Sunday, 27 October 2013

Driving Delhi-style - everything you need to know

Hello chums and greetings from the Indian sub-continent where the Shah and I are currently on holiday.  Now y'all know how much I like to offer the odd public service announcement and today is no exception.  Just I case any of you are ever, stupid, brave enough to consider driving in Delhi (or in any other city here) what follows will tell you all you need to know:-

Q: I'm a bit worried about finding my way around.  What if I take a wrong turn?
A: No problem at all.  Just do a U turn anywhere you like! Anytime you feel like it. Make sure to sound your horn while you do so.

Q: But what about oncoming traffic?
A: Don't  be a wuss. Just turn straight in front of it and make sure to sound your horn as you do so.

Q: But what if I'm on a dual carriageway? 
A: Then you have 2 options.  Option 1 - drive over the central reservation (NB you may have to make several attempts to get up there, but just keep slamming the car at it - it'll work eventually and constantly sounding your horn will help).  Option 2 - just turn round in the road and drive against the oncoming traffic. Simples! Oh, and make sure to sound your horn.

Q: I have to transport quite a lot of people and I only have a moped.  What to do?
A: I see you're one of those pansies who thinks a moped is a 2-man transporter?  Hahaha! What's your problem? Cram 'em on.  6 is a nice round number but don't forget the fuel tank provides a handy extra seat and 7 is a lucky number, innit?

Q: How many lanes are there on the average Indian road?
A: How many would you like? The concept of "lanes" is deliciously old fashioned and somewhat academic.  We find it helpful to drive astride any white lines that the authorities may have misguidedly painted on the road.  Keeps us going in the right direction after all! Today I counted 9 vehicles abreast at the traffic lights.  I think there were 3 lanes painted on the road but, meh - whatever.

Q: Do traffic lights operate the same way in India as in the UK?
A: I'm not sure how the UK uses traffic lights but here in India, they certainly look pretty and help decorate some of the more squalid areas.  They also add to the Diwali festivities. I can't think of any other reasons why we have them, tbh. 

Q: How heavy is the traffic, on average?
A: That rather depends on how you define 'traffic'.  Do you just mean cars or do you include the following, any of which might be in the middle of a busy motorway at any time? Cows, tractors, carts, donkeys, camels, pigs, dogs (numbers of legs vary, so some move faster than others), people, rickshaws, tuk-tuks, lorries, vans, cranes, oxen, deer, cycles or motorbikes?

Q: OMG! You mean all these things could be moving in the road at the same time?
A: Certainly. The only things that are in the middle of the road and don't move are trees.

Q: What emergency equipment should I carry in my car?
A: Well, a blow torch and welding equipment would come in handy for most cars...

Q: Jeez - all this has got me worried!  Any words of comfort to offer?
A: Yeah - just man up and grow a pair!  If a 12 year old can ride a motorbike, so can you!  They say you only need 3 things to drive in India - good brakes, a good horn and good luck. And they'd be right!

Monday, 21 October 2013

In which the Shah emerges victorious

The Shah is a man who has certain strong likes and dislikes in life.  He is nothing if not decisive in his opinion of right and wrong.  And one of his major bugbears is those people who insist on driving in the middle lane of the motorway when the slow lane is empty. 

Returning from the Midlands on Saturday, he came across one such. The Shah  is in the slow lane and so he pulls out into the middle and then into the fast lane in order to pass Lord Twattington, sailing along in the middle, and flashes his headlights as he does so.  His Lordship becomes enraged at this slight upon his road sense, or lack of.  As the Shah pulls back over, Lord Twattington puts his foot down and shoots past, his face contorted with rage, making a series of digital gestures which suggest that the Shah might like to become intimate with himself with a view to reproduction.  The Shah is entertained by having inspired such ire and laughs at the good Lord as he accelerates into the distance.  

Unfortunately for Lord Twattington, waiting round the bend was a car containing a couple of members of Her Majesty's Constabulary who, having nothing else to do, set off in hot pursuit.

As the Shah sailed past a little further down the road, doing a sedate 70mph, he smiled and waved at his Lordship.  Sadly, his greeting went unanswered as the good Lord was busy explaining himself to PC Plod at the time.

