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Published: June 29th 2016
No exciting sightseeing trips since the Maldives so all this is kind of routine...
Wednesday 15th to Monday 20th June 2016 - Bangalore
It was back down to earth after the Maldives on Wednesday… I left for work leaving a list of things that needed fixing ASAP (Wifi, hot water, cleaning…) and by Friday most of it was done. And I’d also had an oven delivered! Which made me very happy because it meant no more trying to cook using just the hob and combi-microwave. It felt a bit different this week because it was my first bit of time in Bangalore on my own… without Brian, or Uni to do, or Jane, Marcus and Elin around (Marcus and Elin were on holiday for 2 weeks). I did meet another neighbour Vanesha and her son which helped because Vanesha is lovely and I at least felt like I had someone in the city. I did feel lonely, especially on Friday when I left work and wondered if Noor would be the only person I talked to all weekend, but was REALLY looking forward to Saturday when I could do normal jobs like go to the gym, go for lunch, do my food shopping and sort out my broken laptop without the pressure of Uni.
However, it was not to be. On Saturday I was up bright and early ready to meet the new cleaner who was due to arrive by 11. I played games online with Brian to pass the time but after he’d gone to sleep I waited until 4.30pm before realising the cleaner wasn't coming. However someone did come to help me set up my oven but as I plugged it in I got an electric shock and to cut a long story short the fuse box went out with a bang and there was a smell of burning. So for the afternoon I sat without lights, TV or wifi whilst the electrician (who came in good time and had Noor supervising) sorted it out. The electrician was great, had superb English and pretty much tested the whole house. Anyway… the problem was put down to an extension plug bought because the kettle cord wasn’t long enough to reach the plug (turns out it was… the electrician unravelled more of it from under the kettle…) wasn’t earthed. Apparently that sort of thing can cause a problem in all the sockets in the circuit.
Anyway later afternoon Noor and I set up to do my jobs. I wasn’t very happy, such a wasted day and it was the only day I had that week to do jobs. We found somewhere to get my laptop fixed whilst I was away in Gurgaon next week… it was going to cost about £40 which is crazily cheap in comparison to what Brian had to pay to get his sorted for the same problem. We then went to Forum Mall as I wanted to buy a book (the next in the trilogy I was reading) which was successful and do some food shopping. I was going on a picnic the next day so needed picnic stuff. The manager was very helpful and insisted on one of his staff carrying my bags to the car for me… that was extremely helpful (not sure how I would have managed otherwise) and they co-ordinated a pick-up location on the phone with Noor. I was not allowed to do ANYTHING to help the shop guy despite my protests… not pick up one bag… put one bag in the car. Back home I sorted food and did some jobs… and had some lovely chats to friends. I’m really enjoying the Skyping now that I don’t have to study 😊
Sunday was a chilled day… I went to Cubbon Park with my neighbour Vanesha, her son and some friends. We got an auto ride there (Vanesha speaks several of the local languages which helps everything go smoothly). The park was lovely – really green with lots of interesting trees and because it was Sunday no cars were allowed and you couldn’t hear any traffic. We had our picnic and played with the friend’s dog (which I got put in charge of on my own for a while… I would have been better placed looking after the children!) then got an auto back. I was so sleepy by the time we got home.
Monday I was home quite late from work but still proud of myself that I exercised, cooked and sat down in plenty of time to watch Game of Thrones! However, my sense of satisfaction was short lived as 10 minutes into the best episode EVER my electricity started playing up again. This time I had lights flashing like a disco and then a few seconds of smoke coming out the back of the TV. I went running down for the caretaker and then whilst I was waiting I swear there were a couple of seconds of flame and sparks! This sort of things happens in places like India (I’ve seen worse in other countries) and people get stuck into fixing but I explained that we absolutely needed an electrician and within half an hour the landlord and an electrician were over. It took about an hour to get things stable and I was left with working Wifi… so I could finish Game of Thrones 😊
Tuesday 21st June to Friday 24th June 2016 – Bangalore to Gurgaon
I worked from home in the day so I could see what was going on with the electrics… I had to leave at 2pm anyway to go to the airport. The wifi was still on so I was productive, I was just under instruction not to touch anything (my boss’s absolute priority was my safety). Noor was despatched to deliver my laptop to Acer… that all went successfully. And then we left for the airport at 2pm… it takes 35 minutes with no traffic… it took 2 hours and 5 minutes today. Crazy the difference the traffic makes!
