Tag Archives: market

When panic is a good thing………

Apparently we will be talking about the big “S” word next – synopsis – because a real-live literary agent just asked me for one for The Alligator Purse. Yikes.

So I am a little panicked – but I am also all sorts of motivated.

That’s good, right?

This is where you nod your head wildly in agreement. Thanks.

When I got the email, I waited an entire 15 seconds before writing back (didn’t want to seem desperate), politely thanked her for her interest, and asked if I could have a little time to write, uhm I mean, tweak it. That was on the outside. On the inside, I felt like this poor woman.

Sadly, I am minus the adorable shoes and the cute up-do. Yes, I might really be screwed. 😎

I wanted to scream – “that is amazing – but are you serious?” And then, “what exactly do you mean by that?”

So I am guessing that writing and submitting a synopsis might be a tad of problem if you have not finished your book yet – but maybe it won’t be – we shall definitely see.

Here is what I know so far…

If you want to write and submit your work, you will definitely want to consider investing in the Writers Market. It’s basically a listing of who is buying, what they are buying, and how they want it served up on the page. If you are thinking “that would save me a heck of a lot of time,” you’d be absolutely correct.

But the Writers Market also has helpful articles and a glossary of literary terms. So I went to my literature bible and looked up synopsis. I kind of thought I knew what it meant – but this might be a big deal so I wanted to be sure.

According to WM, a synopsis is “a brief summary of a story, novel, or play. As part of a book proposal, it is a comprehensive summary condensed in a page or page and a half, single-spaced.”

That is what I thought. But it kinda, sorta sounds like you need an ending. Dear heavens. Now what?

Well, Rachelle Gardner is a literary agent with Books & Such and she wrote this post about crafting a pitch. It covers 11 essential questions that should be answered when an author is trying to sell her book.

Then, I found this…The Novel Synopsis at Fiction Writers. Whew. I have also heard that you do not want to give away the ending of the book.

I don’t know if it addresses everything, but this is where I am going to start.

Right now.

So, bye bye.

And, yes, I will post my synopsis when I am done. Just promise not to laugh at it.

I mean it, Pinky Swear it .

Lots of Lotus………….

One of the things that I really wanted to do before we left Delhi for good was to go see the Lotus Temple. The inside of the Lotus Temple. I had driven by it a few times and marveled at its beauty and its architecture. It is a lovely, lovely building.

The Lotus Temple is a Bahá’í House of Worship. The Lotus Temple is open to anyone of any religion. No sermons are given but readings can occur and, although a readings can be accompanied by a choir, no musical instruments can be played inside Bahá’í Houses of Worship. Bahá’ís believe in three main principles – unity of God, unity of religion, and unity of humankind. They believe that God has sent messengers through the ages including Abraham, the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and recently the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. They believe that humanity is in a process “of collective evolution, and the need of the present time is for the gradual establishment of peace, justice and unity on a global scale.” (thanks Wiki)

I didn’t know all that until I started writing this post and now I am super bummed that we did not make it over there.

Obviously, the temple is designed after the lotus flower which is also lovely.

Lotus flowers are often incorporated into the drawings of many of the Hindu gods – particularly Vishnu and Lakshmi and Ganesha.

And lotus seeds and stems can be eaten. I saw them in the spice market of Old Delhi.

And then, at the very last place I went to eat before we left Delhi, lotus stems were on the menu. You might have gathered that I am not the most adventurous eater out there but how can flowers deemed worthy of designing a temple after be too bad? Plus, my friend had tried them and said they were yummy. 😉

They were d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. Yummy Yummy. They are sweet and crunchy and I liked them even better with a little bit of steamed white rice.

Cheeseburger in Paradise…………

I have been very guilty of not exactly embracing the cuisine of India. Some of it I really like but most of it I honestly just haven’t tried. Alas, I am one of those people who will go to a restaurant I have been to 12 times, read the menu cover to cover, and order the same exact thing I had the last 12 times I was there. And enjoy every bite of it, by the way.

One of the things I really miss from home is the food I know and love. Most of it isn’t that healthy – that is why tastes so good! But all of it is recognizable and I am a horrible creature of habit who thrives in the predictable.

