Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Settling In

On my bike ride to work I encountered a co-worker. We ended up riding most of my route together. It is nice to randomly encounter people I know- especially on bike. It isn't like I know all that many people here. There is an almost private bike highway that leads to work- each day I probably encounter 20-30 bike commuters when I take the back route. I have never seen anything like it in the US.

After work it was very windy. I was tired from the long ride yesterday, so I took the mountain bike out. I explored some service roads around Sandnes. The trouble with the terrain here is that the rocks are huge. I need to find some decent routes for mountain biking-- and not just the urban routes up to the TV tower.

Mountain Biking

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Long,Strange Trip

OK, it really wasn't that long, but I had the most surreal cycling experience in my life tonight. The weather was a balmy 56 degrees- first ride out in shorts (no knee warmers). I took the road bike around Sandnes. I recalled they were paving the road to Li, so I thought I would see if it was finished. It was-- and it was beautiful. As I neared the split by Hommersok, I contemplated making a loop by continuing to the right-- but the road lead straight down to sea level. I chose the road less traveled- the left fork that actually went to Li- a place with maybe 50 people.

The blind corner hid the fact that this too went straight down to the water, although the pavement was in rough shape. I took it easy, as it was one lane wide at this point. Eventually I ended up at a tiny docking area for boats. I looked across the fjord to downtown Stavanger, which seemed impossibly far away- considering how little distance I had actually traveled. I was maybe 12 miles from home at this point. I ate a Clif bar, took a drink, and headed back up.

The road was very steep and narrow at this point. There was no traffic anywhere when I rode down-- it is basically a dead end road that stops at the water. By the time I was heading up, I saw maybe 40 to 50 well-dressed women holding little Norwegian flags-- standing in the middle of the road- in the middle of nowhere. They were at the steepest point in the road- nowhere near an intersection or driveway. As they saw me, they divided into a gauntlet- two columns along each side of the road. As I rode by the all started cheering, smiling, and waving their flags. I couldn't help but laugh- but I still have no clue what they were doing there. I presume they were setting up to greet someone- but who? And why? Anyway, thank you- whoever you are, for possibly the strangest random biking moment to date.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ascension Day

Tomorrow is a national holiday- meaning no work. It was cold today- maybe 10c. Somehow mountain biking is preferable on these kinds of days. I am preparing for an 86k race along the North Sea in early June- and will be using the mtn bike. It isn't a proper mtn bike race- meaning it isn't a technical race, but it isn't a road race either. My legs are still killing me from the mammoth hike on Sunday.

Tonight we went to the Da Vinci Code in a packed theater. I will spare you a full review, other than to say it was rather spotty and overly expository. Then again, the book itself was completely disjointed. I never understood why it was so popular. To me, it was a beach read in Mexico- and probably the only "best seller" I have ever read. Actually, as a movie, it was the only Tom Hanks movie I have seen in a theater. I really don't understand what all the fuss is about.

When we left at 11:45, it was still light out. Not daylight, but bright twilight. The sun will be rising again in about four hours. I will probably end up manic this summer, or at the very least, develop seasonal insomnia. We have another month of increasing daylight. This is unreal.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Nude Beach Down the Street?

So it is 46F- and almost June, and there is an effort under way to allow a nude beach down the street. Never mind the fact that the water will never be warm enough to swim in- and even if it is, the jellyfish will eat you alive. Only in Norway would a city this size contemplate a nude beach- within the city limits. Seriously, you could get a serious case of frost bite... and the last concern would be sunburn. Anyone crazy enough to bare it all in this climate deserves the opportunity.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Little Hike

We interrupt our regularly schedule blogging to bring you coverage of a local hiking event. Lise talked me into this- it was only 11km. 11 km and how many meters vertically? We took an easy pace and finished in about 5 hours. There were two routes- one that had four "peaks" and one with seven. At the top of each we had our cards clipped. I am guessing over a thousand people participated, and a few dogs. I was amazed at all the little kids literally running circles around us. The weather was fine, but the cloud cover, temperature, and wind was quite variable.

