No no, dabbawala isnt an Aussie slang word. Dabbawala refers to a delivery person in India – picking up hot lunches from the homes/kitchens of a worker/employee in the late morning and then transporting and delivering said lunchbox to an office, and finally returns the empty lunchbox back to the customer’s home in the afternoon.  Here’s a good visual:

Dabbawala delivery system in Mumbai (via MyDestination)

So what prompted this post, you may ask? Well, I went to see the foreign film, The Lunchbox, earlier today – a sweet, Indian film about the unlikely romance that blossoms as a result of a dabbawala delivery mix up (which as you’ll learn, isn’t all that common.) I won’t spoil the ending or the plot for you; however, if you get the chance, see the movie – so cute! Even if the character in the center of the picture below looks a tad creepy…

The Lunchbox movie poster (via Wikipedia)

Back to the dabbawalas.

This delivery system works so well in India (primarily Mumbai) because office workers in India prefer to eat home-cooked lunches, coupled with the fact that many Indian women (wives, mothers, daughters, sisters) work from the home and can utilize the dabbawala’s service.

The dabbawalas are impressive, yall! I did a bit of research after the movie, and they kept the service up during floods, monsoons, even the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai – there are currently over 5,000 dabbawalas working tirelessly in Mumbai delivering over 200,000 lunch boxes each day!

Love this b&w shot of a dabbawala – so cheery! (via Jwritings.com)

Indeed, the system is so impressive (and fascinating) that professors from Harvard Business School wrote a case study on the process – a quote from a report from NBC News:

So deeply imprinted that the dabbawalas rarely, if ever, make a mistake. Their delivery system has been awarded a six sigma level of efficiency. That means they make around one mistake in every six million deliveries. 

“A hundred things can go wrong along the way — tiffins delivered to the wrong destination, tiffins lost, tiffins broken — but they rarely do,” said Sawant. “Our motto is ‘error is horror.’”

Their delivery system has garnered international fame as a highly specialized trade, attracting Prince Charles and Richard Branson and warranting a case-study at Harvard Business School, visits from global delivery giant FedEx, and a series of documentaries.

Intriguing, right?? If it’s good enough for HBS, Prince Charles, FedEx, and Richard Branson, I’m sold ;) Not to mention the tiffins (or their snazzy lunchbox containers) are super practical for warmed food – I love the 4-5 stacked compartments!

An example of a tiffin used in the dabbawala delivery service

Umm borderline obsessed with this colorful tiffin! (via Women’s Day)

So I’ll leave yall with a video I found in my googling – it made me cry (pretty easy feat in my case, but I guarantee that even if you’re not a crier – *cough Barr cough* – you’ll smile huge in the last minute or so): the dabbawalas make about the equivalent of $5(USD) a month, working rain or shine – and always on time at that! I love punctuality (*cough Barr cough*) ;) The Indian head bobble is also prevalent in this clip – love!

Want to read more on the dabbawalas? Here are some of my favorite links that I came across:

Add this to my ever growing list of reasons why I want to visit India. :) Until next time…


Adventures of an Expat: Making Friends as an Adult

Having grown up as an “expat brat”, it’s been interesting transitioning to “expat wife” – a lot of the situations I’ve encountered in my adult expat life are merely reenactments of similar situations that my mother went through during our time in Calgary and Singapore. Chief among these is learning (relearning?) how to make friends…and making friends as an adult is definitely a different experience than that of a student/child. Obviously making friends as an adult is not an exclusively expat experience/skill (side note, please google “how to make friends as an adult”, and don’t mix it up and accidentally google “how to make adult friends”…probably not what you’re looking for…), but expats are absolutely thrown into the deep-end, and many times it’s sink or swim.

This is 100% how awkward I am. All. The. Time.

Bottom line: making friends as an adult can be hard. And awkward.

