century, Oxford in the early 1300s then back to the Devonshire city of Exeter before heading to Cambridge in middle of the 14th century and then finally winding up in London at the time of Will Shakespeare. The prologue ties things in to modern times just before the millennium.

Although not the finest example of crime writing (what can I say, it takes a great deal to live up to Christie), I found the mix of history-mystery mix to be quite entertaining. Even better was that I had recently visited some of the places that were described in the stories and it was fun to go back to look at my photographs and imagine the buildings and streets and locations during medieval times. 

Its not a keeper book and I will probably trade it in to a second hand bookstore soon enough. But it does make for good light reading; if you consider a little murder and deathly curses light that is. A good carry along for a plane ride or holiday at the beach. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Boy Town

Not only were the lads at camp more knowledgeable about hair care, apparently their expertise also extended to club wear, accessorising and make up! I certainly have miles to go before I can hope to catch up!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Heat Wave

The south coast of England has been experiencing one of the hottest and driest summers in recent years. The same can be said for life on campus. Things are heating up.

Last week, I had to add condoms to my list of centre related weekly purchases. This comes after not one, but two emergency runs to the clinic for the morning after pill. After being hauled out of bed at 5 am by a near hysterical 17 year old boy to intervene on his behalf with the group leader who was probably going to go ballistic on him (and rightly so), I threw the rule book out the window and decided that we should start being safe rather than sorry. I figured it sort of count as an on campus activity if enough kids were participating. Heck, as far as I knew, it was probably the best attended activity of them all. Also, I didn't even want to consider the amount of paperwork involved should any of those damn "kids" have a woopsie!

Its not just the kids though. The adults seem to be going sex mad as well. Perhaps its the fact that we're stuck in a remote location and contact with the outside world is minimum; or perhaps its simply the case of what happens at summer camp, is forgotten anyway because we were too damn drunk to sort out the tangles the morning after. Of course this leads to more drama since erm... "overlapping" is bound to occur.

Yep, its been a hot and dry summer. All around me people are on sexual fire, while sadly I've been experiencing a long and very frustrating drought.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Trends: The New Black

The reasoning behind the colour for our uniforms was sound. We needed to be easily identified in a crowd. With a violent shade as this, I'm pretty sure that if you check satellite footage we visible from the moon, all of us in a row like some human Wall of Activity Leaders.

We didn't have a choice. The dice was cast and the colour of summer 2010 was orange. And so we did the only thing we could, given the circumstances.

We made it look good!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fashion Fix - The Summer Camp Edition

When I packed for 7 weeks of summer camp, I included all sorts of practical wear that I figured would come in use for activities involving kids. Stuff that would bode well with arts and crafts sessions involving glue guns gone wild and for days at the beach where I would probably fall over into a pile of soggy seaweed. Jeans, shorts, a couple of scraggy tees and a tank top or two for those extra hot summer days. Same with the shoes - runners, a pair of sandals and flip flops for the beach. Heck, in fact when finally zipped up my bags I was convinced I had in fact over packed!

Turns out I was very wrong. Apparently the memo about after work shenanigans was lost in the mail and so I ended up being the only person on campus who didn't come prepared for multiple nights out at one of the local clubs on (aptly named) Messy Mondays. My colleagues were further shocked to also find out that I hadn't even brought a hair drier and hairbrush; the former on purpose, the latter an oversight. The shock turned to abject horror when they realised that I wasn't too concerned about the lack of hair equipment and declared that my fingers would be fine enough combs. After all I figured, who was even going to be looking?

My colleagues on the other hand had not only got the memo, they'd anticipated all sorts of events including, I believe a Papal visit and planned accordingly. Only that would explain the multiple bags that most of them had brought along. All of this made little sense to me especially since most of the time we were all garbed in those hideous orange t-shirts that passed for a uniform!

After dodging going out for the first few Monday nights by crying poverty, I had little choice after we got our first pay cheques. Fortunately, I had been scheduled for a visit to Portsmouth with a group and a quick poke around the sale bins found me appropriate club attire. But even that wasn't enough. Apparently, my total lack of fashion sense (and sensibilities) and my indifference to doing anything to rectify that had instigated an intervention. While they simultaneously did my hair, tweezed my brows and dabbed on makeup, I came to realise just how bad I was at being a girl. There were at least four of my male colleagues who could not only wield a hair straightener better than me, but also owned their own and most of the boys owned up to being in possession of more hair and beauty products than I even knew existed!