So when we were in Beijing and I saw “cheeseburger” on the menu of a western hotel, I had to read it twice just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. I had to consider the religious implications in Beijing and mull over the possibility that this “cheeseburger” might be a real, recognizable “cheeseburger”. Be still my stomach.

And oh man, it was so good that I ordered it two nights in a row. With a glass of American white wine. Sweet.

The kids enjoyed hot dogs – yep, both nights – they said they were even better than 7-11 hot dogs. They ate them so quickly that I did not get a picture of them.

I know it is at least shameful and probably verging on criminal that we did not partake of the local foods available. But at least we did not eat here.

Who would have thought that there would be a Hooters in Beijing? Not I – that is for sure.

But I did take some pictures of some food at a market just so you would not totally miss out. It’s really nice how they labeled almost everything – and in English none the less.

Those who were eating the market food seemed to really enjoy it. Maybe next time.

Pick a card, any card………..

There are so many “different ways of doing business” that you must navigate when you move somewhere new. One of the things that I did not realize I would miss about the United States was the ease of getting phone numbers or addresses or just information in general.

There is no directory assistance here. (Well there might be – but it is a well kept secret.) If you want a phone number, you have to know someone who knows the phone number. It is really crazy. I am yet to see a telephone book (except for the school’s directory – God love them). But what we all do have is a flippin’ stack of business cards. Literally hundreds of them. Everywhere you go, you get a business card. And you are hesitant to get rid of them – because you just might want to call that vendor one day. And when you do want to call a vendor, good luck figuring out which card is who.

And the internet is not always that helpful. Many of us have shared our frustrations of trying to find a business or address on the internet – you can literally get lost for hours in the land of nothingness.

Heck, most stores still calculate the bill by handwriting it and then doing the math manually – then rechecking the math with a calculator. So the fact that they don’t have a web presence really is not surprising.

Just the other day, I asked our cook to order some groceries to be delivered (yes, that is back when I had a cook). I knew that he was rewriting receipts so I did not want him to go himself. But the market delivers and then I pay the bill. Fabulous.

Now, just so you fully understand – this is the same market that we have been shopping at ever since Francis started working for us – 7 months ago. And they have delivered groceries many, many times to our house.

So a whole day goes by and no groceries come.

The next morning, we have this conversation…

Francis: Ma’am, I could not order groceries.
Me: Okay, why?
Francis:  I don’t have the number.
Me: Of the shop we have been ordering groceries from for months?
Francis: Yes Ma’am. But I have the number of his brother’s shop.
Me: Can you call his brother and get the number?
Francis: I tried. No one is answering.
Me: So, you really don’t know the number? That you have been calling for 7 months?
Francis: No Ma’am.
Me:
Really?
Francis: Yes, Ma’am
Me: I’ll get it for you.

So, I went into the pantry where we have about 15 canvas bags (all of which Francis put away) from this market shop. Each bag has the address, phone number, and name of the store printed in l.a.r.g.e. type right on the bag.

Francis: Oh, thank you ma’am. (awkward laughing)
Me: Make sure you get their card.

Sufficient………….

Living away from home has been wearing on me these past few days. And today I decided to pick myself up by the purse strings and do some retail therapy. I have a lot on my list that I want to do before we go home for the summer and the weeks are closing in on me fast. So, rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I decided that I should give a little of myself to others and do the charity work that I do best – shopping.

I went and got a few of these beautiful boxes made from broken bangles. Yep, they are nice, aren’t they? Nope, they did not have enough for me to get everyone a box. So sorry.

And then I went to Sundar Nagar. I had heard about it. I had read about it – one of my real life-slash- blogging friends wrote this about it and I was reminded why it was on my list of places to give back shop.  I am not sure why I had not made it over that way but I had not shopped there yet. Big. Mistake. What. Have. I. Been. Waiting. For?

My favorite thing was this bowl ‘o bells. I dunno why – but I have always loved bells. Maybe we lived near a church when my mom was pregnant with me. Each one of these has a different sound. Fantastic.