The ocean is off in the distance.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

My Favorite Hill

I discovered my favorite hill: 700 feet of climbing with no rest in sight. I seriously thought it would never end. The road curved just enough that I had no idea how far it rose. I was on my moutain bike and tried to take a service road down, which messed up my data. Next time I will take my road bike. This would be a great place to do intervals.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hills and Bills

We met with our bank to finalize our mortgage. I had a little freak out when I thought the insurance we were forced to purchase (by the real estate company) was for pest insurance, but it turns out it was what we originally thought it was for. It is still a scam run by Notar, but they were upfront about it in the prospectus. The racket runs like this: the buyer is required to purchase a form of insurance that covers any major problem that occurs in the first five years of ownership. It costs close to $2000US and has a $2000 deductible, so you can see the odds of there ever being a payout are slim to none. It really serves as an additional commission for the agent. Our banker caught this, and phoned our agent, who was very rude to her. In fact, he said they would have never accepted our bid if we questioned the payment. This certainly points to the concept that this is about generating revenue for the real estate company-- not a way to truly protect the buyer or seller. I can understand a bank mandating home owners insurance. I can understand requiring binding arbitration in the event of a dispute. I cannot understand requiring a bad insurance policy.

The trouble was, we asked about this at closing, and were told exactly what I mentioned above. Today, I was convinced our banker said it was some sort of pest insurance- like if the house had termites. I was furious, feeling as though I had been lied to. I plotted stalking the agent, and swiping the sign up list of interested customers at his showings, and handing out leaflets exposing their scam. When we returned home from the bank, I tried to decipher the policy that was in our closing documents, and it mentioned nothing about pests. I was furious. I dug into the guts of the document, which was written in Norwegian legalese-- which is still very foreign to me. Most legal documents are cryptic by design, and this was no exception. My wife's cooler head wanted nothing to do with this.

I picked up my new seatpost- the original post was too short, so I have a Skyscraper post by some brand I have never heard of before. The price was right. They had to special order it due to the odd Bianchi diameter. I then took off on a quick mountain bike ride through the neighborhood. The bike finally felt right- the fit is now excellent. As you can see, there are some serious hills around here. I returned home, and Lise deciphered the insurance document. I don't know how I had the impression it was pest insurance-- it was exactly as we were originally told. It is a buyer-seller insurance. My anger instantly evaporated. It still is a bad deal, but I recall it disclosed in the prospectus and at closing. It was as we originally thought. I would never choose to buy it, but it was part of the package. My anger was at the thought of being lied to. That is one issue that drives me nuts. But as long as there is no deceit, I can regard it as the cost of doing business. I really need to brush up on my Norwegian... but then again, Lise had the same impression as I did when we left the bank, so I guess it isn't just me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

17th of May

NRK, the main TV network, broadcast this weekend's "celebration" from Minneapolis. With a few carefully chosen camera angles, they made it appear there were a lot of people in Loring Park. We saw a friend from the consulate. Also, the weather looked no better than what we have in store for us today.

After seeing a few interviews with Norwegian-Americans, I wonder what Norwegians really think.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Manufacturing Consent

While America was busy watching the latest episode of Desperate Housewives (or whatever else), Swedish Television- network TV, that is, was showing Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent. Somehow, this absurb situation sort of makes his point.

Before I Move On

I was up at 5am today-- the sun rises ridiculously early. Also, everything is lush and green- there are leaves. In the brief time I was away, spring arrived.

A few observations about India: Indians "talk funny" because English is usually not the main language. It is the language that united the country, but there are thousands of different tongues throughout the nation. Tamil is the main language in Chennai. Most Indians communicate with each other in Tamil- not English. Most of our employees know two other languages, in addition to Tamil and English. Also, the Indians that have lived abroad speak much better English than the ones still in India. They truly have their own dialect.

Swatstikas: They are everywhere- on buildings, vehicle stickers, signs, all over. They have been around well before Hitler and they are still used today.

Piercings: Old women with multiple nose, ear, and lip piercings-- or almost more shocking: infants and toddlers with pierced ears- both girls and boys.

Numbers: Indians have different number units when accounting, like "lacs." Rather than using a system like 1,000,000,000 they use a counting scheme like this: 10,00,00,000. I about went crazy going over the financial data at the accountants when I tried to compare things to the Norwegian books. Norway is far from perfect, using,00. The switching of commas and periods drove me insane trying to create an Excel spreadsheet with a Norsk version- since semicolons are used in place of commas for conditional statements).

