Monday, 31 August 2009

Another one bites the dust...

So, another one bites the dust. Another driver, I mean. I feel slightly more guilty about it than when I sacked Vasu, but not massively. Here's what happened: Hubby was getting huffy about our staff wages bill, and we realised that we were paying for a gardener and a driver, when in fact one person could easily do both jobs (after all, the driver was employed between two and six in the afternoon, but was usually finished by three, or at least, had an hour or so hanging about between jobs), so why not combine the post. Initially Anil agreed to do some gardening (honestly, we have a titchy garden, so it would hardly be taxing) and we sacked the current gardener (the housekeeper's son, who is on the brink of joining the Gurkhas or becoming a trekking guide in any case). Then, today, Anil turned up and said he'd decided he didn't want to do the gardening as he 'doesn't like that kind of work'. I asked him if he was absolutely sure he couldn't take it on, and he said no, so I said I would pay him for the work he's done and he could go. Now, you may think this is heartless, but really it wasn't unreasonable to ask him to mow the lawn occasionally or trim the hedge during the hours he spent hanging about in the guard room waiting for the next driving job. It was really silly of him, because I was on the brink of giving him his Deshain (Nepali Xmas equivalent) bonus and buying him a couple of new shirts. So now I have to drive. Or get a new driver. But I really can't face going through the whole rigmarole all over again.
Still, I wrote a very nice scene about a woman on the brink of suicide this morning.
So, all in all, it's been a cheery day!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Sunday, sunday

I would like to tell you all about my exciting weekend, but the truth is, we did bugger all. Oh, we did go swimming, and Twin 2 picked fights with the marble steps to the front door and the concrete step at the swimming pool - so she now looks like a case for social services. And we took Son to his book club this afternoon. I'm not entirely sure what went on up there in the little room above the bookshop, but he came out just bursting with pent-up boy-ness and proceeded to rush wildly around the outdoor cafe with his two little mates until Hubby got a strop on and we suddenly all had to go home (I missed out on most of the action as I was upstairs buying books and agreeing to do a reading at a Roald Dahl day in a couple of weeks time).
Hubby is still quite sad as we have no nice DVDs left to watch. We have done the eight-month-old Buzzcocks and also similarly aged Top Gear and the only thing left was 'The diving bell and the butterfly", which has great reviews, but looks a bit too much of a tear-jerker for us to face at this time on a Sunday evening.
Hubby is now reading his MBA coursework and I am off to wash off a face pack. There, that's a nice insight into the intimacies of our domestic life.
I'm sorry it's not a bit more interesting. Maybe I should run out into the street in the nude or throw crockery from the roof or something to add a little spice to our life... or maybe I should just wash the face pack off and have an early night.
Cheerio x

Friday, 28 August 2009

I am a sociopath

So, I was offered a girls' night out on the town and I turned it down in favour of watching an eight-month-old episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks on DVD with Hubby and a glass of flat lager (yeah, in the DVD vs hanky panky dilemma, the DVD definitely won tonight. What, watch a DVD and have hanky panky? Are you utterly insane? That would really be burning the candle at both ends now, wouldn't it?). Does this mean I am finally joining Hubby in turning into a grumpy old sociopath? Or is it merely that I just could not be arsed to have to wash my hair and put on high heels, when there was the option of a comfy sofa and an early night? When I am old (and wear purple, etc.) I shall certainly regret this. However, right now I'm quite looking forward to a nice long kip and not feeling like death in the morning.
Tell me I'm not the only saddo who feels this way...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

more of everything...

