Friday, December 22, 2006

Further examples...

...of why India has a long way to go in overcoming its status as a developing country:

Why the f&*k can't I have my ticket!?
The ever so lovely Chris and Dave are sponsoring a ticket for me to join them in Capetown for Chris' birthday in March. Chris buys a ticket online on South African Airways, they don't do e-tickets but they have the option to allow someone to sponsor a ticket for another and the recipient to pick-up from wherever they are. Simple really, just submit some paperwork they send and you are on your merry way.

Unless that is you happen to live in India.

The SAA office in India does not follow the corporate rules of the company. "What do I need to get my ticket?" Let me call my accounts person...sorry he's at lunch. "All of SAA in India only has one person working in the accounting department?" No, but he is the only one that can answer the question. "Can I speak to your supervisor?" He's at lunch. "Of course he is!" Well sir, it's lunch time. "It's 2:30 in the afternoon, and don't you think that your customers are most likely to access your services during THEIR lunch time, so your staff should be available!?" If you would like to wait for some time, they will be back later.

While the paperwork they gave us is valid for EVERY other country SAA operates in it is not good enough for SAA (their words not mine). "But what if the sponsor lives in another country?" Well then you can just pay for the ticket yourself (their words not mine).

Urgh!! Countless calls to India, Washington, Johana-fuckings-burg later we discover that the system shows that the ticket had been awarded even though they wouldn't give it to me so they wont release it to Chris either. Bloody Hell!!

So, some screaming, some yelling, and some threats later the previous ticket is cancelled, a new one issued in the US and C&D have to FedEx it to me. All because India has created EXTRA bureaucratic steps without rhyme or reason. Sigh.

What am I willing to put up with for a better exchange rate?
Tonight I leave for Spain (on Austrian Air btw-I've never flown them before let's see how it goes) I always like to land in a new country with some of the local currency in hand. Exchanging outside of India is out (Rupees are a restricted currency and its almost impossible to exchange them outside of India - and I have run out of US dollars). I know I can withdraw from ATMs once I reach, but still its a security thing "better safe than sorry" you know.

My Bank, which I hate, is India's largest private bank with outlets all over the country, and now the UK and Canada. One of the main reasons I hate them is because they make every little step a pain in the ass (someday I should tell you about the drama I went through when I lost my ATM card and needed a new one). For example, "Why am I getting charged for making a deposit?" because you made the deposit in Mumbai and your account is from Kolkata. "But it's the same bank, own by one person, its not individual franchises" yes but you opened the account in Kolkata so all transactions have to occur from there. "So transfer my account to Mumbai" We can't do that you would have to close that account and open a new one. Sigh.

One of the services this bank offers is foreign exchange and slightly better rates than other forex. "I would like 100 euros please" you need to fill out this form, and submit a copy of your passport, and your plane ticket. "I just want to exchange some money is all" yes you have to submit an application, it will take a day or two. "But I leave tomorrow" let me call to see if we can get it by tomorrow. "What do you mean get it by tomorrow, you don't have the money here?" No we are not allowed. "Then why say you offer forex if you don't have the money here!?"Because we do, it just takes some time. "And why do you need my passport and ticket?" Because we are not allow to exchange for people who are not travelling. "Why not?" that is the rule, besides what would an India do with the money if they are not travelling (their words not mine). Sigh.


I'm just tired. Spain here I come!!

Happy holidays to all.

Very Merry New YEAR!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Comic Strips

For those of you who knew me as an adolescent, first of all I would like to apologize for that. My pupa phase was not the prettiest of things, but at least it resulted in the beautiful, flighty, fickle, unstable, charming butterfly I am today.

Secondly, you may recall what a ginormous comic book geek I was/am. Thanks to technological advances I can still keep track of my favorite mutants without having the embarrassment of being a 30 year buying comics (though sometimes I say their are for my nephew "He likes these things you know and I like to encourage reading"). But my comic habits manifest in starting each day with reading a select list of comic strips (online of course) once in while there comes one that really strikes me, calls out to me.

These are three that I had saved but couldn't be bothered to post until now.

