Tentatives de Periscope [fr]

[en] First thoughts on trying to use Periscope to show you things around Kolkata.

C’est le reportage de Nicolae Schiau sur le voyage des réfugiés à travers l’Europe qui a remis Periscope sur mon radar. Dans une vidéo qui n’est malheureusement plus en ligne (Periscope fait dans l’éphémère, les vidéos tournées disparaissent après 24h), le reporter nous faisait visiter l’abri de protection civile (enfin, ça ressemblait à ça) où il se trouvait avec une foule de réfugiés désirant rejoindre l’Allemagne.

Mes souvenirs m’ont ramenée à Seesmic, peut-être trop précoce — on n’avait pas tous un smartphone à cette époque. La vidéo-séquence, sans montage, à la qualité douteuse, mais qui montre ou dit quelque chose directement. Prête-moi tes yeux que je voie.

Je me suis dit que mon séjour en Inde serait une excellente occasion de jouer un peu avec Periscope: montrer le quotidien, la rue, les gens.

Pas si simple en pratique. Il fait tout de même encore chaud la journée, et la lumière baisse vers 16h. Les magasins ouvrent à 17 pour le soir. Le matin, je dors souvent — ou alors, si je suis debout tôt, c’est souvent que la nuit a été mauvaise. Mais c’est vrai que ce serait le meilleur moment pour sortir.

Après, il faut idéalement avoir des choses à dire quand on montre. Du coup, on oublie la vidéo faite subrepticement pendant les courses ou une sortie quelconque. Il faudrait sortir exprès. Pas évident — comme j’aime à le dire, l’Inde me pousse vers le minimum d’effort, on se fatigue assez sans le chercher. Mais demain, par exemple, je vais à pied à mon cours de Hindi — ce serait peut-être l’occasion, si je pars un peu plus tôt. On verra.

L’autre truc “pas si simple” c’est si on veut sauvegarder ces vidéos pour visionnage futur. Periscope nous propose très sympathiquement d’enregistrer nos vidéos sur notre smartphone, mais malheur de misère, il les sauvegarde toutes en format vertical, même si on a filmé à l’horizontale (une option maintenant officiellement possible pour Periscope). Et retourner une vidéo, ce n’est pas comme retourner une photo.

Quicktime permet de faire ça assez facilement: ouvrir la vidéo, la faire tourner de 90°, enregistrer une copie. Seul hic: la date de la vidéo originale est perdue. J’ai donc ensuite dû m’amuser dans Lightroom à changer manuellement la date de chacune des 20+ vidéos que j’ai à ce jour dans ma collection (ça m’a été utile de pouvoir utiliser Photos d’Apple pour visualiser les dates, plus pratique que de naviguer sans cesse entre les dossiers dans Lightroom). Maintenant, je suis en train de mettre tout ça sur YouTube.

Il y a quelques vidéos sympas de ma visite du “village” (banlieue, plutôt) de Purnima, Sonarpur, avec les filles Palawi et Kusum. Vous pouvez même m’y entendre tenter de parler un peu de Hindi très rouillé (je n’ai trouvé quelqu’un pour faire des cours de conversation que ce week-end dernier).

Note: à l’heure où je publie, les vidéos sont encore péniblement en train d’uploader… Suivant quand vous lisez cet article, certains risquent de ne pas être en ligne ou de ne pas être dans la playlist. Il y a 23 vidéos en tout.

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Hors du temps [fr]

[en] India, out of time. Not doing much. Some thoughts on where I'm going professionally.

C’est ce qui se passe quand je suis en Inde. Le temps au sens où je le vis en Suisse n’existe plus. C’était le but, d’ailleurs, pour ce voyage — des vacances, de vraies vacances, les premières depuis longtemps, saisissant l’occasion de la fin d’un gros mandat (près de deux ans), décrocher, me déconnecter, avant de voir à quoi va ressembler mon avenir professionnel.