Anyway, I'm back from school now and everyone is either watching Beauty and the Beast or reading Fantastic Mr Fox, so I can finish off telling you about the mad-scary-eyed yoga teacher and his enlightening comments. He told me, for example, that one must never breathe through one's mouth. He said that dogs breathe through their mouths (they don't, they pant, which is their version of perspiration, but anyhow...) and they don't live very long, ergo, if we breathe through our mouths we won't live long either. Hmmm, I'm sure there's a flaw in his biological reasoning or logic somewhere along the line but I can't quite put my finger on it....Oh, yes, that's it - he's talking a load of shite. However, I do desperately need to flex up a bit, so I'm prepared to gloss over that. Apart from the breathing and the Om-ing, and a few yoga poses that I vaguely remember from previous classes, we also do 'yogic-jogging'. Yes, new to me as well. It seems that yogic jogging owes quite a bit to Jane Fonda aerobic videos of the late eighties (I know, because I had one), and involves tummy-twists, star-jumps, lunges, etc. The scary-eyed teacher confidently told us: "If you do five minutes jogging there is no need for your morning walk; it's fully scientific, fully scientific!" So that's okay, then.
Here I am, dissing it, but the fact is I need yoga. If I don't do it then I confidently expect to snap at some point in the next decade or so, probably when I'm reaching for the loo roll or something. Also, the fat-busters went out with the trash, so I have to do something. I just wish it didn't involve being told pseudo-scientific tosh and making me feel like an old lady. Well, it's my own fault for all these years of not stretching after going for a run, I suppose.

Oh, there was something else I wanted to vent about as well: one of the mums at school was upset because her little girl doesn't seem to be settling in foundation. I sympathise, because she only turned four at the end of the summer holidays, so she is just about the youngest in the class. However, she used to do full days in pre-school, so it's not as if she's missing a vital afternoon nap or anything. The mum said that it wasn't fair, because Twin 2 is allowed to do mornings only at the moment but her daughter has to do full days. I wasn't quite sure how to respond. I blurted, "But she has cerebral palsy!" (I almost stuck my tongue in my lower lip afterwards, but it seemed somewhat inappropriate). I wanted to say, "If your daughter has permanent brain damage, I'm sure she could do half days too." But I didn't. I mean, der!

Am I being over-sensitive, or was it a pretty stupid thing for her to say?


Right, I've got ten minutes before I have to do the school run. I'm hoping that Twin 2 will fall asleep before I go. I have just had to be a cross mummy and put her back to bed. Trying to sit cross-legged to write this in a vain effort to improve flexibility: went to second yoga session this week - teacher is appalled at my utter inflexibility. This is the third time I have tried yoga, and the teachers are always consistently appalled at how rubbish I am, the only difference is that this one is not quite so good at covering up his feelings as the others! Still I suppose it's good for the other people in the class to have someone to gauge their level against. It must be heartening to know that however pants you are, there will always be someone in the class who is worse (ie, me). So I guess my attendance is a bit of a public service/morale booster type thing. Although not for me. It is all a bit more religious out here, and we have to say 'Om' quite a lot and chant things too. The yoga teacher says that yoga will bring God into our lives. I'm not sure I want God in my life - I would just like to be able to touch my toes. Is that too much to ask (yes, actually)? Ooh, I can hear Anil starting the car so I should go, although there is so much much more interesting yoga stuff to tell you. Shame, will write soon - but not tonight as it's Corrie night x