Work life: Good employers usually provide free lunch, and free pickup and drop off to and from work for employees that work outside normal work hours (live evenings and weekends).

Numbers: In Tidal Park, there are currently 15,000 IT professionals working in one office building. They are in the process of building FIFTY of these buildings! Tidal already charges Western leasing rates. Companies can receive STPI status- freeing them from ten year's of taxes in India. Microsoft is planning to start an office here. These people are hungry and motivated. I had a sad feeling that Chennai will never be the same as I was leaving. I really don't see how creating IT supercenters here and in Banglalore will really help the 70% of Indians who still live in rural areas. Think about that- 70%. It is like a preindustrial inversion of most of the rest of the world. Chennai is already overcrowded and its infrastructure is in shambles. Sure, there will be a trickle down effect, but it is only a matter of time before companies stop hiring a crew of a dozen employees to open doors, and install automatic doors. At some point, big business values will take over.

Life is cheap: It still disturbs me thinking about small children clinging to the handlbars of a motorcycle as they sit on the gas tank as they are driving around town- or seeing an entire family on one. Helmets are rarely used. Seatbelts are almost never used. Cars pass bicyclists and pedestrians within inches. There are no parks or green zones. The rivers look like sewers. There seems to be no garbage pickup. All this, and Chennai is considered one of the least polluted cities in India. Yet nobody seems to complain.

The work force: We are really dealing with a very motivated work force. They have no social welfare system, and all you have to do is walk down the street to see its effects- elderly women stringing flowers together, people picking through garbage- poverty is in your face in Chennai. Even opening doors seems like a good job in comparison. I worry about the future of the US. Kids seem to be motivated as consumers, but not as earners. Poverty is very relative in America. I worked with countless welfare recipients who owned cell phones, had cable TV, and air conditioned apartments (and a car). I have never seen a malnourished American-- usually it is quite the contrary.

Education: Everyone I interviewed had multiple degrees- usually with a masters of some sort. I realize their system is different than in the US- and education is much cheaper in India. But they value education, while in the US, post-secondary education is becoming more and more like health care: prohibitively expensive.

Social values: I am guessing when there are life or death issues staring you in the face as you walk/bike/motorcycle down the street, that it becomes frivolous to think about drinking alcohol or using drugs. People are faced with constant reminders of how bad life can become- why make matters worse? It really makes me think about how much waste of talent, money, and resources there is in the US. As a perfect metaphor, I saw shops that repaired cell phones- or TVs (and even sold used ones). Most people in the US/Europe consider modern consumer electronics to be disposible. My guess is we really use it as an excuse to step up to the plate to fulfill our role as good consumers again.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Judas Thomas

My flight left at 2am last night, so I am a little tired. It must have been an auspicious day for travel, as the plane was full-- but I managed to sleep- although it was punctuated by a surreal Tamil movie that was showing. Tamal movies are usually insane musicals with a million people dancing violently and singing. There is usually a theme about a young people trying to cope with traditional family values, like arranged marriages-- even if their father is in organized crime.

Before I left for the airport, the new manager that I hired stopped by the office to wish me a good flight and to give me a gift-- the Hindu "bible." He said it might be interesting to read to provide some insight into the work culture. It was interesting to be approached this way-- gently, as he was not trying to convert me. Earlier in the week I was put off by one of the Norwegians that I encountered during my stay who was active in a church that was established by missionaries. I find it offensive to try to convert anyone from what is probably the most peaceful and non-violent religion in the world. For such a crowded and chaotic city, there was no evidence of road rage, or agression. For a city of such stark contrasts, where I carried more than a month's local salary in my wallet as "walking around money" (and where I stood out), I never felt unsafe. There may be some petty crime here and there, and some religous/political conflict from time to time, but it isn't the pressure cooker it could be- despite the huge diversity of religions. And remember, most Hindus are vegetarian out of their respect for the sacredness of all living things - not because an animal type is "unclean." Despite some strange traditions, the superstitions, the marks on their foreheads-- they really have it going on. It seems to work. My only issues that I could perceive were the obsessive marriage arrangements and the tolerance of poverty as being part of ones destiny. But even that- imagine the chaos of a billion people fully acting out the sexual decadence of the west. And despite poverty, it takes very little money to eat, and the climate allows living outdoors-- and the people seemed happy enough, as though they hid some secret non-monetary wealth.

