Archive for the ‘Expat Living’ Category

If a person lives in India chances are pretty good that they’ll be waiting at a traffic light and suddenly hear a rapping on the car window.

Sometimes quite startling if you’re not expecting it.

Lot of times it’s a small child, barefoot and grimy, with a big grin and a tiny palm extended looking for money.

Once, a little fellow, who was probably four or five years old, knocked on my window. Saw my face and then hurried to the corner. Grabbed a naked baby out of the arms of the mother(?) and ran back to the car to show me the little one. Used the wriggling baby as a sympathy ploy.

But twice so far, at a particular congested area in Delhi, I’ve gotten the rap on the window and it’s not a child. The knocker (both times) was a transgendered person. With full makeup and an Adam’s apple.

My driver, who is great at keeping me abreast of landmarks and anything I need to know about the area, says, “Man woman.” Or something like that.

Bless him. I was able to figure that one out all on my own.

 

Transgenderism isn’t new to me. Or to most of us.

But I didn’t know too much about the Hijras of India.

While visiting Jaipur last year I had heard a little bit about this community. Mostly made up of folks that were born boys but never identified with being a male. There might be hermaphrodites in the group also.

Some of the Hijras undergo castration but not all go under the knife.

I learned that the Hijras lived and still live together in colonies. Strength and support in numbers I suppose. They were once revered in society. Going back thousands of years.

Because Hijras could not procreate they were thought to have the power to bestow fertility and good fortune on others.

The British, while ruling India, tried to wipe out the Hijras by criminalizing the community.  Laws were later repealed after India gained her independence.

Today the Hijras could show up, uninvited, at weddings and celebrations of newborns. People give them money for their blessings but also to avoid their curses. Or to avoid them making a nasty scene at the celebration. Like pulling up their skirts and giving the wedding guests a bit of a show.

In the past they went house to house during holidays asking for money. But gated communities and apartment buildings got in the way of their livelihood.

These days, they now resort to begging at traffic stops. Many have succumbed to the sex trade to earn money. Disease, suicide, death from botched sexual organ operations and ostracization take a toll on the community.

Life is difficult for them today.  Just trying to eke out a living. Being different.

In some ways they are accepted as being a part of the urban landscape. But not fully accepted. And many feel the constant effects of discrimination and hatred.

At least they have their community. People who can truly understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thought I would share some photos taken while I lived in Malaysia. They made me smile. Or laugh. Or shudder. Or just pause.

monkeysign

Who would try to feed that bad boy?

sadam

Ummm, okay. Not sure I would ever be a regular customer.

hairysoup

Why are people always complaining about hospital food?

guyonroof

I prayed, “Please don’t slip in your socks!” Most of the fellas go barefoot.

impulse

Not exactly sure what this is but I think I could use one.

naancorner

Fast service no matter how long it takes. Good to know.

Needed cash so I was excited to see the ATM. Until. Sigh. It’s happened to me on more than one occasion.

normal

Day at the zoo. Adult wristband. Validation!

blinker

I know it shows no right turn but that blinker was flashing anyway. Hope they’re okay.

shoe

Those folks obviously didn’t read the sign.

dunkin

Dunkin Donuts. Not just donuts.

hospitalsign

Sign in the hospital. Way to motivate.

mothergoose

Pretty birds just wandering around the neighborhood near school. On the correct side of the road.

pvd

So proud to have grown up in Ode Island. Malaysian heat toasted my bumper sticker.

pink

When you’re not like the rest of the gang.

carparked

This photo was taken by a friend. LOL.

amma

I will leave you with this one.

Who’s a mess? Amma mess.

 

 

 

 

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I could write about so many things but I have to be in a particular frame of mind to get the gears grinding for certain topics.

So, today I will just write about monkeys.

I have been in Delhi now for twenty days.

One morning, around 6:00am, I went up to the balcony on the third floor looking for an item. The pup followed as usual. Thumper is a Jack Russell mix with loads of energy.

Out of the corner of my eye I spy two monkeys sitting on the post. I was a bit startled. Immediately hoped the dog didn’t see them. Then I see five of them.

Too late. My Thump spots them and makes a beeline for the ones sitting on the balcony post. They all seemed to scramble and disappear.

Then one suddenly pops back up, leers and leans down toward my dog! Very aggressive and no fear at all.

I’m yelling for my husband, one floor below, who is on the telephone with one of our kids.

Grabbing a golf club, I yell at the monkeys, “Shoo, Shoo!” Or some gobbledygook.

