Tag Archives: english

Holy Cow, Macao………..

I still have so much writing to do about our time in India and it’s time to get moving – so here we go….

You might remember that right before we left India, we made a jaunt over to China – you can read about the Great Wall here and Olympic Park/Panda Bears here and Bicycles here.We also stopped in Hong Kong. Sadly, we picked to go to Hong Kong mainly because there is a DisneyWorld there. However, when we arrived in Hong Kong and checked into our hotel, I was looking through the hotel’s information and saw that Cirque Du Soleil was performing in Macao (which is also apparently spelled Macau). Bonus!

Hubby: I am pretty tired. It’s good to sit down.
Me: Look, Cirque Du Soleil is in Macao.
Hubby: Is that the Macao that is across the ocean?
Me: How far is that from here?
Hubby: No idea – but I am sure we are about to find out.
Me: The kids l.o.v.e. Cirque Du Soleil, we should totally go.
Hubby: Or we could relax and order room service.
Me: Hmmmm.
Hubby: I will go the the conceirge and see what we need to do
Me: Only if you really want to dear. 😉

We found out that yes, Macao, is not exactly around the corner from Hong Kong – but is a lot closer to Hong Kong than it is to the U.S. 😎

So, my dear sweet husband went down to the front desk and found out that there were tickets still available for that night’s show. They were not exactly free – but they were available. What we needed to do was rent a car to take us to the ferry station, then take the ferry over to Macao, then take a bus to the Venetian Hotel, and then watch the show. And then rinse and repeat backwards. It turns out that renting a car and riding the ferry – not so much free either. But the bus ride to the Venetian. Totally free. See we are saving money dear!

The whole adventure was going to take us about 5 hours and we needed to leave about 5 minutes ago.

Off we go. One crazy thing about China is that even though Beijing and Macao and Hong Kong are all in China, you still have to go through Customs and Immigration each time you leave one and enter another. So, in one day, we went through Immigration 4 times. Yikes. And we were pretty much always in a hurry. Adding Macao and the Cirque Du Soleil in at the last minute was a tad stressful – but it made for a great night.

We rushed down to the lobby to meet the driver and then stopped by 7-11 for a slurpee – ahhhhh – and headed off to the ferry.

We had absolutely no idea what we were doing. Thankfully Hong Kongers (yes, that is the technical term) speak English and we could at least understand where they were telling us to go. We got to the ferry counter and there was a big sign for helicopter rides to Macao. Now, I have my husband’s attention. That sounded cool. He asked about tickets and when he found out it would be about $2,000 USD, he bought ferry tickets.

The ferry was pretty neat. And we got to see a bit of Hong Kong. If you’ve never been, just imagine tall building after taller building after even taller building. New York has nothing on Hong Kong.

At the ferry station, there were all these fun tugboats. Not sure why I love me some tug boats, but I do. I don’t necessarily want to ride on them – but I love taking pictures of them.

Once we got into Macao and on the bus, we started breathing a little easier. We had a good chance of being on time.

For those of you not familiar with Macao, it is simply Las Vegas incarnate. Flashy splashy hotel with big honkin’ casino right beside flashy splashy hotel with big honkin’ casino. Endless roads of hotels and casinos, all lit up real sparkly. Part of Macao is over this bridge. And I learned an important lesson about photography – fast moving bus + city with tons of lights + children asking a gagillion questions + amateur photographer taking flash pictures through window = stinky pictures. So sorry! I’d like to pretend that I was trying some new fangled photography and was getting all artistic with a simple bridge – but, alas, blurry is blurry.

Here is my best Macao picture. Yeah, don’t worry those National Geographic photographers won’t be in danger of losing their jobs anytime soon.

This is the Venetian – where the magic of Cirque Du Soleil takes place.

And here is what the Venetian looks like if you actually know how to use your camera – Thanks Wiki!

