Monday, June 25, 2007

sea shells, sea shells on the sea shore

One of the things I love about Bermuda is the wonderful, poignant scent of the ocean. On most evenings, all it takes is one whiff to transport me back to my pre school/kindergarten years in Dubai, where we'd spend evenings at the corniche or the boardwalk, driving around in our little motorized car & motorbike (yes, we had them back then & all I can say is thanks mom & dad). Another whiff takes me back to the hot days we'd spend at the beach, bbqing all day, along with clam digging for us kids following an all night crab catching session for the adults, while we kids warily watched. The onset of construction in the past 10 to 15 years has minimized & in some cases, eliminated some beaches (apparently Dubai now houses 23% of the world's cranes). The crabs & clams are not as plentiful like they were 25 years ago. (Sigh! I am getting to the point where I now use the phrase '25 years ago'). Back then Mom would teach us to look for the bright green tuffs sporadically sprouting from the sand, revealed during the low tide of the day. Digging these tuffs of green & then some sand would yield us a clam. By the end of the day there'd be enough to fill about two to three medium sized buckets. Multitudes of clams, I tell you & oh so delicious once mom cooked them Indian style!

So it's no surprise that the first thing I looked for here on Bermuda's much smaller but beautiful beaches was the evidence of green tuffs peeking from the sand. Alas, there were none. The most you may find are crabs by the rocks, infinitely shy & extremely fast on their legs, but definitely no clams. We have the reefs to blame er... thank for that. While the reefs keep the unwanted sharks & who knows what other marine carnivores out of Bermuda's shores, it also keeps out much of what you would find on any other beach - shells, conchs, that sort of thing. Unless you're cruising the beach in the aftermath of a storm, which does tend to wash ashore some beachy tokens. Any other time, you will leave empty handed. Unless you visit the souvenir shops & take with you some beach memorabilia, but word on the street is that these are imported from Florida. So if you're looking for something plentiful & authentically Bermudian, then its pink laced sand would be it. Unfortunate about the shells, yes but given the choice between sharks or shells, well need I say more....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

life in the fast lane

What is it with the islands & their unique sense of keeping time? Is there really a need for the Island Time philosophy? Yes, some say the heat & the idyllic ocean scenery just makes it impossible not to slow down & sometimes makes you sluggish but sometimes the island time concept really doesn't work.

In Dubai, some offices & most stores shut down daily from noon to four or so for a desert siesta, to reopen at four, with stores staying till 10pm or later. The afternoon time of relaxation is much needed to refuel the body from the sweltering humid desert heat of 50+ deg Cel. Most countries in the Middle East adopt some variation of this siesta policy & it really does work. Well, it has to, besides who wouldn't love a two to four hour lunch ?

We came from a fast paced busy hectic lifestyle that is Toronto & now when we do go back to visit, we realize how hectic our life was by just watching our family go about their daily routine. Here in Bermuda, we've almost assimilated ourselves into the island time lifestyle but for a couple of things that we still can't seem to shake off or even want to embrace. For these we prefer life to be in the fast lane. Or moderately so. Take driving, for example. I am no speed demon & I take my driving seriously, but why is it that some drivers take forever to make their turns or even drive. 35 kms is excruciatingly slow, I know & so almost no one can or even does adhere to this speed limit (except for the really old folk & maybe a nervous driver or two). Face it, if we all did adhere to this speed limit, we'd get no where & we'd inadvertently be taking the island time concept down a notch! Is that even possible?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