Ça fait dix ans, tout de même. Dix ans que je suis indépendante. J’ai commencé à faire mon trou en tant que “pionnière” d’un domaine qui émergeait tout juste. Aujourd’hui, en 2015, l’industrie des médias sociaux a trouvé une certaine maturité — et moi, là-dedans, je me dis qu’il est peut-être temps de faire le point. Ça semble un peu dramatique, dit comme ça, mais ça ne l’est pas: quand on est indépendant, à plus forte raison dans un domaine qui bouge, on le fait “tout le temps”, le point. Souvent, en tous cas.

Il y a des moments comme maintenant où “tout est possible”. C’est un peu grisant, cette liberté de l’indépendant. Effrayant, aussi. Y a-t-il encore un marché pour mes compétences? Serai-je capable de me positionner comme il faut, pour faire des choses qui me correspondent, et dont les gens ont besoin? L’année à venir sera-t-elle en continuité avec les dernières (blogs, médias sociaux, consulting, formation…) ou bien en rupture totale? Si je m’autorise à tout remettre en question, quelles portes pourraient s’ouvrir?

Alors, vu que je peux me le permettre, je me suis dit qu’un mois en Inde loin de tout, ça me ferait du bien. Il faut des pauses pour être créatif. Il faut l’ennui, aussi, et l’Inde est un endroit merveilleux pour ça.

Steph, Palawi and Kusum

Oui oui, l’ennui. Alors bon, je parle de “mon” Inde, qui n’est peut-être pas la vôtre. L’Inde “vacances chez des amis”, où on intègre gentiment la vie familiale, où acheter des légumes pour deux jours est toute une expédition, et changer les litières des chats nécessite d’abord de se procurer des vieux journaux et de les guillotiner en lanières. Où votre corps vous rappelle douloureusement que vous êtes à la merci d’une mauvaise nuit de sommeil (les pétards incessants de Diwali sous nos fenêtres, jusqu’à bien tard dans la nuit, pendant plus d’une semaine — ou le chat qui commence à émerger de sa narcose de castration à 1h du mat, bonjour la nuit blanche) ou d’un repas qui passe mal. Où le monde se ligue contre vos projets et intentions, vous poussant à l’improvisation, et à une flexibilité qui frise la passivité. On se laisse porter. Moi, en tous cas.

Alors je lis. Je traine (un peu) sur Facebook. J’accompagne Aleika dans ses activités quotidiennes. Je joue avec les chats. Je cause en mauvais hindi avec les filles de Purnima (notre domestique), qui ont campé dans notre salon pendant 4-5 jours la semaine dernière. J’attends. J’attends pour manger. J’attends pour prendre mon bain. Je passe des jours à tenter de régler mes problèmes de photos. Le gâteau? On fera ça demain. Je fais la sieste, pour compenser les mauvaises nuits ou attendre que mon système digestif cesse de m’importuner.

Ce n’est pas que ça, bien sûr. Mais comparé au rythme de vie frénétique que je mène en Suisse (même si je sais m’arrêter et me reposer), ici, je ne fais rien.

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Hello From Kolkata [en]

[fr] En Inde. Des trucs (très) en vrac. Un podcast en français dans les liens.

I’m in India. For a month.

I did it again: didn’t blog immediately about something I wanted to blog about (the rather frightful things I learned about the anti-GMO movement, if you want to know) because of the havoc it wreaked on my facebook wall when I started sharing what I was reading. And as I didn’t blog about that, I didn’t blog about the next thing. And the next.

Steph and Coco

And before I know it I’m leaving for India in two weeks, have students to teach and blogs to grade, and don’t know where to start to write a new blog post.

The weather in Kolkata is OK. The trip to come was exhausting: 20 hours for the flights, add on a bit before and after. I didn’t sleep on the Paris-Mumbai leg because it was “too early”, and spent my four hours of layover in Mumbai domestic airport in a right zombie state. Needless to say there is nowhere there to lie down or curl up, aside from the floor. I particularly appreciated having to go to the domestic airport for my Mumbai-Kolkata flight only to be ferried back to the international airport while boarding, because “Jet Airways flights all leave from the international airport”. But I laughed.

