Sunday 13 August 2023

 April, May and a bit of June

 Look at the extension cable near the water !


We were back to all the mind-blowing madness which makes living in India extremely entertaining. It was the height of summer so we needed the swimming pool. One such day, there was a wedding anniversary party right next to the pool.    All the guests were dressed so beautifully in their Indian clothes. These clothes are often heavily embroidered so the material is quite thick and not hot-weather friendly. As we were watching from the other side of the pool, I noticed that a kind waitress had put an electric fan with its’ extension cable teetering on the edge of the water. A couple of weeks earlier a young man had lost his life in a swimming pool due to electrocution. As the fan was wobbling around, I decided that it really needed to be moved. I dashed round to ask the waitress to move the fan as it was dangerous. She smiled kindly and said “yes ma’am but everyone is hot”, she obviously didn’t understand the water lapping onto the extension cable could be dangerous, but she moved it about 2 inches as I tried to use gestures to move the fan further. She continued smiling but was just blank in her reaction. I went to the swimming reception area and asked if anyone spoke English and Kannada (the local language) A couple of people nodded and I explained about the fan, the extension cable and the water. The manager shot out towards the pool and he literally threw the fan and the cable over the hedge. I saw him yelling at the poor waitress. We now don’t get in the pool unless we have had a quick scan of the area to check for electrical cables and dangling wires.



Max and his lake project


As he is nearing his final year, Max has to do community service and environmental work. He decided to focus on the water in the local lake. Andrew has a lab at work to test water (the school lab could only do a few tests) so Max collected the water from the lake. There has been a drive to try and restore the lakes in our area and results had been published about the health of the water. Max’s quest was to see of the water now would show more encouraging results. But as he collected the samples it wasn’t looking good. The tests were such that we wouldn’t choose to eat fish from that lake….

 I don't know how this photo got in here !



 People leaving. 

One problem with living an expat life is that the expat friends you make only stop for a short time. There are always leaving parties going on, especially in the summer months. 

Our close friends, Shawna, Matt and Preethi were leaving as were Petra, Andreas and Maja (Tomek had already returned to start boarding school in Germany). It can be quite upsetting as you get a feeling of desperation knowing that they are leaving but the good thing is we always seem to keep in touch afterwards and have a true global friend’s network.


Dutch party 

It was the Dutch King’s birthday and we were invited to go to the celebration hosted by the Consul General (Ewout) and Team. Max went in my place as Milo was not well. Apparently, it was a lot of fun. Lots of adults and kids enjoying themselves all wearing orange.

 Max, Ewout and Andrew

 All the happy Dutch people


King Charles’ coronation

A few weeks later, it was the British High Commission party for the King’s coronation. Only Andrew and I were invited, no children allowed (!) We had spent all day watching the coronation on TV and then set off for the city centre to join in the celebrations there. Sadly, there didn’t seem to be many ‘British’ people there, but the UK Team certainly made the most of the stage with dancing and singing to help entertain. 

 The dancing at the end



Israeli Independence day

The next social event was the Israeli Independence day celebration and we were all invited. 

Again, this was a very lively event.

Milo appeared at one point with a wine class and a clear coloured liquid. Nalini, one of our friends (and once featured in BBC series Worlds Strictest Parents), reached out and took the glass away from Milo to sniff it. Luckily, it was apple juice and not wine like he was portraying to any young lady that looked in his direction! 

We didn’t leave until very late as it was a wonderful evening.

We got in about 2:00 am, not a good idea on a school night. Milo had to be up again at 5 and Max at 6:30. They were not happy.

 Nalini had checked that wine glass!




Swimming pool or university?


This is where everything went completely mad!


Before we left Sicily in April, we had gone to see a swimming pool company and they had been out to the house to see if there was place for a swimming pool. We were toying with the idea of a big pop-up pool or an inbuilt pool if there was a good place (and it didn’t cost a lot of money- Max’s university fund.)


They said we would need planning permission from the local council and that they might refuse. 

After we had arrived back in India, we had a quick family discussion about whether to see if we should go for this or not. 


With the flip of a coin, the answer was go for it.

We contacted the swimming pool company who said they could do a turn-key project if we got permission.


The engineer they appointed was Nunzio who contacted us immediately. He said it could take up to 2/3 months to get permission which meant we might be able to get a pool built in September (or when we chose), it all depended on the work load of the local council.


Nunzio sent all the paperwork through and we thought no more about it. We had been told when we bought the house that permission was difficult to get, so we more or less believed that it wouldn’t happen.


Now, Italians tend to have a reputation for being slow with their paperwork etc.

Oh no, not true at all! 

Three weeks after we applied, I get a flurry of signed papers by WhatsApp and email. 

The pool company then send a message, can they start next week? 


We had full permission and they had all the team assembled ready to start!


This was the middle of May. I had hoped to fly out with the boys in the second week of June when they finished school and then Andrew would join us later.

Now, I was on my way on my own again to Sicily! 

Five weeks on my own until they would come out. 