Readers, the kids weren't the only ones getting an education at summer camp. And judging by what I learned that Monday night, I had miles to go before I was going to be able to graduate from the school of Being A Girl.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Vengence is Mine", said the Activity Leaders

Given our relatively isolated location, it has become quite common for the staff to send along a shopping wish list with anyone going on an "Asda run". The most common items that top the list are of course alcohol and sweeties, both being absolutely integral to getting though long and tedious 15 hour work days. There's nothing better than knowing you can head over to the staff room for some post work pints and unwind and forget about any messes from the day gone by.

Imagine our collective surprise and dismay when we woke up this morning to find out that someone had broken into the staff room and cleaned out all of our supplies. After we'd gotten over the first shock, the anger set in. It wasn't an "outside job" as the coppers would have said; only someone living on campus would have known the location of the staff room and the fact that we had recently stocked up. There were close to three cases of beer that had been stolen and it didn't take much detective work to figure out who the culprits were. The red rimmed eyes, glazed no sleep gaze and hangover faces and not to mention the fact that they couldn't meet our eyes was evidence enough. And that was even before we found the stack of empties behind their residence block. Still, we didn't have direct proof and we couldn't accuse them of theft without anything conclusive. Yet, something had to be done. If nothing else, we had to send the message to the rest of the kids that such blatant disregard for the rules and shocking behaviour was not going to be tolerated. We were painfully aware that they outnumbered us 10 to 1!

And so, it was with particular glee we gathered all the kids together later that day to make a special announcement. We explained that the campus management had been getting increasingly frustrated with the growing amount of litter on campus. Repeated appeals didn't seem to have worked and we needed to take things one step further. Which was why, effective immediately the kids were going to take responsibility for their own surroundings. Every day, a random group would be chosen to assist the campus maintenance staff with clean up duties thus ensuring that the campus remained litter free at all times.

The collective groans from the group quickly changed to covert snickers and sly nudges when the names of the first group of clean up helpers was announced. Every single of the (assumed) guilty party stepped forward to collect their clean up tools from a broadly grinning member of staff who had suffered the heart wrenching loss of stolen alcohol.

Three hours later when they trooped back to the office, we had a spotless campus and a properly chastised group of children who we knew would think twice about crossing swords with the ALs again.

Mission Accomplished.

Monday, July 19, 2010


In keeping with the general theme of new beginnings and new experiences of this summer, I've decieded that the blog itself was in a state of a much needed upgrade. A revamped look to match my current sentiments.

The new design templates available is fantastic allowing techically challenged wonders like me to make changes without having to deconstruct HTML coding and the such. But the options are vast and I soon got very confused.

After 4 hours and multiple edits, this is what I finally decided on.

So, waddya think?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Popular Vote

Summer camp is lovely; but it can also be a flash back to the high school type atmosphere of groups and cliques and the ever lasting battle between the cool kids and the rest of us mere mortals.

Within a few days of arriving here, I'd sussed out that there were various sub groups forming. Alliances had been made and while some hold all the right cards, there are others who will remain on the outside. By some miracle, I was admitted into the inner circle; but only just as I remain hovering near the edge. It is my inability, or rather my unwillingness to give in and just go with the flow; I ask too many questions, I refuse to let certain things just slide, I don't abide with mediocrity. All this made some people uncomfortable.

Some of my colleagues have been doing this for a number of years. It makes them experienced, but in many respects it also makes them lethargic. They've gone to the same museums, been on the same day trips and facilitated the same activities so many times that they're now running on auto pilot. On the other hand, there are other ALs who although cannot cite years of summer camp experience under their belt, are in fact quite happy and very eager to actually perform the duties for which we were all hired! But, just like in high school, if the "in" crowd isn't doing it, well it just ain't cool for you to go ahead and do it anyway.

Yesterday on a day trip to Brighton I was paired up with one of those cool kids. He made it very clear to me that I was to follow his lead and that meant giving the groups a quicky tour of the pier, pointing them in the direction of the shops and setting a meet back time. This would mean hours of free time for us to go off and do whatever we wanted. It wasn't like he was shirking his duties, just that I know we could have done so much better with pointing out the sights and sounds. And so I made a snap decision and announced to the group that I was heading off to the famed Pavilion and would be happy to take anyone who wanted to go there with me. More than half the group joined me. My colleague didn't say anything, but as he walked off towards the beach I knew he wasn't pleased. It hadn't been my intention to make him look bad, it just that I really wasn't comfortable with the situation.

