Words Of Wisdom For Consume-To-Survivors (Un)knowing Of Their Caste

motorcylce-wisdom

Caste – noun – prohibitions prevent people from marrying outside their casteclasssocial classordersocial ordersocial divisiongradegradinggroupgroupingstationstratumechelonrankleveldegreesetplacestandingpositionstatusHinduism varnaarchaic estatesphere.

The coffee tastes metallic this morn. Has to do with my upset stomach–I think. Finally got a bit of the bug the other day. Better half already got it during our second or third week here. Now it’s my turn. It’s not so bad since our new house has plenty of toilets to run to. Two on each floor, in fact. One thing you can’t say about India is that the houses here are small. Well, corporate paid houses aren’t small. In fact, ours is huge. Four thousand plus square meters on four floors. It has a three car garage, maid’s quarters and, the stairwell has been built so that if someone wants to–I guess an eventual buyer of this place–an elevator can be installed. For two people and a killer pug that will protect us from Bengal tigers, this one hell of a flat.

I know I’m not supposed to drink coffee while having stomach and digestive issues. It’s just, I can’t help it. I mean, I’m a tea drinker through and through. I’m an earl grey man. But get this. I’m in India. India is a place of tea drinkers, is it not? Yet I only have one or two brands of earl grey to choose from. Can you believe that? I mean, as bad as British colonialism was/is, something brought this country out of the prehistoric–or at least tried to. For some strange reason, for which clarification eludes me, I can only buy one or two cheap brands of earl grey here. And they both suck! And, btw, I hate Twinnings brand tea. Oh well. Things learned in India: there is no choice in India other than bland, no depth, reconstituted bergamot… No wonder I can drink coffee again.

Coffee. I was trying to worst-write about coffee–or India?

I can do two things here that I couldn’t do in Germany.

  1. Grow fingernails
  2. Drink (more) coffee

I kind of gave up coffee about two years ago. It was giving me stomach aches. Or was life giving me stomach aches? Nomatter. The problem with being able to drink coffee here is that there’s no place to get decent Italian roasted coffee beans. But I guess we knew that before we came. Yes, we knew that. We have a six month supply of highly flammable, extremely potent, lusciously delicious Italian roasted expresso beans and we brought with us a really cool Jura to make Euro lattes, cappuccinos, duo espressi. Only six months?

Have I mentioned that India is a mess? And what a mess! Between its stench and the dust filled air one is forced to breath, there is a vast amount of humanity crossing unplanned streets and convoluted wiring–and everyone is in haze of unglory. Wires. Wires span the short horizons as much as the greenery here. What is it with third world places and their street wiring? On the other hand, this place has the best internet I’ve ever experienced. Which means… Wires replace green–and I hate green. And wires mean less human contact. That’s a good thing when living as a westerner in India.

Worst-Speaking of greenery. There is, literally, more people in this city than there is grass. But what of the trees? Bangelore is supposed to be “the garden city”. Not sure where they got that from. While walking Beckett (the killer pug) on filth-streets, some of the people that mumble Indian-English tell me that there used to be more trees in Bangelore.

But the trees have all been cut down, they say.

But this is progress, I say back to them in perfectly articulated English.

It is mind boggling to try and understand Indians speaking English in India. I don’t recall this being an issue meeting Indians in Europe or the US. They all spoke perfect English. In India something changes with them, I guess. Perhaps it’s because here, in their land, they can resort to other ways of speaking English. The Indian way. And so. They mumble as though marbles are jammed between their cheeks and gums and they’re trying to blow bubbles. Their inability to speak English–even though it’s pretty much a standard language here–not unlike rice–requires a great deal of effort to comprehend. More effort, in fact, than I’m willing to give (them). Instead, my contribution to learning Indian culture after three months consists of being able to nod/jiggle my head in affirmation. But I can’t even do that very much since it makes me horribly dizzy.

And by-the-by, one more thing about India. In the short period of time that I’ve been here, I feel even more sorry for the poor of this world then ever before. When I say poor I don’t mean poor-poor. India has a working class poor like no other. And just like the West, the majority of working poor stiffs think they are part of an economy. As shocking as India is with its inability to build and maintain a functioning infrastructure (i.e. wires and greenery don’t mix), its societal poverty problems pale in comparison to the character of the people that are obviously blinded by false-pride, false-nationalism and, more importantly, a false sense of achievement. If the West is being devastated by austerity and propping up the rich, it is only a hop-skip-jump away from the same level of devastation India has achieved.

Which brings me to a bit of worst generalising. For those who don’t wish to continue with Tommi’s negativity, aka worst-writing, I can sum it up in two words that you can read and then click to go somewhere else in the Internetwebs: India sucks!

