Social Icons


23 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: There ain't no bombs on us!

These Israelis are gosh-darn serious about airport security. Woah. And I thought the Americans were crazy with their shoe fetish!

Here's how it went down for me:

I arrive, go to section 'B' which is where the Air Canada check-in counter is. I wait, then at the front of the line (no where near the ticket counter yet, btw) a nice lady looks at my passport and starts to ask me questions about what I was doing here, where I stayed, with whom, etc. And she doesn't just glance at my passport like I'm used to, she REALLY looked and compared me to my photo and asked me my name several times.

She doesn't so much believe me, so another fellow comes over and asks me the same questions again. I said the same things "Business, CopperGate, Iris, 9 days..." - then she asks me for a letter from the company I was with here. I don't have one, so there are some more questions. Finally I show them the receipt from the hotel, and its all cool. She puts purple stickers on my bags and passport.

Then, all my luggage is X-Rayed, with laptop out of the bag, of course.

Since I am questionable, I go to secondary luggage checking. Standing in another line, then the lady goes through my bags. Surprisingly, she wasn't interested in all the electronics I have with me, but she wanded all my Dead Sea mud I brought back. They were also very keen on making sure the CD that Boaz gave me was not a bomb. Also they swipe everything (thoroughly) for explosives residue.

Then, after all my luggage had been gone through (although only half of my things were on the counter for all to see, thankfully I put my dirty clothes at the bottom and they stayed in), it was time to get a boarding pass.

Another line (this one surprisingly slow, but I chatted with a nice Toronto lady), and again they look at my passport (purple sticker) and ask me more questions. My lack of green card caused a ruckus, and I had to stand to the side for a while. I was expecting to have to explain NAFTA and the TN visa, but a lady came by a few minutes later and gave me my boarding passes without a hassle. Since I have this hiking backpack with me instead of a suitcase, I had to go to a freight elevator to put the odd-size luggage there.

I go towards the elevator, and again they check my passport, and a security lady walks me to the elevator.

The security man at the elevator checks my passport again (although the purple sticker did it for him, that's all he cared about). Ok, then I was in the pre-security area! W00t! I had breakfast.

Then, you go through security. HAH!

This is more like security I am used to on domestic flights, except more thorough. My passport and boarding pass are checked. My laptop out of the bag and X-rayed, purse through xray. Me through metal detector. My carry-on bags (purse, laptop) and my shoes are swiped again VERY thoroughly for explosive residue. They really take their time and don't rush.

Then for passport control they stamp something - I didn't actually say one word to that lady.

That's it. Very lax, and you can see. I was going to buy some wine at the duty free, but there's a sign saying "All US Flights blah blah we'll throw out your wine...blah" so I abandoned the dream.

ISRAEL: Hebrew - So Mysterious.

People obviously speak Hebrew here, and I don't know a single word. Well, that's a lie, I know "Shalom" and .... yeah.

I'm actually surprised at the level of English. Almost everyone speaks VERY good English. Yet when left to themselves they immediately break back into Hebrew, despite their best intentions of staying in English. Its all the "th"s, I think.

New immigrants immediately get working on their Hebrew when they arrive, and most Jewish people visiting Israel (I think) know at least a LITTLE Hebrew from Hebrew school when they were kids. There are some funny times because people automatically expect me to know at least a little Hebrew.

For example:

The nice HR lady showed me the ladies' room on my first day of work. It is outside of the suite - so she had to show my the keycode to get back in. With that taken care of I was ready to go - but where was it??? There were the elevators, and another suite, and a few doors with words on them. ?? Perhaps it was on another floor?

I went back into (using the keycode) and asked the HR lady - where are the bathrooms? On the floor below?

And she points at the door [see photo below] - "No! There!"



22 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: The Holiest site in all Christendom.

I think the word 'Christendom' is fun.

We went to Jerusalem on Saturday. I wanted to do the Stations of the Cross. I thought it would be neat to do the actual stations themselves.

About 8 people came, and they were very good natured about being dragged around to Christen sites (being Jewish and not having not so much interest in where Jesus fell the 3rd time).

Although the way, we saw the birthplace of Mary (see below). So they say. If its true - that's pretty neat. A monk fellow game me some Holy oil from her .... um, either it was her tomb or her birthplace. We weren't allowed to actually go down. Wait, it must be her tomb. Duh.

My favourite station was IX - "The third fall"

We entered a little courtyard, and saw a Roman column and thought that must be it (see photo to the right - you can see the column in the background). We took a photo, and then a lady pops her head out and asks if we want to see the church. Ok! Turns out she's a cute little Greek Othodox nun, from the states. (Meaning her English is - Awesome! Totally! TomCruiseBlueJeans!). She brings me down a corridor, then into a hallway, and unlocks another door - then BAM we're in a Greek Orthodox Church (see photo below).

I think I have never been in a Greek Orthodox church, because I thought it was pretty wild. Lamps haning everywhere, and saints with golden halos so much like Bedford United. ;)

The nun was really nice, and brought me around and told me about a few of her favourite saints. She showed me the ACTUAL spot where Jesus was supposed to have fallen the third time. Not sure if its true, but its really neat. (see photo ->)

The last four stations are all in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

That is one wacky Church. Several different religions share it (how friendly!) - Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox, etc., etc.

I found it very confusing - I did ask a German monk for directions to Station X, and was super proud to have understood! :)

The holisiet site in Christendom is therefore the tomb of Christ (see photo below), although of course surrounded with controversy.

Two more posts coming! :)

21 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: 22 hours of birthday fun

So - my birthday. Sorry for the delay in posting! (This turned into a mega-post. Make sure you have your morning coffee with you.)

We woke up at 2:15am, Shachar (Iris' boyfriend) came and picked us up at 2:30. 'Us' was me and Iris' roommate Rita. Rita was really cool. She had lived in Boston for 10 years, so her English was SUPER. Also, she only immigrated to Israel 3 years ago, so she had lots of perspective about the culture vs American culture, etc.

