Donna’s Top Tips for a Happy Life

I have been very fortunate in my life to meet some incredible people and along the way I have tried to pick up nuggets of wisdom.  We have all seen the signs telling us to “dance in the rain” and “stop to smell the roses”, well here is my list of top tips.

  • Learn something new everyday (if you stop to smell the roses maybe take time to learn its Latin name or what makes it fragrant.)
  • Teach someone something everyday (share your knowledge because we are all different and have unique things to offer)
  • Eat dessert first! (enough said)
  • Enjoy the rain because when the drought comes you will wish you had
  • Never regret the past because who you are today is a direct result of everything you have been through
  • Get your adrenaline pumping at least twice a day!
  • When life throws you a curve ball swing for the fence. (Baseball fans) When you get a googly…hit it for 6 (Cricket fans)
  • No one on their death bed ever said “I should have worked more”
  • If you don’t have a bucket list, make one. If you do have a bucket list make plans today to do one of those things, when you complete an item on your bucket list add another!

Trump’s IQ Test

10 Questions

1. What does IQ stand for?

2. How many questions are on this test?

3. Who is the a Commander in Chief of the U.S.?

4. Finish the pattern, Army, Navy, Air Force …?

5.  Use an adjective with more than two syllables ( note “very very” is not a single word)

6. Who is the George Washington bridge named after?

7. Which one of the above is not a question?

8. Who was the 45th President of the United States?

9. Have you ever suffered from mental illness?

10. Name one person in the world, living or dead, who is better at something than you are.

Pune Commute Day 6

In a city of more than 3 million people it is amazing how many of them you see more than once while going to or coming from work. Considering that there are about 7 different routes that my driver can take depending on traffic plus the fact we don’t always leave at exactly the same time every day.   There are two guys, on a scooter, we have seen a number of times when making our way back to the hotel. These two must be building a house or maybe an ark, whatever it is it is big and made of wood. How do know this, because every time we see them the guy on the back is holding on to two 8 foot long planks of wood balanced on the seat between him and the driver. I’m not sure what they are building but it is going to take forever two planks at a time.

I have seen many interesting things transported on scooters, motorbikes and bicycles since coming to India. Here are a few of them:

  • A family of 5
  • A dog
  • A 50 kg sack of rice across the tank and two large boxes resting against the driver’s back
  • 3 gas cylinders 
  • A tree

Today is Friday so the traffic was even heavier than usual and the spaces between vehicles was even less (meaning inches instead of the usual 2 feet or so. This one guy was taking multi-tasking to a new and very dangerous level. He was driving a motorbike and texting in traffic that was so tight I had to breathe in to allow cars to go by!  (Gentlemen don’t get too excited about males and their multi-tasking skills as we saw him 5 minutes later looking very disappointed, with his bike lying on the ground.)

Children and Air Travel

Those of you who know me know that I love children, especially babies. I am currently sitting in the lounge waiting for my flight to Mumbai, yes, I know I just did this last week, anyway as I sit here all I can think about is “I hope that new innocent child is not sitting anywhere near me.” I realise how awful that sounds as I understand how difficult it is for parents traveling with a little one. That said I still really don’t want to be in the same cabin with said child and frustrated parents. Why? Because on my return from Mumbai last trip, less than 7 days ago, I was in 1st Class but so was a very unhappy child who was inconsolable for most of the 10 hours we shared a very small space with no means of escape. As the child cried the parents grew more frustrated and at several points angry with the little person who did not ask to be put in this situation.  

As this was 1st Class the passengers in the cabin were not overjoyed with the continual serenade of ear piercing protestations. The poor parents were having to bear not only an upset child but the eye rolls and tsk tsk from the passengers. I’m sure you are thinking “you have headphones and ear plugs” ah, this particular infant had an incredible range of screams that could penetrate any sound proofing technology. I’m sure this will be an asset in later life when he or she is auditioning for the a role in the New York or London Opera but at this juncture it served only to remind us all how tired we will be on arrival. 

Back to the lounge and my present trip.  Crying child and parents oh, or maybe the other way around, have just packed up their belongings for their onward journey and I still have 45 minutes to go. Potential bullet dodged but who knows what awaits me once I board my plane. 

Trek to MumbaiĀ 

Let’s start by saying my return leg from Pune to Mumbai was enlightening. Since I’ve done this trip once already last November I considered myself adjusted to the experience, the noise, the traffic, the exhaust and general stimulation overload. Well I was not even close! Today’s journey from Pune to Mumbai took just about 5 hours, I estimate we sat still for a very large portion of that time.  It is not just the volume of cars that make the traffic so horrendous but add to that all of the scooters, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, bicycles and pedestrians all trying to occupy the same space at completely different speeds and directions. Oh, I almost forgot the four legged beasts. Today we had to give way to a small herd of noisey water buffalo and believe me they were no rush. Then we had the bull with horns longer than any I have ever seen. Shortly after we passed that behemoth a couple very naughty goats dashed into the road, all of this and we had not even left Pune.

