I'll write whatever I want, dammit
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Oh! Calcutta!

While I had imagined naked people singing show tunes and dancing, it turns out that Kolkata is just another Indian city. After the lovely Miss Janet left, I was a bit depressed because I was hoping for better weather and a more romantic and rewarding visit, and also hoping that we could spend this long weekend together, even if it was just to snuggle up and watch some Bollywood.

I am now in the Oberoi Grand Kolkata, which is about the ritziest place I have ever stayed. The security here, while usually pretty intense, is extremely high - which is fine with me in light of recent events. Even though nothing bad is going to happen here, I would rather have them play it safe... like I said before, I ain’t lookin’ for no trouble.

We are surrounded by a shopping extravaganza, and anything you might possibly want to buy is right around the corner, although you have to fight through throngs of aggressive vendors to get to what you want.

I went out yesterday evening after checking in and I ran into a couple of brothers who deal in incredible linens and silks (the nicest I have seen) , as well as the usual junk. We are going out to dinner this evening and we are tossing around the idea of maybe doing some sort of import business. They have very good connections in Jaipur, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Islamabad, and Kanchipur, and they are intrigued by my ideas. Just to show how much they are interested, they gave me about $2000 worth of merchandise for about $300, so I can take it back and see what kind of market there may be for this stuff in DC. This could be the start of something big, or maybe just a beautiful new silk duvet cover...

I asked about saris, and how my girlfriend was scared to get one, so one of the brothers volunteered the other one as a model and showed me how to wear it. He was quite embarrassed, but he did look beautiful - although the mustache MUST go. I must admit, it would make a stunning wedding dress...

So within a couple of hours of arriving, I made some good friends and we had some beer and a really good time. I was afraid that I would be alone here, because I absolutely loathe my travel partner, so I am very happy to have people to do things with.

I went for a walk around the market for about an hour or so, but the vendors are so aggressive, I finally gave up and came back inside just to escape them. I’ll get up my nerve and head out again soon.

I SO wish Janet was still here... she is wonderful and makes everything better. I want to make enough money so that she can quit her job and just travel with me. Anyone willing to donate can send a check or cash.

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It looks like the thing in Mumbai is mostly under control finally, but over 150 people are dead and south Mumbai is in ruins. I saw some pictures of some of the dead people and I recognized more than a few of them, including people that I reacted with daily and knew by name.

I am glad that they have decided to not pull us out because of this. I can’t imagine them letting their guard down so soon after something like that.

Not much more to say about that except that life really sucks sometimes, and some of us were incredibly lucky.

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The New Delhi work was delayed, so I should be coming home on or about December 13.

I’ll try to get some pictures.


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On Holiday With the Lovely Miss Janet

Well, it kind of sucked that after six weeks of gorgeous weather, the monsoon hit right about the time that Janet landed. It also is very apparent that in Tamil Nadu, the standard way of doing business - and communicating in general - is to lie as much as possible.

I had arranged for a romantic weekend getaway at a “resort” in Mahabalipuram, but after many rounds of ordering and confirming a ride there, they never showed up and I probably over-reacted and we didn’t get to the “resort”. I was bitchy and Janet was understandably upset... so we spent her first Saturday walking and riding around town in auto-rickshaws. And it was raining off and on for the most part. Here’s some pics from day one:
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Lots of funky temples everywhere, and the beach of course:
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The next day, we did get a ride to Mahabalipuram:
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Janet made a friend:
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We had lunch at Santana’s, which has incredibly fresh seafood, and a view of the shore temple:
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Then we walked back to our driver just before it started raining again:
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It was a very nice day, and almost made up for my screw-up of the previous day.

The work week was incredibly hectic, so we didn’t have much time together. Janet found an ayurvedic place and had a couple of nice treatments, we had dinner at one of the officer’s houses, and some dinner reservations that I made on another evening somehow got cancelled because the place was closed - even though they said it was open. LIES,LIES, LIES. We did manage to salvage the evening and have a magnificent thali at a much more expensive restaurant, but it was well worth it .

On our last free day, we hired a driver to take us to Kanchipuram, but the flooding was so bad that after an hour we decided to give up. We decided to ride a bus and see where it would take us. We started walking around, but it started raining and flooding again, so the day was kind of a bust. Janet left that night and I flew to Kolkata the next day...

Although it was a success in some ways, the week would have been much better if the weather (and the lying Tamil Nadus) were a little better. I hope miss Janet got at least a little out of it and it was truly a pleasure to have her here. I absolutely adore this girl immensely, and I feel that I let her down.

I miss her SO much already.






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No Troubles Here...

...yet, anyway.

In case you missed it, a well organized murder spree was a grand success last night in Mumbai, and is still going on.

Pretty wild, the Hotel that I was in, as well as a few others where the rich crackers stay, have been taken over by some well-organized goons with grenades and AK-47s. They are searching for anyone with a US or UK passport and killing them. The funny thing is, since today is a holiday, we probably would have been out last night at my fave ex-pat bar, which was grenaded and then assaulted with automatic weapons - before the other assaults started, so I would have probably been screwed either way. They have also blown up a few places around the airports and train stations.

The corrupt and under-trained and under-equipped and generally indifferent Maharashtra and Mumbai police are having a bit of a difficult time dealing with it all and people are still jumping out of hotel windows to avoid being tortured or burned to death. Death count going on 120...

Here in Chennai, it has been beautiful for the most part, but since it is our last day together and also a day off, Janet and I wanted to go to Kanchipuram, but the monsoon is being a bitch and the streets are flooded with raw sewage and life kind of sucks here right now. We are lowering our expectations and checking out our options for the day, but it looks pretty grim.

There are rumblings about pulling us all out of India, but I doubt that would happen and I would also be kind of peeved, since everything is happening in south Mumbai anyway. But knowing the incredible cowardice and lack of perspective of our government, they might just do it anyway... A turban can be a very scary thing, especially if you are a moron from Texas or a gap-toothed zombie from Alabama - and don’t even get me started on those DHS goons.

But I digress...

Janet flies out really late tonight (or really early tomorrow, if you prefer), to the land of the free and home of the brave. I fly to Kolkata tomorrow afternoon.

We plan on making something out of this sewage-filled last day here. We might just hop on a bus and see where it takes us. If we don’t die, I’ll write about it!

Happy Thanksgiving, at least I don’t have to eat turkey today. Man I hate turkey...


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