I love people trying to surprise me, but can't stand the waiting for the surprise. From a kid to adulthood, I would always try to figure out what presents or whatever we were doing. One Christmas I even ruined a great gift from Ricky who tried ever so hard to keep it a secret. But in the end I think I learned to try to act surprise (I was still curious and would figure out what was going on - I just would try not to let the concerned party I knew :-) Surprise-on-demand). But this one really called out to me, because I think people expect me to be more conceited than I really am. And though I have my moments of W.H.A. when someones says I'm cute or something, for the most part my blushes are genuine :-)

I'm not entirely convinced society has progressed for the better. All The toys and entertainment mediums kids have take out all the fun, creativity, joy, and physical exertion of playing. What's the fucking point of that. Now we can't live without our iPods and Cell phones and our children are fat mindless drones. Yip

This one just made me laugh out loud :-D

Monday, December 18, 2006


In order to not go over the edge and keep the tenuous grasp on my sanity I currently have, I decided that I needed a holiday during the holidays.

Luckily I'm joining two dear friends who have had an equally rough year. So, it's going to be more like group therapy than anything else.

Thanks to the marvel of frequent flyer miles and the miracle of credit cards, I will be able to spend twelve days in Spain (Christmas in Sevilla and New Years in Barcelona). I hear that sangria, flamenco, and paella do wonders for the soul.

We shall see.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day

UNAIDS Global summary of the AIDS epidemic (December 2006)

Number of people living with HIV in 2006

Total: 39.5 million (34.1–47.1 million)

Adults: 37.2 million (32.1–44.5 million)

Women: 17.7 million (15.1–20.9 million)

Children under 15 years: 2.3 million (1.7–3.5 million)

People newly infected with HIV in 2006

Total 4.3 million (3.6–6.6 million)

Adults 3.8 million (3.2–5.7 million)

Children under 15 years 530 000 (410 000–660 000)

AIDS deaths in 2006 Total 2.9 million (2.5–3.5 million)

Adults 2.6 million (2.2–3.0 million)

Children under 15 years 380 000 (290 000–500 000)

The ranges around the estimates define the boundaries within which the actual numbers lie, based on the best available information.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Birds of a feather

So today I finally saw something that I did not think I would ever see. A pigeon nest! I know they roost everywhere, because pigeons are like roaches with feathers (hate the nasty vermin), but up to know no matter how hard I looked I had never actually seen a pigeon nest with babies.

I was starting to think that they were actually cloned in a lab in order to spread disease and poop. Or maybe they reproduced through mitosis. But now I can actually say that they pigeon chicks are ugly!

For the most part in nature animal babies are cute regardless of how ugly the adult is (except in the human species, which has an uncanny ability to be hit or miss with attractive children – I always feel bad for the parents of ugly children. Do you think they notice it when they have bred Quasimodos?). But now that I have seen baby chickens…damn they were really gross. Hum, who would have thought?

At least it made me smile. It is something else I can scratch of my “Been There, Done That!” list.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Photograpic evidence...

...of how hard I work.

This are snaps from the big Asian Gay Leadership Consultation I attended in Delhi in September. I'm not captioning them because trying to explain them would take too long :-P

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Societal commentaries

I love satire. The use of humor to comment on the more fucked-up aspects of human nature is of particular delight to me. Which is why I'm a big fan of comic strips.

Today there were 2 particular gems thanks to Get Fuzzy and Non Sequitur.

'Nuf Said.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Concept vs. Reality

My father always said that I have a tendency to be too idealistic, even in the face of contradictory data. It really became apparent during my university days, when I would jump from course to course, from major to major, because I just KNEW the next one would be different. It would be THE one that would click, when in reality they were all crap in the end.

So is the story of my life, I theoretically like things such as nature, but then I get there and go “What the fuck!?” I theoretically like helping people, as long as they stay away and don’t touch me. Why do people in need always smell so funky?

So what is one to do, blame naiveté, blame idealism, blame an inability to learn from the past? Still I go on. What I need to see is what is my next bout of 'concept vs. reality' about. My time in India has corrected me in a couple things: 1) I like the concept of living in a developing country, as long as I have the money to get the western comforts to which I have grown accustomed too (god I miss having money!); 2) I like the concept of travel and being new places, as long as I take my friends along (being alone in a new place sucks); 3) I like the concept of having help, as long as they do things exactly how I want them (incredibly hard when one doesn’t speak the language).

Now that I have hit 30 (with a hard cricket bat) I need to figure out if I like the theory of a relationship or the practice of actually having someone encroach on your space day in and day out, always in your way. And what about children? The theory of caring and nurturing for a new life vs. the reality of having the life and money sucked out of you by an ungrateful parasite. Decisions, decisions.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Photographic Miscellanea

So here are some pics I've been meaning to post for ages, but have been too lazy. They have no rhyme or reason, but at least it keeps you in the loop!