This would mean missing Andrew’s birthday and our wedding anniversary (33 years). I was going to have to be a big girl!

 At the airport, I met Sidd and his Dad on their way to Dubai. I was in economy but they kindly took me with them to the business desk so I could queue hop.


Andrew sacks the maid


Not the best time to fire the person who is helping you to clean your house when you work full time and your wife is off gallivanting in another country, eating and drinking as much pizza and wine as she can. 

The maid we had hired had done the usual, work well for two months then don’t bother and hide in the back room hoping that no one sees that you are not working. Our problem is that we are too enthusiastic with the maids.

Before I was about to leave, I was already having trouble with her turning up late and taking an hour to unload the dishwasher, amongst other things. She would say a load of rubbish about why she hadn’t cleaned and some of the explanations were quite comical. I do wonder if some people think that expats are totally thick? I had warned her that she needed to do more as she had 4 hours each day to clean and Andrew would need her help as I wouldn’t be there, but she obviously didn’t listen. She said she would be there early so Andrew could go over the day’s jobs with her. 

Did she get there in time? No, she didn’t , not once; the queue was too long, she had to wait for a delivery, any excuse. She still thought that sweeping slowly with the  twigs was better than vacuuming, even though I told her to use the vacuum (obviously, an instrument of evil) as I know it is quicker and doesn’t cause dust to rise up in the air. 

But what do I know? Do as I ask you, you daft woman or you will lose your job !!! 

She would manage, in 4 hours, to sweep the floors and mop the floors downstairs and that was it. I would have got bored actually going so slow. 

So, Andrew found himself doing the jobs himself.

After a few days of things going downhill, he met her at the door, asked for her key and then said he wanted her to leave and that he would pay the rest of the month’s wages. He told her she wasn’t doing the jobs that he had asked her to do. He had taken lots of photos of all the dirt but she didn’t say anything, she just left. But then, she immediately sent me a message to say that “Sir was very angry and could I tell him to give her the job back” (it was 5am in the morning in Italy)


An immediate “no” was my answer as well as “please don’t tell me what to do, especially at 5 in the morning”.

I blocked her phone and Andrew rang the security gate.


So now Andrew had to sort all the cleaning himself! After a few times of vacuuming, mopping and generally being the cleaner himself, getting really hot and bothered in the process, he got fed up. He rang me to complain and it was me doing the sighing and eye-rolling this time.


Coincidently, our friend Verena had put out a message that Rashida, her maid when she was in Palm Meadows, was looking for a part time job. Max and Milo loved Rashida. I immediately sent Verena a message who contacted Rashida. 

We were all relieved when she agreed to start working for us. She went round to help out and Andrew was so happy.



Milo’s wallet


Milo never ceases to amaze me, he is such a thoughtful, kind young man but sometimes, he can be so absent minded and daft.

In Vena (Sicily), I was cleaning the house (slowly, as I didn’t feel well) and as I vacuumed under Milo’s bed, I found his wallet, full of money! I took a photo and sent it to him. He was so excited! He had lost his wallet but then forgotten about it. 

This was 6 weeks ago. How? How can you forget?

The time before, when we had travelled back in October, he had left his wallet in the hotel room in Dubai and they had found it. Someone we knew was  travelling to Dubai and brought it back with them that time. To lose it again was truly unbelievable. 

Apparently, Milo “thought” about where it could be but then presumed it was in Bangalore. He never said anything about it. 

He does leave me speechless sometimes. I also found a mouldy sandwich in his bedside cabinet and I had a bit of a rant about that over facetime. But I had his wallet, I counted the money and he was ecstatic that he was now “rich”!


The car

The last time I was on my own in Sicily, I had a bit of trouble with the car and bumped it on the wall and clipped the wing mirror.

Well, this time I went to town! I hate that car with a vengeance! I have driven many cars and never had a problem (well, apart from one BMW that I hated too) but this car, I hate it!

When the pool people started work it meant diggers, lorries and vans up and down the drive, so I had to get the car out of the drive by 6:30am as they arrived at 7:00. 

Unfortunately, in my first week I was really unwell with flu-like symptoms. The men had started work putting rubble everywhere and I had sat inside on the sofa watching TV under a blanket, as I was frozen. I thought it was from the cooler weather not realising that I had a temperature and the start of a nasty bug! On this day, I managed to get out of bed and walk, slowly, down to the gate where the car was, as we had a digger where I usually park at the top. This meant I had to reverse out onto the road through the electric gate.

As I was reversing, a car flew past the driveway and, of course, I braked. But somehow in my groggy stupor, I pulled the steering wheel to the left and I hit the wall, bending the wing mirror right back and cracking it. 

 It doesn't look too bad.


Not good at all! 

This meant I had to confess yet again to my failings as a driver! And yet again my language was rather more colourful than usual. 

When I was feeling better, I would have to go to the garage.


Meanwhile, I started to feel worse and I was convinced I had Dengue. Back in India, Andrew had the same symptoms.


Not good at all !























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...