Friday, February 24, 2012

Living in India is like having an intense but insane affair

best narrative Ive ever read regarding living in India as a foreigner.

I wish I'd said that.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Living in India is like having an intense but insane affair, writes expat -Catherine Taylor
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 13:15:00 +0000
From: Donna Lethborg

For your reading pleasure☺ Deep down we can all relate to this story in so many ways……..
Living in India is like having an intense but insane affair, writes expat -
Catherine Taylor

TONIGHT, as I waved my high heel in the face of a bewildered taxi driver, I thought suddenly: I am absolutely nuts in India. It's a thought I have often. Someone or something is always going nuts, and quite often it's me. I was trying to get a taxi driver to take me home, a mere 500 metres away, but it was pouring with rain and my shoes were oh-so-high, and it was late. He,of course, was having none of it; no amount of shoe-waving and sad-facing from a wild-haired firangi was changing his mind, when suddenly I remembered the magic trick - pay more than you should. "Arre, bhai sahab,50 rupees to Altamount Road? Please?" And off we went.

I have lived in Mumbai for almost three years. It was my choice to come – I wanted offshore experience in my media career and India was the only country looking to hire - and I wanted a change. I needed something new, exciting,thrilling, terrifying. And India gave that to me in spades. In fact, she turned it all the way up to 11. And then she turned it up a little more.

To outsiders, living in India has a particular kind of glamour attached to it, a special sparkle that sees people crowding around me at parties. "You live in India? My God, really? I could never do that. What's it like?" The closest I have come to answering that question is that it's like being in a very intense, extremely dysfunctional relationship. India and I fight, we scream, we argue, we don't speak for days on end, but really, deep down, we love each other. She's a strange beast, this India. She hugs me, so tightly sometimes that I can't breathe, then she turns and punches me hard in the face, leaving me stunned. Then she hugs me again, and suddenly I know everything will be all right.

She wonders why I don't just "know" how things are done, why I argue with her about everything, why I judge, why I rail at injustice and then do nothing about it. She wonders how old I am, how much I earn, why I'm not married. (The poor census man looked at me, stunned, then asked in a faltering voice, "But madam, if you're not married then. who is the head of your household?") I wonder how she can stand by when small children are begging on corners, how she can let people foul up the streets so much that they are impossible to walk along, how she can allow such corruption, such injustice, such A LOT OF HONKING.

But she has taught me things. She has taught me to be brave, bold,independent, sometimes even fierce and terrifying. She has taught me to walk in another man's chappals, and ask questions a different way when at first the answer is no. She has taught me to accept the things I cannot change.She has taught me that there are always, always, two sides to every argument. And she was kind enough to let me come and stay. She didn't make it easy though (but then, why should she?).

The Foreigner Regional Registration Office, banks, mobile phone companies and rental agencies are drowning under piles of carbon paper, photocopies of passports (I always carry a minimum of three) and the soggy tissues of foreigners who fall to pieces in the face of maddening bureaucracy. What costs you 50 rupees one day might be 500 rupees the next, and nobody will tell you why. What you didn't need to bring yesterday, you suddenly need to bring today. Your signature doesn't look like your signature. And no, we can't help you. Come back tomorrow and see.

It's not easy being here, although I am spoiled by a maid who cooks for me,and a delivery service from everywhere that ensures I rarely have to wave my shoes at taxi drivers. I buy cheap flowers, trawl for gorgeous antiques, buy incredibly cheap books; I have long, boozy brunches in five-star hotels for the price of a nice bottle of wine at home, I have a very nice roof over my head . on the face of it, it would seem I have little to complain about. But then, I am stared at constantly, I have been spat on, sexually harassed, had my (covered) breasts videotaped as I walked through a market, had my drink spiked, been followed countless times. I have wept more here than I have ever in my life, out of frustration, anger, loneliness, the sheer hugeness of being here. But the longer I stay, the more I seem to relax, let go, let it be. But I do often wonder why I'm here, especially when I'm tired, teary and homesick, my phone has been disconnected for the 19th time despite promises it would never happen again, when it's raining and no taxis will take me home. But then a willing ride always comes along, and we'll turn a corner and be suddenly in the midst of some banging, crashing mad festival full of colour, where everyone is dancing behind a slow-moving truck, and I won't have a clue what's going on but a mum holding a child will dance up to my window and point and smile and laugh, and I breathe out and think, really,my God, this is fantastic. This is India! I live in India! She hugs me, she punches me, and she hugs me again.

