« July 2005 | Main | September 2005 »

August 2005 Archives

August 29, 2005

Cultural Gulf

So, today is a Bank Holiday here, which means nothing to me whatsoever.

"Bank Holiday?" I said.

"Yes."

"So, it's like a long weekend?"

"Yes."

"So... what holiday is it?"

"It's a Bank Holiday."

See, to me, that's strange an unusual, because holidays should have names. Labour Day, Heritage Day, Family Day, whatever. Just something to indicate that it's more than an excuse for the banks to be closed.

This, of course, lead to BWINK (Boss Who Is Not Kenny) to being deathly afraid that we had a song about Family Day.

You see, Canadian Music is... um... fun! Yes, fun. So I've sung them "I am Cow" and "Last Saskatchewan Pirate" and "Jesus' Brother Bob" (that's a lot of Arrogant Worms songs) and made reference to the "Nunavit" song, and now they think Canada has strange little songs for everything.

And it's a weird feeling, having people I know who don't have the common experiences I do. I mean, I expected that in China, but I totally forgot that would happen here. When I want to crack "Got Angst?" jokes in the Teen section of my favorite bookstore, it doesn't strike that whole "Got Milk?" ad thing that it does at home. And that just makes me think of those series of commecials with the "M-m-m-m-moo cows... m-m-m-m-make milk..." ads from before that, and that's just another 'cultural' reference that people here don't have.

Of course, they keep hitting me out of nowhere with new and unusual slang terms. The latest is telling me that pounding (as in "Drunks were pounding on the door all night") means ... um... something sexual. And not something I'd want drunks doing to the glass doors of the hotel.

One group of friends has started making a game out of it, having conversations that they know I understand only have of. So I started refering to them as Toques, which backfired because one of them has a Canadian mother and said, "Doesn't that mean hats?" After that, I just gave up and enjoyed being mocked.

Last week I was asked to say "about". The person asking was disappointed to hear that I didn't say it "aboot". I think they do that further east in Canada, but I'm not sure. I've never heard anyone say that in real life.

And in the most surreal experience of the last week, I overheard a group of people from London having a lengthy discussion about the different types of accents and what they mean and if they like different accents and how strange it is that people are all accented differently even if they all come from the same family. I just kept my head down and added things. Because they were only talking about people in London, and not from anywhere else.

How... strange.

August 28, 2005

Signs and Portents

I am suddenly and completely consumed with the idea of running a Star Wars LARP, which someone needs to talk me out of as soon as possible. Not because it's necessarily a bad idea, but because damn it, I have other plans! (But.. but... I think I really just want someone else to run it, cuz I want to play a smuggler.)

It's been a weird week, all things considered. I haven't sat down and gone through the rest of my photos from Paris (there are 300, of which over a hundred are from Chatres), and I keep wanting to. I want to write more about the churches, and about Paris Below, and how that's nothing to do with the Metro system. Stuff like that. Instead, I've been cooking and baking and trying to settle more into this place. It's odd going. They don't have frozen pie crusts here, or frozen juice mix, or... or... probably frozen something else, either.

I'm making a short list of things I must do before I leave Edinburgh. I'm planning a trip out to Stirling some time soon, and I want very much to go out to Glastonbury in October. It's amazing to me... I meet people here who are so blase about the whole thing of seeing these places, and I can't wait for it. But then, I have no interest in West Edmonton Mall, or Fort Edmonton. Gotta put things in perspective.

I'm generally content with the world, but I'm bored at work (god, am I ever bored at work). At least my life outside of work is interesting enough to keep me from completely losing my mind.

August 26, 2005

Things I Did Today, a list, by jo

Things I Did Today, a list, by jo

1. Woke up way too early at 10 a.m. (which is way too early when you work nights, trust me.)

2. Updated my Flickr Site.

3. Made home made chai.

4. Answered some emails.

5. Made home made cheese.

6. Read some blogs.

7. Made paalak paneer from scratch.

8. Gloated way too much about this.

9. Made naan.

10. Had a nap.

Ah, it's been a good day.

