Monday, June 05, 2006
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Bloody big lack of update
So whats been going on since the big return? Lots.
New role at work started (now officially a nine till fiver), old friendships rekindled (for various reasons), homcoming gatherings enjoyed (for obvious reasons), farewell nights out attended (oh how we miss thee kingy) and some photos now available for sale (click).
Talking of photos available for sale, I'm looking for suggestions of what my photography pseudonym could be because I am quite simply lacking inspiration and creativity trying to think of one. Suggestions are welcome via the adding of comments but please offer better efforts than mr nick king - (no I am not going to list my name as MR B BAG under my photos)
Right work beckons - see you soon.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Final few days till home...
Unfortunately the weather during the last week or so has been pretty bad so we haven’t really had the chance to make the most of any sun. In typical 'sods law' fashion, during the weekend just gone, our final weekend here, we found a nice little pub. A pub that actually feels like a pub. It is within a hotel, but it still feels like a pub none the less. They have the football on. People sit in there all afternoon drinking. Etc Etc. Why we didn’t stumble upon this taste of home three months ago is beyond me. Why oh why do we find this place where we can hang out on the last weekend? The food in the place is lovely as well. If you sit there long enough, they first bring you crisps. Free crisps that they make there. Then, if you sit there a bit longer, they'll bring over some nice salad bits and some cocktail sauce. Free salad bits and cocktail sauce. Then, if you sit there a bit longer, they bring over some really nice vegetable pakoras. Free vegetable pakoras. Note - pubs should back home should adopt a similar policy. On top of all these free nibbles you can order more nice treats. Spring rolls. Chicken '65'. Lovely little fish fingers made with really nice fish, with lime and chilli sauce. And we find this place on the last weekend. I'll tell you what that is - Annoying.
Another 'sods law' situation - Agi, our cook made a lovely prawn masala yesterday. A little delight he has never cooked before, and one we didn’t know he could even make. Nice one, start making the nice food when we leave.
And another thing! - Get this. Suraj, one of the new lads (local) tells me about this great hotel near the beach, where you can go down and sit at the bar by the huge pool they have overlooking the sea. Apparently you can go down there with a load of CDs, drink in the lovely surroundings and listen to your own music. That sounds like a cracking place. I'm going home friday though so I wont be able to visit. Great.
Have you noticed that all my annoyances in this post so far revolve around eating and drinking? This points to the simple fact: I am looking forward to eating and drinking when I come home. There is a fact.
However, now that I can reflect on the india trip - aside from the basic things that have got on my tits the last month or so - I can honestly say its been great. There are so many things I am going to miss. There are so many things I won’t miss. I feel a list coming on:
* THINGS I WILL MISS
Enjoying the sunshine
The innocence of the people
The cheap price tags
The nice food
The continuous learning experience
My friends i've made at work
Wearing shorts in december
Baffling most locals I speak to
* THINGS I WILL NOT MISS
The distinct lack of anything to do post 9.30pm
The lack of logic I have seen day in day out across the board
The malaria tablets
Having to check my room before sleeping for things that want to eat me
But even though i've been here for three months now, I still can’t explain what its like. Its one of those places that to know what its like; you'll going to have to come here. I'm trying to think of one thing that typifies the feeling I get from the place. Feelings of endearment, laughter, annoyance, enjoyment. Could it be within some of the signs I have seen? "accidents are not accidental", "no room service please", "van helsig starring huge(!) jackman", "any inconvenience caused is regretted" - no none of them quite do it.
Could it be yesterday, when my driver managed to freeze up the windscreen with the air conditioning? Freeze up the screen on the outside but repeatedly rub the inside to no avail. Continuing to do so until he couldn’t see and had to wind down his window and stick his head out the side of the car to see where he was going, ace ventura style. At that point I snapped - "Mate, why don’t you just use the wipers....? THE WIPERS!" - "oh, yes sir" - Wipers on, screen wiped, visibility returned, problem solved. Nope that doesn’t quite sum it up either.
