A banner day today: my first successful Skype call! Andy's had a couple Skype chats with my Mom in Phoenix when I was in the shower and not able to take advantage of the connection opportunity, but this morning we had the happy merging of decent internet access, joint availability to chat, AND connection to someone to chat with!
We hooked up with Andrea in Toronto for a delightful visit that some of the staff joined in on for a few minutes. They'd never seen anything like a Skype call before, and hugely enjoyed meeting the virtual Andrea.
I loved hearing about all the #RPSupport chatroom folks, especially Megan and her biscotti baking and social life developments. Way to go, Rat! Enjoyed meeting Diesel in the virtual flesh, too. With my vision he pretty much looked like just a blob on the screen (as, indeed, did Andrea) but Andy assures me I really was talking-to a recognizable face and there really was a dog in the blob.
A very nice way to start off a good day. We went across town to meet Srini this morning to finish up our shopping. We picked up the tiles, went back to the mirror guy and he's going to get me some glass globs, got a fine-mesh sieve to sift some clean sand to use for the grout, found gloves for grouting in a couple medical supply shops, and finally found an adhesive that will work.
It's more like a thick Elmer's white glue than tile caulk, and it's actually used for making furniture here, but it will do. I tested a with a few pieces of tile on plywood, and it sticks just fine. I also tested it with broken tiles on pavers, and that works too.
The technique will be a little different, as the glue is more liquidy than the caulk, and needs some kind of applicator. (The nice thing about the tubed adhesive tile caulk is that the tubes are the applicator.) Popsicle sticks would work, but they're hard to find here, so I'm cutting up some of the leaf plates, which are available in plenty, free, and work just fine. And guess what else works for applying this adhesive to little bits of tile??? My used-up eye drop vials!!!! They're perfect, just the right size to smear a dollop of glue onto the back of tesserae, and you can use the pointy dropper end for precision work.
I'm jazzed. Give me a couple days to refine and debug the new "MsryD Mathru Mosaic Technique" on some small pieces, and we're ready to go for the first official classes on Saturday.
I'll have four students in each class, along with a teacher/assistant. The three wheeled nippers and three regular tile nippers I brought with me will be just enough. I also found out yesterday that the students will be working on the floor, which is how they do things here. Oookaayy, I'll work with that, but I will need to teach from a low stool or chair, and I'll need a table and chair for my own work. I'm too creaky and arthritic to be working on the floor.
Andy and I had our first Bangalore restaurant experience today. Srini treated us to lunch at a very nice place. We asked him to choose our menu for us, and relished it all. He chose two different vegetable curries, two kinds of riata, a vegetable-stuffed naan (first time we've had naan similar to the naan we get in Indian restaurants at home), and rice, Oh, and a dish of fresh sliced cucumbers served with wedges of fresh lime. I ate sparingly of the rice and naan, loaded up on cucumbers, and savored two helpings of the curries with both riatas.
We had a special treat with lunch … Andy ordered a couple of pistachio shakes. They were cold and creamy, like they had been made with ice cream, and scrumptious. One of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was that it was the very first really cold drink I've had in India so far. At the end of the meal, we were served a confection of anise-flavored nuts. The nuts were chopped fine, mixed with toasted fennel seeds, and coated with a light anise-flavored candied sugar. It was very good and I'm surprised this hasn't caught on in the States. It's way better than those licorice-flavored pink and white Good 'N Plenty candies I used to like when I was a kid.
Speaking of stateside appetites, Andy and I laughed when, in sincere concern that we might be typical Americans suffering McDonald's withdrawal, Srini started telling us where we could find McDonald's, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken in Bangalore. "Oh we don't do fast food like that," Andy said, and I chimed in, "Why in the world would we eat that junk when we have all this great Indian food here to feast on??"
Even so, I'm cutting way back on my meals and forcing myself to override my hard-wired desire to please a good cook by eating everything on my plate. Kamashi is getting the message and not bringing us so much food anymore. Dinner tonight for me was half a samosa and some fresh frozen papaya (which is a wonderful way to eat papaya, by the way).
Andy of course chowed down all the samosas, and the frosted banana cake Kamashi brought, too. Every good cook loves an appreciative audience and Kamashi is going to miss Andy when he leaves. I'm determined to cut out the fried carbs, and that's pretty much what almost all the delicious flat breads here are. She really is a fabulous cook, and I will get more than enough excellent eating by sticking to her wonderful vegetable curries, soups and dale, with yogurt and fresh fruit.
Andy leaves in a week, on Christmas Day. Actually his flight leaves late at night, so we'll at least have the day together before he leaves. It'll be a wrench to see him go, I don't even want to think about it right now.
OK … some things I'm really glad I brought with me:
My travel coffee/tea cup. The flight attendants kept it filled with hot tea for me on the long flight, and it's been in constant use since we got back on the ground.
My immersion coil beverage heater. I use it about a dozen times a day for heating water in my travel cup for hot tea or just hot water. I wish I had one of those hot pots or tea kettles like the one in our Singapore hotel room. It's a pot that fits onto an induction heat pad and boils water in less than a minute. It's safe and easy for a klutzy blind lady like me to use. The little immersion coil heater works fine, but it's a bit dicey handling the coil without getting burned.
My Mephisto sandals. They're not cheap but they're worth than I paid for them. They support my arches, are more comfortable than going barefoot, and are seeing through difficult urban terrain.
And some things I wish I had brought:
Alka Seltzer Plus Cold tablets, I thought I packed some but have not been able to find them, or the cough drops I thought I packed too. We've both come down with sore throats and congeion, and Andy's really been hit hard.
A whole box, even two or three boxes, of my favorite Tetley green teabags. I packed a couple dozen teabags, but they're long gone. We're enjoying the local tea here, especially the masala teabags Srini gave us, and will get more teabags soon. But a good strong cup of my fave green tea would be a special home-away-from home comfort.