Fringe Elements

So, I did, in fact, make it out to Apocalypse the Musical (link now leads to their homepage). It was... outstanding, really. I loved it to pieces. The basic plot is that Satan (who is so well played, I can't even tell you) dares God (who is equally well played, but in a less tingly sorta way) to start the apocalypse. They both agree to pick one person to lead their armied in the Final Battle For Earth. God picks an innocent young milkman ("They say there's more to live than Milk, but I'm not so sure"). Satan picks Wendy the Whore ("They say there's more to life than sex, but I'm not so sure"). I don't think it's ruining the ending to say they fall in love, and Chaos Insues.

My favorite part was, hands down, that Daisy the Cow was played by a guy who looked just like Levi. (Not nearly as obvious in that picture as it was at the play. I didn't take any photos at the play, though.) You can see the other few pics I took at the promo, too. Be sure to check out the confused nun.

I also made it out to the Tattoo last night, which was... not what I expected. Much better than I expected. At first description, it doesn't sound like much - it's a bunch of military bands demonstrating that they can keep time. (That was such an awful description, I'm sorry.) But... it's amazing. The music is outstanding, the way the performers move was great, it was fun and funny in places and very moving in others. They had bands from Norway (I didn't know there was compulsary military service there), Trinadad (yay steel drums!), dancers from New Zealand and Australia, Cossacks, motorbikes, and, of course, quite a few groups from Scotland and England. They had several interesting demonstrations of the current military skills in anti-terrorism, too. (The best part was where the Scottish military shot like storm troopers... I know, it was an act, and it was a very dramatic one at that, but c'mon! There's how many of you and one guy without cover holding a sword?)

The fireworks were amazing, they set off the big guns on the castle, and at one point managed to disguise the castle to look like a giant boat from Lord Nelson's fleet. I was very impressed.

And to think, I didn't want to take in the Fringe or the Tattoo this year. Silly me.

August 25, 2005

Our Lady of Paris

I woke up early and headed down to Notre Dame on a rainy Friday morning. I will admit that at first, staring out at the rain made me feel frustrated. The day before it had been so sunny that the heat had hit me like a wall when I stepped off the plane. Instead, I just shrugged my shoulders and let it go. Hey, it's rain in Paris! That's romantic, right?

I'm glad I chose to go out as early as I did, and in the weather that I did. The square in front of Notre Dame was virtually deserted when I got there, but within a few hours was so packed it felt impossile to move.

Going inside....

I've said before that I'm in awe of religious places. Being in Notre Dame before, I wasn't sure if I'd be so moved. But until I got inside, I wasn't aware of how much of the place I had forgotten. I remembered the outside (and the fact that the restoration work was going on the front part of the building, so we didn't get to see as much of it as before), but all I recalled of the inside was that I was offended that people were video-taping the service.

I got through the door and was overcome with awe.

I just don't know how to describe it, frankly. There's the stained glass, and the high roof ceilings that make you feel small in the face of God. There's this beauty that surrounds you and makes you see what men can be capable of, if they try. It's just something I wish I could describe in words, but I can't find them.

I didn't take pictures inside the church, so I can't even direct you to them. I did take several photos outside of the church, though, which are here.

Stepping back outside, I had to sit down and take it all in again. The square, like I said, was filled with people, but I barely saw them.

August 23, 2005

Fringe!

Off to see Apocalypse the Musical. Because nothing says fun like udder choreography. *grin*

August 22, 2005

Twilight in Paris

Did anyone else watch Jem when they were a kid? I watched that show obsessively, and had all of the little tapes you could possible get. Which is relevant here because I had one of their songs in my head for most of my weekend.

Twilight in Paris, City of Lights, it's everything I hoped it would be. Twilight in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, but your face is the only thing I see...

(This became very frustrating very quickly.)

The hotel (which was amazingly nice, although breakfast was way overpriced) was just a few blocks away from the Eiffel Tower. I understand that the rooms on the higher floors can even see it, but my room was on the first floor (which means second floor), and the window opened into an internal courtyard. Once I got into Paris and found the place, I walked up the street and then along the river until I could see it.

I remember big green trees in the park around it, and sitting on a bench and just staring in awe at this huge tower of light. I remember huge crowds of people, like standing in the middle of a concert, but it was dark and late on a weekday night. The swirls of French just ran over me, some of them meaningful, but most of them just syllables. I remember seeing the carousel, and wanting to ride it just because I could.

But I also remember being very tired after a very long day (why do I keep making myself travel immediately upon getting off work?), and deciding that food and sleep would probably be better. As I kept telling myself, the tower wasn't going anywhere, and I was close enough to it that I could see it at any time.

