My Indian Odyssey by Vincent Ebrahim

This is another Audible book that I listened to recently after my recent holiday to India. It covers places that I went to like MumbaiDelhi and the Taj Mahal at Agra as well as places that I didn’t go to like Darjeeling and Kolkata. He too went in search of his heritage because his grandfather was Indian.There are many parts to this series as India is such a vast place peopled by so many races, religions and languages.

In the first part he goes to Mumbai and stays in the same hotel as I did – The Taj Mahal Hotel. Here he gets the tour which I wasn’t able to but I didn’t hear anything that I didn’t directly observe while I was there. It gives a little background on the reasons for its construction and some facts and figures about its cost.

Next he goes to the laundry which was on our tour but was cancelled due to Covid 19. It was nice to know about it so I don’t feel like I missed out so much. After that he learns about Parsi food culture by visiting various shops and cafes. I didn’t pick this up from the book Parsis and Zoroastrians but maybe if I had more time then I would have. Afterwards he learns about the Tiffin culture of India. This is fascinating how everyone in Mumbai gets fresh homecooked food for lunch no matter where they are. Its cheap, hygienic and a very sensible idea. Maybe if we borrowed this plan we could all eat healthier in the future. If illiterates in India can manage, we certainly should be able to figure out a next level Graze who deliver snacks by post. We do have packed lunches like the Japanese have Bento boxes so its totally possible.

In each place he goes to he meets the staff or has a guide to get inside knowledge on what its really like to live life in the diverse sprawl that is Mumbai. He also needs a translator because he couldn’t get this information without being able to speak to the locals who don’t always speak or understand English.

I’m looking forward to listening to all of the other parts during my isolation I hope you do too if you decide to download and listen to it as well.

Dovlatov on Netflix

This is a film set in 1970s Russia based on a real life author struggling to get published. It’s in Russian with English subtitles. I love the authenticity this provides and how it correlates with other films I have seen of this era. From what I can remember of when I was previously very interested in Russian films; the 1960’s and 1970’s was a good time for Russian film making as lots of good films that are available on YouTube were made. Since I don’t speak or write Russian here is a list compiled by someone who does

I added this in as a bonus because I like to listen to foreign songs as they tend to be more realistic and you can figure out the gist even though I have no clue what they are saying. Russian songs on YouTube.

As I’m struggling to occupy myself right now due to the enforced isolation; I thought I needed the challenge of watching a Russian program from another era. As you know I love history and languages so why not?

As I sit and write these various articles at different times and moods it reminds me of War and Peace as that’s very clear to me it was written and rewritten several times. It doesn’t flow well in many places to my mind and it appears very disjointed like his own mind and life no doubt. Perhaps that is the beauty that I’m missing. The imperfections as that’s what makes us all real at the end of the day.

It also would be nice if WordPress told you who was reading your blog other than 1 person in Greece reads this etc. Is that the same person all the time? If it’s who I think it is thankyou for the inspiration and recommendations and if it isn’t thankyou anyway for checking out my blog on a regular basis. Thankyou to all the other people who participate in my blog too.

Ólafur Eliasson and Bjarke Ingels

Olafur Eliasson is a very famous Danish installation artist. He looks at things with a different viewpoint to most. He examines the basics and some how comes up with something new continually. Its like he continues the ideas of the Bauhaus but in that Nordic way which we all know so well from Ikea furniture. Its cut down but evocative as it has the essence of good design distilled into them.

It must be a Scandinavian thing because as well as catching him on The Art of Architecture on Sky Arts, Abstract Design on Netflix and in a Tate Britain exhibition; his friend fellow Dane Bjarke Ingels designs tower blocks that are affordable but look more like a village. They look good as they are full of abstract design. They are unique in modular design as they all have gardens, are full of light and air while maximising the space available to create something that looks pleasing to the eye.

Bjarke has also partnered with Thomas Heatherwick British architect on previous projects as they have the same kind of mindset when it comes to designing innovative architecture.

They both focus on light, space, geometry, nature, perception and our reaction to it all. It also encompasses the elements of Meteorology with rain, sun, fog, ice and climate change.

Next in Fashion

This is a series that I watched on Netflix when I wanted something light and entertaining to chill out too. I love fashion and drawing so it was very interesting to see what they would come up with and what I would personally wear. Its like Dragon’s Den but for women as it doesn’t have the tension or the cattiness present in Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

The format of the show is that contestants pair up at the beginning of the series to create bespoke outfits based on the theme of the week. They have as much fabric as they desire in whatever material, colour, pattern you can think of as they also have the use of a 3D printer. All the accessories and trims in terms of ribbon, cord etc is also provided. They just need to use the artists materials provided to design and make there costumes. At the end of the week a runway show happens with the models wearing their clothes and the one that least fits the brief leaves the competition. Its not a reality show as you don’t get rewards, there are no mini challenges and once you leave you can’t re-enter.

