Dear Brad,

I know that I've been on TV and I'm an engaging knitting personality, but we've never met, you simply cannot be stalking me around the world; kids and "wife" in tow. It's unseemly and I am in a happy relationship. I thought I'd put enough distance between us when I moved from LA to Portland, but that clearly wasn't enough, and now you are here, in Pune, the same town in which I am staying. I'm sorry to let you down, but don't worry, you seem like a nice person, I'm sure that in time, you will recover and be stronger for the experience.

Your's truly,
~m

No, I haven't run into them, they are a bit more stealth than that.

It's my last day in Pune and I'm marveling at how fast the two weeks seem to have gone. Everyone here, without exception, has been gracious and kind and made me feel welcome, despite the fact that there was much to do and plenty of work related pressure. But you know, I'm not sure I have much to complain about, work wise. It could be worse, I could have this job.

I'm not sure this position would pass OSHA's standards, but they do appear to be an Equal Opportunity Employer.

For my last little shopping excursion, yesterday, we went to the local market. The place was a mob scene, pure chaos and I loved it. The shops are tiny, with little room to move and one must dodge bikes, cars, scraggly looking cats and other obstacles, to enter the shop of choice, but if you want it, you can find it here. I even found yarn. Oh man, you have no idea how affordable yarn is out here. More on that later, for now, here are some pictures of our excursion.

Women carving stones into mortar and pestle and, I don't know, head stones?

Perhaps useful considering the risk to life and limb one takes, crossing the street.

The holiday, Diwali is just around the corner here in India and everyone is getting prepared. People buy vivid new outfits and colorful decorations in preparation for the Festival Of Lights. The markets are filled with items of every sort, in anticipation.

There's almost so much to look at, one can't decide where to start.

Flowers play heavily in the decorations, especially yellow and orange carnations.

I was able to find a last few items before packing my things and then we made our way back to our hotels for dinner. On the way, we encountered one of your everyday traffic obstructions.

If I were a bit more brave (read: stupid) I could have reached out my window and touched him.

In less than 24 hours, I'll be on a plane home and back to my sweeties. Speaking of which, you'll have to read Leo's response to some of your comments about his tattoo.

Unwrapped

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I only have a few minutes so I don't have much time for commentary other than to say that I think it looks wonderful.

And for those who asked, he confirmed that under the arm is, in fact, a very painful place to get a tattoo. Aww. But hopefully it was all worth the pain in the end.

A little over 4 years ago, I designed and got a tattoo of a dragonfly on my back. I loved the little guy and I figured if I couldn't see it everyday, I'd be less likely to get sick of it. I think it worked. I still love seeing him hanging out back there.

marnietat.jpg

It got Leo thinking that he might like something himself. He asked me to think of some possible ideas. He knew he wanted something that had a female face, and he was thinking he might want an armband.

Now, I dabble in illustrating, but it is, by no means, my strong suit. I sketched, I used Illustrator, I submitted ideas to him and yet we kept coming up with misses, not hits. I'll be the first to say that no one should get a tattoo unless they feel 100% sure it's what they want and, luckily, Leo feels the same. Yet, I was beginning to think I'd never come up with a design that could meet his discriminating taste.

Finally, we hit on an idea that seemed perfect to him. Two female profiles facing each other with their hair intertwining around his arm. It was a design that we hasn't seen on anyone else (which is not to say that it hasn't been done, we just haven't seen it) and Leo thought he could love it enough to have it forever.

When I finalized the sketch and got it to where he thought it was perfect, he asked if I could include a Japanese character in the middle. I've take a little bit of Japanese before, so I knew enough to search for the character online and then look it up by it's radical to confirm the meaning. There's still a chance that it has some colloquial or slang meaning that may come back to haunt us, but I suppose that's the chance you take when you go getting tattoos in languages you don't really know.

Anyway, the characters should mean "lion" which is what Leonardo means as well. Leo jokes that it's as close as he gets to being between two women at one time. Ha! Funny, very funny.

You may recall that I said the designing happened over 4 years ago. We went to a few places in LA to see what it would cost but we it ended up just falling by the wayside. Over time it just seemed to be (I thought) forgotten.

Well, bruised, beaten, exhausted and bloodied, after 5 hours of continuous inking (he said she didn't even take a potty break) his tattoo is done, and from what I can see, it's amazing. Want to see it? Check the pics after the jump. If you are not so fond of the look of freshly tattooed skin under plastic wrap and tape, you can see the original illustration here.