Don’t forget, dear worst-reader, I’m used to cultural arrogance on a grand scale having lived for so long in the Germania-Clan of #Eurowasteland. Yet India’s collective state of mind (state of arrogance) is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I never expected this. Whether it’s our landlord or some of the corporate executives that we have to deal with or those I meet on the street who obviously speak bad English with a purpose, I never expected this level of empty arrogance. Obviously India has learned well from the empire-state-of-mind that reared it. This vast land made up of government and military with a small portion of economics is nothing more than a freakshow version of most western economies, especially #eurowasteland. Add to that the Indian lust for the Caste system and religious nuttery galore! Wow. What a potent mix. I’m wondering if there are a few oligarchs and plutocrats in the West that look to India for a better way to control the ever expanding chasm they’ve created. The West has already interjected the ignorance of religion into society. If only it could get something like India’s Caste system interjected, too. Double wow!

When I walk my dog I feel as though I’m one of the bad guys of the world. But I don’t give a sh*t anymore. In this short period of time, India has taught me more than any other country I’ve ever been in, it truly is game-over for the rest of us. If the West can pull this off with a country like India–this perfect control of the poor–then it’s only a matter of time until India becomes the new model society. India is proof that no one in the West should have children anymore. No one should work-to-live anymore. Heads of all pseudo-aristocracies, pseudo neo-feudalists, should roll in the streets. For you must see, dear worst-reader, greed and revolution is the only thing the West has to give humanity. And so. Upon being beheaded, the blood of all the useless dead rich (most of which are all rich because of what they inherited not what they achieved) should serve as art for future generations to observe. Indeed. The bitterness of poverty, the bitterness of post-colonialism, the bitterness of human confusion mixed with a false sense of national pride is a potent and destructive tool. This beast that the West has created is perfect for controlling the poor, it’s perfect for India. Control the poor everywhere.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, as Indians avoid their own reality, building distortion fields like Bangelore–it gladly cuts its nose off to spite its own face. I must appear to these people, while I walk my dog in their neighbourhoods, like a ghost of an evil past. I am a horrid figure that comes from a world of really, really stupid working classes that think they actually do things with their useless eating lives. Which mean, everything workers in the West do, they do only to become India.

Thank goodness the morons of the world have their Gods to help them figure things out. (See pic above; turn sarcasm off; end life as we know it.)

Rant on.

-Tommi

When It Rains It Goes Kaputt – #AWS Letter And Power Outages From Hell

AWS instance retirement email redacted pic

A post about how sh*t happens when you move to another world.

First. The power goes out in India–a lot. And I don’t mean it goes out during a storm or something. The friggin power goes out all the time. At our new place it goes out ten friggin’ times day. It’s not like we’re living in an old dilapidated house, either. We’re the first residents in a house that was built about three years ago. Obviously the place has been empty for a few years but it’s still brand friggin’ new. Of course, in India, there are supposed to be failsafe solutions to the third-world infrastructure e.g. power. The diesel aggregate for electric support is on the other side of our direct neighbours. Obviously I’m glad they get all the diesel noise and smells when it kicks in. And there’s the problem. When India can’t deliver electricity these generators are supposed to kick-in within seconds. Ours, I think, not unlike the aggregate in me, drinks a bit too much and, well, can’t really kick-in when it’s supposed to. Which wouldn’t be worth complaining about if we weren’t paying extra for power support. And so. The power goes out while I’m working on the Interwebnets and I scream “F*ck the world!” and it takes at least two or three more power surges for things to get going again in our house. Yeah, that sucks.

Second. I got an email the other night from AWS (pic above). AWS is the system I run my blog on. As you may or may not know, dear worst-reader, AWS is, other than Kindle, probably the most profitable part of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon. When I moved my (this) blog to AWS before our move to India, the idear wasn’t about getting a blog host for as little money as possible–which is this service is. Instead I wanted to move as close as possible to being able to host my own web presence someday. You know, have my own web server, my own IP address, my own my own. After getting through all the BS of setting up an instance (their fancy word for a “server”) on AWS I was kinda proud of myself. Wow, I thought. I actually pulled that off. I set up a Linux server. I installed Apache, MySQL and PHP. And then I installed #Wordpress. There were a few burps that didn’t totally turn me off and in the end, well, worstwriter.com has been running ever since. Ok. Almost ever since. At least three times a month I have to reboot my servers to keep my blog running. I realise that there is a configuration problem with the AWS instance and the webserver and wordpress, but, to be honest, I don’t give a sh*t. As cheap as AWS is, this is starting to be NOT WORTH IT. I moved to AWS because I thought that this part of the digital world had its shit together. Obviously it doesn’t. This part of the world still requires the mindset of the morons and automatons that gave the world the likes of Microsoft. These people, just like me, can’t set themselves free. Which means: why should anybody else be able to set themselves free?

With that in mind, all I can say is: Oh well. At least no one reads this blog that could actually be insulted by being called an automaton and delivering sh*t products.