Hindu seems to work for them. These are not savage canibals we are talking about. I wonder how a Hindu views conversion efforts. It seems to carry the implicit judgment that the converter's belief is right and the covertee's is wrong. It seems rather arrogant. Can over a billion people really be that wrong? Gandhi's doctrine of peaceful resistence was incredibly effective. India already has nukes, and no one, except Pakistan, really seems to mind. I guess I am tipping my cards about my own religious beliefs- about accepting other religions without judgment. I am also fascinated with the historical context of religion, the interplay between religion and politics, and they interplay of different religions. All the strange Hindu gods are very fascinating, but I know little about them.

Missionary work goes back a long time in India. St. Thomas the Doubter (the apostle- not that other guy). He is also called Judas Thomas- but not that other Judas either- see why they need scholars for this sort of thing? Anyway, he was actually the first Christian missionary to visit the Chennai area. It is reputed that he was killed on a hill outside the city, and his remains are kept in the St. Thomas basillica in Chennai.

While there is some biblical "evidence" to suggest Thomas visited India, it is largely based in the apocrypha, which is more of a sensationalized set of gospels- like if Fox News were writing scripture. Call it propaganda or entertainment. Thomas liked to perform dramatic miracles and he was obsessed with lust. There were no garden variety "walking on water" or "wine into water" parlor tricks. These were Fox Newsworthy grand miracles that were beyond belief. Like one time, a young man murdered his girlfriend at an inn (maybe a seedy motel) because HE wanted to remain chaste- while she was wanting to have a little more fun. Later, when he took communion from Thomas, he started freaking out, and Thomas knew something was wrong. The kid confessed to the murder and explained his reasoning. Thomas forgave the kid, since his motives were good. They went to the see her body and Thomas prayed and had the kid hold her hand and "poof," she sprung back to life.

You can't go around pulling stunts like that and not attract some attention. Eventually Thomas met the wrong end of a spear because he converted one of the king's wives. I cannot help but wonder the logistics of spending that much time with her that he could convert her, but I have no idea what life was in the 2nd century in India. And although dead, Thomas' bones were still able to perform miracles.

The official catholic church largely debunked the Acts of Thomas as heretical in one of their fancy councils. I can sort of see why. Yhere are other apocryphal Thomas books lumped into the not-ready-for-primetime camp, like the the Gospel of Thomas, which is mostly about a bunch of "sayings" from Jesus. It is like a chick flick-- almost all dialog and very little action. And then there is the strange Book of Thomas the Contender, which thoroughly documents sexual frustration and celibracy (which was a burning theme for Tom). Even in the Acts of Thomas, he interrupts a newly married royal couple in the bedroom on their honeymoon, pre-coiutus to ensure they abstain from consummating their marriage. I am quite sure he was no fun at parties or social gatherings. There is also the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which outlines how precocious Jesus was when he was in school, like making clay birds in class, then bringing them to life. I can only imagine the parent-teacher conferences, or what his classmates must have nicknamed him.

Some consider this entire Thomas in India business to be a controversial deceit played upon the Indians by the first Portugeuse missionaries who gave the city its original name, Madras. Maybe he wasn't in Madras, but I think there is plenty of evidence to suggest he was poking around the country. My guess is that his bizarre and violent miracles, the raising of the dead, taking confessions from talking donkeys, and his kidnapping of virgins probably created enough negative publicity that martydom was inevitable-- wherever that was.

One good thing about Christianity in India, however, is that it has provided Indian names that I can pronounce, like David or John. Some Hindus have also woven Jesus into their belief system- and most seem to acknowledge that he was a pretty cool guy who stood for some good values. I have even seen surreal Hindu-styled Jesus statues. Too bad he surrounded himself with such weirdos- like this Judas Thomas guy that Jesus called his "twin".

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday Photos

I leave tonight. It feels like I have been here for months. This is truly the most foreign place I have ever been. I only see other westerners in hotel restaurants. When I packed, I forgot a nail clipper. I really, really needed one, so I ventured out into the mid90 degree heat at 9am. The driver asked if I was actually walking or needed a ride. I walked. I ended up finding a nail clipper for 45 rupees. The price wasn't marked, so I am guessing he gouged me- but it is still a fraction of what it would cost in Norway. So far I have spent none of the 5000 rupee I withdrew from an ATM, except to visit an ancient temple. The temple cost 5 rupee for Indians or 250 for foreigners (around $5). I really didn't have a problem with that. There really are two economies that are beginning to collide. And now Microsoft is entering Chennai. This place will never be the same.
Workers loading propane tanks for delivery- by bike. Everything is slow and labor intensive by design. Signs are hand painted, automatic door openers do not exist- they would cost countless jobs in this city. I could go on and on.
A closer view on an "auto" parked in the shade.