Disclaimer: Being a parent can sometimes make making new friends as an adult much easier – you have a common ground with that kiddo – whereas I would just be that creepy 27 year old, sans child, at the playground. ;) This is not a “woe is me” post though! I’m just saying to all you mamas out there, use that bambino to your advantage! There are plenty of mom groups, especially in expat groups abroad, and that’s a great outlet for entertainment for children and parents alike. (That being said, the American Women’s Club of Perth has a moms group, and they couldnt be more welcoming to even the childless! Though I consider our dog my child, but whatever.)

Yall – in college (and as a child, as Jerry Seinfeld in the above video can attest) it was SO easy, right?? You live in a dorm with tons of other people your age, you’re trapped on a campus together literally 24/7, and despite my lamentations to the contrary at the time, you have more free time than you know what to do with. I also find that as an adult, I’ve become much more introverted and, well, lame – I like to watch Netflix (or Masterchef) and have a nice glass of vino on my couch – not exactly conducive to socializing/friend-making (I did tell you that I’m an introvert at heart, didn’t I?) 

Probably not the best route…

Making friends as an adult truly is like dating all over again: you’ve got to make the effort, and yes, sometimes it’s awkward, doesn’t work out, isnt a good fit. That’s okay…I like to think that’s natural.

That being said, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and try something new or out of your comfort zone. For example, I went to a bloggers seminar a few weeks ago and met two really great women with whom I keep in touch with on a regular basis.  My mom took up bridge when we lived abroad growing up, and while maybe she’s not besties with everyone she played with, she met a good network of people and learned something new that she still uses today. These kinds of things also give you a common ground with other adults – it’s not a forced situation.

Yeah…there’s that awkward bit again…

But I think the most important aspect of making friends as an adult is that you should always try to remember how you felt trying to foster new friendships/acquaintances and warmly welcome new people, really making that effort – it comes backs to you tenfold. There’s a super-expat (looking into trademarking this term…) here in Perth who is quite possibly one of the warmest women I’ve met, always checking in with new expats, organizing fun events; she’s very inclusive and bubbly – that personality and those traits have stuck with me, and I hope to effuse that same energy when I meet and make new friends as well. That’s the golden rule for ya, huh? Expat or not. 

There you have it…some deep thoughts for your reading pleasure! :) Until next time…

Weekend Notes: viva la blonde

My sister said I’d never do it. Welp, I proved her wrong…and I’m so glad I did!

Blonde and pink!

Blonde and pink!

If you’re in Perth and want to get some great color (they dont just do us “blondies”!) in a great atmosphere, check out viva la blonde – and check out my review of the salon on Weekend Notes ;) Please?

Happy Weekend, yall! Until next time…

Australian Slang

English is the primary language in Australia; however, the Aussie slang is a language unto itself! When we first moved to Perth, I had a lot of trouble understanding many of the fast-talking Australians – the accent was one hurdle, but the slang terms used here is a whole other hurdle that I was not anticipating!

Here’s a list of some of my personal faves:

  • Bogan, most often preceeded with the other slang term of “cashed up“: roughly translated to “new money redneck”. Used a lot here in WA to describe those who made quite a bit [quickly] in the region’s mining boom. Often derogatory and/or self-depracating. You can read more here.

“Cashed up Bogan” Dad cartoon – draw your own conclusions…

  • Arvo: an abbreviation of afternoon
  • Brekkie: an abbreviation of breakfast
  • Maccas (pronounced “mackers”): McDonald’s
  • Fair suck of the sav/fair shake of a sauce bottle: an exclamation of awe; you gave it a good shot/try. I.e., “Better luck next time – you gave it a fair suck of the sav!”
  • Lollies: sweets, candies local to Australia – does not typically refer to lollypops
  • Ta: Not slang for good bye, like I thought – rather, “thank you”
  • Chook: a chicken (there are a slew of different words for foods or abbreviations – they deserve their own post!)
  • Bub: a baby (ankle biter is also used interchangeably)
  • Fair dinkum: true, genuine. I.e., “I am a fair dinkum expat”
  • Good on ya: job well done

And Bob’s your uncle! (Mine actually is named Bob – ha!)