Looks like I’ll have to start paying for my web presence again. Probably will go with wordpress.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo Review Of Jura's Impressa J85 And Its Passage To India

Jura Impressa J85

Here are five ways, according to worstwriter, how one can make coffee. Of course there are other ways but these are the only ones that matter.

  1. Moka Pot (the only alternative to a high pressure machine for espresso)
  2. French Press (great for breakfast or afternoon quickie)
  3. Espresso (number one but also expensive)
  4. Instant (seriously, I drink it every once-a-once to keep me grounded and prefer it over filter coffee; I’ve always got a supply somewhere)

We bought a new Jura J85 to replace our ageing Jura S7. Reason? We wanted a new & youthful machine to accompany us on our passage to India. Although the S7 was still in good working condition, we figured it was probably better to replace it with a new one instead of having to face the reality of parts and maintenance in India. Luckily I got my lovely sister to buy the S7 off us cheap–so it’s still kind of in the family. Since she lives in Frankfurt, she’ll always have access to maintaining it. Gee, I wonder if she still has it or if she turned around a sold it for more? Nomatter.

In our household a proper espresso dispenser is an absolute must. Since this is our third Jura, it’s obvious that we know what we want–and what we’re willing to pay to have it. Jura is supposed to be the Mercedes of Kaffeevolautomaten aka fully automatic coffee/espresso machines. At the least, Jura seems to charge more than any other maker. If pushed in the corner about comparing it to other brands, I’d probably always go with the Jura. If you’re addicted to espresso based beverages and can afford the addiction, these machines take on a meaning of their own, a meaning that transcends gimmicks or brands, perhaps even life itself.

Getting rid of the old.

We bought the S7 at a discount from a dealer in Wiesbaden almost ten years ago. It was a model at the end of its life-cycle and the dealer needed to get rid of inventory. For the price we paid, it was a good deal. Eventually we even added one of those fancy external milk coolers from Jura but that thing went bust after only two years of use. Something about the refrigerator mechanism going bad and it wasn’t worth replacing. After the experience with S7, though, which followed a lower-end model, I’ve concluded that these machines–from Jura!–only last about five years in a condition that does not warrant a lot of nickels and dimes to keep it going. That said, compared to other brands, I’d still go with the Jura as I don’t think those other brands are worth what they cost.

After five years the S7 required yearly expensive “tune-ups” that often took months to complete. With that in mind, here’s your warning: Jura customer service and maintenance sucks! At least it did with our S7. My better half’s sister has the S9 model and she got much better service. Eventually, especially after warranty, you’re on your own with these highly complex über-plastic machines. I say “plastic” because I took apart our first Jura to see if I could fix it (I couldn’t) and was astonished at how the Jura people built these things. Other than the the place where the water is heated, everything, including where the water is pushed through the coffee, is f’n lego-quality plastic. I just didn’t expect that. But I digress. These machines are not all-weather machines. For example. After five years, the steamer gets harder and harder to unclog and the grinder seems to get louder and louder with every brew. All of that was a signal to not trust our ageing S7 for a move to India. It took us some time to warm up to the fact of having to replace it with a lower-end model. We were also shocked at current Jura pricing. Talk about stupid money! Luckily buying the new one online saved us a few bucks.

Coffee machine facet 1.

I will not forget the first espresso I drank out of the J85. It wasn’t as hot as what came out of the S7–and at the time I could compare them directly. But the low noise level of the grinder of the J85 made up for everything. Compared to the S7, the J85 is practically silent. After a few more coffees everything was as hot as it should be. Obviously the J85 needs to warm-up.

The screen on the J85 takes a bit of getting used to. It allows one to control all aspects of coffee delivery albeit with a not very intuitive button layout. There are buttons on the top of the machine that coincide with buttons on the side of the TFT screen which are on the front of the machine. Jura didn’t quite get it right with the mix of buttons and screen–but that’s neither here nor there. They all work as they should–once you get used to them.

The most important buttons are the ones on the top of the machine. At least one of these buttons is used most by me. It is the button in the middle of the flywheel which lights up red when the machine thinks the milk dispenser should be washed through. Since this machine makes at least six lattes every morning, that button is very useful.

The button to the left of the flywheel is labelled “P”. P stands for program–I guess. When you activate P the screen corresponds as the machine goes into a kind of maintenance mode. It’s here, for example, where you adjust how much water is used in the espresso. It’s also here that one can determine ONLY three levels of heat of the water. The old S7 allowed you determine the exact temperature of the water. You have to switch from using the top buttons to the small buttons on each side of the screen once maintenance mode is activated. Again, it takes a bit of getting used to.

Once you do get used to it, though, you can set how long milk is foamed. I think it’s cool that Jura decided to go with the amount of time and not volume when it comes to foaming milk. A thirty-second draw of milk makes more sense than 60ml. And get this, you can set a pause after foam delivery and before espresso delivery. This allows the foam to settle a bit, it actually thickens up in the pause, which means it absorbs the espresso better. Very cool.

