Wednesday, December 27, 2006

three butter chickens

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope yours was just as good as mine. I'm blogging from Toronto where Boxing Day sales for the 26th reached an all time high. No, I did not buy the whole store (as ThePoser & Smoochie would have you believe). Hubby & I are having a great time here. After all we're home, where it's much colder than Bermuda, but home nevertheless & while we have no idea what's going on on the rock, I'm sure we'll find out soon enough upon our return.

Meanwhile, I leave you with this: The Indian version of 12 days of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

make it a movie night

We both really do miss the Cineplex's of Toronto - big surround sound, big picture & the comfy swing back adjustable arm rest chairs. It's not amusing when you're used to that level of theatre experience & have to then downgrade to a smaller theatre with the exact opposite of what Toronto offers.

You know where I'm going with this - Bermuda's theatres are a bit on the smaller side. There are about 5 of them & the movies that would ordinarily be released at any one theatre in Toronto are here a week later & are assigned at the ratio of one new release per theatre. And they're only here to stay for the week & a weekend. Two, if you're lucky. Rotation is rare, so if you miss it then your best hope is to catch it on DVD.

One of the theatres in town is known as The Little Theatre, because it's just that - little. The Liberty Theatre, also in town, fares a little better on the size scale - but a rather odd but bearable smell accompanies it. Our favourite is the theatre at Dockyard on the west end of the island. While it's similar in size to Liberty, it just fares better in terms of cleanliness, ambiance & has an old world feel to it. I love the combination of the pale cream walls & dark wood & the feeling it evokes. But we still prefer watching movies on the big screen. No comparison there.

Monday, December 11, 2006

here a toot, there a toot

There's one thing that we will never get used to in Bermuda, yet it happens everyday. It's the toot toot syndrome. Being on a small island it's a given that you'd pass someone you know on the street. Most who are driving will honk their horn as they're passing by or will honk & then stop for a mini chat - sure, it holds up traffic on most of the one way roads but who cares. It's the island way. Everyone is expected to wait as pleasantries are exchanged.

When we first arrived, Hubby had to start driving us around on a scooter - something that he'd not done before. I was scared out of my wits for it was so long since I had been on one. Thankfully, Hubby mastered it faster than you can say 'honk your horn'. But then when we were on the roads we noticed the horns were being honked a little too often. At first we thought we were doing something wrong because in Toronto they tell you not to honk your horn unless the driver's doing something wrong. Well, turns out honking horns or tootin' as they say here in Bermuda, is a common reflex motion for when you spot someone ye know on the road.

MrWayans (Ms.StopYourNoise's bf) has a unique car which is always spotted on the road. Firstly, it's an American car so the driver's seat is on the left as opposed to most of the right hand drive cars on the island. Secondly, it's a some kind of snazzy station wagon & it's the only car of it's kind on the island. He always says that he gets a lot of toots & at times doesn't pay attention to who's tootin', until the tooter runs into him a few days later telling him that they saw him on the road & tooted at him. It's just funny to hear MrWayans say toot. I guess if you grow up here on the island you're used to the toots. For us ex-pats, it's something we may not get used to. So how do you let someone know when they're really doing something wrong. You definitely want to toot but you don't want them to think that it's friendly. Do what we do - we accompany our toots with dirty looks so they know we mean business.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

chinese whisper

All was calm this Saturday morning until someone standing by the rocks noticed that the waves at Somerset (the west end) were an unusual 15 feet high. Apparently, an earthquake had occurred some many miles away last week & tidal waves were to be the after effects of this quake. So, Mr. Man got a bit worried & started to spread the word. People started to spread it further. The word got on the local radio station & after that it just went all haywire.

First, it was announced that the causeway linking Somerset to the rest of the island would be closed. Then came the news that preparations to evacuate Somerset were in place. People were just not ready for any of this. Who's really ready for any kind of disaster on a weekend? More confusion ensued as word spread around the rest of the island & people began to grow concerned for their Somerset relatives & friends. Eventually a little research was done & rumours were set straight. Yes, there was an earthquake last week miles away from the island & while we would be experiencing bigger than normal waves, it would not be a tsunami. And so a sense of peace overtook the chaos & calm was restored among those that were caught up in this rumour mill.