It was a pleasant trip overall. Nearly no queue at immigration. Pleasant interactions with people. And oh my, has Mumbai airport come a long way since my first arrival here over 16 years ago. It was… organized. I followed the signs, followed instructions, just went along with the flow. I’ve grown up too, I guess.

I slept over 12 hours last night. I can’t remember when I did that last. I walked less than 500 steps today, bed to couch and back. I’ve (re)connected with the family pets: Coco the African Grey Parrot, (ex-)Maus the chihuahua-papillon-jack-russel-staffie mix (I can never remember his new Indian name), and the remaining cat, which I’ve decided to call “Minette”, who “gave birth” to two empty amniotic sacs yesterday and is frantically meowing all over the place. Looking for non-existent kittens, or missing her brother, who escaped about a week ago? Hopefully she will calm down soon.

Maus and Minette

I plan to play about with Periscope while I’m here. Everyday life in India seems like a great opportunity to try out live interactive video. Do follow me if you don’t want to miss the fun.

Oh, and don’t panic about the whole “meat causes cancer” thing.

Some random things, listened to recently, and brought to the surface by conversations:

  • Making Sex Offenders Pay — And Pay And Pay And Pay (Freakonomics Radio)
  • Saïd, 10 ans après (Sur Les Docks) — an ex-con, 10 years after, and how hard reinsertion is, when you’re faced with the choice between sleeping outside, unable to get a job, and committing another offense so that you can go back to prison; extremely moving story
  • You Eat What You Are, Part I and Part II (Freakonomics Radio again)
  • When The Boats Arrive (Planet Money) — what happens to the economy when immigrants arrive? it grows, simply;  migrant workers need jobs, of course, but they also very quickly start spending, growing the economy and creating the need for more jobs; the number of available jobs at a given place is not a rigid fixed number

Yep, random, I warned you.

I can now do the Rubik’s cube and have installed Catan on my iDevices, if ever you want to play.

I’ve activated iCloud Photo Library even though I use Lightroom for my “serious” photos. Like the author of the article I just linked to, my iPhone almost never is connected to my Mac anymore. And the photos I need to illustrate blog posts are often photos I’ve just taken with my phone. I end up uploading them to Flickr through the app.

It seems the “photos ecosystem” is slowly getting there, but not quite yet. I’ve just spent a while hunting through my post archives, and I can’t believe I never wrote anything about using Google auto-backup for my photos. At some point I decided to go “all in”, subscribed to 1TB of Google storage, and uploaded my 10+ years of photos there. I loved how it intelligently organized my photos. Well, you know, all the stuff that Google Photos does.

Why am I using the past tense? Because of this: seems automatic upload of a whole bunch of RAW formats has quietly stopped. This is bad. Basically, this paid service is not doing what I chose it for anymore. I hope against reason this will be fixed, but I’m afraid I might be disappointed.

One thing I was not wild about with Google Photos was the inability to spot and process duplicates. And duplication of photos when sharing.

Flickr now has automatic upload and organising. Do I want to try that? Although I dump a lot of stuff in Flickr, I’ve been slack about processing and uploading photos lately. I’m hesitant. Do I want to drown my current albums and photostream in everything I snap? Almost tempted.

I think that’s enough random for now. It’s 10.30 pm and I’m starving, off to the kitchen.

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Cuisine indienne de base [fr]

[en] Getting started with Indian cooking. (Well, my way.)

Je viens de donner à me voisine de dessus tout un stock d’épices indiennes et je lui ai promis de mettre par écrit les explications que je lui ai données. En français, vu que la plupart des recettes indiennes sur ce blog sont en anglais. Profitez!