The lines were huge, longer than for anything I can remember, and I think I made the right choice. At the risk of sounding terribly blase, I've been to the top of the tower before. Besides, walking through the park, away from the tower, was just as interesting in its own way.

It's like walking through a completely different world. There was barely a spare spot of grass. Lots of couples and families out, staring at the tower and talking and laughing. (At least one couple was talking the term 'young lovers' quite seriously.) It felt like a giant party, and I knew no one would spare me a glance or a thought if I just grabbed my own patch of grass to stare at the tower myself. I was a little taken aback, though, since I wasn't sure what the point was. Hot summer night (and boy, did the heat ever hit me like a wall when I got off the plane), and everyone's idea of fun is staring at a tower?

Thus, I wasn't looking at it when the lightshow began.

I'm glad I went, I'm glad I saw it at night. I know I did that last time, but I don't remember those parts of it, and this was nice and unhurried. I enjoyed what I wanted to, kinda regretted not riding the carousel, and went back to my hotel. (Had an awful salad on the way, but almost everything was closed and I'd forgotten that thon means tuna. Silly girl.)

I'm still all a bit jumbled up, and trying to put all my thoughts in order. Oh well, pictures make a thousand, right?

August 21, 2005

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

I've been home from Paris for about two hours, and I will admit to being hardly functional. I don't fly well, so I took gravol before the trip (that's an anti-nausea pill, which I'm defining here because they don't have it in the UK), and it knocked me for a loop. I've been struggling to keep awake all morning.

I have these recollections I want to record here for now, of images that aren't the typical tourist things. I remember seeing the tall African women in their brightly coloured clothes, walking calmly through the busy hectic streets. I remember the taste of crepes filled with nutelle and bananas. I remember the feeling of the wind through my hair while I was on the boat going up and down the Seine. I remember the sounds of the bells, and the young lovers ignoring everything but each other in the park. I remember the sweet fumbling English of a couple of young girls on the boat who were trying to talk to me, and of the nice man at the hotel. I remember, and it's very nice to remember.

I will write more later, once I've recovered a bit more. I will admit to having run out of time without realizing it, and I was hurridly writing postcards while waiting to clear immigration in France. I got as many as I could done, but not as many as I wanted to. I am sorry if I missed this time, but I know I will be back.

August 18, 2005

It's Here!

Several things are here today!

1) My membership to English Heritage arrived. This allows me free into "over 400 Heritage sites across England". And gives me discounts into the Scottish Heritage sites. In retrospect, I probably should have bought the Scottish one and gotten the discounts into England, but eh. I'm happy, cuz it's here, it's got a purty card, and it has my name on it, all formal and proper like.

2) My days off! Which is great, cuz, yeah. Even my coworkers were beginning to worry about me. (Well, in that strange way that some of them do. "Oh, you're singificantly less cheerful this morning. It's a nice change." *grin* I am so looking forward to just not-working for a few days.

3) My trip to Paris! Now I am definately excited. Yay! I leave for Paris! Today! And I get there at 5:30 p.m. In Paris!

The Itinerary That Is Not Likely To Survive the First Engagement With Paris:

Today, which is Thursday:

Get on train to Glasgow.
Get to Airport, board plane, sleep on plane.
Arrive in Paris. (Actually, arrive at the airport outside of Paris, and take a bus.)
Check in to hotel, have a shower, blah blah blah.
Take walk down to the Eiffel Tower, cuz my hotel is just down the street from there. (The Eiffel Tower is not the first hit when you search for Eiffel. I'm rather surprised.)
Do super Eiffel Tower Things, and definately find out if that carosel that was there when I was last there is still there. Wow, that's an odd sentence.
Eat something French. Probably snails, cuz I like snails.
Force self to sleep.

Friday:
Sainte Chappel
Notre Dame
All the things around Notre Dame that I want to do
The Catacombs
The graveyard by the catacombs
The Latin Quarter <--- somewhere in here I have to go see the Tapestry La Dame et L'icorne, which I may be spelling wrong.
Somewhere in there, I need to remember to eat
Hit that club I was talking about, the boat, with the name pirate. Cuz, I'm all about the Pirate.
Then, sleep.