I am not sure how long this anxious event lasted because I was peacefully sleeping in. Even if we were awake, we don't really tune into the local radio station. Our source was MsStopYourNoise's boyfriend, MrWayans But it's easy to see how information can be distorted & magnified as it's passed around, granted a tidal wave is not something that should be taken lightly even if it may not show up.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

leo leo di caprio

I just wanted to give a shout out to my cousin Leo in India. He's been doing some reading, which surprised me because I didn't think he'd take the time from his busy schedule of girl chasing & college studying to read anything I had penned. But I am pleased & impressed with his diligence. So I promised I'd write about him to make him look good, especially to the ladies.

I first met Leo on the day he was born, 18 years ago in Mangalore - India, but somehow I don't think he remembers that. I didn't see him again until last year & boy has he grown. We've been keeping in touch through the wonderful world of MSN for the last few years. He loves to give me a hard time by calling me silly names but really who's he kidding? He's got nothing on me. He told me that if I'd ever visit him, he'd put me to work & have me cooking for him. But he did a complete 180 from his idle threats when we showed up at his door last December. H
ere I was all ready for the match, gloves on, raring to go but the surprise was on me. He was quite the perfect host - his mom was proud, although I'm sure she would have set him straight if he started ordering me around.

Leo has the features of a younger Leonardo di Caprio - hence his blog name. He loves that name & puffs up with pride when I address him so. His sister, however, seems to disagree & says I need to get my eyes checked. What do you think about that, Leo? You think she's right? I await your answer.

To my family: if you haven't already guessed who Leo is, email me & I'll spill the beans.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

houses & cars

Bermuda is only about 22 square miles & for such a small island, one of the growing concerns is the growing number of cars. The government has the harrowing task of doling out the ratio of one car per household. It does this by assigning what is called an 'Assessment Number' to each household. No assessment number, no car. However, a single house can have more than one household, if the house has been converted into apartments. Architecturally, a very common strategy as most houses are built with potential rental income in mind. The growing number of international business has contributed to the high standard of living, which has also given rise to asinine house prices. No doubt this affects Bermudians. Average house prices are about $800,000 & with a required 5% down payment which amounts to $200,000 You can see how this can be a bit challenging for the locals. So, for those that own a home, renting out their additional conversions not only eases the mortgage payments & living expenses, but also relieves the pressure of what would be a disastrous housing crisis for all.

Getting back to the growing number of cars on the island, most complain about it & correlate it with the steady stream of ex-pats. But in all fairness, most ex-pats I know don't own cars & still continue to ride scooters. Owning a car on the island, like everything else, is expensive. There are restrictions on car sizes for automobile dealers bringing in their wares. It's a small island with narrow roads & even narrower driveways. Small cars fit well in small spaces. My Cavalier would not have have made the cut, I can tell you that. A brand new car will cost you a pretty penny in Bermuda - the government import duty charged on a brand new car is 75% and I'm pretty sure the dealers are more than happy to pass that cost onto the customer. Yay! This is one of the reasons why used cars have a really good resale value. As it cost me, so it will cost you. Anyway, continuing on, the yearly registration fee, also depending on the size of the car, begins at $260.00
Petrol (for those of you who speak the Queen's English) or gas, is of course priced higher than the US. We don't really pay attention to what it costs per gallon because it only costs us scooter owners, a mere $8 - $10 a week to fill up.