Ma “base” pour un plat indien est la suivante (on peut varier, bien sûr):

  • dans de l’huile chaude, faire revenir une trentaine de secondes graines de moutarde noire et graines de cumin (une cuillère à café ou une demi de chaque); veiller à ce que l’huile soit bien chaude
  • quand les épices ont fini de craqueler, ajouter des feuilles de curry (6-12, une grosse pincée); attention, ça va péter fort, donc couvrir vite, surtout si elles sont congelées
  • baisser le feu quand le bruit se calme et ajouter oignons hâchés et piment vert (cassé en deux ou hâché suivant ce qu’on veut comme force, ou si on veut pouvoir l’enlever)
  • en option, pâte au gingembre et à l’ail
  • quand les oignons deviennent transparents et ne font plus pleurer, ajouter du turmeric (pas trop! une demi cuillère par exemple) et du sel (une cuillère, au pif)
  • quand les oignons sont cuits (faut rien faire cramer) on peut ajouter soit de la tomate coupée en morceaux (ou boîte) soit du yoghurt pour “rallonger” la base

Après, on peut ajouter d’autres épices, bien sûr, légumes, viande, etc. (Et si ça commence à coller, de l’eau!) La recette du poha commence comme ça, puis on met du sucre, les cacahuètes, le poha.

Avant de servir, ajouter des feuilles de coriandre hachées, et peut-être un peu de jus de citron. Du gingembre cru en julienne ça donne aussi un goût très “asiatique”.

Une recette toute simple qui utilise les nigelles et le turmeric: couper un chou blanc en petit morceaux, et le faire revenir doucement avec ces deux épices et du sel dans du beurre ou de l’huile.

Une autre, pour les pommes de terre: commencer avec les graines de moutarde (1/2), le cumin (1), les feuilles de curry, un piment vert, le turmeric (1/4), puis ajouter les pommes de terre coupées en petits morceaux, le sel (1), et un tout petit peu d’eau (juste pour mouiller le fond). Laisser cuire à couvert et à feu très doux.

Pour le daal, on peut soit commencer avec les épices et rajouter le daal par-dessus, soit cuire le daal d’abord, préparer les épices à côté et les ajouter dedans à la dernière minute (voir la recette de Nisha pour le toor et mung daal). Avec le masoor daal c’est sympa de hacher beaucoup d’oignons et de tomates et de cuire ça avec des nigelles (voir la recette d’Aleika). Ici, une autre variante d’épices pour daal.

J’utilise aussi beaucoup les épices indiennes pour “indianiser” les plats occidentaux.

Avec un peu d’expérience et à force de faire diverses recettes, on développe une sorte de “feeling” pour les épices qui permet d’improviser. Par exemple, ces oeufs brouillés indiens ou bien ces champignons indianisés.

Bon appétit!

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India, Women, Men [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions sur l'Inde, les hommes, les femmes. Même si la situation est clairement différente d'ici, il est tout à fait possible de voyager en Inde en tant que femme sans que ce soit l'enfer.

I lived in India for nearly a year, and upon my subsequent visits there have tacked on another 7 months in the country over the last 13 years.

Traveler Candace shares her notes on travelling alone as a woman in India. Her article, a reaction to this very dark picture of Indian men written by an exchange student (do also read the counter-piece), made me want to share my experience as a woman in India too. And also because since the highly publicised 2012 rape in Delhi, people ask me: is it really that bad? what is it really like?

Well, honestly, I haven’t had any particularly bad experiences in India. Sure, people stare more in India. And when it’s men or teenage boys, it can be a bit unsettling. But look around — women and children stare too. We’re staring material. People are often genuinely curious about foreigners. Get over it.

I had one guy I didn’t know e-mail me for a “sex date”. A fellow traveller leaning in a little too close on a bus (I swapped places with my male companion). A furtive breast grope at a crowded new year’s party. A friend of mine had somebody mumble “are you interested in a fuck?” while she was hanging out in front of a shop — she had to make him repeat it three times before she understood, I think the guy was more mortified than she was. In one of the hotels I stayed at, the manager came to chat with me during dinner a little too often for my comfort. But maybe he was just honestly curious (I really don’t know).