So I brought a few home. I can just imagine myself standing on my front porch in the U.S. ringing one of these bells to call my kids home for supper all June Cleaver-like. Ding ding ding – sweet children get your arses in here it’s dinner time. They will bring a whole new meaning to ringing in the New Year.

And I saw all of these gorgeous lanterns that you could probably very easily find in an Anthropologie catalog near you for at least 4 times the price.

And I saw these boxes too. Number One Hubby and I have an anniversary coming up very soon and I think 18 years of marriage (and a move to India) warrants these boxes appearing under wrapping paper in my hands very soon. Although I might hold out for something a little more sparkly,  that I did not pick out myself, and that can be more easily transported on a finger or a wrist. As of the writing of this post, my husband has his heart set on getting me a street puppy – which is neither easily transportable nor sparkly and is quite possibly the very last thing I would ever want. We’ll see how this plays out. I will be sure to let you know.

There are two shops right next to each other in the corner of Sundar Nagar. The shopkeeper of the first store gave me this guy when I was done overpaying for my items. He told me it was a gift to wish me good luck – but actually it probably is more of a celebration of his good luck in finding  me as a customer. 😉

And then I met this man- Fateh Singh – in the second shop I went into. (His shop actually had the bells).

I ended up sitting and talking with him for a very long time. His perspective on life was refreshing and I really needed a “what are you complaining about” kick in the bee-u-tee-tee. (That is “butt”.) He told me many stories – a few of which I will share in later blog posts. But the conversation that hit home the most was a twist on the good old “glass half full/glass half empty” trick question.

By way of history, there is a standing joke in our house about my husband’s answer to that question. So he immediately caught my attention when he brought this up. I joke that hubby won’t even discuss if the glass is half full or half empty until you prove to him, without a shadow of a doubt, that there is actually water in the glass. Hubby loves to play devil’s advocate – but that is another blog post entirely.

Anybowl, Fateh was demonstrating the singing bowls for me. I asked him if you were supposed to fill them with water. So, he demonstrated an empty bowl first, then filled it with water and made it sing again.

Then he said
Fateh: Let me ask you one question. Is this bowl half full or half empty?
Me: (I was so excited that I knew the “right” answer that I nearly fell out of my chair trying to raise my hand.) Well, of course, it is half full. Right?
Fateh: To say that it is half full means that it is also half empty. Why can it not simply be sufficiently full?
Me: Hmmmmmm

Now, if you are not a big fan of the Chicken Soup for Soul feel good philosophy, the significance of this might be quickly lost. But I as I sat with him, I realized that my perspective of my last few days was not helping me out one tiny little bit. There have been some stumbling blocks for sure – I miss my family and U.S. friends, we are almost out of American cheese slices, it’s hot as hell here, almost everyone who works in my house is a pain in the arse in one way or another, I am not getting much sleep, there is more of me when I really, really wanted there to be less of me, and yet I have all I need (and frankly more than I need in every respect except patience).

Sufficient is good. And I plan to start embracing it.

So remember, there is no price too high to pay for mental health -even when retail therapy is called for – sometimes shopping is the best medicine. Because when you help yourself, others will help you too. I went out looking for a simple distraction today and found a little peace of mind (and some great bells and bowls – cha ching!).

A river runs through it…………..

Bangkok was a whirlwind and, unfortunately, although we saw a lot, we left a lot unseen. Some things we just ran out of time to see. Some things we simply chose to leave unseen. We had heard about the floating markets – had heard that they were once active trading centers and super fun but are now mostly tourist traps. So we opted out of the official floating market tour and instead rented a boat to take us on a roll down the river.

Honestly, the thought of being “stuck” on a boat in a crowded market where vendors hawk their wares try to gently coerce you into buying only the most beautiful trinkets that you really want with no escape route and no bathroom just did not appeal to me. And we have found that we are not buying that much stuff. There are a few things we want to get but most of Asia seems to have the same kind of trinkets – wooden elephants, chess games, hair accessories, and the like. We are kind of  at the point of “been there, done that, don’t even want the t-shirt”.

