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December 13, 2005

Must ... Have ... Culture!

Malbug_13If you had asked me three weeks ago whether I would have been anywhere on Dec. 9 but at the cineplex, enjoying my exalted status as a resident of one of Brokeback Mountain's "limited release" cities, I would have dismissed you in an instant.

Ah, but how life – and work – do intervene.

I'm now in London (where the hotel's 11 TV channels are only slightly less of a caricature than the four cheese-related channels of "National Lampoon's European Vacation") on the homestretch of this 11-day trip from which I will return Wednesday night.  In the meantime, of course, I have missed:

  • Beef
  • Pretty much anything worth seeing in the countries to which I have traveled
  • The premiere of some TV reality shows
  • The denouements of others
  • And, yes, Brokeback Mountain.  (I suspect that those who think we are too obsessed with the topic are too young to understand the cultural significance of this moment.)

For now, I live vicariously through Kenneth, and others who will have said it all before I even get my chance.

I kissed the ground when I got back from China.  This time, I might just do so again for a host of different reasons.

December 11, 2005

If It's Sunday, It Must Be Switzerland

Malbug_13I made it out of Delhi today, but unfortunately, so did a bunch of stowaway bacteria in my alimentary canal.

Just a couple of hours before boarding my nine-hour flight, I began to realize that I had almost made it through the entire week without a dreaded bout with "Delhi belly."  Almost.  The next several hours were spent in relative misery punctuated by trips to the bathroom.

Fortunately, I am now in Geneva and the worst seems to be over.  The bug's worst impact was not on my stomach, but on the part of my body that an old friend would describe as "the south end of a north-bound horse."

It's not hard to guess what did me in.  I was given a box lunch in the hinterlands yesterday that included a salad of diced apples and walnuts.  Moronically, it didn't occur to me that eating the skin of fruits is tantamount to sticking your mouth up to a spigot of tainted water and slurping away.

Cameltoes, after the jump ...

Continue reading "If It's Sunday, It Must Be Switzerland" »

December 09, 2005

Monkeys!!! (Or "One Man's Mirth Is Another's Menace")

Monkey3Malbug_13I was driving around the central government area of Delhi today when I encountered a sight that was both alien and delightful to this American.  I practically shrieked like a girl when I saw wild monkeys roaming the streets at will.  (Rhesus Macaques, actually.)

I stopped to snap a few quick pictures.  (I probably should have called a few of these "bad pictures of famous monkeys.")

As it turns out, the pleasure and joy I took in seeing the cuddly primates was probably insulting to my hosts.  Let's just say the little guys aren't like your typical, friendly organ-grinder's monkey:

In a capital city where cows roam the streets and elephants plod along in the bus lanes, it's no surprise to find government buildings overrun with monkeys.

But the officials who work there are fed up. They've been bitten, robbed and otherwise tormented by monkeys that ransack files, bring down power lines, screech at visitors and bang on office windows. [...]

Macaques are crafty pickpockets, know how to open refrigerators, and brazenly snatch lunch pails from government workers, said (Atul K. Gupta, of the Wildlife Institute of India). "They have learned the tricks of finding food in an urban environment."



Workers in the area were so upset, in fact, that they filed a lawsuit.  The monkeys were represented in the case by the law firm of Dewey, Bitem and Howe.  The presiding magistrate issued a summary judgment for plaintiffs after being hit by feces flung by defense counsel.

OK, I made that last part up.  But it is true that the Indian Supreme Court banned the monkeys from the capital.  The ruling was apparently lost in transit to the monkeys' lawyers, because there are still hordes of them today.

The government has responded by putting many of them behind monkey bars, as it were, but officials are overwhelmed nevertheless:

Monkey4NOBODY wants the Capital’s monkeys. A crisis is brewing as the Delhi government cannot find any takers for the monkeys caught and kept in its custody.

Following no response from any of the states, the government is now planning to approach Delhi High Court to direct one of the state governments to take these monkeys. [...]

With no long-term solution in sight, the government takes recourse to piecemeal solutions to tackle the growing monkey population in government custody.

Meanwhile, the (environment) minister has asked the department to build a temporary shed, next to the existing one at Rajokri, so that another 200 monkeys can be kept.

I'm sorry, what were they saying again?  Look at the cuuuute monkeys!!!

Authorities in the Indian capital Delhi have come under new pressure to bring the city's large population of monkeys under control, after a man was killed by a falling flower-pot apparently thrown or pushed from a roof by a monkey.

Aww, I'm sure he was just trying to be funny!

