Tuesday 26 April 2022


The Heat and Boris Johnson 

The Heat

It is that time of the year again. It is wonderful living in a tropical climate and I know that I don't miss the UK weather. For most of the year, the weather in Bangalore is warm, sunny and comfortable to live with. In fact, I think the best time of year is from November until February, it is warm in the day but cooler and easy to sleep at night. After February, it suddenly becomes very hot and humid. If you are on holiday and do not have to move far it is fine, but when you need to do everyday things, it starts to be very draining. It feels like you can't breathe some days as the air is so hot, it is like walking with a hairdryer on the hot setting, although sometimes there is no breeze and it is perfectly still. Today it was 38 degrees in the shade and very humid.

Sometimes by eight in the morning, it is too hot to walk in and you have to be determined if you are going somewhere. You find yourself looking at the sky to see if there are any clouds on the horizon. If they bubble up then the excitement starts to rise. Usually they disperse but sometimes, just sometimes, we will get some rain.

Last week, we actually had some rain on 4 afternoons. It lowered the temperature so that we could finally walk without too much bother, Andy was so happy. He cannot go out unless it is early in the morning or late at night because the pavement is actually too hot to walk on. He spends most of his day stretched out full length on the tiled floor so his tummy is cool. He has numerous fans he can choose from so he is a lucky, spoilt boy. 

At night, we are sleeping with our air-conditioning on full blast (plus two fans). We probably will be only eating toast when we get the electricity bill!

But, of course, we are very fortunate. We have a choice. Swapna and Sandra were saying that they keep their windows closed, because of the mosquitoes, and they have ceiling fans, but when the power goes off (which it does a lot ) then they have nothing to relieve the heat. Sometimes this happens all night. They say they can't sleep as it is too hot and usually get up at 4 in the morning and go outside where it is cooler. We, on the other hand, have a back up generator which will operate our fans, although not the air conditioning, when our power goes off.

Sandra doesn't even have running water or a toilet, although she is about to move to a house with both. She has to carry the water in a bucket from the tap down the road and then up some stairs to her flat. The toilet, not clean apparently, is at the end of the road.

The heat is very tough on some people here.

Boris Johnson

Whatever you may think about all the kerfuffle in the UK about the covid parties, I felt sorry for Boris arriving in all this heat. That is a punishment in itself.

He arrived in India last week. Now, Indian people get very excited when they have to put on a show, they are very happy and will be extremely attentive to your needs, which you either like or you don't like. 

Boris was on the TV all through the day, having a turban put on his head, being presented with garlands, having shawls draped around his shoulders and generally being fussed over, as the Indian nation welcomes him in the best way that they can. It was lovely to see their enthusiasm.

However, this is all in 40 degrees of heat AND Boris was wearing a suit and tie! He looked extremely uncomfortable the other day and extremely hot. As the day progressed, he was getting redder and redder. He was smiling but and was very accommodating so he did well.  In the background, was the UK's top diplomat in India the British High Commissioner, Alex Ellis, who we met the other week for Andrew's presentation. (more about him in a minute)

I am pleased it was not me in all that heat, I would have been in a heap on the floor with steam coming out of my ears, begging to go into an air conditioned room. I hope he has recovered. We have another month left of this heat...

Micronclean Important Day

When Andrew comes home from work, he doesn't say much about work, but one day he asked me what I was doing on the Friday. Being rather fickle and unemployed, I had planned to go with some ladies out for lunch as one of them had their car for the day. Now, I am a bit isolated at times as I have no car and have to organise tuk tuks etc to get around (sounds easy, but I can assure you it is complicated and stressful at times) so I asked him to change the day if he could. Then he explained why. 

Andrew has more contracts in the pipeline and he frequently speaks to the British High Commission about trade and business. A few weeks ago, The Deputy High commissioner's office in Bangalore invited Andrew (Micronclean) to do a presentation in their new building. They wanted to invite some important people in business and the British High Commissioner of India, Alex Ellis, was visiting from Delhi on that day. Afternoon tea would be offered too.