Saturday:
Chartres in the early hours. It's an hour outside of Paris by Train. I am going to have to consider this more carefully, but it's Chartres, how can I miss it?
Do the crazy shopping thingy down the Champes Elysees.
Mail many many things.
Eat something.
Sleep.

Sunday:
Leave Paris. Be sad.

I work Monday morning, because I'm being trained on something or other, yay, but at least I don't have to rush back to work. So I can come home, write obnoxiously gushy blog entries, and post up my pictures. I'm fairly determined to update the blog thingy while I'm in France, because I have this goal on 43 things to update my blog from 10 countries, and it seems relevant.

I'm getting way too punchy here. But oh, I'm so excited!!!

August 17, 2005

Life Goes On

Editor's Note: In rereading this entry, I realize that it comes across as feeling very sorry for myself. That's not really my intention. I decided to post it anyway because I think that those who are considering an overseas trip need to be aware that you can get like this, somedays.

One of the big problems I have with living overseas is the knowledge that everything back home is continuing to happen without me. It's not that I expect that everything will freeze or something strange like that, but it's kinda hard hearing about how your friends are doing things that you wish you could join them in, and you're stuck in a rainy city that smells funny during the summer.

I know, isn't that strange? I get emails and read blog entries about how my friends back home are so jealous of my adventures, and it's not that I don't appreciate that I'm having a great time. It's just... eh. Sometimes I wish I was there, or could just pop over and see people and stuff, rather than having my entire communication be via email or the occasional trans-Atlantic ICQ conversation.

And yet, if I had stayed home, delaying my trip or cancelling it, I would be stark raving mad by now. The last two months I was in Edmonton, I would have panic attacks that I was going to be stuck there forever, that I'd be one of those people who always talks about leaving, but never does. I wanted more, and I know that in wanting more, one must actually grab for it.

Today I'm feeling really melancholy. I'm tired, and it's been making everything seem a lot bleaker than it really is. I know that, and it's not like when I'm tired like this back home, I don't feel exactly the same way. Everything just seems so much worse. Even though I leave tomorrow morning on the 11 a.m. train to Glasgow, I cannot let myself believe I'm actually going to Paris. It's like... if I believe it, it won't happen, or something.

I guess it's just a matter of reminding myself that life does go on, and it will get better, and I am going to have a really good time this week. That tonight is my last shift at work for four nights, and that I can indulge myself in Paris with presents for friends and all the things I haven't seen for over ten years.

And it's not that I don't want to hear about my friends having a good time, going to festivals and playing games and enjoying what passes for weather in Edmonton. I just wish that I didn't know, from personal experience, how much fun they're having. Because thinking about how much fun Paris will be seems very abstract at the moment, wheras I know how much fun I'd have going out to see a movie back home.

Care Package

If, for some reason, you wanted to send me a care package, I think I'd ask for juice mix.

Or, you know, those red packages of chai tea you can get at the supermarket. But mostly juice mix.

They don't have juice mix here, at least not the powdered stuff, and everyone stares at me like I've grown an extra head when I ask for. I understand that they do have concentrate here, but not frozen stuff, and that just strikes me as odd for some reason. I mean, doesn't it go bad or something?

So, yeah, of all the things to miss, I miss strangely coloured powders that turn into something when you add water to them. Occasionally, I am very strange.

(However, if you really did want to send me a care package, I think I'd ask for the Nestea Iced Tea mix, which I mention here so I don't forget the next time someone asks if there's anything I need.)

I have more I wanted to say, about planning and Paris and how work is making me wish I could afford to drink right now, but I'll just end it here. But one more work shift till Paris. I might start counting the hours.

August 16, 2005

Forget the Words and Sing Along

The more time I spend travelling, the more I think that English is a very stupid difficult language. It's bad enough that the rules of the language are all mucked up, but add the fact that how we use the language changes from country to country, or even region to region, and you have all these added problems.

For example, when I was in China, the students would describe something as being very "dear". It took me a while to realize they meant "expensive", because we don't use that slang in Canada. I was correcting them, telling them what "dear" means to me (as in 'dear one'), without realizing that no, they were using it correctly, just not for Canada.

So, here I am in Scotland, and occasionally the language usage comes at me out of no where. Today, I had a discussion that went like this:

Me: Is the pop machine fixed yet?

Boss-man Who Is Not Kenny: What?

