Friday, 28 May 2010

"Dreadlock Rasta-Mama"

Today while shampooing, my fingers came into contact with what felt like a puppy dogs tail. Further inspection proved it to be a dreadlock. I kid you not. I am the proud owner of a daunting, sizeable dreadlock near the back right side of my head.

I immediately started frantic dig around in my suitcase until I unearthed something I haven't seen or used since packing up back in London in February.

My Mason Pearson hairbrush.

Now, I have a confession to make. Since I've left home on this great South East Asian Adventure, almost four months ago, I have not yet....not even once...brushed my hair.

Now before you think me a slovenly example of womankind..let me explain.

Despite my neutral mode being 'ultra-glam', I am happy to swim the perimeters of contrast when and if it's called for. So while in Goa, and now in Bali, I've been happy to ponce about in a bikini, no make up, hair an afterthought....

Well turns out that a little thought now and then might not have gone amiss. Due to it's wavy, easy going texture, I've merely been washing it (when i remember), and letting it dry as it may. A good old head shake now and again, plus a bit of sand and general microscopic debris, has proven to be better at achieving the 'beach wave' look than that stuff that James Brown - hairdresser to the stars - touts in chemists across Britain.

So now i'm paying for months of a devil-may-care attitude toward my locks with this almighty dread which shows no signs of shifting - despite liberally applied conditioner and an almost maniacal assault with the aforementioned hairbrush.

Even the husband (who is not known to pick up on the more subtle nuances of feminine grooming) looked shocked/bemused when I held it up to him this morning.

'What are you going to do about THAT?' he asked.

Ummm. Put it back in a ponytail and forget about it. That's what I'm going to do. We're not heading back to civilisation anytime soon. I'm okay for now.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

"Dumpie the Poo Pest"

Any bargaining power over the negotiations for the monthly salary of our new 'Pembantu' (ie. cleaner/nanny/cook) went out the window this afternoon, when I turned from my laptop to catch poor Wayan on her hands and knees, mopping up a giant pile of feces by the front door.

I grabbed a paper towel and the two of us cleaned up while a naked Dumps peered out at us with a tell-tale smirk on his face from behind the little sofa.

Those of you who have been following the adventures of Egg and Dumps for some time now, will note that I've done my best to exercise restraint and try and stay off the subject of toilet matter as much as possible. But after having woken up three days in a row with Dumpie, in a lovers embrace, the two of us soaked in urine...i feel the need to vent. (The husband and Egg have been noticeably the other bedroom, no doubt slumbering on a dry mattress.)

My current theory is that having a large pool outside the door, with two female statues continuously pouring water into the pool, has infiltrated poor Dumpies brain and caused him to wee in his sleep.

The husband has a different theory. He thinks Dumpie is doing it deliberately because he is too lazy to get up and go the the toilet three feet away.

It's embarrassing because Wayan, our new helper, comes every day for a few hours, and with three sheet changes in our room in as many days, I can't help but feel that she must think the husband and I a lusty pair.

So today I tried to explain, via awkward charade-like gestures, why the sheets needed changing yet again, but as she speaks not a word of English, and judging by her furtive nodding and sympathetic smile, and owing to my ineffective gesturing to myself 'down there', I am now convinced that she believes me to have a severe incontinence problem.

One thing i've realised, after two weeks in Bali, is that the husband and I may have three laptops, three ipods, three cameras and numerous electrical gadgets, power cords and various musical studio implements with us here in Bali. But we appear to be strangely short on basic essential like clothes...underpants...towels...

So if anyone were to say, ask us to make a tune for them or DJ at a party...we'd be laughing.

Trying to make one last pair of underpants last two days between two little boys, one of whom is currently shunning porcelein in favour of Gap cotton (and i don't even want to know what the husband is doing to solve his own particular grooming related conundrums) that is proving troublesome.

Alas bigger problems loom. As we speak, Dumpie is outside, one hand on the waistband of his shorts, calmly surveying the pool, no doubt weighing up the likelihood of getting away with an al fresco wee. At least he's moved on from 'watering' our landlady's prized orchids.

Monday, 24 May 2010

"DON'T Come Dine With Me"

Today I woke up with two new resolutions.

1. I would start running in the mornings again
2. I would begin in earnest working on my music with my collaborator in London

Well, everything started alright. I woke up just before 7 am with Egg snuggled in close to my left, the husband snoring lightly to my right, and Dumpie sitting atop me, trying to grope my unprotected left breast yelling, 'Get up!'

In other words, a normal start.

After a hastily sipped strong espresso, I donned my running gear and turning left out the door I once again took up my specific brand of self-flagellation after a six-week hiatus. Breathtaking scenery aside, my lungs began protesting with that all-familiar ache and I wondered, "Is it worth it?" A quick glance down to my legs assured me that 'Yes, it was', and I tried to ignore all the bemused villagers checking out the Adidas-clad 'Bule' (ie. foreigner) huffing and puffing her way through the rice paddy strewn fields.

Of course as soon as I got back the heavens opened and it poured, necessitating a soaking ten minute ride to the boys school, the four of us crammed onto the back of a pink Honda scooter. Luckily I was still on a high from the run and barely noticed that the whisper thin pool cover up I'd thrown on to do the school run was now stuck to my skin, giving me the appearance of a nude, heavily tattooed biker.