We drove to some town about .5 hrs away where Shachar's parents live to pick up his Dad's car. I think his parents are in Ireland, so we took their car - his Dad's company pays for his gas. That is very common here - you lease a car and your company pays your gas and insurance. Neat-o! We also picked up his friend from highschool (and I think they were also in the army together) named Boaz. Boaz is very nice, but very blond, I was worried he would burn all day!

Then we drove to Masada (here I am hoping you read the wiki Masada entry, as background reading to the blog). We missed sunrise - the driving took longer than Shachar thought. I actually was a smidge disapointed with Masada. I had the impression it was a gruelling two-hour+ hike, and after all our hard work we'd be rewarded with a glourious site on top. Eh, not so much. It was sort of like climbing a few flights of stairs. Took about 15 minutes, and we stopped to take pictures a couple of times.

On top it was cool, with lots of ruins and whatnot.

Then, we went down to do another hike. Since we hit Masada a bit late, we didn't get to the next trail head until about 10am. I was dying. It was Stupid hot.

I still contend that a wet T-Shirt is nature's perfect air conditioner. So before we started the hike I wet my shirt (a long sleeve cool shirt over my tank) - SO much better.

The hike were were doing was the Wadi Aurugot in Ein Gedi

It was still amazingly hot. I mean - its August, in the desert. Why does God try to melt me and scorch my skin??

We hiked along for a few mintues, then we saw a stream. We were very excited, and ended up going to sit in the stream for a bit. By this time everyone was on board with the wet-clothing idea, extended to pants and shoes.

It was a very very nice hike. We continued along for a few hours, often in the stream itself (which slowed us, but was super fun). At the end of the hike - WATERFALL! w00t!

The water was really nice and lovely. Probably one could drink it, but I am not so brave. It is bottled and sold here ("Ein Gedi water"), but I am thinking perhaps there is some filtering that goes on before its bottled.

We hiked back out quickly (we took the high and dry path) - because we were Starving. We had maybe not brought quite enough food.

We picked up a Dutch girl on the way, and she came to the Dead Sea with us. Before the Dead Sea we had a birthday luncheon in a weird little mall. I take this opportunity to point out I haven't had any good meat in Israel. I suspect the chicken might be pretty good, but we all know my feelings about chicken. My shiskebab was dry and horrid. Vegematarians have it made here though.

Anyhoo, on we went to the Dead Sea.

Its crazy like they say it is.

Hard to explain - but its actually quite hard to manoeover around. You under NO circumstances want your head to go under, or to have any bit of splash in your mouth or nose. Alas, I did get a bit in my mouth - icky-gross-evil-nasty. If you have any cuts when you go in they burn - even teeny itsy bitsy scratches burn. Magically, I didn't have any.

We went out for food when we got back to the city, but it was kind of lame - m'I bad, I was tired. It was past 11 when we got back, and we needed some FOOOD! We met Jacob and his friends, but we dragged them around a bit looking for somewhere to give us dinner. We settled on a coffee shop and had some soggy sandwiches and bad wine. Meh. I was DEAD tired, and we went home around 12:30 or 1 I think.

All in all, super good birthday.

20 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: I'll be home in a jiff

Well, I'm off to the airport soon.
Sorry for all these lame posts, but I will catch up on my birthday and my Jesusalem trip soon.

In 20-ish short hours I'll be back in SF!

19 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: alright, ok

Yo yo yo!
I'm good still, but we're leaving for Jerusalem now-ish and I don't have much time to blog.

More later!
Birthday was super fun, we packed many activities into a 22-hr birthday period. :)

17 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: a-hem-hem-hem hem-hem.

happy birthday to me
happy birthday to me

Happy Birthday dear Corrie....

happy birthday to me!

Off to Masada!

ISRAEL: Beach, please!

Hold the phone.

This so-called 'Mediterranean' is kickass! Woah! Its fantastic! Stupendous! Amazering! Wonderous-o!

I went for a swim last night, finally. I just missed the sunset - but of course the water was still CRAZY warm and loverly. Mmmm. I can see why people have settled here. Its superrific. Salty, and 'oops! my bathwater has gotten a little cool' temperature.

I had dinner on the beach with Jacob at a really neat-o restaurant. It was very hip - this time, RIGHT on the beach, not on a boardwalk overlooking the sea, but all sandy and fun. Below, see a photo.

Then I went to the 'Gam Cafe' with Eitan and his wife. Iris made him promise to take me there. Its nice - a manmade lake with swans and such right in Tel Aviv (or nearby suburb). Funny though, it sort of reminds me of Victoria Park in Kitchener. Not nearly has impressive as the BEACH!

I am going to try to make it to the beach again tonight, this time for a longer swim. Keeping in mind that we're up at 3am to leave for Masada.


16 Aug 2006


Last night I had dinner with Eitan and his wife. Before dinner we stopped and looked at a house they are thinking of renting. All housing prices (rent/buy) are in USD! Hah!

Then they took me to dinner at the Marina in Hertzilyya. (Did I mention there is no standardized spelling for Hebrew words in English?) I just learned that the Marina is so popular because it is safe for crowds at night - before you go in your car is checked for bombs, and you are wanded and your bag searched before you enter. So - no suicide bombers.

(Left to right: Me, Jacob (aka, Yacov), Eitan, Eitan's wife - Sharon?)

I had sausages for dinner, and I tried some Israeli wine. The wine was pretty ok! :)

After dinner we went to Jaffa.

I sort of wish I had read that Wiki article before we went! Anyhoo, I still had lots of fun - its amazing how OLD the city is! There are some ruins of Egyptian fortresses from 1300 BC exposed. Wow. 3300 years old.


ps If you are confused when I say 'yesterday' and 'last night' - I am too. I was thinking it was Wednesday all day on Tuesday, so I had to remove day references at the last moment - I think because we starting work on Sunday. Woohai!

ISRAEL: Yesterday night

Yesterday night I decided I should stay in and go to sleep early if possible.

Time changes suck.

In HK at I was dead tired at 10pm - so I went to bed. Up at 3am. Lots of time to work out and get ready in the morning - good for business, bad for social activities.

