Friday, May 30, 2008


I have come to the conclusion that there are the 'doers' and the 'talkers'. It has taken a lot of time and moaning and groaning about how no-one ever steps up to help and it is always the same people doing the work, to get to this realisation!

Let me explain a little more fully. Since I came to Chennai (way back when!!) I found the easiest way to meet people and to get information of a variety of things was to join different clubs and groups, get on the committees and help out where I could. I find organising things relatively easy, have tonnes of energy and am quite creative, so all of that helps when events or ideas are thrown in your lap, and you are expected to run with them. It is hard for someone like me to let things go without giving it a good try, but also not to do things to the best of my ability.

Take the Chennai Chapter for example. A few new parents at the school were asking about information on Chennai - not exciting, interesting information, but bog basic stuff like - where to wax your legs, where to buy good apples, where to get furniture that has been termite treated!! etc etc. Someone suggested adding a section to the New Parent Booklet that I wrote a few years ago and include a local directory of information - by or parents, for our parents. So I grab the ball and start jogging with it. I put out notices in the PTA newsletter and ask for volunteers. I set up a meeting and fully expect one or maybe two other people to show.

Instead - 7 mums show up, I get emails from people answering questions placed in the newsletter and people start leaving information with the school secretary for me. Amazing.

As the weeks progressed, a few new people joined the group and someone had to drop out. My point is, though, that each of these ladies is just as busy, if not busier with their own lives, but they have simply given of themselves. Over the last several weeks, we have tackled topics together and gone off and added information. Each person in this group has really pulled their weight and in some cases more than their fair share.

These girls are the 'doers'.

People who criticise their efforts, never step up to help, but have lots of negative opinions and comments to pass on are clearly the 'talkers'. they talk a good game, but when it comes down to it, they will only DO something if they see something in it for themselves.

More power to girls like the Chennai Chapter Committee at the AISC!!! I love them - they are the greatest! And I am eternally grateful that I didn't have to do this on my own!!

Fri May 30th

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fun Day

Today was what I would call another day in the life of an expat wife! We are having a few people over for dinner tomorrow night, and as we have no cook at the moment the Head Chef in the house is yours truly.

So menu set, shopping mostly done, schedule duly laid out - I decide to make Tiramisu as one of the desserts. Note to self - sponge fingers are not available in the shops here, Amma Naana had no marscapone and the Nilgiris fresh cream (single at best) seemed to have a distinct set of hard bits in the packet!!

Undeterred, I went home, baked a cake for the Tiramisu base, decided to use the last of the chef's supplied double cream in my freezer and set a couple of kilos of chicken out to defrost.

Now comes the good bit - I meet two good friends at the Salon for a little mani-pedi action and plan a lunch for straight after. In the meantime, a journalist for The times of India paper has called to say they are running a column about various clubs and groups in the city and would I answer some questions on The Tiffin Club.

The pedicure was divine - fabulous massage and my feet feel like the proverbial baby's bum! A warm chicken salad and the requisite french fries made for a lunch that hit the spot and then the journalist showed.

She had questions galore and as my friend Danie and I answered, I realised how much I have done with the Club over the last few years. We started listing off some of the Tiffin sessions including Chef Willi cooking at 601 in The Park, Chef Rajesh showing us Mediterranean food at Aqua, Chef Basu clearing up the mysteries of Chaat (Indian street food), the chefs at the Marriott - Chef Sunil and his pastries and then a Lebanese session, Chef Prakash with soups and salads and then an Italian session and a trip to the Taj Flight Kitchen where the meals are prepped for many different airlines.

On alternate months we have had Tiffin Club at each others' homes. For example, i did a baking session this year, last year I showed some Indian dishes and talked about the Indian spices used in cooking. We had a Valentine's Day Tiffin with a 'Red' theme and we all brought dishes with red ingredients! Each December the Tiffin is a cookie exchange and one comes away with 10 -12 dozen different cookies ... scrummy!!

The best part about the Tiffin Club is the every member and the Chefs all share their recipes with each other. Those closely guarded secrets suddenly become common property! I love it!

Well, after talking for a good 40 mins, our journalist disappears to cover another story and we go back to our now cold french fries!! Meena, my other mate in the mood for some salon, joins us looking ultra glam as her hair has been cut and styled to within an inch of it's life! She clearly looked and felt great - to a man the men in the Cappuccino could not take their eyes off the back of her head! I swear one nearly did himself an injury trying to stare at her!!

Then off to school in time for pick-up and finally taking Nikhil to an audition for the soundtrack for a story-tape on Karadi Tales! Yep - just an average day living in Chennai!!

Came home around 6pm, finished making the chicken curry, channa masala and prepped the raita and the rice for tomorrow's dinner.

went to bed as usual, but woke up just past midnight as a power cut has obviously tripped the A/C in our bedroom - no more shut-eye for tonight!

28th May 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Chennai Heat

Saturday 24th May 2008
I love the sun. Don't get me wrong. My idea of a perfect holiday, no a perfect day, is a bright blue sky and a golden orb of fire blazing down upon everything, especially me.

Well, the Chennai Summer sun is something completely different - it is debilitatingly, unendingly, burningly hot. You take a breath, and you can feel the tiny airways in your lungs screaming for mercy from the firebreath you just took. On the first of May, the month of Fire begins. It does not end until the beginning of June. Even then, it is not really a respite, just more muggy humidity and more exhaustion and electricity overload. On that subject - power cuts are becoming more and more the norm rather than the exception. We have recently had a new a/c installed in the sitting room (B could not cope with the minute amounts of cool air from the old one!) However, no-one thought to tell us that the voltage coming into the house from the central Electricity Board was verging on 150 instead of 240 watts. Result - no a/c working, madam! this is even more frustrating as tempers run high in this sort of weather.

I think we should all take a lesson from the cows, bullocks and stray dogs in the Boat Club neighbourhood and simply plop down in the nearest bit of shade, and try a bit of shut-eye for the most part of the day. Moving, standing and even walking are left until the Big Ball of Fire in the Sky dips below the horizon!