It turned out that we got to the hotel about 45 minutes before the show was scheduled to start. And it turns out that we did not get my brother a Hard Rock Cafe hat in Beijing – long story that did not end well – and that we passed a Hard Rock Cafe hotel in Macao that was literally a block away from the Venetian. So, number one hubby literally ran over to the Hard Rock Cafe and got my brother a Macao Hard Rock hat while the kids and I nestled into the Blue Frog Bar and Grill. Where we enjoyed some yummy American food – chicken nuggets and french fries and potato skins with sour cream. That equalled instant smiles…

 

What I did not realize about the Blue Frog and Grill was that they have a running contest – if you drink 100 shots of alcohol, you get your name posted in big arse letters on a big arse billboard in the bar. My kids wanted to figure out how they could get their names on that board. Well, let’s see….

Then on to the show. The name of the show is ZAIA which apparently translates into “life” and the show is about a girl who imagines a world beyond earth. You don’t really need to know any of that – what you do need to know is that it’s awesome with tons of acrobatics and lively music and surprises behind every curtain.

You aren’t allowed to take pictures during the show – so you get to see the posters. Apparently, I am also not so great at taking pictures while standing still in a well lit lobby with no children asking questions. Note to self – photography lessons.

We told the kids before we even left Hong Kong that we would most likely have to leave the show early because we had to catch the ferry back in order to take advantage of the hotel room we had already paid for in Hong Kong. So, as time got close to leave, we gave them the requisite 5-minute warning. Then we said, “time to go.” You can imagine that they quickly got up and departed the theater in a safe and orderly manner so as not to disturb the other audience members.

Yeah, not exactly – so hubby laid down the parent law – not kidding, I said now. Then they departed in a somewhat quiet and orderly manner while only mildly disturbing a few fellow audience members.

We made it back on the bus and back to the ferry and back to the driver all in one piece. And then back to our hotel.


Whew. It actually was possible to get there in back. I thought so. 😎 However, if you plan to visit Macao while in Hong Kong, might I suggest a little advance planning?

Domestic Dispute…….

When I was in college, I was in a sorority and we would have roundtable discussions – where we were free to voice our opinions and let others know what was bothering us. But in the spirit of sisterhood, we were not allowed to specifically mention another sister’s name. So we would start our discussion with “sister x” did this or “sister x” should really think about this. Well let me tell you about “cook x”.

Anyone who has lived in India for at least 5 minutes has a domestic staff story to tell – so the fact that it has taken us 7 weeks to earn our story to share is probably pretty good.

Number One Hubby hired our cook the week before the kids and I got here. He speaks good English, cooks American food, irons clothes well, and was supposed to have making bread as his specialty. He agreed to cook, clean, and do laundry for a family of five. And he promised to make yummy homemade bread. (The way to our family’s heart is with with yummy homemade bread.)

Enter a family of five.

First day:
Oh boss, I cannot cook, clean, and do laundry for a family of five. And, I need a raise. Yes, on his first day.

So, we continued with Ravi who was cleaning just for hubby. He comes in for 4 hours a day and is thorough and unassuming and very kind. So, that’s okay. We like him and not having to let him go was okay with us. Now cook does not have to clean.

We even gave the cook a raise. A 20% raise. We liked him too. (Just in case you are new at this whole staff thing – apparently, you start with someone on a temporary basis and a lower salary – then after a few weeks, if you plan to keep them, you give them a raise. We got to the whole raise thing a little early.)

So then he asks for us to include bus fare in his salary. This is really not a big deal because bus fare usually does not run more than $20 a month (and that is on the high end). So, bus fare it is. I think it might have been $10 for our cook.

We did not pack our kitchen up and bring it with us. We have just gotten things as we realized we need them. There has not been one thing he asked for that I did not get. Not one.

From what I can gather, domestic staff usually work about a 12 hour day in India. Our cook generally worked a 9-hour day and had most Saturdays off completely – or if he worked, he just worked a few hours.

