Instead of exposing you to an endless supply of boring pictures of me, here’s a few aminals from my trip:
Archive for the ‘silliness’ Category
Back by popular demand (okay, little to none): more lessons I learned in India.
LESSON 6 – DEATH IS INEVITABLE: When people ask what was most memorable, I offer an answer and a little advice: Before stepping in a car, make peace with your Maker. As we left the Delhi airport, a sign read, “LANE DRIVING IS SANE DRIVING.” Let’s just say sane driving (or shoulder checking) has yet to catch on.
Within the confines of our various automobiles and auto-rickshaws, we witnessed accidents, had a few close calls, dents, and scrapes of our own, and even experienced a rush hour cattle crossing in the middle of Delhi (the world’s eight largest metropolis). A saving grace was that congestion means vehicles rarely travel over 60 km/hr for more than a few kilometres.
It is true, however, that drivers in India tend to pay more attention. And they’re better for it.
LESSON 7 – PUFFED WHEAT COFFEE: If you know me, you may well be aware that I am something of a coffee fan. You may not know, however, that I am also deeply passionate about those puffed wheat squares (here’s somebody’s blog post with a great pic AND a delicious-looking recipe). I have never connected these two passions — until I went to India and grabbed a cup of java. I am now coo coo for cocoa puff coffee (okay, not really).
LESSON 8 – SYMBOLS MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS IN DIFFERENT PLACES: Swastikas, hammers, and sickles abound in India. Note anything extremely unusual (to western eyes) in this image from Jew Street in Cochi, less than a hundred yards from a 450-year-old synagogue?
Unlike swastikas, hammers and sickles are not venerable religious symbols dating back thousands of years. Like swastikas, however, they are bountiful in India. The hammer and sickle has proliferated in India alongside communist and Maoist parties throughout the country. The Kerala government is Marxist, for instance. Ergo hammers and sickles and portraits of Stalin in the vegetable markets.
LESSON 9 – YES, TATA MAKES THAT: In early 2009, there was quite the hubbub for the commercial launch of the Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car (approximately $2500 CDN). Reports everywhere said the Nano was a game changer. Mother Nature would have to take another one for the team as every man, woman, and child in India would take to the road in cramped style.
Amazingly, I actually saw more camels than Nanos on the road, which might have something to do with the Nano’s reputation for spontaneous combustion.
Go to India, and you will discover that despite owning the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, Tata is much more than the Indian equivalent of Ford. Tata manufactures trucks, buses, and cars (no camels yet), but also compact umbrellas and energy drinks. Have a cellphone? Tata’s a carrier. Drink tea? Try Tata’s blend (guess who own Tetley?).
Tata owns all. This I learned.
LESSON 10 – CLOVE-FLAVOURED TOOTHPASTE: is not as bad as it sounds. Trust me on this. But for Pete’s sake, please skip Crest Cumin.
As I sort through the photos and mentally process the trip, I thought I might share some of the lessons gleamed from my experiences.
LESSON 1 – BE CO-OPERATE:
Engrish.com is one of my favourite websites. It features the hilarious and often profane spelling mistakes found in public displays of the English language (mostly in China). In India, where English is one of 2 official languages (22 others have official status in different states), the mistakes are rarely as hilarious, but they are plentiful. I would guess that about half of all signs, posters, and marquees contain at least one gaffe. Spell check, it seems, is a luxuary.
LESSON 2 – PUBLIC TOILETS VARY IN QUALITY: Often they’re just a hole, a tap, and a bucket. Side note: Bring your own TP. Second side note: Men, fear not, the entire country is your urinal (confirmed sightings of public micturition – 47).
LESSON 3 - WHITE = MINOR CELEBRITY STATUS: I’ve traveled a bit over the years and have occasionally noticed people staring or smiling at me. A tourist is often something of a strangely dressed novelty, but in India, people would shake my hand at random, little kids would say, “Hi uncle! What’s your name?,” and complete strangers would approach me to pose in their snapshots (being extremely photogenic, I happily obliged).