So, we said no to the floating market and yes to the canal. It was all kinds of loverly and I feel like we got to see the more secluded side of Bangkok. You may have realized this already – but I am what you might call geography challenged. I had absolutely no idea that a river runs through Bangkok. Duh.

We rode on a boat like this.  In fact, we rode on this boat.

Temples lined the canal. And each one was just as intricate as the next.

This is the view from the main thoroughfare and either I was drunk (was not) or the buildings look crooked.

Then we hung a right into the canal.

It was like a window opened to a whole new world. You could just tell life stories just happen here. Everyday stories of everyday life. Day in and day out routines that just happen over and over again without much thought or planning. Life periodically rocked by sickness, travels, visitors, spiritual revelations, new discoveries, birth, and death. Full circle life lived through generations of family after family simply repeating the same cycles as their parents did before them and only occasionally stretching to break long-held traditions.

I could have sat on this boat for hours and just watched the stories unfold – or imagined them to be much grander than they probably most often are. It was really a fantastic place. “It’s a Small World” in Disney could have been modeled after this canal. Except that this canal was exceptionally quiet. The most noticeable thing to me was that is was so peaceful. Quaint and quiet and peaceful. Deep cleansing breath kind of peaceful.


It was a world of laughter,
A world of tears.
It’s a world of hopes,
And a world of fears.
There’s so much that we share,
That it’s time we’re aware,
It’s a small world after all.

There is just one moon,
And one golden sun.
And a smile means,
Friendship to every one.
Though the mountains divide,
And the oceans are wide,
It’s a small world after all.

Tastes like chicken…………

We don’t eat a lot of any street food in Delhi, so I was very surprised when my husband went all “game on” over the street food in Thailand. There seems to be more of it in Thailand, especially Bangkok, and he wanted to try some new things. I offered to take pictures – giving me the “oh, I would love to, but I don’t want to get anything on the camera” excuse. He did not eat all of the things you will see pictured, but he did eat chicken butt. I cannot find the picture of that. But here is one of hubby eating “canal” food. A lady on a boat will pull up to your boat and sell you some bbq chicken. And you will suspend your reality and believe it is chicken. Fascinating.

Number one hubby also ate crocodile – at the crocodile show.

Yes, you read that right – he ate crocodile at the crocodile show. Maybe it is just me, but I think there is something fundamentally wrong with eating crocodile at the crocodile show right in front of the c.r.o.c.o.d.i.l.e.s. Especially when one of your fellow humans is about to do this. No wonder they say revenge is sweet.

I personally have a v.e.r.y. hard time eating anything that is looking at me.

These were some of the biggest shrimp I have ever seen. In Asia, they are called prawns, which makes perfect sense because there is nothing “shrimpy” about them. And, you are right, they don’t look as appetizing before they are “prepared”.

I don’t know if these are chicken feet or octopus. I am thinking octopus but really, it could go either way. And, nope, did not try.

I am always happy to find something recognizable that is not staring at me. These strawberries looked delish.

These little gems are called Century Eggs. Yes, I completely agree – eggs are not supposed to look like that. No, we did not try them. Because of the way these eggs smell, there is a myth that they are soaked in horse urine. Yeah, that’s about all I need to know about them. This is what century eggs look like in a buffet at a hotel.

And this is what they look like on the street. I am off the school of thought that both of these are a big fat pass.

Not sure what some of these next things are … if you know, please enlighten us all….

(and yes, I am aware that there is a sign in this picture that probably tells me exactly what this is – but I have this little obstacle called “I can’t read Thai” – so I still have no idea what it is – they look like mini lunch bags though)

This is honestly a little more my speed – cucumbers.

We tried this coconut concoction when we were in Singapore. It was not all it was cracked  up to be.

I am so sorry – was that a little corny?

So many choices………

Whenever I arrive back in Delhi, I am reminded of (really assaulted by) the fact that India is not the U.S. But the same is happening in reverse. When we land in the U.S., the differences jump out at us.

One of the things that you might be surprised to hear is that the number of choices we Americans have to make can be simply overwhelming when you are not used to making them.