My flight to Delhi was only a little bit delayed but I had a terrible in flight meal. I think Jet Airways are great, so efficient (except when they're late) and they feed you on every flight but this meal was awful. I always have a Jain meal because it has no onions (people who follow the Jain faith do not eat onions). I arrived in Delhi just before 9pm to find Sharon’s lovely driver Anil waiting for me (I told her how lovely I thought he was and she was swift to tell me hands off!). It didn’t take long to get back to Park Place in Gurgaon where I was staying with Jane again and she gave me a nice supper. In support of my healthy eating she’d made an amazing Nicoise salad which was also to be by lunch the next day! I’m looked after well when I stay with Jane.
I spend two days working in Gurgaon. It was my first return visit back to a non-Bangalore office and I was made so welcome I wished I could spend more time with the people at all of the sites I visited! Sharon came over for dinner one night and we had a team meeting with Lisa one afternoon in an apartment overlooking the golf course which had incredible views. I also used Jane’s driver and got a warning from her too to keep my hands off!
I spent Friday travelling back to Bangalore (being very emotional about Brexit for various reasons) and working from home. The electrics had been fixed but whatever had happened had blown both TVs and several lights so I had a temporary TV and some light fittings missing. After work Noor and I rushed out to collect my laptop and sure enough it was all fixed for the equivalent of £45 (probably a bit more actually as the pound had dropped so much that day… although it’s gone up a bit I’ve been feeling the impact of the exchange rate all week as I’ve spent money). I also had another successful trip to Forum Mall with its nice supermarket. However, at about 11pm (as I was watching Vikings) the electricity started playing up again… the TV was the first to go so I turned it off at the wall and then the lights started flashing… so I had the landlord and electrician over again. It was completely random, different things impacted this time and it was even joked that I was the problem… :/ as people had spent a lot of time in the apartment whilst I was away to test things. This time my boss and the landlord decided I should go to a hotel… so my nice landlord took me to the Grand Mercure which is only 3 streets down. It was pretty late by the time I arrived so straight to bed for me.
Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June 2016 – Bangalore
I had plans for Saturday! I’d missed out on them last Saturday because of electrical issues and I didn’t want to miss out again! It was decided at about 11 that I would stay in the hotel for another 2 nights and then travel as planned to Mumbai on Monday. I moved to a room with cooking facilities… I’d defrosted a load of stuff the day before and didn’t want to waste it. Noor and I headed out just before 12 and I did gym, got a takeaway lunch from the healthy Om Made Cafe and then spent 4 hours 40 minutes (as Noor pointed out…) in Bodycraft – the salon Elin recommended. I got a facial, massage, manicure and pedicure for about the price that just one of those would cost in the UK. The people are so lovely too and do a good job (although my friend Kelly is still the best at nails, they don’t do fancy shuzz here!). After that it was back to the apartment to collect food then back to the hotel. I did my second workout of the day then spent the evening cooking, watching TV and chatting to people. I was impressed to find a hotel that labelled light switches… I find the light switches difficult to understand here… there are always so many in a row and before bed in a hotel I have to play hunt the light switches. But there was one here that clearly said ‘Reading Light’.