LESSON 4 – TRADEMARK, SHMADEMARK:
I don’t know if anyone has informed the Disney corporation’s dark legion of litigators, but the likeness of Mickey Mouse is found everywhere in India (including toys, fireworks, and walls of domestic airports). I was tempted by a pair of genuine “Versage” boots, official government stores sold counterfeit cologne, and I longed for some of the Lt. Col’s GFC (8 secret spices).
LESSON 5 - A HOTEL IS NOT A HOTEL (EXCEPT WHEN IT IS): Some of the most baffling signage in India comes courtesy of the astronomical number of hotels – the majority of which are restaurants with nary a bed or bellhop to be found. A fellow traveler who grew up there said the reason for “hotel” (pronounced ‘hot-el’ rather than ‘ho-tell’) is that it’s easier to spell than restaurant. Plus it sounds luxuarious.
Here’s a tip for telling the difference: Your local Holiday Inn or Ramada rarely specifies vegetarian or non vegetarian.
Gangtok stymies all expectations of India: majestic heights, moderate temperatures, and small crowds.
The city of approximately 30,000 is the capital of Sikkim, the country’s least populated state, nestled in the Himalayas between Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. Gangtok lies in the shadow of snow-capped Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest summit. The surrounding hills are home to wildlife, elaborate monasteries (and ubiquitous prayer flags) and some of the sharpest hairpin turns you’ll ever see. It’s beautiful.
To reach Gangtok, you must first land in Bagdogra, West Bengal, and skirt a succession of harrowing turns for three-and-a-half hours (don’t fret, roadside monkeys are there to cheer you on). Upon entering Sikkim, a visitor’s permit must be procured. It’s a mere formality, but it admittedly feels a little strange to get a passport stamp within the same country.
Our trip was one of highs and, well, highs. We visited countless monasteries and temples, snapped photos of saffron-robed monks and red pandas, witnessed the filming of a Bengali movie, and enjoyed a rare and affordable cappuccino along Gangtok’s main pedestrian stroll (like virtually every other place, a Mahatma Gandhi marg or road).
There were other interesting moments: one of my co-travelers was nearly bitten by an angry roadside monkey who apparently had a strict “no flash photography” policy, and another wound up with a couple of leeches on her ankle. Bloodsuckers, it seems, are found in moist grasses everywhere. Taking off my shoes, I discovered a big fat leech. I was spared only by my choice of socks that day (thank you, Kodiak!!).
But the most memorable part of the trip came the day before we were scheduled to leave Gangtok. An impending road block for some political reason or other meant we had to rush out early. We hastily booked a hotel near the Bagdogra airport, in the city of Siliguri. Ominously, the hotel name was a mispelling of a Greek god.
We arrived late at night. The smell when I opened our “Super Delux” room nearly knocked me flat. It was a fragrance most foul and sharp, like someone had fermented potpourri and doused the room like a moon-faced teenager in so much Axe spray. My spouse thought the stink emanated from newly laminated wood-paneled walls and floors. We blasted our fans and A/C to relieve some of the pressure, but no luck. Worse, it was too late to do anything about it.
Throughout the night, the stench would periodically wake me up. I dreamed uneasy dreams and slept fitfully.
In the morning, still grumbling and without my regular coffee to temper my ill feelings, I investigated the room and found about 20 of these little white devils (right) lodged in every cupboard, shelf, and nook. What percentage was deodorant, napthalene, camphor, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, or some other heinous concoction, I did not know. I only knew I had uncovered the source of the odour (alas, too late).
They ask obvious questions to make people feel smart – I understand the concept. Multiple choice questions like “Who is the president?” or “How many bouncing balls are there?” are one thing, but this ad takes the concept of IQ in an altogether different direction.
It’s actually the Isihara color test!
Since when is NOT being colour blind a measure of intelligence?? And what does that say for the near-sighted?
When Jin is in Room 23 on Hydra Island, he watches the DHARMA brainwashing video and sees this image. A COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULB??? From looking it up on the interwebs, I discovered this was already old info seen before and included in DVD extras.