I have to admit that when we packed everything in Germany for the big move, I was a bit nervous about our new coffee machine. I made sure to prep it for long storage, which is explained in the user manual. This basically just empties the machine of any excess water. I then repackaged it in its original box, styrofoam n’all. The device made the two month container trip without a scratch. I can’t tell you how relieved my better half was when she could finally make her first latte. Seriously! For the amount of coffee she drinks, making it out of pouches in hotels with powdered milk or via cheap French presses in furnished apartments–or even trekking to Starbucks–doesn’t quite cut it after two months of withdrawls.

Coffee machine facet 2.

We’ve owned three Juras so far. I’d buy the J85 twice more. Alone the way it rinses the milk foamer mechanism is brilliant. What this saves me on cleaning time compared to the Jura S7 is immeasurable. At first I thought the TFT screen to be overkill but I’ve since gotten used to it. After every third (or so) latte the J85 tells me, via the TFT screen and the lighting of buttons, to run water through the milk dispenser. I can’t say enough how cool this is. Even though I don’t drink milk based espresso beverages, I do have to maintain the machine for my better half. Milk is a mess to clean once it dries and cakes up. The S7 was a nightmare to clean. The J85 sets the bar high when it comes to raising my hopes that Jura is nearing some kind of self cleaning coffee machine utopia. My only wish is that in the future it makes a machine that will also automatically iron my shirts.

Relocating to India with a coffee machine? Seriously?

First. India is not a coffee country–at least not like #eurowasteland. Second, relocating means that you are dependent on the kindness of third world strangers when it comes to getting a coffee fix. This part of the developing world has yet to understand/grasp why the West was able to be so productive in the industrial age. Even trying an India-based competitor to Starbucks proved without a doubt that India has a way to go when it comes to coffee. In reality, when it comes to moving up the world status ladder, it’s all about booze AND f’n coffee, man! Seriously.

But why lug an overly expensive coffee machine to the third world?

The question is mute. As you may or may not know, India is somewhat extreme when it comes to centralised governance and state control. There is a nationalist slash protectionist thirty-percent-rule in India. The rule is thus: so that India can protect itself from being overwhelmed by outsiders, i.e. non Indian interests, thirty-percent of what a foreign business does here has to come from within India. Not a bad way to govern on the whole. Yet if you’re hooked on coffee like socialites are hooked on opiate pharmaceuticals, you may be in a pickle. So the big question we have to deal with soon is where do we get coffee beans? We brought with us a five month supply of Italian beans but what do we do after that? Yes, there is Starbucks, and I’m sure we’ll buy beans from them, but how long will our fix get fixed on krappy #americant influenced beans? Come on India, get yourself some fine roasting coffee beans. Quickly!

Coffee machine facet 3.

We’ve owned our new J85 for about five months now. Two of those months the device was stuck in a forty foot container that travelled from Köln>Maastricht>Singapore>Bangelore. Luckily it came through with flying colours and we’re enjoying life as much as anyone needing their/a fix. Although this is supposed to be a step down from the previous Jura model we owned–even though it was much more expensive than that model–Jura obviously put a lot of improvements into their new machines. I no longer regret not spending more money on a higher-end device. The most important thing about owning an espresso maker like this is that it must deliver great coffee with as little maintenance as possible. The J85 delivers on both so far. We’ll see how things go once we start nearing that five year mark. (Btw, we’re only supposed to be in India for three years.)

Rant on.

-Tommi

PS this is the second post initially written in mark-up. Cool.

Passage To India: First Night In New Home, Dreams Don't Come True, Or Did They Already?

side view reverse osmosis filter
Side view of reverse osmosis filtration system.

Spent last night alone in our new über-Flat. My better-half is in Mumbai and she stuck me with the luggage and dog to take to our new home. No hard feelings though, the dog and I survived the ordeal in the treacherous heat! Yeah, Beckett, the killer pug, the three of us, have been living out of luggage since March 1 and dealing with treacherous heat. We have also been dependent on krappy utensils, cheap cookware, hotel food and too much quick & easy cooking and, and, and. Plus, I hate eating out all the time. The problem with eating out is that two-thirds of restaurants I visit these days only prove that I’m a better cook. Seriously. You don’t reach this worst-level of life experience and waistline without knowing how to top most restaurants at their own game. As long as I have a flame, a good knife and a woman standing behind me wondering how I was able to become such a great kitchen lover-home-maker while she’s wearing beckoning skivvies… But I digress.

This pseudo bourgeois redneck has had enough of the transition from the western world to the almost western world. I’m bored of the waiting, the bureaucracy, the hint that eventually our container will arrive and all is well that will surely end well. That’s a kinda of call-out to my India audience that I’m ultimately impressed with the relative comfort and ease of moving–to your country. As far as our new über-Flat goes, though, dear India, you seriously have to get your shabby craftsmanship and cheap labour under some kind of control. And I’m not (worst) talking as a wannabe pseudo Marxist here.