Me: Is the pop machine fixed?

BWINK: The what?

Me: The coke machine.

BWINK: Oh, no, it's not. What did you call it?

Me: The pop machine.

BWINK: It's juice.

Me: No, juice is something entirely different, involving the abuse of oranges.

BWINK: It's called juice machine here.

This then lead to most of the staff in the back office being asked and confirming that yes, it's a juice machine, and I am insane. Because they confuse pop and juice. So I think I'll just stick to asking for Coke.

Then there was this amazing conversation that took place one morning when I was very, very tired. (And in Berwick, which I mention so no Scottish person reading this blog freaks out that I'm refering to the place I'm in as England, since I was in England.)

Lady Giving Directions: Well, you just walk down the street, and you'll turn right at the zebra crossing.

Me: Zebra crossing? I didn't think there were Zebras in England. That's kind of interesting.

Lady: *blink*

Me: I didn't think they'd be in the city, either -- oh, wait, you mean crosswalk, don't you.

Lady: *backs away slowly*

(The advantage of having these sorts of conversations at work is they already think I'm crazy, whereas random passerbys on the street are often surprised.)

It's frustrating, because I think I'm asking for something perfectly reasonable, and no one here knows what I mean. And half the people who talk to me think I'm an idiot because I have no idea what they're saying.

(I won't go into the fact that we even say zebra differently. In Canada, it's zee, and in the UK, it's zeh. I have no idea why.)

Two points of unrelated news:

1) I have updated my Flickr site. Now with photos of the Tron Kirk, but you'll have to scroll down a bit for them.

2) Only two more work shifts till Paris. Not that I'm counting. (Anyone who specifically wants a postcard from Paris may want to let me know.) The planning thing isn't going as well as I'd hoped, since I now am torn between doing the whole whirlwind shopping thingy and going to Chartres, which is a day trip. I can't do both, unless I want to give up something else, and I don't. Also, I am planning on going to a night club on a boat, and it's got a name with Pirate in it someplace.

(How did I manage to write an entire paragraph about Paris and somehow make it not only sound boring, but as though I am uninterested? I shall blame it on too-many-shifts-in-a-row at work, and assure you that I am actually excited, and earlier today I was bouncing on my bed about the whole Pirate Boat Nightclub Thingy. I am excited, just really really tired right now.)

August 13, 2005

Failing to Plan

I'm having a big problem with my trip to Paris.

My problem is that I want to do way too many things in way too short a time period. I had to restrain myself from getting out the ruler and measuring the distance between places on the map, and thus estimating how long it would take to walk between them, so I could figure out how much I could do in a day.

Part of the problem is that I have been to Paris before, but I not only went for 13 days instead of three, it was also entirely planned by someone else. It was a school trip I did when I was 17. I think I did two things alone: I went on one of those boat tours, and I had to make my way to the Embassy to get my temporary passport by myself. (The big thing I remember about that is that the Canadian Embassy in France was near a peep show of some sort. That's how I knew where to turn.) This time, I get to do only the things I want to do... and again the cornacopia of choices is paralyzing me.

(Did you know the number one search term to find this blog is cornacopia? I really need a new word.)

I've kinda narrowed down a few things. As much as I hate to admit it, I do intend to spend the trip being a total tourist. I'm gonna hit the big touristy sites, and do some of the big touristy shopping (ooh, stationary stores!), and stuff like that. I actually went out and bought a guidebook, and I'm marking it up all to hell in an effort to make a plan. I figure if I neither sleep nor eat, I might get in about a quarter of the stuff I want to do.

I'm reminding myself that Paris is about as close to here as Vancouver is to Edmonton, and if I want to go again, I can. I remember reading a bunch of "what I want to do this summer" writing by students in the paper the first week I was here, and the universal complaint was "I don't want my parents to make me go to Europe again." So, yeah, it's easy, and not all that expensive. I missed the big seat sale, but I'm still sneaking into France for less that 100 pounds roundtrip. I bet I can get cheaper flights in winter. Maybe missing my actual birthday in France means I can spend Christmas there.

Mumps


Edinburgh Castle
Originally uploaded by Troubled.
So, I had this great plan yesterday. It was even a cunning plan.