You would think that the above aggregate mentioned would be a deterrent to future car owners, but the reality is that families need cars. Unlike India, where families can manage with a scooter outfitted with a side carriage to carry the wife & kids, Bermuda's winding roads would not be friendly nor practical to the attachment. So, while for families it's a necessity, others like singles or couples prefer to transition into car owners for safety reasons.
The steady automobile increase is a concern & is on the government's mind. I
n an effort to combat this increasing traffic on Bermuda's roads, the newly elected premier put forth a proposal in November to scrap public transportation fares all together in the hope to encourage more commuters to take the friendly way. Whether this will be implemented, remains to be seen. I can tell you one thing: if it goes through, there just might be less roadkill & the frogs will begin to repopulate thereby increasing their numbers.

the bermuda triangle

The first thing that comes to mind when you mention Bermuda is The Bermuda Triangle. Yet most don't know what area really forms the triangle. It is the ocean area between Bermuda, Miami-Florida & San Juan-Puerto Rico. A map has been included for your visual pleasure. This triangle brings about a certain level of apprehension for most people. Their minds delve into their archived knowledge of what they know about the Triangle as gleamed from the documentaries they've watched or the articles they've read. I was one of those people, as I am sure like most are before they come to the island. Coincidentally, there was an explosion of Bermuda Triangle documentaries on the Discovery Channel the month before our move to Bermuda. It didn't really ease any of our fears but rather magnified them.

Fast forward to 2 years later: now let me indulge you in what we in Bermuda think the triangle is about. It's nothing. Nada. It's basically just an electromagnetic anomaly. If you're in the water in the triangle, it's your compass needle that veers approximately 15° east of where it's supposed to be. So obviously this wreaked a lot of havoc with those old airplanes & ships but not anymore. We've been told that with the sophisticated compasses & monitoring systems that now outfit the ships & planes, there's nary a an occurrence like the ones of yesteryear.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

the extinct volcano

Volcanoes have always fascinated me. In fact, I am watching a documentary on one right now, which is the inspiration for this post. The eruption of volcanoes brings about much fear for the civilization that has settled itself at the base of the mountain. While the vibrant red magma is so visually attractive & mesmerizing, houses are destroyed as it makes its way through the streets. The air is rendered unbreathable as tiny particles of ash & sulfur infiltrate the lower atmosphere.

But in some cases, a volcanic eruption is not the end of a civilization but rather the birth of it. Bermuda is one such example - the birth of an island resulting from a series of eruptions from an undersea volcano. Scientific theory has it that the volcano erupted about a 100 million years ago & blew itself into extinction about 70 million years ago. The extinction of the volcano, the hardening of lava & the creation of limestone caps all brought about the islands of Bermuda - all 140 of them. Most of these islands are connected through a series of bridges & causeways built in the last century. There are a couple of areas in Bermuda where the ocean depth plummets to unknown stats & this has given rise to the theory that it may be the crater of the volcano. But others dispute this theory. Volcanic rock, however, can still be found on the island.

I have to say that before we moved to Bermuda, the thought of this tiny island in the middle of the vast ocean did scare me. You start to wonder how on earth does Bermuda manage to prop itself. After indulging in some research, I came across a drawing depicting how
Bermuda is supported by the extinct volcano that actually arises deep from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. And now that I am on this island all that water around us doesn't seem so daunting. On the contrary, it's hues are so soothing & welcoming. I would have loved to attach that picture to give you an idea of what the volcano looks like under water but now I can't seem to find it. I have looked time & time again but it's disappeared. I'd gladly reproduce the drawing but heaven knows I am no artist.

Friday, December 01, 2006

bird of paradise

You may have seen this flower before even if you haven't lived on a tropical island. It's a popular choice for florists to incorporate them in their bouquets. Named as one of the most exotic flowers there is, the Bird of Paradise originated in South Africa & further evolved in Madagascar. Meant to thrive in a tropical climate, it is indeed a plant that rewards only the most diligent & patient gardener. When grown from seed, germination takes about a year & the plant only blooms after about three to five years.

The Bird of Paradise makes a unique statement in a bouquet. I'd see them in Toronto ever so often & you'd instantly know that it would be one pricey bouquet if you saw one of these sticking through. I thought I'd try my hand at growing one of these at home many years ago but once I read the instructions, I was discouraged.

Here in Bermuda this plant grows with such abundance & profusion with it's vivid colours majestically revealed. Cut flowers will apparently last for weeks with a once a week water change. Definitely makes it very tempting to go out nab me just one stalk to pretty up the place.