Thursday, September 27, 2007

consulate matters

The American Consulate in Bermuda is on a fairly large premises, located on Middle Road on the way into Hamilton. I won't up an address here because you won't miss it driving by. Just look out for the armed guard at the gate. It's practical that the US has a fairly large consulate here. Many American tourists & Bermuda's close proximity to the US demands that there be one on the island.

The Canadian Consulate in Bermuda, on the other hand, is practically non existent. Many are not even aware that there exists one. If one were to Google it, they'd eventually end up with the link that says 'The Canadian Consulate in New York is responsible for relations with Bermuda'. But we do have one here. It's small & it's in town. Now, I've never been there but have had many ask me where it is & I've had to look it up several times, so much so that I've committed it to memory. It's at 73 Front Street in Hamilton & the contact details are available in the Bermuda White Pages. I don't know how long the Consulate has been around, but it may be a new office established after the rising number of Canadian expats on the island in recent years. Needless to say, it's nice to know that there is one around for when you need it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

a shopper's paradise?

Most of the clothing stores for women in Bermuda are mid to high end boutiques, catering much to the middle aged woman. This seems to be the largest demographic on the island & of course, companies would want to cater to this demographic to maximize their market share & profit. And while there are a couple of department stores, like Gibbons & A S Cooper, these also cater much to the women in their late 30's & beyond. There's not much in the way for those in their 20's or early 30's. This is why most my age, locals & expats, prefer to update their wardrobes with the latest fashions while they're away on holiday or on a trip back home. The price point, variety, quality & let's not forget availability just can't be beat. And let's not even think about outlets for now. It would be imagination overload.

But hey, if you're a middle aged woman in Bermuda in need of clothes, roll up those sleeves, because there's plenty of bargains to be had, much wardrobe upgrading to be done & a state of bliss to be suspended in, even if only for a while.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

watermelon madness

Why does a quarter of a watermelon cost close to $7.00 in Bermuda? Or a whole one cost anywhere from $16.00 to $18.00 at a time. Something uniquely special about these imported watermelons? Try one & tell me what you think. Hubby has already given me his opinion, but I think he's biased because it is his favourite fruit.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

bermuda in december

I have been receiving a few hits on this blog via 'Bermuda in December' searches & since a fair number of you are curious as to what it's really is like in December, I have decided to give you my very own rendition. I had the thought to post this in December, but that may be too late for those wanting to plan their holidays in advance, or for those wanting to have family over during this time.

While it's not as hot as the summer months, Bermuda is still beach worthy in December. For the past few Christmas', I've heard that the weather has been more than co-operative, resulting in temperatures of at least 24 deg C & sunny skies to match. The beaches have been filled with residents & visitors that do decide to visit the island during the last month leading up to the new year.

In the days leading up to Christmas, most stores (especially the ones on Reid Street) are open for longer hours, until nine in the evening. This will be sure to give you more than enough time to shop till you drop! Local artisans also come out during this time to display their crafts & live music is the perfect accompainment to an evening of street shopping! The Christmas parade is a fun time to come out & indulge the child in you. Watching the little ones enjoy themselves to no end is my favourite reason to attend. Here are some pictures taken last December. The Boat Parade is also a must see & a fabulous event for all ages. For who doesn't like to be by the water once the sun goes down to watch beautiful boats lit up with Christmas lights that illuminate the waters. And finally, Bermuda is a lovely time to visit in December, especially for those of you who are not inclined towards hot weather & are not wont to get that tan the hot summer sun leaves you with. Time to start planning your trip!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

40% is so worth it !

What's the biggest shock when you're finally ready to repatriate back to your homeland? Depending on where you're going, lets say Canada for now, it's got to be income taxes. Takes a while to get used to the deductions. You see here in Bermuda, Payroll Tax is at 13%, but as an employee, you just pay 4.75% or none at all, depending on your negotiation skills. Regardless, your employer pays the rest. So going from 4.75% to 30 or 40% income tax deductions is a significant shock to the system, to say the least. Of course, everyone in Canada these days is in good spirits about the Canadian Dollar rising to parity with the US', that some are of the opinion that Canadians are less apt to want to come work in Bermuda. They can say what they want. I don't think the parity is any indication of a deterrent, especially when you compare the income tax rates.

Getting back to the repatriate transition, we have a friend of Indian origin who recently migrated to Canada, from working as an Indian expat in Bermuda. We caught up with him on our most recent Toronto trip. He started to regale us with his one woe on his migration to Canada. When he got his first pay slip, he promptly called up HR for a thorough explanation of his deductions. He couldn't believe that he was deducted 40% income tax. But other than that 'miscalculation', he really loves Toronto for the culture, its downtown buzz & nightlife, the food & the women. In particular, the Indian women. More specifically, the south Indian women. Especially ones dressed up in sarees, looking very pretty at the temple. For 'what can compensate for a beautiful woman in a saree?' (his own words). Coming from Bermuda where there are virtually no single Indian women, especially none at the temple (because there isn't one here), & going to Canada where there's a bevy of beauties that may be potential significant somethings, is heaven to him, or as close to India as he's going to get for now. I often tease him asking if he has found that nice 'Madarasi' girl. For now he sure is in heaven for he said 'being in Toronto with all these pretty Indian women, even 40% is so worth it!!!'

we have a caller

Bermuda has about six FM stations & until recently you couldn't fill up the presets in your car radio because there just wasn't enough to go around. Sure it also has AM stations but as you know, you can't mix it up with your FM stations. And Bermuda sure does looove its Retro tunes. Practically all the stations indulge in the 80's & early 90's music. Let me tell you, I have heard some Michael Jackson tunes I never knew existed! All from his earlier days in the music biz of course. And then there's Gloria Gaynor, 90's Whitney, Luther get the picture. There's a decent amount of Rap, R&B & Pop & some of the latest tunes, but only the most popular ones get airtime. The weekends are a different story. You'll get to hear more of the music of today but it still doesn't cut it. And this is why I have truly lost touch with the hits of today on a larger scale. Here is one place where the satellite radio industry can carve out its niche & a nice big slice at that.

Listening to a contest giveaway this morning on one of the stations reminded me yet again of how small this island truly is. I tuned in just in time & it went something like this:

Host: Hi we're back on the --- & the question is: What is ----?
And we have no calls at the moment. Someone must know the answer. Look it up on the internet & give us a call.

A few seconds later....

Host: Ahh we have a caller. Hello. Do you know the answer?

Caller: Yes I do. The answer is ---

Host: Um no sorry that's not the answer. It's a name that we're looking for. Sorry. Thanks for calling.
Ok we're still looking for the answer & we have no calls lit up at the moment. Ahh wait there's one. Oh, not really, that was just a flicker. OH here we's a caller. Hello, Do you know the answer.

Caller 2: Yes Hi...the answer is ---

Host: That's correct! You got it.

Calller 2: Oh that's great! You know I did look it up on the internet.

Host: Well, you've won today's prize pack of ----
We'll be right back after these messages.

The End...

Just priceless!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

acts of vandalism

I fail to comprehend the point of one indulging in vandalism. Surely there's a more effective outlet of trying to get one's point across. The one act that sticks out most in my mind is the vandalism on gravestones in various Toronto graveyards a few years ago. Toppling over headstones belonging to the departed of the Jewish faith, was enough to outrage the city, on what came to be considered a hate crime & no doubt blasphemous. The perpetrators were finally arrested & they were teenagers.

Bermuda is not spared from acts of vandalism either. It's known for its golf courses, drawing the rich, the powerful & the everyday man. There are quite a few of them on the island too. Tiger Woods was confirmed to play in the PGA Grand Slam tour next month set to take place here in Bermuda, until he recently backed out citing personal reasons such as wanting to spend time with his family. So, as the Mid Ocean Golf Course prepares to continue the tour without Tiger, there arises another hiccup that they have to cure with water. Literally! Part of the easily accessible golf course's green grass is now marred with the giant letters 'qlq' as someone took liberties with an aerosol can of some sort. Now while this can be salvaged & somewhat repaired in time for next month's tour, it won't be restored to its previous perfect state. Who would do something like this? Do they not care about their country as it begins to host a major event whose participants & crowds could not only benefit the tourism industry but an event that would also draw international attention?