Finally settling down to record some new vocals for a track i'm working on, I laid down what I thought to be a pretty good take, only to hear it back on the headphones and realise that along with my dulcet tones, was the sound of the beautiful fountain emptying into the pool AND the foreign chatter of local workmen erecting a new house next door. Great.

Soon after, the husband discovered that he had lost his bike keys and an hour of frantic searching ensued, followed by an emergency hi-jacking of our landlady's husband's scooter to go and pick up a now distraught Eggie from school, a good fifteen minutes past pick-up time.

To top things off, we decided to eat dinner at our 'local' - a quaint looking restaurant within a stones throw of our new home. We so wanted it to be the kind of place we could pop into all the time, partake of some decent, inexpensive food and become on first name basis with the staff.

Well, the last part we got right. 'Miss Derani' remembered the husband and I from the other day when we stopped for a quick lemonade and a frantic whisper fight over which place we should rent. She welcomed us like old friends and herded us in protectively, excitedly saying, 'Mr. Jaaaay....Miss come here EVERYDAY for eating...yes?'.

For starters, we were the only people in the place. Possibly ever. We got harangued several times to come to their impromptu cooking class (a hilarity not lost on us some time later when the husbands 'Pad Thai' arrived looking like a sorry pile of Pot Noodle... prompting the husbands, 'And where do we sign up for that cooking class again?')

The food was the worst we've had in Bali so far - pretty sorry tasting and very expensive. Our dining experience was not helped by the fact that what seemed to be the entire kitchen and wait staff were gathered in a giant semi-circle a polite distance away, watching every mouthful we took with great interest. Miss Derani in particular had a birds eye view of the husband extracting a large black hair from a particularly slippery noodle.

To be fair, the boys didn't seem to mind their chicken fried rice, which is surprising given the amount of free peanuts they ingested pre-meal. (I say ingested, but unbeknownst to us, Dumpie had been chewing up great mouthfuls of the salty morsels, before spitting them out into a not insignificant little pile under his chair. The sodden mess was discovered by the husband mid-meal and Dumpie was instructed to get down and clean it up with the toilet paper which was hidden inside a lovely wooden box in the middle of the table - masquerading as a serviette holder.)

We finally managed to extricate ourselves from this Twilight Zone-ish farce of a restaurant (the husband having needed two large bottles of Bintang just to get through it), and left amid squeals of 'Pancake?...You no want pancake for dessert?' from Miss Derani, the well-intentioned if overzealous waitress.

Vast quantities of duty free white chocolate were needed to restore our equilibrium upon arrival home, and I am pleased to say that we shall be in future looking for 'a new local'.

Oh well, at least I got one thing out of it. Should I ever be caught off-guard hosting a dinner party and find myself bereft of napkins, I now know that I can always nip into the nearest toilet, grab a bit of loo roll, and presto! - a novel AND useful centrepiece.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

"New Family Seeks Wayan-Poppins"

This weekend we moved into our new home. We congratulated ourselves on the reasonable rent we managed to procure, then went directly to the nearest supermarket and blew half a months rent on juices, tupperware and Bintang.

Reflections on our new home:

+ the landlady welcomed us with a huge vase of white lilies from her garden
(the landlady failed to stock our kitchen as promised, insisting we fry our bread instead of procure a toaster...and the cutlery drawer contains merely 1 knife, 1 spoon, 2 forks and a spatula - probably for the toast)

+ the pool is truly lovely
(disturbingly we have discovered that a mere three steps from our front door puts the boys at the edge of the long distracted parenting - hello 'parent-noia')

+ our two bed two bath home means the husband and I can sleep and groom ourselves in peace
(last night we were again four in a bed...and the monsters refuse to use their bathroom and will only use ours - rendering the second one obsolete)

+ we've got a telly again! ( ie. cartoons + monsters = 'Mama Dada Time')
(unfortunately it is not satellite so all programming is Indonesian...this evening we walked in to find Egg deep into an Indonesian soap opera)

At any rate, we had a glorious day out this afternoon walking through an ancient elephant cave site or some such. (The husband arranges all these exciting day trips for us and we just hop on the scooter as 'plus ones' and take photos of him in exotic locales before demanding iced lattes and banana bread as recompense).

The highlight was watching Eggie and Dumps reenact the rather involved final death scene between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars "Return of the Jedi" right in front of a sacred temple.

This evening, our landlady brought over a shy village woman and told us we could hire her to clean, watch the children, and possibly cook for us if we wanted. I found myself wondering whether this gentle looking villager with the downcast eyes could possibly have the overlapping skill set of childcare, domestic goddess and washer woman covered.

Then I found out she speaks not a word of English. I can just imagine the field day Egg and Dumpie are going to have with her.

Egg will have her sat in front of a chess set for hours trying to explain 'rooks' and 'pawns' and get frustrated when she invariably moves the wrong piece the wrong way. Dumpie on the other hand (if his treatment of The Aunties is anything to go by) will probably have her sat at his feet, shucking Oreo Cookies as if her life depended on it, in order to supply him with a constant stream of the white middles he so loves.

Add to that Egg's blossoming talent as a pickpocket (he relieved both the husband and I of several Rupiah today from our wallet and bags respectively) and Dumpies current enjoyment of all things carnal ("May I see your nipples please?" a commonly heard request in moments of boredom) and I suspect this poor lady shall come for one day only - never to be heard from again.

Ah well, as we are next to a village, I am assured of a constant supply of candidates. And the good news is that most people here in Bali seem to be called 'Wayan' so it will save us the hassle of trying to remember the names of all the housekeeper/nannies we manage to get through over the coming few months.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

"Whereby Paradise is Shattered by Sheena Easton"

In a few short hours we check out of our gorgeous resort, which has been home to us since we arrived in Bali one week ago. I thought I would feel devastated to leave, but instead I find myself anticipating the 10 or so miles we will be putting between us and the new inhabitants of the villa next door.

I should have known our peace would be shattered when they moved in yesterday, requiring a few local men to help them heave their cases of bottled beer.

The next clue came via a loud splash, whereby a rather heavyset man plopped himself into the pool like a giant seal, fully clothed in long shorts and big tight sports shirt, clutching one of the aforementioned beer bottles. Oh dear.

Soon his Missus wandered out in her low-cut lime green bathing suit, bringing fresh supplies of beer and a large canister of Salt n' Vinegar Pringles. The party was clearly about to kick-off.

It didn't take long to learn that this fifty-something couple hail from Perth, ("Pretty much the best city in the world to live i reckon!") Australia, and were on the tail end of an all-inclusive (pretty obvious from their waistlines) package tour.

They spent half an hour regaling us, menu item by menu item about their amazing holiday, bragging that it had included not just limitless supply of amazing food, but all the booze you could get down your neck as well...starting from 9:30am!

I walked away bemused, wondering about the logic of stuffing yourself silly for days and inflating your tummy to full paunch power with bloaty booze, when the tropical nature of Bali requires you to spend most of your time squeezed into a few tiny swatches of lycra.

I didn't have long to ponder this however, as suddenly I'm smack dab in the middle of a Butlins Holiday Camp Mixer as "Islands In The Stream" by Kenny Rogers, playing at FULL BLAST rings out over the compound. It's an assault on the senses that doesn't let up for the next few hours, despite weaving its way through the worst of popular music from the past thirty years.. eventually ending up at "Everything I Do, I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams.

When they had finally put away enough beer, maybe even engaged in some pre-dinner nookie (surely a likely result after one too many 'Bintangs' and all that Soft Rock) I spot the man trying vainly to zip up the back of his wife's LBD (little black dress) with what seems like a fair amount of difficulty. They then teeter tipsily out of here, 'one for the road' in hand, and it fell suddenly, gloriously silent.

Until we realised that without the cover of the "Now That's What We Call Cheesy Love Tunes 1992" on full blast, the screams and wrestling of our two monsters could be heard echoing throughout the compound.

Hmmm...Sheena Easton's 'My Baby Takes the Morning Train' at top volume or Dumpie letting out a blood-curdling yell as Egg belts him one after being pushed off the stairs into the garden?

Tough call.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

"We are Supa-Happy!"

The other day, dropping the monsters off for their first day of school at the utterly gorgeous 'Pelangi School' set amidst rice paddy fields, I couldn't help but mutter to the husband, " this to a local comprehensive in Peckham".

I would have killed to attend such a picture perfect postcard of a learning institution when I was young (heck - I'd enroll here and now if they'd let me). The toys are clean, there's brightly coloured soft play-dough, loads of arts and crafts painting easels, and even pretty little mats scattered about so the children don't have to rest their sweet little behinds on the gorgeous hardwood floors.

Saying that, tuition is £100 per week for the boys, but what a great experience - even if it does lead to a lifetime of negative comparison from here on in. And don't even get me started on the school dinners. My goodness. Ducking into the clean pretty kitchen we saw a sight that would have had Jamie Oliver crying tears of joy into his homemade shrimp ravioli. Two Balinese ladies chopping up fresh chicken for the mouthwatering mixed vegetable stir-fry lunch...

And guess what the uniform is? No ill-fitting navy dress trousers or polyester blend cardigans in sight - it's strictly soft organic rainbow tie-dyed t-shirts. I kid you not.

The other day at drop off, the husband and I walked past an open-air classroom from which we could hear a dozen or so four year olds chanting in unison, "We are SUPA-happy!".

Too right. If my early schooling days had consisted of being kindly instructed in an ethereally beautiful setting, by gentle, soft spoken, constantly smiling Balinese instructors...well...I might have not turned out to be such a moaning mum.

"Bali: The Comfort Vs. Charm Conundrum"

It's amazing how quickly you can adapt to luxury. We are nearing the end of our heavenly week-long stay at easily the most beautiful tropical villa I have ever seen. What was supposed to be an indulgent treat after our recent, hardcore, hot last month in Goa, has now rendered us somewhat spoiled and reluctant to turn down the star factor a couple of notches.

The other day, much like the Griswold's in Chevy Chases 'European Vacation', we decided 'Let's be pigs!' when deciding what kind of place to rent for our next few months in Bali.