We picked out a great flat. I think we’re gonna enjoy living here. Gonna dig getting lost in the place that’s for sure. I suppose 4000+ square feet will have that effect. But get this. Had a run-in with the reverse osmosis water filter that we demanded be installed by the landlord. Obviously one can’t drink or even work with tap water here. All one can do is clean with it, bathe in it and, if you’re lucky, splash it on you to cool down. I’m sure most people are aware that one can’t even wash veggies with tap water here. For that reason we demanded a reverse osmosis water filtration system. Gee, I kinda like worst-writing that.

The idea is, a reverse osmosis filtration water machine will clean the water enough so that we can work with it and not have to worry about a small wound getting infected or our cleaned veggies being tainted by pathogens. The only problem is, when I turned it on for the first time yesterday, the fucking thing exploded. Luckily what exploded was the water pressure inside the device. I called the property manager—who’s in charge of our flat—and this afternoon a technician from the manufacturer was here toot sweet. He fixed the device, I guess, and then left. That is, I let him in, I showed him where the device was hanging on the wall in the kitchen, and then I let him do his thing. And that’s all fine & good. It’s just that, after about forty-five minutes, without even saying goodbye or acknowledging that his work was done, I see him through my office window leaving the flat. Ok, I thought. To each his own. So I went into the kitchen and turned the repaired device on. It has to go through this process of filling an internal “clean” water tank. An external hose discards “raw” water to the sink. I’m thinking that later on when we start to get used to things here, I’ll collect the dirty water and use it for plants.

The machine takes about 30 minutes before you can draw clean water from it. So I returned to my office and got back to wasting time—or wishing I was writing one of my novels. After about 20-30 min I heard this strange noise from the kitchen. I go look and the fucking osmosis water filtering piece of shit has exploded again! I turn off the power switch and then unplug it. I drain some of the water out of the internal tank as that’s the culprit of most of the mess in the kitchen and then I call the property manager and within an hour the same technician returns. He starts working on the device again and I go about my business of wasting time writing shit that no one will ever read.

After about 30 min I hear this strange sound from the kitchen–again. This time the fucking fancy, brand new, reverse osmosis water filtration system has exploded all over the technician. Luckily it’s just water and not some otherworld sticky machine ejaculate. So the guy goes about repairing it and after about an hour he tests the machine. This time I’m within viewing distance because I wanna see that new fangled thing explode first hand. But I’m left disappointed. Then he tells me, just before he leaves, that I should watch out for the incoming water pressure.

“I should whaaaaa,” I ask.

“That’s the problem,” he says in some strange India English tongue.

Ok, I thought. Whatever. As I type this the water filtration tank is full but I’ve turned it off—just in case!—for the night. We’ll see how things go tomorrow. Next big hurdle to cross is the cheap, careless craftsmanship that has left our fucking toilets leaking.

Lions and tigers and bears… Oh my.

Rant on.

PS You know what they say about spending first night in a new home, right? They say that what you dream will come true. I’m sure the idiot that came up with that was drunk of optimism, too.

-t

Passage To India: Auto Rickshaw Trash Trucks, Wet Dust, Pigeon Soul Removed

pigeon

Walking the dog is the worst. There’s no place to walk the dog. Well, there’s no place to walk him if you want to be free from street dogs. I’m not one to fear a dog or two that I don’t know. I can read their tales, their ears, their eyes. But when suddenly out of nowhere four or five dogs appear that look like they haven’t eaten in weeks, that’s when I, Tommi, the great and comfortable professional dog sitter (pseudo master of everything that is worst in this krapp world), gets a bit afeard. Oddly (or not) some little kid did say to me, after he finished admiring Beckett, the killer pug, in the glory of his broken English, that all I needed to do to fend off the street dogs was to carry a stick around with me. Actually, I thought about carrying a torch around with me. That way I could not only fend off the dogs of Karnataka but I might even be able to fend off a zombie or three. §Speaking of the end of the fucking world. How the hell did I get here? And don’t get me wrong, dearest worst-reader, I’m not complaining about India. I like India. I like the way the people smile at me after I smile at them first. I also like the way they play street music and then beg for money and then want to put a red dot on my forehead. But that’s kinda where I draw the line. It’s not that I’m against red dots. They look good–on some women. It’s the whole religious thing that gets to me. Being a cynical anti-theist will have that effect. Or? §After seven weeks in India it finally rained. I was watching (i.e. studying the writing of) Boston Legal when I heard the drops falling on the big palm leaves outside my balcony. We’re on the fourth floor of a twenty story building. Until our new place is finished, we’re living temporarily in a furnished three bedroom apartment. Luckily it’s got A/C and a lots of ceiling fans. During the day I try to run the ceiling fans–being the energy conscious person I am. But at night we have to run the A/C. The only other problem is we can’t control the A/C fan. Nomatter. §I’ve actually spent an afternoon or three just staring at the tops of the trees that are directly in front of my balcony. How often do you get to stare at the tops of trees? Obviously they’re planted and not natural–but they fit well with the artificialness of the building. I mean. We’re pretty much–if one goes by western standards–right in the middle of a slum. Put another way: I have a treetop view from within an oasis overlooking a slum. With that mind, I appreciate more and more why Bangelore is called The Garden City. I would only append that with Garden Slum City. Also. If it wasn’t for the blazing heat of the season–which, btw, everyone here attributes to global warming–this would be a stunning slum. Wait. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ranting on India–yet. I never expected to move here and then live in anything like The West. But I have to admit that I’m a bit taken aback by the level of depravity that is so blatant in this city. It is so damn filthy that I’m always looking out for trash trucks. I used to get a kick out of trash trucks when I was a kid. I knew them as rear loaders, side-loaders, grapple trucks. I knew the men that worked those truck (not personally, of course). I watched as neighbours would give the trash-men on a hot day a six pack of cold beer but one of the men, not the driver, refrained from drinking. They guzzled down the beer like it was water and threw the empty bottles right int the back of their truck. I thought that was so COOL. I later learned the guy that didn’t drink a beer was muslim. I think was twelve at the time. Yeah, I was twelve when I learned what a Muslim was. §In Bangelore, India, I’ve only seen one trash truck–and I’m not sure calling it that is appropriate. It was/is a converted/modified auto rickshaw aka tuk-tuk vehicle. The rear cabin had been removed and the vehicle was lengthened and a small truck bed with high walls had been inserted. There were three men in the truck. There was a driver, someone sleeping on a pile of trash in the truck bed and a third man hanging on to the side who would spring from the vehicle to grab trash from the side of the road and then throw it in the back of the truck–underneath the sleeping man. Oddly (or not) most of the trash on the side of the road would not be picked up. They seemed to only take certain things from the pile. Perhaps during another moment of observation I’ll take heed to know how they sorted their catch. Till then, I’ll remain confused–as ever. The rest of the trash, though, remained and with every walk of my dog I walked by that remaining trash and thought: what a fucking slum. Which brings this post almost full circle. §The first thing I noticed after it rained Sunday night for about an hour was that the dust in the air had not washed away. Isn’t that what rain is supposed to do? Obviously a measly hours worth of rain isn’t enough to clean the city but at least it could get rid of some of the dust. The next morning, as I walked Beckett, the killer pug, I took special notice of some wet spots that hadn’t yet evaporated. I called them my spots of wet dust. §There was something else during that odd night of rain. While I watched the precipitation fall in the night, lit by random street lights and the glow of the high-rise we lived in, there was a brief flash of light in the near distance. I saw the flash from the corner of my left eye. I went to the edge of the balcony and tried to focus on the distance, waiting for the thunder to arrive. But there was no thunder. My better half didn’t see the flash and she said that it rarely thunderstorms in Bangelore. “Are you sure it was lightening,” she asked. No, I wasn’t sure. The next morning after Beckett and I returned to the gated grounds of our apartment complex, I walked around to the back of the building, behind the pool. On the ground I saw the empty cadaver of a pigeon. Both Beckett and I shared an anti-theist prayer for the poor animal that probably got caught in some electrical wires the night before as it was confused by the rain. In my life-time this was the third animal I had seen killed by electrical wires. The first was a squirrel that literally exploded as it attempted to cross a high wire electrical junction box. The second was a pheasant that thought it had gotten away from a hunter’s bad aim. As the pheasant banked right avoiding the spread of the twelve gauge, its wings clipped multiple electric wires at the edge of the field. As the animal tried to recover it got more and more tangled in the wires. Eventually the bird began to cook in the wires and I even remember seeing a drop of blood fall from its tortured mouth/beak. My eyes were so good then. I’ll never forget the hunter making remarks about the animal flying right into the wires because he was as stupid as jujubes. When I tried to get the other hunters to help me free the dead animal from the wires they all just laughed. They thought it appropriate the animal remain. I spent hours trying to get that pheasant down from the wires. I eventually succeeded. §And so are the thoughts stirred by wet dust, tuk-tuk trash trucks and dead pigeons. Thanks for your patience, dear worst-reader.
Rant on.
Tommi

Passage To India, Legal, House Hunting And Cat5 Ethernet

wall-mounted-ethernet.jpg

The first week in India has been a challenge. Not sure I can communicate it fully in this status update. But have no fear, worst-writer will try.

