Traffic for 2011 July

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India's out. for. the sum-mer.: India's out. For. Ever.

The entire country is devoid of expats! Except for us of course. Apparently Bangalore is akin to NYC and the greater US is akin to the East Hamptons, because everyone's gone home for the summer. Had we known originally this is how things are here, I may have kept our original airplane bookings and come home for some time in July. Or at least let Susie come home. It's lonely here otherwise.

At church Brother Van is still there but his family is home for the summer. He was really surprised that we are still here. But we didn't know any better so here we are. All the Mormon families are back home. I asked Brother Van if he's lonely but he works six days a week so he keeps busy.

In honor of the summertime void in Bangalore, we are currently offering huge incentives for visitors, including deep discounting of plane tickets (I guess it's more of a subsidy), free room and board at the famous Salurpuria Silverwoods Residence (otherwise known as our apartment), free airport transfers and in-town limo service (ok it's a crappy Tata Indigo but our driver speaks English), all in exchange for a quick visit and a bag full of Pop-Tarts, marshmellows, diapers, tortillas, and cheese. Even Travelocity can't compare!

It's been a beautiful weekened of lunch at Tuscano's with all the remaining expats in India, play place with the kids (wannabe Chuck E Cheese but some of the rides say Chuck E Cheese on them), church via auto (we actually caught one home today in less than two minutes!), exercising, and watching movies on teevee.

Three new coaches got here this weekend and my new assistant gets here in two weeks. I'm excited for the energy they will bring, as the rest of us coaches are really jaded right now. But most of the blame for my bad attitude is with this unkown disease that refuses to die. I think if it cleared up I could be a happy camper again.

[Comments] (2) the burning fire of patriotism: I didn't do anything overly-patriotic today. But I did cut out of work early for a massage. It's so nice to have $30 massage parlors here. It felt great and, after the stress of my unknown ailments, really calmed me down.

On the way home Sandeep asked about what a massage is. He also asked me if it is performed by a machine. I heard him say mission at first and was very confused until he defined machine for me. I told him it's a person performing the massage. He says he would like to try a massage some time. I think I should more fully disclose the details of a masssage because I'm not exactly sure he would like it. I would think a very traditional man like Sandeep might be uncomfortable wearing a towel and getting rubbed by a strange woman. In fact, this was the 3rd massage of my life (2nd only in India) and it was the first time I wasn't uncomfortable getting naked to get rubbed down.

My last massage was in March. I think I'll need another one sooner than that. It really did wonders for my Indian troubles.

[Comments] (2) at the gym: Indian's seem to have an interesting way of working out. For starters, I have yet to see an Indian run on the treadmill for more than 5 minutes. Some people only walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes and call it a day. The others will walk for 3 minutes, run for 2, repeat twice, and call it a day. They can't seem to commit to really working out. They never break a sweat.

Indians also don't appear to know to use weight machines. They CONSTANTLY drop the weights and let the machine go KA-BOOM on itself. A big no-no in the US. Most gyms have signs about this. For starters, it's hard on the weights and usually breaks the machines. For seconds, it's extremely disturbing and rude to the other gymnasts in the vicinity to be disrupted with an atomic noise when they are in the zone. For thirders, I don't think they realize that half of the weight resistance workout that is good for you comes in the timed release of the weights back to a resting position. That is, muscle mass is not made simply by lifting the weight, but also by properly dropping the weights. What a joke.

Most of them do not have proper workout clothes (jeans, collared polyester shirts, pajamas) and they always come in and turn off the ceiling fans. Which is actually rude. I had them on for a reason. At least leave the fan ABOVE me on. I guess when you don't actually work out you don't need any sort of cool-down mechanism.

The pool regimen is my favorite. They get all gussied up, do like 4 laps, and retreat to the shower. Seems like a lot of work for 4 laps only. Most people in India don't even know how to swim. I wonder what PE is like in school here.

I guess the distance running problem relates to the fact that there is nowhere in India to run. No nice tracks, no parks with proper trails, and running alongside the road is utterly out of the question.

[Comments] (2) all alone in my memories: Last night Maggie called me into the bathroom, where she was having a bubble bath. Daddy, she says, remember when I was a baby and you were just a kid and you tickled me and I laughed?

