Jun 2007 in Bangalore and England through the eyes of an Englishman

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The Graze.
30/6/2007 - Another Month Gone By

Only two months now until our departure and a new life, and I'm getting impatient about it. Waiting was never one of my favourite occupations. This means of course that they will be a long two months, except possibly the last two weeks when we'll inevitable have to do all the things we've been putting off.

Much of our spare time in June, and some that wasn't spare, has been spent hanging around in hospitals. We are making a determined attempt to get Adia pregnant before we depart to Africa, and since there is only a limited time left, we've opted for the IVF route. I've done my bit, and that's sitting in a bucket of liquid nitrogen somewhere waiting for its incipient partners. Adia is taking a cocktail of injections to prime them up for the main event, though we don't know when that is yet. I tease Adia that she'll probably have twins, one black one and one white one, and there's many a true word spoken in jest.

As it turned out, my sperm motility was much better this time than it had been before. Maybe the Oncologist was right about the epididimytis, and the antibiotic did some good. I could probably do some damage by the natural route now!

The reconstruction work in the pool area at the Taj is now complete, and the result is quite pleasant. The new pool is shallower, the same depth all over, and prettier. I'll add a picture of it when we are there again. They have also converted the Jockey Club bar into a new European style restaurant called 'The Graze'. This was not before time. The Jockey club was usually closed, and when it was open you never saw anybody in there.

On the open software front, I've completed a database interface for D on top of ODBC that seems to work quite nicely. I was going to post it, and the work that I've done on Windows services in D, on DSource but it seems impossible to establish a new project there, so for the moment the D stuff will live at www.britseyeview.com/D.

Stones and silver.
20/6/2007 - A new interest

On Saturday we did not have much that we needed to do We went to the boot maker to pick up the brown cowboy boots he'd made me. I had not liked the heel, and got him to replace it They are better now, if still a little clunky - I'll get him there eventually. After that we had resolved to revisit a shop in one of the shopping precincts down Brigade Road. It's opposite Fashion Flash where we sometimes buy clothes, and we'd looked in there once before for a short time. The man sells jewellery, predominantly in silver, and using the secondary precious stones or semi-precious stones - all purportedly mined in India.

My initial interest in the place had been in the selection of raw mineral samples that they had. I have always been fascinated by rocks, ores, and minerals - and yes, that's ores, not whores. Adia had liked the rubies and sapphires, and the first time we were there had tried to persuade me to buy a silver rope and pendant, which I had resisted, though they were nice, and reasonable.

In the meantime, my attitude to this may have been softened by reading the Henry VIII book. That had reminded me there were plenty of times in history when 'real men' wore quite ornate jewelry, and were proud of it. So this time I was prepared to give it a try. I got a rope and a couple of pendants, and a ring that Adia and I both liked. Then while Adia and the shop owner spent some time haggling over the price of a pair of garnet earrings she wanted made, I returned to the minerals, interrupting their conversation occasionally to ask what certain lumps of stone were. There was one piece I kept returning to. It was a chunk of red corundum, which would have been ruby if it had had clarity, but this piece didn't. If it had, at its size it would have been worth a fortune. It fascinated me though because it was in its natural hexagonal shape, and because corundum is the second hardest mineral after diamond, and pretty tough. I asked the man if he could get me a price to have the hexagonal faces and the more or less flat front face polished, and some bevels ground on the front edges.

He must have thought it was a good idea, since when Adia went to get the garnet earrings today, it was done, and he'd lent it to her to bring home to show me. I like it, it has a certain talismanic quality that appeals to the Lord of the Ring side of my personality.

The stones in the picture are the Corundum, which looks redder in normal light; Labradorite, which is fascinating because it looks quite different from different angles, almost like a hologram; Moonstone with some inclusions; and in the rings, black Onyx (this ring strikes me as being rather medieval in character), and Smoky Opal. I have yet to decide how and for what purpose the Corundum should be mounted. They could of course all be glass, but I haven't come across any glass that has the optical characteristics of the Labradorite, or that scratches glass with ease like the Corundum.

More medical encounters.

Sexual disfunction.