I hadn't really prepared a walking tour and most of what I knew about Brighton and the Pavilion I had read on Wikipedia the day before! Still, at least it was something and I really do think the kids and the group leaders had a good time. Once done with the Pavillion, the consensus was for shopping and so I left them to it. Even after the additional tour, I still managed to have two hours to myself.

On the bus ride back, I got teased for being a keener. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I will be the butt of many jokes in the staff room. Perhaps I won't be on the next round of text messages inviting people to post work drinks.

Then again, I never did belong at the cool kids table. So I guess I'm ok with that after all.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughts on an Anniversary

Today is my one year anniversary living in the UK.

I was super excited when I arrived. That quickly disintegrated into long months of grief and loneliness. But I hammered through that, and now its in the past. It won't be easily forgotten, but it will be something that I can learn from.

Happy One Year to me.

Bring on the next 365 days!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Man Candy

About the only drawback about my time here at the summer camp, has been the total and utter lack of man candy around this place.

My male colleagues are a nice enough bunch, but none that would warrant a double take; at least not for me. Besides, they're all way to young. Not inexperienced - if we are to believe all that is said during the various drinking games - but just too young for me. There are a few kids who are drop dead gorgeous. I've counted two lads, a Frenchie and one Italian. But they are all no more than 18 and really I feel a bit pervy even just mentioning them. That being said, I did ask the one if he had an older brother. Discretely of course. I managed to make it into an exercise in English: I have brothers and/or sisters. They are xxx old. Their names are....

Of course the one piece of awesome man meat that was to be found here left. The former Centre Administrator was one very (very) sweet specimen of manhood and I'm just gutted that my good luck at landing the promotion had to come at the price of his leaving. Knowing that you, dear Reader would want to judge for yourself I did manage to take a few shots at the football tournament last week.

Mmmmmm, yummy is my thought. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Love Affair

It was supposed to be 3 weeks of a summer job. Plan activities for the kids; teach them some new skills; take them on walks, trips and excursions; keep them out of trouble; make some friends and hopefully have a good time in the process.

What I did not expect was to become a teacher, mentor, friend, counselor, mother, big sister, vengeance angel, hall monitor, centre administrator and general all round go-to girl.

Over the past two weeks, I have yelled at kids one moment, then comforted another lot the next. Dealt with every type of teenage aggro - smoking, drinking, fist fights, bullying and truancy to name just a few. Just when I want to take the entire lot and drown them in the harbour, they turn around and do something wonderful and caring and so I let them live another day.

There have been water fights, walks to the beach, football tournaments, cross dressing discos, X factor style talent contests, movie nights, moonlit walks, all nighters, heart-to-hearts, stomach aching laughter, some tears, one kiss and more hugs than I can remember.

My contract here has been extended until the end of the month. Perhaps for longer should the need arise. Oh sweet summer, how I am loving thee!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mind That Language!

Last year as I packed for my relocation to G Town I was very conscious of the fact that I was moving to a place where although people claimed to speak English, it was a far cry from the English that I knew and loved. It was a garbly-goo version that drew perplexed looks even folk on the other side of Scotland. Still, I persevered and after much random smiling and nodding during my first few months here, I eventually tuned my ear into the melody of Weegie-speak. We will ignore the fact that I probably agreed to all sorts of unmentionable stuff in the process of being lost in translation.

There was a lot that I was nervous about as I packed my bags to head to England for this summer, but one thing that I didn't think would be a problem was, language.

Well, it should have been.

Other than four Irish folk, the rest of my colleagues are all English hailing from as far north as Newcastle and as close by as Portsmouth itself. All of them claim English as their first language. Yet, I'm having the darnedest time with comprehension. The accents are broad and varied, the phrases they use totally alien and the words don't seem to have the same meanings that I am used to.

And so I've resorted to the tried and tested coping mechanism of smiling and nodding. Again, I'm not sure what I have agreed to or promised out. I'm sure I'll find out over the course of the summer!

Friday, July 09, 2010

All in a Week's Work

It hardly seems possible that it was a mere week ago that I stepped off the bus in south of England, arriving at the destination for my much anticipated summer job. The days have passed in a whirlwind like blur and if I am to judge by the time here, then the summer is definitely going to be an interesting one. The best way I can describe it would be akin to a roller coaster ride; dizzying highs, then some scary lows followed by some twists and turns enough to curdle the milk in your tummy. But put together, a very exciting and exhilarating experience.

