Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dad's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the great dads out there. Ian says the only thing that would have made the day great would have been to be with the girls. Meaning... him in Virginia with the girls. Hmph.

It's just been a plain old quiet weekend. Yesterday we went to two Landmark stores, Ian was searching for a specific book and didn't find it at either. I, on the other hand, had put in a request last weekend for a particular book at the Citi Centre shop and went to pick it up Saturday. They said it would be available this past Tuesday but I wasn't going to the mall for that one thing, so waited until yesterday. They didn't have it and when I inquired as to its future availability I received close to a blank stare. Thank goodness I didn't bother going on Tuesday, huh? So we went to a different, stand-alone Landmark and lo and behold they had the book I wanted (Operation Red Jericho by Mowll), along with Misty of Chincoteague I've been looking for and some wonderful graphic novels* of Agatha Christie stories. Katherine will be excited about those, I guarantee it. Today I found (yes, at Landmark, don't ask why we were there yet again) graphic novels of classics, like Man in the Iron Mask. I didn't buy any of those as the drawings really weren't that good.
This all started when a recent departee of Chennai handed Ian a graphic novel containing a collection of Spiderman, Superman, Justice League... you get the idea... stories. He really enjoyed it and so has been searching the stores for others, like the "Civil War" set. There are Rs15 short books of superheroes he's bought for Nicholas, one of which definitely caught our interest: Spiderman recast as a young Indian boy in Mumbai. His costume waves in the wind, his shoe toes curl up in their sylish red and black pattern, and Pavitr's Auntie Maya keeps him in line, as they share cute little phrases in Hindi. Fun.
So yes, we went back to Citi Centre today. Being Father's Day, Ian and our neighbor chose the restaurant "Zyng" for lunch. The food is good, but their service is declining. No soda drinks aside from Coke (we went next door to the grocery store and bought others), certain dishes were unavailable, it was a tad disappointing. So being at Citi Centre means stopping at Landmark which we dutifully did. I would like to go into Lifestyle some time again too, but that will have to wait.
Being a Sunday, Ian drove the eight of us. We have the scratch marks to prove it. The planning of Citi Centre leaves much to be desired, just read a few posts back about our adventure in movie-going and parking is no exception. The parking garages are for small cars. Folks here treat their cars as they do a moto with a family of five on it. Cars that naturally seat five will become the fabled clown car as nine people pour out. So if a little car can fit nine people, who needs a big car? The parking garage doesn't think anyone drives anything bigger than perhaps a Toyota Qualis. A Sequoia could eat a Qualis. So we can't park in the garage. Which leaves the outdoor parking, a single row in front of the building. The other 3 sides are packed with motos and bicycles, leaving just enough room for, oh, a Toyota Qualis to squeeze through. Our neighbor joked that it would be funny to knock over one and watch the domino pile fall. She almost got her wish but didn't thanks to a quick catch by a couple guys standing nearby, and we only broke a clip on one of our wheel flares.
You have to drive around the entire building to reach the outside car park from the entrance. And then even more ridiculous, you have to drive around the entire building again to pay the parking fee and leave. The same route a car must travel, so do all the people searching for their bikes and there's literally no walking space that isn't also a driving space. And none of it is made for our car.
Ah, driving. It's the one thing I'm going to leave India totally frustrated with. I want to drive. I know how to get to the few places I regularly go. But if I want to go anywhere else I'm pretty much lost. Part of that is the Driver's fault. When there's an option of taking a direct route, he'll take all the side roads which leaves us confused. When we finally decided we didn't want to pay him overtime on Sundays just to take us to church (actually he said he didn't want to work on Sundays anymore, then complained we didn't have him do overtime any other day of the week... which we hadn't asked him before either) we asked him to show us the direct route to Santhome... what took him 15 minutes and countless turns, took us 15 minutes and 1 turn. So with the drastically reduced traffic on Sundays, Ian is our family driver and I really really like that. I can sit next to him, we can talk without extra ears, it's just nice.
And I really don't like our Driver. I don't. He's become careless, he's become really lazy, and he definitely has a second job going over the phone. I don't care what he does when I'm not out and about, but when he takes personal calls while driving, to the point of releasing his hands from the wheel during a tight turn so he can answer the phone, it's too much.
If only, if only, if only I could drive here. But no one does (uh, no one in the expat community I know). And those that do... eventually hire drivers after having one too many accidents. I'm really not kidding. Our neighbor was in an accident just this past week, as I was talking to her on the phone. She wasn't at the wheel, the driver was so even those who know this city backwards and forwards can't avoid a collision with a truck that barrels into them.
It's not fair that I'm stuck to someone else's abilities, someone else's schedule. And heck, it's MY car. OK, and Ian's. But it's mine and I want to drive. But I can't, and I know that, and I'm going to leave India grumbling about it all the way home.
* comic books ;)

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