[Comments] (5) this is only a test: I've heard, either directly or through the grapevine, that people say things like "I would come and visit you anywhere except India. I don't want to go to India."

Well let's test this theory, shall we? If I were in Siberia, would you come visit me? How about Pakistan? The Middle East? China (not civilized China like Hong Kong, mind you)? Ghana? Cuba? Croatia? Would you honestly come visit me in these places?

Let's further test this theory. EY is starting another Global Talent Hub in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They are giving priority for coaching opportunities to those who have extensive knowledge and first hand experience with our Indian Global Talent Hub. Namely, me, among other people. I've shown some interest but am ultimately still deciding on this.

Part of me thinks it's a great opportunity. Part of me thinks BA would be eaiser than India. But part of me becomes weary at yet another stint in a 3rd world country.

It would be easier because: the food would be more suitable, the time difference from home is much less, the LDS church is huge there, including a temple, making for a more friendly environment for me, the new office will be downtown instead of this horrible location we have here on the edge of town, meaning getting around without a car would be easier instead of impossible like it is here, and I've got to believe it's less dirty than India in terms of littering and viewing the country as a toilet.

Things that would make it harder include switching seasons on myself, it gets much colder in BA, the English population is probably much less than in India, and I would think the expat community is less established, though I have no true understanding of this last point.

So. BA, Argentina. Anyone willing to come visit there? Or when you meant anywhere but India, did you have images of the Eiffel Tower, the Sistine Chapel, and/or Big Ben in your mind? If so, it's ok. I understand. Don't cry for me.

[Comments] (5) table for four: The kids sure have been a lot of fun lately! We discovered some game on our computer called Furble Place or something like that that, I assume, came with the computer. One of the games is making cakes on a conveyor belt to match the pictured cake provided for delivery. Maggie LOVES watching me do this over and over. It's actually a challenge, on the harder level, juggling multiple cakes all in different stages of assembly simultaneously. But on the easy setting, I discovered that Maggie can play the game all by herself. She waited until we were all ready to watch her in action today and was quite proud of herself.

Dalton appears to be getting all the rest of his teeth in one fell swoop right now and is suffering through the whole process. The poor guy whines all day so his mouth must be severely paining right now.

This weekend we plan to go get pictures taken in our Indian garb and attempt to eat at an Italian place that, rumor has it, makes Mexican food on the side that is much better than their Italian food. Then the following weekend, for my birthday, we will go see Harry Potter and eat sushi. Other than that, we are counting down the days until our jaunt across the Bay of Bengal to Bangkok (17 days!)

[Comments] (3) which is worse?: I'm sick again. So is Dalton. I've missed two days of work and today Dalton and I stayed home from church. We took a nice warm bath in our swimming pool that fits in our shower, I pushed him in the stroller around the complex a few times, we watched Toy Story 3, and then he went down for a nap while I did the dishes and read my scriptures. Then when Susie and Maggie came home I took a nap.

I'm tired of being sick, but it's the new norm for me. The chest pain is still hanging around, and it's now been over two months of fun. So I have pretty much forgotten what it's like to actually feel good. I guess now I know how my dad feels, and how my mother-in-law felt before she passed away. It really is the pits, to not feel well.

This evening the YM President, EQ President, Branch Second Counsellor, and Executive Secretary all came to give me a blessing. I didn't expect such an entourage. The Branch Second Counsellor has been in Colombia since February-ish and this is the first time I've seen him. He was supposed to stay there until December but his wife is expecting so she couldn't join him so they finally sent him home.

I asked him how is Colombia. He said the people and climate were nice, that the Amazon scenery outside the city is great, but no one speaks English and the food is too bland. He brought his own spices.

I wonder which is worse. Bland food, when you like spice, or spicy food, when you like bland. Spicy food is hard because if it's too spicy you can't taste it anyway, so it's similar to bland food in that respect. I think it's too hard to say which is worse.

He said people there make something similar to a tortilla and put cheese on it and eat it. Too bland? Sounds like heaven to me! How can cheese be too bland?

[Comments] (2) typical indian experience: So I've gotten a smoothie to complement my cabbage salad the last two days for lunch here at work. Yesterday's was free, thanks to my punch card. And today I used my EY-provided meal vouchers. Both days they have been out of lids.