Yet I know won't ever belong here, not properly. I know this when I listen to girls discussing what colour blouses they should wear to their weddings -she's Gujarati, he's from the south, she's wearing a Keralan sari. I know when my friends give me house-hunting advice: "Look at the names of the people who already live there, then you'll know what kind of building it is." (Trouble is, I don't know my Kapoors from my Kapurs, my Sippys from my Sindhis, my Khans from my Jains). I know this when my lovely fruit man (who also delivers) begs me to taste a strawberry he is holding in his grubby hands and I have to say no, I can't eat it, I'll die. I know I will never belong because, as stupid as it sounds, being truly, properly Indian is in your DNA. I marvel at how incredibly well educated so many of them are, how they can all speak at least three languages and think it's no big deal, how they fit 1000 people into a train carriage meant for 300 and all stand together quite peacefully, how they know the songs from every Hindi film ever made, how they welcome anyone and everyone (even wild-haired,complaining firangis) into their homes for food, and chai, and more food.

I've seen terrible things - someone fall under a train, children with sliced-off ears, old, old men sitting in the rain nursing half-limbs while they beg, children covered in flies sleeping on the pavement, beggars with no legs weaving themselves through traffic on trolleys, men in lunghis working with their hands in tiny corridors with no fans in sky-high temperatures. I've read heartbreaking things, of gang rapes, corruption,environmental abuse. I've smelled smells that have stripped the inside of my nostrils, stepped over open sewers in markets, watched a goat being bled to death.

I've done things of which I am ashamed, things I never thought I would do. I have slapped a starving child away, I have turned my head in annoyance when beggars have tapped repeatedly on my taxi window, I have yelled at grown men in the face. I have been pinched and pinched back, with force. I have slapped, I have hit, I have pushed. I have screamed in anger. I have, at times, not recognised myself. I've yelled at a man for kicking a dog, and yelled at a woman who pushed into a line ahead of me when I wasn't at all in a hurry. When a teenage beggar stood at the window of my taxi, saying " madam" over and over,I told him to go f. himself and gave him the finger; once on the train I let a kid keep 100 rupees as change. I am kind and I am cold-hearted, I am fair and I am mean, I am delightful and I am downright rude. I am all of these at once and I distress myself wildly over it, but somehow, India accepts me.

She has no time for navel-gazing foreigners; she just shoved everyone along a bit and made room for me. She has no time to dwell on my shortcomings, she just keeps moving along.And then, and then. I've been to temples where I've sung along with old women who had no teeth, I've held countless smiling ink-marked babies for photos, I've had unknown aunties in saris smile and cup my face with their soft, wrinkled hands, I've made street vendors laugh when I've choked on their spicy food, I've danced through the streets at Ganpati, fervently sung the national anthem (phonetically) in cinemas, had designers make me dresses, I've met with CEOs and heads of companies just because I asked if Icould. She hugs, she punches, she hugs again.

In short, I have been among the luckiest of the lucky. She keeps me on my toes, Ms India, and I have been blessed that she let me stay for a while.She wanted me to succeed here and she gave me grand opportunities and endless second chances. She willed me forward like a stern parent. She welcomed me. And when I leave, because I know I will one day, I will weep,because I will miss her terribly. And because I know she won't even notice that I am gone

Donna Lethborg Integrity Travel

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How To Keep A Clean House & Free Yourself From The Chains Of Drudgery

Keeping a spotlessly clean house isn't as difficult as it looks. How to do it has been the best kept secret of Susie Homemaker for years.

How to keep a clean house and free yourself from the chains of drudgery will give you the know how, skills and confidence to achieve a spotlessly clean house and a clear conscience.

Even in our modern day with both partners working women get the lions share of the work as well as the guilt. Women spend about 3 hours a day doing house work compared to an hour and a half for men. Two out of five men don't do laundry while only one out of twelve women don't do laundry. Society demands that homes be clean, tidy and organized and yet economics requires women to work out side of the home. The old stereotypes persist and women get stuck, emotionally and physically, with all the work. Yet if anyone is working 3 hours a day on housework they're doing it wrong.

The Four Unbreakable Rules
Never, ever, break these rules!
1. Every thing has a home.
2. Use it or lose it.
3. Never ignore or pass anything that needs to find it's home.
4. Use "little minutes" every chance you get.
Time to talk
You will have to have a talk with your better half and let him know what you are trying to accomplish. He will have to be a part of it and support you in this. He'll have to pitch in as well. Let him know that this system will be easy to follow with clear direction and will result in a very satisfying feeling. It will make you happy and his goal should be to help you be happy.
I'm so buried I can't find the shovel to dig my way out!
How to get started when it all feels so hopeless.
Don't start with a shovel. Start with a spoon. Or actually three boxes and one corner.

Now you can do one small corner can't you? Of course you can!