I find this a refreshing change in amongst all of the Covid 19 updates that the government publishes a couple of times a day.

India – Udaipur

When we got here we stayed in the same place that Octopussy was filmed at. The interesting thing is that the Palace of the movie is in fact 2 different palaces that are very close to each other. They have patched it together so well that unless you have visited the 2 locations you wouldn’t know that they had done that. Roger Moore named the pond the Lily Pond when he was doing the filming.Pool with fountain

Pool with fountain
Hotel grounds
Hotel grounds
Hotel shrine
Hotel shrine
Sunset panorama
Sunset panorama
Local dancers and musicians
Local dancers and musicians

While we were staying in the Lake Palace we would get the boat over to the shore to visit another City Palace Study

Study
Inner courtyard
Inner Courtyard
Courtyard
Courtyard
View over Udaipur
View over Udaipur
Inner Courtyard decoration
Inner Courtyard decoration
Courtyard gate
Courtyard gate

and to attend a Hindu temple Hindu temple carvings

Hindu temple carvings
Hindu temple architecture
Hindu temple architecture
Hindu temple statues
Hindu temple statues

which had a service going on. We also visited the gardens that were very beautiful, shady and calming. Udaipur had a lot of construction work going on to build roads but it was still cleaner and quieter than Delhi. People didn’t tend to blow there horns anywhere near as much. Holi is celebrated over several days because there is the initial holiday then the policemen and so on so all members of society participate in all regions eventually.

There are always so many sellers of everything on the streets everywhere you go so its rather overwhelming trying to get anywhere or do anything. By being in a private tour you don’t get to see the real India but its close enough for my liking. I don’t like being hassled so India is not a place to go if your rather sensitive like I am. Which is why my parents had always told me not to go but my in-laws convinced my husband so we went.

This particular City Palace is all about coloured glass as its very vibrant. Its filled with many panels and designs through. Blue stained glass window over Udaipur

Blue stained glass window over Udaipur
Multicolored stained glass window
Multicolored stained glass window
Mosaic multicolored stained glass window
Mosaic multicolored stained glass window
Flower stained glass window
Flower stained glass window
Peacock stained glass window
Peacock stained glass window
Mirror stained glass window
Mirror stained glass window

There are lots of temples, palaces and tombs through India all created with marble and inlaid with precious stones which are magnificent to behold but the input gets too much. I was quite ill the day we arrived here.

There are also many fabric and clothes shops as well as those selling tourist souvenirs. There was a tour that we could have gone on to see the local women and the crafts that they make but we were getting rather tired after our extremely long bus journeys around India. The early mornings and the flights were getting to us.

As was the fact that despite staying in 5 star hotels you still get Delhi belly. We started to avoid milk in all forms, dairy, meat even fruit because you most certainly can’t drink the water. We were wary about ice in our drinks too as it was starting to get hot on the west coast of India. Curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner does take its toll.

Its better than the international options when they were around but you just want some plain food occasionally. You do however realise how unsatisfying pastries are for breakfast as its just carbs. Also nobody ever eats the cereal in hotels abroad regardless of whether its India, Prague, Berlin, Tenerife, Mexico or Morocco.

Time for a beach break in Goa which is the next stop.

To check out all of the adventures see here

India – Delhi (part 1)

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

Parsis and Zoroastrians

India – Jaipur

India – Goa

India – Mumbai

Mumbai airport

Neo-Apocalyptic Dust Mites

In my self-isolation due to Covid-19, the house has been cleaned and re-cleaned to a point of sterilization. Between cleanings, I’ve been reading, …

Neo-Apocalyptic Dust Mites

I know the feeling because today I vacuumed the house, did some more laundry, dishes and weeding. I also wrote a couple articles which will turn up in the next couple days and called a couple people since physical distancing is good but social distancing is not.

India – Ranthambhore Tiger Sanctuary

Next on my whistle stop tour of India after India – Delhi (part 1) and India – Agra,  was a stop to check out the nature reserve. We had to getup before sunrise again to go to the park and it was so cold! We had blankets in the truck and we were wearing coats having had a snack but it wasn’t sufficient. Just before you enter the park there are many roadside sellers and being half asleep I bought a hat. Your always told how hot it’s going to be in India but nobody ever mentions the fact that it can be seriously nippy in Northern India in the Spring time.

We were very lucky to see several tigers on our excursion in the morning but since I didn’t have my phone on me I didn’t get any pictures. We went back in the afternoon but since we went to a different zone although we saw many animals we were not going to see the tigers again. There are 12 zones so it’s pot luck and some people go on 5 safaris without seeing them. As the tigers move around what worked one day may not for another day as the guides said that when they saw them last month they were in a different area.