Here, I'm not so tired from 7pm onwards - about 6am I'm ready to sleep. This is gradually changing, but in general I'm dead tired in the mornings, and during the about 5pm I've good to go. This means at night I can go long time, but the mornings are hellish. Bad for business, good for social activities.

This morning I was aiming to get up and go swimming the that sea by my hotel, but I just didn't get out of bed in time.


Tonight I am going out for dinner with my main contact here (Eitan)(pronounced eh-TUN) and his wife. I think we are going to Jaffa, which is the old town Tel Aviv is founded near (and since grown around). Umm...I'm not exactly sure about it too much, I need to go look it up in my guidebook before we good.

Speaking of which - that guidebook is Gold. I think reading it beforehand has given me many insights into the culture here. Things that people don't necessarily bring up in casual conversation but speak volumes about the society. For example, soldiers in the Israeli army don't have to follow commands they think are immoral.

Also, I've now at least heard of some of the major figures in Israeli history, whereas before I wouldn't have even known 'of' them. Like Ben Gurion, Israel's first PM. If you squint, you can see his grave in the photo I've added to the 'Negev Desert' post - its the dark area (trees) off in the distance to the left of the photo.

Oh, and no marriage proposals yet. :( Bummer.
Maybe its my hair??


15 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: Long walks on the beach.

Monday night a coworker (Jacob) who lives near my hotel took me out for dinner and a long walk on the beach.

It was my first time in the Mediterraean! W00t! Its SUPER warm and salty and nice. The beaches here have NICE white sand, with very fine grains. Not like the mini-rock beaches of Northern Cali!

Ok, I haven't actually gone for a swim yet. Tried to this morning, but I am SO tired in the mornings still...didn't quite make it out of my room in time.


Sorry for not posting yesterday. The wireless at the hotel is shabby.

But just so you are mentally prepared, on Friday/Saturday there may be no posting, since I'll be off in the Dead Sea and Jesusalem.

ISRAEL: Super Pharm

Hello Blogoshere.

This is it - the long awaited "drugstore" episode.

Alas, drugstores in Israel don't seem to be as exciting as in HK. My hypothesis, is this: because its Shopper's Drug Mart. While I do love Shoppers, I was somewhat surprised to see it in Tel Aviv. Now, its not called "Shopper's Drug Mart", its called [see below] - but its awfully similar! They have the nifty shoppers logo medicine-thingy, and I bought some LIFE brand beauty items. Either there is an international LIFE brand conspiracy, or I just went to Shoppers. Although to be fair, they try and cover it up by calling it 'Super-Pharm'. Super Pharm my ass - perhaps 'Shoppers Drug Mart' doesn't translate well. Or maybe that is actually a dumb name, we're just used to it. Just like 'Drug Barn' sounds hella dodgy, but I suppose to many people it sounds alright.

When I was 8 I thought every drug store ought to be named 'Big V'.

Many things are just as you have them in the US/Canada. Bor-ing. Some (like LIFE brand things) have mostly Hebrew but the occasional English phase ("Best before ...") or ("Auquafresh...hebrewhebrewhebrew...GlaxoSmithKline")

Anyhoo, I did buy some VERY exciting Aloe Gel toothpaste, and you know how I love the Aloe! There is currently a party in my mouth, and its health-oriented! W00t! Minty.

13 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: I am not dead.

Its been yet another day, and I've managed not to die yet (ahem - you know who you are).

My first day of work - Sunday!

Its been ok - I was a smidge brain dead and tired all day, but my coworkers here are all very nice. They took me for lunch - Israeli food. Hummous, salad (cucumbers and tomatoes, not lettuce), pita and falafel. Yummy!!! People here are very health conscious, I'm told.

We didn't quite figure things out yet today, but we're on our merry way. Several cups of coffee had to be consumed to get me going. [Nescafé. Ew.]

A nice fellow from work lives right near my hotel, and he said he might take me out one night. Tonight?? I'm not sure. It would be good, I think. No need to spend two nights in. The nice lady might come too (she's maybe HR, maybe office manager...?).

And I think Eitan (my main contact here, the systems evaluation engineer) will take me out as well to see the Marina and some cafe Iris recommended. Good times.

and AWAY I go!

12 Aug 2006


Today we ended up going to Iris' boyfriend's for lunch - which was nice. I am interested to see how regular Israelis live. Iris' apartment is so CUTE! It has a very Mediterranean feel to it - or what I think Mediterranean is. The appliances are small like in Europe - so cute! She has a lovely balcony off of her bedroom, which she never closes the door to - again, with the warm summer nights, I feel like it has a very Mediterranean feel. I haven't seen too many bugs though - just some ants in the desert.

After lunch we went to have coffee at a VERY swanky restaurant by the ocean. It was in Hertzelia - which is a sort of rich suburb of Tel Aviv. Very fancy houses, more parking. Anyhoo, this place (Roco) was HOT. Beautiful. Full of rich beautiful people - and the fanciest bathroom I've ever seen. This place seemed like it would have been at home in a very chic/snooty part of Malibu.

Tonight I will probably SLEEP. I am very low on sleep - I only caught a few hours sleep last night at Iris'. I just laid down for a few hours willing myself to sleep, but it didn't come. Yay, jet lag! I've had lots of coffee today.

I am going to use this as an excuse for why I am not so zesty in this post.

Oh, also - everyone keeps saying how brave I am to come to Israel right now. See - I'm so tough. RarrR.

ISRAEL: The Negev Desert

Wow wow wow.

The desert was awesome last night. We went on a hike through the desert at dusk, stopping every once in a while to sing Hebrew love songs. It was beautiful. We could see Ben Gurion's grave (first Prime Minister of Israel), which is a point of pilgrimage here.

Then we went to a festival in the hippie desert town of Mitzpe Ramon. There was a cool band playing, where I SWEAR the flute player looked just like Bruce Willis.

This whole trip was a trip for singles organised by a friend of Iris. Which was sorta trippy - everyone was therefore very friendly. Many had some English, and would come up to me and ask about San Francisco.