So after a day spent perusing several options, our savvy 'estate agent' (ie. Balinese woman on bike hoping to hit her mates up for a monetary reward after bringing unsuspecting, naive Westerners in to rent their places for way above the market rate) showed us the last place on her list.

Of course it was the best. By far. And she knew it. In a three villa compound, with a shared swimming pool (right outside OUR place I might add - which might prove to be both a blessing and a curse when the other villas are tenanted), it is simple, all glass, very light, and most importantly, the two bedrooms are on either side of an open plan kitchen living space.

Whether this proves a great enough obstacle to discourage the monsters nightly journey from their bed into ours, remains to be seen. Potentially, the husband and I might actually get to sleep alone once in awhile. Imagine that.

We were so exhausted from a futile day of house hunting that we immediately decided to take the place. A few hours later at dinner we made the call and sealed the deal.

Which should have been great, except this morning, on the way to pay our deposit I happened to spot a new ad for a 'Spacious Bungalow' with pool, garden and 'American Style Kitchen.'

Over a latte I harangued the husband into dropping by 'just to see it' en route, arguing, "What harm can come of it?"

Well, a lot as it happens. We went, we saw, and I fell utterly in love the with huge, fully stocked American Style Kitchen complete with giant breakfast bar, comfy sofa's, chairs and a huge top of the line flat screen telly and dvd. And did I mention it had a pretty, private garden, huge gorgeous bathroom, shared pool and giant wooden desk from which to write our respective masterworks of literature and compose our musical masterpieces? Oh yeah, and don't forget the small matter of...AIR-CON!

I was ready to take it on the spot until the husband interjected, looking distinctly unimpressed.

"But there is only one bedroom!" he said, pointing out the obvious.

"Oh yeah" i said forlornly, brought down to earth with a formidable bang.

I suggested that given the place was so big, perhaps we could get a day bed and the boys could sleep on that? The husband remained unconvinced, imagining perhaps, our children relegated to a mattress on the floor like squatters for the next few months.

A furitive lemonade break followed, whereby we spent a good half hour with our pen and pad, making a list of pros and cons, whilst being harangued by an over-zealous waitress trying to flog us someone else's rental home and potentially line herself up for a job as our future nanny on an extravagent hourly sum.

In the end, we had a second look round, whereby we realised it wasn't quite as lovely as we had remembered it, yet acknowledged that it had a special authentic charm about it. And of course - the requisite two bedrooms. Though lacking air-con (and I know I'm so going to regret this), it is situated in the most beautiful scenic location, amongst rice paddy's. It feels not unlike a movie set.

Whether this movie set soon resembles 'Animal House' instead of 'Out of Africa' remains to be seen. Once the monsters have moved in and begun their habitual trashing and devaluation of the property, it is anyones guess.

But true to form, the husband and I, having already handed over a hefty deposit, are now hitting ourselves over the head about whether we made the right decision.

Strolling by a minute ago, the husband enquired as to what I was blogging about.

"This mess!" said I.

"And you think anyone reading this is going to feel the least bit sympathetic?" he asked incredulously.

He has a point.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

"Like Being on Honeymoon...With A Gremlin"

So here's the deal. This place is so lush, so gorgeous, that to get our money's worth (and our senses worth) we'd have to sit here all day everyday, nestled amongst the flora and fauna in our indoor/outdoor living space, and simply stare and smile in wonderment, like a Stepford Wife...slowly rotating our heads every hour on the hour to take in the exquisite beauty.

It smells good too. The flowers, the fresh scent of tropical's a heady mix. This is the kind of place where, if I only had a month left to live, I would want to come and live out my last days. It's very Alice In Wonderland.

(Interestingly we're staying on the same street that the healer in the book - and soon to be hit movie starring Julia Roberts - met the author of "Eat, Pray, Love.")

Now, before I continue to wax prolific about my current status in Paradise, let me set something straight. It feels like I'm on Honeymoon - but with a tiny Gremlin who happened to hijack my luggage on the way over....thereby turning it into a 'Horrormoon'.

Last night Dumpie crawled into our huge, gorgeous bed and...wet it. Woke up to the acrid smell of cold urine near my face. Then I got pummelled awake by the Dumps yelling in my ear, "Get out of bed it's daytime now!"

And let's not forget last night when he stole my nail scissors and cut in half the skype headphone and microphone set which the husband bought especially for this trip, and has been using to make long distance calls?

Then there is the fact that everywhere here the locals have laid out little waxy plates made from leaves, full of 'offerings' like flowers and incense and candles. Dumpie has systematically pilfered any he's come into contact with and proudly deposited them into my lap.

Still, I should have known we were in for a trying one when at immigration the other day, when given the curt nod to approach by the stern faced official, Dumpie shouted out, "Hello you STUPID man!"

And dare I mention that the other day whilst watching a Japanese pop show on telly, Dumpie learned how to make the sign of the horns (ie. the heavy metal, two fingered salute usually seen at Black Sabbath concerts) and now growls and 'salutes' us several times daily?

It's an omen. We are truly in for it.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

"Bali Is...Simply Baliscious!"

