Turning 30 (aw, sh…)

I will be 30 next month. I am trying not to think about it.

Well, I’m trying not to think of it in the “Shit, I am going to be 30… why, god?! WHY?!” kind of way and instead the “How can I turn this into a reason to do ridiculous things that, under other circumstances, I would probably not do this year?” kind of way. After all, 30 is the new 20 (by the way, this statement does not sell me on 30).

At some point in my 20s I realized my 30th birthday would be on 01-30-13. Exciting, right?! So I wanted to do something special because this is never going to happen again. “I will have 30 days from the beginning of the year until the 30th birthday to do 30 things to celebrate the occasion!” I started making a list, I started mentally budgeting and decided that I should probably put away about $10k for all the things I want to do (one of the celebrations included renting a venue for a masquerade party).

On my current budget, I can afford a masquerade party at a public library. Seriously, I thought this would work.

Anyway, it’s the month before my birthday. I didn’t save up money. I didn’t book my trip to swim with beluga whales at either the Georgia Aquarim or Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I don’t even know what I am doing on my actual birthday.

I kind of came to the conclusion that I failed at this “project” until Patrick suggested that I accomplish my task list throughout the year. Oh, right… brilliant! So I’m going to go ahead and share my list of things to accomplish next year. Hopefully, sharing this list will make me feel committed to this project and will carry it out throughout the year. This strategy worked well last year.

Problem is, I don’t think I even have 30 good “celebrations” yet.

1. Swim with a Beluga (or some kind of up close and personal experience)
2. Steampunk Party!
3. Get a scooter
4. Host a masquerade party
5. Learn how to sail
6. Disneyland!
7. Do laughing yoga
8. Learn how to drive manual
9. Indoor skydiving
10. Visit http://www.skyzonesports.com/ (caution: this site has auto play sound)
11. Have a Thanksgiving feast (not on Thanksgiving)
12. Kayak in Hawaii
13. Dim Sum Party!
14. Travel overseas (Hong Kong? Europe? Bali?)
15. Make and eat a pizza (being really ambitious here)
16. Get a goldfish!
17. Host a private screening of a movie in a theater (http://www.dickclarkproductionstheater.com/)
18. Screen an old movie (with a projector preferrably) and wear clothes from that era
19. Ride a train to a destination outside of L.A.
20. Visit a museum
21. Go on The Price is Right (kind of dreading this, actually)
22. Make a movie
23. Have a big Chinese family dinner gathering at parents’ house
24. Do a factory tour (of anything: donuts, tortillas, furniture, cars)
25. go to a farm or petting zoo (with goats and llamas or alpacas)
26. Celebrate at a barcade (Dave and Buster’s or other arcade/drinking/dining environment)
27. Learn CSS
28. Visit New Orleans
29. New tattoo in a new city
30. Go to Graceland

Post-India Post

Since coming back from India haven’t actually had time to sit and collect my thoughts about my trip. In fact most of my reflection so far has been from me telling friends and co-workers about the trip so sometimes the thoughts coming from me are the first time I’ve heard these thoughts myself. I definitely wasn’t expecting the experience I got, but then most of my pre-conceived notions about India and the local culture have been from movies and television, and those are rarely ever real.

Dress :

Almost all the women I’ve seen in India are draped in bright, beautifully ornate saris, scarves and kurtis. This is true despite their wealth. Even at poverty levels or rural areas the women are brightly dressed.

I suppose if they have the money then they get the joy of adorning themselves with bangles, anklets and earrings. Some younger Indian women dress in Western wear (read: skinny jeans and a modest top).
One of the things I noted when doing my very brief pre-India trip was that India has a mix of different religions and thus so many different lifestyles. I have also seen many Muslim women in their traditional black burkas, but not as many as I thought considering how religiously diverse India is, and especially since the area where we’ve been doing sightseeing is closer to predominately Muslim counties. I’ve also seen a few Sikhs as well. It is especially fun when Sikh men ride around on on scooters because their facial hair blows gracefully in the wind.

just to give you an idea
(photo by Anthony Robson)


The men are dressed much less, still they’re not walking around wearing t-shirts and shorts. Most men wear button down shirts and slacks, though some younger men will wear jeans. It also seems common for babies in impoverished areas to not wear pants. They do wear shirts though, after all they’re not barbarians.

