Monday, February 19, 2007

Year of the Pig

Happy New Year - if you are Chinese, in China or thereabouts or are feeling happy. It is the Year of the Pig.

While on the subject of pigs - watched a rerun of Jimmy's farm diaries on the Beeb. Focussed on Essex pigs. It was rather sad to watch Blaze meet his end like that. Though good to see Porridge again. I still can't believe they are reared for eating. And to think that I ate a slice of Beenham this morning for breakfast.

If you are interested in knowing more about rare breeds-checkout the Essex Pig Company

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Smoke on the Water

So I didn't quite come out to Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline, but found myself in Geneva, by Lac Leman (as it should correctly be called, I am told). Did I say 'found myself' ? That would imply that I hopped on a broomstick, said Goodbye Paddock, Hello Greymalkin and arrived in Geneva.

Sigh..if only life were quite as simple. When you decide to tag along with your lord and master on a work trip, and then decide the sprog must go as well, life becomes a trifle complicated. Then there is the business of finding yourself in Geneva airport - one of the 3 people that are missing their bag! Apparently the airline decided loading skis was more exciting than bags containing diapers and baby food (not sure I blame them), so there we were, 6 pm on a Saturday, with the bare essentials. Like all good European cities, Genevans had shut shop at 5.30 pm on Saturdays - so one hoped the bag was going to arrive.

Bags not withstanding , B, the sprog and I found ourselves in Brasserie Baloise drowning our sorrows in what else but fondue, longeole (a raw sausage which I quite took to till I discovered it was raw), and plenty of Kirsch and Gamay ( a local red, I was told). It was a pleasant meal, the service was excellent - which included the sprog being passed around the restaurant like she was a toy, till the waitress ruined it all (for me) by telling me she really liked my husband! Clearly she figured I wasn't the tipper!

The evening ended well enough, till B and I suddenly realised - help, we had no bags! At 1.00 am I suddenly woke up and called the Hotel reception to remind them that we were still expecting our bags. I was pleased with my efficiency and woke B up to tell him that I had spoken the the new chap at the reception, his name was Philip Bonsoir and he would keep us posted. Turns out his name was just Philip, and the Bonsoir bit was the greeting. Du-h. B's not going to let me forget this one for a bit. Though I am blaming it on too much cider and all the Kirsch.

The bag did arrive the next morning, would have been nicer if the reception had informed us, rather than me punching redial like a woman possessed, only to be greeted by a lazy French voice on a machine proclaiming they were open 9 am to 8pm - this at 10 am!

Suitcase in room, and having found my favourite mittens, we decided to explore. February isn't the best of months to explore most place north of 40 degrees ,but here we were. Went to Lausanne etc. , walked, explored, shopped (hard to achieve on a sunday!), and ate of course. Was told off by a French lady for drinking at lunch - who pointed to my wine and said 'poisson'. Determined to interpret , i told B , i think she recommends this wine with Fish! Turns out she meant 'poison' ! So much for the French and wine!

The next few days flew into each other. N and I explored, while B worked and explored when free! The weather improved dramatically, and it was a shame we were not going to ski. I stumbled across the charming restaurant my sister D ate in last summer - was rather exciting! Also found a lovely little store with plenty of fleur de sel - so all gourmet sensibilites were satisfied! One night we ate at the Edelweiss - raclette, fresh lake perch etc. The food was rather good, though the thing with being Indian is that most other types of cuisine seem so basic - sometimes I don't really get what the song and dance is about! Speaking of song - I was invited to play the alphorn by the musicians who had a lively thing going - was quite a lot of fun other than i sounded like a bull frog! Don't think am getting any invites to play at the Montreux Jazz fest!

B and I wondered if time, or Den Bosch had spoilt us. Seven years ago (longer for B), Switzerland seemed a veritable magic land. Perhaps something to do with a honeymoon?

Anyway, so St. Valentine's Day it was, when we jaded souls (!) found ourselves back in the Netherlands. Some rude woman pushed me in Schiphol airport, and minutes later, B found my wallet missing from my backpack!

Not so great end to a lovely few days. Magical it might not have been, but we could get used to this. The Alps, Jet D'eau, Lac Leman and the Longeole, of course!

C'est la vie.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Our Little Babe

Speaking of pigs - here go some winter wonderland pics of our little Babe! They are taken right behind our house.

Pot Bellied Pigs

Was watching Nature Watch on the Beeb today - and came across a pair of the most adorable pot bellied pigs ever! They were called Blossom and Bruno. They were busy eating tomatoes, bananas etc. Bruno is such a man - he was eating the banana with the peel on ! I couldn't find any photos of them on the web but found 2 that sort of look like them!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tequila and the Snake Poison Man

Eyes of liquid gold. Destroyer of daisy beds. Duchess of the Drm Bungalow. Floppy eared rabbit. Little licking devil.

It's hard to tell all of these names apply to a little dachshund with shiny brown skin and cuervo gold eyes. Much has been written about Tequila and her little brother Mowgli on this blog. But it's hard to believe neither one of those little devils is around any more.

Just yesterday my mother absentmindedly admonished my father for putting his hand below the dinner table while she was on the phone. She thought he was feeding Tequila yet again!

Tequila was our 1st pet (if you don't count all my imaginary ones including pumpkin, my chimerical dog). My mother fetched her from a colleague one morning around the 1st week of December. She was barely a month old, and understandably disliked her little bed on the floor.

I arrived home from college to be surprised by the entrance of the daintiest little dog in the whole world. At night i would sneak her into my bed, and soon the only place she'd sleep would be our beds! My mother was trying to find a name for her, ranging from Daisy to Chrysanthemum - all the flower beds she chewed and stomped all over with her little paws.