Hebrew is rather mysterious.

Ok, we're going to a house party for lunch then the beach today with Iris' friends, then she's off to Taiwan.


11 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: I'm HERE! w00t!!!

Ok, I'm here, all safe and sound so far. I can't check into my hotel until 2, so I'm just going to chillax in the lobby until then and blog. ;)

I did manage to call Iris, and she's going to come pick me up at 2:30, we'll go by her apartment, and then we're going to the Negev Desert! We're going on some tour, I don't think we'll be back until 2am. I have a strong feeling I'm going to be very tired, but that's ok.

My first night in Israel! Wow!

Oh, you're probably wondering if the airport was super crazy due to the 24 bombers caught in London and whatnot. Only moderately so. My flight out of SFO was delayed about an hour for people to clear security. Everyone had to leave all fluids behind - although I realized I smuggled some hand santiziter in! Don't tell! Toronto wasn't too insane. All flights to the US had to have their shoes checked (for at least the next 72 hrs), and they took all fluids as well, but no huge delays.

I find it odd that the US is the only country that particularly cares so much about shoes. Since I was going to ISRAEL, I kept my shoes on.

Ok, perhaps I will go read the news. Thank God for the Internet. Its how I called Iris - my cell phone doesn't work, the payphone only takes a card you have to go buy somewhere...I was going to moderately panic if the hotel wireless Internet hadn't come through.

9 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: One day to go before I go there.

I leave tomorrow - EARLY.
I hate 7 am flights. Booooo.

Tonight I have a massage scheduled - is anyone with me here? A 20 hr flight is doing my neck no favours, its much more fun to have it relaxed going in.

Ok, today is for running around like a crazy chicken tying up loose ends. Making sure all my work stuff is together is my main concern right now, actually.

Oh, I wouldn't expect a post tomorrow if I were you - I will obviously be flying through the air (with my relaxed neck). I've been warned that I MUST post every day, and tomorrow this is not so much possible. But usually planes don't crash, so I will most likely be ok.

Word on the street is I may be going on a desert tour on Friday with my friend Iris - how fun! Iris and I went to Waterloo together - in fact, we lived across the hall from each other in first year, and we both worked in San Jose during fourth year (for the same company). So how convenient she lives in Tel Aviv now! Yay!

(And Iris is not pronounced "EYE-risss" it's "EAR-isss". Make no mistake.)

8 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: I leave in 2 days!

I leave for Israel in 2 days! w00t w00t!

I'm very excited.
Tonight is for packing.

In case you're curious - the trip is for work. I'll be taking a few days off (hopefully) at the end of the trip to tour around a bit.

20 Mar 2006

BOM: Bollywood and Bhel Puri, all in one night!

So my friend Kim had recommended I do two things in particular while I was in Bombay. Try something called Bhel Puri, which is a sort of Mumbai salad, and go see a Bollywood movie while I was here.

These sounded like good suggestions, so I've been trying to do them the entire time I've been here. Its been three weeks, and I still hadn't managed to do either of them. I thought this would be the week to do it, but of course I worked all possible hours every day this week, so I did nothing much but sleep, bathe and work (and a little shopping for souvenirs for a very demanding Jon Smith).

I decided I would cut work off today, and planned to see a movie. I left work at six - which actually seemed to be ok with my colleagues.

Charles got us tickets to see "Malamaal Weekly".

The best thing ever - before the movie I realized the concession stand sold Bhel Puri! So I could do two at once! Bhel puri was very yummy, and I munched it during the start of the movie. Totally fun.

At the start of the movie, we stood for the Indian national anthem. Very cool. Good idea.

Did I mention Hindee movies are 3 hours long?

It was pretty fun though. A comedy. I could mostly follow what was going on. I actually thought the cinematography was pretty good - although if Craigy heard the sound mix he would probably roll over in his grave. Terrible foley. ;p

There was only one dance scene though, and no one broke into song even once. I'll have to catch another one next time I come.

C "Still waiting to see if Bhel Puri is going to make my tummy not so yummy" Dossenbach

ps Almost midnight. It occurred to me if my flight out of Mumbai is 1.5hrs late (as currently estimated), does this mean I'll miss my flight to SF? I'm going to be a zombie when I arrive.

BOM: Awww...I'm gonna miss this place!

Suddenly last night I started to feel a bit sad to be leaving. This was tempered by the prospect of yet another Saturday night alone - whilst all my friends back home are in the midst of St Patrick's debauchery (or, um, I guess they would be waking up from it).

I went down to dinner - I wore my pretty skirt with flowers on it hoping someone would maybe talk to me. I was thinking it would be fun to chat with another traveler, but the likelihood would be pretty low, considering almost everyone at my hotel was a business traveler.

Just when I was convinced my entire meal would be spent staring around the hotel and noting various architectural elements - someone actually came and talked to me! It was a fellow I'd seen in the elevator earlier. It was fun - he was American (Atlanta), and we chatted about how
crazy India was for a while. I even had a glass of wine (all glasses of wine I've had in India to date have been notsogood). It was fun chatting with someone also on his first trip to India, who's also doing high-tech stuff here.

I'm going to miss my nice hotel. :) When I told my favourite doorman I was checking out the next day, I was sad. I didn't even have time to go for breakfast this morning - no chance to say goodbye to the nice restaurant staff. They knew my roomnumber, and that I liked black tea,
sat in non-smoking, and that I breakfast with the other American engineers (when they were here). They would come over and inquire about my cough when I tried to hack up a lung every night at dinner. I will miss them!

Also - who will turn down my covers at night now?? Who will set out my slippers beside my bed so I can wake up and slip right into them??? No one will come and fold the corners of the toilet paper to make it look neat! Who will empty my garbages every day? Turn on the light so it
looks friendly when I come home from work? Refill my shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and body wash every day? Ensure I have enough tissue, and two fresh bottles of water? And of course generally tidy up and make the bed, clean the tub and whatnot, put out fresh towels. Mmmm.

When I got to work today, I realized I'm going to miss those buggers too. They might have frustrated me at times, but they're a good lot, once you get used to the head wobble. The operators got really excited that I sort of know two Murathi words now - the word for 'remove' and 'place' (useful in giving rework instructions - had I stayed longer I would try the word for 'swap' - but its hella long).

I think now that I'm leaving, I'm learning to appreciate India more. I'm totally down with the wobble now - in fact, I catch myself doing it as well.

There were definitely times on this trip when I just wanted to GO HOME. NOW. When work wasn't going well, people were frustrating - everything was just so ghetto....but I will miss India, and I am looking forward to coming back. I want to go visit the Taj Mahal, have dinner at Charles' house - see more of Mumbai in general.

Speaking of Charles - I'll miss him too! He was such a great driver! :) He was my main contact for asking all sorts of stupid questions about Mumbai, and my main source of info about how things work there.

I'm at the airport now (flight delayed until 2:40 AM. Jebus.) I've have a fun day, despite some nasty technical problems at work. Work was very relaxed (giving that it was Sunday, and even in India they don't work on Sunday). They have these nice loungy chairs you can recline in at the airport - I suppose because tons of flights leave in the middle of the night here. It almost seems unreal that in 30 short hours I'll be back in SF.

Bye India! Best Regards.

17 Mar 2006

BOM: Let's throw paint on each other

So one good thing about being my trip being extended is that I got to stay for Holi. Holi is the Hindu new year, and people are out on the street celebrating and throwing paint on each other all morning. Please do not think I took the above photo, the quality is far higher than I can do. :)

For full details:

So no one works on Holi, and I was warned not to leave my hotel lest I get pink hair. Pink hair?!? That sounded fun to me, so the female Engineer from [satellite receiver company] and I decided to go out on Wednesday and see if we could get all colourful.

Wednesday dawned, I slept in. I ate a leisurely breakfast, and was ready to go out by 10:30ish. In preparation for the day's events, I had put vaseline on my finger and toe nails, so they wouldn't stain pink. Pink hair is one thing - but pink cuticles I thought would perhaps look a bit like I had some sort of disease.

All morning I could hear the revilry from my hotel, and was very excited to go out. Before we left the gate the guard warned us we'd get coloured if we left - he didn't want to let us go!

So out we went. We walked and saw coloured people, and everyone wished us a happy Holi. Ok....but there was not so much throwing of paint. What what what? I was wearing my ruined Salwar Kami, I WANTED to be painted. Why was no one playing Holi with me? :( I was starting to realize why they said we should go out in the morning -I think the main Holi fun gets going pretty early, and peters out in the afternoon. Or perhaps it was that everyone was too shy. I think they were asssuming maybe two white ladies didn't want to play Holi, we were just walking around by mistake.

Was this dog going to have more Holi fun than me?

Someone threw a bit of green paint on us as they drove by. Ok-ay....was that it? Was that all the Holi fun I was destined to have? :(

[insert suspenseful music]

Thankfully, we ran into a bunch of happy Holi little boys, who were more than willing to put colour all over us, shake our hands, and say "HAPPY HOLI MA'AM!". They were super cute. They got really excited when I took their picture:

On the was home we played Holi again - some fellows in an AutoRickshaw stopped and coloured us up good.

Anyhoo, you're probably dying to see what I looked like.

Ha! There I am!

Alas, no pink hair for me - all the colour washed off in the shower.

I spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool. It did not even smell. Word on the street was that the pool area smelled, but the wind was in the right direction, because it didn't smell much at all. The slums on the other side of the hotel - they smell.


14 Mar 2006

BOM: I don't see how changing my flight can be a saga, but this is the 3rd installment nonetheless.

Ok, now my tickets are really changed.

All those phone calls - yes, yes, yes. Fine, the reservation was set.

I still had to GO PICK UP my tickets. I couldn't even send my driver!

[haha, I'm totally getting used to being in India. I will tell you a secret. This morning the alarm went off right in the middle of my dream. In my dream I thought it was a house alarm, because I had just opened a door. Before I woke up and realized it was the morning alarm to wake me up I had the fleeting thought - "No worries, the maid will get it". Hah!]

So, we left work around 11:30. We had to stop for Petrol, but basically it took un an hour and a half to get to Town (aka, South Mumbai) where the United office is.

1:00 is lunchtime. So we had to wait until after lunch.

The super great thing about this is that Charles and I went for lunch in Town. So nice! Right on the ocean, beautiful temperature and nice ocean breeze. Really lovely! I've been inside a lot lately, it was nice to be out and about. South Mumbai makes me like India. North Mumbai makes me dislike India. Huh.

Anyhoo, after that great lunch I went back to the office. The lady had to fill out my ticket by hand, and fill three other forms out by hand.


It took ages.

I did not get back to the office until 4:45. Seriously. I did have a nice nap on the drive back though! :)

I spent half of the work day getting a new ticket (seeing as I worked until 10). This does not make business flow smoothly.

-C. "Flying home on the 20th, for real" Dossenbach

BOM: Transformers. More than meets the eye.

So right now it looks like there is a pin swap on my transformer. Not the end of the world, but certainly not very good.

And I finally got my ticket changed! W00t! I am coming home on the 20th.

Honestly, it was a lot of work to get changed. I have advice about such matters - call the help number that is based in the country that the airline is based in. When I called the United office in Mumbai - zero help. She was pissed I kept calling. She insisted there were no seats available. But I say: "There are so seats available! You can see them online. You can call the other airline, and they have plenty of seats. Seats with no people sitting in them. So what do you mean by 'available'?"

For that is at the heart of the matter. The 'Star Alliance'. I traveled on United to London, then BMI to Mumbai. So BMI can't change the ticket directly, United has to, and the allotment of BMI seats given to United was used up. Its all in the allotment.

Finally I used the magic trunk line to call the US customer service, and the nice lady fixed it for me, for a fee. All good! The only catch was I had to wait until business hours EST to call, which is rather late to be in the office. (I was at work until 11:30. Boo. That's only because the gate closes at 11:30, and if we didn't leave then, we'd get locked in this economic zone overnight. Double boo.)