Standard modes of motorized transport are motorcycle or scooter, auto rickshaw and car. It’s not unusual to see an auto rickshaw (designed to seat three in the back with another space in the front, next to driver) filled to the brim with people, especially in the mornings and afternoon when kids are going to and from school.

The driving situation in India is very complicated but also as basic as walking. You go where you can go, if something is in your way you stop or go around it. Of course there are two directions of traffic, and like in England, one drives on the left side of the road, however sometimes exceptions can be made. If there is no center median at an intersection, you can, of course, take up some of the lanes of opposing traffic to wait for the light. No problem! If there’s an obstruction on your side of the street, like say a pothole or traffic jam, just drive on the other side of the road to get around it. Use this method sparingly.

This also means you don’t have to worry about lanes, they’re more like a suggestion anyway. If there is space for your motorcycle, auto rickshaw, or car to fit between two cars, go for it! Wedge into that space and drive. Don’t forget to honk to let other drivers know your whereabouts. Also honk when you are passing other vehicles, when you are in a blind spot, when you are in a visible spot, when you’re coming to an intersection where other cars or pedestrians could cross, or if the light has just turned green and you want to make sure everyone around you knows it.

There are several types of horns equipped on vehicles in India. You have your standard horn (honk honk), your Xena Warrior Princess, your silly song horn, and your dying cow horn.

There are advantages and disadvantages of riding a motorcycle as opposed to a car but the motorcycles seem more handy. You give up the comfort (air conditioning) and safety but you get much more versatility! You can still take the fam to visit the countryside, I’ve seen two adults with two small children on one bike before.

In respect to traffic, Delhi is probably the worst city I’ve visited in India. “it is very traffic” as drivers here would say.

From what I’ve learned from two different sources, the average pay for a day of work is 150-200 rupees, which is equivalent to $2.70 – $3.70. This boggles my mind. I know the cost of living is different but I still wonder what gets paid in terms of living expenses and how often.

Most dogs I’ve seen while here appear to be “wild”, that is, they don’t belong to anyone and they are free to walk around, breed and eat whatever trash they can find. There are plenty of monkeys in certain areas. There weren’t many in Mumbai the city but there were definitely monkeys on Elephanta Island, which is off the coast of Mumbai.

And there were wild monkeys running around the rooftops of Agra. We also saw camels – these were not wild and a few elephants. Also saw a lot of peacocks, and a herd of horned mammals over at Sikandra:


Oh and I did this in India:

The full Flickr photo set of pictures from India can be seen here.

Mumbai and Delhi Recap

Bombay to Delhi as the locals would say

Patrick and I have traveled from Mumbai to Delhi yesterday and got a few hours in Delhi to get driven to India Gate, the Presidential house, Parliament house and past some embassies. Also, we stopped by the travel agent who helped us book everything here in the Delhi, Jaipur, Agra area and she took me to her henna guy down the street:

We’re supposed to start getting ready soon for today’s leg from Delhi to Jaipur, so I don’t have a lot of time to think about what I want to say.  I’m actually awake at 5 am just thought I’d get some time in to jot some stuff dwn before I have too much to write! Here are some observations I have made in the past few days in short Tweet-like thoughts:

In Mumbai we did some shopping at a mall, not to different from one back home. They even had a McDonalds with a Filet-O-Fish, and some McChicken burgers (instead of beef, obviously)

However, we did find some other places that seemed to sell beef burgers (we didn’t eat them)

Despite staying at hotels that are all LEED certified and seeing a lot of public service posters about reducing pollution and “going green” it seems that there are a lot of people here who teach their young to litter at an early age. It was quite irksome.

The air quality in Mumbai leaves something to be desired.

However, the air quality when we arrived in Delhi was much worse. It smelled like the city had been burning and it looked like it too. The afternoon sky was red through the dust and smoke.

Cows here are sacred, of course, so they get to do whatever they want, but I’ve also noticed some cows tied to things, I wonder what that is about. Are people keeping them as pets?