The camp houses kids from all over Europe who come here for anywhere from two week to 2 months to improve their English language skills. There are about 12 teachers and 15 activities staff on site and we all share one computer with internet access! I was hired to be an Activities Leader which means that its my job to keep the kids amused and more importantly provide enough distractions to keep them out of trouble when they're not in classes. This includes on site activities like arts & crafts, dance, drama, sport, games, themed nights etc. and also trips and excursions to surrounding places of interest like Bournemouth, historic Portsmouth docks, Beaulieu in the New Forest region, Oxford, London and more.

Two days after I got here, the Centre Administrator abruptly quit and I was offered the job. It meant a pay raise and room and board covered. It also meant that I wouldn't be able to do a lot of the things that I had been looking forward to - mainly the trips! While I was contemplating this decision, the centre managers made the decision for me by offering the job to another AL.... and she accepted. Suffice to say, the next morning when I went into the office to accept the job, I was told "Thanks... but the position has been filled!" This might have phased me at one time, but not now. I was done with being pushed around and taken for granted these past few months and there was no way I was going to take this lightly. So I spoke to the centre manager and let him know that I considered this whole situation was utterly unprofessional and asked simply that he fix it. The solution was that both of us share the job role. To compensate for the mess up, he offered to wave all costs for accommodation and food for the duration of my contract. In retrospect, this has actually worked out better as now I get a higher salary and can still keep doing some of the activities with the kids. But I'm not going to let management know that. They should really know better and hopefully have learned an invaluable HR lesson out of this situation.

For now, I'm settling in and trying to sort out both professional and personal roles here. The other ALs are really nice, but all so damn young! The oldest of the lot is just 25 and the average age is 21. They haven't seemed to catch on to how old I am, and I'm taking care to keep vital pieces of information safe. I'm not ashamed about my age, rather just don't want to labelled before they have a chance to get to know me and figure out that mentally I'm probably younger than all of them put together.

We work hard and long hours. But we party hard as well. This summer is going to be a good one. I can feel it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Observations from behind a Customer Service Desk

There were six glorious weeks over April and May when I was too busy to blog because of work. And although I missed the interaction with my imaginary friends, I will have to admit that truly enjoyed the feeling of being busy and productive for a change.

The upside of all those blogless days was being able to gather oodles of anecdotes to share with you. As a customer service rep in a busy shopping centre I had the privilege of interacting with some very interesting specimens of humanity. Unlike the Oscars where the lists of mentions are long and boring, I've chosen instead to focus on the most brilliant, funny, amusing and touching sightings that I now share with you.

  • A rather large middle aged woman wearing a t shirt that read " Man Eater". Half of me applauded her nerve while the other half was dying to ask her if that meant she had literally devoured one of the male species. She sure looked like she'd had a rather large lunch.
  • Tween gay boys shopping with their tween girlie pals. About the only wise thing I've seen from the girls of this place. Coz really, their boyfriends would NOT put up with long hours of mindless window shopping and of them trying out endless outfits all in a bid for the "Who's Cutest" crown.
  • On the other end of that spectrum, we have the long suffering husbands holding multiple carrier bags either walking a couple of steps behind their bustling wives or standing around at designated spots waiting for the women to materialise out of various shops.
  • Old dears with their bus pass hanging around their neck reminding me of kindergarten kids who have their hankies pinned to their shirts. Ah, bless!
  • Ugly parents with surprisingly cutie babies that make me think about the miracle of genetics.... and hospital swaps.
  • The ability of mums or child minders to simply block out and effectively ignore the otherwise penetrating siren like wails emitting from their charges.
  • Mothers and daughters out shopping together. Sometimes, accompanied by Gramma, Aunties and a cousin or two. Family resemblances abound. Sometimes a blessing, other times more like a curse and a definitive reason for cosmetic surgery.
  • Couples that dress alike. Never a good thing no matter what your age. Particularly disturbing when they get matching his and her fake tans.

There were the folk that stopped by the desk. 95% of the time they wanted directions to the toilets and my colleagues and I used to come up with a number of ways to lead them to the destination. The customer service desk itself was situated on the lower level in front of a large Boots store. And yet, we would have at least one or two people EACH SHIFT who'd stop by our desk to ask directions to..... the Boots store. I would also like to point out that my chair and desk backed the store so in fact they'd actually be facing the store while asking me the question!