Another auto- they are everywhere. I have seen as many as eight people jammed in back. They are slow- and sound like they have a chainsaw motor.
Chalk diagrams such as this seem to mark the entryway to most homes around here.

A little rush hour traffic for your enjoyment. There are no freeways in this huge city. Think about it!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Quiet Outside

It is quieting down outside. I checked the temperature- it is 97. Our cook- who makes amazing Indian dishes, although I really don't want to know how she does it- joined us for lunch today. I was a little surprised to watch her eat rice with her bare hand.

I also cannot get accustomed to the practice of the Indian women standing up whenever I walk into a room. So here I am, sitting next to a Guatamalan woman, a Norwegian man, and across from an Indian woman as an American living in Norway at the office in India. You cannot fight globalism. Like the weather, it is boiling over.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I went for a walk today, and was less put off by the chaos on the street. I find that I really capture the sights and sounds when I am not enclosed in a glass cage. In many ways, my office feels like a prison as well, with bars over the windows, windows that are frosted over, high walls, gates, and guards. The streets are full of all sorts of smells- and seeing people urinating along busy streets in full view is common. Advertising is everywhere- like a collage. Even the road work barricades carry logos and advertising of banks and phone companies. One brilliant idea is the countdown clocks at the few stoplights. They are sponsored by the Hindu newspaper- and they countdown how many seconds until the light changes (either to red or green). The entire time you watch it, the newspaper's name flashes.

As I walked, I found people staring at me. I don't know if it was because I was the only westerner in sight, or because I was the only person sweating. It was 95 degrees today. Somehow the locals don't seem to break a sweat. I don't understand.

If this doesn't look like a high tech digital studio and color lab, I don't know what does!

The only actual beggar I encountered. This guy was so visibly impaired that it was truly disturbing. He appeared to be mentally retarded with some physical problems as well. His hands were contorted, and he walked with a very unsteady gait. He could not speak. He held out his hand, and every Indian I saw gave him a coin. He came up to me and I really didn't mind parting with a 100 rupee bill. With great effort he managed to get it in his pocket. Walking around barefoot through the rubbish and filth of the city is not uncommon. I wonder how this guy lives- there isn't quite the safety net we are comfortable with in Europe and North America.
While I have seen hundreds of dogs running free, this is the first cat- a mangey little kitten.

This is the standard issue Indian dog. They sleep in the middle of the street- or sidewalk. They actually look dead, like road kill, until you startle them. Then they magically spring to life and trot out of the way, careful that they do not break a sweat.


A hand bike.

This motorcycle only had three people- four and five are also common. Helmets? Forget about it. I haven't seen a child seat in a car since I arrived, and seat belt use is for foreigners.

Never mind the bike, check out that pot hole! These utility trikes have steel rods reinforcing the front wheels. I have probably seen up to a half ton of water, rice-- you name it being biked around.

A streetside bike shop. After work, the tires (all of them already well used) are tossed up in the tree for safe keeping.

A bike with a bunch of empty water jugs attached. I found out how the back alley shacks deal with water- there are public little water towers that people can pump out of. They then carry their water home.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


This is for people displaced by the tsunami a few years ago. This area was hit rather hard in terms of the number of people displaced, although it had relatively few deaths.


On Target

I woke up- and I am still here. Yesterday, after eating at a Pizza Hut (not my choice). Backup- pepperoni has been banned by the government here, and most of the pizzas had chicken. The entire place reeked of curry and India spices. India pop music was playing on the speakers, and the TVs showed American professional wrestling. The Pizza Hut logo was the only thing this restaurant shared in common with its American cousins. Actually, I hate Pizza Hut- they are the McDonalds of pizza-- but I despise all pizza chains. I despise it so much that we we went to the hotel for dinner later that night, I ordered a real pizza. BTW- I am not staying at a hotel, but hotels offer safe food, and they are cheap by US standards, and dirty cheap by Norwegian standards. A decent restaurant meal in Norway can easily set you back by over $100us for a couple- if not per person. Most of your business meals are more like $150 per person. Here we pay closer to $30 for what is a fine dining experience most other places.