Now, this is a short list – there are so many other terms and festive abbreviations (abbrevos?) that Australians use all the time. And yes, they do actually say “G’day, mate” or usually just “G’day”. There’s even a book (and I’m sure multiple books) on the topic:

Aussie Talk by Paul Bugeja

If you’ve visited Australia, are Australian, or live here, what are some of your faves? I love trying to use them in my vernacular (even though I mostly think I sound absurd trying to say them without the cute accent). :) Until next time…

Perth’s Coffee Scene

Perth takes coffee seriously, yall. Like really seriously. I never gave coffee too much thought before we moved to Australia; I liked my grande skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks…knew the order with my eyes shut, knew how it would taste, knew I didnt need to add a thing to it.

Then we moved to Perth.

My initial reaction…

There is no Starbucks here. No Coffee Bean. No Second Cup. And Perth peeps literally scoff (and judge you big time) when you ask if there is a Starbucks here, disgusted that you would deign to put Starbucks in the same category as their unique coffee shops and drinks.

(Side note: when we were in Sydney, there were Starbucks (eureka!), but they were all literally dead; the other local coffee shops were far more bustling than the Starbucks.)

Gordon Street Garage in West Perth

Gordon Street Garage in West Perth

Some of my BFF baristas at Halo

The Perth coffee culture (and it is indeed a culture, no sarcasm here) is rich and vibrant – I dont know if/how I can ever go back to my grande skinny vanilla latte after indulging in Gordon Street Garage‘s flat white or Halo Espresso‘s long mac.

And I’ve had to learn a lot about coffee and the different espresso drinks – Barr too! He ordered an iced coffee and got a dollop of vanilla ice cream in his drink…surprise!

Which would you choose?

And it goes beyond the yummy (and of course, highly caffeinated drinks)…it’s the friendly staff who always greet you with a jaunty “how ya goin’?” (sadly, each of the five cashiers at Halo know me by name – and I know that there are five of them) and the cozy interiors of literally each coffee shop.

And I’m not the only one in awe of Perth’s coffee scene: George Calombaris (of my beloved Masterchef fame, as well as his renowned Melbourne restaurants) was recently in Perth for the Perth Good Food and Wine show and extolled the virtues of Perth’s growing coffee culture. 

So here’s a [small] list of some of my favorite coffee shops in Perth – and it’s ever growing! Let me know if you have any additions or suggestions :) And to anyone that visits us in Perth (particularly my Starbucks-loving Americans!), I promise you will be a changed coffee drinker once you have a Perth cuppa (and to any non-coffee drinkers, there are plenty of options for you – my personal fave: a chai latte…yum!)

Until next time..

PS – Shout out to my dad for suggesting this topic as a post! :)

Via Coffeenate.com

Blantons do Bali

Back from a whirlwind trip to Bali! In typical Blanton fashion, Barr and I scheduled a last minute trip to Bali last [long] weekend. While I with absolute certainty can say that I didn’t “need” a vacation so soon on the heels of the South Australia adventures, my beleaguered husband sure did. Of course I was more than happy to accompany him ;)

Not 100% sure why I decided to not look at the camera...but Barr looks great!

Not 100% sure why I decided to not look at the camera…but Barr looks great!

Legian, Bali - paradise!

Legian, Bali – paradise!

I wish I had some fun insights into our four day trip to Bali, but unfortunately for any folks looking to travel to Bali, we didnt do anything too over the top exciting – sleep, rest, and relaxation was on the top of the priority list this time around – so no tours or big plans (blasphemy, I know!) We stayed in a quiet little hotel in Legian, Bali – in between party-haven Kuta and shopping-haven Seminyak.

Legian is on the southwest coast, just south of Denpensar (imagine via Bayu Bali Tours)

The most bad ass/random bike we ever did see!