Then there was that one time when a lady came up to me asking about the hairdressers on the second floor. I told her that we didn't have one on the second floor, but there was one on the lower level.
Lady: No, No. Its on the second floor of the XYZ shopping centre. I know it is!
Me: Ma'am you do realise that this is the ABC shopping centre? XYZ is across the street.
Lady: Well of course I know that. But this is information isn't it?
Me: *sigh*

Or the time when E and I were approached by one of G Town's finest teenage population.
Boy: Cannae tell me whey *grifbidhvghs* is?
Me/E: Erm... pardon?
Boy: *ahcuyrkjib* - I'm lookin' fore eet.
Me/E: *walking round to be closer to him* Sorry, we still didn't get that.
Boy: *looking at us like we're special*
Me: I know, why don't you write it down for us!
Boy: *walks off in disgust*
E: Pixy, you're asking a NED to spell something other than his name?

Yes, very silly of me indeed. No wonder the lad thought I was special.

While we're at it, we mustn't forget the Grabbers, so called because they'll pick up anything and everything that's not nailed down. Promotion leaflets, discount flyers, free magazines, scraps of paper all of it goes rapidly into their over sized bags already full with junk that they've picked up at various other places.

Also high on the list were the Regulars. The folk who day in and day out were at the shopping centre. Mostly window shopping, browsing, looking around. Characters, each one of them. Some would wave a hello as they went passed, others would stop to chat for a while. One in particular would stay and chat for a while. Sometimes a really long while. But she is a lovely person, just looking to fill some of her day with affable company. I can understand and appreciate that.

There were also a host of lovely fellow centre employees I met during the assignment. Security staff, cleaners, shop assistants and more. Of course, I made friends with the good people at the coffee shop on my very first day! And most of all the lovely Tigger; first colleague and now friend. Sometimes a job can give you so much more than just a pay cheque.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Midsummer's Night's Fauxpas

For some weeks now, a friend has been telling me about the free comedy night at the Halt Bar in the west end of G Town. G has recently started his journey as a stand up comedian and of course its always best when you fill the venue with friends sympathetic to your cause. I'd been meaning to check the place out for sometime, but things kept getting in the way. Finally, last week I made it.

The evening had a bit of a shaky start as G was running late which meant that I sat at the bar nursing a beer until the gig began. I'm very used to being solo on many occasions and at many venues; a bar is just not one of them. Thankfully it wasn't a terribly long wait and as soon as the host got on stage I figured people would focus on him and not at the looser at the bar by herself!

Divided into 3 sets, the evening featured six amateurs and one professional act. The amateurs ranged from an absolute novice who snapped the proverbial cherry that night to others who had been on a circuit for some time but were still dabbling. Most of them had good material and garnered laughs from the audience. One of them was totally weird, but hey... there's one in every crowd isn't there?

Post event, G introduced me to some of his pals including the evenings host. Turning to greet him, I wasn't prepared for the explosive Is this her? Is she the one? that was yelled in my face. Choking back the laughter at my bewildered expression, G explained things to me. Back when E (his gf) and I were working together at the shopping centre, we used to kill the long hours by playing our favourite game of rate-the-customers. Apparently, the host walked by one day and I declared that I wasn't quite sure whether or not I considered him cute and placed him in an "undecided" category. A week later, E met him at one of G's comedy events and recognised him as my ambivalent ratee and told G all about it. G being a boy blabbed the whole thing to the man himself.

As G narrated the story, I felt myself turning a whiter shade of pale quickly followed by the warm heat of embarrassment creeping into my cheeks. Thankfully the host was laughing about it and he soon walked away. Still, he hadn't quite forgotten about my assessment - or the lack of it - and as we left the bar later he turned to me and said, Nice to meet you Pixy. Hopefully we'll meet again soon and who knows, you might have made up your mind by then?

Huum. Guess that means I'll have to go back for another look some time soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Facts and Figures

335 days since I arrived into G Town last year, full of hope. The possibilities were endless.

302 days since I got dumped the first time. Suddenly, possibilities had limitations.

16 days since I got dumped the second time. By the same guy.

17 days since I washed my hands off him once and for all. About time eh?

3 - the number of people that have opted to turn their back on me. Their loss.

21 - new friendships that I have forged, including imaginary online blog buddies!

290 days since I moved into my flat and found out that I'd struck gold on the flatmate meter.

260 days since Nana passed away.

49 days since Papa followed her.