My friend R who was visiting, and had a Cuban connection decided Tequila was a good name for her. Tequila it was. Tah-keeh-laah according the forty odd souls who looked after the bungalow. Word spread fast, if one were to curry favour with Sahib and Memsahib - the route was here. If Tequila liked you, you had instant access. If she didn't , the guards at the gate, nor Ramu the "House Manager" could help.

Tequi as she was soon referred to - nothing to do with little insects that plague dogs, was every bit the top dog. She ruled the house, the gardens, the paddy fields and of course, our hearts. All the crows that had drunk water from the garden fountains for several generations found themselves chased by her. The same goes for the monkeys that used to frequent the lichee and jamun trees. Our Dhobi's son found his already tattered clothes further damaged. The living room carpet which was for constant use soon found disuse as she zealously worked on the tassels with her sharp little teeth.

Her friends were many - right from the visiting out of town dignitaries who threatened to adopt her if my father didn't find one just like her, to Singhji, a bearded old man who came twice a week to put out the bottles of Snake poison. Even before the guard at the gate rang on the old winding phone, we knew he had arrived as Tequila made a mad dash for the gardens!

Just like every whimsical girl, she too had her moments. Like the time she sneaked out from my mother careful watch and came back from the paddy fields - soaked, muddy and smelling of something other than the buffaloes. Further investigation revealed she had found a skunk for company. I am not surprised skunks don't have too many friends. Tequi despite a couple of baths was in danger of being given up for adoption thanks to the odour from Stinky.

Then there was the time she spent an afternoon locked inside with us, while we took siestas in the long, faineant summer afternoons. I woke up and reached for the book I was reading - only to find that Tequi had chewed off the cover, destroyed the foreword, but somehow left the label that said it was a prize awarded to me in college intact! I could have killed her - but what do you say to a little dog, who sits amongst the remains of your book, and strangely enough doesn't ruin the part you consider most important?

Like all good things that come to an end, Tequi's sole reign ended with the arrival of Mowgli. Their love -hate relationship is another long story.

My grandmother always said Tequi was more than a dog. Extremely discerning about her likes and dislikes , once S. , one of the maids asked my other rather sadly, 'how does she know I am the help'? Unlike Mowgs who ate everything in sight, Tequi was very finicky. The test of a sandesh was whether Tequi ate it - if not, it was probably doggy, sorry dodgy!

The same deeper wisdom was to reveal itself more recently. A week before my mother was to leave for the Netherlands to prepare for the arrival of baby N. , she had a minor domestic crisis with the help vanishing all at once for a couple of days etc. My parents worried about who would look after Tequi if the maids didn't return. One evening after her usual walk with my mother, usual biscuit with my father, she was lying on her favourite sofa, and produced a sudden yelp. Without a fuss, she decided to make things simple for my folks, as she made her way to the Happy Hunting grounds.

So if you look up and see what looks like two dachshunds playing in the sky, throw them a biscuit, because those are two great dogs!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The inheritance of Pujo

Just like countless other migratory birds, it's that time of the year when we suddenly flock to seek our own kind. Cooler weather, fall foliage, cinnamon lattes and a whiff of nostalgia all seem to draw us together. Not that vivid vermilion sugar maples are remotely similar to the fragrant shiuli found in Shorot kal, nor does the sleepy, sedate silence of suburbia compare to the drumming of the dhaks. But flock together we must. Be it Billerica, Generica , whatever. Durga Puja is here.

Last year we found ourselves on yet another continent, seeking yet another flocking zone. We had some options, none within the Netherlands. B was relieved, I was not.
Armed with the determination to converge, we found ourselves in Koln Chorweiler (perhaps not the best of names to carry out sacerdotal activities, such as they are!). Bravely we shed all inhibitions, and found ourselves carrying conversations ranging from where the best Bangladeshi Hilsa was to be found in Brussels, why Aachen seemed to draw so many aliens , and of shoes, ships and sealing wax. You get the idea.

Come September, I found myself seeking to flock again. This time with renewed vigour - it being baby N's 1st pujo and all that. We found ourselves - B's parents included, heading to Chorweiler again! Somethings are as eternal as the rain..or in this case the Bengalis. The arati scheduled for 4pm hadn't begun till 7.30 ! The samosas promised for tea hadn't arrived till 7 pm ! All the well greased efficient German organisation couldn't hurry the Bengalis along! While all of them discussed last year's pujo, the year before and the one 20 years ago, the German spouses attempted to sell tea, peel potols and collect chanda!

It was nice enough this year, just like it is every year, every pujo. Made more so by the sudden entrance of family - B's, part Bengali, part German cousins with promises to see each other more often.

All in all , a day well spent. So what if we missed the anjali, the arati , the samosas and the cultural someone once said, most delights are sweeter in expectation than

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Big Wheel Keep On Turning I fell off the map last year. Unfortunately i also fell in and out of the blogosphere. But fallen off yhe wagon I have not for sometime. Most of you know the reason.
Having promised myself and myriad other souls i will not cause diaper not at liberty to ramble on about every goo and gaa of my latest obsession.

But here go a couple of pics! Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 21, 2006

's-Hertogenbosch International Women'sClub

I'm a member of an expat womens club in Den Bosch which helps to keep me sane. Here's an article about them on - which is a webzine for expats across the EU.

To underscore the diversity of the group, that's me(Indian) in the picture , 2nd from left - with Jacqueline(English), Sharon(Scottish) and Charlotte(Danish) - as international as you can get !