Unlike everything else in the video, this looks post 90s and therefore NOT the DHARMA era. Weird, no? Does this mean some tampering with a little help from the Others?
For many Canadians, last Monday marked a return to reality. It doesn’t get any more mundane than Monday, March 1st.
Whether you spent the last hours of February reveling in beer-induced patriotism, or in grim avoidance of that I Believe song, it’s definitely a bit of a downer from Olympic reverie. Years from now, how many children born in November 2010 will look back to Sidney Crosby’s heroics as inspiring a glint in their father’s eye?
UBC cancelled school for the two Olympic weeks. A perfect opportunity for journalism students to make some hay! I took a job as a media liaison officer with Olympic Broadcasting Services.
It meant working with biathletes, ski jumpers, and cross-country skiiers, as well as Olympic broadcasters of an array of nationalities. I was a broadcaster bouncer, an interview timer, and a media cop both good and bad (depending on the situation).
It also meant rubbing shoulders with some interesting folks. Here’s me with a Swedish coterie, including His Highness Carl XVI Gustaf.
Coming down into from three weeks in Whistler village, I only have a modest Olympic hangover. At $7-8 pints, I couldn’t afford anything more.
Imagine a world where comedians worked clean, and where awkward pauses and hecklers were removed.
The world would be poorer, certainly, but we would still have all six seasons of Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist, the innovative Squigglevision cartoon which ran on Comedy Central from 1995-1999.
The premise of the show was simple: comedian Jonathan Katz played a professional therapist, and each episode featured two or three comedic “patients.” To provide some semblance of plot, enter the regulars: Katz’s unemployed 25-year-old son Ben (pictured right, H. Jon Benjamin) and snarky receptionist Laura (Laura Silverman). Katz’s bar buddies would intersperse some nuggets of wisdom.
Why am I writing about Dr. Katz now? Because my iPod classic is full of dozens of episodes, forever at my disposal. Whenever I’m stuck in line somewhere, I never frown or yawn. Instead, I am apt to start giggling loudly (much to the consternation of my fellow line-mates). And because of the show’s non-linear elements, I can cycle through each of the six seasons without ever growing tired of the good doctor.
Guests on the show are a veritable who’s who of today’s comedy stars. There are late night talk show hosts (Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien), sitcom stars (Ray Romano, Dave Attell, David Cross), zany HBO/Comedy Central stars (Dave Chappelle and Sarah Silverman), panelists from The View (Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, but no Babs). Katz had them all. Even Ben Stiller, Wynona Ryder, Carrie Fisher, and David Duchovny showed up at one point or other.
But the real stars of the show are the lesser known but truly great standup comedians: Dom Irrera, Paul F. Tomkins, Brian Regan, Louis C.K., and Kevin Meaney, to name but a few.
A quick search of YouTube reveals a small sample of the show’s hilarious moments.
The always funny Patton Oswalt skewers Star Wars:
Al Lubel does a spot-on Jimmy Stewart:
Dom Irrera on cat-punching:
I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to personality tests. I’ve done the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, some sort of colour test, and a whole variety of others.
I’ve done so many tests, in fact, I’d be darned if I were able to remember any of the results. I think I’m an intuitive blue-green shark or something. You may know better than me.
I’m so weary of confusing and accurate personality tests, I’ve been testing out my own system which does not require any lengthy questionnaires (do you disagree, agree, or are you neutral?). Gone are the zany typologies and acronyms (for instance, you will never find yourself uttering the words: “I’m a purple ostrich too!”).
In my experience, you need only look at your inbox. There are a variety of email personalities:
The Clutterbox: Your inbox is stuffed full of messages (1000+). You read only the important messages, leave the rest unread. You don’t care. You may not know how to customize your wallpaper theme (but why bother?).
- Strengths: You’re good at tuning out the background noise and prioritizing. You accomplish many of your goals, and cut your losses when others don’t pan out.
