Home Smoggy Home

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I am exhausted. I feel like this cat I saw in Mumbai.

I was able to sleep the whole night through, but it doesn't feel like it, it feels like I took one of those marathon naps instead. You know the ones. You wake up groggy, achy and a little slow on the draw.

Coming home was as wonderful as I hoped it would be. Leo took me out for a big salad and then I took a long hot bath and started unpacking.

I'm getting all my photos together to post an album. It was a really amazing trip and a truly once in a lifetime opportunity. There was no lack of work to be done, most work days started at 8 AM, ended at 5 PM and carried on into dinner. After that, I think all of us tried to do some work before bed and first thing in the morning, to catch up with the folks back in LA who would be just starting and ending their days, respectively. Even so, I am amazed at how much we could fit into the remaining free time. I think part of my exhaustion stems from never passing up on an opportunity to see the sights and shop the shops. Oh boy!

The downside to keeping so busy is that I have basically done no knitting at all. I didn't even have time to miss it. I'm hoping I'll have time between laundry, grocery shopping and other errands, to get back into the flow of things.

To all of you who posted comments during my trip, thank you. I know my blog has been entirely devoid of anything that most of you come 'round here to read about. It's like having a big circle of friends to kvetch with. And for any of my German readers out there, fear not, I definitely did not consider that guy representative of the average German. Heck there are jerks just about everywhere.


Hi, yah, it's been a hot day, I know, and the airport appears to be ill equipped to handle the actual volume of people. Trust me, I was pretty shocked when I saw how long the security line was to enter the Luftansa terminal. In fact, I would suspect that most of the mob of people in line were feeling a little bit punchy. I, for one, have only had a couple hours of sleep in the past 36 hours and have spent most of that time in weather that would make your average steam room seem like Siberia.

I admit it, I do, indeed have business class tickets, which, obviously, makes me a bad person, this goes without saying. And, indeed, I AM American which means I have no apparent social graces and I'm selfish. It's all so very obvious.

You see, this is where my logic failed me (it’s because all we Americans watch only American Idol and eat McDonalds) what bothered me was that I was standing in the First Class/Business Class line for security and I'd been waiting there, with the folks I was traveling with, for quite a while. My bags were heavy and when you and your wife decided to skip the process of waiting in line and begin to wheedle your way in between the party with whom I was traveling, and me, I didn't think it was terribly inappropriate to, noticing your economy tickets, point out the line to which you may wish to proceed to.

Your reply, something along the lines of "What, do YOU have first class tickets?" was certainly a valid question, I'm just not so sure that it supported your argument to then berate me for having the correct tickets for the line. When you then asked why I mentioned which line you should be in, and I pointed out that you had just tried to cut in front of me, saying "The plane won't leave any faster because someone cut in front of you." Didn't strike me as a compelling argument. The fact that you were now yelling at me, though, did garner us plenty of the spotlight.

I noted your change of tact though, asking me how I "KNEW" that I had been cut in front of, was certainly a novel approach, but when I then pointed out that you cut between me and the other people with whom I was traveling, it may have been a good time for you to simply let the subject drop. It sort of surprised me that, instead, you used this as an opportunity to verbalize for several minutes, in monolog format, what you felt Americans would be inclined to do about the situation. You see, I had no idea that Americans, once in their own country, were prone to engaging in citizens' arrests for such infractions. I also didn't realize that quietly pointing out that you had cut in front of me was a far greater social infraction than the cutting itself. It's good that I have you, the Frankfurt Goodwill Ambassador, to enlighten me.

It was particularly charming to have you go on at length despite the fact that I had turned my back to you and proceeded on with my life, without ever needing to raise my voice.

It's was so useful to know that by following rules, keeping myself composed and generally respecting other people's personal rights as I would my own, that I had shown myself for the ugly American that I am. I'm sure that the many other patrons in front of whom you cut, were pleased that you had put me in my place.

Thank you guy in the Frankfurt airport who tried to cut in front of me and then yelled at me, you are a true humanitarian.

It's Mumbai these days

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We here at Marnie Talks would just like to apologize. Apparently a raving lunatic commandeered the blog yesterday and had her way with it. I want to assure you all that I'm in full control of my mental and physical faculties and was not the least bit responsible for that outburst.

Yesterday was a long day, starting with a wake up call at 4:30 AM and finishing with a quick phone meeting at 9:30 PM (luckily, with someone I enjoy talking to). That being said, there was a lot of downtime yesterday. We checked out of the hotel in the morning, had meetings until 2 PM and then began our trek to Mumbai, with a business stop along the way.

There were a couple of other detours, though:
Meet the Water Buffalo

These guys roam the streets freely. Unlike the cows, they are very mild tempered and were a perfect set piece for my vision of touristy goodness. The cars were stopped, cameras locked and loaded and I sprinted to my destination.

As you can see, though, the person charged with my camera managed only to get me in the shot. I swear, there is a buffalo near by. No, seriously, there is. I promise, others got pictures, I'll prove it to you soon.

In defense of the photographer of the above photo, I was rather lacking in decorum at the moment, resulting in a none-too-pleased buffalo. There was a moment; I am bounding over puddles and shrubs, Ms. Buffalo was partaking of a salad, she lifted her head to see what the commotion was and our eyes met. I'm not sure if it was fear or confusion but whichever it was, it did not bode well for the photo op. I would step a bit closer, she'd amble out of frame. This repeated a couple of times until she finally decided that pastures were greener elsewhere.

So my muddy feet and I got back in the van and we all headed towards Mumbai. It speaks to the human ability to adapt that I feel the ride was relatively uneventful. Playing chicken with oncoming traffic whilst attempting to pass the traffic in your own lane is simply par for the course, I believe I may now completely filter all noises that exist at the same frequency as the average car horn and even sights like this seem more or less normal.

I will admit to an inordinate amount of pleasure in being able to see some monkeys, though.

Ok, so the picture is grainy enough to end up in an Oliver Stone documentary on the assassination of Cornelius but you can sort of tell they are monkeys, right?

There was one moment, though, when my heart dropped a little. Our driver took a wrong turn and moments later, was pulled over. Immediately, I had visions of all of us being hauled off to who-knows-where for a cavity search or some such indignity. Of course, nothing of the sort happened but I have a relatively active imagination. While our driver hashed things out with the horde of local police, I sneaked a little picture through our back window.

A couple minutes and 100 rupees later (about $2 US) we were back on the road and on our way to the hotel.

I have many many more pictures to show but not another moment to spare, so for now, I'm signing off. It's time to eat and then spend the say shopping.

Our vendor exacts revenge

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I'm pretty sure that some sort of torture is going on in the guise of hospitality. We wake up early every day (hello, 5:00 AM, nice to see you), eat a huge breakfast, waddle to our cars, begin our day of work, with a constant stream of coffee and cookies if necessary. Then, before you know it, a giant buffet of foods from traditional Indian to classic Italian will be spread before us. One cannot pass up traditional Indian food while in India, so down the gullet it goes. Ooooh, so good!

Meeting after meeting continue, with more coffee to artificially maintain momentum. Then we're broken off into groups where we sight see or shop until Dinner, which, of course, will be huge and run until all hours of the evening. One must be sure to simply sip the wine because the glass will be surreptitiously replenished when least expected. Then, it's back to the hotel, where exhaustion causes the bed to nearly sing to me (that's normal, right?) yet it is the start of the day back home, so there is much more work to do. I attempt to wade through the mountains of emails and sort out various issues before passing out cold.

If I don't completely explode from overeating, I'll surely go mad from exhaustion.

I say all this only to relieve my self of all obligation to put together a coherent and interesting blog post. Instead, I present to you, a rag tag selection of images with no apparently segues or useful narratives.

So without further ado...

For my crafty friends, here's a little fabric porn.

I'll only be showing you a fraction of what's inside. I'm pretty sure that after a certain point, I lose all sense of reality and go into some sort of silk related sensory overload.

These are all printed silks that are so cheap, one might be inclined to shed a tear. If you were to turn the corner, you'd have wall after wall of silk saris to choose from. If I hadn’t been mopping my drool up off the floor, you would see a pictures.

Along the other wall were their cottons

I'm pretty sure my host cannot fathom why I'd care about the cottons, but my god, for 12 dollars I could get enough fabric to recreate Princes Dianna's wedding dress, train and all. The printing is easily as beautiful as the silks yet with loads more practicality. Also inside were gorgeous pashmina shawls and other hand crafted textiles. If I told you the prices, you probably wouldn’t believe me. I recall seeing pashmina shawls in stores for over $100. Here, you can get a hand loomed, reversible one for under $30.

If money were no object, this store would have afforded me the option to look as lovely as some of the staff who joined us for dinner last night

This is the prelude to yet another binging incident.
Must...find...stretch...pants

But what is a blog post about India, without the obligatory cow?

It has been my goal to attempt to get my picture taken next to one of these fellas. I'm informed that no native would every consider having her picture taken next to a cow. I pointed out that most New Yorkers wouldn't deign to have their picture taken in front of the Statue of Liberty either. It's all part of tourist adventure. If it happens, you’ll all be the first to know.

Now back to the salt mines for me.

M for Monsoon!
It's monsoon season here in India and we are getting the full experience.
Apparently, this is not your normal monsoon, but instead it's of the "wrath of god" variety. Check out this headline.

Our 2-hour drive to hotel number 2 took us 4 hours. It was hard to get really good pictures, but these are the best of the bunch.


As you can see, it is entirely logical to be knee deep in water, with driving rains moving both vertically and horzontally, but to still bother with an umbrella.

There were roads that had been closed off due to land slide, gridlock (we spent 1 of the 2 additional hours, going in the wrong direction because there was too much traffic going in the correct direction), and various vehicles spilled or stuck throughout the roads. But, when you aren't in a rush to get anywhere, you can simply sit back and take it all in. As far as I'm concerned, it was all part of being in India. I am, however, pleased that my normal commute is far less arduous.

It's amazing to see the difference between the local shops....


And the offices...

Driving around made me feel, even more, that I couldn't wait for the work week to be over and the sight seeing and shopping portion of our the trip to begin. There is some pretty crushing poverty that is always hard to see, but there is also a lot that is amazing and beautiful.

Yet, while Ganesh was hanging out in the car to ensure a quick and easy ride...


... perhaps he sensed we were undeserving of such fortune, because our trip back from the office to the hotel showed us what gridlock really was.

Traffic was backed up for miles not only because some roads were impassible and this was the best alternative, but also because the rules of the road in India, should be more rightly called "suggestions." Stop lights, lanes, and other street markings need only be acknowledged if convenient. The horn should be used constantly if there are any other vehicles, pedestrians or bicycles around. I am not exaggerating in the slightest. We could be in a single lane of traffic, moving as quickly as it is going to move. Everyone would be honking the horn. One should honk both as a suggestion to others to move and in all futile situations in which no apparent entity is the recipient.

To underscore this rule, all trucks have some sort of saying such as this:

This is roughly equivalent to someone painting "blink" or "breath" on the back of their truck. While it might encourage you to do it more, there's really no chance you wouldn't have done it anyway. I cannot even fathom what someone would do if their horn broke in India. I suspect it'd be akin to losing a tire; one would simply be unable to drive the vehicle until the matter had been sorted out.

Now, where did I put that Advil?

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