The car is at the garage. The eight year old second-hand Toyota that I bought upon arrival in Bombay may not have been the best long term investment. The mechanic said yesterday at 3 p.m. that "it was almost 91% certain that it would be ready by 6 p.m.". What happened eventually is that the other 9% materialized. Believe it or not, but after years of fairly decent cars driven in all corners of the world I had (and have) gone off cars.
Commute to and from work therefore is by cab, much like when we first arrived here. Air conditioned Meru Taxis to go and twenty - year old non - air-conditioned 'this is Mumbai don't let a piece of glass get between it and you so take it all in, all the sights, sounds and smells' black and yellow cabs to return. By the time I have found a taxi outside our still under construction office tower in Lower Parel and the taxi has wound its way past Mahalaxmi, Haji Ali, Pedder Road, Marine Drive and into the relative sanity if not sanctity of Nariman Point, I am a somewhat broken man.
The humble but o so delicious whoopy pie.
I am also an increasingly humbled man. You could do a William Sapphire type essay on the origins, uses and misuses of the word 'humbled'. That essay would focus on the worst, most excessive misuses of the word, namely by the heads of the largest U.S. and British corporations in the late nineties and early 2000s. "I have been humbled by the decision of the Board to award me a salary of $20 million", "I have been humbled by the decision of the employees of this great company to award me a discretionary bonus of a further $10 million", that sort of thing. And the startled employees would look out of their cubicle, glance left and glance right and ask: "did we?" "we did?" "when?"
I think that my use of the word is more accurate and closer to its originally intended meaning. In any case there is no $10 million discretionary bonus to distract me.
I have been at the receiving end of employee (direct reports) feedback, with a listing of what they like and don't like about the company they work for and what they like and don't like about their manager. Apparently enough not to like. Long lists. Major areas of improvement for manager.
Managing across cultures takes a lot of learning as well as "unlearning", a word I learnt yesterday from a senior HR manager. What's called 'helicopter vision' or 'big picture' in one culture is construed and perceived as aloofness or lack of attention to detail in another.
In times of doubt we turn therefore to comfort food, the making of. Few things are more soothing to the pallet and the soul than the humble whoopy pie (please see my earlier ode to this bit of cucina americana).
There's a bat outside my window. In fact, in a couple of trees surrounding our apartment we recently saw a flock of twenty bats, swooping in and out, eating almonds, wrapping themselves in their wings, etc.
All in a day in Bombay...
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.