13 Mar 2006

BOM: Sorry about the Monkeys...

I've got some dead time here at work, waiting for the first boards to come back.
And everybody likes Monkeys!

To finish my story of Sunday:

We got back from the caves at around lunchtime. I did not want to be stuck in the hotel for the entire day, so I asked Charles to drive me to a museum. (Anything, really - I am really familiar with the hotel, I don't need to spend all my time there. Its like pulling teeth - the other Engineers are content to chillax in the hotel 24/7.)

He took me to the Princ of Wales museum. I much enjoyed myself. South Mumbai seems way more fun than North Mumbai. North Mumbai seems to be more decayed (read: ghetto), with less cultural stops. I have lost my little Mumbai book, so the less-museum bit is from memory.

Anyhoo, at the museum I started feeling a teensy bit heat stroked, so I sat down and had some water. I still felt not-so-hot, so I decided I'd seen most of the museum, it was time to head back to my driver. I pretty much went back to the hotel and dunked my head in water, then felt much better.

Its odd, its not that hot here - a pleasant 80 degrees everyday almost. Nonetheless, I was happy to be back in the hotel Sunday evening. I think skipping lunch was maybe not a great idea.

Ok, boards due in half an hour....cross your fingers!!

BOM: Hey! Hey! We're the Monkees!

People say we Monkey around!

But we're too busy [picking nits of each other's tails]

To [bite anyone and give them rabies]!

12 Mar 2006

BOM: Caves

There are some really neat caves just outside of Mumbai, carved by Buddhists over 1000 years ago.

We went there today.

It was really really cool! There were stone staircases everywhere. In the rainy season it is supposed to be best, because there are waterfalls all over the place.

Here is me standing in front of a carving (smiling Buddha) in another cave. This was the largest carving. In general, most of the caves seemed to be for the business of daily life. There was a school-cave, a kitchen-cave, sleeping caves - even a 'washing machine' carved into the rock (see below).

BOM: Total number of mosquito bites...

(drum roll, please)


In case anyone is curious, Dengue fever takes 15 days to incubate.

I choose to believe I am innoculated against said fever.

Hell ya!

BOM: I bought two Saris!

Saturday afternoon we left work a bit early and did more shopping!

I bought two Sarees (also a pretty skirt and a bazillion hankerchiefs - of the medium quality).

What was I thinking? Where am I going to even wear one Sari? Let me also dispose you of the notion that they are cheap. They are not cheap. They are especially un-costeffective when you consider the fact it is doubtful I will ever wear them.

They sure are pretty though.

The bodices are just arriving now. The little tops get tailored specifically for you.

Question - Will I remember how to tie it? This remains to be seen.


If anyone has a party they would like to wear Sarees to, I'm there. Darn, Amit just had one in SF - but the weekend before I came to Mumbai!

Oh! They just arrived. FUN!



a. They are just as pretty as I remembered!
b. Ahem. The bodices are kinda...boobylicous.

This is not what I asked for.

The bodices, besides being 'boobylicious' (and this I will up to your imagination), also just plain don't fit. Perhaps they measured that I had large deposits of back fat? And that my shoulders are about an inch higher than they really are. I think that is actually the case - but if that were the case (aka, I pull the shirt down) WOAH are they boobylicious! Not okay!

I hate returning things. But I can't wear them like this - they need pinning at a minimum in order to wear.

10 Mar 2006

BOM: If possible, work is going even worse than before.

Where once my board simply did not work very well, now the power cycles every few seconds. Super!

I almost had a heart attack today when it started this nonsense. I should have been a basket weaver.

Meh. It'll work out fine in the end.

Travel Update:
There probably are flights out of Mumbai on the 20th, probably just the wrong questions were asked. My tickets have not yet been changed, the lady was not at work today. I hope she's there tomorrow!

BOM: 2 hours from work

Everyone seems to live two hours from work here. I think its the traffic, and the high price of living in Mumbai. Total bummer. When I work until 9, the poor engineer that has stayed with me doesn't get home until after 10, and has to get up in time to get here around 8:30! Ouch!

One engineer has his family in some town 4+ hours away, and only sees them on weekends - but only if he doesn't have to work Sundays! He's got a new baby too.

I really think that the people here work all the time. They work most Saturday, many Sundays, and spend 4 hours a day commuting. The test engineer I work with has worked 7 straight Sundays. Ouch ouch ouch.

This is a quality of life issue, I see. I think this commuting is quite common. There are lots of women who work here too - if they are at work 12+ hours a day, I am assuming they don't have house-husbands - who looks after errands and children and things?

Maybe that's why people don't seem too chipper here - they are too tired.

This is that third-world labour thing, giving us cheap goods. This is certainly no sweat shop, just a regular factory - but the commute for the workers must be a killer!

Although maybe its not that people have to live so far away, its just that this killer traffic makes any distance seem long. Today it took ~40 min to get here from the hotel - and I swear its only about 5 km. Less than 10 km, anyhow. When there are no policemen acting as traffic lights there is naturally gridlock, and no one gets anywhere very fast. Usually there are policemen, but sometimes not, then you have the random extra crazy traffic.


9 Mar 2006

BOM: I can't ever leave. Who in the what now? I can't ever leave?!?!

All flight out of Mumbai on United are booked until the 28th. Wha???????

This seems sketchy to me.

Perhaps they'll fly me directly to Hawaii.

Details to follow.

8 Mar 2006

BOM: Hump Day

So Wednesday pretty much blowed.

My board is misbehaving, its quite embarrassing.

We did go out for a nice lunch, but I have not felt so super all day. Oh, but the best thing ever about lunch - the washroom had toliet paper! Such luxury! W00t!

I decided to go home at 6:00 today. I was all stressed out, and thought I could use an evening off, to chillax.