  • Big day today. Started very early where we had to go to immigration authorities to get legal docs regarding our visa. After about two hours of sitting around it all worked out. We’re legal till Jan 2017.
  • After legal stuff it is time to get serious about apartment hunting.
  • Better-half is in the middle of lots of work, getting initialised in her new position and new organisation. There should be some domestic travel between north India and our new home in Bangelore. But luckily that hasn’t started yet.
  • As far as worst-writer living in a hotel for up to two months, here’s what I can come up with so far. I’m a bit perturbed with the trepidations of taking care of a dog that finds our living quarters cramped. Luckily our room is attached to a basketball-size garden where he can run around outside as though he owns the place.
  • As far as the hotel goes, it’s a five-star facility in the middle of Bangelore. Although I haven’t the time or courage to try out the pool–it’s in the middle of main dining area, I have tried the sauna, the gym and the bar where there’s this cute India chick that loves Beckett the-killer-pug so much she’s offered to watch after him if we need a dog-sitter.
  • “But that’s my job, sweety,” I thought to myself. It’s not so obvious that rolls have been switched in our household.
  • Our über-friendly bar-maiden also serves a mean Kingfisher beer along with some seriously hot n spicy bar snacks–which I’m still struggling to avoid. And one last note on cute India chicks.
  • As you know, dear worst-reader, Indian chicks wear Sari’s and depending on their mood or their posture there is always something revealing in their dress. Why does that shock me?
  • Apartment hunting. After a week of delays we finally got around to some serious apartment hunting today. So far it looks like we’re not going to be living in a “expat” community–something we initial thought we should do. Due to travel times across the city, though, the preferred community is just too far out of reach. In Bangelore it’s not the actual distance that’a a problem. It’s the time needed to drive. Needless to say, traffic here (third world?) is horrendous–or should I say it’s almost as bad as traffic in Cologne (first world?)
  • One of our apartments favourites has its own pool. Can you believe that? I joked with the agent showing us the place that a pool is good, I like places with extra bathtubs. The bathtub comment turned into a running joke. In my heart of hearts, though, having a private pool is a bit too bourgeois and decadent. But my better-half liked it.
  • Another apartment, that was brand new, btw, was wired with CAT5 ethernet. Stop the presses! That’s some pretty modern stuff and would make any on-going, wannabe systems analyst and potential self-web-hoster like me, drool.
  • Yeah, I’ll take CAT5 ethernet over a private pool any day.
  • Enough for now. We look at more apartments on Saturday. Decision should be pending after that.

Rant on. -Tommi

Passage To India Update. Finding Love Of Bureaucracy. Jitters.

Dom and Sky

Last Wednesday

Moving company arrives to begin packing. They’re an hour and half late. I order them sandwich rolls from local bakery and also get them some Cola. After a few hours of boxing, rolling glasses, listening to the screams of packing tape, I surprise them with an offer to buy lunch at a Greek diner a few doors down. They reluctantly accept but when they return they are very pleased. After that they immediately start working again. Six and half hours later about three quarters of our stuff is either packed or taken apart or prepared to be packed–except for our Ikea kitchen. That night we moved into an apartment-hotel in centre of Köln as there’s no way to sleep in our place.

Last Thursday

The movers arrive in the morning on-time, a little after eight. They stayed the night in a local worker-hotel and by the sound of the foreman’s voice they splurged the money they saved by not having to buy lunch Wednesday. His voice sounded like expensive Aldi Schnapps. Yeah, that was part of my generous plan. More on that here. They finish packing all the furniture and deconstructing the kitchen. I’m amazed at how little damage the kitchen has sustained considering my cooking art which includes but is not exclusive to excessive alcohol priming. Of course, the floor is a mess.

Another very important thing happened on Thursday. We got the required paper work for Beckett, the killer pug–a huge relief–that allows us to import a small dog to India.

Another important happening: During the chaotic packing and apartment removal, we heard from our new employer in India that they changed our temp housing in Bangelore. We’ve been moved from the outskirts of the city to a hotel in the city centre. Reason for change? According to sources it has to do with the first hotel not willing to accommodate us for such a long stay. Either that or our company started to consider the bill of staying in a five-star hotel for up to two months. The good thing is, they moved us to another five-star hotel. So that doesn’t make much sense. The bad thing is, it’s the middle of Bangelore and that might not be good for walking Beckett, the killer pug. Of course, all of that is mute if we don’t find a place to live fairly quickly. Who knows how that will work itself out. We’ve been warned that in India things move rather slowly.

And while we’re on the subject of places to live, luckily there’s lots of info available on the Internet about housing and there seems to be plenty of houses, townhouses and condos to choose from. In hindsight, we should have had housing arranged or at least picked out some objects to choose from before our arrival. It would have been easy to do after our visit last November. Of the places we looked we could have directed our Relocation Officer (that’s right, such a job title exists) to pick out a few houses so that we pick from them as soon as we arrive. Oh well.