It was one of those small victories that just delights the heart and it absolutely made the Shah's day.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Rover's Return

No, this is not some Coronation Street themed post featuring the travails of Rita, Gail and the comatose Nick (how can they tell the difference?)

No - the rover I am referring to is the darling daughter who returned home for the weekend no more than 2 weeks after we last said goodbye.  Of course, she came home for a party, not to see her aged parents or her (now gainfully employed)  brother - don't be daft.  Still, it was remarkable the change that a scant fortnight of living away from home had wrought.

On the first night, I found her in the kitchen stroking the dishwasher and crooning.  Slightly perturbed, I asked what she was up to.  "It's just that I miss the dishwasher so much," she replied wistfully.  "I never appreciated it until now!  And mum, the house is so CLEAN!"

Later on, she admitted that I was right about one aspect of domesticity.  And that is that there is a distinct difference between cleaning and tidying.  I am in the habit of tidying up the night before the cleaners come.  The children have always derided me loudly - "Why are you cleaning when the cleaners are coming tomorrow?  You're so old/dumb/mad/loony," (perm any one from 4). Fruitlessly, I tried to explain that I want the cleaners to clean not tidy up, but the howls of derision drowned me out.

Now, lo and behold!  She is transformed and proudly demonstrated to her brother that this area is untidy, while this is dirty.  He looked so interested.

The bit that really made me laugh was her disgust that her flatmates can't tell the difference between a tea towel and a hand towel.  "It's revolting!" she cried indignantly.  "They dry their dishes on the hand towel and they dry their hands on the tea towel.  I had to sit them all down and explain it to them!" 

I bet she was popular.  I don't care.  Somewhere along the line, some of my incessant nagging went in and stuck.  I can die happy!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Unification part 2

Some years ago, the alert amongst you will recall that I wrote about the great joy of seeing elder child off to Uni.  Somehow, three years have flashed past and it is the turn of not-so-tiny daughter to fly the nest.

If I thought he was bad at getting himself organised, she was so, so much worse.  Her idea of preparation was to a) spend most of the summer either nipping from Festival to Festival or b) island-hopping in Greece or c) spend what little time she stayed at home, out clubbing till 5am.  Every night.

24 hours before leaving, she had still not packed and was asking questions like "Am I getting a student loan?"  Me: "you applied for one, didn't you?"  Her (disinterested voice) "Dunno.  Can't remember."

On the day, I sent the Shah out to top up the tyres on the car, seeing has how it was going to be carrying an extra 3cwt of crap several hundred miles. He came back to glumly announce that one of the tyres had a "dimple" in it. Several minutes of stressful shrieking followed, mainly from moi and mainly along the lines of "what the fuck does that mean?  Speak English FFS!"  What it turned out to mean was that we needed a new tyre pronto but there was no way to get one on a Sunday morning.  We had a v-e-r-y s-l-o-w drive to Uni.
Daughter posed nicely for a picture in the car before we left, putting on her best smile for blogging purposes, comme ca:-
With Marmite Toast in hand..
But chums, I have to tell you that this was the reality...
Mardy as...
We got there and hauled all her possessions up to the 5th floor of her Halls of Residence - thank God for lifts.  We all queued nicely and patiently while one family (who had brought mum, dad, undergrad daughter, three smaller siblings, two uncles and a Granny) took up all the space and got in everyone's way.

I shared a lift with one dad who said grimly "I reckon I need to do one more trip up there and that's it and we'll BE FREE and we can go and CELEBRATE!!"  a feeling echoed by 99% of the parents there, I'll bet.

Her brother was on holiday in Corfu with his girlfriend at the time and insisted on sending us thoroughly irritating pictures like this:-

Damn his eyes!

So I retaliated with the view from Daughter's new bedroom window in the pouring rain....

Yes - a lovely car park and, in the distance, ASDA, Halfords and Maccy D's. We went to CHAVDA to stock her up with food etc.  Somehow, we spent £183. God knows how this happened, given that everything there costs an average of 25p.  The Shah was very, very unhappy.

Still, she seems to have settled in well.  The house is much quieter and much, MUCH tidier but also much emptier without her.  Her room looked like the traditional tip when we left her and, of course, she has discovered that she's left half her life here "OMG I forgot my straighteners!  How soon can you come and visit me?!"

Nothing changes!