Andrew needed to look at where he would do the presentation and to plan what to do.

We went for a visit (I cancelled my lunch, of course,) to check out the venue to decide what to do. The room was spacious and cool (air conditioning- good. I agreed to help out!) 

When we got back home, I was given various research tasks to do while Andrew got his team ready and his presentation written.

We nearly went mad trying to source British products that could be given in a gift bag. I did not realise how scarce the products are. (Let's hope Boris can get a trade deal sorted!)

As there were important people going to the presentation, we decided that would be a good opportunity for Max and Milo to see what happens.

This meant making sure their clothes were smart enough, especially their shoes. (We still have not forgiven Milo for going to a posh 5 star hotel in his scruffy flip flops one day. No one had noticed what he was wearing as he slunk into the back seat of the car!) 

 I took the boys shopping to make sure shirts were crisp and shoes were suitable. It was quite traumatic as Milo insisted that there were no smart shoes he liked. Through gritted teeth, we managed to find some as he did his Kevin the teenager special. Even the shop assistant chipped in casually to help.

Max had a mock exam on the presentation day, so I wrote to school asking if he could do the exam earlier and then be let out of school. Surprisingly, school agreed as they are quite focussed on leadership development. 

On the day, Andrew went early with Arjun to set everything up, while I waited for Max to return from school. As soon as he arrived, we got ready to go in the car, as Arjun had come back to fetch us. Milo was not allowed out of the door without the once over. As usual, he did everything last minute and was in a whirl. On close 'inspection " I noticed he was wearing his thick bottle green school socks (they did not go with his suit)

"I don't have any socks!" he wailed. A quick dash upstairs and I got a pair of Andrew's socks and forced him to put them on.

We arrived to a fairly calm team from Micronclean positioning products carefully around the room. It looked bright and welcoming. The new van with the company's logo emblazoned was strategically parked outside the main window. There were flowers on the tables that had been beautifully laid with British High Commission plates and cutlery. 

Andrew had come up with an excellent idea of having a replica Micronclean toy van in a display case for each person to take with them when they left. They were on the table too, Max and Milo were so impressed with them. There were goody bags with jars of UK love it or hate it Marmite in (that took a lot of doing) and British cakes, scones and biscuit in a fancy box. (An expat Indian lady who misses Marks and Spencers bakes cake products here. Her company it called A Taste of Blighty. She was very enthusiastic about helping out.)

In one corner the caterers had set up buffet table and there was a large array of finger foods ready to be served. (but no tea, just fruit juice!) It looked wonderful. There were photographers and a man that was filming everything.

Then, the guests started to arrive. 

One of the main guests was signing a contract on the day, He had flown down especially for the presentation from Hyderabad. He was a very kind and happy man. 

Tragically, he was killed last week in a car accident, so it is all very sad, as he was such a good sport, enthusiastic and supportive, as you will see in the photos.

Other guests from different pharmaceutical companies arrived and they all stood chatting with each other.

The boys and I stood at the back of the room out of the way, as the people coming were there to talk business and we didn't want to get in the way. But as soon as Alex arrived, the British High Commissioner, he came over to talk to us to ask us how we liked living in India. He had also found out that we come from Lincolnshire and he knew it well.

The Deputy High Commissioner arrived with him and her name is Anna Shotbolt. She is based in Bangalore and had only been in her post 5 weeks by this point. She was lovely too.

Everyone took their seats and Andrew took his place at the lectern. He gave his speech about Micronclean's achievements and future goals.

He did very well. There was the official contract signing and then, we were allowed to mingle, chat and  eat the yummy food. Lots of official photographs were taken, including ones outside with people pretending to load laundry bags into the new shiny van.

In an hour it was all done and Alex had to move onto his next presentation to meet the Chief Minister of our state Karnataka (like the Prime Minister in effect).

 The cake gift boxes

Setting up at the venue

 Please note the shoes !