On the way home (it was just me, the other engineers are working late) our friendly driver Charles put me in a much better mood. We will maybe go shopping for high quality hankies at lunchtime on Saturday. :)

Did you know cell phone service is super cheap here? (Less than a Rupee per minute. I didn't know they have less than a Rupee. Charles told me a funny joke:

At a light a man stops and a beggar asks for money. He gives him Rs 10. (about 22 cents) At the next light, another beggar asks him for money. This time the he gives the beggar Rs 1. The beggar says "Why did you only give me Rs 1 when you gave the other beggar Rs 10?" The man says "How did you know how much I gave the other beggar?", the beggar says --- "I got an SMS!"


So I went to the gym, and now I am going to have room service for dinner (same price as in the restaurant).

I also plan a bubble bath.


7 Mar 2006

BOM: Man, I'm gonna be stuck here forever....

I'll be jiggered!

Project slipping. Will most likely change flight to sometime around the 22nd.

This means I miss the utlimate St Patrick's event of 2006. :( [Kim/Paul/Andrew mega Irish blowout, aka Craic party] In fact, I will probably be working late into the night on that very night - when I should be honouring St Patricks the rats from Ireland? Creating Guiness? Um...potatoes? Something important along those lines, anyway.

It means I will barely be back to SF in time to take off to Hawaii for Scot and Christy's wedding!
Yeah, fly halfway around the world, so I can fly an additional quarter way around. Snaps.

Dang, yo.

Also, all other engineers leave around the 16th. I hope Shilpa's cousins email me! :)


BOM: Shopping, part deux

So, I apologize for being negligent in BOM postings! I will try to be more verbose.

Last night (Monday night) was a grand shopping adventure indeed!

After work our driver Charles brought 'Mary Cranston' and I to a different neighbourhood for shopping - no mall this time. Sort of a loose collection of little shops that have all space utilized. I think the neighbourhood was Andheri, but I'm not 1000% sure.

First we went to a children's clothing shop. Sooooooo cute. I bought a cute little shirt for Liam, and a newborn baby set for Allison's upcoming baby. Its SUPER cute - it says "I am a tricky tiger" or something equally cute. I hope to go to TO in July, so the timing will be right.

Then, it was time for buying Salwar Kameez!

Everyone at work wears them every day. Saris are also worn, but it seems maybe the working class women wear them for daily wear, and middle class women wear S.K.?? This is a broad statement, because I think where many things are divided into class here in India, this isn't one of them. Just a general observation.

Actually, its really coool. All the women here look so elegant, all the time! (Well, some women wear western wear, so they look...regular. Most don't though. At least on the ghetto drive to work) Even the women doing construction work on the side of the road are wearing saris!

There are huge infrastructure projects going on - the sidewalk all all dug up in this section of town. I've seen women move dirt using baskets on their heads - yet are still wearing Saris!

That's hardcore.

Ok, back to shopping.

The colours and styles popular here are much brighter and spanglier than perhaps suits my tastes. I think the poor tailors showed us almost every outfit in the store! I kept saying "No, no pink" and "Too bright! Too bright!" and "Too many sparkles" or "Too many sequins".
Finally I settled on a nice blue one with blue pants and pretty blue/cream scarf, and a copper-ish and yellow/gold one with embroidered flowers and only a couple sequins here and there.


[seriously Mom, Do Not Open the next sentence until Mother's Day]

I also picked one up for me mather. I think she'll dig how cool it will be in the summer. Hopefully it fits ok! Its also not too spangly - just a bit. Its very elegant.


Now here is the bad news:Last night I thought I'd rinse my SK, to get some of the new-clothing chems off before I wore it today. The pretty blue embroidery bled EVERYWHERE! It is ruined. Dry-Clean only was no joke in this case! (On Sunday we'd been told everything says that here, to just ignore it. I didn't ask the nice tailor-man who sold it to me, I assumed it would be ok! M'I bad!)

Bummer. There goes $25......

Also, the pants were not loose and flowy, they are HELLA tight around the calves. I didn't realize....

I also bought a cool Ganesh wooden thing, and some medium-quality hankies. I would dub them 'sport hankies'.

-Dossenbach out.

5 Mar 2006

BOM: Shopping was a bust.

So things arn't all that cheap.

We didn't buy that much.

We're going to maybe try again tonight.

Total bummer.

4 Mar 2006

BOM: Sunday

Ha! Its already Sunday, beat you to it! ;)

Last night we went for a fancy Indian dinner with coworkers. That was pretty nice. Although most of the dinner was spent listening to our American contact here go on about all the travel he's done, and all the secret engineering he's done, and all the submarine-ing he's done (ok, fine it was very interesting!) was very Ben-esque. Surprisingly, this guy has Ben beat, hands down. The stories would never end!

Some were very interesting. Ask me about the secret stuff in person. ;)

The jet lag got the best of me by the end of the dinner though, and I just wanted to get out of there and back to my hotel.

Today is for shopping!!!

I'm pretty excited. We did pop in a 'mall' last night, and I was highly dissapointed. It was very expensive - and the Western women's clothes were almost non-existant.

BUT, looking on the bright side, I think both 'Mary Cranston' and I will be buying Salweer Kameez to wear to work. They look hella comfortable!

Also, maybe a sari for fun?

Thankfully we have our driver Charles to see us around, and ensure we are paying a proper price for things.

Oh, I bought Grandma a fancy shawl. If anyone wants anything, ASK IN THE NEXT HOUR!


3 Mar 2006

BOM: My General Health and Well-being

I know everyone is interested to know how my cold is gotten, and whether or not that dodgy piece of shrimp has gotten the better of me!

I'll consolidate this information here.

Cold: Moving along, yesterday taking a turn into the chest cough zone. I seemed to be on the way to losing my voice. There is a doctor on staff at work here, and I've decided if I actually do lose my voice and am reducded to whispering (ala the Massey Waterloo trip of '96), I will go see the doctor. [Side note: It sucks losing your voice. Here I was, a fresh OAC student, visiting the school I desperately wanted to get into to, and all my friends desert me for the Science faculty tour. So I spent the day touring the Engineering faculty with people I didn't know, and I could only whisper to them. On the up side, I do remember and interesting whispered conversation about Torque with Stan. "Torque. I don't know what it is, but that big construction machine sure has it, I bet."]