- Weaknesses: You struggle at keeping things in proportion. Also, your old friends and co-workers have long given up on trying to get a hold of you. You’re something of a dabbler (and not a renaissance man/woman like you sometimes tell yourself).
The Goalsetter: You keep your inbox filled to a targeted, typically round number. You face the facts: you’re not going to read all those emails, but you’re not giving up on important relationships. 100 unread emails? Manageable, at least until things slow down. Problem is, they never do and your inbox tends to slowly creep up. You may have customized your inbox theme, preferably with a galactic or pebbly theme.
- Strengths: You have a pretty good social awareness and a positive outlook on life. You value relationships and are usually excellent at keeping up with people.
- Weaknesses: You can be a bit of a people-pleaser and you occasionally get overwhelmed.
The Checklister: Keeps inbox tidy with ZERO unread messages whenever possible, let alone any unsightly junk mail. The sight of an untended email account causes you to shudder. You may use a tidy-looking alternative theme (checks, patterns) to differentiate yourself from the unwashed masses, but not something too flashy (unicorns, really?).
- Strengths: You are punctual, generally very courteous (except when someone forwards you messages you are obliged to check as read), and deferential to a fault.
- Weaknesses: Despite your best efforts, life tends to be difficult to control. You tend to avoid conflict, often at your own detriment. You may have some anger issues.
The Forwarder: You love getting messages with jokes, impassioned political pleas, or funny pictures/videos. You enthusiastically send emails to any or all like-minded individuals.
- Strengths: You are giving and free with yourself. You love life, laughs, and thoughts.
- Weaknesses: You may not realize your emails ANNOY your friends, unless your friends are like-minded (which they most probably are).
Well, that’s all I could come up with. Do you have any way of improving my test? Let me know.
It sits right there between Bringing it All Back Home and Desire. On my iPod at least.
Yep. Bob Dylan’s newest album, the sugar-frosted Christmas in the Heart. Not Christmas approximately or revisited, on the tracks or out of mind. In the Heart.
And yeah, kids, it’s all for charity.
Whether adopting a stance of disbelief or nonchalant acceptance when first hearing His Bobness would take on Xmas, few of Dylan’s legion followers could have predicted that title. Of course, few fans can predict anything the elder croonster will try, including sputtering the following words in the polka (!) rendition of Must Be Santa:
Who laughs this way, ho ho ho? Santa laughs this way, ho ho ho.
So what’s left? That instrumental album he’s always promised? A children’s album with Dylan infusing the Eensy Weensy Spider with equal parts Glenlivet and Marlboro? How many artistic roads can a man walk down?
But back to that lovable chestnut of a Christmas album. From the opening jingle bells to the final, sonorous amen, it’s clear that a) this is all in good fun, b) it’s Dylan’s most explicitly religious album since Shot of Love. It includes standard hymnody material like Hark The Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful (with Dylan croaking in Latin(!)), The First Noel, and O Little Town of Bethlehem.
But that’s not all. Dylan’s rendering of Here Comes Santa, for instance, has religious dimensions I had never fathomed. The message, however, is clearly ecumenical and devoid of the strident warnings of Slow Train Coming:
Santa knows that we’re God’s children, that makes everything right. Fill your hearts with Christmas cheer, ‘cos Santa Claus comes tonight.
Peace on earth would come to all if we just follow the light. Let’s give thanks to the Lord above, ‘cos Santa Claus comes tonight.
Can Dylan save Christmas? The critics are mixed, but stay on the slightly positive side of things. Jim Caroompas says, “for my money the very best Christmas album I have ever heard.” The Onion AV Club gives it a B-, calling Dylan a “fruitcake,” saying he “surely knows just how wrong his mangled liquefying-granite voice is for lots of this material, and there are times when he flaunts just that what-the-hell quality….” Sean Wilentz, the Princeton historian and scholar-in-residence at BobDylan.com, has Dylan channeling Bing Crosby. Well, okay.
Myself, I’m partial to Bruce Cockburn’s Christmas, so it’ll take a few more listens for me to put Christmas in the Heart.