Saturday, December 24, 2011

Out of gas

Yesterday, Danae filled the pressure cooker with dhal, got it just nearly boiling, and the gas went out.

We have been discussing the situation with the gas cylindernot very old but mysteriously unproductivefor weeks. There was the possibility of a leak. There was the question of whether or not the burners have been kept sufficiently clean.

The possibility that blackmarket gas cylinders might be sold somewhat less than full somehow never came up.

So, the dhal is waiting half-cooked on the counter, hopefully kept more or less refrigerated by the general icyness of our kitchen, and we are off searching for yet more black market fuel. You can't get legal fuel (sold by the government) most of the time—it's only delivered on certain days, infrequently enough that law-abiding housewives keep a spare cylinder on hand to avoid doing without. So that would be an impractical solution at this point.

But half of life in much of the world is at least slightly illegal, so a-fueling we will go. Hopefully we will end up with a more or less full canister this time.

(Once again, I'm pretty sure there's something about the way I use 'hopefully' that's wrong. But I cannot for the life of me remember what it is. Merry Christmas!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

The limitations of 'image search'

I'm currently attempting to Google the identity of some sort of four-legged critter I keep seeing from the train. So far, 'India animal looks like a cross between deer and camel,' 'Indian gazelle,' 'Indian deer,' and, least likely of all, 'Indian wild camel' have been completely useless.

Should I mention that they seem to have unusually large heads? They seem to have unusually large heads. Also, they primarily come out at dawn or dusk, in the fog. And only near trains that are moving exceptionally fast. Also, one time, a terrifyingly fast bus. But I'm pretty sure it looked a little like a deer, a little like a camel, and a little like a cow.

Somebody told me there's a deer called a blue cow. This wasn't remotely blue, but ...


... jackpot.

According to my search results, which I have not bothered to read, they come in blue and brown. Nilgai it is.

I don't see why my original search didn't work. How come no one else in the world has noticed that these things look like a cross between a deer and a camel?

Wish I'd seen a blue one.

. . .

I have nothing to say to you about writing, because I haven't been doing any. However, if you are planning to become fabulously wealthy writing a best-selling novel but can't quite seem to get started, read this old Dave Barry column on the Da Vinci Code.

If you are not hoping to publish a bestseller, read it anyway. 

If you can't read, get someone to read it to you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dust and cargo


I changed my mind about Benares—it is now my second favorite place in India. My favorite is Bihar.

Tell Indians you're going to Bihar and you'll get a lot of strange looks. It's not exactly a major tourist destination. But I realized a long time ago that my dream of traveling has a lot less to do with beautiful historic places and cultures and a lot more to do with wanting to visit the outer planets on Firefly.

The border cities of Bihar seem a lot more like Badger's kind of town than Calcutta and and Benares. You can see beautiful sunsets over beautiful places in Benares, but here, you can see a beautiful sunset over massive oil refineries through the thick dust clouds kicked up by the constant stream of trucks heading into Nepal.

There is no comparison.