12/6/2007 - Scary Thoughts

For some time now, I've had an occasional nagging ache in my right testicle, which I suspect for real purposes is my only testicle, since the left one has always been much smaller. I'd thought that this was probably the result of riding over some Bangalore pothole on my bicycle, and this thought was sustained by the fact that bike riding was not the testicle's favourite mode of transport. However on Monday morning, while feeling around in the shower, I noticed what seemed to be a lump that I'd not noticed before. I did not find this an encouraging sign, so after I'd gone to work Adia made an appointment to see the oncologist who visits Cambridge Hospital if required, and then later in the afternoon she picked me up and we went to see him. Coincidentally she had some discomfort in her right breast, so this was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

When the guy arrived at the hospital, he had steam coming out of his ears, and we wondered if this was a good day to see him. Possibly he'd had a bad day at the office. However he took his time before seeing us, and by the time we met he was quite composed and friendly. We explained our two symptoms, and he fairly quickly put us at ease, pointing out that cancers in either place rarely if ever caused pain. It was only if they spread that you'd get there. So then he had a feel around my balls, and I pointed him at the lump I'd been worried about. His conclusion was that I had some degree of epididimytis, which is an inflammation of the coiled up tubes that come out of and lie alongside your testicles. His conclusion about Adia was similarly benign - the sort of symptoms that a lot of women get that are often related to hormonal changes. He wrote us a script and sent us off to the scanning lab round the corner. I was to have a general abdominal scan along with the testicles, so we could take a look at my prostate at the same time - Adia just the breasts.

We had a moment of laughter at the scanning lab cash desk. The man there looked at the two scripts, and said this is for you, and this is for you, right, gesturing to me for the breasts, and Adia for the testicles. Then he realized what he'd said and smiled broadly. When we went to pick up the results the next day, the ambiguity had persisted. My report was labelled 'Mrs Samuel Teale'. Both reports said we looked quite normal, but we took them off and met the oncologist again as arranged. He wrote me a prescription for a stiff antibiotic, since the most common cause of epididimytis is some bacterium similar to those that would give you the clap, and told Adia to ignore it - it would go away. I was gratified to discover that my prostate looked ok too - that's something we old guys have to watch.

A family group - much of the teale family in one place.

Connie on her way.

The children.

The young connie.

Connie and Sam.

Connie and Sam do Europe.

10/6/2007 - There Have Been Better Times

Connie died on Sunday May 27th. We were pretty sure it was coming, and had tried to get a visa for Adia so she could see her before the end, or at least so that we could go to England together for the funeral. However, on the 29th we got the papers back saying her application had been denied. The immigration official was not convinced that if she was allowed in she would return. I'm not going to make a big deal of this but I do have to say that I felt rather rejected and humiliated by my mother country. I believe there are also undertones of racial prejudice - all those Africans think about is trying to get into some western country. It's almost inconceivable that some of them might have aspirations to make good in their own homeland!

So I was to go alone, and Adia was mortified. I left on the following Friday morning at 06:30. I worked on some D programming stuff until my laptop battery gave out after about two and a half hours, and then watched the little aeroplane creep across the map of the world for the next seven hours. There are other things to do, but I find the little aeroplane rather compelling.

We actually got into Heathrow about 40 minutes early. There was still some credit on the SIMM I'd used there last October, so I was able to let Adia know I'd arrived in one piece. I got to the rental car pick up in good time and took off up the M40 in a general north-westerly direction.

I had not driven for getting on for two years, and the last time I did, it was a strain on my eyes. But the graduated bifocals I have now were great, and it was as if I had driven yesterday. I cruised along at about 80mph, with cars passing me in the outside lane at speed. The traffic got bad toward Birmingham as I turned north-east on the M42, then again on the M1 north of Nottingham, but in general the journey was trouble free. I got to Rachel's house in Bingley by about 18:30.

Eleanor was in the back garden with her dad Dave, and beamed broadly and ran toward me when she saw me get out of the car. She's quite a grown up little girl these days, with some interesting turns of phrase inherited directly from mum and dad.

Dave was going out, so I told Rachel I'd see her the next day, and pressed on to Harrogate, over the back way through Otley. I've driven that road a thousand times, and it has not changed. On the way I'd developed a yen for some fish and chips, so when I got there Richard and I went into town to get some, and had a couple of pints at the Bell down by Montpellier roundabout on the way. I was ravenous, and ordered the special haddock, which was humungous. When we got back to the house I almost ate it all, and two portions of mushy peas, but I could not make it through the chips. By that time I was exhausted, so Cathy and Richard stuck me in the sofa bed in the front room and I promptly went to sleep.

On the Saturday we went to Betty's Cafe at the Harlow Carr Gardens for breakfast, and then Rachel came across in the afternoon and we mooched about the town on a pleasant sunny afternoon. In the afternoon also, Cathy's mum Mary arrived. This was nothing to do with the funeral, just a pre-arranged visit. We had a barbie on the deck at the back of the house in the evening, argued about religion - Mary is a fanatical christian - without animosity, and all drank too much wine.

The next day I felt distinctly rough, even though I didn't think I'd really had that much. The feeling persisted throughout the day, and the weather has turned to low cloud or mist, and quite cold. In the evening we went into Shipley as Richard and Cathy had arranged to have dinner with Cathy's brother and his wife. Cathy's brother is, as the British say, a 'squadie'. A sergeant in some special forces unit who has just got back from Iraq. He had some horrendous stories to tell. Apparently about half of his unit had been seriously injured - leg amputations and such. Even though, as the British government tell us, in the south, in the Basra area, it has gone quite well.