From My Kolkata trip in June:

Dev and Nil's office (pic courtesy of Margarette)

Sohini and I cutting a rug (pic courtesy of Margarette)

Partial Cal crew (Andy, Nil, Lilly, Margarette, Sohini, Dev)
(pic courtesy of Margarette)

Random Moments:

Andy Lounging (and SMSing incessantly) (pic courtesy of Hubert)

Ankur - my saviour in Mumbai

Andy - uhm, no comment

Fun with a phone camera:

La ferme dorée de cochon en Kolkata

Watercolor Ankur Stare

Veggie Vendor on the Train on his Cell

Happy Burger

Workshop full of Fags...and a couple of trannies

Pensive or bored?

My Melancholic Moment


The Veggie Monster Attacks -Go Ryan Go!

You have to feel bad for the guy who drives the small carcass van

My Absolute Favorite Pic of Bombay:

Thursday, November 23, 2006

PMS: Not just for those with ovaries

Roughly around the second week of every month I get all hormony. I get moody, despondent and worse of all introspective. The older I get, and the more baggage I accumulate, the worse these times feel. And the past couple of months they have been down right cruddy (thankfully November was ameliorated by the timely intervention of a loving and caring dear friend – even if he’s a self-hating aussie trying to pass for a brit).

Does being older mean being more bitter/jaded/cynical?

Funny thing is that the other 3 weeks of the month, I’m pretty much ok. Well, less bitchy anyway…sort of.

But what I want to know is why across the board (i.e., most countries) men being emotional is bad? Why is it a sign of weakness to admit that we are vulnerable, as opposed to a sign of strength that we are comfortable with our own humanity?

I think the pollution in Bombay is getting to me. I most stop inhaling all this carbon monoxide before I start writing a self-help book, because I’m not changing my name to Deepak Chopra!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How do you know if you are having a nervous breakdown?

This is a theoretical question, but one that I am intrigued about. Do you really know if you are going crazy? Mental Health has never been my family’s strength and I’m left wondering how do I know if I am being overwhelmed by the tides of reality?

Terry stated a month or two ago that it sounds like I’m getting burnt out. I didn’t reply to her comment because I honestly don’t know.

I enjoy my work, I am constantly reminded that I am loved, but…Does everyone find happiness as elusive as I do? Or do I just don’t know how to be happy with what I got?

On a professional side, I seem to be doing ok (well not financially, but who uses that as an indicator of success). I’m respected, sometimes even looked up to, but I always ask: Why!? I really don’t do anything. I talk the big talk, I throw out jargon like it was confetti, and I read the titles and italics of reports and use that to make thesis statements. But in the end what do I contribute?

On the personal side, I have family and friends that truly love me, care for me, and support me unconditionally, but why am I always running away from them? Why do I sabotage every relationship I’ve ever been in? Ricky once said that I was not meant to settle down. Maybe he’s right, was I a nomad in a previous life trying to reclaim the open land in a globalized world?

Honestly, I just think I’m PMSing right now. Too much introspection resulting from a hormonal roller-coaster. I have been feeling kind of dark lately, not the usual peppy Andy – which in moments of self pity I wonder which one is the true me?

Ok enough doom and gloom, it’s unbecoming of a bullshit artist.

This day forth I am promising to make an effort to blog more regularly again. Maybe some more frequent mental haemorrhaging into cyber-space will prevent these creepy thoughts from re-surfacing.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Q: How do you know you have adapted to your new country?

A: When you are no longer addicted to Pepto-Bismol!

Warning: The following post contains graphic commentary of a gastro-intestinal nature.

The meeting in Delhi had a significant number of foreigners (and by foreigners I mean white people) who had come to India representing their particular piece of the Asia/Pacific Region pie (and interestingly enough there where more white people coming from Thailand than there were Thais, what is that about!?).

But what warmed my cockles in a metaphorical sense were the Ozzies, New Zealanders, and North Americans (because the North American whites have to get their hands into everything), and Brits. The reason for this euphoria wasn't so much based on a sexual desire (though some were quite delicious) but more to do that all of them succumb to one degree or another to the infamous Delhi Belly!

Not that I take particular pleasure in the misery of others (though all who know schadenfreude, but what do they know!), but it did feel good to realize that I can't remember the last time I had a stomach upset. God knows that the first six months I practically lived in the bathroom. And I had actually ran out, much to my dread, of Pepto-Bismol. That is until Chirag's timely arrival in April with a case. But as I inventoried this weekend, I have actually used barely any of it. I have given some to visiting friends, but have really not had to take any in a long time.