Could it be the two blokes playing badminton at the petrol station? The car that smashed into the taxi in front, and the taxi drivers reaction? The reaction of poking his head out the window, pulling a stupid face and then simply waving the reckless driver past, not an ill word spoken? No.
I view this area as a great place, full of positive energy and kind people. But I’m also seeing india as a country that doesn’t quite get it right. Almost but not quite. It can be summed up in the old cars that are falling to bits but have top of the range audio systems. The lovely, huge, well built houses next-door to a hut made out of tin and wood with a whole family living in it. The lifeguards that look the part, keep and eye on you and blow the whistle but hate going into the water and send other people in to save you when you get swept out to sea. But the fact that it almost gets it right isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean, who am I to judge what is right anyway? It’s a developing place. Fast developing. They might construct new buildings using scaffolding made out of flimsy wood and string but the new buildings look good. And there are plenty of things they get right. The attitude, the friendliness, the mentality and the optimism.
Ultimately I think that’s what I hope to take home with me.
Can’t wait to see you all soon.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Xmas beach party
To be honest, there are no real stories to tell, just that everyone had such a good time. The guys over here really love get-togethers, everyone gets on and there is no bad blood! Upon the request, EVERYONE storms onto the dancelfoor and dances like no-one else is looking. The only people who didnt charge for the floor were, you guessed it, the english lot...
I thought it would just be best to post a load of pics from the night, and there will be more to follow once neil comes back from his holiday...
Xmas beach party pics
Sunday, November 27, 2005
So rather than explain myself what and where ponmudi is, I'm just going to blatently copy and paste the next paragraph from neils blog - thanks mate in advance:
"Ponmudi is a hill station at an altitude of 1000m above sea level on the Western Ghats mountain range. Surrounded by tea plantations its name (apparently) means Golden Crown in Malayalam - i'm not sure why i expected it to have a yellow peak.....because it didn't."
The views were stunning. No matter how many pics you take its one of those places that you just have to see it with your eyes to get the full effect. After checking in to our really expensive hut (3 quid each), flashing our passports (bureaucracy), and dropping our gear off we headed up the hill/mountain. We met many happy smiling people on the way up who either wanted us to take their pictures or just wanted to say hi. The most random of encounters at the summit - a bunch of nuns showed up, and a good laugh they were too. They loved having their picture taken and they asked me what I was going to do with the pictures that I had taken. I told them I was going to print them out and put them on my wall due to the fact that they were all so gorgeous. This was met with raptuous laughter from the randy old sisters! Even funnier was later when we were on our way back down. We heard a bus approaching behind us with music blaring out and as it zoomed past us it was only the nuns bus! They were all hanging out the windows and waving/screaming/laughing - I really dont think that is a sight I will ever have the pleasure of viewing ever again.
Although beautiful, ponmudi had been 'done' in 3 hours. As we had only paid a few quid to stay the night we thought we may as well just head home and get an early start for tommorrow. We went to find our driver to no avail, although his/our car was there. Interesting. Through confusion, sign language, head bobbing and broken english, we established from a few of the lads hanging around that our driver had gone to hospital, on the bus, because he had hurt his leg. He would be back at 10..(am or pm?) - I asked why the hell hadnt he taken his car. My question was given the answer - "Yes. Bus." I asked if he had hurt his leg, how was he going to drive us home. My question was given the answer - "Yes." We gave up, looked like we were staying in our hut after all. And what fun that turned out to be. It can be summed up thusly:
"Cockraoches/bacardi/coke/mozzies/ipod/poker/bacardi/powerout/worrying scuttling sound in every corner of room/hide under covers fully clothed to prevent being eaten alive"
Dont ask me how, but I managed to stay in that room despite the fact that it was home to approximately 95% of india's entire population of insect life. There was a sign on the wall which read:
"NO ROOM SERVICE PLEASE"
Were they asking us or telling?
Anyway, we awoke early, saw the sun rise, took plenty of pics and began our trek in the car down the 22 hairpins (each one signposted) that lead to the main "road" home. A lovely place but if you ever go, just do the day trip and dont stay the night.
I learnt alot more about my camera again on this trip so am just going to post the pick of the bunch. High 5 to neil for taking the ones of me (performing the trademark allsworth 'point' of course). As ever, clicked for enlarged.
The best of it is, I'd been in my room 10 minutes before I noticed the bastard. Just getting into bed and it caught the corner of my eye. A mixture of terror and relief rushed through me. Terror, cause I bloody hate 'normal' spiders let alone big hairy legged motherf*##%$ like this, and relief that I'd seen it before getting into bed and going to sleep.
Right - what do I do now....Smash it against the wall and kill it! No - I cant bare the 'crunch'. Get the guard to catch it like neil did last time then! No cant do that as we only have one key to the house, and the guard now has it as he locked me in. He needs it to let neil in from work in a few hours...we really should get some more keys cut....well its too bloody late now you have an eff off spider in your room what are you going to do about it? Trap it in a glass. Good thinking sherlock but it wont fit in a glass and you'll probably spaz it anyway and end up smashing the glass all over the floor. Ok good point - I'll get a big plastic cup, and a pad of paper and trap it so it cant run off, after capture I can think about what to do with it then. Good idea - go get a cup then....
So I get the cup. And the pad of paper. Return to my room....No spider. Panic. Knowing that I will never sleep in this room ever again unless I find it, I jump up on my bed and scan my room like some sort of security robot.
Finally - There you are! You are hiding in one of my shoes...I can see one of your hairy legs! Now what? You dont want to stomp on your shoes to kill it do you? If you did that and it didnt die then you would have to shake out your shoes and that would cause all kinds of panic wouldnt it you big wimp? Yes. Ok then we'll just wait.
So I waited. I stood on my bed (shoes still on) and waited for it to come out so I could kill it. I didnt have to wait long and jumping down from my bed I took a deep breath as it edged its way out of my shoe. I know its looking at me. It walks a bit to the left, a bit to the right, then it sort of flatterns out like its stretching it legs, warming up. It doesnt know whether to try and hide, leg it or.....
Dear god its bloody charging at me!!!! I knew it sodding would they always do! Right well here it is then, showdown, stamp on it! Ok...Missed! - Now its making a B line to hide under your bed - no way...! Stamp! Missed again! But wait whats it doing now? It has flipped over and its...its...ITS CLIMBING UP MY FUCKING LEG!
I kicked myself about 3 times (looking like a little girl) and the injured beast lay half dead on the floor, twitching. I quickly put it out of its misery and felt exhausted and foolish for being such a pansy. After taking another half an hour to calm down, flush him down the loo and check my shoes for 'eggs' I shakily get into bed. I'd forgotton to brush my teeth so went over to the sink, grabbed my toothbrush and...hmm there are loads of ants in my toothpaste. Lovely. Just about sums it up.
A hilariously funny side effect of this encounter is that I'm now incredibly jumpy. Bit of fluff brush past my leg? I almost hit the ceiling.
It was big though. That picture really doesnt do it justice.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
The day I learnt my lesson about the sea...
So we got to the beach. By the time we had got there, although still drunk, the hangover was already begining to materialise. The only guy renting beds down there that early had an arsenal shirt on so we instantly became friends and he set us up with some nice beds and a brolly. Managed to get an hours or so shut eye and then went for a walk and swim in the sea. With the time being now about 10am I felt rough - and when sheeba (sheebu, sheevba, sheevbu??) asked me and neil if we fancied "some juice" we gladly accepted. It turns out that by "juice" he meant pint of lager.