A good place to start is the living room and a good corner to start at is one of your two end tables.

Grab three boxes and label them with a marker or crayon. You'll find the crayons over in the sock drawer. How they got there no one knows. If they're not there try the next least expected place. But if you can't find one within 3 minutes give it up and go buy one. You'll be able to find anything you need once you're done with your plan.

Now label box 1 - Keep, box 2 - Toss and box 3 - Donate

For heaven's sake, don't get all boggled down with what box to use or delay because you haven't collected the boxes yet. Any containers will work. Laundry baskets, plastic bags, anything. It doesn't have to be perfect or done exact. If you think it does then you're a perfectionist and that very fact is holding you back. More on personality types later.

Take your three boxes to one corner of your house. Start picking things up and placing them in the correct boxes. Garbage goes in the TOSS box, things you don't want but wish to give away put in the DONATE box and things that need to go somewhere else in the house in the KEEP box.

You don't have to think much on this. Don't make any big decisions. Just toss things into the different boxes as fast as you can toss.

Work for 15 minutes then stop.

I said STOP! Do not work for more than 15 minutes.

Trust me on this one

Now take the garbage stuff to the garbage immediately and put the donate box in the trunk of your car so you can drop the items off at the Goodwill box today. Don't delay doing this or your trunk will fill up and be another clutter place. Take all the things that belong somewhere else to where ever they belong. Don't worry about where to put them. Just toss them. You'll get to that room later.

Now stand back and look at your clean corner. Wow! You did it! This one small corner is where it will all start. Not only will the cleanliness start here but so will your habits and it's those habits that will help you keep control of your housework.

Now refer to the FOUR UNBREAKABLE RULES above and do not put anything in that corner that does not belong in that corner. If you walk past it and something is there that doesn't belong, move it. Use little minutes to dust it and keep it tidy. Never mess up what you've cleaned up. You've won the battle in one corner and soon you'll win the entire war!

Make the FOUR UNBREAKABLE RULES your habits. Say them over and over as you do them. When you pick up a toy and move it to where it belongs say to yourself "Everything has a home". When you pick up a magazine someone put on the end table say "Use it or lose it" and toss it away. When you're waiting for the coffee to drip grab a dust rag and head to your corner saying "Use little minutes". After a while you won't think it, you'll just do it.
Great items to help you get organized.
We're going to put things in boxes anyway so why not have pretty colors and enjoy it? Organizing the To Do list and other notes is essential and this item is so pretty. That pants rack looks so interesting. I don't have it but I want it! The tie and belt rack is so handy I don't know why closets don't come equipped with it. And everyone always needs a little something to carry things from one room to another. The tote is perfect.

Two Cleanings
Every Day Cleaning / Deep Cleaning
Now you're feeling pretty good about getting something done. It's not a very big win but it's a win. You can't win the war in just one battle. No one can. But you can, and will, if you build your win's one by one.

But now isn't the time to rest. Now you need two lists. The first list are things that need to be done every day just to keep things tidy. This includes washing dishes, picking up the stray jackets and papers, and taking the glasses back to the kitchen. The second list goes room by room and details all the small things that need to be cleaned to really clean the room.

Your first list will look a lot like this:

Wash dishes
Wash off dinner table
Wipe stove and counter
Wipe microwave
Pick up & put away
Clean toilet
Wipe bathroom sink & mirror.
Make beds

Your second list will look a lot like this:

Clean out cupboard
Wipe off cupboard doors
Clean stove hood
Clean oven
Clean out refrigerator.
Wipe down walls
Wipe off light switches
Broom out cob webs
Wipe off mop boards

Front Room
Wipe walls
Dust & wash pictures
Water plants
Clear out end tables
Dust & wash end tables & coffee table
Throw out newspapers & magazines
Dust lamps
Wash nick-knacks
Clean windows
Wipe out cobwebs
Dust ceiling fan
Wipe off mop boards

And so on for every room in your house. Make sure you don't forget anything no mater how small. Everyone's house is different so your individual items may be just a little different.
Work an hour a day
That's all. Just an hour. And even that amount of time may shorten depending on how many people you have in your house. If you have a raft of kids there's not much anyone can do. They're messy and you will need the full hour just to keep even. But they'll grow up eventually and your nest, empty as it may be, will be spotless from the system you've followed.

Do you still have that paper? Are you ready to put it all together?

You have just one more thing left to do. - Your Wish List.

These are the goals you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to paint the front room, get those household papers organized, clean out that back closet or get chairs that match your dinning table. Maybe you even want to start that exercising you've been saying you've got to start someday. Whatever your goals are make a list of them.