See, the past few weeks a bunch of my friends back home in Edmonton have been hitting the festival circut. (Edmonton has about 3749 festivals every summer. Because Edmonton is really boring in the winter.) And I've been writing emails or commenting on blogs with "Oh, I'm so jealous, I wish I could go to Heritage Days/Shakespeare in the Park/Klondike Days/Whatever". As though I'm a big festival goer. (Of those three, for example, I've made it to K-days once in the past five years. For a couple of hours. Me, great on talking about going to festivals, really sucky at the actual attending thereof.)

So, I decided I was Absolutely Positively Nothing Was Going To Stop Me going to the Fringe yesterday morning. No matter what! I would go home, get changed, and go out and see everything that I could, and totally OD on fun! Yes! Great Plan! Marvelous!

I am not that clever some days.

I knew I was in a bad mood. I knew I was overtired. I knew I should probably stay home, eat something wholesome, and get more sleep. But I am nothing if not stubborn, so I insisted on braving the annoying bustrip and the 8 million tourists on the Royal Mile to attempt to do something fun.

Cunning plan, yes?

Anyway, I spent about an hour getting increasingly tense on the Mile before deciding to call it a day and stomp home. Of course, along the way I had to rant about freaking tourist and how I want to move to freaking Iqualiuit or Tuktiuktuk or something so that I can live a life without tourists and blah blah whine whine and did you know if you have a Canadian accent and rant about tourists in Edinburgh people look at you funny?

But, all was not lost, as this lead to three good things:

1) I have tickets to the Tattoo, and will be going in two weeks. I have decided that Tattoo day (which will also be Day Off day), I will hit the Royal Mile and be all touristy and obnoxious, now with more sleep.

2) I picked up a book I ordered about living in Australia, and it is chock full of information and useful stuff.

3) I took a picture of The Castle from Princes Street, and I kinda like how it turned out. Like the comment on my Flickr site, it's more about trying to show the scope of the castle rather than the details.

August 11, 2005

Slang

Lately I've been trying to collect Current British Slang into a book that exists only in my head. It gets frustrating in the middle of a conversation to have to interupt someone to ask them what the heck they meant.

Here's a brief collection:

punter = patron of a business. No idea where that would come from, since punter to me means football, for some reason. And by football, I don't mean soccer.

mump = as in "She had a mump at me". I think this kinda means angsting or complaining or moaning, but it might mean bitching at. Used by one of my coworkers when describing a conversation she had with one of the higher ups.

tit's up = as in "It's all gone tit's up". Probably means horribly wrong or awful, although the first time I heard it (when I was in Grade 7 Language Arts) was as a way of describing someone who'd died: she'd gone tit's up. I almost swallowed my tongue when my boss (not Kenny, his boss) used this about a situtation at work. I'm not a big fan of the word, and I had trouble telling him what he'd said that so shocked me.

Go to France = also used is "go to fuck". Basically, go fuck yourself.

knackered = which I've heard before (from Paul) to mean tired. Apparently also means broken.

I think those are the big ones.

The other thing that's really thrown me here is the assumptions people have no problem expressing. In Canada, I would never dream of asking someone with an accent how their vacation was going. We're a country of immigrants, I assume everyone I'm talking to, unless otherwise indicated, is living in Canada. (I'm usually right - Edmonton may have the World' Largest Shopping Mall, but we are not a tourist mecca.)

Here, I get asked on a daily basis in shops how my vacation is going. I usually just say "I'm not here on vacation, I've moved here, but I'm having a wonderful time". Of course, every time I hear myself saying this, I wince, because really, who the hell cares?

Related to that, the plane tickets have been purchased. Guess I am going to France.

August 8, 2005

Home sick...

The last week I was in China, the thing that punched me in the gut and made me feel terribly homesick was a busker on the side of the road playing a Chinese instrument with strings. I can't remember it, but the sound of it is very haunting. As soon as I heard it, I had to find out where the music was coming from. I was out with my coworkers for a good-bye dinner, and they were confused as to why it was so important to me to listen to this.

One of the most popular buskers in Edmonton is a Chinese man who plays the same instrument. It struck me then that I was going to be home soon, but that I wasn't home right then, and it was hard not to start crying.

The thing that made me homesick here was going out for East Indian food. Edmonton has the most amazing East Indian restaurant called New Asian Village. The food is outstanding, the decor is wonderful, and the staff are amazingly friendly. There's countless pots of chai, and little mango liquers to end your meal with. You can chose to sit at a normal table, or in a private booth in the back with pillows, a low table, and curtains for privacy. The whole thing has a wonderful, exotic feel to it, and I have falled in love with Indian food.