Let’s put this in context, though: like most women, I get unwanted attention in the West too. See #shoutingback. So this is not limited to India. Now, true, despite all the kamasutra and tantra idealisations, India is more sexually repressed than Switzerland. And more male-dominated. And it’s big. So yes, there are creepy guys, and there are definitely issues that need to be addressed. And there is risk, too. The Delhi rape didn’t just come out of nowhere. Years ago I read Bitter Chocolate, a book on child sexual abuse in India, which is quite chilling.

All this doesn’t mean that each woman’s trip to India will necessarily turn into a horror story. It’s quite possible to spend time in India without feeling like a sexual object at every turn of street. Being “sensible” is a part of it, just like it is in the West.

I’m careful how I dress, knowing that as a white woman I’m likely to start off with higher “sex capital”, so in doubt I might dress a little more conservatively than my Indian peers. I use the ladies’ compartment in the Delhi metro, the ladies’ side of the bus when there is one, the ladies’ queue — specially if I’m unaccompanied. I don’t feel like I’m driven by fear: one part is “do as Romans do”, and the other is that it just makes things more relaxed and avoids potentially annoying situations.

In her article, Candace points out one piece of “advice” that was given out to students going to India: “don’t smile at people”. I spent most of my time in India glaring at people, to be honest. A few years ago, I realized I spent most of my time in Switzerland glaring at people. I started smiling more to people I didn’t know, and trying to approach strangers in a more friendly mode rather than defensive. It changes things.

Sure, a smile is an invitation to some kind of interaction. If you have huge boundary issues you might prefer to lock yourself up in a scowl to prevent anybody from approaching. Interaction can indeed lead to unwanted attention, but it can also lead to friendly interaction. My life in India was (and is) filled with friendly men, and yes, having friends is something that will increase your safety — and your feeling of safety. For example, I travelled all the way to Chennai in sleeper class with my friend Shinde, something I would not have done on my own.

So, here’s a quick selection of some Indian men I met along the way.

Shinde and his wife Nisha, whom I stay with when I go back to Pune:

20040201_eating_out8_2

Madhav, who helped me find hotels to stay at when I kicked myself out of my pay-guest place, and remained a close friend for many years:

20040201_tennis13_2

Mithun and his family, who helped me out when I arrived in India, hosted me and helped me find a flat so many years ago:

Pune 125 me and Mithun's family

The “Delhi Boys” plus my host Sunesh’s family in Kerala:

Goodbye Family Pics Karivellur 14.jpg

Satisha, one of the helpful staff at Hillview Farms:

People of Hillview Farms 42.jpg

Thanks to Claude for sharing the article that got me started on The Life Nomadic.

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Poha Recipe [en]

[fr] Ma recette de poha, que je croyais avoir publiée!

For years, people have been asking me for Nisha’s Poha recipe. Here it is — well, my variation of it, because I seem to do it slightly differently (at least the result tastes different).

Poha

 

  • heat oil in pan or karahi
  • half a teaspoon of black mustard seeds and half a teaspoon of cumin seeds (more if you like more, or are cooking big quantities)
  • when the seeds are popping, add curry leaves (anywhere from a dozen leaves to more if you like more)
  • let them sizzle a little, lower the heat
  • add a chopped onion (red if you have that) and green chilli broken in pieces (one chilli, two, three… depends how hot your chillies are and how hot you like your poha)
  • let the onion soften; wash the poha (don’t let it soak, just rinse and drain) — I use roughly two big handfuls for one big serving
  • add a teaspoon of salt (or less), a teaspoon of sugar, a tip of turmeric (upto half a teaspoon, but don’t overdo it), red peanuts and/or frozen green peas/sweet corn
  • mix it all up and leave on low heat 3-5 minutes (for the peanuts mainly)
  • add poha, mix well, turn heat off
  • add chopped coriander leaves
  • serve and sprinkle with lemon/lime juice

Bon appétit!

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Random Notes About My 2012-2013 India Trip [en]

A few random notes about my Indian trip, which I was sure I had published, but just found sitting in my MarsEdit drafts.