I did sleep VERY well last night, and I think I'm doing much better. I took some expectorant, and expectoration up some of the badness.

Shrimp: Its cool. (I mention this, because as I ate the shrimp, and started to think "Uhhh, this does not taste fresh...", I was reminded of Shilpa in a hospital on an IV due to scallops. Thankfully I had taken only one, so I didn't make a fuss. I don't like fusses.

Mosquito bites: Two. Malaria, Dengue fever, Japanese enchephe..sleeping sickness, etc. - all possible. Well, just Malaria and Dengue fever, really. Apparently there ARE mosquitoes in my 5 star hotel that puts out killer smoke every night to kill them. Boo.

BOM: Work Saturday?

Who knew they work Saturdays??? So it seems I only have two days free in Mumbai, not 4.
Bummer. Maybe I'll scooch out early today.

The plan is for shopping tomorrow, and next Sunday to visit Elephanta island (cool caves that were carved by Buddhists several hundred years ago).

It turns out is here. A female engineer who works there is also staying at my hotel - we're going to meet for breakfast soon. She seems like a nice lady. Sort of reminds me of Mary Cranston, but no wheelchair. So
I'll be shopping with 'Mary Cranston' tomorrow!

BOM: Traffic

Ok, for all of you that have been to third world countries, you're going to be like "Duh." - so you might as well not read on.

But for those of you who haven't.........


Its super insane. They weren't joking.

I'm not sure how everyone hasn't died yet in a traffic accident.
There seem to be no rules - although I will pay close attention to see if I see any. It seems like people and bicyles and motorcycles and buses and cars all just GO. You honk if you want someone to notice you - and that makes it ok for you to GO. If there is traffic flowing in one direction and you'd like to turn, you just GO.

No one wears helmets. I saw a few guys on motorcycles carrying helmets, but not actually wearing them.

Its made even worse by the construction in this neighbourhood - no sidewalks (are there normally some? I'm not totally sure), so people just walk sort-of to the side of the road. No lanes - you just drive/walk/cycle where you fit. Thankfully, we rarely go above 40 km/h. When we get going that fast, I get nervous - I just know we're about to squash someone. Pedestrians are super crazy too - they just wander through traffic, chatting with one another.

I suppose its just a different system. It did take ages to get from work to the hotel last night though! I'm guessing its less than 5 km.

Oh, and there are these crazy AutoRickshaws. The name didn't mean much to me until I saw one, then its super obvious. Dad, I think you'll get a kick out of them. I'll try and take a photo today.

Thank goodness for drivers! I'm kind of bummed, but I don't think I'll be doing too much walking around. We'll see....

I do think the longer you stay here, the more normal it seems.

2 Mar 2006

BOM: What? Its Friday?? I never could get the hang of Thursdays....

Opps, I seemed to have misplaced Thursday.

So it goes.

I'm here!!!!!

Boring flight details? Ok. Read on.

United to London:
-Really good vegan hot lunch!
-(Cover your ears Garth) REALLY good vegan chocolate chip cookie!
-$5 for wine and beer on an international flight? Boo, hisss.
-Sat next to 'Chloe' from 24. Well, for a while I thought she was much like Chloe - totally ignored me - often going OVER me to get to the aisle. But then it turned out she was German, and maybe just shy.
-Not much sleep. Maybe 1 hr?
-Saw 'The family Stone'. Didn't much like it. Thought the story was a bit thin. Somewhat dissapointed in SJ Parker.
-Saw 'Rent'. Can't decide if I hate it or dislike it. The damn songs keep running through my head. Make it stop! Jeez, I actually pay my rent! Its not fair!
-United did not have eyeshades. Boo hiss!

Then Heathrow. Augh. Went through security TWICE more. I did get a chance to buy more Kleenex though. I think my bags have been xrayed a total of 4 times. I am extra safe now. I was too tired to send my Grandma a postcard. :(

BMI to Mumbai:
-A suspicious lack of passengers on board. Really. There was less than 1 person per row.
-Thought I lost my return ticket, and the nice BMI man went to go talk to someone about it. Haha, it was just in my purse in another compartment. He then hated me.
-Food was icky.
-Flight attendants wore funny hats.
-The plane was super old. I sat above the wing, and I could see where some paint was gone. Ahhh...I closed the windowshade.
-No eyeshades. Booo-urns.
-Slept considerably more. Perhaps 5 or 6 hours.

Cutoms in India was a breeze! Although there was a lane for 'Unescorted Ladies', I didn't have to go there. I was a bit worried my hotel wouldn't have send a driver, but they did, it was all good. My hotel is quite near the airport.

Mumbai is hot and smokey! Why is it smokey? I don't know!

Ok, more about the hotel in the Hotel post! W00t!

Dossenbach out.

27 Feb 2006

BOM: This is where I'll be staying! (Updated)



Ok, I have to admit it.
This hotel is really really really nice.

Its the second nicest hotel I've ever stayed in. And that's only because I stayed at the Venetian in Vegas for one night (after 9/11, so it was cheap).

I was HELLA pissed when I arrived at midnight and my room wasn't ready. I was all icky and travelling and nose-runny - I just wanted to have a shower and lay down, not hangout in the grand lobby.

I'm over it.

Mmm, how to explain? I suppose its all the touches that make it nice.

The gym is super great - the best sit-down excersise bike I've used, ever. It has lumbar support! W00t! The ladies change room has two nice hot tubs in it, and of course the steam room and the sauna. Also a little sitting area with a bowl of rose petals floating in water. Flower floating in water all over the place! Oh, a bottle of water and a little towel on every cardio machine! When someone uses it, a man comes and replaces the water and towel. Awesome.

Oh, breakfast just arrived, gotta dash!

21 Feb 2006

BOM: Mumbai Mania

I'm not there yet. Fooled ya.

Just found out yesterday. Am currently wondering if I really might get Malaria...nah....

I have been warned not to eat shellfish above all other things.

Shellfish = bad.

Got it.

(Look, the posts about the Mumbai trip start with "BOM:" Neat-o! Such easy reference!)