Also the same sellers greet you as your leaving the park both times but with different items to try to get the most money from you. As the truck has to sign in and out since you only get a couple hours this means that you can’t avoid this selling opportunity. It does however give you a chance to go to the toilet but since the hotel wasn’t far away it’s best to wait. Most toilets in India either don’t have toilet paper as they have a hose next to them for that purpose or there is a person selling toilet paper. This isn’t a thing that Covid 19 has brought on but another example of Indians trying to make money out of tourists since they don’t have any income otherwise.

An abandoned fort
An abandoned fort
Wading birds
Wading birds
One of the types of deer in the park
One of the types of deer in the park
Fruit bats
Fruit bats

A turtle sunbathing

A turtle sunbathing
A crocodile lazing by the lake
A crocodile lazing by the lake
A herd of spotted deer
A herd of spotted deer
A heron
A heron

Ranthambhore Tiger Sanctuary

Ranthambhore Tiger Sanctuary
Fort on the hill
Fort on the hill

For more India tales see here

India – Delhi (part 1), 

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

Parsis and Zoroastrians

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

This is an Audible book that I listened to recently while I was on holiday. Listening to an enjoyable story that is engaging makes long road journeys pass so much more quickly!

It’s alternative history based on the fact that Alan Turing wasn’t turned insane by taking oestrogen tablets to cure his homosexual urges. With this in mind we end up with a very different 1980’s. We have advanced sufficiently with AI to build completely life like humans that tests what it is to be human after all. They are an exercise in humanity as it teaches us whether we can accept machines into our lives as equals.

I loved the philosophical debates that Adam engages in with his housemates Charlie and Miranda. I also loved the technical, mathematical and physics details along with the anthropological studies. Adam raises a lot of interesting questions and provokes strong emotions which you wouldn’t expect a machine to be capable of. He is not really a machine though; but a conscious being capable of existing all by himself as along as he has the same comforts were used to like shelter, sleep and fuel.

This is essentially an exploration of the contradictions of being human. This is what every child has to learn and what autistics struggle with greatly. The same things that Adam can’t comprehend are also what we have difficulties with. There is however no real solution to these issues as life is such a messy business.

Best wishes

Angela

The Current War

This is a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch (yes him of the completely unpronounceable and unspellable name).

In this movie it seeks to understand the reasons behind the battle that took place between Edison’s Direct Current and Tesla’s/Westinghouse’s Alternative Current. Or as I explained to my husband, how the band AC/DC came to be;)

Ben plays Edison who we all know won the battle of who could light up America first. It was the first of the alternating technology battles (Betamax/VHS etc) that proved its not the best that wins but the one that is promoted the most and therefore more popular.

Social skills win over talent as people are much more willing to invest in a person who is like them selling them a dream rather than an engineer who can actually produce that idea. This is why Tesla loses out but it’s far more complex than that.

Of course in between the 2 remaining guys Westinghouse and Edison; they start to play dirty. They use underhand tactics to undermine the others reputation and products. Speed and efficiency are good but money is king in business. The Serbian immigrant is taken advantage of because all he has is his mind when he has sold his patents. As he is unable to communicate his ideas in a way that others understand they belittle him.

Watching a movie like this on a plane doesn’t do it justice. I couldn’t read the historical facts which are presented at the beginning and the end of the movie to separate the facts from the dramatization.

I definitely need to watch this again as the sound quality through the headphones was quite poor and in a movie that isn’t action based, you need to be able to hear the dialogue. I’m sorry I can’t give a very articulate review but I was only able to get the gist of the film.

Best wishes

Angela

Babies on Netflix

This is an in-depth look at the differences in children caused by parenting styles. It also seeks to find out about the social development of a child. It looks to see how responsive they are initially and incrementally.

In the first of 6 episodes they analyse oxytocin (the love hormone involved in bonding) counts in both mothers and fathers to see how it differs across pregnancy, child rearing, culture and whether the child has 2 dads, is a 3 parent family so 2 dads and the surrogate mum or a mum and a dad. Additionally they scan the brains of the adults participating to see the sizes of there hippocampus and whether there activated or not. This area is responsible for learning and is bigger in children with more distant parents leading to the refrigerator theory of the 1960s. This is not what causes autism and has since been disproved.

They also measure the cortisol (stress hormone) levels using the still face test. This is where the mum plays with and talks to the child, then sits back unresponsive to see how the child copes with this. The children notice immediately that something is different and then try to figure out what has caused. Eventually they all start crying and self soothe by putting there fingers in there mouths. When the parent returns to normal behaviour the children may over react initially but they gradually return to their happy selves.

I thought this may be the origins of thumb sucking, pacifiers/dummies, nail biting, over eating and smoking as this is all self soothing behaviour by sticking things in our mouths.

They go on to look at the other major aspects of a child’s life like food, crawling, first words, sleep which I thought they would have covered earlier and first steps.

I think this is going to be a fascinating series to watch regardless of whether you have children or not as we were all once children ourselves.