rocky ground

The ocean is a wading pool for many Bermudian kids, who spend most of their childhood in the water, with many having been in before they've learned how to walk. It all begins with them being practically thrown in the water. I can believe that. In fact I've heard about it. In almost all cases, it's the fathers that perform this 'ritual', viewed as a rite of passage, if you will. The protective mothers are undoubtedly unimpressed & let the fathers have it, more so when they get the 'let's wait & see' or 'give the baby a minute' spiel. If this were to take place in Canada, you'd have Children's Aid knocking on the door. We were all witness to the late Australian, Steve Irwin first introducing his baby son to the world by prancing him in front of a croc at one of their shows at the Australian Zoo. The international outrage could not be quelled even with Steve in his defence stating that his son was used to the crocs & they to him. Each to his own, I reckon. But if in Bermuda, the baby learns how to stay afloat at that young an age, where's the harm? The younger they are the better right? Come to think of it, maybe my dad should have tossed my toddler self in, into Dubai's waters, then I'd definitely not have grown up fearing the water as much as I did. I know my mother would have had a fit. There's a method to one's madness, but it may not always work.

Unlike my brother, I am no diver & so when at Tobacco Bay, I anxiously watch the Bermudian boys as they get up to the highest rock & dive into the water. This is a favourite spot for this stunt to be performed as its mini mountain on one side of the beach makes for an ideal diving off point, to them. The boys are mostly fully attired complete with their shoes on & they see no need to indulge in swimwear or dive in sans footwear. But this is a dangerous feat as the rocks underwater are just as jagged as the ones exposed to the elements. I've winced when I've many a time scraped myself against these rocks while snorkeling. Diving in is risky because Bermuda's rocks are forever changing. With every hurricane, gale force wind or tropical storm, the rocks morph into another version of its previous self, courtesy of the erosion cause by the battering waves. The boys though, are fearless & have probably mapped out their safe spots. But it still makes me cringe as I watch them jump in, competing with one another. Boys will be boys, intense competitors, with sessions of who can outdo whom, forever thrill seekers to the core. Well boys, whatever floats your boat!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

ink'd on

There's been a lot of talk about alien life out yonder with books, movies & documentaries, all three feeding our wild imagination. I cannot quite get around to accepting the distinct possibility that there are other like us out there. If so, wouldn't 'they' have found us already? What's taking 'them' so long? Perhaps their ship is trying to find the location of Earth, very much like in the SciFI show, Battlestar Galactica. And if one were to consider the possibility that there may just be another world out there, would they be as diverse, as colourful or as cultural as we are?

For that matter, how did we get so colourful?
I ask you, the evolutionist, should we not be darker & hairier, like the primates (whom you consider our ancestors). On the flip side, I've often wondered why we aren't the same tone like our original parents, Adam & Eve. Could it be that the Old Testament incident of the Tower of Babel that split us all into various groups by the casting of different tongues of speech, also had God bringing out His paint brush & performing a little Michelangelo act on us all. Perhaps along with colour, culture was born, eventually evolving into a varied mix that now makes us so rich & unique. We're an art, one to be appreciated. There's so many cultures to explore & indulge in, that sometimes it's very hard to choose. But what is it that attracts us to one culture over another? How do you choose from East vs West, from European vs South American? Well, why choose at all?

I was the post office last week mailing off a letter to India. After a few minutes the young girl behind the screen asks if I can write her name out in Indian. As I was in the mode of translating, she told me she wanted to get it tattooed on the inside of her right wrist. In Indian!
(Her request reminded me of the soccer player, David Beckham, who has his wife's name tattooed in Hindi on his wrist). Oh, so of course the pressure was really on, leaving no room for error in translation. It's going to be translated into a tattoo for Pete's sake! The horror of another Indian person who knows how to read Hindi looking at her wrist & telling her it's all wrong. Well, just to be safe, I got her contact info & told her I'd email it once I was 100% sure. She was then elated & excited asking if I could translate her kids names too! Sigh! Suddenly I felt like I was not the right person for the job.

Friday, June 15, 2007

license to...

I am now the owner of a brand spanking new Bermuda drivers' license. First try, thank you very much. But surprise surprise, they misspelled my name & I hadn't noticed until Hubby pointed it out. I thought he was joking because I have a normal run of the mill western name. How could they get it wrong? Not like it's an ethnic name. And how could I not notice? Sigh! Although my picture came out quite nice...for once!