Then our cook’s wife started a new job and they were moving. So we gave our cook several days off of work to move and coordinate moving.

Along with the move came the need for a security deposit. I don’t know if you just heard the collective gasp rolling across Delhi – but the number  one rule in having domestic staff is to NEVER lend them money.

We lent him money. I know, I know!

He was to pay it back over 5 months. Honestly, I will not regret this decision. We immediately agreed that it was the right thing to do. It was not so much money that it was life changing to us – but it was for our cook – and it helped him get a roof over his head. So, we did it – and, yes, we would most likely do it again.

Our cook was not happy with our smaller washing machine – so we have ordered a larger one. Our cook was not happy with our fridge – so we got a larger one.

Finally, our cook’s new digs did not have drinking water – so every night he would take lots of water home with him. We were happy to let him do that.

And quite possibly the straw the broke the camel’s back – the cook never made the promised bread for hubby. That was not a good idea. A fresh, warm loaf of homemade bread forgives a multitude of sins.

So, what I am saying is – he had it pretty good.

Or at least we thought so. Apparently he did not agree. He wanted a uniform allowance. Which is not uncommon – but we felt that we had given quite a bit already. (Again, if you are new to having staff – what I have found out is that it is normal to give domestic staff a clothing allowance for summer and fall. And a bonus at Diwali. But that the clothing allowance generally comes after they have been with you for 6 months or so.)

Hubby said no. Here is a note to staff – perhaps it is prudent to begin paying back the one month’s salary before you ask for a uniform allowance. Just think about it – ‘kay? Especially if you are new to the family.

Then he asked hubby again. The hubby said no – again.

Hubby is not impressed with having to say no again.

Our cook has been working for us for about 5 weeks at this point.

Then our cook asks me. Here is a second note to staff. If my hubby says no to you twice – I am not going to say yes. I err on the side of hubby. Period.

I told him he had to talk to the boss about it – that was his department – I can tell him what we want for dinner – that is my department.

Hubby overheard him ask me. Note to staff number 3 – it is not wise to try to win the wife over in earshot of the hubby. Not very wise at all.

So hubby comes into the kitchen and gives me a way out of the conversation. Thank you hubby.

But hubby is not done with the conversation.

Hubby outlines all of the things we have done. Cook tells hubby that hubby just does not care and that the wife is more understanding. Do I need to insert the fourth note to staff here – I bet I don’t – I bet you know all by your lonesome just what it is.

Needless to say, after talking in circles with our cook, my hubby invited our cook to leave and walked him out the gate.

It turns out that our cook had been bad-mouthing us to our driver and Ravi. They both are happy that he is gone. We both felt bad about letting our cook go – until we heard this. Note to staff number 5 – do not bad mouth your boss to the other people who work for him. They will sell you out. Quickly.

So, while I will miss his pasta salad, I now have a domestic staff story. We have two leads on new staff people – and you know I will let you know how it goes!

Could you spell that please?

I am no stranger to people not understanding me. I was born in South Carolina and lived in the somewhat deep south until 4th grade. We moved to Germany for 5th grade and sometimes people did not understand what I was saying – I had me a twang. For 7th grade we moved to Georgia – minus some of the twang – I had lost most of it – and some of my words seemed odd and, strangely, less accented.

Six years in Georgia fixed that quite nicely. Pass me a mint julep. Pretty please. And then off to college I went. Up North.  Well (just barely) south of the Mason Dixon line. But North is in the eye of the beholder.  It was in a very diverse area but an area with no real accent of its own. Enter my southern drawl. Could you spell that please – I heard that more than once and it seemed so insulting. Doesn’t everyone say PEEEEEEnuhhhhts, puh leeeeees?

Then there was the time I went to visit my cousin in Wyoming. Play me some mountain music, Hillbilly. The friends of my cousin laughed so hard at my accent that their sody pop came right out of them their noses. I cried for over an hour. They were not tears of joy.

