Travel Plans

Made my travel plans to India this evening (tax purposes, dontcha know) and it's the last damn trip I make: if I don't get a job or can't find a way to retire there I'll stay here.

Cross your fingers either way!

I'll be in Trichur/Thrissur from

Mon 02 May 2011
Tue 14 Jun 2011

If you're in the neighborhood, say hi!

[Who thinks of this stupid shit? The post button is in white text on a pale, pale tan background. I kid you not! My skin is whiter than the background...]


I thought you knew the story: India changed the policy on tourist visas while I was down there looking for a flat. Instead of 1 day out of the country every six months, they changed it to _2 months_ out of the country every six months. That royally fisked things up. I'm glad I hadn't yet shipped off everything I owned, though!

So I came back here and have 6 months left on a leased apartment. I'm scheming plans to move down again; *this time* on either an employment or business visa.

bkovitz, I love you

Don't remember why I happened to plug "Berkeley Subjunctive" into Google, but out spat this result:

1 point by bkovitz 359 days ago | link | parent

"This is what I believe: to have consciousness, or rather to be conscious, and in spite of being sure of this, it should be considered as a proper belief, since one cannot formulate exactly what is meant by this, leave alone prove that it is so."

Eric Berne, founder of the bizarre 1960s psychotherapy called Transactional Analysis, had a name for that kind of writing: the Berkeley Subjunctive. "In the extreme case, the title reads, 'Some Introductory Remarks Concerning Factors Involved in Gathering Data Toward a Theory of...'—a very modest title indeed, since it is plain that it will take about two hundred years before the theory itself is ready for publication."

Is there any content on that page, beyond "Uhh, maybe consciousness exists and maybe it doesn't"?

Is There Anybody Out There?

Drop an anonymous comment if you'd like me to continue posting.

Decisions, decisions...

I've decided to move down here. I've been dithering back and forth for some weeks now, but after all, that's why I came down in the first place. The first few weeks didn't go so well: The heat really aggravated me, as did the mosquito bites I suffer when visiting my friends in Palaikarra. I love them all to death, but after a couple days I go mad with itching!

On top of that I had a bugger of a cold and then a bout of nasty food poisoning which lasted a good ten days or so. Had I not been playing the suffering stoic, I would have taken some antibiotics sooner, because they quite literally cleared it up within a matter of hours. Tinidazole rocks!

But I gradually acclimated to the heat and though I still sweat like a pig (or a jim!) it doesn't seen to bother me as much. It's been running 30-33 (86 -- 91 F) during the day with about 60% -- 80% humidity and I suppose the summer months will be worse. At home I run the AC at 28 (82) which is a bit luxurious, and I suppose when I calculate the electricity bill tomorrow I'm in for a rude shock. Electricity is 6 rupees (13 cents) per unit, which I dearly hope is a kilowatt!

Then I went to Kodaikanal, which was the second purpose of the trip. I fancied the idea of settling there, buying some property and setting up a hotel cum B&B and a restaurant but it would be impossible. Primero, land prices for a good location are out of reach. Segundo, competition is fierce and finally, I didn't take to the people or the locals vs. "summer people" culture. It's a lovely place though and I'd like to visit again during the "season". When I was there it felt exactly like Seattle, only with more fog (Kodai means fog). Needless to say I missed out on the views from 7500 feet...

So that left me in a funk. My grand plan was squashed and I was hot and bothered. On top of that, I was bored. Internet too slow for even a YouTube, television extremely limited. Thank god for the Kindle! I found some entertainment by having my hand fixed by a plastic surgeon at a local hospital, which is actually a whole story in itself. Results were (are) splendid 3 weeks post-op, especially when the entire cost was about $476 (call it $480 when you include the antibiotics and adhesive tape)

But I'd planted a seed within a few days of my arrival which chose the depth of my funk to sprout. There are no cafes here, and so the only real place where I could sit and read and people-watch was at the biggest "mall" in town: City Center. I'd become accustomed to having lunch and tea at a decent (used to be better) restaurant called Bay Leaf during the afternoon and on a whim one day I offered my services to the local "Learn English Here" school next door. I had no idea what I was doing and was quite frank about it, but I pitched myself as a tutor in spoken English with an emphasis on accent reduction. I have had some experience with that and know my way around a sentence fairly well, so I told them as much and let it go at that.