When we got home, I almost immediately went to the grocery store to stock up on all the essentials our favorites. We emptied the house completely before we left this summer to return to India, so we “needed” everything. I literally walked up and down every aisle. I marveled at the choices. Twenty-five types of bread, sixty-three choices of cereal, five types of onions, and 6 types of tomatoes. Then there was the delicatessen – unbelievable – forget it – there was pasta salad with oil-based dressing, pasta salad with mayonnaise-based dressing, pasta salad like your grandmother makes it, pasta salad like your mother-in-law makes it, and pasta salad like you make it because you don’t really care for it the way your grandmother or your mother-in-law makes it. Sweet pasta salad.

On the 26 hour flight home, I made a list of all the things we wanted from the store. And, I left that list on the plane. Yep, brilliant!

But we love tacos. So I knew for sure that taco fixins were top on the list. I remembered everything except the corn. Luckily I remembered in the check out line that corn was (supposed to be) on the list. I unloaded my cart onto the belt and dashed over to the canned vegetable aisle. Holy corn, batman. Honestly. I did not remember that there are approximately 8,000 types of canned corn. Now, don’t forget, I am very jetlagged at this point and I have not been in a grocery store in 6 months. Heck, most of the time, I don’t even do my own shopping.

I was temporarily stunned by the options – not just the brands available but the sheer number of types of corn available was honestly astonishing. In India, corn is pretty much corn. IF you can find a can of corn, you will likely only find one variety. You would be amazed how easy it is to “pick” which one to get. It only took about 15 seconds, but I seriously had to reorient myself as to what we liked. Creamed or sweet or white or yellow or Green Giant or Libbys. Good heavens.

The same was true in the toothbrush aisle. I now live in the land of few toothbrush options. In fact, some vendors will sell sticks on the side of the road. These sticks do not come with any bristles, much less soft, firm, or medium. They do not come in different colors or different lengths. They do not come with a choice of cartoon characters. They do not come in electric or manual form. It’s just a choice of this stick – or that stick over there – that happens to look a lot like this stick over here.

Of course, you can buy more traditional toothbrushes in India too. But you will most likely only get to pick from one or two options.

Please don’t even ask me about my trip to the sub shop where I had to make these choices:

Wheat or white bread?
Hot or cold sandwiches?
Cheese or extra cheese or plain?
Mayo, mustard, or both?
onions?
If you don’t want ham, do you want double turkey?
pickles?
Do you want to make it a combo?

Really, when you count your options, count your blessings too! 😉

The Rest of the Story (Singapore Style) …….

There were just a few other things we did in Singapore that we did that you might want to know about if you get a chance to go there.

Of course, there is the Hard Rock Cafe.

And there is a great beach at Sentosa Island. Bear even found a sand dollar. And the girls found some great shells.

One-fourth of all the world’s cargo goes through Singapore, so you can see a lot of big ships coming in and out of the port.

Singapore has a Chinatown that is very fun! And we thought expensive.

And Chinatown has a Hindu Temple.

And a Buddhist Temple.

This guy is watching you so behave yourself!

And Chinatown has lots of market shops with fun trinkets.

And this laughing budha who will give you well wishes if you rub his belly (and drop a coin in the slot).

The seahorses did not fare so well. Apparently they are used in soup.

This was bamboo something – it looked kind of like a bamboo jello jiggler. No, I did not try it. Next time.

There is a go-kart ride that goes down a pretty big hill. Lots of fun. Be careful doing this if your kids are at all competitive. It could end up costing a lot of money trying to let everyone win.

After the go-kart (luge) ride, you take a chair lift back up the hill. If you catch it at the right time, you will see this amazing view.

And what is a visit to an Asian city without a little monkey love?

And the dare devil adventure continues. Here is one of my Trapeze artists in the making.

Here is a little quiz for you – do you know what happens if you put a picture of one daughter on the flying trapeze for all the world (and her friends) to see and you do not put one of your other daughter? You pay for therapy for years. So, forget what the economists are recommending this is my own little version of savings. Angel taking a flip……

And this is the mega zip. You put on a harness, attach it to the cable, say a quick prayer, and zip down the mountain. This is a fabulous ride ladies – you actually have to weigh enough to do it. No skinny minnies here.