For one thing, I never thought I'd have to go through the entire driving test process again. Been there done that in Canada & was none too pleased when I learned that Bermuda does not participate in the license exchange. I've driven faster & for longer periods in Canada & trust me Bermuda is a step down. I don't mean that in a negative way but the roads here are narrower & only run so far. And sure the left hand side driving initially throws you off your bearings, but you eventually get used to it. It's not rocket science!

However, there are a couple of things that Canada or more specifically Ontario can learn from Bermuda when it comes to the licensing game. Ontario has a three step graduated licensing program (a written test & two driving tests, also known as G1, G2 & G - don't get me started on the sequence problem here). But the inside scoop is that for the third driving test (which includes highway driving), examiners are given a quota of people that they can pass for the day. So, if they've met that quota by late morning & you've scheduled your exam for the afternoon, you're more than likely to receive a fail on your test, even if you've performed perfectly. It's true! It's been confirmed by someone on the inside. Welcome to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation!
If you've got a case of bad luck, the series of failed tests can get quite pricey (at about $80.00 a pop). I think the least they can do is give you a discount for repeat tests! A message to Ontario - enough of this money making business because in Bermuda, you only pay TCD, once you've passed (a cost of $133.00 USD) & Bermuda also lets you schedule your test online. Oh, by they way, TCD stands for Transport Control Department. Can it sound any more British?

Anyway, now a brief synopsis of what the driving test in Bermuda is like. Parallel parking (the spot is marked by pylons & white lines) &
drive & reverse a zig zag path (also marked by pylons) are both done at the TCD's site. You get five minutes to perform your parallel perfection & are even allowed to get out of the car to check to see if you've made it within the lines. Touch a pylon & you fail & if you fail you can kiss the road test that follows goodbye, for another month. If you pass the on site test & fail the road test then the second time around will only have you doing the road test. I'm not the best at parallel parking but with a five minute time limit & umpteen number of out of car checks, I had to pass. I will say one thing about the road test - it's not complicated. But there's one rule to follow that one may not be used to - when at a red light or at a stop sign, your parking brake must be up before you check both directions, inch up & proceed to make your may through. Yes I know, so confusing & totally pointless in my opinion. However, rules are rules no matter how asinine.

For the most part, I am relieved. It's over & done with. I had the nicest examiner who made a lot of significant get to know each other small talk throughout the length of my test. I now know all about him, his family & his DOB. Getting back to my license, it's up for renewal in 10 years. Now all I have to do is get it corrected on Monday, although my brother, Newt upon viewing a picture of my license, had this to say about it:
"I can't really tell what's wrong with it. I think we have been misspelling your name our whole lives, and the Bermudian Transportation Ministry (or whatever the hell it's called) finally gets it right. You owe them a large debt of gratitude."
Seriously, how does he come up with this stuff ? He seems to have forgotten that everyone over the years has misspelled HIS name at one time or another....

Thursday, June 14, 2007

you talk funny

Senior citizens are bold, brazen & no nonsense. A perfect combination which culminates into being funny, anytime, anywhere, in any language. Here are some funnies courtesy of Bermuda's senior citizens:

When offered a seat at the bus terminal she laughs & says: 'Oh thank you child, but if I sit down, I won't be able to get up.'
Child? Who is she calling child?

When being greeted by a scrubby, partially drunk Bermudian man, she says once he's passed us: 'Hmm mmm That's right, keep going!'
Well I never....

While ensuring her grandchildren are instilled with manners & that they give up their seat to the older folk on the bus with just a look, she says to them after: You're young, your legs are strong & you can stand for longer. Cause I know what happens the minute we get home, you kids have a whole lot of energy all of a sudden!
You tell 'em, Granny!

When told by an Indian person that his name is Francis, she looks at him & says, 'Come on, what's your real name?'
Cute, but you know Bda Grandma,
not all Indians are Hindus. There are many Indian folk who are Christian, with Christian names. It's been this way for hundreds of years. Yes, I mean Indian folk from India. Thanks to R from my former workplace for this anecdote about his grandmother.