5 - beautiful surprise cards and gifts sent by loving friends to cheer me up. Bless them!

4 - plants bought to cheer myself up!

500 (and counting) - the number of times I have thanked the Heavens for the gift of family, of friends and of love.

156 days since I hugged a family member.

17 days that I got to share VBFs parents and have a Mommy around.

277 job applications sent out.

65 - days that I've worked over the past 10 months.

£700 - the amount that an ex employer owes me.

34, 20, 14 - the number of phone calls, text messages and emails that I have sent that ex employer.

2 - the number of times I have wished the pox upon him. Bastard.

14 - the number of pounds I have dropped in weight since moving here. The all yogurt diet sure helps.

7 - food dishes that I mastered cooking before I moved onto the all yogurt diet.

3 - the number of holidays I have had in the past year; India, Paris and the Netherlands. Not bad for someone who is financially broken.

10 days until I leave for England and a new opportunity.

43 days of confirmed employment. Thankfully.

365 days until my visa expires. The possibilities are endless.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Out with the Old and In with the New

With the temperatures soaring high in the early 20Cs taking a drive with Gingersnap and Colossus on Saturday seemed to be the perfect idea. Even better then that our drive took us over to the tiny little town of Catrine in North Ayrshire where we made a stop at the Catrine House ice cream parlour for some award winning traditionally churned yummy goodness!

And then on our way back we popped into a garden centre where I picked up this little beauty for my front window. I've named her Bonnie, as in banks of Loch Lomond and I have a feeling that she and I are going to be very good friends.
The shamrock hasn't been thrown out, but that's only because I haven't had the time. I'm thinking we need to start with a clean slate tomorrow. After all, Bonnie's going to need the space on the windowsill!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

That Special Effect

Over the past 10 months since moving to G Town, I seem to have developed a whole new kind of relationship with my parents. Where as before we merely coexisted in the same house with sporadic conversations, we now talked long and often about everything and anything. I thought that I had gotten to know them very well indeed. Apparently, there was still much to learn.

During yesterday's conversation with my mum I was confiding in her as to just how vulnerable I now felt, thanks to the last few months of madness. In trying to explain how I felt, I compared this feeling to my long term fear of heights. In spite of not being comfortable with heights being deathly afraid of heights, I've never let that deter me from climbing to the topmost viewing station on a tower or going on a hike up a perilous path just to be able to get an amazing view from the top. I confessed that I was now terrified of scaling those heights in everyday life. There was a job I had heard of which would be an amazing opportunity and I was afraid to even apply as the fear of failure loomed large.

My mum listened to my rant not saying a word. When I had finished, there was a little pause and she cleared her throat. Listen to me Pixy, she said. Do not let that idiotic fool of a boy stop you from anything. He has caused enough mischief and problems and you cannot allow your life to be dictated by the actions of a bloody arsehole who does not understand the meaning of common decency.

The advice was sound and I would have been suitably consoled by her words had I not been gobsmacked instead as I realised that I had just heard my mother swear for the first time ever.

Beans really should be proud of the overwhelming effect he has had on the women in my family.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Omen

A few months ago to celebrate St. Paddy's day, I bought a little shamrock plant. It was the cutest little thing and I found a nice little pot at a charity shop to plant it in. The months went on and the little shamrock grew and thrived along side the other members of my green family.

About 3 weeks ago, I noticed a change. The little bugger seemed dull and listless and there were more dead leaves than green ones on the plant. I wondered if the roots were getting a little rotten and so I tried loosening up the soil and adjusting the watering schedule. Even moved it to a new spot hoping that it would find some new mojo.

But by the time I returned from the Netherlands, it was looking very bad for Paddy. If I were a plant doctor, I would be calling in the relatives and asking them to pay their last respects. I put out an appeal on Facebook hoping that someone out there would have an idea as to how to revive a dying plant. What I didn't expect was to get the following response:

Its a sign. Let the bastard die!

Oh, how long and hard I laughed. I never considered these things, but perhaps it is a sign indeed. And so, I've left it alone on the windowsill and will allow it to figure out whether or not it wants to be a part of my life. It has one more week before it gets dumped into the bin and I move on to something else. Gerber daisies or geraniums perhaps?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Walking on Sunshine

After the initial shock of getting that nasty email which led to a really sad sad evening, a night of next to no sleep and a day trip to Amsterdam that had to be cut short due to illness, I got back to Barbie's house and as soon as I could I got online and called my parents in Canada.