Monday, 24 August 2009

It's raining again

It's raining and I've got a jumper on! Yes, I know, madness! Feeling very English today, sending the kids off to school in raincoats and wellies. After they left, I went back to bed for a bit. Feel a bit jaded today. No excuse, I know, except that I went out five nights in a row (well four and a bit, actually) and I'm not used to it. We had a birthday party on Thursday, a pub quiz night on Friday (my team won - no thanks to my input apart from recognising Bob Ainsworth in the picture round, which I was very proud of, oh , yes and I remembered that Bill Clinton has just visited North Korea, too, so i was responsible for two of our 87 points!), then there was Teej on Saturday and a poetry reading last night. Did I tell you about Teej last year? It's a bit surreal, really. The Gurkha wives put on a do for us Brit wives. We all have to wear red - most people wear red and gold saris but I decided to be a bit of a rebel and wore a red and silver kurta instead. Sadly I think my choice meant I missed out on the 'best dressed lady' prize - that and the fact that I got ready in about ten minutes, whilst all the Gurkha ladies had obviously taken about ten hours, fake hair pieces, nail art and all. So we all had some nice dahl and rice and a very big raffle. I was hoping to win back the bottle of wine I donated as a prize as I'll be needing it this week, but instead I ended up with a miniscule jewellery box. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed - you can't drink a jewellery box whilst watching Coronation Street.
On Sunday morning I did another scary 6.30 am run, which exhausted me for the rest of the day. Then in the evening I had promised my Nepali teacher that I would go to his poetry reading at the local bookshop and he in turn had promised to read some of the poems in English. I kept my side of the deal, but he reneged on his. I was a couple of minutes late and ended up sitting right at the front of a room full of Nepali literature students. I couldn't understand a blooming word. I did listen and had the occasional brief flash of understanding. One poem was about his mother and one definitely had the past perfect in it - or was it the present continuous? - my utter imbecility was a trifle embarrassing, to say the least. Still, they were handing out free gin and mango juice, so it wasn't a totally wasted trip. I shall have to ask Manjul to write a poem about being in a taxi, including the words: meter okay, turn left here, please stop, and then I might be in with a fighting chance of understanding it.
I have just spent most of the morning writing about my heroine's greif at the death of her brother (okay, I spent a few minutes looking at shoes on Amazon as well), so I feel quite wrung out now, and ready for a nice big plate of lasagne to cheer me up. Of course what would really cheer me up is some new shoes, but I am on a shoe ban until next month now. We are on cost-saving measures so we can afford our Thailand beach holiday at xmas. In terms of cost saving I am tempted to sack the Nepali teacher, who is lovely, but costs us a fortune, and, I realise since last night's poetry debacle, has taught me almost nothing (although this may also be my fault for not practising at all). Hubby thinks we should also consolidate our staff, so it looks like the new driver might get asked to do some gardening and the gardener might be sacked. But I'm going to leave Hubby to sort this one out. It's a bit tricky because the gardener is our housekeeper's adopted son - he is nineteen and actually lives in the compound as well. Hubby thinks its high time he moved out, stopped sponging and got a proper job. He can be quite scary when he is being rational and business-minded. Bharat had better manage to get in the Ghurkas this time (recruitment starts next month). Maybe I should suggest he starts coming for runs on a Sunday morning?
Anyway, should stop blathering and go, I suppose.
Cheerio x

Friday, 21 August 2009

friday feeling

I have a few moments to write whilst Son and Twins are watching a DVD with a friend. The friend, a boy, has been pestering his mum to come round to our house all week. We can't work out whether the attraction is Son's old box of dinosaurs or Twin 2 offering him unlimited kisses (she is a jezabel). I suspect the former. It's been pretty rainy all week - which is a good thing - and last night it was even cool enough for me to wear jeans (I think the temperature may have dipped below twenty five degrees). The non-fat-busting shoes have all arrived and are all lovely, but now I have blisters in all different places from new shoes. Wonder if I should start bathing my feet in surgical spirit, or is that just something that tramps do? Oh, no, that's right, they drink it.
We have no plans for the weekend, except a very exciting princess party on Sunday. I'm having Ariel costumes made for the Twins, who are so excited about it that they are likely to pop at any moment.
Anyway, I'm going to try to sneak up for a shower now whilst everyone is happily watching a cartoon dinosaur film with a really lame plot.
Toodle pip x

Sunday, 16 August 2009

fat bottoms and paddy fields

I went for a run this morning, for the first time in about a year. I had to meet my co-runner at six thirty outside camp, and I was so nervous I was awake at about five. Turns out, I was right to be nervous. My running buddy was another mum, who is lovely, and not a scary racing snake. Nevertheless, I was out of breath within three paces, and pretty much incapable of conversation as we trotted pleasantly (in her case)/in a nightmareish lumbering waddle (in my case) through the paddy fields. Occasionally we passed a local or two and were generally regarded with utter incredulity. "What on earth are these fat-bottomed bideshi women doing, staggering around our farm at this time in the morning," was what I could pretty much hear them thinking. The mud and the shame of my fitness levels aside, it was blooming lovely to get out into the fresh air and green fields and escape the urban sprawl for a bit. I came back all springy and full of bonhomie (that's endorphins for you), but the awful reality of having woken up at the crack of dawn is now kicking in and I feel the need for a cat nap coming on...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Straight to the point