Speaking of pets, there are a lot of feral dogs and cats. They are all skinny. The dogs are usually a mid-sized to large breed, something like a lab or retriever, mostly short-haired. I did see one that was much fluffier the other day but that seems rare.

The birds seem to be the healthiest wild animals in the city. There are more crows or ravens than pigeons. The pigeons here have much shinier, iridescent neck feathers, not sure if that’s due to the humidity, their diet or the general health of the birds.

This is probably true in other countries as well but, as a tourist, you’re going to have to hone your haggling skills and be constantly ready to decline the offers for unrequested goods and services, as well as general begging.

If you’re in Delhi, stop by Kahn’s Market. In the alleyway there is a restaurant called The Kitchen. Get the Khao Suey or Hawker Noodles.

Also, caught this tear-jerking story on BBC world news this AM http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-20202406



Well, I’m off to the Orient!

I haven’t mentioned this but in about three days I will be on a plane to India. This is very exciting, despite my lack of exclamation mark. The reason I am still being a little reserved is because of work. Having to make it through two days of work before I go is keeping me from getting to excited about anything but the week end.

Anyway, details: Patrick is already there, for work. I am going to be meeting him there on Friday, or possibly Thursday, I can’t remember what day it will be in India when I actually arrive but it will be Wednesday night when I leave. I’m traveling on Halloween night, which is fine with me I guess, for some reason I haven’t been into Halloween so much for awhile. Possibly since Patrick and I started dating, not sure why that is though since he is into dressing in costume too. I think I might like the romanticism more and it’s hard to get caught up in it when those around you are not.

Back to India! I’m going to meet him in Mumbai, where his company’s Indian HQ is and he’ll show me around Mumbai for a few days since he has been to that particular area of India a few times already. Then we are flying to the capitol, New Delhi. There’s a tourist circuit in that area called The Golden Triangle and it consists of three cities: New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. There are lots of historic sights and landmarks to see there, like the famous Taj Mahal, for example. There’s also something called The Red Fort and some government buildings that I do not know the names of.

Honestly, I don’t know a lot about India and the history of the country. Actually, I know a bit more now that I’ve watched some docu-mini series about the history of India and how it has gone through a long line of invaders/rulers who have all contributed to the diverse culture that India has today. I also learned that at the southern tip of India, in Tamil Nadu there is a village where a man’s DNA has been liked to some of the first humans. This is because 1. his family has a history of marrying first cousins so they’ve kept the bloodline pretty pure and 2. they are pretty isolated in that area so it’s not hard to maintain that lineage.

The Lotus Temple by InsideSouthAfrica on Flickr

While we are there I hope to:

  1. eat amazing food and take pictures of it
  2. take pictures of US… on vacation! (I don’t have a lot of pictures of us)
  3. ride an elephant
  4. touch a monkey – or notice a wild one from far away and say “HEY! A MONKEY!” in excitement as the locals walk on, uninterested
  5. try to “blend in” as much as a non-Indian can
  6. buy some clothes
  7. buy some jewelry
  8. buy some spices (can I bring these home?)
  9. learn some words in Hindi
  10. visit a Hindu or Sikh temple

Imaginary World

So I bought a super lotto ticket the other day because the jackpot was something like $300,000,000 and I started imagining what I would do with that kind of money.

I would give 1 million each to all my co-workers. I think we all deserve it. I’d of course take care of any of my own debt as well as that of my parents and put money away for my sister’s college education.

I’d probably purchase some real estate. A place where I could retire when I get older. Then I would travel the world, go backpacking through Europe, I don’t really want to take the easy road for everything, the money would just be my safety net. Then I’d probably start a couple businesses. Not really sure what kind of businesses but I’d have as much time as I wanted to figure that part out.

This is of course the same way that people find out what they really want to do in life. I was never able to mentally put myself in a situation in which I had the means to do whatever I wanted, so I felt like this never worked for me. Somehow. imagining winning $300 million worked for me.

Thinking about it now though (and realistically) the best and most successful businesses come from people who are doing things that they love so much they would never give up on them. That would be the tricky part. I have the capital to start a business but do I have the devotion to make it a success? I guess I just have to find out what my passion is.

Oh, I didn’t win, by the way. Didn’t match any numbers at all.