So we're here in Bali. Arrived late last night and were whisked off to a lovely hotel by the sweetest, most happy taxi driver I have ever met. His name is 'Wayan'.

(Apparently it is one of about four or five of the most popular names here in Bali, so if we were to ask around for 'Super Smily Wayan' it would be like travelling to the Middle East and asking if anyone knew a 'Mohammed'.)

No mind. We took his card, rang him, and this afternoon 'Super Smiley Wayan' kindly transported us to the lovely village of Ubud...but not before we had a delicious breakfast, swam in the divine eternity pool, and admired the painstakingly crafted miniature garden outside our little villa-esque hotel room. Aaaahhh bliss.

My first impressions of Bali were that I had somehow fallen asleep in the too cramped seats of the Air Asian Airbus we took yesterday and had awoken to find myself inside a Walt Disney World attraction.

Everyone here is so full of smiles, good cheer and shiny, glowing faces (well it is pretty hot and humid), that I find myself wondering if I have indeed come upon a society which can exist in perfect harmony and happiness?

(This coming from a hardcore Londoner I suppose speaks volumes but still...)

Even with the crazy traffic of motorbikes and huge people carriers jostling for space on the too narrow village roads, the sound of honking and shouting and swearing (just a way of life in India - and a lifesaving one at that) is absent. Bizarre.

But let me level with you: 'picture-perfect' perfection aside (you should SEE our gorgeous villa - more on that tomorrow) I fell utterly and hopelessly in love with Bali earlier this evening, when after a simply sumptious Italian meal, we wandered into a cafe where i had the most DIVINE homemade chocolate truffle for 60p. Followed by the best latte that ever was....for one pound.

I have died and gone to heaven...a heaven run by very happy chocolate and caffeine addicts like myself.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

"All Roads Lead to Cheesecake"

We've been in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 48 hours now, and already I'm agonising over having to leave our lovely AIR-CONDITIONED, spacious hotel room tomorrow to fly to Bali.

Everyone who hears we're going there, tips their head back, sighs enviously and says, "Ooh, you're going to LOVE Bali". So now I'm fully expecting to land in a perfect paradise tomorrow and am secretly wondering whether it can truly live up to its reputation. What a delightful worry to have.

On another note, I've gone mental since we've been here. Checking into our hotel the other night I clocked the giant supermarket across the road and made it my first port of call yesterday morning. I've since been four times.

Somehow I managed to refrain from buying up the store in its entirety (fresh coffee anyone? YES....sunmaid raisins? YES....salt and vinegar crisps? YES....Reeces Pieces? most definitely YES...and so it went).

Only problem is (as the husband has so wisely pointed out), we were OVER our luggage allowance on the way here, so having purchased roughly 5 more kilo's worth of stuff, where exactly do I think I'm going to stow it, let alone sneak on the extra weight?

As it was, at check-in in Mumbai, we had to shift around our possessions such that I ended up having to sneak on four obscenely heavy carry on bags, and the husband was forced to transport his heavy biking shoes and pedals by way of ratty plastic bag tied onto his rucksack. We looked strictly 'back of the plane' types as we boarded.

However, taking precedence over the fear of packing tomorrow, is the immense nausea and burgeoning stomach ache I'm dealing with right now. Much like Eskimos traditionally eat loads of whale blubber to prepare for a hard winter ahead, so we (and by we I primarily mean me) have been indulging in all the delicious foodstuffs we've been starved of in India these past three months (wine, cheese, croissants, proper posh chocolate, oreo cookie cheesecake, etc.)

Of course, what will probably happen is we'll get to Bali, discover it to be quite modern full of 'Western foodstuffs' and I shall feel like an idiot. An idiot who's a few pounds heavier due to a prolonged panic binge eating session in Malaysia.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

"The Goan Hillbilly's"

Yesterday we roared into our yard on the Enfield, a stinking, dirty, sweaty mess, the four of us. We passed our landlady's house and the whole of the family was decked out in their finest threads, about to go to a ceremony of some sort: smart ironed jeans, beautiful sari, crisp checked shirts. Faces gleaming and black hair shampooed and shiny, they took in their filthy tenants, worn out from a day spent on the beach playing 'Connect Four' and listening to bad pop music.

"Sometimes I think they're ashamed of us" the husband said.

"What, like a dirty little secret you mean?" I responded. "As in we're like their 'trailer trash' living on their property, to make them some extra money but really we embarrass them with our loud screaming misbehaving children and lewd behavior?"

"Yeah, exactly" the husband said.

He's got a point. Yesterday morning the husband was on his way to the shop to get breakfast supplies and cut the trip short in order to tell us that some newly hatched puppies had finally emerged from their underground hiding place and that all eight of them were currently bouncing around in the front field like those battery operated toys you see in those enclosures at Hamley's.

We raced out to have a look. In all the excitement we sort of bounded out semi-clad. I was wearing a tiny bikini top and an even tinier skirt. I wouldn't be caught dead like this normally, but much like giving birth rids you of any sort of modesty and decorum - so does living in 100 degree heat with no air-con strip you of any body self-consciousness and allow you to prance around like a porn star with very little regard to the sad state of your thighs or any other bodily hang-ups.