As far as I can figure it must be something genetic because the pitch was a home run. Within a week I was taking three batches a day for a half-hour or more and just having a grand time talking WITH them and gently correcting grammar and pronunciation along the way. A few sessions were absolute duds, but by and large I did pretty well having no curriculum (curricula?) to draw upon. One day they read limericks on the Kindle (and what a boon that turned out to be!), another Mother Goose, and quite a few days were just three word doublets composed in Excel from English word frequency lists.

To make a long story short, after a couple weeks it was clear I was doing a great job: apparently they loved me (and I hope not just because of the novelty factor) and I could tell their accents were noticeably improving. The owner and I have been having some discussion about employment and I'd like to accept, but he can't pay much and the red tape is terra incognito for us both. It's not very often a small time operator like he wants to hire an American; and even less often an American wants to take a job at a relative pittance in India! I can see the visa officers scrutinizing the applications now...

But if that doesn't work out I think I'll still end up here for one simple reason: when I get back to the States I'll miss India, esp. Kerala and even more so, Trichur. I do not miss Seattle -- haven't even thought about it except for the ferrets. Lord know I certainly don't miss Ohio (but I miss my friend Chintu a wee bit). I still miss San Francisco, but the BS in San Fran and California in general is more than my stomach can take, so where do I go?

Breast Feeding Frenzy

"That looks interesting" I thought as I scrolled through the on-screen programming guide. Turns out the Discovery Channel was showing Bear Feeding Frenzy...

Get a grip!

Had my hand fixed a couple days ago. It's still in a cast so I can't type too well. The only thing worse than being practically the only white man down here is being a white man with a cast on his arm. Everyone seems concerned: they point and gesture as to say "What happened?" In my best Malayalam I tell them, "Meen chinganee" while making a petting motion. It means crocodile (gharial, to be exact)...

This and That

Oh poo, my antibiotic conservatism has backfired. After putting up with that damned gastroenteritis for a number of weeks, I finally broke down and began some antibiotic treatment a few days ago. The effect was practically miraculous: within 4 hours my belly felt normal again, so I suspect it was giardia just presenting differently than I've seen it before. But unfortunately I'd had my CBC taken before that and the WBC was elevated, so the surgeon has decided to wait a few days before doing my hand. Now I'm sitting around with a head full of Xanax and nothing much to do until Friday.

I've been in Kodaikanal for the past few days checking out whether I'd like to live and settle down there, and perhaps build or buy a hotel/restaurant. I could have been in Seattle for the weather because it rained and drizzled almost the entire time! The kodai (fog) was pretty thick too, so my sightseeing was limited to about 500 yards on a good day. It's a beautiful spot and I'd have to go back during the nice season just to see the sights. Don't think I could live there though, and heaven help me if I wanted to buy property! Not only would a good location be out of reach of my budget, but the competition is just too fierce to make a go of it.

One bright spot was a visit to the Jesuit school's natural history museum where I had a good chat with the brother in charge and seemed to impress him with my rusty knowledge of zoology and the like. I got the impression it wouldn't be too hard to secure a teaching job there like any number of other expats have done. Many seem to be Australian, for some reason. So who knows - if I get bored and restless in 10 years or so when the area's a little more developed I might go back and see if I could still swing it.

I do start teaching conversational English for a couple hours a day at a vocational school in town in a couple days. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing of course, but I pitched it to the manager as just an informal, low-pressure way for the students to practice their English and get some gentle guidance on pronunciation and grammar. As an icebreaker, I've come up with the idea of sticking a bunch of limericks on my Kindle and passing it around and having each student read one aloud. It'll give me an idea of the sounds they are having trouble with and provide some amusement, too. I had to nix the idea of dirty limericks for obvious reasons, but the silly thought of a guy saying "There once was man from Nantucket…" with an Indian accent seems permanently stuck in my head. I ran across another one which would get me fired in about thirty seconds, but I'll share it here:

One morning Mahatma Gandhi
Had a hard-on and it was a dandy.
He said to his aide,
"Please bring me a maid,
Or a goat, or whatever is handy!"