Monday, May 29, 2006

Internet Fun or a Waste of Time

I have friends that are addicted to net quizzes. Some are entertaing some are asinine, but in the end they are just mindless dribble meant to make you waste the few precious moments that we have left in our too short existence.

That being I said, I admit that I partake in them also (I never said that I wasn't a hypocrite). What amuses me about them is the simple, obvious "truths" which they spout.

So in good fun, I present to you the latest two cyber-mystical insights into my psyche. Enjoy.

Your dating personality profile:

Liberal - Politics matters to you, and you aren't afraid to share your left-leaning views. You would never be caught voting for a conservative candidate.
Big-Hearted - You are a kind and caring person. Your warmth is inviting, and your heart is a wellspring of love.
Sensual - You are not particularly shy when it comes to your sexuality. You know what you like and do not feel inhibited.
Your date match profile:

Outgoing - Shy and timid people are not who you are after. You need someone with a vibrant personality to breathe life into a relationship.
Practical - You are drawn to people who are sensible and smart. Flashy, materialistic people turn you off. You appreciate the simpler side of living.
Funny - You consider a good sense of humor a major necessity in a date. If his jokes make you laugh, he has won your heart.
Your Top Ten Traits

1. Liberal
2. Big-Hearted
3. Sensual
4. Stylish
5. Romantic
6. Adventurous
7. Wealthy/Ambitious
8. Traditional
9. Shy
10. Intellectual
Your Top Ten Match Traits

1. Outgoing
2. Practical
3. Funny
4. Sensual
5. Big-Hearted
6. Athletic
7. Adventurous
8. Traditional
9. Stylish
10. Romantic

Take the Online Dating Profile Quiz at Dating Diversions

I do think this dating profile was pretty accurate. However, I'm quite perplexed as to what I could have said to lead the databasse to thnk that I was wealthy/ambitious or SHY!!

Which ArchAngel are you most like?

Rafael. You're most like the ArchAngel of Healing. You want people to shape up, and you nag. But you mean well, and you're well loved despite it. Or because of it. You bring the donuts even as you tell people to eat more veggies.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

I do think naggging should be the background noise of every relationship.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Back Blog: Gujarat Sightseeing

Not one to pass up the opportunity to explore a new place with a local. My AIF peeps and I got Chirag to show us around Ahmedabad a bit. In all honesty there ain't much there (sorry Aditi and Cheryl, but you know its true). Insuferable heat aside Jen, Sejal and I had a good time.

The roof of Chirag's House

Ruins of Lothal
Discovered in 1957, it has been proved to be the ruins of a full fledged settlement of the Harappan era dating as far back as the 2nd millennium B.C.

Some Random Temple

Gujju Thali: A formal Affair

Adalaj Vav
Adalaj Vav is situated 18 kms. north of Ahmedabad in Gandhinagar district. Built in 1499 A.D. by Queen Rudabai, this step well at the village Adalaj is a fine example of magnificent architectural form, unique to Northwestern India.

The step well or Vav as it is locally called is intricately carved and is several stories in depth. The designs on its walls and pillars include, leaves, flowers, birds, fish and other breathtaking ornamental designs.

A unique characteristic of step wells was that they not only conserved water but were also cool chambers where one could rest during hot summer months. In the olden days, these step wells used to be frequented by travellers and caravans as stopovers along their trade routes.

Parting Shot: Good times were had

Thursday, May 25, 2006

On language

There are something like 6,800 known languages spoken in the 200 countries of the world. I speak two. And I happen to live in a country that barely speaks one of them. Not pretty. Yes, the colonialist bastards (also known as the British, with the exception of Dave and Andrew because I love them) were in India for like 200 years. However, that does not mean that every one of the 1.1 billion people in this country speak English. Hell, they don't all even speak the same language!

The Indian constitution recognizes, for now, 18 official Indian languages. But, almost each of these 18 languages, include different dialect or variation of that language. Besides these 18 languages, there are other languages which are recognized by the central government, but not as official languages. And to make it even more fun there are other languages which aren’t recognized by the central government. Yippee!

So what is a boy to do?

Eight months in Kolkata yielded a few defensive phrases in Bengali and the ability to know when people were talking about me, but in no way it allowed me to actually communicate. Now I am in Mumbai, a city which has no use whatsoever for Bengali (money well spent on that Bengali tutor, eh?). Now I am back to the same sense of loss as the beginning. I am not imperialist enough to believe that everyone in the world should speak English; my mother tongue is Spanish after all. But I just wish that language learning wasn’t so difficult. Ugh!

I readily admit that I am lazy and require instant gratification. Hence, my little book-on-tape of “Teach Yourself Hindi” lays gathering dust on the side of my bed. I know that one-year in a country does not yield proficiency, but for god’s sake I just don’t want to be ripped off at the market.

Luckily I have a knack for pretending that I know what people are saying and looking convincing while I do it. It’s amazing how far into a conversation you can go with some smiling, nodding, and throwing in the occasional perfectly pronounce word of agreement. If that fails just giving a disinterested aloof look helps also. And if pushed into a corner just shrug your shoulders and put on your iPod (thank god for, and Chris for gifting it to me, isolationist technology). I guess it could be worse I could be in Japan and China, where you can get flogged for attempting to learn English.