After taking a few sips and then discretely tipping the rest away we went up for a bite to eat followed by another snooze. Kim from the UK office was over and her and suzie joined us at the beach and politely woke me up by shouting in my ear. Needing to blow a few cobwebs out my head I thought i'd go boarding for an hour or so, the weather was warm, the sun was beginning to go down and the waves looked amazing. It was here that the real fun began.
If you look around on the net about kovalum, you'll find stories about how nice the beach is and how good the waves are. There are surfing websites that recognise kovalum as a good place to go surf. You'll also find horror stories about "the vicious rip tide at kovalum" that not only is very dangerous but also has claimed a few lives over the years. I had of course felt the rip tide before, and it is strong (once getting dragged out a little too deep without a board, worrying,) , but never had been proper caught out by it until today.
It all started out normal enough - the waves were good and the water was really warm as usual. I went out a bit further and caught a massive wave which was so fast, after I had wiped out I wanted to get out further again and catch another one. Swimming out a bit deeper, missing a few waves....waiting for a big one.....that never came. Before I knew it, I was about 50 meteres BEHIND where the big waves were crashing and I was going the wrong way, and by the wrong way I mean I was on my way to africa.
Realising that I was now potentially in a 'spot of bother' I tried waving to neil back on the shore that I was infact still out here and I would possibly need some help getting back in. I wasnt too worried at this point because at least I had a board to keep me afloat, I didnt have to tread water and I wasnt going to sink. But that wasnt making me feel any better with regards to getting back to the shore, I could feel myself being dragged further back. I began paddling forward the best I could and was making a little bit of progress, I wasnt really going back any further now but I wasnt getting any closer to the shore either and i was a fair way out. 10 minutes later I was making better progress but by this time two blokes who sit with the lifeguards had been sent out from the shore to come and help me! There were worried faces on the beach, particuarly kim and suzie who, as neil told me when I got back, "thought they had lost me forever" - slightly worrying too much but hey. Neil had been pretty cool and not worried about me, but I think that was down to the fact that he didnt have his glasses on and couldnt actually see me...
Anyway, I ended up catching a monster of a wave in and returned to safety, tired and a bit relieved. I was talking to arsenal shirt guy after I'd got out of the sea and he was the one that had called the lads in to go and help me. He said that he'd been caught by that rip tide himself twice before and it had scared him a bit, he doesnt go out swimming there much now. It definately taught me a good lesson and I wont be going out that far again but looking back it was a positive experience and a good story to tell.
Up on the roof...
This last week has seen the return of the sun, the return of the toilet flush and even the return of the jedi.
At last the problems we have been having with the house were sorted, and they seem to have (touch wood) stayed sorted. Although having the TV back was a welcome addition, it inevitabely means the guitar practice has suffered as we have been playing the PS2 and watching DVDs (hence the jedi) far too much.
It was another tiring week at work, but as me and neil are in together most nights we can have a bit of a laugh and it doesnt drag on quite so much. We managed to get down the beach a couple of times and with the sun shining I feel alot better. We have been trying to sort out some plans for the remainder of our time here - so as we only have three weekends left, we have got something sorted for two of them. The'll be more 'blogger fodder' to come from the southern tip of india and ponmudi.
Friday night we went out for dinner on the residency rooftop restaurant then returned home to our own roof and began the nights drinking. Drink was drank, very bad jokes were told and stupid songs were sang. The nights drinking became the morning and we watched the sunrise. It was all very hazy, I'm not sure if that was the beer/bacardi/vodka or the weather. In any case it was nice, and as it was already morning we didnt see the point in going to bed. Instead we got a cab straight down to the beach which seemed like an excellent idea at the time...
Monday, November 14, 2005
This weeks 'update'
Guitar playing has seen an improvement which is nice, and the libertines' "music when the lights go out" has been the track of the week in terms of learning progress. We were planning on going out with shab and biju to take some shots round trivandrum yesterday but the whether put paid to that so hopefully we will be able to do that next week. We went with sham to the guitar shop to get a guitar, but he didnt have any - well not the type we were after anyway. He did have a bunch of other interesting looking instruments though so we might be going back there soon...