December 08, 2005

Sensory Deprivation

SacredcowMalbug_13India's a remarkable country, but the only thing worse than looking under the "burger" heading on a menu to find only "chicken" and "veggie" is missing out on American reality TV, like the new season of "Project Runway."

So that's why God made Made In Brazil.

What I'm Learning: Subcontinental Edition

A few Larry King "dot, dot, dot-style" observations (and equally vapid) ...

Malbug_13"Singh" is Hindi for, like, "Smith" ...

Cricket_3Malbug_13Just because American cable channels go junking up the bottom of our TV screens with headline crawls doesn't mean you need to ...

Malbug_13Cricket still makes no fucking sense ...

Malbug_13Diet Coke tastes funny anywhere outside the USA ...

Malbug_13That Sharmila Tagore sure is one hot Bengali tigress ...

Malbug_13Yesterday morning, this item mysteriously appeared on the floor of my hotel room's loo:


So what exactly are you trying to tell me? ...

Malbug_13I didn't much like twin beds when I had to sleep in them as a youngster, and I like them even less now ...

TajmahalMalbug_13I wonder how long the list of non-Indians who have spent a week just a short drive away from Agra without ever seeing the Taj Mahal is?  And I wonder how many of those people never stepped foot out of their hotel rooms? ...

Malbug_13"All Out," India's No. 1 Liquid Mosquito Destroyer, has extra MMR ...

Malbug_13My hotel is OK for amenities (including the mandatory WiFi), but where it truly excels is in the service and demeanor of its staff.  Every one you pass stops what he or she was doing to offer you a slight bow and a "good morning" or "good afternoon, sir" ...

But even in a land of great obsequity, the broad smile and greeting of one cute bellman in the hallway seemed intriguingly excessive ...

Which was exceeded by the even cuter man who brought me my breakfast and then stood in my room for about 10 minutes, engaging me on every aspect of my travels, what life is like in New York City, and the nature of my business.  He then proceeded to ask me how I liked my coffee, pouring it from the pot with his white-gloved hands, stirring in the perfect mix of milk and sweetener, then placing the cup and saucer delicately on my desk ...

This story has no bow-chicka-bow ending, I just mention it as a curiosity ...

Malbug_13Bombay=Mumbai, Madras=Chennai and Calcutta=Kolkata, but just don't say a patriotic Burmese is from "Myanmar" ...

Malbug_13You think New York drivers like to honk their horns?  I have never heard a greater cacophony (or feared more for my life and limbs) than on the streets of Delhi.  If Bloomberg were mayor of Delhi, this city could balance its budget on those $350 horn-honking fines alone.  Of course, I never see them issuing those $350 tickets in New York, either ...

Malbug_13Pack my suspenders, my shoulder pads and my ridiculous, owl-like glasses because on Saturday I will be in Jaipur, more popularly known as the Pink City.  Awww, you didn't have to change the name just for me ...

December 05, 2005

Lost On Me

Malbug_13Having less than an even rudimentary knowledge of cricket, the metaphor in this ad for "Tulip IT Services Ltd." on the front page (front page!) of today's (Tuesday, for me) Hindustan Times was completely beyond my grasp.

Perhaps one of our intenerational readers can help me.  Although, just as humor dies in the dissection, don't expect it to make me rush right out to buy a truckload lorry full of Tulip IT Services.


In An "A" Hole

About_11dosageMalbug_13I am in my hotel in Delhi and just took my new Ambien CR to make sure I get to sleep and reset my clock for our meetings tomorrow.

I am extremely hesitant to blog much of anything – first because I am in the very strong grip of Ms. Ambi's potent gaze; and second, anything that I write is liable to become a treatise on the spiders that are climbing the walls of my room, devolving into paranoid shrieks and then finally a face plant into a pool of saliva on the keyboard.

But I have WiFi in my room.  Sweet, understanding Lady WiFi.  She's a little slower than what I'm used to, but does one really need to see a cumshot at 500kbps?

OK, the Ambien is tugging me under.  Must ... stop ... blogging.  Fingers ... like ... swollen sausages ... pounding random keyszzzzzzzz ......

December 04, 2005

Bombay Delhi Dreams


I am on my way to India for a week on business, and then onto Europe for a few more days before returning home.  Hopefully I will have a little more time (and better Internet access) for pithy observations along the way than I did in Morocco.

But either way, my co-blogger, Robbie, will be stepping in to fill the breach with his own special blend of caffeine- and alcohol-fueled rants.

So until New Delhi (and hopefully no "Delhi belly"), be well ... and much love from The Malcontent.