Monday, November 10, 2008

A World of Convenience!

Hello everyone, it's been a long time since I've blogged - I know - sorry about that but things have been pretty busy in the US. We arrived here late on Wednesday afternoon and the weather was surprisingly pleasant! I was a bit relieved because it was really not that bad and quite pretty outside - it's late Autmn here now - or as they say... Fall (more like Faaaaaall). I've never seen trees in such a splendid array of oranges and yellows! It's really breath-taking and no I didn't get a chance to take any pictures - sorry about that - because now it's pretty much almost over - it started snowing this morning...

So we went straight to work on Thursday and met our supervisor - Sunder - who's a wonderful guy - from India! He's been extremely helpful with both work and personal stuff. Our immediate plan of action is finding an apartment to move into by 1 Dec and then finding a car. The apartment search is going ok so far, most places are quite old compared to my lovely Waterford flat - but the units are much more spacious and the complexes have better facilities like gyms and pools. Will keep you posted but we might just have something soon. The car is not as easy - the used car prices have really gone up with the great recession here in america, so we're not getting much luck on that front yet. We're also spending most of our time with a collegue - Massimiliano - Massi for short. He's from Italy and in the same boast as us - so we're helping each other out. 

Ok, so now that the boring questions have been answered...on to the more interesting stuff. 
The US is sooo incredibly different from SA and filled with convenience - for lack of a better word! Can you believe that most supermarkets don't have fresh fruit and vegetables? You have to search for one - it's a rare find. Most of the food is pre-packed; pre-cooked; crumbed; covered in cheese; smothered in sauce and loaded with butter. All in a box and all ready in minutes. So food is all about convenience it seems - there are loads of drive-throughs. There's even a drive through Krispy Kreme's thats open 24hrs! Now, who in their right minds would be eating Krispy Kreme's at 2am in the morning? Although - I have to admit -they do taste delicious - we're trying to stay away!
Speaking of drive throughs... have you ever seen a drive-through pharmacy?? There are drive-through everthings here! So more convenience - we were totally amazed. 
Then there's the internet - I dont think we in SA have really used the internet as much as its used here - that's probably because of the amazing infrastructure here, but we've been using the net to find just about anything - supermarkets with fresh food, apartments, cars, getting walking/driving directions with google maps. Everything is just geared towards making things easier - it's really a fantastic and we're still hooked on the novelty of the net - I think we'll get over it at some point - not anytime soon tho!

So, back to the weather - yes it's freezing - it only snowed a little today but it was enough to give us a scare - we need to buy warmer clothes! I promise to take pics when I get a chance.
Ciao for now!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Weekend with family in Den Haag

So, have you ever missed a flight before??? We Prean and I had our first (and hopefully last) “missing our flight” experience on Friday. It was, as Prean put it, a series of unfortunate events that we had absolutely no control over. It was an adventure though and we felt a bit like in the amazing race – we got to the gate a few minutes after it was closed… Anyway, the silver lining was that we got to stay at the Crown Plaza at Milan Malpensa Airport for the night and we know the airport really well now!
We eventually got on a flight early on Saturday morning and we were in Amsterdam by 8am. The Schiphol airport really cool and we took a train directly from the airport to Den Haag central station, where Kamini, Joeren, Vaneshree and Owen live. It was so quick and easy. Holland looks just like a picture book, pretty landscapes and windmills scattered around. It was soooo great to be in Holland with Kamini, Joeren, Vaneshree and Owen. We really felt like we were at home with family – I really think we needed it after 4 weeks of being on our own. Kamini and Joeren both work for the United Nations security (Kamini in the International Criminal Court). Their son Owen just turned 1 in September and is the most adorable little boy ever and he has the chubbiest cheeks! Vaneshree is Kamini’s younger sister and she is officially the au pair looking after Owen.
Den Haag is the administrative city of Holland and is on the coast. Kamini and Joeren’s place is right next to the beach and it’s a proper beach – not like the little pebble strips in Italy. They told us the that beach is pretty full in Summer, when there are restaurants and bars set up on the beach itself and loads of people around. The weather was pretty cold this weekend but I was amazed to see people on the beach – in their coats and boots, but they were there – it’s a strange sight for a South African I guess. We walked around a bit on Saturday but eventually headed in doors, where it was much warmer. In the evening Owen’s oupa – Piet, ouma – Marina and aunt – Rianna came over for dinner. They are such wonderful people and a really loving family. They simply adore their grandson and he adores them right back. They were so sweet and gave us a wedding present!! It’s a salt and pepper shaker made from the famous Holland Delft porcelain – so it’s very Dutch. It’s really cute and is going to have a special place in my new kitchen in the states, so that I always remember Den Haag and the wonderful people we met there. For dinner, we were introduced to another typical Dutch meal, and that was a gormet(I probably have the spelling wrong, but it’s pronounced with the t at the end). Basically, the device an electric grill that is heated up and the meal is made up of many different types of meat and spices, which is grilled or fried on the gormet griller and you have to do it yourself! Everyone also gets a little frying pan that you can use to make veggies in. It’s quite a lot of fun and very sociable. And as the Dutch tell us – If you don’t like your food, it’s your own fault! We had a great time with everyone, and we felt so at home and comfortable with them. I’m really glad we went to Den Haag this weekend but we definitely have to go back to Holland again sometime – hopefully in the Summer and really explore the country.
So chatted till the early hours of the morning about SA and the rest of the family and how much we’re missing home! Kamini’s a real inspiration though, she’s been away from SA for 10 years now and has really made a wonderful life in Holland – I really hope we can be like her when we get to America.
We woke up to a beautiful day on Sunday, and a lot of great smells from the kitchen – Kamini was up at the crack of dawn cooking us lunch but I’m not complaining – the mutton curry was awesome and Prean ate kebabs until he couldn’t eat anymore – Can you believe that? No more space for one more kebab?? It was delicious and we had a great time in Den Haag with the family.
We’re back in Genoa now and have to start packing tonight because our flight leaves at 7.30am on Wednesday – we’re looking forward to Troy and hoping it will be nice.
Take care everyone, we’re still missing you a whole lot. Did I tell you the good news? My boss was booking a one way trip to Detroit from Genoa, when he realized that it’s cheaper by about a $1000 to book us a trip back to SA as well. So we’re flying back to SA on 22 December for Christmas! We’re so excited because now we have something to look forward to!

Few pictures on the picasa site.