Having such a quiet week and being indoors the whole time has got me thinking about coming home, and I'm finding that I'm looking forward to doing so more and more. Every time I hear a date, I work out how far away that will be to me coming home. Whats odd is that, I'm not unhappy or miserable here but I also really cant wait to get back now.
I will write some more when something actually happens, but bye bye for now.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Here is a picture (click for enlarged) of me dressed as 'pennywise' the clown, ages 8 years old. Mum sent me this earlier and lets face it., its funny, look at the size of my bloody ears. Anyway this has nothing to do with my time away (update coming soon) but just thought it would bring a smile to your face as it did mine. For the record - I have no recollection of this photo being taken.
Monday, November 07, 2005
For the last few weeks I've been trying to learn the guitar. I'm quite enjoying it am starting to find a little progress. By the time I come home I think I should be able to almost play green day - time of your life, the libertines - time for heroes and bob sinclair - love generation. Practice practice practice.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Saturday, November 05, 2005
The week preceeding singapore...almost forgot!
Almost forgot to mention, we had a really good week before we went as well. The whether was really good so we had pretty much every day down at the beach and up on the roof sunbathing. We made the most of the roof terrace in the evenings as well, something we dont use as much as we should. The ball got booted off the roof far too many times but I employed my expert climbing skills and looked like the prince of persia climbing down into nextdoors garden with a torch in hand to find the ball. The stars look amazing as well when all the lights are off, can lay and look at them for ages. You can see lots of shooting stars as well which is cool, I think I'd only ever seen one before coming out here.
Within the week we managed to polish off a bottle of Jim Beam, a bottle of vodka and a crate of sandpiper beer - not bad going. Me and nick were actually drunk for 12 solid nights in a row including the trip away so it might be time for a detox. Maybe. Although the roof is calling, along with the iPod and beer....
I can breath again!
First off the climate - pretty much unbearable humidity. I've been told that this time of the year are the cooler months so I dread to think what it would have been like in the hot times. I was expecting it to be similar to here....Nope. Here I can breath. In singapore there isnt much air to actually breath during the day especially. This resulted in me feeling pretty sick throughout the days. I just dont think I'm designed for it, if I go to the sauna at the gym I get the same feeling and generally cant stand them so I guess the same applies here. I was ok in a air conditioned environment though and at night when it cooled a little and we had drank a lot, I felt fine!
"sozzled". The last night was probably best when we met a few locals and others who lived or worked in singapore - we all ended up at a german kndergarten teachers house which was very random but had a great time none the less! Just about made it back in time the next morning to check out of the hotel. Plenty of aussies about, met a nice guy one night who built oil rigs off the coast who filled us in on where to go and things like that. It turns out that I think we would have been slightly better off going over a weekend, as thats when it all really kicks in but had a perfectly good time none the less.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Quick hello from singapore...
I've been feeling pretty much permanently sick since I've been here though, I dont know if its because of the heat or what. Its definately the hottest place I've ever been, with it seeming like there is no actual air in the air. The only time I havent felt sick was last night when I was drunk. Note to self - get drunk later to stop feeling sick.
Funniest story so far -
We went to a really unique bar yesterday. It has its own brewery on site and you can see it behind the bar. There are massive vats and loads of pipes running all over the place full with different types of beer. In fact they sell 17 different beers, with 8 of them being brewed on the premises. They even do a strawberry beer. Me and king took our seats, ordered a massive plate of chicken wings and settled in watching the sports channels on the huge tv screens. King considered the beer menu and went on to order a specialist wheat beer that was brewed about 10 feet away from where we were sitting. The guy turns to me and asks for my order:
Man - "What beer would you like sir?"
Me - "Ummmm.....I'll have a coke please."