It was only when racing back to get some milk for the puppies, past our fully clothed landlady Sanandra (who is probably my age but dresses like my mother - not literally but you know what i mean), that it struck me that perhaps she is not so pleased that her 13 year old boy spends so much time in the company of me, an obviously wanton woman. I mean, I had just been bent over in the field with Sandkelp and the monsters cuddling the little darlings for half an hour, totally oblivious to the effect that my 'has seen better days' Topshop bikini top might be having on a 13 year old boy in such close proximity. Oops.

And given the fact that our boys are more likely to be prancing round the yard in Crocs and tiny underpants than properly clothed, I don't think it's paranoia to assume that Sanandra and her family must sometimes feel like they're harbouring 'Trailer Trash' (albeit brown not white) in their back yard.

We've got the rowdy friends rolling up on motorcycles at all ours of the day...the loud music constantly blaring off our logitech speakers through open windows...the ever increasing pile of empty beer and liquor bottles gathering at the side of the house....and last but not least the often daily scene of one beleaguered parent or another chasing a rug rat off the porch and across the yard, screaming for the remote control/mobile phone/lighter/stolen sweets which the child has run off with.

And let's not even get into our local reputation. Last night at the restaurant over dinner, mid-meal the power went off - surprise surprise - and Dumpie spent the remainder of his time standing up backwards in his chair and pestering the quiet conservative German couple behind us by keeping up a running commentary of every bite they were putting in their mouths, asking what they were eating and were they going to have 'dessert'. Having given up on the thought of a quiet meal, they studiously ignored him, hoping he'd go away (he doesn't...i've tried) until I forced him back into his seat and was rewarded with a grateful look. That was of course all well and good, until Dumpie started breaking up bits of chapatti and tossing them blindly over his head, littering their table like manna from heaven. When the husband finally clocked that a piece had unbeknownst to her, landed in her head, he stood up, defeated.)

"Let's just get out of here" he said.

I couldn't agree more.

Friday, 7 May 2010

"It's A Bugs Life - Whoops No It's Mine"

You know how the other day I mentioned that I felt like I was in an animated Disney Cartoon due to all the 'Creepy Crawlies' about? Well, last night felt like I was starring in my own Disney Horror/ Slasher Flick. Seriously.

The husband was out playing superstar DJ with his London mate at a beach bar down the road. The monsters were holed up in bed, having worn themselves out from watching "Finding Nemo" on my laptop with practically inaudible sound given that Dumpie had yesterday run off with the remote for my speakers (he was pretending it was a 'mobile phone') and it's not been seen since.

I went to brush my teeth and ran straight into a too large to be ignored creature sitting on the tap and staring (I swear) straight at me - as if daring me to turn on the water.

I didn't. I shuttled right out of there and carried out my evening ablutions at the kitchen sink.

Later, after tossing and turning for nearly two hours, I had just drifted off into some semblance of slumber, and lo and behold I felt something BIG drop onto my left leg. I jerked myself up into sitting position and noted with horror that something the size of a thumb, but florescent green in colour, was calmly perched on my sweaty limbs, and calmly blinking at me. I freaked.

The lights went on and I spent the next five minutes trying to get it off my bed. It must have had suction cups on its legs for it would not budge. Finally I trapped it under a huge plastic cup and left it on the floor to deal with later. (Of course 'later' turned out to be this morning when unbeknownst to Eggie, it lay still trapped in there and was the cause for a shout of alarm when Eggs saw what was inside and threw it across the room.)

As if the night couldn't get any worse, around 2:30am the husband sauntered home, as you can imagine, a little worse for wear.

I was awoken by the sound of someone trying to quietly pry my bedroom window open, and assumed the worst. I ran to the door and whispered, "Is that you?" I heard no answer. The person on the other side of the door was simply trying to work the door open from the outside.

(I must interject here and explain that I was neither being a daft cow nor a 'Fraidy Cat'. Several weeks ago our landlady had warned us that at the end of season bad youths often roamed Westerners homes and broke in during the middle of the night when people were inside. I had filed it at the time under the ever growing list in my head of "Things to be Worried About". This list being located in the outer frontal lobe where it can readily be accessed 24/7, it is no wonder that my brain sought to immediately release adrenalin and alarm bells.)

So you see, I had a good few moments of fear and paranoia, made all the worse by my earlier freak out with the giant 'creatures' in my home AND the fact that I was sleeping topless at the time and don't all scary slasher flicks star girls who are semi-naked?

I had good reason to be fearful.

As it turned out, the reason the husband was impersonating a burglar was because one of the monsters must have unwittingly drawn the dead bolt across the door, rendering his keys useless. As luck would have it I'd never used this dead bolt and subsequently didn't have the faintest idea how to unlock it.

What followed for the next several minutes was:

a) furiously whispered veiled threats of impending divorce (me)

b) slurred instructions which made no sense (husband)

c) a heated exchange through the window between a naked from the waist up wife and a sweaty, knackered 'DJ', wherein the idea that the aforementioned 'DJ' kip outside on the porch was met with the attempted breaking in of our wooden door.

It wasn't pretty.