Health-wise, it was “interesting”. It started off with itchy knees that I carelessly brought from Switzerland. A nice dermatologist near Pune University helped me get rid of it (cream, antihistaminics, and even anti-scabies stuff — it was my big fear). In Kerala, I awoke after a first night of sleep to tons of little itchy bites on my forearm. Bed bugs? Fear, yes, but it seems not: thorough examination and repeat nights with no incident thankfully ruled that out. The bites disappeared, but I’m still curious what caused them.

In Mysore, I carelessly dropped a hearing aid — which promptly died. With three weeks of holiday left to go, it was worth thinking up a solution to get it fixed before my return to Switzerland. I ended up testing Fedex in India for you. There is an office in Mysore, and I’m happy to say it was quite painless: 2800 INR, an announced shipping time of 4 days which they managed to keep. My audiologist was able to change the 70 CHF piece that needed it and send the hearing aid right back again. 140 CHF of shipping! I’m not sure how many days they promised him, but the package took longer to reach me in Kolkata than on the way out. Looking at the tracking data for both packages shows that some parts of the shipping process in India are still big black holes. 48 hours at Delhi airport? Heck. Probably lying in a pile somewhere while people had tea (yeah, I’m probably unfair).

Anyway, the package did reach me and I was very happy to have both ears again for the end of my stay. So, success.

Around the time of my arrival in Kolkata, one of my teeth started reacting really painfully to cold and hot. I’ve always had sensitive teeth (to cold), but this was beyond anything. It got worse and worse, to the extent that I just didn’t want to drink anymore. I needed a dentist. Knowing I have a bunch of 15-to-20-years-old fillings that will at some point need replacing, I figured that if I found a good dentist, I might as well do the work in India. Which I did. A two-session root canal treatment on a molar cost me about a tenth of the price it would have in Switzerland. The dentist in question did part of his training in the UK and worked with Somak and Aleika’s dentist in Birmingham, who recommended him and sent their files there. So, there we go. My first root canal, in Kolkata. The result is magical, I can tell you: no more pain. I think that tooth had been hurting me for a very long time, actually, but I didn’t really notice it until it got really bad.

Aside from the medical stuff, I experimented properly with radio-rickshaws in Pune — Autowale.in. After a couple of successful trips, I booked an auto to bring my parents back after New Year’s Eve party. That was a disaster. Whereas for my previous bookings I had received a call from the driver about an hour before to check the pick-up point, this time around we hadn’t heard anything 30 minutes before. We called. The driver said it would take him at least 90 minutes to get there as his auto had broken down. We called the booking centre to ask them to find a replacement, and we were told that there were no available cars and that we had to “find an alternative”. Try finding an alternative in the university campus around 1am on January first. Well, the Shindes made a bunch of calls, and the son of a neighbor left his party to drive my parents back to their hotel. In the meantime, I left a pretty upset note on Autowale’s Facebook wall. We were really pissed off. The happy ending to this story is that the incident did finally get internal attention at Autowale — they asked me for details and I got an e-mail apology from the CEO, saying this was indeed completely unacceptable and that they needed to find a solution so this kind of situation didn’t happen again. Well, I’m willing to give them another chance next time I’m in Pune. But they better not mess up again: when you book a radio auto it’s usually specifically because you know it will be very difficult to find a ride. Leaving you stranded is just disastrous!

In the “new things” department we also did quite a lot of “day trip with car” outings. Most of them good experiences, some of them a tiny bit sour when it came to payment. No huge disasters, though. Two memorable rides were those to and from Mysore. We took a car from Kannur to Mysore, through the mountains and the national park. Crap road but beautiful scenery. And then, from Mysore to Bangalore, that was more memorable in the “dreadful” category. One of my family members was sick (first part of the trip went OK, but by the time we reached Bangalore we were stopping the car every 10-15 minutes). We got stuck half an hour (thankfully not more) on Mysore road because a car had hit a school girl and killed her, we were told. (I saw an ambulance go by after, though, so I like to think that maybe she did make it after all.)