My guidebook highly recommends Indian food here, so I went out to a place on Rose Street, expecting something like home.

Let's just say... not so much.

Well, let's say more. It wasn't just the decore (pink and blue pastels), or the service (rude). I think what really killed the experience for me was Madonna's Greatest Hits playing on the sound system. I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. The food wasn't even as tasty as it is at home, and the nan bread was a pitiful imitation at best. I had no idea why the place was packed, or why anyone would ever want to come back.

On the walk back to my flat, all I could think about was how much I wanted to be at home at that moment, still tasting the wonderful chai tea on my lips, mocking Don for being over-caffinated, or chatting with Raven about various family types, or just something that wouldn't make me feel quite so much like a fish out of water.

Since then, I've found a place that makes amazingly good Indian Food, some of it even better than New Asian Village, but the entire decour of the place is set up like any other restaurant. I like the food, but I miss the feeling of an intimate restaurant with good food and better company.

And, well, I really miss Chai.

Disconnected

The reason I'm feeling so terribly disconnected today is that I spent the whole day convinced it was Monday until just before I left for work. In fact, I got into an argument with someone about it where I tried to explain why I just knew it was Monday.

August 7, 2005

Ozymandias

Some of the nicer photos from the trip to Lindisfarne are up.

I know, I keep writing about how beautiful the site was, but I really can't explain how. The coworkers I have that have been there loathed it, and those that hadn't couldn't understand why I'd want to go look at "an old church". But these are the things that drive me to come to places like the UK. It's not that I don't love Canada with a passion, and I don't ever want to lose my Canadian citizenship. But right now, it's this opportunity to see things that are older than anything but the trees in my country.

(I admit to having a very building-oriented appreciation for history. I'm only somewhat interested in the history of Canadian prior to Confederation. There's no buildings, you see, so I can't make it real in my head.)

Part of it is that sense of 'Look at my works, ye might, and dispair'. I tend to get caught up in the drama of life, and forget that, in a few years, the things that upset me now will seem like strange memories. When I look at historic sites, I can forget those things, concentrate instead on something bigger.

Another part of it is my obsession with trying to make real people out of historic fact. I have this dream of making history something that's interesting and real to more people. I think a lot about teaching, either high school or college, and taking history out of that dreary thing you do for a few hours every week and into a class that you can find exciting. I had one really good history teacher in university that did this, but it was more the art history and classics that managed to make things interesting for more people. You can't kill my love of history, no matter how dull the teacher, but I saw my fellow students' eyes glazing over, and it made me sad.

Another aspect of loving historic sites so much is this sense I get of them. I've been trying to write about that, but each time my words get in the way. So I guess I'll just say again that I found the site very moving. The sense of isolation, even in a place where there were people, was quite overwhelming. If I ever went on a religious retreat, I'd want it to be a place like Lindisfarne.

(Then there's the bit of me that never quite stops planning a new RPG. "Oh, the castle! You can totally rent it out for a wedding, which means I could totally rent it for a game, and it would be so great and wonderful and--" And then I banged my head against a wall for a minute until the thought went away.)

Lindisfarne is still a spiritual and religious retreat. There are many places in the village that are hosting retreats for people, and it's something I'm considering doing. I'm thinking about going there in winter, when it's cold and dark and I tend to lose myself in cold dark thoughts.

August 6, 2005

Holy Place

I'm still having trouble articulating what I want to say about Lindisfarne. I'm also sorting out the pictures. So, for now I'll just direct you to the World 66 post I made about it. It's a beautiful place, and I don't understand why so many of the people I know through work told me that I'd hate it.

August 5, 2005

Coming here is like... coming home

Getting off the bus in Lindisfarne, I had this overwhelming sense of coming home. It's a small town, somewhere around 200 people, that swells in size every day due to the tourists. It seemed to be a very friendly place - there were kids and dogs running around, a tea-shop that got so overcrowded they were sitting people on benches in the back yard, and a museum curator who, after I bought my membershipt to the English Heritage Society insisted on calling me Miss Pearce for the rest of the day.