Last Friday

Be lazy. Have a cocktail at 11am. Worst-write. For example:

During the next few days we’ll be cleaning up our flat, prepping it for return to rental company on Monday. Btw, in Germany there is no clear legal distinction between landlord and renter. This is due to the simple fact that Germany is a collective. It is also a socialist, pseudo communist state. But that political ideology nonsense is neither here nor there. What’s important is that the collective state of Germany’s first priority is to offer the appearance of égalité. The Germans don’t even bother with the other parts of the French idear. The appearance of égalité is enough for the powers-that-be to keep the hard-working, BMW-driving riffraff at bay. Indeed, the German Mittelstand (middle class) is a passive and submissive bunch. Where the lie does shine, though, is when you move out of a rental apartment. For you see, dear worst-reader, (sarcasm on) in Germany, a landlord should not have any costs when it comes to owning real-estate–other than, of course, the costs it must pay to reimburse the bank for loaning money to buy the unit (sarcasm off). When you move out of an apartment in Germany you’re supposed to leave it renovated, hence the burden of ownership cost is transferred to the measly (riffraff) renter. This is reminiscent of how much of the German economy actually functions–or should I worst-write dysfunction? At the least, Germany is not the efficient machine that it projects to the world. If, on the other hand, the burdens/costs of the rich can’t be put on the shoulders of the Mittelstand riffraff or the poor, then all the collective does it raise taxes. That’s how Germans cook their books and pay for pensions and free university and tax havens in… wherever. So. There you have it. Germania explained. But before I get too far off track…

There’s also some paper work that needs to be done for Germany i.e. cancel GEZ (German compulsive TV tax), cancel land-line phone and ISP and also cancel cell contracts. In fact, once we got our Abmeldung (unregistration) notice (which was a pain in the ass and worth a separate post) and forwarded copies of it to all to these for-profit agencies, we promptly heard the following.

  • The land-line phone company and ISP immediately accepted the cancellation.
  • We’re still waiting on GEZ and will be notified while in India.
  • Vodafone immediately told us that they won’t accept our cancellation. Cell phone companies are a bit nit-picky, aren’t they? And that brings us to our next bureaucratic dilemma.

Telekommunikationsgesetz §46 (Telecommunication Law)

The Germans passed a law not long ago that if a cell company can’t maintain the original contract when someone moves, they HAVE to let the customer out of the contract. Since Germany is a collective state, i.e. everyone is tracked and watched and observed, it’s easy to know if a person HAS to move and under what circumstance. Even the German collective sees the burden of the riffraff having to deal with stubborn and greedy cell phone carriers. This in part relates to what I write about above regarding Abmeldung (deregistering). It works something like this:

You are required to register when you move from one residence to the next. I suppose the equivalent of this in the US is when you have to get a new driver’s license moving from one state to another. The difference though is that German residence is decouple from a German driver’s license. Of course, it doesn’t matter if you move within a state. So allow me to reiterate this very, very strange dystopian reality of the German collective. Whether you move from one corner of a city to another or from one part of the state to another you have to register at a state registration office notifying the collective of what you’re doing. The information you provide, though, is not just about your new address. You also have to provide proof of a rental contract or home ownership, proof of a job and income and proof you have children, if applicable, etc., etc., etc.

How this relates to a new telecommunications law is the following: As Germany struggles with globalisation, which equates with riffraff workers having to both work & live across large distances, too many people were getting screwed as the cellphone craze took shape. Buy your phone with company A in city A but then move or work in city B and find out that your phone service suddenly sucks bat balls and you screwed. Obviously Vodafone can’t fulfil our contracts where we’re going so we want out. Or can they fulfil them? I suppose non of that matters because cell phone companies, for whatever reason, seem to wield a lot of power over getting money out of people–and thereby doing very little for those people. Our situation will probably be something like this: Vodafone is already delaying our request because our contracts run out in July 2016 anyway. Unless we fight them through legal means we don’t have any chance of making them stop collecting money from us. And don’t get me started on bank transfers that are controlled by the cellphone company. Oh well.

Yesterday (Saturday)

Say goodbye to family, drink heavily again.

Sunday (Today)

Finish prepping old apartment, final clean, discard/throw-away plants no one wants, clean mess/floor left by kitchen deconstruction, fill holes on walls from hanging stuff, and put throw-away Ikea stuff on the street where I ordered special trash pickup for Monday, etc.

Monday

Even though I’m writing this on Saturday night and Sunday morning, I’m gonna go out on a limb here. After our last weekend in Germany, sweating paperwork and bureaucracies and worrying about Beckett, the killer pug, and how he’ll handle the eight hour flight in a box, I’m finally getting the jitters. Ok. Maybe I’ve had them all along. But we’ve been so busy doing krapp, it hasn’t had time to sink in. Or? Anywho. All we have to do during our last hours in Germany is turn over our apartment, turn in our company car (goodbye Audi A5 Quattro and that shitty transmission!), turn in work assigned computer equipment and then spend our last night staring at the Kölner Dom!

Alles wird gut!

Rant on. Tommi