Indian roads are deadly. Those close shaves we sometimes admire are sometimes too close and end up shaving off a life. I think I had looked up number last year: something like 100’000 deaths per year on Indian roads. 4000 in Pune alone. (Check those numbers somewhere if you’re going to use them.) To compare, Switzerland (roughly the population of Pune): 350-400 a year. In Kolkata I saw quite a few ambulances go by (Akirno’s school is near a hospital). People don’t even make way for them — or worse, they cut them off. Last year when I was stuck in Bangalore traffic to go and take my bus to Kerala, there was an ambulance stuck with us. If you need an ambulance to get you fast to the hospital to stay alive, you’re probably dead. You’d better not need one.

In Kolkata we had a car with a driver at our disposal. I have to say it makes a world of difference when it comes to going out and getting stuff done. Having to find taxis and rickshaws is stressful, even when you’ve become used to it. Don’t get any grand visions about the car and driver though. Boot bashed in, screaming belt, and over the last days we had to push it to start it quite a few times. This did result in a change of cars, however.

In addition to Loki the annoying puppy, I got to meet Coco, the baby African Grey parrot. My first bird contact, really! Let me just say that bird feet are warm (was sure they were cold, silly me), and that I had a great time interacting with Coco and getting to know him. Birds are not boring at all and need a lot of attention! I was there for his first flight across the room — took us all by surprise, him too, probably.

To wrap up I’ll leave you with this article that appeared in Metro during my stay, about Presidency University and some of the infrastructure problems there. Sadly Somak forgot to tell the journalist about the giant rat that fell from the ceiling onto the instrument the students had spent a good long time calibrating so they could run their experiment, or the guy who was sitting hunched up on his chair in his office the first day he met him, because there was 10cm of water on the floor.

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Enjoying Bangalore [en]

This year, I spent just two and a half days in Bangalore, at Anita’s. And this year, unlike two years ago, I was ready for the way in which Bangalore is different from the India I’m used to (understand: Pune in 99-00 ;-)).

Prestige Shantiniketan, Bangalore 1

Prestige Shantiniketan, Bangalore 7

I enjoyed staying in a modern housing complex which is pretty much a self-sustaining village (coffee shop, pharmacy, swimming pool, tennis courts and probably many other things), eating in nice restaurants (pizza and delicious lettuce, at Chez Mariannick, vietnamese food, at Phobidden Fruit), going to the cinema (Life if Pi with totally scratched 3D glasses you had to hand back before the credits finished rolling), the huge mall, even though we didn’t do any shopping (complete with bomb-check of the car as we entered the parking), having a driver to take us to the girls’ karaoke night out at Opus — and more importantly, back.

The mall

Cinema security in Bangalore

I had a little “hero moment” at Opus. The menu cards there are a piece of paper surrounding a candle, like what we would call a “photophore” in French. One of the women of the table below us (we were sitting at the floor tables) was leaning against the empty take next to ours. She didn’t notice that she was also leaning against the menu card and candle.

I smelled something burning, burning hair actually, looked around, and saw the menu card had caught fire just behind her. I move it away, and saw there was a patch of burning hair on the side of her neck — flames and all, maybe the surface of half a hand. I swatted it repeatedly with my hand — hitting her, in fact — and the put out the flames.

I think it took her a little while to figure out what had happened (from her point of view, somebody was suddenly hitting her quite hard on the neck) — but she thanked me profusely afterwards, of course.

Being in Bangalore also gave me a chance to see Ranjita’s beautiful pottery, after meeting her for the first time in Goa a few weeks ago. Check out the My Artitude India Facebook page if you like her stuff. She’s very talented and there is a lot of demand for her pottery.

Ranjeeta's beautiful pottery 1

Ranjeeta's beautiful pottery 2

I definitely plan on visiting her in Pondicherry next time I come to India.

At Anita’s also were of course Kitkit and Tikki — first cat in my lap for weeks. I miss my cats!

Kitkit 2

Tikki 2

It was nice seeing you, Bangalore. I’ll be back for longer next time I have a chance.

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Nouvelles d'Inde [en]

Les jours filent en semaines. Il paraît que c’est le week-end, mais je ne l’aurais pas su. Hors du temps et reliée “au reste du monde” par la fragile connexion 2G de ma carte SIM indienne, la Suisse et ses préoccupations me paraissent bien lointaines.

Nous sommes à Mysore en ce moment, à Hillview Farms, petit coin de paradis où je loge pour la troisième année consécutive. Avant ça, le Kerala, Goa, et Pune. J’avais prévu d’écrire plus régulièrement, bien entendu. Ce n’est pas grave.

Cette année, j’ai fait plus de “tourisme” que jamais. Et c’est une bonne chose. J’ai assez facilement tendance à me laisser gagner par l’inertie ambiante, à me laisser décourager par les difficultés probables. Pas mes compagnons de voyage. Nous sommes donc partis un jour visiter deux temples des environs de Pune, Jejuri et Bhuleshwar, et le lendemain grimper sur un des “hill forts”, dont j’ai oublié le nom. Chaque expédition a fait l’objet de nombreuses photos qu’il me reste encore à trier, et mériterait un article dédié. On a aussi visité le Parvati Temple de Pune, qu’en une année sur place je n’ai pas trouvé l’occasion d’aller voir, alors même que notre vétérinaire avait son cabinet au pied de la colline.

Dans le même ordre d’idées, nous avons pris avant-hier une voiture pour aller voir une réserve ornithologique (très chouette) et un temple (j’ai écourté, me retrouver tel le bétail pour aller dire bonjour à la divinité résidente, pas trop ma tasse de thé). C’est bien de sortir un peu. L’oisiveté, il en faut, mais trop, ce n’est pas bon non plus. J’avais déjà remarqué ça en Suisse: pour être heureuse, il me faut un certain degré d’activité.

Que raconter? Que l’eau de la Mer Arabe au Kerala a une température comparable à celle de nos bains thermaux, que les lampions-étoiles et autres décorations de Noël à Goa sont féeriques, que le “homestay” est décidément un moyen extrêmement commode de loger en Inde? Ce sera peut-être plus facile quand j’aurai des photos à vous montrer.

En attendant, ici au chaud-pas-trop-chaud, tout va bien. J’ai prévu de revenir dans deux ans. Ce sera peut-être avant.

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Welcome to India! [en]

[fr] Arrivée en Inde!

“Welcome to India!” is a phrase I often use somewhat ironically. Like, when the Indian Consulate General sends back your visa application paperwork with a note saying “please apply in person” because you didn’t see that applications by post had been discontinued (despite the instructions for applying by post still being on the website), and so you end up on the train to Geneva with those very papers they had in their hands the week before, yes, because they stuffed them in your return envelope to send them back to you so you could bring them back to them in person… Yeah, welcome to India, indeed.

So anyway. All this to say that I’ve arrived. After a little airport adventure (a flight that didn’t exist, flying through Zurich instead of Munich, arriving nearly two hours before we were supposed to!) we made it to Pune. I managed to have a decent number of hours of sleep and still wake up before lunch (methi, Nisha knows I love it).

Sandy, house guest 1 Bruno, house guest 2

I got to meet the two canine house guests, take note of the advancement of the building works in Akashganga since last year, and this afternoon, was faced with the evisceration of the road leading up to the house. I hope nobody needs to take their car out these next days.

Construction works in IUCAA

My plans for the week? Not many:

  • make sure our waitlisted train tickets to Goa get confirmed
  • a couple of trips to the jeweler’s (one to drop off orders and stuff to repair, one to pick up)
  • pick up a SIM card *fingers crossed*
  • meet up with a few people, old and new
  • maybe go to the cinema for the latest Amir Khan movie
  • eat nice food
  • see if I can buy a pair of jeans (a challenge given my size and shape)
  • leave enough space for reading, writing, photography, chatting with my hosts, learning to cook nice food, and general unpredictability of Indian life!

Two hours later: the power is back, I can publish my post! (We’ve been without pretty much all afternoon and Nisha has been cooking by candlelight.)

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