But I do give it to Indians, significant numbers of people speak a minimum of two languages. A lot even speak three or more. Granted these are languages spoken only in India. But shit Americans can barely speak English properly, let alone a second language.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Back Blog: Gujarati Wedding Sidebar

Never one to sit on the sidelines while everyone else are doing things. I threw myself full swing into the wedding activity back stage. Language not being a barrier when you smile warmly and are a charades champ I got mehendi done (by the bride herself nonetheless). As well as trying to learn the fine art of making chapatis as you can see from the pics I have a LONG way to go. But i do admit that chilling (actually sweating my balls off) with the assorted aunts and female cousins in the kitchen while they poked fun at my mediocre attempts at rolling out the dough was definitely a highlight of the wedding chaos.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Life in Mumbai: Month 1

Ok, ok, I admit that it has been positively ages since I have provided any sort of update. Some of you probably assume that I have been kidnapped by a band of pirates and sold into a middle-eastern sex ring (sigh! Some day). But life in Mumbai, has proven to be more hectic, expensive, and down right crazier than originally anticipated. Here is a quick summary of what I have been up to for the past month. In the middle of it all throw in some delhi belly, a migraine, disgusting heat, humidity, pollution, and traffic. Amazing food. Ungodly smells. Meeting great people and revelling in my new job. I honestly do like Mumbai. It actually reminds me a lot of Puerto Rico. It's the randomly chaotic mix of developed and third world all in the same block, full of sweaty brown people. Though the beaches are gross here (how can you have a beach you can't swim!?).

Work: Is great. I really do like my new job. It's definitely going to be a challenging year though. On my first day I was told, that I had to put together a needs assessment meeting in Mumbai of 20 LGBT NGOs spread throughout the country, to be held in two weeks. And the results of this meeting will be the foundation for the work for the rest of the year. Yey! Anyway, the meeting was 2 weeks ago. I was congratulated for pulling it out of my ass without a hitch and now I have spent the past two weeks compiling survey data, analyzing group discussions and trying to draft a report and workplan. Fun, Fun! To top it all of, the separate office (as in a whole different office space in some different part of town) that my project is supposed to be housed in fell through...twice! But we have FINALLY secured a space. Peeps are in the process of cleaning it and making it suitable to my western sensibilities (the fact that I wanted a file cabinet was apparently a bit much). Within the next year I have to design, coordinate, and facilitate 4 skills-building workshops, 2 community advocacy meetings, 2 site visits to "problem" states, and 1 national partners meetings. At the same time oversee the infrastructure development of the Indian Network for Sexual Minorities (from getting it registered as an organization, to building up the secretariat, to developing the website), as well as, a report on Sexual health needs of the MSM and TG community of India for possible inclusion into the National AIDS Control Plan. All for the bargain price of Rs.22,000 month (yes people this is my salary).

Life: Well I am no longer homeless. Though I miss the AC, plush beds, daily maid service, cable television, and room service (why the fuck didn't i want to stay in hotels again!?) there is something to be said for having your own stable residence. Many thanks go to Atul and Sapna (via Ameet) for been gracious enough for helping an broke development worker out and giving me a great deal on their flat. So I've been trying to slowly settle in, get some house stuff (hum, I still need to get back to Kolkata and get the rest of my things, I really miss the other half of my wardrobe). On a superficial note, I do admit that the "scenery" is nicer in Mumbai than the rest of India. I don't know if its the über-western influences or what, but there is a larger attention to grooming andaestheticss, which Ithoroughlyy appreciate. Though there still seems to be the petty back-bitching that infects most other gay communities ("watch out for that guy" "you shouldn't trust him" "why are you talking to that dude?"), atlest they are prettier while they do it. I'm slowly meeting people, running into people I have met previously, and hearing of newpeoplel that I simply MUST meet (not quite sure why though) but hey I can't complain. Bored, at least I am not. Oh, and did I mentioned I joined a gym! (more on the later).

For now I leave you with a commentary on something that I do constantly. Toodles.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Unnati weds Bipin: Chirag's Sister's Wedding

I went too Amhedabad at the invitation of the adorable Chirag, to attend his sister's wedding. Never one to miss an opportunity to dress-up and free dinner I went. Gujarati wedding are slightly different than Kannada weddings (Deepa's in December), but not by much. However, this time I was able to partake in some of the more family oriented events like the garba at home (community singing and dancing), mehendi (the henna tattoo), the engagement ceremony, and of course observing all the home chaos. All in all, it was fab. At the wedding took place in a water park, with water spouting plastic elephants and all. Who can beat that!?

Some of my AIF peeps tagged along, which made it more fun for me, since out of the 950 guest only 3 spoke English. I was definitely a notable presence during the festivities. I amused countless relatives, with my bad attempts and mimicking Gujarati, incessant picture taking, and generally just hanging around. But it does lead one to wonder how can you deal with almost a thousand of your closest family and friends without any alcohol!? (Gujarat is a dry state and so are the weddings)

Hightlights definitely included teaching (trying to at least) Chirag's mum how to Salsa.

The happy bride to be waiting for her mehendi to dry

Relatives galore singing and smearing turmeric paste on the bride

The excited mother of the bride (on the left)

Bride and Mother

The brother (Chirag) and the priest doing some sort of blessing

The proud father of the bride

The Siblings


More blessings

A metaphor for marriage?

Mrs. Patel learning to salsa. She was amused - I think!

Everybody Garba!

Andy and Chirag looking all ethnic

Engagement ceremony

And the groom arrives

The Bride

The Mother of the Bride

The groom

The AIF crew

The Happy Couple

Andy and Chirag Working it

AIF Crew Playing with the Garbage Can Man

Very Exhausted Mother and Aunts