Could my intestines actually have adapted to the bacterial flora of India!? Did I survive a year in India without dysentery, cholera, or any other unpleasant but effective method to loose weight?
Do I try not to drink the tap water, I have on occasions and I haven't even gotten gas out of it. How am I supposed to bitch about this country, if my body now thinks its a local!?

Now I need to find a new way to loose weight, having Baskin Robbins delivery on my speed dial and no convenient way to get rid of the excess fat is not a cute combination.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Of Gays and Straights

Chapter XVI (Offences affecting the Human Body), Article 377 (Unnatural offences) of the Indian Penal Code 377 states:

"Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine." (Explanation- Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.)

Interesting to me is that what is "against the order of nature" is really not explained. I assume that it refers to non-procreative sex. So no blowjobs or butt sex. Which is really not the sole domain of the homosexual. However in India it is used as a tool to marginalized men who have sex with men (funnily enough women who have sex with women are really not thought of when it comes to 377, I guess most people assume that what lesbians do is not "real sex," but I digress).

In India groups have been fighting to get 377 of the books for years. In all honesty, the battles really have not really gone anywhere, but this year there have been a couple of great wins for the against-377 camp. Namely:

(this is the National AIDS Control Organization telling government that 377 is in the way of good public health against HIV) - NACO readies action plan to help gays

(this one has 100 of India's best and brightest talk against 377) - Backing gay rights

But the question still remains, "even if the law is repealed, will society at large change their opinion about sexual minorities?" Let's be honest here, the US the alleged bastion of democracy of the world, still oppresses same-sex behavior.

Yes, the movement has to start somewhere, I don't argue that. But after working with sexual minorities in India for the past 6 months, I realized that for most of the vocal ones what they want is to be apart from society. Asking for things like separate hospital wards and separate public restrooms for transgenders. I mean come on. What happened to not asking for special rights, but equal rights!?

India's gender dichotomy and lack of a cohesive sexual minority community will definitely slow down the movement towards mainstreaming.

Part of the reason I bring all of this now is that India is hosting an Asia and the Pacific region consultation on Men who have Sex with Men and HIV. Entitled "Risk and Responsibilities" the consultation hopes to address:

"the increased risks that men who have sex with men face through sexual practices and cultural vulnerabilities, and the risks of not addressing these with adequate, appropriate and sufficiently funded HIV prevention, treatment care and support interventions. This also flags the responsibilities of men for protecting themselves and their partners, and the responsibilities of governments, donors and other stakeholders in ensuring resources and environments that enable good-quality HIV programmes and services for prevention, treatment, care and support."

Not bad for a country where same-sex sexual activity is illegal.

So I will be in Delhi for the next 5 days, talking about what needs to be done and how can countries collaborate and streamline their initiatives. Mainly I'm going for the entertainment value of it. 300 fags, queens, and trannies from all over Asia coming together to "dialogue" with government representatives and donor agencies. Should be fun!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Birthday Calculator

My friend Manu forwarded me the following link ( It's pretty interesting. I'm fascinated knowing about all the things that were going on the year I was born. I had pretty much assumed all life started after I came along.
27 July 1976

Your date of conception was on or about 4 November 1975 which was a Tuesday.

You were born on a Tuesday
under the astrological sign Leo.
Your Life path number is 3.

Life Path Compatibility:
You are most compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 3, 6 & 9.
You should get along well with those with the Life Path numbers 1, 2, 5 & 11.
You are least compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 4, 7, 8 & 22.

The Julian calendar date of your birth is 2442986.5.
The golden number for 1976 is 1.
The epact number for 1976 is -1.
The year 1976 was a leap year.

Your birthday falls into the Chinese year beginning 1/31/1976 and ending 2/17/1977.
You were born in the Chinese year of the Dragon.

Your Native American Zodiac sign is Salmon; your plant is Raspberry.

You were born in the Egyptian month of Paopy, the second month of the season of Poret (Emergence - Fertile soil).

Your date of birth on the Hebrew calendar is 29 Tammuz 5736.

The date of Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 18 April 1976.
The date of Orthodox Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 25 April 1976.
The date of Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) on your birth year was Wednesday 3 March 1976.
The date of Whitsun (Pentecost Sunday) in the year of your birth was Sunday 6 June 1976.
The date of Whisuntide in the year of your birth was Sunday 13 June 1976.
The date of Rosh Hashanah in the year of your birth was Saturday, 25 September 1976.
The date of Passover in the year of your birth was Thursday, 15 April 1976.
The date of Mardi Gras on your birth year was Tuesday 2 March 1976.

