Five cities in five cats

We’ve been back about 10 days now and I’ve been trying to catch up on everything. There was a lot of work waiting for me when I returned (which is good, because 3 weeks in Europe can be a huge drain on your pockets!), as well as plenty of email and blog feeds to read. So that’s my excuse for not blogging until now. (It’s weak, I know!) We visited London, Belfast, Rome, Venice and Florence. We met some very lovely people: some old friends, some new ones who were welcoming and helpful. We walked our feet off, got lost in museums, went underground, flew around, slept in an airport, dawdled in cafes, watched a play, a musical and a concert, knit on the world’s largest tea cosy, got duped, had a complete stranger give us his entry tickets free, had pizza for lunch and dinner, ate Chinese cuisine in London and Thai food in Rome, drooled over dessert, fell

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We’re off!

We’re leaving for Bangalore this evening, and for London tomorrow. Yay! Amazingly, the Italy (Schengen) visa came through in just two days, after I went to Chennai to submit the forms on both our behalfs, had some bad moments with the travel insurance and so on and had the chappie tell me we’d most probably have to go to Mumbai for an interview! That would have been another 20K down the drain…And yet miraculously I took the overnight train back to Cochin the same evening (Tuesday), and by Thursday, the passports had arrived at home! That’s what I call efficiency 🙂 Considering the UK visa took exactly one calendar month to arrive… So we go to London/Belfast/Rome with Venice and Florence thrown in somewhere… I’ve been spending hours on the net booking/trying to book trains through the Trenitalia site…only at the end it tells me I need to scan my ID, my card, and what not, mail it to them

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Catching up

There’s a lot of loose ends to tie up. Well, not exactly, but my mind is all scattered in the past few days. I’ll tell you all about it, but let’s get the knitting out of the way first, shall we? Me and bags… I stole some yarn from Jaishree to make this bag. It’s now living with its owner in Australia happily, so I can blog about it now. In the usual fashion: Yarn: Common-or-garden acrylic, pinched from Jaishree’s stash. The recipient said she liked blue and this was what I found. I used two strands held together. I’m happy to report that despite being acrylic, the yarn shows off the cables quite nicely. Perhaps the tight gauge helped. This is light-worsted weight, the usual size. Needles: 4mm, 6mm and 6.5mm Pattern: The Lambe bag from Berroco. This came in a newsletter with four cabled bag patterns and I had in fact queued one of them when I read

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Where we were

Before the end of the year we went to Minicoy, one of the Lakshadweep group of islands for a package tour. We snorkelled and were introduced to scuba. And admired the green lagoon. Here’s a sample. More pictures here. No knitting or crochet got done.

Holmes meets Wooster (and Alice)

Not exactly, but that’s how it feels sometimes when I read the Lord Peter Wimsey books of Dorothy Sayers. I found a cache of them at the library, and read three in a row a few weeks ago, and got two this time around. Currently I’m reading Busman’s Honeymoon. The books are such good fun! Wimsey is a gentleman like Bertie Wooster, and even has his version of Jeeves, but is obviously much cleverer. Also, I found a reference to a quote from Alice (Through the Looking Glass) which my sister and I use regularly, paraphrased, “You couldn’t deny it if you tried with both your hands.” To which Alice tries to argue, “I don’t deny things with my hands…” “I didn’t say you do, I said you couldn’t if you tried!” (more or less). Which is unbeatable logic, don’t you think? The Dowager Duchess says of her (elder) daughter-in-law: “She couldn’t have said anything nastier if she’d thought about

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Water the flug

Two weeks ago, we wrote a complaint that the washbasin in our bathroom was shaky. So two guys came (Malayalam only) and dismantled the whole thing, leaving the washbasin in the fire escape and the only word I understood was “nala” meaning tomorrow. Well, the tomorrow only came after a week or so, when 4 (!!!) men showed up to “put in a flug”. Having given up on anybody ever replacing the washbasin, it took me a minute to understand that they’d come to do something about it. I let them in, they carved out a hole in the wall, put in some cement and a wooden flug (now you get it!) and went away, asking me to water it twice a day and Monday (yesterday) they’d come and put the washbasin back up. I’ve been faithfully watering the flug, but alas, no one has come to complete the task. And so we roll. In knitting news, I’ve been working

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Paying the price

I have an odd approach to earning money (and spending it). Since I freelance, each article I edit has a price on its head. So I tend to think “I’ve earned Rs 1,500 over the last two days, which pays for the new cellphone I had to buy after my last one met an untimely end after a fatal encounter with azelastine, my nasal phus-phus.” Sort of seeing the trees too much and not the wood so much. Also, while I like the security of having a solid 5-figure amount in the bank, once I withdraw cash from the ATM, it’s like water. Somehow the real paper never feels as important as seeing the numbers in the account balance sheet. Why do you suppose that is? I find it very odd whenever I think about it. Anyway, in England they give you back every single penny of your change. In fact, as soon as we arrived at Heathrow, I tried

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Past history

So on the second Saturday we spent in England, we took the train back to London from Sheffield (from Meadowhall Interchange to Doncaster and then direct to King’s Cross). The taxi driver who drove us from our friends’ house to the station was of Pakistani origin and we had an interesting conversation with him in Hindi (with sort of political overtones, so not for this blog). I love so much the sheer amount of information that is available in all the train stations and coach stations and interchanges and at the bus stops. There are route maps and bus maps and brochures. I picked up a whole load of paper, just as souvenirs. Culled a lot of it when we were packing to move from Vizag. Of course the best part was, it was all in a language that is de facto my first language. People I spoke to on the street and elsewhere didn’t seem to have issues understanding

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Resuming service

I am unhappy about Hyderabad and don’t want to think about it, so let’s jump in straight into this new place. My impression of Kochi so far? Wet, cramped, wet, lots of traffic, wet, potholes, boiled rice, wet, no pavements, wet…oh, and did I mention the wetness? Seriously though, I guess I’m too much of a dryland person (The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics is situated in my hometown). I suppose we’ve missed the bulk of the monsoon, though. Haven’t done much sightseeing, as we’ve been settling down instead. You know, I’d really love to know what goes on in a designer/architect’s mind when he (most architects for the government in India would be male) designs quarters such as these. The flat is large, the largest room by far being the kitchen! (with poor ventilation and little actual storage space). I tried to convince the husband that we could move the dining table into the kitchen, but

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