Mr Cyriac stuffs it

Alternative titles for this post included “Mr Cyriac stuffs things” and“Mr Cyriac stuffs his pouf”, but I felt that might draw the wrong kind of readers to the blog. But it is indeed a post about Mr Cyriac stuffing things.

As some of you may know, Mr Cyriac likes to collect and keep things. Like last year’s Christmas tree. Or nice sticks that he finds on the ground. Cardboard boxes. Wooden boxes. Stuff in general. This has not changed after moving to India.

Since receiving our shipment of stuff from Italy, Mr Cyriac has been collecting more fun stuff. While I was excited to have all our kitchen appliances and bedding, Mr Cyriac was excited about this pile of brown paper that he has carefully unwrapped and pressed. And some bubble wrap. And Styrofoam!

Today Mr Cyriac was even more pleased to find a use for some of his collectibles. They can be used to stuff things!

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While resting on the futon, I captured this fascinating series of events that I’m generously sharing with you. See Mr Cyriac carefully remove the tape and fold up this bubble wrap and stuff it in the pouf! See Mr Cyriac uncrumple and recrumple brown paper and stuff it in the pouf! See Mr Cyriac break apart Styrofoam with his head, crumple it and stuff it in the pouf! What a man.

Do stay tuned to find out what Mr Cyriac will do with his pile of uncrumpled brown paper. I, for one, can’t wait.

India’s power cuts explained


Although not as frequently as before, you can still rely on the occasional power cut in Delhi. They’ll usually happen just as you hit ‘send’, or in the last 5 minutes of the match.

Our resident pigeons use our electricity line for their loo

The conventional explanation is that there just isn’t enough power to go around – and the grid is outdated and cannot handle the demand from millions of AC-hungry people. I believe a lot of it can actually be explained by pigeons, oversized trees and a lack of ladders.


Delhi has no shortage of tall trees, and with so many trees around, putting up telephone poles seems like a bit of a waste, doesn’t it. This tree used to be a telephone pole. Now this car is a telephone pole. 

 

 

 

Someone’s getting a power line – maybe



Our corner does have poles – and cables – and cables on top of cables. The cable knots are a familiar sight for anyone who has been to India. How do they come into existence? Like this. When you dont have a ladder, just lasso your cable around some existing ones and it gets the job done. Until it doesn’t. Which is right now. And I’m sweating.

 

 

How to drink beer in India

Anyone who has been to India, or any developing country for that matter, can attest to the difficulties and pleasures of having a nice cold beer. Drinking in India is more complicated than it is in the North America or Europe. Although it’s certainly possible to have a good beer here, one is much more likely to get a bad brew.

The single most important factor when purchasing beer in India is deciding between bottles and cans. In the US, bottled beer is typically more expensive than canned beer – it is also supposedly tastier and of better quality. The reason for this is that the aluminum used for making most cans oxidizes and slowly contaminates the beer with which it is in contact (sidenote: stainless steel cans and beers using nitrogen gas instead of CO2 (think Guinness) avoid this problem, but are much more expensive). Usually this is not a big deal, because in order to taste the difference, a can would have to be sitting on a shelf for a very long time. But still, American consumers are willing to pay a premium for knowing that the glass bottles have not adulterated their beer at all, even if they can’t taste the difference.

In India, however, the situation is the complete reverse. And it has to do with transportation and storage. Ideally, a beer should be brought to consumers through an effective cold chain (a temperature controlled supply system) – when unbroken, it is good, when interrupted, it is bad. Although beer does not require a true refrigerated cold chain (the way milk does), it must be insulated from heat and light to preserve quality.

In countries like the US that have good transportation and storage infrastructure, one can be confident that the beer sitting on the store shelf has not gone through repeated temperature changes. India, by comparison, has a poor supply chain. Although it’s easy to know when a beer was manufactured (all Indian beers have the date on the bottle or can), it is difficult to know how it was handled along the way. It is much more likely that an Indian beer experiences irregular temperature and exposure to light.

But what does light have to do with this? Ever wonder why most beer bottles are dark? This is to limit the amount of light entering the bottle, which would increase the temperature. Think of it like a mini greenhouse – light goes in and traps heat inside. The fact that Corona bottles are clear is a testament to the company’s confidence that their beer will always be fresh. Either that or those Mexicans just don’t care what you think. A can, on the other hand, would not let in any light, thereby maintaining a more consistent environment for the beer.

Cans good, bottles bad (in India)

In conclusion, if you are living in a part of the world with a reliable and effective beer supply chain, it really doesn’t matter whether you get cans or bottles. For most casual drinkers, the decision is more social and psychological than anything related to taste. If you’re living in a part of the world with a less than superb beer supply chain, opt for the cans – they are more likely to have treated the beer well on its journey to your mouth. If you’re not sure what type of country you are living in, drink whiskey instead.

Yoga, you say?

Everyone has an opinion on yoga. This is not an entirely new realization, but it’s something that’s become even more obvious over the last few weeks as I’ve been telling new friends that I’m training to be a yoga teacher.

The responses are many and varied, but I’ve heard few along the lines of “Oh that’s nice, good for you” or “That’s interesting”. Nope, the responses I get are laden with judgment – of me as a student of yoga or of people who do yoga in general. Some have been shocked that I occasionally drink alcohol and eat meat, because no true yogi would ever do that, and thus dismiss me. Others are more interested in telling me that the styles of yoga that I practice aren’t real yoga (on which I could write a series of posts). Or that I practice at the wrong time of day, or facing in the wrong direction, modern lifestyles be damned. Some have said “Excuse me, its not called yoga teacher, its called a yogi“. Then there are those that are refuse to believe that I can be sore or tired after a session, “because you don’t do anything”. The other day I got into a bit of a tiff with someone who suggested the idea of yoga training was ridiculous, as there are no safety aspects and no special skills that need to be learned (obviously, he had never taken a class in his life). “I mean, you just tell people to lay down and breathe”.