Twin 1 says she wants her new teacher to be her mummy. When I asked why, she replied that it was because her new teacher has nicer hair than mine. Apparently it's longer, and straighter. Twin 1 says she doesn't like curly hair, and mine is a bit curly, especially if its been raining.
On the one hand, I feel defeated and inadequate - I will never have hair as long or as straight as the new teachers. On the other hand, this could be a boon to many other mums who have parenting issues and are desperately reading self-help parenting books or watching re-runs of super nanny on the TV. All such advice is clearly pointless. If you want to be a good mother, all you need to do is grow your hair and crack open the GHD straighteners.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

shoes and stuff

Don't tell Hubby, but I have just bought another pair of shoes from Amazon. Well it's his fault. He has practically ordered me to get rid of the fat-busters, and I have to replace them with something (several things, in different colours, actually). But, they are all in the sale, massively discounted, so just think how much money we are saving, hmmm? And in any case, every girl needs a pair of red shoes, doesn't she? I know, I already have some, but I can't actually walk in them, or even stand still holding a Pimms glass in them, and I have to walk to the mess in my trainers, and hide them in the shrubbery to walk home in. So I have purchased some practical-yet-elegant shoes that hopefully I will be able to manage more than a couple of teeters in, without doing a Naomi Campbell (no, I don't mean hurling my phone at the maid).
Apart from buying shoes (that I need, can afford and can't get cheaper anywhere else, honestly), I have been frantically writing the novel. I did a word count today and realised that I'm about twenty-five thousand words short of my target. Hmmm, that's some sub-plot to shoe-horn in, or alternatively I re-work it for a Mills and Boon market, as they like books around seventy thousand words, which I could probably manage. What d'you reckon? People pooh-pooh Mills and Boon, but people also buy escapist novels in a recession (I know this is true because I read it in the Economist - apparently Mills and Boon were the only ones to buck the last great global recession in the 1930s - so it's tempting. Might go and have a look at their website now, actually).
Right, I've been buying shoes and now I'm going to look at the Mills and Boon website. Does this mean I am becoming a stereotypical bored housewife?

Incidentally, a bomb went off in Kathmandu this afternoon. I know I blather on about shoes and stuff, in a Marie-Antoinette-ish kind of way, but I am aware that things are all going a bit pear-shaped out here, to say the least. Nepal is on the brink of a famine ('food crisis' is the term used, but when more than half the kids are malnourished, I think that's pretty much on the brink of famine), still has no properly functioning government (the Maoists keep buggering things up), and because of the delayed monsoon will also have water and power shortages again this winter. It is all pretty dire, and whilst I live in my La La land of red shoes and lattes I do realise that this is a real crisis for Nepal and the Nepali people. In moments of selfishness I just thank God that we are from a developed nation and we can escape at a moment's notice. Otherwise the situation just makes me angry - the people in power seem to care more about petty political squabbling than actually doing something for their people. And I also feel powerless, because I am, after all, just a trailing spouse, who is only here to look after my kids.

Monday, 10 August 2009

new term

Just a quickie. Kids are all at school. Hubby walked them to the bus stop. My involvement stopped at precisely seven thirty (Son had an alarm set) when they walked out of the front gate. So odd to be in an empty house. Usually there's someone here, even if it's only Meena or Sanu. Of course, the temptation would be to go straight back to bed and just read and drink cups of tea all morning, but I have been very organised and working on the novel since eight fifteen, I'll have you know (it would have been eight, but I wanted to put on some make-up before I started - these things are important!). I'm having a break at the moment for hot chocolate and chocolate flapjack (I am going to the gym tonight, yes I am). I just have that whole new-term rush. I have this urge to go out and buy a new pencil case with Snoopy on it or something. Anyway, must go. Hot chocolate getting cold and must must finish book by Christmas (which isn't as far away as you think and in fact I have already ordered some stocking-fillers from amazon, which you may think is a sad indictment of my empty life, but means that in the week before christmas I won't be scurrying round the shops in a panic, I will be sunning myself on a beach in Thailand. Yes indeedy.) xxx