We ate at an Indian restaurant called the Agra - which has quite a good reputation locally, and which is a place I've eaten at before, though not at the same address. Now when I was living in the UK, I thought the food in the Indian restaurants was pretty good, and after I got to India and tasted the food here, my impression was not much changed. But the food at the Agra was frankly crap. I was glad to leave and get back to Harrogate, where I was now in a sleeping bag in the dining room, since Mary had the sofa bed. I thought briefly about invading her space, which would have been more comfortable, and possibly more interesting, but then it occurred to me that it was not a particularly good idea. Ah - the demon drink!

In the morning I felt no better, and spent the day being antisocial, and ineffectually doing some D development on my laptop. In the evening Richard and I went to Shipley again, since Leo was arriving from London, and would only be in Yorkshire until the next day. Guess where we went to eat? Yes, the Agra - and it was no better. I shall say no more.

The next day was Connie's funeral. It was a three part event, first a service at Cottingley Town Hall, then a brief ceremony at the crematorium, and then back to the town hall for tea and sandwiches. Cottingley Town Hall is a misnomer - it is the local Methodist chapel.

I had brought black clothing for the event, but it wasn't anywhere near as formal as everyone else, but to be honest, I didn't care. The whole family was there, and I can only describe it as a sad happy event. It was sad because it evoked a lot of positive memories about Connie, who is now gone, and happy because everyone was glad that she'd got the death business over with quite quickly, without the terrible experience for all of us of hanging around in some nursing home for years living the life of a cabbage, which had seemed to be one of the possible outcomes.

My siblings, Julie and Robert had had the brilliant idea of playing some recordings of my mother singing at her own funeral. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it actually worked very well. As the tape was turned on, and I heard her singing 'My Grandfather's Clock' accompanied by herself on two-chord guitar, I burst into a smile - however inappropriate. My father Sam had tended a difficult grandfather clock for many years, so I was well aware of the context, and the song provided a certain closure to the death of both of them. I patted the coffin as she was wheeled out, and thought "Good on you Connie."

The service was conducted by Maurice Atack, an old Yorkshire lad who was once my Sunday School teacher. He also said a few words when we arrived at the crematorium - a brief formal visit. When he had finished, he went and stood briefly by the coffin, and I went and joined him, standing to attention in my best impression of a guardsman. I had expected the platform supporting the coffin to revolve, and the coffin to disappear mysteriously through the curtains, as it did when my father died. But it didn't. I guess there was something wrong with the equipment. I stood there for a while at attention, disconsolately, and eventually walked away, the moment having passed.

We drove back to the chapel for the tea and sandwiches. I baled out at the Sun Inn, at the bottom of Cottingley Main Street, and had a large scotch on not too many rocks, and then walked up to the chapel. The chapel has changed some since I knew it. It has new roof, and has absorbed what used to be the village 'institute' - an area formerly used for political meetings and some educational purposes. The institute is now the chapel's restaurant area. Julie's (my sister) daughter Christie had scanned my mother's collection of family photos, and the room was decorated with them. She'd also made enough DVDs so that everyone could go away with a copy.

After some time, Robert (my brother) and I decided it was time to retire back to the Sun Inn, and the rest of the company followed us in bits and pieces.

Back in Harrogate, we ate a communally manufactured meal of bangers and mash, and then I went to bed early, feeling exhausted. I had the sofa bed again, since Mary had gone home to Ulster. I slept fitfully, and woke in the morning to realize that the reason I'd been feeling rough for the last two days was that I had a really nasty cold. Consequently I spent the following day poking at the computer again, and doing very little else. The weather continued in miserable vein, and I had to borrow a heavy sweater from Richard. Rachel came over again in the evening and we went to William and Victoria's down Cold Bath Road for a meal that was a great relief after the Agra, and then I went to bed with my cell phone alarm on so I'd get up in good time to drive back to Heathrow.

I bought a book for the flight - "Sovereign" - a semi fictional account of the adventures of a London lawyer who got involved in Henry VIII's progress through northern England in 1541. It was quite a good read, and passed much of the time of the hanging around waiting, and the flight. I got through Bangalore immigration and customs by about six on the Friday morning, got an auto home, and climbed gratefully into bed by Adia. I love her.

I had considered going to work on the Friday, but I was knackered by the combination of the cold, and lack of sleep. I'm never good at sleeping on planes, and the combination with a nasty cough made certain it didn't happen. So I slept for a good part of the day, and then in the evening we ate at TGIF, came home early, and I went back to bed. Saturday and Sunday were much the same. By Monday I was fit for work, but not wonderful.
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