As of 9/19/2006 8:10:19 AM EDT
You are 30 years old.
You are 362 months old.
You are 1,573 weeks old.
You are 11,011 days old.
You are 264,272 hours old.
You are 15,856,330 minutes old.
You are 951,379,819 seconds old.

Celebrities who share your birthday:

Alex Rodriguez (1975)Triple H (1969)Maureen McGovern (1949)
Peggy Fleming (1948)Betty Thomas (1947)Bobbie Gentry (1944)
Jerry Van Dyke (1931)Norman Lear (1922)

Top songs of 1976
Tonight's the Night by Rod StewartSilly Love Songs by Wings
Don't Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John & Kiki DeeDisco Lady by Johnnie Taylor
Play The Funky Music by Wild CherryDecember, 1963 (Oh What a Night) by Four Seasons
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul SimonKiss and Say Goodbye by Manhattans
If You Leave Me Now by ChicagoLove Hangover by Diana Ross

Your age is the equivalent of a dog that is 4.30958904109589 years old. (You're still chasing cats!)

There are 311 days till your next birthday
on which your cake will have 31 candles.

Those 31 candles produce 31 BTUs,
or 7,812 calories of heat (that's only 7.8120 food Calories!) .
You can boil 3.54 US ounces of water with that many candles.

In 1976 there were approximately 3.1 million births in the US.
In 1976 the US population was approximately 203,302,031 people, 57.4 persons per square mile.
In 1976 in the US there were approximately 2,152,662 marriages (10.1%) and 1,036,000 divorces (4.9%)
In 1976 in the US there were approximately 1,921,000 deaths (9.5 per 1000)
In the US a new person is born approximately every 8 seconds.
In the US one person dies approximately every 12 seconds.

In 1976 the population of Australia was approximately 14,110,107.
In 1976 there were approximately 227,810 births in Australia.
In 1976 in Australia there were approximately 109,973 marriages and 63,230 divorces.
In 1976 in Australia there were approximately 112,662 deaths.

Your birthstone is Ruby

The Mystical properties of Ruby

Ruby is said to open one's heart to love.
Some lists consider these stones to be your birthstone. (Birthstone lists come from Jewelers, Tibet, Ayurvedic Indian medicine, and other sources)

Your birth tree is
Cypress, the Faithfulness

Strong, muscular, adaptable, takes what life has to give, happy,content,optimistic, needs enough money and acknowledgment, hates loneliness, passionate lover which cannot be satisfied, faithful, quick-tempered,unruly, pedantic and careless.

There are 97 days till Christmas 2006!
There are 110 days till Orthodox Christmas!

The moon's phase on the day you were
born was new.

Copyright © 2006 Paul R. Sadowski (

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Indians LOVE festivals, holidays, or any excuse to drink, party and be merry. And from what I've gathered all such occasions begin with a religious undertone. After all, who is going to oppose a celebration in the name of religion? Smart thinking.

The Ganesh Chaturthi or Ganesh Festival, is an exercise in organized chaos. Celebrated over 11 days, it seems to be the event of the year in Mumbai and one that brings out the spiritual side of even the most jaded. Kinda like Christmas but without the presents. Similar to Durga Puja in Kolkata there were temporary temples (known as pandals) all over the city which housed the idols for display before between taken on the procession for immersion. I was feeling lazy and didn't take my camera along so I have no photographic evidence of them. BUT, I did take some snaps of the procession down to ChowpattyBeach.

The sea of people was more monumental than the sea itself, which welcomed the idols.

Honestly, I think I liked Durga Puja better. Granted my DP experience was more organized. But in Kolkata there was definitely a more "community celebratory feel" to the whole thing. Peeps in Mumbai said that Ganpati is more of a family celebration.

Though one does see the competitive spirit that emerges out of who has the biggest better pandal (it always comes down to that doesn't it), the lines that form out of some of them are counter productive. I'm sorry but I'm not going to stand in line for 2-3 hours to look at a big paper maiche and plaster elephant, no matter how pretty and significant it is.

Anywho, these are a few pics of the immersion at night (it was WAY too hot to go during the day), that is before the police told me to stop taking pictures because apparently there was a bomb scare. Granted why would a terrorist be taking pictures of the end of an event if he was hoping to blow it up, is beyond me, but who am I to question these things.