I didn't explore as much of the village as I would have liked, but everywhere I went made me feel at home. It's hard to explain. I've lived in places that I recall as being smaller (has anyone heard of Collington, AB?), and I've often yearned for a village live like that. (Yes, I went insane in Vegreville, but it's a small town with a lot of small town attitudes. I'd suspect that a town that doubles or triples inside every day for a few hours would have a different attitude towards that, and with Berwick-upon-Tweed being a 30 minute bus ride across the causeway, I think I could at least escape for a few hours and buy a book or something.)

It's just... everything about the place felt right.

August 3, 2005

Things I Did Yesterday, a list, by jo

Things I Did Yesterday, a list, by jo

1. Bought a Digital Camera.

2. Took 534 pictures of my flat.

Of course, you need to read "bought" as "someone bought me", "yesterday" as "on Sunday, over the internet, with two day delivery", and "pictures of my flat" to include one video and a voice over picture that includes speculation on the mating habits of green couches in their natural habitat of the Anna's Apartment Outback.

But other than that, it's all true.

I'm trying to decide if I want to claim I've been covetting a digital camera for a long time now (true) or if I finally broke down and got one because Raven did, and I am nothing if not a follower (also true).

I took the camera to work last night so I could take many many pictures of the churches on my way home (no, that was the stated goal: I am going to take photos of all the churches I pass on the way home, and nothing else!), which took me an extra 45 minutes of walking home time. I am a tourist, see me photograph.

(I keep thinking I need to talk to someone about how to take a good photo, though. I mean, point and click makes things happen, but making nice things happen would be good, too.)

The point of this is that, once I get things set up properly, I should start putting purty pictures up here for everyone to see. Or at least upload them to my flickr site. (You can go there now and see some scans of photos from China, if you care to.)

Tomorrow I'm going to Holy Island, which is Lindisfarne, or so I'm given to understand. I'm trying very hard to keep from squeeing around my apartment. *smile* I get to see a ruined Abbey! YAY! I'm getting on the train just after work, then catching the bus. Basically, the causeway is only open for a bit in the morning and a bit in the afternoon, so unless I feel like taking a boat (or swimming), I have a nice limited window of time.

This weekend is the Con that Diane Duane is going to. I'm trying to be all cool and calm about the fact that she commented on my blog, but I'm failing miserably. *dies and is ded*

August 1, 2005

Well....

As I've mentioned before, I'm planning a bit of a five year jaunt around the world. I've been planning one-year stops in Australia, New Zealand, and a few other places. It's a small world, and I want to see as much of it as I can.

I just hit a bit of a roadblock today though.

I've been sitting here a bit bored (and not feeling well -- damn it, why do I get sick when my boss is on holiday and thus I can't call in?) and decided to confirm the ages and stuff for travelling to the various countries I want to go to in the next little while. For most of them, I'm fine - the age cut off is 35 for everywhere except here and Australia.

Ah, Australia. Land Down Under, full of wallabes and people related to Crash. I sorta had this picture of me with a funky hat on, exploring the land and seeing Ayers Rock and generally being all touristy and happy (much as I am here, except with less rocks and more castles).

But things are not going to be as easy to get to Australia as everywhere else. They only offer 3 month long working holiday visas (although you can apply for a second one), and only until you're 30. Since I just turned 29, this means I have a little less than 2 years to get my Canadian butt down there. And I have to decide if it's worth it.

I mean, three months as a migrant worker doesn't seem like something I'd be good at (although if I keep walking up and down the many many hills of Edinburgh I'll definately be in shape for it). But on the other hand, it's a chance to see Australia, and complain endlessly about the heat and how they have Christmas in summer and generally have a good time.

It's a lot to think about (although it's not like I have to decide right now). I mean, it shouldn't be too hard for me to do a month or so in Australia after I'm done New Zealand, as a tourist instead of a worker. But I like living overseas. I like the chance to really dig your fingers into the place you're living, to get a better sense of the people. Heck, I just like the idea of being someplace long enough to actually be able to give directions somewhere.

I don't know. Like I said, it's not like I have to decide today, but I should probably decide by Christmas. (Which doesn't seem nearly so far away when work is advertising for Christmas parties and Kenny and I are in heavy negotiation over who's going to work during Hogmany.)

About August 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Anna Overseas in August 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2005 is the previous archive.

September 2005 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.