Finally I tried a different latch and the door swung open. I fell back into my hot, sweaty bed (which by this time contained two underpant clad monsters clutching teddy bears) and moments later had to sit through the husbands feeble attempts to climb into an already oversubscribed bed.

This morning, after a rotten sleep, I was none too surprised to see that the bathroom creature is still alive and well and holding court over the bathroom sink. Well of course she is. I bet she doesn't have a 'Mr. Freaky Bug' to wake her up and terrorise her in the middle of the night.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

"It's Time To Go (But We'll Be Back!)"

Here are the reasons why it is finally time to leave our Goan paradise:

(In no particular order)

1. We have ceased eating anywhere but 'Baba's Little Italy' for the past seven nights. Our order is always the same: "One Margarita Pizza...One Fish Curry Rice...One Bottle of Water....One Large Kingfisher Two Glasses". The waiters now shake hands with us and cuddle the boys. They are almost family.

2. We have given up all pretence of running a decent and clean home. Laundry bags have now been eschewed for merely piling up the dirty clothes to the left of the fridge, where hopefully someone will notice and ferry them over to get laundered. No one has.

3. There are frequent power cuts. These usually happen at night. Within five seconds of the fan stopping, a loud wail of discomfort is released from our semi-conscious firstborn, and does not stop until the power is restored.

After ninety seconds of the fan ceasing to whir, we all lose the will to live and immediately shed 1-2 pounds of body weight in liquid form, onto our already damp sheets.

After five minutes of the power cut, just as we're feeling horribly claustrophobic and wishing for death, the blades miraculously clink back into motion and we breathe a sigh of relief. We shall live another day.

4. The dogs and cows are now beginning to starve. They roam the back roads seeking any sort of food. Running on the beach is now an impossibility. Not only would a heart attack likely be immanent (due to extreme heat coupled with exertion) but they would likely sniff the Margarita Pizza oozing out through my pores and turn me into an 'All You Can Eat Beach Buffet' in a heartbeat.

5. Our coffee supply is dwindling. We're nearly out. And our chocolate supply is down to a mere four squares. One week from now there shall be no reason to get up in the mornings.

It is time to go. Even the monsters acknowledge this. Egg does his daily morning countdown of days left and has already excitedly requested that we buy a cake for his last day of school on Monday. Dumpie asks repeatedly, several times an hour, "When we go to 'Ballet'? We go now?"

All I know is that this time next week I'll be in an air-conditioned room, eating a bar of chocolate purchased from the 7-11 down the road, and happily surfing the internet on the hotel Wifi.

I feel like ordering the taxi now (air-conditioned of course), packing all our bags, and just camping out in it for the next four days.

I don't even care that the other day at the internet cafe the husband groaned aloud whilst reading his email from the visa guy in Bali and said, "Uh oh. There might be a problem with our visas."

Problem Schmroblem. Just get me out of here. I can't take this heat anymore. Even the slightest increase in temperature shall mean that we give up wearing clothes altogether. Which I guess would bode well for the stationary pile of clothes building up beside the fridge.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

"The End is Nigh..."

Egg has now decided to start drinking 'Chai' (gorgeously spiced Indian tea...and one of things which made us fall in love with this country in the first place). Which means of course, that Dumpie also loves chai now.

So as if the mornings weren't enough of a trial already (various breakfasts laboriously constructed by perspiring, lethargic parental figures in a dull haze) we now have to add the task of brewing a pot of weak tea for the monsters.

By now we've given up any pretence of attempting to deliver Dumpie to his nursery on time ...despite it being, quite literally, next door. The husband however, is almost military with his shuttling off of Egg everyday on the motorcycle.

"Hurry up Egg we're leaving in ten minutes!" followed by, "Egg, have you brushed your teeth yet?" and finally, "Egg where are you? Come on it's nine o'clock - get a move on!"

And so it goes...everyday the same old pattern.

Once those two motor off I'm left trying to hunt down Dumpie, who is more often than not, sequestered away in the neighbour boy Sandkelp's front room watching telly and likely being fed sweetmeats by our adoring landlady.

At least we've moved on from the days when he would show up there unannounced in nothing but his little Gap underpants and tiny blue Crocs. That must have been shocking for Sandkelp - to be awoken by the sight of a near-naked midget who's had the audacity to walk straight into his house, uninvited, and into his bedroom in order to tell him 'wake up!'. I cringe just thinking about it.

One of the reasons we're always so late is because Dumpie insists on overseeing the packing of his little see-through school bag. It must contain the juice of his choice, the biscuits he is currently favouring and a piece of fruit. This is a daily source of contention.

If I dare put something in which isn't to his liking he'll simply snatch it out and hurl it across the room.

By the time I cajole him into accompanying me the five or so yards to school, he is usually happily holding my hand and as I bid him adieu he is looking the picture of cherubic innocence. If they only knew.

Never mind, this whole grind is about to come to a halt.

We're off to Indonesia a week today. On a hellish journey involving one taxi, two planes, and about 20 hours traveling time.

However, I have discovered that right near our hotel is a 7-11.

And guess what you can buy at 7-11?....

Gummi Bears!

Monday, 3 May 2010

"The Gummi Bear Connundrum"

Sometimes I forget that I'm married to 'Indiana James'....and that he's married to 'Tasha Go-Lightly'...