Man (with distraught look on face) - "Coke?!"
Me - "Yes. I'm very hot"
Kingy - "Jam..."
Me - "Yeah?"
Kingy - "You're an idiot"
So yeah - I go to this great bar that serves great beer that is brewed on site and ordered a coke. Stuff em. I like to buck the trend now and again.
So right now we are weighing up the options - What to buy....there is a bank card in my wallet and it is burning a rather big whole in my pocket. Right now I'm thinking new camera lens, new phone, new iTrip. Possibly a DS. Or a PSP.
More to follow.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Funny road sign
"ACCIDENTS ARE NOT ACCIDENTAL"
Well what the fuck are they then?!
"The worlds fastest magician" - Bollocks!
Here is a newsflash - Jadugar anand is not a very good magician. He is however, absolutely hilairous. Just look at him on that billboard. That face....he keeps staring at the audience and pulling that face and it constantly made me laugh throughout the 2 hour show.
The indian audience was a strange one, they are not big clappers for example. I was expecting anand's entrance to be greated with a big cheer and raptuous applause - what he got was the odd clap and a cough from someone sitting at the back. Shamelessly though, anand simply stares at the audience in silience, pulling a stupid face until a few more of us clap. A little bit.
He had a fairly big audience in the bloody old theatre, a fair few hundred I would say, and a few of the tricks were pretty good I suppose. Birds appearing out of nowhere and people dissappearing pretty quickly were all quite good, and even though I know how the elephant vanish trick works, it was still pretty good. However, there were too many people coming out of boxes and far too many times when we worked out how he'd done it. Although anand has been touring his show for over 40 years, I dont think any of his tricks would take any real skill or practice. For example, I think I could perform his whole show within a week of practice. All I would need to know is how to work his "Magic" props - Job done.
I did thoroghly enjoy myself though and for comedy moments, the value was through the roof. At the start of each new trick he would give a little speech, and on the last word of each introduction he would pull that face and the sound guy would make the last word echo. So he would say something like, *slow mysterious voice* "Haaaave youuuu evverrrrr, seeeen a mummy appeeaaaar then vaaanniisssh? - Weeeelll my friends, leeet usss goooo tooo......EGYPT, EGYPT, egypt....egypt..." Then he'd pull the face, walk off, curtain would raise and there we were. In egypt. Or, there we were. In an old theatre. With someone wrapped up in bandages on stage.
Bizarrely, the chief of police and some government official came on stage half way through the show to thank anand for the delightful wonderment that we had been shown. Anand magicked them some flowers out of a box in return.
Anand claims to be the holder of three world records - doubtful. The records themselves are a bit hazy though. First off he claims to hold the record for making an elephant vanish the quickest. Hmmm. Then he claims to have driven 300kms blindfolded on a motorbike - a stunt he perfromed to promote road safety. And last but certainly not least he claims to hold the record for longest transmission of a telepathic message, stating that he has sent someone a message using telepathy over 200 kms away, ok anand - we'll take your word for it. But this is what I love about the bloke, these rediculous claims and funny faces! Pure entertainment for sure.
I dont want to be seen as taking the piss out of the guy too much though. I think he really does love his profession and he's keen to keep the magic industry alive. He also makes the best of the limited resources he has and it was quite humbling to watch him and his team perform with equipment and props which must have been 20 years old or more. Also, I'm convinced anand is in on the joke, sometimes I saw him nearly burst out laughing whilst pulling one of his trademark silly faces and at one point I almost thought he was being ironic in his delivery. According to the event programme, his shows are "very rare" yet in the same programme, it states he holds the record for the most amount of shows, 26,000 in all apparently!
Anyway, despite my cynicism and mick taking, it was great and obiviously I bought a T shirt with his face on it. To give you an idea of how seriously the guy takes his magic, click here for a link to a recent news article about the great one.
If he ever does come to a town near you - check him out! Seeing is believing...