The most bad ass/random bike we ever did see!

Some highlights:

  • Dinner at Sardine – WOW! This place was magnificent – the combination of the delicious seafood and fresh, organic produce (not to mention TDF cocktails) with the exquisite views of a quiet rice paddy made Sardine a special place for us.
Sardine in Seminyak, Bali

Sardine in Seminyak, Bali

Sardine in Seminyak, Bali

Sardine in Seminyak, Bali

Sardine in Seminyak, Bali

Sardine in Seminyak, Bali

Panang Panang Beach

Barr silhouetted Panang Panang Beach

Panang Panang Beach

Panang Panang Beach

Uluwatu, Bali

Uluwatu, Bali

Uluwatu, Bali

Uluwatu, Bali

Jumping for joy in Uluwatu, Bali

Jumping for joy in Uluwatu, Bali

Uluwatu, Bali

Uluwatu, Bali

Though we returned on the red eye (which always seems like a great idea when you’re purchasing a plane ticket, but the worst idea when you’re preparing to board/actually on/disembarking), we returned refreshed, well rested, and hopefully, a bit tanner – we’ve missed the Dubai heat and sun (though maybe not the 136F temps they’re currently feeling!)

Farewell Bali!

Farewell Bali!

For now, back to the grind and reality! Until next time…

One of the cheeky little monkeys in Uluwatu

Two of the cheeky little monkeys in Uluwatu – scared the bejeezus out of me!

My Favorite Books of 2014 (so far)

If you know me, even in passing, you probably know that I love to read. I mean to say “love” is almost an understatement. Sad but true. So to kick off the weekend, I thought I’d share a short list of my favorite reads of 2014 so far!

1. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker – A beautiful love story that really brought to life pre-WWII Burma (now Myanmar)

Via Amazon

2. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – The author of The Secret Life of Bees really did it again with this one. Primarily set in pre-Civil War Charleston, the story follows abolitionist Sarah Grimke and her personal slave, Handful, as they struggle to find their path in life.

Via Amazon

3. China Dolls by Lisa See – I am obsessed with Lisa See’s novels! This one follows three young American women, all of Asian heritage, in San Francisco in the 1930s.

Via Amazon

4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – Warning: read only if you want a good cry. Other warning: you’ll be thinking about this story long after you finish, so the cry is 100% worth it.

Via Amazon

5. The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C Morais – If you’re a foodie/cook (or if you wish you were a foodie/cook!) this book will make you smile. Also great for the traveler in you. They’re also making it into a movie – thanks, Oprah!

Via Amazon

6. Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore – Not a 2014 release, but I just got around to reading it this year; however, if you’re more of a non-fiction person, this may be a good bet. I felt very lost when discussing (let’s be honest, listening to other people discuss) the crisis in Israel and Palestine, and this really helps a layman understand (in addition to another 2,000 years of history). 

Via Amazon

7. My Life in France by Julia Child – Another [lighter] non-fiction choice. Loved reading about Julia Child’s life as a new bride and expat (hmmm…wonder why??)  Plus, learning about her path to finding and developing her passion of cooking is incredibly inspirational! :)

Via Amazon

And although these were two of my favorites from previous years, they’re both being released as movies this winter – I think both trailers look awesome! (Though I am that person that always thinks the book is better than the movie – maybe one of these will prove me wrong?)

8. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed – I love the casting choice of Reese Witherspoon!

9. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – You’ve probably either already read this one or at the least, heard of it. Haven’t read it? Do yourself a huge favor and do so immediately.

{Okay, and since I have slight OCD and a list of 9 isn’t as pretty as a list of 10, I’ll throw 10. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt – After my trip to Savannah, Georgia in May, I was inspired to read this classic. Chilling and beautifully written.}

Have you any additions? Your favorites from this year? I’d love to hear about them as I’m always looking for new reads…especially as we’re off to the beach for a few days! :) Until next time…