 Max all ready to see what happens

They had been warned about arguing!

 Looking official 

 Milo decided that he loved his shoes!

 Can you see the vans in the boxes on the table ?

 One of the important guests

 Sadly, this is the man that died last week

 Another important guest.

 The British High Commissioner of India, Alex Ellis and the British Deputy High Commissioner of Bangalore, Anna Shotbolt and Andrew 

 Andrew giving his speech. 

Signing the contract.

  Shiny van 

 Presenting the gift box and flowers. 

 Milo being cool 

 So sad that this gentlemen Mr Chandra Reddy  has died.

 The Cole team 

 Milo going to look at the ducks.

 The Micronclean team that came. The rest were back at the factory, of course.

 Milo pushing his mother out of the way !

 No idea what they are doing here !

 Milo took a shine to the van and spent some time sitting in it.

 Now, I have a lot of respect for this lady. Her name is Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. She is extremely influential in India, not just Bangalore, and owns a lot of companies, She is down to earth and easy to talk with. We have met her before. Milo even wrote about her at school because he was so impressed   with how kind she was. She sat with him and Max at the dinner table, and they had a lot 
of fun. She is one of those people that when she speaks you listen because she talks a lot of sense. Her achievements are easily found on the internet.

 Kiran spent some time chatting to Alex.

 Milo decided to try his hand at public speaking when everyone had left.

 He wants to be a businessman and now has his own LinkedIn account!

 Obsessed with the van 

Visit to the factory 

The next week Andrew had some important visitors to the factory and they had a good look around and planted a tree.



Both Max and Milo have guitar lessons. Max has been having them for a while whereas Milo has only just started. Andy, the guitar teacher was putting together a small concert for some of his pupils. Andy's dad runs a few local  charity schools. The concert was to be in one of the schools and the children from the school would perform some dances.
Max was playing the guitar and his friend Tomek was going to play on the keyboard. Their other friend, Thea was going to play the drums but she had her "A " level exams so she had to drop out at the last minute. Andy stepped in to play the drums instead.

There was another band there too and other children playing various instruments.

 We all arrived and sat on the balcony at the school and we had a lovely musical evening. 

 Children from the school performing one of their dances.

 Tomek, Andy and Max.

 It was hot on the roof but we had fans.

 Max played a solo 

 His confidence is growing so much .

 The school children performed a local dance.

Milo's vaccination

Corbevax is now available for the 12-15 age group and I went with Milo to get the jab at a local government hospital (private hospitals are not allowed to administer the jabs yet (?) , India is a mystery at times with their rules and regulations)

We managed to get an appointment and went to get the jab. It was quite amusing as he had to sit with a piece of paper in front of him (permission slip) while they took his photo. He looked like a criminal.

While we were waiting afterwards, I asked the doctor when the boosters would be available for our age group as at that point in time they were only available for the over 60's. He asked me if I wanted a booster. I said yes. He asked me for my Indian identity card and I gave it to the assistant. In a matter of minutes the nurse had injected me. I too had the criminal photo taken! The doctor said ring your husband and get him to come and get his.

I think sometimes they don't get enough people in a vaccination centre. There is more of a reluctance to get the jabs here. Also,  the hospitals don't want to throw the vaccines away, once opened they have to be quick because of the heat. It was very handy though to get it then. 

The boosters are now open to everyone.

I am not a criminal, I have had my jab !

 Andrew was chatting to the young nurse. She blushed and giggled so much.

This is the local government vaccination centre.


 The waiting area.

 Milo with his Indian identity card.

 The waiting area. That's the government school behind.

