the wonderful world of veena.

13 February 2011

nothing like a $4 haircut.

I have never been one to spend crazy amounts of time on my hair.  I wash and condition it every few days, comb it about once in 3 months whenever I unearth my comb, and usually end up pinning it or pulling it back into a ponytail for work.  I don't know how to use a curling iron - or really rollers for that matter - and I haven't owned a hair dryer in over a decade.

So it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that I hate having to pay a minimum of $20-25 just for a simple trim.  Even in India, where most things are "cheap" as compared to US standards [I put cheap in quotation marks, because I have been earning in rupees for the last three and a half years. so it's all a bit relative], haircuts are almost equivalent to what they are in the US.

On top of that, I went to the salon near our house last year for a simple "trim".  The lady trimmed it, that's for sure, but she cut it in such a way that it didn't grow out properly.  And I had to shell out nearly rs 600 (about $15) for it, which is one of the cheaper rates in the city.  So when I needed to get a trim last November, I was obviously hesitant to go back there, and I refused to pay anything more considering I no longer trusted salons.

Enter Prakash with a wonderful solution.  He sweet-talked his barber into trimming my hair for rs 100 (about $2.20).  Mahesh not only did a great job trimming it, but it grew back really well and was the healthiest it had been in a long while.

I went back yesterday for another trim (I desperately want it to be long again, but it just doesn't cooperate here), and poor Mahesh had a tough time, as the previous night I had backcombed my hair to be the Mad Hatter for a costume party, and it was tangled to high heaven.  So this time he charged rs 150 (about $3.60), which I thought was more than reasonable.  Here's hoping it continues to grow quickly.

The moral of this story?  I'm getting my hair cut at the barbershop from now on.

10 February 2011

catching up on the classics.

While reading Their Eyes Were Watching God [Zora Neale Hurston] a few weeks ago, I realized that there were a lot of "high school reads" gathering dust on my shelves.  These are all books that are commonly read nowadays in high school English classes but that were not yet "classics" while I was in school, or else books I missed reading when I switched schools between 10th and 11th grades.  Some I had picked up because I wanted to see why they are so widely read in schools today, and a few others were gifts from various friends.

Since I am (very ambitiously) trying to get through as many of the books on my shelves as I can between now and the 5th of July, I decided to go through these books first.  I finished Their Eyes Were Watching God - which is a fantastic read, for any of you out there who also missed reading it all those years ago - and went straight into A Separate Peace [John Knowles].  From there I have now begun Farenheit 451 [Ray Bradbury], which I started yesterday and am pretty sure I will finish tomorrow or Saturday.  Following that I have Too Late the Phalarope [Alan Paton], The Good Earth [Pearl S Buck], The Brothers Karamazov [Dostoyevsky], One Hundred Years of Solitude [Marquez], and Midnight's Children [Salman Rushdie] and The God of Small Things [Arundhati Roy].

[I realize the last two are not on most school reading lists, but I am including them in my personal "high school reads" list.  it's my blog, I get to do these things]

I have to admit, I'm enjoying this little trip down high school lane.  I have thus far enjoyed the three that I have (almost) completed, and I have high hopes for the remaining ones.  A few I think I have actually enjoyed more having read them as an adult, the same way I enjoyed The Namesake [Jhumpa Lahiri] more having read it as a 20-something rather than as a teenager.  And I'm getting through them rather quickly since I spend nearly four hours a day on buses to and from work.  That definitely bodes well for me making a serious dent in my pile of books before I head out in July.  I don't want to carry too many books back with me, so I want to finish and leave as many behind as I can.

I'm wondering which other "classics" I need to add to my list.  If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

07 February 2011

strangers who blog.

I began reading my friends' blogs a few years ago as a way to keep up with various people's lives while in India.  And for the ones who have blogs, it's been a great way to keep track of all the graduations, weddings, babies, and other great news they have had to share.  But I mostly stuck to my friends, and maybe a few of their friends on occasion.  I have recently begun sporadically reading blogs of random strangers, and it's been fascinating.

At first I admit, I felt like a bit of a voyeur, reading about the personal lives, trials, and tribulations of complete strangers.  Then it dawned on me that these people are posting their news in a public forum, just as I am, so I might as well indulge my inner stalker.

One of the things I can never get over is that a lot of people post something nearly every day, and sometimes multiple times in a day.  I know this is something that won't seem so outrageous when I once again live in a country with fast, reliable Internet, but at the moment it blows my mind.  I guess maybe part of it is that my life just isn't exciting enough to have something to say every day.  This blog is really just a collection of all the random thoughts in my head and of the random happenings that is my life.  Some weeks there will be more posts than others, depending on what's been happening and how much time I actually spend at home to get around to it.