Anyway, the logistics are that I am staying upstairs abover our office. It is like having two hotel rooms. Each has a very large bedroom and a private bath- and AC- which is great as long as the power works. I feel like a prisoner here. All the windows in the house have frosted glass, so I cannot see out. There are bars over the windows, and no screens. I do not want to open them and let malaria infected mosquitos in. Our compound has high walls, gates, and a guard. I have been rather inactive, so I thought I would go for a walk. About two blocks away I realized how ridiculous this was. The sidewalk didn't exist. Cars, scooters, rickshaws, motorcycles, and bikes were passing within inches of me. It was a stressful few blocks before I turned around and headed home. It is impossible to cross the streets. There are no stop signs or traffic signals around here. At the major roads, they turn them off at night.

To give you some perspective, according to wiki, there are over 20,000 people per square kilometer here. I don't know how many that is per square mile- but it is a lot! There are literally people everywhere. There is also a strange class of technological eras. I see women holding huge objects on their heads, people pushing or pulling huge wagons, ox carts, flat bed trucks packed with maybe 100 people- all standing and holding on to the roof, buses leaning to one side as people are hanging on the outside, trucks packed sky high with strange goods. I have seen strange open warehouses packed to the roof with giant bags of rice. They appear to have no doors, so they are guarded constantly. With this amount of people, everything has guards.

As we were eating last night, and I contemplated the huge buffet that was set up, I thought about all the people sleeping outside the hotel. There are no buffer zones between neighborhoods. The buffer zones end up being a series of walls, gates, and guards. Many of these walls have broken glass imbedded in the concrete to discourage people from climbing them. Some have razor wire. Many of the walls are very oddly textured to discourage the "posting of bills"- which generall occurs everywhere. Walls are everywhere here. There are no parks, no green zones, no buffers. The river looks more like a cess pool than a recreational area. Today we will escape the city and head along the coast. I look forward to making a brief prison break.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

No OSHA in India

Nothing spells safety like bamboo scaffolding.

More Photos

"Share the Road"- with ox drawn carts.

Father and son biking.

Notice the lane placement. The horns are incessant. They honk every time they pass someone- and every time they turn.

The Traffic Jam Hotel- aptly named.

Someone was blasting Indian music from down below. We were at a rooftop swimming pool.

Another photo of an Indian taxi- the yellow vehicle parked at the curb.

A Norwegian flag? Actually, I asked myself how I ended up here- hanging out with two other Norwegians, both who work for other companies. This hotel had a French, Canadian, and Turkish flag in addition to this one.

Friday, May 05, 2006


On Poverty and Air Conditioning

I have seen homeless people before- we all have. They are a fact of life when you live in the city. What I have never seen before, and what is disturbing beyond belief, is seeing homeless children. We had a meeting at a software company tonight. As we turned down the dark alley, I could see it was lined with a series of make-shift tents- like a shanty town. There were all sorts of people huddled in the shadows- barefoot stick figures. As we pulled up, security opened our doors and we were ushered in for our meeting. The place was bustling for its late time of 7pm.

As we left, a very cute little girl who could be no older than 3 ran up and grabbed the hand of my colleague. She then ran back to her little open tent. She gave us a big smile and waved. She was one of three children hanging out with what appeared to be her mother.

Despite all this poverty, no one has asked me for money.

There are cute little puppies all over the place. They run wild and sleep in the middle of the streets. I am always on the lookout and ask the driver not to hit them. They all look like the same sort of species- smaller dogs, very cute and athletic looking. There are also the wild random cows wandering around. They look quite thin, like most of the people. I guess this is what most cows would look like if they were not pumped full of steroids and growth hormones.

As we drove back, we passed a major street. It was very dark, and I could make out the figures of hundreds of people sleeping on the sidewalk. We continued down the maze of roads- including some strange streets that had trees growing out of the middle of the pavement, with the trunks painted with white stripes so drivers could see them. We returned to our air conditioned house. I was struck by the notion that no great novels have been written since air conditioning was invented.

More Street Scenes