Once free of the city the trip across the mountains was awesome with Mother Nature making a majestic display of the sunset, with the bright orange sphere slipping behind the mountains. Then before I knew it the noise was back and at levels that amazed me. More cars, two wheel vehicles and people. I think the ethos for driving is…if there is a space fill it. Now mind you the space available does not have to equal the size or mass of what you are trying to cram in to it. It took us another hour and forty-five minutes to travel the last 5 miles. As we crept along or sat stationary I was able to watch Mumbai life outside my window. As the night deepened the streets transformed and came alive with vendors of every description. I saw many single tables with a camp stove and one pot boiling away,  callieing themselves a cafe. 

The city has a section for everything. Along one stretch you can buy every individual part and component to build your own car from scratch. In another area it was marble wholesalers and then the furniture and mattress companies came next. Each area providing customers with choices that spanned the spectrum. 

This country brings out such a combination of feelings and emotions in me; amazement, curiosity, sadness, humility and inspiration. It is a place of stunning beauty but also of appalling living conditions for millions of people. It takes me on a rollercoaster ride every single day. Tomorrow I head home having seen and learned more about India and it’s incredible people. Until next time India goodbye.

Monkey Traffic Monitor

The monkey on traffic monitoring duty is just one of the things that have caught my attention so far on my trip to India. Yesterday as we were travelling the 3+ hours from Mumbai to Pune I saw my first free range monkey. There he was sitting in a tree just on the side of the motorway. He was perched up there watching the traffic with close scrutiny. Not sure what action he would take if he spotted an offence. About 10 minutes later I saw a lovely cow sitting in the plush grass of someone’s front garden happily munching the said plush grass.  

Today on the my way across the city into the office, I suddenly saw movement out of the corner of my eye, which when I looked properly, turned out to be 4 goats running along the concrete wall which sloped down to the road. These dare devils must have had super glue on their hooves to keep them from tumbling down this incredibly steep bank to the road below. 

The trip back to the hotel this evening was equally interesting on the wildlife front. I saw several buffalo (is buffalo the collective noun for buffalo or is it buffali?) Anyway, the point is that we are in the middle of a huge city, not out in some nature reserve somewhere and I am seeing buffalo! Last but not least my day would not be complete without seeing pigs in a playground. Mind you, it did look like an abandoned playground (that was probably down to the pigs not playing nicely) but still we are talking pigs in a playground. 

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Another Sign of Getting Older

The other day I was thinking how as Pam and I are getting older our conversations are getting more like predictive text. Here is an example Pam is downstairs and shouts up “…has gone to pot” I go downstairs saying ” what has gone to pot? Expecting to find something not working. Pam looks at me and says “what are you talking about?” I said “you said something ‘has gone to pot’ so what is it?” Pam then begins to laugh, “I said I’m going to the shop!” (Depending on your generation you might relate better to Abbot & Costello’s “Who’s on First?”)
We tend to have loads of these cross purpose discussions, I blame it mostly on living in a 3 storey house so there is a lot of shouting up and down the stairs. Me “Have you seen my socks…” Pam “Why would I change the clock?”
I think you get the picture. It does keep conversations interesting.

First Post as a British Citizen

People have been asking me if I feel different expecting me to say no but the truth is that I do feel different than I did last week. Besides having an increased preference of tea to coffee (I know it is weird but it is me we are talking about), I feel more connected is the best way to describe it. I have felt at home here for many years so you would think it would be no big deal but it really is. I found the ceremony incredibly emotional whereas my expectation was that it would be perfunctory. I think that is when the different feeling started. I am no longer an American living in the UK but a Citizen of this country. I am proud to call myself a British citizen and I love my newly adopted country. I do apologise for my accent but it hasn’t changed in 16 years so I doubt it ever will.

Winter Cold

I have a nasty winter cold, I’m sure many of you do as well. This cold is so bad I’m starting to wonder if “man flu” can cross gender lines. It started out as a normal head cold which made me feel rubbish for about 4 days, then last Tuesday I thought I was well again. Only to wake up Wednesday morning sounding like a bad impression of Kermit the Frog. Friday followed with a character voice change to something between The Mime and Minnie Mouse! I spent most of the weekend trying to get well for Monday (today), no joy on that front because I woke up in the night thinking someone let off a grenade in my throat! What the Hell is this bug?
I’m at that fun stage where I cannot taste anything and swallowing takes great mental strength to prepare for the next thundering shock wave. I just tried to eat my dinner (minestrone soup) and the timing it took to breathe, take a spoonful of soup, chew and then breathe again could have been plotted on a project plan with a Gantt chart.
Enough already I want my body back.

Interesting Discussion

Today we had the pleasure of having our eldest granddaughter with us for the day. As Monday is our “take Nonna to Northampton day” Ellie got to come along for the 1 1/2 hour ride. Ellie was rattling through the various subjects of conversation (as defined by a 5 year old), such as school, friends, little sister updates and then we got…”when we were with my mummy’s nanny last week, she cooked dinner and she poisoned me! ” At which point Pam and I exchange curious glances wondering where it’s “story” came from. She went on to say that she woke up in the night and was sick. “It’s okay to be sick in a bucket because the bucket will catch it.” By now Pam and I are in stitches! Ellie was still going on about the intricacies of being sick in the top bunk while your little sister is asleep in the bottom bunk. All said with her very serious tone. Ellie then realised that neither of us could speak because we were laughing so hard. “Being sick is no fun you know, I don’t know why you are laughing.” There you go sorted out by a 5 year old.