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08/01/2016

So?? How is life in Gurgaon?

Well, not so easy easy to adapt to be honest... Be it only because of the climate and the wildlife.

For example from May to June it was hot. So hot even the mosquitoes did not survive here, and it was nice! At nearly fifty degrees, you are at high risk of liquefaction, at least of your brain. Even the pool water becomes too hot. One or two sandstorms to spice up everything and give a little fun to the cleaning lady, as the house is apparently completely permeable to dust. From time to time we can spot a snake looking for water, possibly in the pool, even he is hot the poor thing...

End of June – beginning of July there were ups and downs, and a little rain. Just enough for flies to hatch. Quite a nuisance these flies. Obviously, when it gets hot the AC guy comes by to check that everything works well in the office. And as everything works well, he decides to be a bit zealous and loosen some valves. Following which he creates a water damage and flees the crime scene, letting water flowing from the ceiling cheerfully. How nice was it, all of us sweat profusely in the office during the following week!

And then mid-July it began to rain a little more, almost once a week. Just enough for mosquitoes to resuscitate this time! And at the end of the month, a day or two of heavy rains destroyed a lot of infrastructure – well, they forgot to put a drainage system when they built the city so I don’t get how everybody got so surprised by the flooded roads – and left Gurgaon stranded for almost an entire night (cf below what the poor rich of my society had to go through, tough life!). And gave life back to the... ants! Yes yes! So at the moment there is a waltz of flies, mosquitoes and ants. And the temperatures are quite pleasant (minus the humidity otherwise it would be too much happiness).

Apart from all these summer, climate and entomological considerations, life isn't so bad in our big quite house. What is a little painful is that nothing is at a walkable distance. But hey, we can’t have everything!

Inde,Gurgaon,heat,summer,rains,monsoon,mosquitoes

05/09/2016

A Samurai at the Ambassador’s cocktail party

This is quite interesting to attend this type of events at the Swiss Ambassador, in honor of the visit of a big shot of a big company. An experience to have, but not necessarily to repeat (especially after you have shone like me that night)...

First of all because at least half of the people are from the company in question, which is of little interest to you since you have no short term project to reconvert in agriculture.

Then because if you thought you could make Swiss buddies there you are a fool: there are exactly six Swiss in all the assistance... And they are not the friendliest people, they have this kind of arrogance of those who have “lived” India, while you, poor wannabe... This is how one of them asked me how long I had been here. Spontaneously I replied 2 months. You would have seen the complicit looks these guys exchanged... I preferred not to pick up. Oh well, just a bit. But I didn’t really get the admiration look I expected, more the kind of look you give to crazy people!

And above all you must be careful with what you say. Don’t do like me what. For example, when his ‘Excellency’ came to shake my hand, I was obviously not well aware of the protocol:

  • Him: Hello
  • Me: Hello
  • Him: And you are?
  • Me: Emilie
  • Him: From?
  • Me (he starts to be a little indiscreet that one!): France
  • Him: No, I mean, from which company?
  • Me: Oooops

By the way the answer to this question – answer that I really like because it always makes me laugh inside –  which is “I sell for breastpumps” does not have the most beautiful effect at the Ambassador’s party. And to go even further, since people don’t understand what the hell I am talking about, I have to fake squeak my boobs to explain. You see! So finally I positioned myself as a General Manager in the high-tech medical equipment company.

You can also avoid making the following comments:

“Ah bah if the head of legal of my company was visiting India, he would not be get to a reception like that!”

Or to imitate the German Swiss accent aloud (it sounds pretty much like this: “rrrrrggrrrrrrgrrrr”).

Or “Ah you work for this company! Yes I know them well, it’s the competitor of this one! ».

Or “If we get arrested, the Ambassador will come save us!” (especially when the Ambassador in question is right behind you)

India,swiss embassy,ambassador's cocktail partyWhen you manage to say so many non-senses without drinking, it is recommended to avoid jumping on the (Indian) wine glasses that pass back and forth. Same for the chocolate cake – it is less bad to look like an ogre than a drunk (and the risk to discredit yourself completely is less), but it’s still not very classy... (I tried to play the discreet but the cake was too good!)

I think I put on quite a (Samurai) show that night!

05/02/2016

A departure high in colours...

It’s Monday night. I haven’t eaten the whole day, too busy “closing” things at work (actually you never close anything but nevermind...). Luckily (smartly?) I have packed the bags the past weekend – it’s crazy how complicated it can get to travel with a baby, starting with checking whether winter clothes fit and finishing with folding the portable cot!

Now it’s 7:30 PM, Baby Samurai is asleep, the nanny on the train, the husband in the taxi, and I’m putting a final touch to packing (with a special focus on food). And suddenly I hear the baby call for me. And as soon as I lift him up he vomits on me profusely. His first vomit ever in 16 months, we are both stunned... Unable to take a step without walking on puke, I have no idea what to do. So I first clean him up, put him back to sleep, wash the floor then myself and get back to the luggage. I lost my appetite. And then he pukes again. I wash him again, he seems to feel better, and I am still running around in my underwear. I’ll take a shower at the last minute, you never know.

It’s 10 PM. I have to shampoo the cat. Some would argue that the time may not be perfect but I have to help the poor animal to get rid of his special guest (some kind of ringworm) and I could not find any other time!

10:30. The taxi is downstairs. I grab Baby Samurai to put some clothes and he barfs again, all over me, again. One more shower and we’re off!

And he empties his stomach again in the car, what nightmare! The 8-hour flight to Europe promises to be very long...

india,gurgaon,toll booth,jats,protest,taxiI notice that we are on a flyover, on the highway and there is traffic which is very unusual at this time of the day (or rather night) and also there are lines of trucks parked on the side. What the hell is going on? Suddenly two men bang the car, intimate my driver to lower his window, pluck his mouth/cheeks, strangle him with his seat belt. All this while I’m screaming to leave him alone, my baby is sick and I have a flight to catch; they ignore me superbly and eject the driver from the car, taking him away. And then nothing. After five minutes I call my husband and then I just blow a fuse. Total panic. I have in the background the horrifying stories of colleagues of friends gunned up at Gurgaon tollbooth – stories I never pay attention to but they obviously enter by one ear and don’t leave by the other. So fuck it. I get out of the taxi, covered in vomit, baby in my arms and start yelling on the truck drivers, demanding that my driver is given back to me. They seem to have no idea what is happening, well done in pretending they are not part of this hold-up!

A car stops, and then another, and another. A man in each vehicle. All come out and ask me “What is wrong Madam?” “What is going on?” Half sobbing half screaming I explain that my driver has been abducted. And they find him immediately, kept captive in a van just behind our car. He takes his seat and we hit the road again. No thank you for the rescue! And I have get the end of the story. What were these trucks doing there? Why this jam in the middle of the night? Why did these two men in civilian attire assaulted my driver?*

I arrive at the counter of the airline, stinking and still dripping with tears. I must look awful and out of place, especially at the business counter. And guess what? While things could hardly get worse, I can’t find my passport. Well actually I do. And then? Lufthansa just upgrade my husband. They could not have chosen a better time to do it I swear...And baby slept almost all through!

* I just found out, about two weeks after the event that there is a possibility that the trucks were parked there to wait for the opening of the toll between Gurgaon and Delhi which takes place at midnight. And that this racket is institutionalized for taxi drivers who do not pay the toll. So maybe I wasn’t after all in the heart of coup being fomenting a or a revolution or any other uprising – which have become quite common these days with the Jats protesting regularly (see this article). Pfff... I lost it for no reason!