There are also those people that just want to lecture you no matter what. Where do they get it from, this idea that they need to explain to me how to do this pose and that, five minutes after I tell them that I do yoga, without ever having practiced with me? These guys haven’t been to a class in years, and yet they need give you a piece of their mind. I’m starting to think that maybe I just look really, really stupid and in dire need of help?

But the most interesting observation is that 90% of these comments are from men, from all over the world. Either men who practice regularly or men who have never taken a yoga class in their life. Why men seemingly have such a desire for lecturing young women on the “real thruths of yoga”, I have no idea. I’d be curious to hear some suggestions though, because I am sure this is part of a larger phenomena. Any thoughts?

P.S. Yoga teacher training is so far pretty awesome. And pretty useful. And pretty  darn tiring.

Life at our doorstep

Coming from Norway, very much a do-it-yourself kind of country, I used to think that home delivery in the US was a nice break. I didn’t use it all that often, but on cold, rainy nights it made life a little easier. On one occasion I even ordered groceries to my house, but wasn’t overly impressed.

A fairly unrelated photo of us delivering mattresses and a broom to our house all by ourselves

Home delivery in India, on the other hand, is nothing short of amazing (if somewhat slow and unpredictable at times). Restaurant delivery from a hundred restaurants within a 3 kilometer radius is convenient. So is the fact that the corner store will deliver our eggs and milk for free, and that a range of businesses providing organic produce and grains have a la carte online shops with daily (and often free) delivery, or weekly deliveries of up to 10 kg of surprise produce for $10. The water guy delivers 20 liter bottles of drinking water to our house every time we run out. Pharmacies will bring medicines home to us, and even draw our blood as we relax on the sofa. I can get my back snapped back into place by the mobile chiropractor. But the real life changing home delivery service, the one that blew Mr Cyriac’s mind is the one we discovered at a friends house on Saturday: the beer shop delivers! For free! Having a party and out of beer? No need to worry, the beer man will hop on his bike and come to your rescue. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it was amazing, right?

The last in a chain of home delivery events came yesterday as we were sitting in our living room, slowly realizing that the Delhi dust is taking over our floors and most of our time. A friendly looking lady rings our doorbell, wondering if perhaps we were looking for some househelp since we’re new to the building? Well yes, we are, thank you very much for asking.

Now we just need someone to show up at our door with a couple of bed sheets, some cushions and a bedframe.

A cause for celebration

We’re apartmentful! Apartmentful is the opposite of apartmentless, right?

Our apartment, with the big bright windows

Mister and I have found our Delhi home. A bright and white two bedroom apartment on a relatively quiet street overlooking a relatively green area in GK-2 (many things are relative in Delhi, I’ll have you know). Our life stories, lifestyles and finances were approved and we got to move in this week. This of course means embarking on a whole new Delhi chapter: home making. 

Last weekend was spent scouting Amar Colony market for pieces of furniture not already in a million other Delhi homes (I’m looking at you, FabIndia). For those of you not in the know, Amar Colony furniture market is the place to go for antique, refurbished or simply copies of antique wooden furniture from all over the subcontinent. You probably won’t find your next bed here, but if you’re not careful you might walk away with half a dozen intricately painted cabinets and a handful of Buddha and/or Ganesh figurines. We managed to stay clear of all of these for now – but some are coming home with us soon, I am fairly sure.

Unfortunately less exciting purchases must be made first, because an unfurnished apartment in Delhi is unfurnished in every sense of the word. No fridge, no gas range, not even a gas connection.

Actually eating in.

We’d heard horror stories about the intricacies of getting a gas line, and our fears were confirmed today when they told us there’s a three-month wait to apply for one. But, pull some strings, or, in our case, pull up to the gas company worker on the side of the road and strike up a friendly conversation, and you might just have a same day connection. The obvious lack of gas burner and, err, cups and plates means we’ll still be eating out for some time yet though.

Furniture shipment, all the way from Noida


The home making and market trawling will continue throughout the weekend, pending a speedy Delhi belly recovery (it took three weeks, but it finally got me), so with a mattress, dining table and loveseat in place, we’re calling it quits for today. May you all enjoy ample clean, home cooked meals this weekend!

 

Our new best friends

Some of you may see the title of this post and feel a little jilted. New best friends, already? That’s a bit sudden, isn’t it?

You should be jealous, because I bet very few of you have traveled India with a working smart phone recently! Yep, this is a post about how smart phones have changed our lives – and made navigating Delhi, well, not easy, but a little less of a hassle.

Walking to Lajpat Nagar


Not sure if the auto driver is taking you in the right direction? Follow the route on your GPS and keep him on track. Wonder if you can walk to Lajpat Nagar Central Market from Amar Colony? Yes, it will take 17 minutes. Auto fare saved! 

Yummy south Indian food

 

And for the information you can’t live without in Delhi  (where to eat clean, tasty food and find a working bathroom), Zomato will come to your rescue. Find the ratings, reviews, and menus of any restaurant in a 2 kilometer radius from your current location. Hurray! This weekend Zomato has led us to some very tasty south Indian thalis and uttapams at Adyar Ananda Bhavan in Green Park , drinks with a view at Out of the Box in Hauz Khas Village, and to a pretty mediocre brunch at the Colony Bistro. Oh well, nobody’s perfect. 

Getting stuck in traffic is also a lot easier when our best friends in Italy, Norway, USA, Spain and Lebanon are right there, on our phones, eager to hear about our new Delhi life (pun intended). To smart phones, everyone!