Intending to depart India in exactly one weeks time, we have still not managed to book our tickets to Bali. Why you ask?

Simple...because we cannot agree on HOW to get there.

I want to fly on lovely Singapore Air, in nice plush seating, with seat back movies and as many vodka lemonades as I can surreptiously quaff on the five and a half hour flight.

I want to have a four as opposed to hellish six hour stopover in Mumbai Airport. And I want to spend our three day stopover in Singapore browsing through 'sterile' (so the husband claims, even though he's never set foot out of the airport there) shopping plazas, eating 'Western' food, and stocking up on goodies that I haven't been able to buy these past three months in India.

It all started with Gummi Bears actually. A few weeks ago in a beach shack, a lively bunch of Indians were chomping down on a variety of sweets and candies. When queried, (I had to say something - I'd been staring at them for the past twenty minutes enviously watching them devour all their sugary treats) they proudly replied, "These are from Singapore!"

Right then and there the seed was planted and I decided that I must, must go to Singapore. If Gummi Bears could be bought there, then literally anything could be!

Moreover, all advice we've been given seems to point toward Singapore being the preferred place to obtain our necessary extended tourist visas.

So what's the problem?

Well the husband has other ideas. He is proposing that we eschew Singapore Air and fly the whole way instead on the budget airline Air Asia (on par with Easy Jet or any other no-frills airline) via Kuala Lumpur...thereby bypassing the supposedly 'sterile' and 'boring' Singapore altogether.

I can see his point. My proposed itinerary, though much more comfortable and luxurious, will cost an extra few hundred pounds.

His proposed route however, has left me slightly deflated. I can't argue with reason. It will be better for our pocketbooks if we do it his way, fair enough.

However part of me is having trouble letting go of the 'Gummi Bear Dream'...the temporary immersion into comfort I was so looking forward to.

So after days of indecision the husband this morning proposed we flip a coin. Heads we go via Singapore....tails it's Kuala Lumpur.

He tossed the coin.

Kuala Lumpur it is...(sigh)

Saturday, 1 May 2010

"Bedbugs and Ballyhoo"

Okay, there are 'bedbugs' and there are proper BUGS in ones BED. I've got the latter.

It's rather disconcerting because I'm lying here beside a gently snoring husband, and I'm too scared to turn off the lights because this random assorted collection of BUGS just keep appearing on the sheets from nowhere it seems.

The last one was a smallish oval Beetle type creature with tiny legs and a greyish body. The one before that looked like a miniature Disney creature - all purple and green with a square head, proper blinking eyes and wings. I fully expected it to break into song and start buzzing about my head in a choreographed dance of some sort.

Given the frequency with which we wash our sheets (an exercise in futility - or optimism, depending on how you look at it) I certainly wouldn't be surprised to find a whole eco system lurking beneath the microscope, were I ever to garner enough courage to train it on our bed (ever seen the movie "Horton Hears A Who?"). However it's one thing to turn a blind eye to creatures that we are literally too 'blind' to see...but another to actually lie here in the dark, freaked out, feeling my skin prickle with the subtle sensation of a winged - or strictly earthbound - creature alighting upon my limbs.

(Limbs which are now hyper-sensitive due to the coating of tiny fine blond hairs which have now taken up residence on my previously hairless body. You see I haven't been back to see my 'amazing' waxer 'Kemy' ever since I noticed these little blond hairs. I am almost convinced that the potion she slathered on me at the end of my session contained some sort of Indian Ayervedic mix of herbs guaranteed to make me a future frequent and regular customer. It's my own little conspiracy theory I have going....head to head with the opposing theory that perhaps my current outbreak of superfine hairs is down to me stubbornly refusing to bin - and subsequently bringing on this trip and using religiously down to the last drop - a REALLY expired (i'm talking at least 6 years here) tube of 'No-Grow Hair Stop Cream" which has likely been rendered so ineffective so as to produce the opposite effect. But I digress. As usual.)

Anyway, I am currently sequestered here in a room with a barely functioning fan and a single bulb giving off the kind of glow one might find in a $20 hotel room deep in the bowels of New York City. I know this you see because the husband and I once had the pleasure of staying in one such room many years ago. I remember we had to position the waste bin on a table to catch drips from a mystery leak above, and drank Coors Light Beer whilst watching "The Wizard of Oz" on a small black and white telly and listening to the chaotic street below.

Surveying our room, it doesn't feel like we've come up very far in the world.

And you see, I can't sleep because I lie here trying to imagine whether it's just a slight breeze from the fan I feel....or a genuine bonafide creepy-crawlie.

And what if it bites me?

Not that I'm any stranger to biting. The other day Dumpie had his first ever bite of Nutella and toast....LOVED it (of course)...then proceeded to take his next, frenzied bite directly from my poor thumb which had the misfortune to be holding this delicious chocolate treat too close to his gaping jaws. I screamed. The toast went flying and landed face down on his favourite picture book. Dumpie started wailing. And my thumb went entirely numb before beginning the throbbing which would continue unrelentingly for the next hour or so.

I guess the thing is, if one type of critter doesn't get you, the other will.