An hour or so later, I hung up and felt so much better.

I told them everything. All The Crap from the past 8 months culminating in the email from the day before. For the first time there was no dodging the facts or trying to shield them from the bare bones truth. A lot of it they already knew; had pieced together from the information that I had been giving them and inferred the rest. But it felt good to just get every single thing off my chest. And to cry. Without shame, without reserve.

At the end of it, I was exhausted and my eyes were so swollen they were almost shut. But my heart was light. That night, there was no tossing and turning. From the minute my head hit the pillow to the moment the alarm went off the next morning I had slept the sleep of the dead.

Barbie and I spent the last day of my vacation at the beach. She was scheduled to work that day and had asked the manager if I could tag along. He agreed on the condition that I make myself useful by taking pictures of the day's events. Which basically meant I got to hang around a beach on a beautiful sunny day and play with a fancy camera that I would otherwise get to use only in my dreams.

My flight got in pretty late and exhausted after the long day I tumbled right in to bed.

The alarm had been set for 8:30 am, but I was awake long before that. The sun was streaming in the window and even through my half shut groggy eyes I could tell that it was going to be a spectacular day. Just the perfect day to have an outdoor job. To take people around a fascinating city and tell them stories about amazing people, places and events. I felt like I was on top of the world. The tips were awesome.

Got back to G Town and headed over to meet some friends for a Comedy Night pub quiz. They commented on how I seemed to be on a high and that's exactly what it was. A high. All day long. I cannot stop smiling or laughing (a bit awkward when you're by yourself on the bus back home) and I was literally dancing, not walking down streets.

Logic told me that this was all wrong. That I was supposed to be sad and mopey. The email signified the finality to any hope of any long term relationship that I had hoped for with Beans. And yet, that email had somehow set me free.

It is just 1:00 am. And I should be dead tired after waking up at 7:00 am, going into E City, conducting a 3.5 hr walking tour, returning and going to a night out. But I'm not. I feel that I can do it all over again, right here, right now.

I don't know what's going on. All I know is that for some absurd, magical, wonderful reason I no longer care about Beans and all the mess of the last months. She can have him. He can have her. Ironically, I found out that her name is the same as mine. Bizarre eh? But, I digress. It seems like my brain no longer wants to care about being dumped, being humiliated, being used and abused. It has gone on some sort of vacation from those bad thoughts leaving me instead with the feeling that a wide and wonderful door has opened up beyond which there is a veritable plethora of endless possibilities. Am I mixing my metaphors? I don't care. Never professed to being a writer!

I'm not quite sure if I'm done loving him. I've been trying to wrap my head around my manic feelings for some time now, but with no answers. What I do know, is that finally, I love myself more.

Readers, I feel like I'm walking on sunshine. And DAMN does it feel so good!

No, I am not and have not indulged in any sort of "treat" that Amsterdam is notorious for. Whatever high I'm on, its all self produced! Imagine if I could bottle this and mass produce!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Perhaps spurred into action by Aunty's choice remarks last week, Beans messaged me at work last Sunday. He knew it was my last shift doing customer service at one of the shopping centres in central G Town. Wanna get some ice cream? went the text.

Being a lovely and totally un G Town like day (i:e bright and sunny and warm), we took our ice creams and headed down to the river for a walk. We settled down on a patch of grass and there in the sunshine, Beans asked me if I'd like to try dating again.

At this point Dear Reader, you need to know some back story. I had thought Beans to be dating someone back in Feb. Turns out, it was A date and that was it. She told me herself, ironically at the next charity event when we met. She hadn't known about me and Beans at all, still doesn't as I kept my mouth shut. Beans and I had been on cordial terms for a long time. Occassionally we would meet up for a movie or dinner or something that sounded like a date, but really wasn't. Yes, there was sex from time to time. Not regular and not often, but sometimes it happened. Please don't judge me, I am merely human.

Bottom line, things were actually quite good between us.

And then he drops this bombshell. I was uncharacteristicly quiet as I considered the question. six months ago, I would have jumped at the chance of a reunion, but now I wasn't so sure. I had finally found myself in a good place; rather a better place than the bog I was struggling in ever since last September. Convinced that the doorway leading to a relationship had been slammed shut forever, I had tried so hard to work on maintaining a semblance of a friendship between us. After all, it wasn't possible to totally cut off ties. We had too many friends in common and our paths were always going to keep crossing socially.