As the saying goes: "Fail to plan, Plan to fail". You need to decide when and how you will accomplish not only your cleaning goals but also your wish list goals. That's the next step.
The Plan
Now you have a corner cleaned out. You've advanced. You have your list of every day cleaning and deep cleaning. You have your Unbreakable Rules and now you have a list of things you wish you could do.

Now is the time to plan.

Every day cleaning takes the longest. Select 1/2 hour a day to do everything on your Every Day Cleaning list. I know, you do these things anyway so why put them on a list? For one thing crossing a line off a list lets you know you are accomplishing something. For another, your not in this alone. The lists will help your other family members with the cleaning and they won't clean something that you've cleaned if you've crossed it off.

You also don't actually need to have a solid half hour. Remember Unbreakable Rule #4? Do your half hour Daily Cleaning in the little minutes of the day. Stack the dishwasher in the morning, Clean the toilet during lunch break, wipe down the mirrors right after your shower. You can actually accomplish this Every Day Cleaning without setting time aside for it.


Schedule one room per day for the Deep Cleaning. Your schedule might look like this:

Front Room
Dinning room
Bed Room

If you have more rooms than I've listed go into the next week and have a two week rotating schedule. You can keep a house clean, no matter how many people you have, by following your Deep Cleaning schedule to hit each room just twice a month. Really, you can.

Make a lot of copies of your lists. These will be used one list for one time per month.

Don't schedule the weekend. That's play time, family time, hobby time, just plain goofing off time or accomplishing goals time.

Work just 15 minutes on the Deep Cleaning. Fifteen minutes and no more! You won't get everything on the list done. You don't have to get everything on the list done. Anything you missed you can do the next time the room comes up on the schedule. Don't re-clean something that you've cleaned a week ago. The goal is to get the things on the list done for each room within a months time.

Your Deep Cleaning will get things clean that are often missed and your daily cleaning will keep the house "picked up". Following the Unbreakable Rules will keep your house spotless at all times.

That doesn't add up!
Even I can see that 1/2 hour of Daily Cleaning and 15 minutes of Deep Cleaning doesn't add up to an hour.

You still have 15 minutes left over.

This is for your goals. Well, for the ones that don't require continuous hours to accomplish. Cleaning out that back closet is a good example. The extra 15 minutes in your cleaning schedule is the time to schedule your goals that can be done a little at a time. The back closet can be done by working on it only 15 minutes a day. Maybe you want to get that exercising in or organize your paperwork.

If none of your major goals will fit in 15 minutes a day do some of the smaller goals. Read that book you've been wanting to read. Sort out your recipes, knit that sweater or sort through those old photographs.

Do Not work more than the scheduled time!
When you've reached the allotted time - Stop!

What about the major goals?
Well, you've just freed up your entire weekends and most of your evenings!

Remember! Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail.

Look at your list of goals and decide what you want to accomplish first then schedule when you want to do them. Write it on the calendar or on your lists. Many of them can be done in that extra 15 minutes. Most might have to be done on the weekend or your days off. Painting the front room can't be done 15 minutes at a time but organizing your household papers can.

Your Personality Affects Your House.
You need to know yourself well enough to know your weaknesses to over come them. Most of us are a bit of many of these personality types. I know I am. And I know that my best time is in the morning. I can't do anything after, say, 10 a.m. so I do my work while the coffees making in the morning. I'm also a perfectionist and I have to be careful not to get too picky. I'm also a bit of an Independent and get upset when someone comes along and puts dishes in the wrong order. I want things my way. Knowing this I've lossened up a bit and decided "put away" really is "put away" even if it's not the way I'd have it done. I've chilled out a bit and kept my eyes focused on the end result more.

Here are some personality types and a few suggestions:

The Administrator is a systematic team player. You will love these lists and their ability to be used by everyone in your family. One problem you may have is you want to get it all done at once. Slow down and realize that it will be done as you work a bit at a time.

The Creative person will balk at the lists and think they're boring. Or you might get bogged down with making them decorative and pretty. Be careful of wasting time doing things to nicely. Get it organized, get it clean then get creative.

The Impulsive person REALLY needs this list and schedule! You are fun and full of energy and love to do things on the spur of the moment. This schedule will actually free up more of your time to do just that. Just be sure to keep your nose to the grinder 1 hour a day and follow the schedule you've created. Add some music to the cleaning and dance. Make your work fun.

The Independent person needs to focus a bit on organizing with other members of your family. If you think the pots and pans should be in one area and others think they should go somewhere else you'll run into conflicts. You also need to remember to share the work and share the responsibilities.

