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When you have spent your entire adult life in rented homes and apartments, owning your own little slice of property is a dream.
Right from when we met, he was looking at land outside Mumbai… after a few near hits, misses and – let’s face it swindles – it seemed at long last we found our little slice of heaven on the road from Mumbai to Goa.
Until our landlord threw a spanner into the works!
He has regretfully given us notice… our beloved Bandra home will be sold over the next 2-3 months.
Very kindly, he’s given us the 1st opportunity to buy it… knowing that after nearly six years, the building society is happy with us and even the secretary keeps urging us “Ask your landlord to sell to you!”
We also know what to expect… cognizant that every decade or less, there will be upheaval as infrastructural repairs take place. We’d be only too happy to remain.
Alas, his expectations are double our current capacity and yet, with his announcement, we halted our plots and plans for land outside Mumbai to shift focus completely to our backyard.
To make an interesting discovery…
What was once completely out of our reach has now become a difficult but not impossible.
Thanks to demonetization, home purchases can be made with ‘white’ money.
Thanks to GST and further slowing of the economy (no matter what may be said publicly, this is the case!), prices have come down considerably.
And biggest surprise to us both, free-lancers like ourselves may actually be eligible for a modest mortgage… as banks are crying out for ‘assets’.
So… if anyone knows of a decent 2BHK (translation 2 bedroom, hall, kitchen with 2 bathrooms) anywhere in Bandra West, East, Khar and even a bit beyond… let us know!
And don’t laugh at our budget… it is small but sincere.
PS – Turns out it was a ‘false alarm’! No sooner had we decided against buying, found a new flat, were about to sign the lease… our landlord decided NOT to sell after all. Given our overall comfort in our current abode, hassle and expense of moving, we’ve decided to accept his change of heart and renew for another three years. Our aspirations remain unquenched… just now back to our original plan to get a wee plot of land in the country.
Ever have a time in your life where so much is happening, it seems almost unreal? As I wrote my immigration form a few hours ago to re-enter India from Singapore, I declared my travels in the last 6 days – Singapore obviously, but also India for a day, before that the UK and Canada.
And why so much travel? The real reason combines the personal and the professional.
On the personal front…
Lots of different things however the real big news is… drum roll here… my partner and I finally took the plunge to sign a piece of paper in Winnipeg with a wee wedding at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. We knew from the moment we met over five years ago that we wanted to spend our lives together, however took our time to get to this stage of bringing our respective families together in celebration.
It still feels strange when folks teasingly call me “Mrs Smith” – a last name I am not adopting but respect completely. I apparently even accidentally hung up on a consulting associate who merrily greeted me that way! (in fairness, the call didn’t connect properly)
Within a week of being wedded in Winnipeg, I was on more planes and found myself in Singapore for some work related meetings. Which is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak as on the professional front as much has happened over the last few months:
- I was delighted to be back in Jakarta working on a project from September 2016 to December then back briefly in March and April 2017. Naturally this meant a few stops in Singapore in my crisscrossing back and forth between India and Indonesia…
- January and May were pre-occupied with India projects that enabled trips to Kolkata and Kochi – it had been years since I was in Kerela so that was a particular treat!
- February brought me to Delhi to co-facilitate a remarkable conference
- More is unfolding in the technology space with the India company association… plus some new developments brewing that seem particularly exciting!
Beyond the personal and professional, everyday life in India inspired a few amused cribs about:
- Ready or not, July 1st introduces India’s Goods & Services Tax with some absurd moments and migration migraines from Service Tax to GST
- After a couple of years of effort, I finally successfully withdrew my last Indian Provident Fund. If ever anyone has tried to do this – foreigner or Indian – you will understand this is NOT necessarily a simple process!
- After even more effort, a weird system error was finally corrected so that the Indian government was finally convinced I actually had paid my taxes in 2009. Really… honestly… I did… it only took 8 years for them to admit it!!
- We also learned to survive the aftermath of November 2016’s demonetization in which cash was temporarily dethroned
So from newly wedded bliss, professional developments, to the everyday follies in India, life continues to be an amazing adventure!
There you have… a bit of insight into what’s really going on…
Emel seduced the audience with the powerful emotions her voice emitted… punching through with passion, protest, shifting from lilting to wrenchingly raw.
After the show, Emel shared how much she enjoyed their short stay in India. Yet after extensive touring also appreciated a chance to relax in the hotel, swim outdoors…
She shared that they had been to Vancouver and Montreal and enjoyed their Canadian tour. I later met the guitar player who talked about being busy working on their new CD, soon to be independently released – Ensen.
Emil Mathlouthi – Ma Lkit
Want more? Check out:
- Website http://emelmathlouthi.com/home.html
- Facebook https://www.facebook.com/E.Mathlouthi
- Myspace https://myspace.com/amelmathlouthi
I’ll admit I’d never heard of her before the event… and yet for much of December, Christmassy music was replaced by the haunting sounds of Tunisia.