Today the drink was overflowing my cup and there was still a whole other serving left in the blender. Meaning my smoothie was runny but otherwise tasted fine to me. I went for a stroll this afternoon as a break from work and the jus booster guy came up to me, apologized for the horrible drink, and gave me a free one sans lid. I should have told him I wanted the free one next time, not now, as I'm actually full. And I can't take it home because of the whole out of lids extravaganza. So today I got two smoothies. I should have at least asked for a different flavor. What a day.

[Comments] (3) just kidding: Today has been quite the day; I haven't felt like this since I was 10! It started with Maggie hiding from me this morning, continued with siblings fighting over who loves me more on Facebook, went on to a video chat with mom and dad, and culminated at work.

Firstly a decision was made to call a tax meeting at noon. It wasn't really a tax meeting but was a birthday party for me. Then an email went out this morning asking everyone to pretend it was not my birthday and pretend they forgot until the party. Unfortunately I was copied on the email...lol...but played along.

In India the custom for a BD is to treat your friends, the opposite of my preferred homeland style. But to fit in, Susie and Kannagi baked 130 cookies for me to bring to work. So around 11 I started passing them out. I guess that ruined the "pretend it's not John's BD" so they decided right then and there to move the tax meeting to immediately.

In the meeting they said I was to do the training, ie were teasing me. I tried to play along and act like I didn't know I was conducting training today, etc until they started singing Happy Birthday to me. I have no idea how good my acting is.

I was given a gift of a beautiful Indian outfit that is much much nicer than the one I picked out for myself, flowers, and a crown. There I was, dressed to the nines, wearing a tiara, holding a bouquet of flowers, people clapping, I felt like Miss America. Then it was my turn to perform, so I sang Lady Gaga's Poker Face and threw in a few actions to appease the masses. They literally ate it up. I wonder how many of them know of our Lady Gaga.

I leave for home in 10 minutes, then it's off to see Harry Potter. And tomorrow we will go to UB City for my favorite, sushi. It's stacking up to be a great weekend!

[Comments] (5) i write the songs: Last night Susie and I watched Slumdog Millionaire. We ordered it from Amazon with a bunch of kids shows and a series to help keep boredom from creeping into our lives. When it arrived, I noticed it is rated R. Oops.

I decided to watch it anyway, and vowed to turn it off if it disagreed with me. I didn't tell Susie, who wasn't really watching anyway. I really enjoyed it and can relate to basically all parts of that show. It's a pretty good flik and I can see why it won Best Picture a few years back.

Afterwards I informed Susie of the rating and at first she didn't believe me. But the violence was no overly gory, there was hardly any swearing at all, the nudity was nil, and none of it was different from anything I can see at any given moment out on the streets of Bangalore. How can they possibly rate it R? We both agree we've seen way worse PG-13 movies, including Titanic, Jurassic Park, X-Men, that are more gory than that. Shame on the rating system.

This mostly upsets me because it open a whole new can of worms regarding rated R films for me. What other ones should I ignore the rating on? Which PG-13 movies should I more carefully study before I watch them? And the only way to REALLY determine if it's ok is to watch it, as one person's smut is another person's de-sensification.

Yesterday we also had all you can eat sushi and dim sum for lunch. It was Susie's first time having dim sum and she survived it ok, but refused to eat any fish. Maggie had a shrimp dumpling and gobbled it down, and also ate a cucumber sushi roll. The restaurant is insane....they never stopped bringing us food! For $55 we thoroughly stuffed ourselves and enjoyed a great view not only of Bangalore, but also of the biggest Buddha head I've ever seen! We took pictures but Susie hasn't posted them yet. Thanks for the BD money mom and dad, it was well spent on a good meal.

I also watched Follow that Bird yesterday with the kids and they both liked it and it got a song stuck in Susie's head the rest of the day, even though she wasn't watching it. Susie's a lot like my mom in the whole not watching shows with the kids thing. But Dalton really enjoys having a watching companion and sat on my lap the whole movie. To be fair to the movie raters, Follow that Bird deserved its G rating.

Checkmate!: I suppose it's time somebody finds out what one night in Bangkok really does to a person. I'm volunteering to be said person. Thailand here we come!

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