Off the clock and in overdrive

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Here in India, we are working the standard 6 day week, which means that when we leave work on Saturday, we are off the clock until Monday. I've been feeling a touch sick since yesterday morning, but I'll be damned if it'll keep me from enjoying my day off.

I moved out of my old hotel into one that offers a few more amenities. The last place had room service but only during normal meal hours which meant that those days in which I went to bed mid-afternoon and woke up well before sunrise...

This little guy greeted us early one morning, above the office entrance.

I often went 16 hours without a meal (though, luckily, our host always made up for the deficit, with plenty to spare). I will miss seeing "Chicken Alabama" on the room service menu, though.

I'm not from Alabama, but I don't think I've ever heard of a dish quite like that.

If you are wondering about those prices, they are in rupees. Divide by 45 and you get the approximate value in dollars. To make it easier for me (I'm not so strong with math) I just move the decimal place over two spots to the left and double it.

Some rupees.
635 rupees is equal to about $14, which could (theoretically) get me 4 servings of Chicken Alabama with something left over for tip.

Today, leaving all work responsibilities (well, maybe I did a little work in the morning) in the hotel room, Clasonda and I headed over to Panchami's house.

Yah, just a camel in traffic, nothing to look at here.

Panchami is a woman you hate to love (I mean that in the best way possible). She's successful, beautiful, a gracious host, excellent cook, phenomenal mother, loving wife, doting daughter, and generous friend. She doesn't work directly with my company but works in the same office as the people who do, and she simply jumped at the chance to host us at her house. So while she leaves us all feeling inferior, Clasonda and I knew we couldn't miss the chance to spend the day with her.

Could Panchami's mother be any cuter? I love her sari.

When drinks were done, we moved to the kitchen for a lesson in making stuffed naan.

She makes it look so easy.

We had our fill of her delicious food and then she draped a sari on me.

Yes, sure, I remember all those steps.

I think the socks and bra strap really make the outfit.

She topped off the look with a lovely necklace and a bindi. I'm not sure I'm going to trade in my trousers and blazers for saris, but I can see why so many women in India choose to wear these regularly.

You'd think with all this kindness, Panchami would feel content seeing off two full and grinning guests, but she wasn't done with us yet.

They were lovely little dishes used during the holidays. I plan to find a special place for mine at home.

After giving us gifts, she took us to the local shop where she bought her outfit and we did a little shopping.

Clasonda is getting some custom made clothing. This place rocks.

I would love to have had the time to get some outfits made before I left, but I was happy to settle for shopping vicariously through Clasonda.

Believe it or not, this is the abridged post. I have many more pictures, including some spinning to share with you. For now, though, I need some sleep.

A day in the night of my life in India

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  • Wake up at some god awful hour which is a lazy arse late hour in the US, say 1AM here (12:30PM in PDT).
  • Stagger into bathroom, remind self repeatedly NOT to put toothbrush under tap when brushing teeth.
  • Come back out to bedroom/office/dining room/living room/blog central
  • Turn on tv and brace self. Rapidly press volume down button in anticipation of it turning on at full volume.
  • Wait for ringing in ears to subside.
  • Get caught up in commercials and shows* spoken in language I am not familiar with *Quicktime required
  • Flip through 37 overdubbed and local stations and sigh each time I hit the cartoon channels (also overdubbed)
  • Settle for BBC World News or English language anime station
  • Check if Leo is on IM
  • Log into personal email
  • Log into work email
  • Work work work work work
  • Realize still in jammies and will need to go to office
  • Lament not being home in Portland where jammies are now normal work attire
  • Ride to work in backseat of car with no seatbelts
  • Thank lucky stars it's too dark to notice just how scary the drive is
  • Work work work work work
  • 8-12 hours later, pack into the car to go back to the hotel.
  • See the cow with the groovy horns
  • Fear for safety and wellbeing of all pedestrians, animals, and other motorists, on the way
  • Make it back to hotel in what would be, by all accounts, record time
  • Knit, spin and do a bit more work, and now thanks to a generous soul at the office (Thanks Ash!) I now have an iSight to use so that Leo, Panda and I can all see each other.
  • Take shower
  • Chat with Leo and Panda some more
  • Blog and surf other peoples’ blogs
  • Tuck self into bed in the afternoon
  • Read
  • Fall asleep to sound of rush hour horns expressing their disdain for the inevitable traffic.
  • Rinse and repeat

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