Just after I booked my flight and stay for Jakarta, my attention turned to what needs to get done around the house before I take off for 3 weeks…
Did a little fridge digging and freezer check, discovering a frozen Atlantic salmon fillet just begging to be consumed with some assorted veggies….
My partner was on tour so it was just me, but one of the things about work travel is you learn to revel in the occasional ‘proper’ solo dinner…
So why not get into practice at home?
There you have it… found myself cooking up a storm to produce a scrumptious yet reasonably healthy Sunday dinner just for me, myself and I!
- Poached salmon with a crazy yum citrus dill reduction sauce
- Steamed cauliflower with a dash of tumeric
- Toasted roasted beans with sesame, sunflower, yellow mustard and cumin seeds
- Carrots with cumin and dill
- Potatoes sautéed with onions a special home-made olive oil my partner picked up in Beirut, cracked black pepper and seasalt
What a pleasure… a good proper home cooked meal, at our own table, with a little music in the background. Yup… think I have my ‘home fix’ and easing beautifully into solo meals!
You must be kidding!? There is yet another religious celebration to be fetted at full volume!
This time it happens to be Ganapathi and the clanking of bells, thrum of drums hasn’t relented for hours. And soon it will be joined by the Bandra Fair celebrations (aka Mount Mary feast) with folks walking down our lane with kazoos at 2am. Seriously… Plus Eid with all the goats that have been trotted around for their walks now trotting to a different destination…
During a different festival, there was a hilarious moment on a Skype call to get the background on a project. My buddy could hear the ever increasing decibel level. And this after all the windows, doors were firmly shut, curtains drawn and extra ‘sound proofing’ added! I was even using my noise cancellation headset so I could hear clearly…
In June I was in my home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is always good to be back and there were so many special reconnects.
One evening in particular reminded me how blessed we were to grow up in a place bursting with musical talent.
I looked around the room at familiar friends… folks I grew up… folks with many shared experiences… folks whose lives have gone through many twists and turns… folks whose hearts have been broken, mended…. folks who faced trials and many triumphs… folks who still turn to share with each other life through music…. relationships that span several decades.
After all, we were there to celebrate a friend’s 60th birthday. Six fabulous decades of merriment, mischief and more. (more…)
I’ve lightly alluded to a pre-occupation with changing over my visa which has impacted the entire way I’ve approached continuing to keep India my base.
Short answer – I am now the proud holder of an Indian work visa! (and there was much rejoicing!!!)
Even better, I am very fortunate to partner with a company that enabled the best of both worlds – primarily support their growth while not closing the door on relevant consulting assignments in India that can be routed via their firm.
Even more remarkable, the actual submission and obtaining was relatively painless. (more on that later!) (more…)
Not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been a bit pre-occupied the last while.
Lots happening behind the curtain with the upshot that in just a few hours I will be on a plane from Mumbai to London… enjoy the weekend there catching up with my partner, seeing him perform, hopefully meet a few friends!
Then hop on another plane to Toronto. Hope and pray everything goes smoothly with my Indian visa submission.
Hop on another plane to Winnipeg to spend some much needed time with family and friends.
Then hop on yet another plane back to Toronto where my sincere wish is that a lovely new visa will be ready and waiting for me. Pretty please!
And then, yes you got it… hop on another plane back to London then home to Mumbai.
Won’t bore you with the details but this is a big change for me. Til now I’ve been terribly spoilt in the visa department. With a flourish of a pen all that changed. So now… my fate is in the hands of some random stranger. Just as it is for many people. Wish me well!!
It doesn’t take anyone long to realise that in India ‘rules’ are not really unbreakable ‘rules’ in the strictest sense.
They are often more like ‘wouldn’t it be nice if…’ sorta aspirational guidelines.
Or something put on paper so long ago no one actually has a clue why it is there.
Or it is a deliberately placed reason to extort… I mean monetarily punish hapless ‘rule’ breakers.
This evening I took a stroll along the Bandra Reclamation promenade. Hidden away behind aluminium fence was a sign with the ‘rules’.
I decided may as well test the theory to see how many of the ‘rules’ were broken wittingly or unwittingly during my walk. (more…)
These days I’ve spent a lot of time popping in and out of various office around Mumbai for a hectic series of meetings.
Every once and a while, I come across something that makes me pause….
Like these two piece by Lorenzo Quinn at India Bulls Finance Centre in Mumbai.
About La Dolce Vita, Lorenzo shares:
The thrill of living the dolce vita in Rome must have been amazing. My father tried to describe it to me many times as I was growing up. It was a world full of hope and rebirth, a feeling of eternal spring for humanity. For me this sculpture represents that joie de vivre and the total abandonment to the child within.
And the Two Sides of Nature, he shares:
We often ponder which road to take. I wonder a lot about the good and evil in the world. There is a constant battle within us between these two. The Ego and the Superego – and in between is the Id. This sculpture symbolises all the parts of the inner self. We hope that what prevails is the Golden part of our soul.
Other Sunday Snaps: