Monday, January 28, 2008

On the run

An article in the newspaper last week caught my eye. It said: 'Police chase ends in arrest'. The following was my train of thought...
Well, how else was it supposed to end?
We're on an island!

Almost all roads are one lane.

There's only so many places one can escape to and it's not that kind of an escape.

Not like one can cross interstate lines and actually hide somewhere.
Everyone knows everyone here. Someone's bound to rat on the man.
Fool Fool Fool!
Why bother even making those cops chase him? Unless he a helicopter waiting at the other end of the island, he should have just given himself up in the first place.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rooster crossing

Bermuda roosters are so smart, they cross at the crosswalks. I swear! We came across this one at the crosswalk a couple of days ago, and silly me, I didn't stop for it to cross. I should have, right? I mean animals also count as pedestrians when they cross at the crosswalk, right? Arrgh! Anyway, the rooster actually backtracked when it saw I wasn't going to wait and so it waited for me to drive past, only after which it crossed the street. Just goes to show they're smarter than we give them credit for. Either that or it must have seen one too many of its friends get slammed by a car.

How's that for learned behaviour! I kid you not, this works with pigeons too back in Toronto. Dumb things would always gather at the edge of the sidewalk on the street further up where I lived and wouldn't even move, never mind the oncoming traffic. My brother says they can't gauge how far away the car is due to their eyesight being two dimensional, or something like that. Anyway, they'd be in the la la land until smack, one of them would end up as road kill. Well, then surprisingly they'd all be off the road. For days they'd not venture past the sidewalk. You could just about imagine them whispering to each other: Oh crap, look at Bob there! Dead!
Of course, this would only last until 'Bob' was cleaned up, and then back they were on the roads again, until their friends Tom, Dick, Harry, Sue, Jane and Sally all suffer the same fate, at different intervals. Forgetful things, aren't they?
I don't care much for pigeons, they could be extinct for all I care (in fact they should be!), but after this rooster incident, you know I'm going to feel guilty about eating a chicken the next time around.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Park it!

You know what bothers me about Bermuda? It's the parking spots. Well, it's not so much the parking spots, but rather the people that park their gigantic cars in these parking spots. First of all, I can never understand the need for SUV's and Hummers on the island. I understand the need for minivans, if you've got kids, but an SUV? A Hummer? Seriously? How much protection do you need when you're on the road out here, where the speed limit is 35 kms? Besides, a Hummer pretty much takes up the entire width of the one way lane here, so what's the point? And don't even get me started on how much gas these things guzzle up. With gas prices here at around $1.79 a litre, don't you feel the pinch at the pump?

And I notice it's always these mega vehicle owners that never seem to get it right while parking, especially in a crowded parking lot. Are people not aware that it's Bermuda & space is at a premium? Everywhere! I've many a time arrived at my destination, only to find some 'moron' taking up two parking spots. No, it's not that the vehicle is spilling over, it's that the vehicle is literally parked flat in the middle of the line, thereby taking up TWO whole parking spots. How much of a hurry are they in? Are they reserving the other spot for their friend? What is it? It's not like they're in Canada where a layer of hardened snow has covered up the entire lot, thereby erasing any visible lines whatsoever. And even then people are considerate! They gauge and adjust, leaving room for their fellow driver, friend or not. Take a page, people, take a page!

I swear, next time this happens, I am going to take a picture of your car and post it here, licence plate and all!

There, rant over!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Sea Urchin

This here is a Sea Urchin, found around the same place as the CowFish, at the shallower end of Flatts Inlet. The water here was only about a foot deep and of course clearer. Almost makes you want to reach out and touch it! Well, if you're at the Aquarium, one of their sections which stands seperate from the Aquarium, allows you to do just that. A shallow pond gives you access to Urchins from which you are encouraged to pick up and get a feel of what they're like. Kids love doing this and are not at all hesitant to pick one and play with it, if only for a few moments. Ensuring that their hands are clean before they reach in to grab themselves an urchin, is another matter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Honeycomb Cowfish

One of the exciting things about living in Bermuda (like any other tropical island) is being exposed (face to face in some cases) to so many varieties of tropical fish. It can be thrilling, if you're into that sort of thing. For some are truly afraid of the water and what it holds, but fear not. You need not be in the water here in Bermuda to have an encounter with any of the island's beautiful marine inhabitants. There are plenty of places here where one can just stand by the docks and have a look at what's swimming down below. Just make sure to carry some food with you to lure these dwellers to come out in the open.

This one featured here is the Honeycomb Cowfish. Cowfish are often lumped together with its cousins, the Trunkfish. They are apparently more beautiful when in the water, not so much when taken out. They can be found near reefs of ranging in depth of 3 to 80 meters. This Honeycomb Cowfish pictured here was found off the docks at the Flatts Inlet. It was a sunny beautiful day when I decided to visit with some leftover orzo (rice shaped pasta). A little girl was more than happy to feed the fish, leaving me free to snap up pictures of whatever came into view. This Cowfish made numerous appearances which I how I managed to capture this little gem of a shot as it swam up to the surface. I kid you not! See the bubbles? The bubbles (and of course the ripples) are proof , if you doubt me so. (My friend H, better not tell me this picture has been Photoshopped as well). Honeycomb Cowfish are commonly found in Bermuda, Brazil, and apparently as far as New Jersey(!?). During mating period, the male Honeycomb Cowfish turn a deep blue and emits an audible hum. While I've yet to come across a Cowfish while snorkeling, I think this picture and video just about makes up for it in the meantime. And, as I was leaving, I also spotted a baby Honeycomb Cowfish but was unable to capture it on film (It was tiny - no bigger than one's palm). Maybe next time...


Friday, January 18, 2008

A global freeze

It's been cold the last few days. And dreary. With not much rain, mind you. And while no, it does not snow here in Bermuda, there is the off chance that if it's cold enough, we do get hit with hail. That hasn't happened yet. Every one's looking forward to the weather letting up, especially since it was warm and sunny all of last week.

It's been raining cats and dogs in Dubai. So much so, that areas have been severely flooded. While the UAE had always boasted a modern infrastructure, not much thought was given to drainage systems. My mother reminded me that the heavy winter rainfall has only come into existence in the last ten years or so. Which is true - I don't really remember it raining all that much when I was a child. A family member sent me an email with pictures to showcase the flooding in and around town and one of them happened to be of my old diggs. Along with the email was posted average temperatures for the week and I kid you not, it had day time highs of about 20 deg C. That's cooler than Bermuda! An aunt in Qatar was telling me how it dropped down to 5 dec C the other day and all I could say was: That's it! You might as well move to Canada!
You know what all of this is right? I'll spell it out: G L O B A L W A R M I N G!

And so, here I am on 'de rock' on other side of the world, way north of the hot sunny Caribbean, waiting for the sun to come out and stay. Visiting Bermuda during the winter is in most cases a hit or miss, for those of you who have been inquiring. You never know when you're going to be blessed with warm sunny weather for a week at a stretch. Not that I'm complaining. I can't really. I've got all those Canadian residents (aka family) on my back, phish poshing my Bermuda cold weather concerns.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hardy har har

A while ago, a childhood friend of mine from India happened to look through the Marine Life Slideshow from when it was first posted. He was mesmerised by the very first picture - the Parrotfish. In response he emailed: Oh, that's really good Photoshop! At first I had no idea what the blazes he was trying to say until I was finally able so ask him directly when he came online a few weeks later. Our conversation was as follows:

H: The marine life slideshow...there is no Parrotfish.

Me: Maybe the slideshow hasn't loaded yet.

H: I meant there is no fish called Parrotfish.

Me: Well, here in Bermuda there is!

H: And this is a digitally edited image.

Me: (Wha...? How dare he say any of my pictures have been digitally edited!) Which image?

H: The Parrotfish.

Me: Ummm...I took that picture.

H: The Parrotfish?

Me: Yes. All those pics are mine.

H: Is it? Seriously?

Me: Yes. They're real fish. Fish I have seen with my own eyes while snorkeling...

H: Well, then...

(Yeah that's right! It's all real! Nothing fake here.)

So H! When I captured this as I overlooked the docks at Flatts Inlet (Yes, the water is that clear), I thought of how skeptical you were the first time around. And so you doubting Thomas here's another to prove that ParrotFish do exist (not only in Bermuda but also in the Middle East). Not to mention they're Bermuda's National Fish.

To those of you who are in the same circle of childhood friends as H & I, you should by now have identified H. I mean, I've given you two
clues already.

Tag, you're it

I've mentioned before how people like to toot at every familiar person driving by on this island. Well, what about when you're on a bike. I've seen the more daring bikers drive up along side each other in perfect symphony and proceed to give each other a high five, or even a knuckle greeting if they've got the moxie and a balancing act to go along with it. And then some even proceed have a conversation. Never mind that it can be challenging to hear each other over the roar of their bikes and not to mention their helmets (padded on the inside) sealing off any chances of hearing any snippets of conversation whatsoever. Reading lips is quite the skill to possess in these cases, but then there's always the chance of crashing into the car ahead of them if they're stealing too long a glance at their 'sidekick'.

Last week as I was driving, ahead of me two bikers proceeded to meet up in this very same fashion. Not to catch up but rather for one to lend a helping 'hand' to another. As one of them drove off carefully, the other extended his hand to the back of his friend's bike to make sure he had a firm grip. His own bike was failing and so he need a 'ride' into where ever he was going. And this seemed to be the way to do it. It's the car equivalent of being, oh say given a boost. But it's not as easy as it looks. Manoeuvring a bike with one hand is a challenge enough, but most local bikers seem to have it down pat. Not to mention some of the stunts we've seen being performed.
Often one can see the Motorola V3 phone cushioned in their helmet as they carry on a conversation while driving. 'Poppin a wheelie' is quite popular as well. Unfortunately, the accidents that occur due to some of these careless routines is far from popular. The most concerned residents can do is shake their heads in the hope that the bikers in question come to their senses. Or if their aunts or momma's friends spot them then a good yelling is what they're in for when they make it to their destination, because if there's one thing I've learned about this island it's that news travels fast, like wildfire.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Driving me crazy

Switching between driving in Bermuda and Toronto and then back to Bermuda again is not as daunting as I thought it would be. I managed just fine. Of course, the weather is another factor in the winter. There I was during in Toronto during Christmas week, in cold weather conditions, where the car had to be warmed up before take off (thank goodness for automatic car starters), where I had to bundle up, where defogging the windows was a must, as were gloves. But where the thrill of highway driving was only all to familiar. I could let 'er rip. And this is what I miss most about driving. Not to mention the many many things that can occupy one's time, like people and places. So many things to do but never enough time.

And then I make it back to Bermuda where the car need not be warmed up, a mild summer breeze blowing in while you drive with the windows rolled down, no defogging of any kind required, driving in flip flops (the sturdy kind) is much more refreshing than having thermal socks and winter boots on. All good things especially done in the span of 24 hours. But I still miss the highway driving without having to stop and go every darn minute to get from point A to point B.

Which reminds me of another thing: Apparently Bush is visiting Dubai. My first thought was WHY? In the past few years, Dubai traffic has accumulated to an all time high, where commuting by car from work to home is just as big of a problem like in NY or Toronto (but at least we have subways). Anyway, Monday was declared a holiday for Dubai residents as many of the roads were going to be closed down. It was very short notice and while I'm sure everyone appreciated the extra day off, it seems like no one's looking forward to the extra twice as long commute today. Many a family/ friend have been complaining via FaceBook about the drive into work and the drive going home. Stay strong, people! It's almost over.

Imagine if Bush visited Bermuda! With our one lane roads, no one would be allowed back on them until he left the island.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The nine

How much of a difference do nine latitudes make? Let's look at an airport in two seperate locations, nine latitudes apart, where baggage handlers begin off loading suitcases mere moments after the plane touches down. In Toronto, where at the time it was well below 0, these handlers were bundled up to face the cold winter, completing their garb with thick gloves and wollen caps and ear muffs of some kind. In contrast, where it was nice & sunny in Bermuda when we touched down, all that was needed for these baggage handlers was a long sleeve shirt and a maybe a cap to sheild their eyes against the bright sun. I really don't need to ask where one would rather be a baggage handler.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mind your own beeswax

Apropos to one of my previous posts about Bermuda's Bees, this sight at Bermuda's Royal Botanical Gardens somewhat mollified me. While I dared to inch closer to capture it on film, I had to hold back so as not to blind the bees with the flashes emanating from my camera, lest I upset them. Like anyone I'm sure, I'm not gung ho about getting stung by bees. Besides, wouldn't that defeat the purpose, seeing as how they die after they sting you? Looking at the picture though (and look closely), imagine many more flowers just like this one and many more bees going about their day doing what they do best. Looking at the picture, how many bees can you round up? Looking at the picture, perhaps there is hope for us yet, but only if we tread lightly.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Island style onions

While I thought it was Chicago that first started this craze with its statues inhabiting the city, it originally began in Switzerland with 800 fiberglass cows. These sculptures were placed around the city, paid for and donated by various corporations, to be auctioned off for charity. They were painted to reflect their urban surroundings. It's called the Sidewalk Arts Project and it was only a matter of time before Toronto began to commission these for its own. And what better to represent Canada than the Moose. Oh yeah, we soon saw moose cropping up at various parts of the city. Now I have no visual aids to provide you with but imagine if you will, moose strategically placed at various destinations in the city. And like the ones in Switzerland and Chicago, these moose were anything but blasé. Check out the link for pictures.

Cincinnati soon followed with a mascot of its own, the Big Pig Gig. Buffalo NY with, need I say it? - Herd about Buffalo. Boston with its Calvacade of Cod and New Orleans with its Festival of Fins - fish counterparts. Even Dubai had one of its own, a camel, but I don't think it was part of the Project. But I do happen to have a picture of that. Glitterati says it all and this is one camel that could blind you in the mid day sun.

So, earlier this year I came across in Bermuda what reminded me of the Toronto Moose, the Chicago Cow and the Dubai Camel. By now you should have been able to guess. Bermuda does it only one way - Onion style! But instead of having the onions 'sit' idle, they've been commissioned to good use. So far, I've only found three of them (one in May and two this past week). You know what they say about the Island life. These Onions are a perfect reflection of that.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Drop de Onion

If, on New Year's Eve, New York drops the ball during the countdown to bring in the New Year, what would be apropos for Bermuda? Why an onion, of course. Or so I've heard. This apparently takes place every year in St. George's and it's quite the event, as a result of which traffic and parking is a nightmare. And while we opted to check out the fireworks at Elbow Beach, I now wish I would have been able to accomodate the Onion Drop Countdown. Hubby and his visiting brother were poking fun at the whole dropping the onion thing, but I say it's nice not to see a copycat countdown but rather a 'place' putting its own spin on what would be another's tradition.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Poinsettia

The past three weeks have kept me quite busy - traveling and then hosting visitors on this sunny island. There's so much to tell but I shall start off with what I had originally intended on posting a few weeks ago. So here's goes....

This is a plant that makes an appearance every Christmas in every household. It
's the Poinsettia. The plant is of Mexican origin and the story goes that a poor Mexican girl, inspired by an angel, placed her collection of plants at the church altar as a gift for the celebration of Christ's birthday. The 'weeds' then sprouted beautiful red flowers now known as Poinsettias, which since the 17th century, has been used and associated with Christmas. The Poinsettia is now also available in a beautiful champagne - a perfect choice to tone down the sometimes overwhelming red used in Christmas decor. Once the Christmas season comes to an end and its red or champagne coloured top leaves start to fall off, the Poinsettia can be hard plant to maintain and re flower for next Christmas.

During our India trip a couple of years ago, my mother spotted the poinsettia growing freely at our family plantation. She couldn't believe that there it lay among other tropical plants right under her nose the entire time she was growing up. She had failed to make the connection when she was presented with a poinsettia in Toronto many years later.

Driving by in Bermuda in December, I'd pass by this one house and its beautiful flowering tree. The vivid red flowers were bound to capture any one's attention. I made it a point to go up there and ask if I could capture it on film. The owner was so accommodating and went on to explain that it was a a Poinsettia tree. A tree? I'm sure not many know that the Poinsettia has the potential of maturing into a tree. I certainly didn't. There aren't very many poinsettia trees on the island and none that blooms so profusely as this one. So take a peek. It really is very pretty.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Who wears short shorts?

I wear short shorts!
As you can see I did find the picture I was referring to in this previous post. Here I am, knee deep in Dubai's waters, licking the salt off my lips, waiting for my bag to be filled with clams. Could my shorts be any shorter? Although, I wish I could pull of this same look now.

Happy New Year

Taking in the fireworks front row center at Elbow Beach is not a bad way to bring in the new year.
Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year 2008!