Life in India- hiccups 

When I write the blog, I tend to avoid any controversial issues, especially anything that could offend anyone but this week quite a few things have happened. We are classed as "foreigners" in India, there is even a 'foreigner ' channel at the airport that we have to go through. This week, I had a slight dispute with a couple of local people over the fact that I should do as I am told. I pointed out that I am 54 years old, not a teenager and entitled to an opinion of my own. Apparently, I am not entitled to have an opinion as I am foreign! 
People that know me, know that I am generally calm and polite. The dispute was rather trivial and was not escalated on my part and not even worthy of further discussion but what was said to Sandra is. I politely asked someone not to do something and I got a rather blunt, rude reaction to my request. I asked Sandra, (she cleans for us) to translate for me. As she was doing this, she got very tearful. (She wouldn't tell me until the next day what had been said)
During the discussion, I kept politely emphasising my side of the dispute but unfortunately it fell on deaf ears. In India, some people continually just shout and shout and don't listen to someone else's point of view (you only have to watch the TV from the other week when a newsreader wouldn't let someone speak and was shouting at the wrong person in an arrogant manner.) Tune in to Indian TV news to watch a shouting match any day!

Nothing was resolved but I stood my ground. As Sandra was leaving, she apolpolgised saying she was ashamed to be Indian.
Now I knew that something awful had been said.

The next day, when she wasn't as upset, I asked her what had been said when I couldn't understand (,the people spoke English but kept reverting to Kannada/ Hindi, so that I couldn't understand) 
Apparently, Sandra had been told that she should not be speaking as she was only the maid and how dare she speak on the same level as a "madam". She was told to be quiet and not to speak. Other things were said but she won't reveal them.
I had refrained from using any bad language or being impolite on the previous day, but now I was furious and wished I had gone to town. 
Sadly, there are people in this country who still think that it is fine to belittle people in "menial" jobs and to treat them poorly. Some people will not even allow maids a cup of water when they are working. There is still the element in some households that maids are not worthy of respect or to be spoken to fairly.

I find this very difficult to deal with at times. Every job is important and we need people to work in different positions. This means that people have a job and can earn a living but they should be able to be respected whatever their role.
Of course, this entitled, over privileged attitude only occurs with a minority of people. But, it is still there in some households, in some people's attitudes and it bubbles away in the background.

All the people that we know are kind, generous and would not dream of treating their helpers in this way. 

Busy weekend. Andrew is a junior snake enthusiast.

On Friday, we were out late at our friends in the city (we got back about 1:30 in the morning) We had a lively evening and a lot of fun.
On Saturday, we went out to lunch in the city (well, we were gone all afternoon until late evening) to meet some new British people who have not been in Bangalore long. One couple have teenage boys and the other couple, a teenage boy and girl. We had a lovely time and will meet up again. 
On Saturday evening as we got back, Max had a party to go to. Andrew said he would drive him and his friends as Arjun had driven the night before and he really needs to see his family sometimes!  Andrew decided it was a bad idea when he got back from dropping Max off as it had taken an hour and a half to drive there and back again. He had to return to fetch him too ! The traffic is dreadful some days.

Sunday was a normal day for Max, Milo and myself but Andrew had an exciting day. He went on a Snake Ecology course at Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology. He got dressed up in his camouflage gear and went armed with suncream and copious amounts of enthusiasm.

The man doing the talk was an expert in snakes and was also a snake rescuer. As he was talking a Spectacled Cobra had managed to get into the classroom (Milo reckons it was planted but the centre is in the middle of the jungle) first rescue completed! Then another call came through that someone had a snake in their house and could he man come and get it. So it was a bit like Wacky Races! the whole class jumped into cars and onto motor bikes and they'll set off together on the 20 minute journey. Andrew got to go on the back of a BMW motorbike but he didn't wear a helmet (I was not pleased and pointed out that he has a driver and a car at his disposal) Anyway, they arrived at this house and a rather long 5-6 foot Rat Snake had caught a toad and was busy eating it behind a cupboard. The man caught the snake and explained about rat snakes and their habits. 
the course was all day and Andrew came home exhausted but happy and wants to go again. 

 At Michael and Ken's house.



Update ! April 2024

  20 people sharing 2 menus! When we go to a restaurant, we seem to spend a lot of time trying to keep a straight face so that we do not ups...