On Sunday it was a similar routine… gym, then I forgot lunch as was rushing to Bamburies (the butcher everyone recommends) before it closed (we didn’t make it, more traffic than expected) and Phoenix Mall in Whitefield. That Mall was huge! I did some present shopping and found a good shop that sells nice children’s clothes made in Bangalore. I didn’t buy anything for myself! I did get followed around by a guy who just handily popped up anywhere I was… it made me get out of there quick and back to Noor. The drive back from Whitefield took about 30 minutes… that journey is 2 hours on a work day! We stopped off at an organic store Vanesha recommend and it was nice, the lady was lovely. Then back to the apartment so I could pack for Mumbai then back to the hotel. I had a body scrub there… again a really good treatment and it was needed to get rid of the last of my sunburn peeling. I was really hungry so had a snack in the bar and watched football… then back to the room for my dinner and more TV. I went to bed early as had to be up early for a flight. Such an exciting weekend :/ 😊
Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th June 2016 – Bangalore to Mumbai to Bangalore
On Monday I was up at 5am to check out the hotel, stop off at the apartment to drop off food and clothes, and get to the airport for an 8:50am flight. It all worked out ok and my flight to Mumbai was on time. It was super-hot when I arrived in Mumbai then it started raining. It had already been raining for 4 days and didn’t stop the whole time I was there…that’s monsoon for you! My driver was great and we had time to go to the hotel to check in before going to the office (they don’t start till 12:30 because they’re working UK hours). The last time I was in Mumbai I stayed at a random hotel that shall remain nameless… this time I was staying at the Trident Bandra Kurla. Trident is a trusted brand and looked and felt (and smelled) similar to the Trident in Gurgaon I’d stayed at before. The journey to the office took an hour and the rain was so heavy… there were Autos breaking down everywhere. We went over a bridge and I thought I saw flamingos but decided I must be seeing things. I lasted 5 ½ hours in the office then at 6.30pm was so tired after getting up early I had to leave. We got back in 50 minutes (this hotel may be a winner… am trying various different ones) and after my gym workout I went for dinner. The atmosphere in the bar and restaurant wasn’t as nice as you get in a Marriott but they had the football on. The restaurants were all pretty pricey so I settled for Sushi and it was amazing but all a bit embarrassing… the chef came out to talk to me about my order (on account of my onion problem) then came and presented the dish to me, even grating the fresh wasabi in front of me. I had a slight panic as I realised I was expected to try something there and then… whilst using chopsticks… but it went ok. I was tempted to stay up to watch the England v Iceland Euro game but it was on at half midnight (think most people would agree that it wasn’t a game worth watching!).
I tried to sleep in on Tuesday but it wasn’t to be… so I was up early for breakfast and then gym. I checked out at 11:15 ready to leave for 11:30. I got the special treatment… the Assistant Manager even seeking me out to give me her card… I’m not sure what I did to deserve that. The journey to work only took 45 minutes so I was early and we had to wait for a while. This time going over the river I asked the driver about the flamingos and he confirmed that it’s exactly what they were! I got a terrible picture. I also spent time trying to get pictures of Mumbai’s road signs… as I think their ones of people crossing are the best! I was at work 3 hours before I had to leave for my flight back to Bangalore… and had a lovely time, I'm meeting some great people I enjoy spending time with - just a shame it's for the day or so I'm there. The journey back to the airport took way longer than anyone expected and I arrived with 10 minutes to spare! As we were driving back over the bridge I was amazed to see a flock of flamingos flying over… again I got terrible photos but you could see the pink in the sky! I was too slow to snap someone on a motorbike holding an umbrella.
The flight back to Mumbai was nice but a bit bumpy… (monsoon season!)… the guy next to me really wasn’t enjoying it at all and I did think well maybe you should turn off your phone if you’re a nervous flyer… not following the rules doesn’t help?! I read the Indian Economic Times and it was dominated by news of Brexit. It was interesting to read about it from India’s perspective and see how it’s seen as impacting them already (for example companies that trade strongly with the UK having their share rating downgraded) and how they expect it to impact on them in the future. I think it’s fair to say that the overall opinion over here appears to be shock and bafflement at what had happened in the UK. My Indian colleagues and expat friends who are keen to talk to me about it and try to understand why it’s happened.
Back in Bangalore I headed to Koramangala without knowing where I was sleeping… it was decided not far from home that I’d go back to the hotel so I checked in there at about 10 and got an earlyish night.
Wednesday 29th June – Bangalore
I went to work straight from the hotel (had thought to pack for it in case!) and had a good morning there before leaving and coming back to the apartment to work from home around packing to visit the UK… my preparation had been waylaid by being away from the apartment since Friday and I needed to test out the electrical fixes. There were still some things to be finalised but it was looking like good progress and the landlord is very committed to getting it resolved. Marcus and Elin were back from holiday so I went to theirs for takeaway from Empire (the Indian restaurant I’d heard so much about, it was VERY good and didn’t feel unhealthy) and we watched the Game of Thrones finale! So good and too long a wait now till April till the next season 😊 Back at the apartment I finished off getting ready to visit home… I was super excited about that. I’ve missed everyone so much 😊
Next stop… home (as in the UK!)! Have to be up so early (3am!) for a 7am flight. Maybe I’ll get time to settle into a routine when I get back…
Lots of love. Rach Xx
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