Monday, September 17, 2007

dirty laundry

It's inevitable that when you're away, you're bound to bring back with you a small bag of dirty laundry from your trip. And IF you get pulled in by Customs to have your bags searched, to ensure you're paying duties on everything said, they normally leave the bag of dirty laundry alone. The female officers won't even touch the bag, once they know what it is.

So, why then did the male officer, on my last entry into Bermuda, proceed to not only open my small bag of dirty laundry, but also rifle through its contents?!?!?!?! Seriously! What would I be hiding in there ??? I did tell him: Umm that's dirty laundry. He stopped, looked at me & said: So open at your own risk?

I guess he didn't have a problem going through it. Good thing I had already taken care of most of my laundry in Toronto & all I had was a small bag. I cringe to think of what he would have done if it was a bigger bag. Empty the contents for a thorough inspection???

Thursday, September 13, 2007

food from the south

There's a lot more to a country's cuisine than one thinks & knows. If you're one to indulge in ethnic cuisines, know that what you've sampled is probably less than one tenth of what that country actually has to offer. For example, China's cuisine varies vastly from the North to the South & from the East to the West. The same can be said for India. Most Indian food that most are aware of being Indian is mostly north Indian cuisine - tandoori chicken, various curries, that sort of thing. Many don't know about the food that is reflective of the south & I can't even begin to describe it to you. Find a friend from the southern part of India & ask them to take you on a culinary tour. Heck, you can ask me & I'll take you. While I love all aspects of Indian cuisine, I am now more partial to South Indian food, because it's not available in Bermuda. None of the Indian restaurants here cater to South Indian food & I think everyone here is missing out big time. Most of the Indian population that has recently moved to Bermuda in the last year or so are from Southern India (they all seem to come from Chennai aka Madras), are vegetarians & none are too happy about the Indian cuisine here in Bermuda.

I quickly tired of hearing about my parents going for South Indian food in Toronto when they did. I knew I was missing out on a lot. And so while in Toronto last week, I told my family that I was craving South Indian food & that's where we need to go. That's the only place I'll go. Of course, they acquiesced. During our mouth watering dinner at Saravana Bhavan (I had the Paper MasalaDosa), I explained my cravings for the food from the South. I said to them, "The problem is that there are no South Indian restaurants. There really should have a restaurant that caters to South Indian cuisine especially since there are now a lot more South Indians in Bermuda than before." My brother Newt responded, "The real problem with Bermuda is that there are all those South Indians." I couldn't help but laugh. Of course, he was joking. Relax, all you South Indians. Technically, we too are from the south.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

fast food fix

There's enough talk about how we aren't getting the proper nutrients that should make up our daily diet. Even organic food is not what it used to be in the days of yore. Frankly that worries me somewhat, but then there's not much I can do about it. I am then left with the comforting thought that perhaps everything in moderation is a good rule to live by.

However, the presence of fast food in our lives makes things no easier. Such a temptation, if anything. And this too has changed from the days of fast food as we know it. There's a general feeling of disgust when one thinks of fast food now. This recent change in attitude has come into existence due to
the docu-movie 'SuperSize Me'. Aimed at the effect of consuming MacDonald's food, it leaves you feeling a bit nauseous. And how it does actually affect your system is not pretty.

Bermuda did harbour a MacDonald's, but it was given the boot not too long ago. They are still a couple of locally owned fast food joints, one of them being a KFC. But that's all there is in the way of fastfood here on the island. If you're looking for more of a fast food variety, don't expect to find it here. You'd can get your fix back in N. America. With this limitation, you'd expect people to be super healthy. Well, not always the case. Obesity is just as prevalant here on the island as it is in many parts of the world. But at least the limited availability of fast food chains here on the island helps maintain a certian modicum of what should be a healthy diet.

Friday, September 07, 2007

recently read

'There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women in need.'