The Insightful person is driven by their mood. If your not in the mood to clean you'll find it very difficult to follow the schedule. Remind yourself that it's just an hour a day and reward yourself for your accomplishments. Just thinking about your reward might bring your spirits up.

The Perfectionist is my personal favorite. You'll spend a lot of time making sure the Nick-Knacks are just right on the shelf but ignore the dust. Be very careful of trying to do things "To Right" when you charge through your schedule. Use those last 15 minutes to satisfy your perfectionist nature but don't be too picky when you're doing the cleaning its self. Do it quick. Don't worry. If you miss something you'll catch it next time. Really, you will.

The Procrastinators. Well. What can I say about the procrastinators? There are a lot of reasons people procrastinate. They might even be perfectionists who don't want to start because they're sure there's not enough time to do it right. Or maybe impulsive people who have better things to do. In any case, if your a procrastinator you'll find the schedule you've created to be invaluable. If you find yourself procrastinating put up signs at the most obvious places in your house, like your computer. You just need three simple words "JUST DO IT" on your sign.

Result-Oriented people are made for these schedules! Crossing off the items one by one is perfect! Just make sure you don't go over the time. The goal isn't to do everything at once.

Social people are, well, social. They're a bit of a cross between the creative and the impulsive. If your a social person you might be distracted easily. Remember to turn off your cell phone during your cleaning hour!

And finally, the Undisciplined person is bored by details and can't seem to stay on track. Hopefully, if your an undisciplined type, you've been able to make it through the list making phase of your schedule. You need to rein yourself in with accountability. Plan a party for when you've finished 1 month of your schedule.

For all personalities: We need to remember that we are not 'cleaning', we are preparing. We didn't clean the bathroom. We prepared it for a nice feeling every time we need to go in. Who likes a dirty bathroom? We are freeing our time up, and clearing our conscious of negative feelings and wasted efforts. We need to change the way we see cleaning. It's not a job. It is something we do to accomplish our goal. Keep the goal in mind, envision the end result and the rest will come easy.

We will be working less and doing more.
Your Personality and How to Work With Yourself to Get Things Done.
Understanding yourself is key to being able work with yourself to achieve your goals. It's not essential that you become a psych major or expert on yourself. Following the suggestions in this article without detailed self study will still result in a cleaner house but knowing yourself can give you a "heads up" on areas that will require more effort. Sometimes knowing yourself will let you out smart yourself. These books may help you not only understand yourself but others as well.

A little Organization Goes A Long Way.
Now you have your cleaning schedule and you're doing well with it. Good for you! You've freed up much of your time. You don't have to concentrate so much on everyday tasks and you have a lot more energy left. Now you might want to free up even more of your time.

It's time to organize!

Organize your paperwork, your file system, your meals and even your food shopping to free up much more of your time.

It might seem silly to create a two week menu and shopping list. Who does that any more? But the more you can ease your "to do" list and relieve your mind of things you have to remember the less stress you'll have. And think of this. If you had a two week menu planned and a shopping list ready made anyone can go to the store to pick up what you need for the next two weeks. Just grab the card and drop it in your purse or slip it into your husbands wallet. You'll have everything you need to make dinner. You don't even have to think of what to have or go through that "What do you want for dinner?" "Oh, I don't know. What do you want?" "I don't know. I asked you first". If you make three 2-week menus you'll rotate through enough dinners that it won't be boring and you'll never be out of something that you need.

Kill the paper piler demon and get yourself organized!

Your turn....
I hope this article helped free you from the Chains of Drudgery and gave you some useful tips to free your life from clutter and/or others expectations and reach your goals. Is there anything you'd like to see added or have you a little trick that's worked for you or a problem that you've solved?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It’s Not Permanent

how to get permanent marker out of pretty much anything in your home.

From clothing and pretty much everything else: hand sanitizer

and if that doesn’t work…

From painted walls: toothpaste or hairspray (hairspray works best but will begin to remove paint if you have to scrub hard) or my best friend, Mr. Clean and his Magic Eraser.

From carpet: white vinegar, pour on area and cover with a towel, gently blot with towel, do not rub (courtesy of @stayathomebabe)

From wood cabinets: rubbing alcohol

From a stove: white vinegar

From a wood floor: took lots of work but I used rubbing alcohol to take out most of it, then tea tree oil took out more, then toothpaste got the last of it out.

From a 3 year-old: tea tree oil worked instantly and is non-toxic so I was able to use it to remove the marker on his face (he drew “tiger eyebrows” of course).

Now for How to remove the urge to draw all over your Mom’s kitchen with a permanent marker from your child? I’ll have to let you know when I find the answer to that one.

Don’t hold your breath.

Friday, February 3, 2012