That's all I've got for now, but please feel free to add some of your own. I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

power shots

At one time or another we tend to take the simplest most basic things for granted. Not apt to be content, we're prone to harp on about what we don't have, not realizing that for the most part what we do have is more than sufficient to fulfill our needs in the present. We get so caught up in the idiosyncrasies of life that at most times we barely acknowledge our fully functioning selves, unaware of what's a part of us until it's cruelly & unfairly snatched away.

On our day off this past long weekend, we went to the driving range to practice some golf shots. Also, present was a senior Bermudian gentleman, who seemed to be getting ready to swing. At first I wondered how on earth he'd manage, but his shots were exceptionally good. Even Tiger would be impressed. Far better than the average person with two arms for you see he had but one arm. Yet that didn't seem to slow him down or deter him in any way. He'd adapted & worked with his limitations because his left arm was all he needed to deliver his power shot. One of many. You couldn't help but watch & be awed at his poise & confidence, the maintained balance & the powerful well timed swing that launched the golf ball high & far. He made it look easy. It
not only left me amazed, but forced me to take a moment, take stock & thank God that I was fortunate enough to be whole.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

my name is...

"I don't remember your name, but I remember your age." says the nine year old übersmart Bermudian neighbour kid to me today.
Didn't I say the kids here are super friendly?! Although, I think it's time to let him know about the 'Never ask or remind a woman about her age' philosophy!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

the escape artist

I recently read that Bermudians are afraid of lizards. Is this true? I know some that are adverse to the presence of frogs but the fear of lizards is new to me. Some species of lizards are endemic to Bermuda, whereas others were introduced years ago, but none are harmful. Lizards don't bother me so much (mind you we are talking about the smaller kind). I'm a huge supporter of anything that will eat bugs. Besides lizards are so much more afraid of us that we are of them as evident by their lightning speed escapes when spotted (I got a lucky shot of the one on the right though). While I've never been one to handle a lizard or want to touch one, I've loved them because they're programmed to devour those pesky mosquitoes (such a nuisance when I was growing up in India). Incidentally, Bermuda does not have mosquitoes nor snakes. But ants are aplenty.

bermuda's political side

Many a times I'd like to talk about Bermuda's nitty gritty, but something holds me back. While blogs are a fabulous medium to express thought, educate oneself & broaden one's horizons, it can also be spell trouble for the author, depending on the content & location. I've heard of a case where a job offer was withdrawn after the employers came across the candidate's blog & were none to happy about the post with regards to the city that they were based in. Ridculous, I know!

Stat Counter is a unique site that tracks all you lovely visitors to my site. Worry not, other than the most rudimentary of info, I know nothing about you. Or so I'd like you to think! Of course I'm joking. The site actually does a great job of recording visitors that have come via any google searches. One particular search caught my attention - 'Expat fear in Bermuda'. Now while I'm apt to steer clear of any posts of a political nature, it's not due to expat fear but more so a precautionary measure. I have to say the general feeling due to a few incidents, freedom of speech is becoming somewhat of an issue among expats here in Bermuda. But I think that's just expat life, no matter what. Unless you're in Canada. You can say anything you want & we'll still be polite about. It's the Canadian way!

However, to give you an idea of what goes on in the political arena in Bermuda, I did stumble upon some very well written blogs by the island's very own. Sensitive issues like race discrimination, expats vs locals, Bermuda's politicians & their policies both proposed & implemented make for very interesting posts. A list has been compiled below & also appears on the left under OTHER BERMUDA BLOGS. Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

bermuda's list

I don't know who made this list up but I stumbled upon it & it's too funny not to share. My favourites are the ones in bold