The other thing is how time-consuming this whole thing is.  Already there is checking news and sports scores and Bill Simmons' column and catching up on the blogs of people I know, and now I find myself spending more time than I should reading about the lives of absolutely complete strangers.  Is this a problem that any of the rest of you face?

[hmm.  an epiphany.  it could also be because my facebook is not working at home, so I'm taking the time I would spend faffing on facebook and doing it on blogger instead.  it's a thought.]

Anyhow.  Time to stop wondering about my stalker tendencies and work on finding tickets for World Cup matches.  Keep those fingers crossed for me.

05 February 2011

inspired by Charlee.

My friend Charlee recently shifted from Little Rock to the UK with her husband Gene for Gene's job, and a few days ago she posted about some of the things she misses about living in America.  It got me thinking about the things I'm looking forward to when I move back in 6 months.  So, without further ado:

taco bell.
come on, you really couldn't expect anything else to be top of the list.  Taco Bell has opened two locations in Bangalore, but it's not the same.  No cheesy gordita crunch, no disgustingly awesome fake dog meat, and no 3am runs on the way home from the bar.

college football and basketball.
I love me some cricket, but for someone who grew up in the South, there is nothing like College Gameday, tailgating, spending a Saturday on the couch watching games, skipping work for March Madness, and all the other things that go along with college sports.

SportsCenter in India is just not the same as it is in the US.  There's no Kenny Mayne or Dan Patrick, no top10 highlights, and no ridiculous commercials involving mascots.  What's the point?

proper footpaths.
or sidewalks.  Whatever you choose to call them, I'm looking forward to having a smooth pavement on which to walk, one that is clear of vendors and bikes and doesn't have giant gaping holes into which I can fall.  Because let's face it, I'm clumsy.  The footpaths here are not good for me.

nice roads and people who [mostly] follow traffic rules.
oh, to drive on a properly paved road again.  I can sometimes feel the bones in my body clanking together when the bus goes speeding over the potholes that line Mysore Road.  And lane discipline.  I really can't say enough about lanes and the people who drive in them.

commercial-free television.
I'll admit it, I'm spoiled by dvr.  It's so nice to be able to watch a show without having to sit through the advertisements.  And some of the ads here - particularly on Star World - make me want to pull out my hair.  I cannot wait for the day when I can once again fast forward through commercials.

fast internet.
self-explanatory, really.

cold weather.
no matter how long I live here, I don't think I will ever get used to walking around in shorts in the middle of January.  It's just unnatural.  I miss my sweaters and scarves and gloves and toe socks.

There are other things I'm looking forward to [especially being close to my family and friends], but I figure this list is comprehensive enough.

But there are also many things I will miss about living in India.  Those will come in another post soon enough.

04 February 2011

things I am looking forward to.

For being the shortest month, this Feb certainly does have some interesting upcoming happenings:

1. BEAR IS COMING TO VISIT!  I got a text from Ellie on Wednesday that said simply, "What are you doing in two weeks?"  I'm sure my victory dance was one of great amusement to the patrons of Guzzlers.  It's only a week-long visit, but I'm sure it's going to be one extended gong show.  Here's hoping my liver and my party hat survive.

2. Fireflies Festival of Music.  An all-night outdoor music festival at a sustainable farm on the outskirts of Bangalore.  Conveniently happening while Ellie is in town.  I ask you, what could be better?

3. The India-England World Cup match has been moved from Kolkata to Bangalore.  I feel bad that Eden Gardens lost the match, because they are a great venue, but you better believe I'll be at that match come the 27th of this month.

4. Lots of birthdays.  We celebrated Pranay's last night.  Sumi's and Kamal's tonight.  After that there are only about 6 or 7 more to go.  How are so many people born in such a short span of time?

5. UG fundraiser this weekend.  The last time I get to harass people for their money.  Sigh.

6. Packers-Steelers Super Bowl!  I'm still trying to figure out how best to stream the game on my excruciatingly slow internet while at the same time having both my brother (lifelong Cheesehead) and my mother (practically-lifelong Steelers enthusiast) on a Skype conference.  At approximately 5.30 Monday morning, Indian Standard Time.  Wish me luck.  And also offer suggestions.

7. The Right to Choose.  My "third-born" Shonali is organizing a march and concert as a protest against moral policing.  Not only am I always excited about sticking it to the Karnataka cops, but I am also proud of her for finding something she's so motivated about and seeing it through.

8. And many other things in between.  Planning some fun trips for the next few months (Goa, Pondicherry, Ooty, Bombay).  Planning my brother and mother's visits for June/July.  Finally having time to plow through my pile of books gathering dust on my shelves.  Fun new upcoming projects at the Boys' Home (we're planting a garden!).  And generally continuing to wrap up my Peace Child responsibilities and spend time with the Peanut.

I have a feeling this month is seriously going to test my time-management skills.  Wish me luck.