When I gave my answer, it was a guarded one. I did agree to try again, but I also stipulated that if we were going to date, it would have to be something that we both worked on. We would need to try and truly include the other in our lives and yes, the dating would have to be exclusive. Beans agreed to it all.

I met him briefly last Thursday, the evening before I left for my holiday. There dídn't seem to be anything amiss. Then today, I get back from a totally lovely day of sighseeing with my friend, open up my email and find this waiting for me:

As you know, our relationship has been over for quite some time now and has
been purely physical since then. I've really enjoyed the times we've spent alone
together. I'm really sorry, but, on Friday I met someone and I think I've got a
chance to make a go of it. Although I don't want to exclude you from my life, I
don't think its a good idea that we continue the relationship we've been having
until recently. I hope you understand where I'm coming from as I think this is
for the best and the last thing I want to do is hurt you.

Reader, HOW could I have let myself get fooled yet again? And dammit.... couldn't he have waited just a few more days so that I would at least have a decent holiday?

*shakes head sadly*

Saturday, May 29, 2010

In Memoriam

Today marks a month since Papa passed away. My family will be gathering together, both in Canada and in Bombay to pay respects to him. I am away, a wanderer off on my own. There is no family near by to seek out. Instead, I share these thoughts and words with you Dear Reader; you who have become such an important part of my life and most certainly as close as a family.

Below is the eulogy written for Papa. I had written the original outline and my cousin cleaned it up a bit and added in some of her thoughts as well. She read it out on our behalf at the funeral mass. I hope that through our words you too can share in the spirit of this incredible man.

Most of us who are here are here because we knew my grandfather --- whether as Lauriano, or uncle, or Irmao, or Padrin, or Mr Mendonca, or Daddy, or Papa. Some of us will, indeed, remember him most vividly for pinching our cheeks really, really hard. So since we all know him, it hardly seems necessary to talk about him --- but perhaps this will help us relive some memories.

Ever since Thursday, when he left us, I have been thinking that I will never be privileged to meet a more gracious person than him. We all know that, despite not having much education, he took every opportunity for learning in establishing a career, moving up from being an accounting clerk at West End Watch co, to being the General Manager, the first non-white person to hold that position. But many of us will also know that along with this achievement, Papa never forgot his duty and responsibility to share his success with others and help them make their own successes and build their own futures.

He was such a kind man and a generous one. Generous to a fault maybe, always giving without counting the cost. But generous in giving materially as well as in spirit --- he forgave people who wronged him and didn't hold grudges.

Career apart, he was a wonderful family man --- a loving and loyal husband to Grana, a dutiful and caring son to his mother and mother-in-law, a good father, an affectionate grandfather. He may not have been a modern guy -- you would never see him carrying babies or changing diapers -- but he carried us all in his heart and did whatever he could to protect and nurture us.

He lived a full life in other senses as well. Many of us will remember how fond he was of reading, especially his favourite books, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Song of Bernadette. Some of us will also recall that he was quite a movie buff. And many of us would have enjoyed the fulfillment of his dream of having a house in the hills, at picnics and holidays in Khandala, the house he delighted in for more than 2 decades.

He enjoyed discussion and was quite opinionated, so that birthday parties sometimes seemed like meetings of the debating club. Without question, he was very stubborn -- a trait several of his children and grandchildren have inherited. But this stubbornness also helped him stand up for what he believed in and defend anyone he felt was being treated unfairly. He had such a solid sense of ethics.

We will miss his deadpan sense of humor, making unexpected jokes that were always memorable.

Above all, he was steadfast in his faith. He was devoted to Our Lady. At the end, even when he struggled to find the strength to speak, the words of the Hail Mary and the Angelus flowed freely.

Yes, he was gracious. Till the end, when he had become a man of very few words, those words often expressed concern, hospitality, gratitude. "Eat and go," "How is Mummy?" "Tell her not to worry," "Take care," Thank you, " "Kind regards, " and if you said you were going to visit, "Most welcome." These were the things he said most often. Whatever suffering he faced in the last year or so, he bore silently, without a moan or groan or a word of complaint or frustration. Till the end he was saying "Thank you" to his doctors and caregivers.

He was given to us by God for nearly 96 years. Yet it seems as if we got to walk only a few miles together. Still, I know I'm luckier than many who never knew their grandparents, for they had died or lived far away. And even as we know we'll miss him, and miss the second home that Grana and he made for us, we are thankful for that irreplaceable gift of Papa and the memories we have of him.
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