  • You know that Ginger Beer is much better than Ginger Ale
  • You say “inna?” after almost every sentence
  • You know the deeper meaning of “Johnny Barnes for Premier”
  • Homegrown is your favorite live act
  • You’ve pondered why we have two roads called “Middle”
  • You know the difference between Hamilton and Hamilton Parish
  • You know people with names like Trimingham, Bean, Trott, King, Ming, Ratteray, Foggo, Minors, Furbert, Talbot, Lightbourne, Gosling, Tucker, Dill, Tuzo, Simons, Simmons, Gibbons, Conyers, Crisson, Fox, Lambe, and Ray.
  • You know the difference between a Bermudian and a St. David’s Islander
  • You like the taste of alcohol
  • You have an “Ace Boy” or “Ace Gurl”
  • you have been called “Hamma” or “Bird” by a senior citizen
  • You have used the word round-a-bout when giving directions
  • Your house has a name
  • You’ve seen a purple house
  • You know the location of the world’s smallest Draw Bridge
  • 30 minutes in a car is a stretch!
  • Every land line phone number you know begins with 2
  • You’ve only ever bought gas from Shell or Esso
  • You know the significance of the colours “Blue n Blue” and “Red n Blue”
  • You use a car horn to say hello
  • Even your grandmother drives over the speed limit
  • You fully understand the difference between Town and Country
  • You know 90% of your country’s population
  • Instead of Tipsy, Drunk, and Pissed; you say Half-Hot, Shree-Quartas, and Full Hot
  • You have ever bought a Christmas tree, shirt, fish, or lobster out of a truck on the side of the road
  • You know that Sunkist came in five flavours
  • You consider Suzanne Holzhouser a celebrity
  • You have survived both droughts of water and Corona
  • There is a certain shade of blue that will always be burned in your memory as “Four Star Pizza Blue”
  • Makin Waves, Four Star Pizza, Lindo’s, The Market Place, and Mr. Chicken are major corporations
  • Dark n stormy isn’t just a term to describe the weather
  • You’ve been drinking since you could hold a bottle
  • It's not summer for you until the cruise ships block the view of the harbour
  • You don’t swim until 24th may (at the earliest)
  • You can say ‘yes der lova’ to a guy and its not gay at all
  • You understand the difference between “Mix” and “Straight”
  • You can make de nip on de rodent… and know what that means
  • you can parallel park in 5 seconds flat - because otherwise guys would yell “You’re some sort a fossy?”
  • The “Wildcat” is the closest you’ve ever come to a roller coaster
  • Harbour Road is your Route 66
  • There’s not enough radio stations to fill the preset buttons on your car stereo
  • You’ve been ripped off by Leisure Time at least once
  • You can identify a tourist without even talking to them
  • You can wear pink shorts with knee socks and still feel manly
  • You know that “up” is west and “down” is east
  • You’ve lived through at least one hurricane and therefore the names Felix, Emily, Fabian, and Florence all have a deeper meaning to you
  • Hurricanes are your Snow Days
  • You don’t trust indicators on bikes cause you know di bye jus’ forgot to shut it off
  • You have the ability to string sets of words into multi-syllabic masterpeices such as “duneinvorrywiffit”
  • You replace ur v’s with ur w’s and vice versa (vacuum is prounoced wacuum and volleyball is wolleyball)
  • You know Sonny
  • You’ve risked your life climbing a weak tree that’s in someone else’s yard to reach that juicy loquat
  • You have no friends, but ya got plenty much mates, mate!
  • Every cell number you know begins with 3, 5, or 7
  • "The Beach” has two definitions
  • The closest you’ve ever been to Africa is Cafe Cairo
  • You break ya neck just to watch the Ambulance or Police Car go past you
  • You slow down or stop to help at car accident scenes
  • That cockroach was as good as dead, but then that son of a bitch started flying and u were ‘on ur horse’ and outta there
  • You’ve made the run
  • You’ve been suspended for a pre-math Dark and Stormy
  • Exercise is an affert
  • You don’t “live” anywhere, but you “stay” somewhere on di rock
  • You correct someone’s grammar but you’re both wrong.