Thursday, 6 August 2009

BB gun

Hubby was home from work on time for a family supper tonight, hurrah. Then immediately afterwards he had to rush out to buy a 'B B gun', which is a kind of air rifle thing. His plan is to use it from the balconies to take pot shots at neighbours' dogs that are, in his words, "persistent barkers". I tried to point out that everyone in this area has guard dogs, who live outside, and their job is to bark and thus deter burglers. But of course my arguments have gone unheeded. The gun looks scarily real (I know this because I was in the TA once, for about a millisecond, and it was guns just like this that made me want to cry and ultimately leave the reservists for good. That and that I was probably the most useless soldier in the history of the planet.). Hubby and Son are now practising together. I am deeply unsettled by the sight of Son with a big gun in his hands and an even bigger grin on his face. Also it brings back memories of my own father taking pot shots at cats and lining us up to practise aiming with his air rifle - the only difference is that he used to make effigies of Hitler for us to fire at (yes, really).
The whole thing is making me so unnerved that I might have to crack open the bag of chocolates that was intended for the Twins' teacher (they start foundation next week). And maybe have a beer as well. After all it will be another week until the black flip-flops are made, so there's still time for the fat-busters to work their magic...

farewell fat-busters

The other day Hubby pointed out that my fat-busting shoes really haven't busted any fat at all since I got them. Worried that I might dissolve into tears, he hastily added that my legs aren't really that much worse than many other women's legs, just that the fat-busting shoes make them look worse. He is the King of damning with faint praise.
So the fat-busters are on their way out. I'm having some black flip-flops made instead. I know it was wrong of me to succumb to spurious marketing claims like cellulite-zapping. I know that I should just have got normal shoes in the first place and eaten a few less chocolate-coated kiwis. Next week I shall just start going back to the tedium of the gym again, and forgo the pleasures of cocoa.
Why does it have to be this way?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

book club

I have just rushed back from book club so that Hubby can go back into work. It's 8pm. Luckily the book club conversation was pretty much trailing off anyway, when I scampered off in Cinderella-mode (not that my clothes were about to turn into rags, but if I had been late I suspect my marital relations would have been in tatters).
Anyway, what a super-dooper book club it was. We actually talked about the book: the author, the socio-political context, the characterisation, etc. Fab.
The last 'book club' I went to was more of a drink-and-gossip venue, where discussing the text was dismissed as being a bit swotty. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the previous 'book club' back in the UK, but the title of the evening was a bit of a misnomer. I haven't had the chance to really talk about a book like this for about twenty-odd years (a sobering reminder of how my life is ebbing away, which was kind-of the theme of the book in question: story of a nobody by Checkov).
Of course, reading great literature makes me realise that my writing is to the literary tradition what, I don't know, Pot Noodles are to Delia Smith, or something. However, at least my book will have a happy ending, which is more than I can say for the poor old characters in Checkov's book, who all come to a hapless end. Nobody had a good time of it: the choice seemed to be either a life of dissolution and futility, suicide or TB, best as I could tell. It made me quite glad I didn't live in pre-revolutionary Russia. Although the two Nepali women in the group commented that pre-revolutionary Russia had striking similarities with pre-revolutionary Nepal (ie ten years ago out here).
But despite realising that I will never be a Checkov (or even Jilly Cooper, in all likelihood), I have decided to plough on with my novel as soon as the kids are back at school. Not planning on playing with the idea of the futility of human existence, though. I just want them all to live happily ever after (maybe I've been watching too many Disney princess films with the Twins)...

ps. have you ever tried chocolate coated dried kiwi fruit? I can heartily recommend!

Monday, 3 August 2009


Sorry it’s been so long. There are various reasons for this: partly because I felt a bit strange the whole time in Bangkok, and partly because since we’ve been home we’ve had no internet access. A chap promised to turn up this afternoon and have a look at our connection, but of course he didn’t turn up - so by the time you read this it will be even longer since anything got posted. I’m truly sorry.

Bangkok was all a bit of a blur of skyscrapers, scary shopping malls and tour guides who looked like Gok (and had about as much interesting local history to tell us as Gok would have, were he there, but he wasn’t - he was probably wowing someone with an amazing High Street find that everyone would mistake for designer, woo hoo. I suspect that’s what our guide would rather have been doing too, but instead he was ferrying our ungrateful arses around).

Hubby and I have returned from holiday considerably more tired than when we left, which isn’t how holidays are supposed to be, surely? Still, the kids got to stroke snakes, feed catfish, and do various other things that they don’t get to do in Kathmandu. And it was nice to be somewhere where the toilets were clean and it was safe to eat ice cream and sea food, but it’s fandabidozi to be back home again.