So moving to India and hearing the different accents hasn’t been too hard for me. I can sympathize. I just slow down my ears and listen up real good. It is really amazing, even the Americans here are from all over the world. It is the United Nations of Accents.

Last week, I started taking Hindi lessons. Okay, I have had one (ek) lesson. But I have been trying out some of my new words.

It turns out I still have me a funny little accent. The three Indian men in my daily life, Raju, Ravi, and Kahn all have a hard time understanding just exactly what it is I am trying to say. When they slow down their ears – they can understand most of it. It is a lesson in slow for all of us.

I was leaving to go to the market the other day and Raju and Ravi taught me how to say goodbye – ta ta. Sounds like Tigger – hey, I can remember that. I can even spell it.

Then they tried to teach me how to say “take me to” Defence (this is not misspelled – remember the British influence here) Colony market. I don’t even remember the words they tried to teach me because I am blocking this from recent memory. They told me – I practiced – they laughed – I made them pinky swear they weren’t teaching me to call our driver a jerk – and I practiced again.

Then I got in the car

Me: Kahn and then “what (I thought) they taught me to say”
Kahn: Ma’am?
Me: Doesn’t that mean “I want to go to Defence Colony Market”?
Kahn: Ma’am?
Me: What did I just say?
Kahn: Defence Colony Ma’am?
Me: Okay. Defence Colony Market it is. Can we go there?
Kahn: Yes Ma’am.

Then our driver explains the market to me. He’ll park here and wait for me here. There are two sides. You go down the right and then come back up the right. He’ll wait here. Here is where he will be. Waiting for me. Ma’am.

Okay, it is not lost on me that he could not understand “I want to go to the market” but he could completely explain the market to me. Maybe I am just language retarded. Maybe falling out of a swing when I was little and hitting my head on cement really was something to be a wee bit more concerned about.

My teacher is coming back on Monday and you can be sure, my first lesson will be – I want to go to…….

Ta Ta.

Please do the needful……..

This is the sticky note that number one hubby gets on his desk sometimes. “Please do the needful.” It really means – do this or, usually, sign this. But the Indian people seem so polite that they almost make it sound poetic. Maybe it makes you want to be more helpful.

When I call India, I call through an operator. S/he is always so polite – “please be on the line, please hold the line”. Really, no wonder we sought out the Indian people for call centers!

So, I am looking forward to hearing all the different ways that English can be used. It makes me slow down and listen too – I need to do that. Accents can be heavy – and I am sure they will feel the same about mine. But I cannot wait to hear and maybe even adopt some of their expressions.

One other thing that was very fun to see was this…

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If this is how they treat t-shirts, imagine how they treat people. These are my husband’s t-shirts – I am sorry, undershirts. They aren’t even t-shirts. And they are treated with such care. Yes, you are seeing this correctly – they are indeed wrapped in clear plastic, with clips and cardboard support. Believe you me, they do not look like that when I wash them! India, here we come!

My own personal post it note also says “please do the needful.” I am off to pack. Ta Ta for Now. And yes, Please hold the line.

I have a rep to protect…

You might not have guessed it by the high quality of my blog – but I am a one-woman show. That’s right, I market, publish, design, research, write, edit, and plagiarize (that is a joke) all by my lonesome. FYI – I was an English major – and my parents paid a lot of money for that degree. No, they did not actually “buy” my degree – but it was expensive for me to earn it. And, now that I am mostly a stay-at-home mom, they are not seeing a big return on their investment. SHHH!!! So, if you could just go ahead and help me out by letting me know if you see a typo, yeah, that’d be great.

Now, please don’t take that as poetic license to rip apart my content – you own a “back” and “delete” button for that. Remember, these are the cheap seats – this blog is free. Please don’t shoot the messenger. And, extra spaces, not so much. But, if I misspell something – ya gotta help a sista out. (Yes, I do realize that most of that last sentence was misspelled – I was going for effect or is that affect, I can’t remember.)

Gracias!