The whole way down I am thinking “I cannot believe I just strapped myself to a cable this high off the ground and trust that I am going to land safely. And I took my child with me.” When I landed, I thought, “that was really fun!”

You can also rent segues.

The trick is to lean forward enough – but not too far. Here is what I learned about riding segues – you really don’t want anyone taking your picture from the back. 😉

And there is a suspended obstacle course. Yeah sure, sign me up. You can choose to obstacle one, two, or three stories up. First floor for me and Angel. Hubby, Flower, and Bear – all the way to the top. The kids really enjoyed this. Hubby and I were very glad to have survived it.

Why does it look so high up you ask? Because it is.

And there is the night safari. Some people LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. We could have skipped it and gone to the regular zoo instead. It’s at night and so it’s dark – I know, continue to be amazed by my deductive reasoning abilities. But it is hard to see the animals and many of them are still sleeping even though they are nocturnal. But seeing these guys dance around with fire was pretty full of awesomeness.

And the animal show was cute enough.

Especially when they wrapped this big-arse snake around my husband’s neck.

And forget a chicken in every pot. I am running for President and promising a 7-11 on every corner! Slurpees and all. Singapore 7-11’s even have a mashed potato fountain machine. They tasted a lot like KFC mashed potatoes which made Bear and Hubby very happy!

Sugar and rice and everything spice………….

I have been hearing about the spice market and I have desperately wanted to go. It sounded like a magical place where the sights were only rivaled by the smells. Where wholesalers bargained out of burlap sacks and the color of the spices lit up the canvas of the market.

Unfortunately, it felt a little drab – more like the streets of Oliver Twist rather than the hoped fields of the Sound of Music – but there were some beautiful sights to take in. The spices did light up the back drop a little – like the hushed tones of a sepia infused photograph. Quietly stunning.

On the way to the Spice Market in Old Delhi, the streets are lined with nut wallas – a walla is a merchant – so you guessed it – a nut walla sells nuts. There were dozens of them – one right after the other. Their displays were beautiful and tasty.

There was also a paneer walla. He sells blocks of paneer – think cottage cheese meets tofu – it is very popular here among the veg and non-veg eaters. And, yes, it bothered me a little that it was not refrigerated – but it did not seem to bother anyone else.

Along the way to the actual Spice Market, you see a lot of stalls with spices in them. But even though these are not the stuff that the official wholesale spice market is made of, they are pretty all the same.

There are also all sorts of pickled treats. I am a big believer in “when in Rome” so if this had been pasta, I would have surely tried it. But alas, I am in India and could not bring myself to taste these unidentifiable delights. The locals were not so shy and quickly savored them.

Now this is another story – take a potato, slice it, and fry it in some grease – and you have yourself a customer.

These are bags of rice and flour.

These are seeds for Lotus flowers.

Someone told me what these were but I cannot remember – some form of crystallized sugar – maybe molasses – I can’t remember – if you know, please do tell.

I wanted to go all Martha Stewart on these stars of anise and decorate them with glitter or at least a little paint. Wouldn’t they be pretty hanging on a tree with a ribbon?

These bowls were in the actual Spice Market. I did not know what all of them were – but there is surely curry, pepper, cinnamon, salt, coriander, ginger, chili powder, and many other yummy spices in these bowls.

I wonder how this works. These are red chili peppers. This is a wholesale market – so it is entirely possible that these bags get emptied every day. But what happens if they don’t all sell? And who is buying that many chili peppers?

This yellow root is tumeric. It is said if you grind it and add it to a warm glass of milk and drink that every day, you will fight off the swine flu.

And, no, I really don’t want to know why they are selling rat traps here.

These are dried rose petals for making potpourri. They smelled as lovely as they looked and reminded me of my grandmother’s bathroom.

This is what a typical stall looked like. Bags brimming with spices just waiting for someone to come buy them.

And really, truly, don’t blink or you might miss it. This is the sign above the alley that tells you that you have officially arrived at the Spice Market. It was a crowded place with lots of activity – not many tourists – and a lot to see. I am glad we found it!