Husband comes up, takes the club from me and runs to the monkeys and they flee.

monkeybalcony

I was sort of shaking. The surprise of it all and fearing for my dog.

Then they went into the front yard and made a mess. Broke tree branches.

Here’s one of the cheeky monkeys sucking flowers on the opposite side of the yard.

monkeyfront

I’m no stranger to monkeys. There were plenty of them in Malaysia where we lived for five years. Especially near the area where my daughter attended school. But I never had the aggressive face to face experience with them in my yard or on my balcony.

I’d read about the monkeys before arriving in Delhi. Current count is 30,000 monkeys in the city. Yes, the city. Not the countryside.

My husband thinks that might be underestimating it. Yikes.

It’s a tricky situation. There’s a preservation a couple of blocks away from our home. Meant to keep the monkeys protected and contained.

monkeyres

But many folks here feed them on Tuesdays and Saturdays for religious reasons. Because of the Hindu monkey god. Feeding them is considered auspicious for the devout.

So I’m not sure why they are leaving the preservation and coming into neighborhoods. Maybe over crowding or looking for more food on the off days.

They are scary. Such a menace, in fact, that there are actually measures in place to keep them at bay.

This is what I really wanted to tell you.

The measures in place are monkeys.

Langurs.

These are actual monkeys (and in these cases-trained monkeys) and apparently the only thing that has deterred the pesky Rhesus monkeys in the past.

Yes, langur monkeys and their handlers have been hired to control the smaller Rhesus monkeys. Until it was banned. But still a black market trade.

Brides have hired langur handlers and their monkeys for outdoor weddings to keep the smaller monkeys away so they don’t ruin the special day.

They’re even hired to guard the homes of political leaders, judges, and other VVIPs.

Thankfully, I haven’t seen them on our property since that first week but I certainly plan on remaining vigilant. Extremely vigilant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have a little more than a week in India under my belt. Yay!

No friends yet but I’m really okay with that for the moment.

Totally chilling after a very busy and sometimes trying year.

The other day I planned to make lamb chops for my husband.

Are you sick of the same old “blah” lamb chop/pork chop dishes? This one is so easy and so delicious. Here it is. I’ve used it for pork and lamb.

http://www.grandbaby-cakes.com/2015/06/balsamic-brown-sugar-lamb-chops/

Anyway, I went to a nice grocery and the meat department didn’t have the cut I wanted.

So, I was taken to a very local butcher by the driver. Place was totally real.

Before you get all, “Oooh, Mary has a driver. She must think she’s something else! Isn’t she a lucky duck!” please remember that this is India and a lot of companies do not allow their employees or families to drive here. So transportation is usually provided. You’d only need to be in Delhi for five minutes before realizing this is a very safe and sound decision on the employers’ part.

Back to the local butcher shop down a Delhi side street.

I walk in and ask for lamb chops. Try not to look around too much because I don’t want to see too much by way of a butcher shop. Like blood or extras if you know what I mean.

The butcher, who is sitting, understands and has his assistant grab the meat from behind a counter. Young guy hands it to the head honcho who then asks me how much I want. I tell him.

He has his butcher’s knife firmly planted between his feet. Yes, that is correct. Knife between his two feet.

Then he takes the meat with his hands and brings it down toward the feet clamped knife and slices the lamb chops for me.

Okay, that’s not something you see every day.

I pay him and am soon on my way back home.

There is no way I am telling my husband the butcher feet story. He’d never eat the meal.

I clean the meat and make my lamb chops.

My husband keeps saying how good it is. Happily chewing away. And it was really good. If I do say so myself.

All of a sudden, he’s got a funny look on his face and is taking something out of his mouth. It looked like a bit of bone.

Oh my gosh. What bit is it? I knew this butcher thing probably wasn’t a good idea.

It ends up being his temporary partial bridge! Poor guy! Must have been the slightly sticky (although yummy) brown sugar sauce.

Ingredient related. Age related. But not butcher related. Whew!

Just the same, I think I’ll hold off on any future butcher shop visits.

At least, for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When I lived in Southern California I attended Mass in my community. It was always led by Fr. Fred.

Loved his sermons. I would, more often than not, leave with a message that would cause me to reflect for the week.

Fred would also write a little blurb in the weekly bulletin.

I just moved to India and was unpacking some things in our new home. A purple piece of paper fluttered in the drawer. It was one of Fr. Fred’s reflections that I had cut out of the church bulletin about seven years ago.

It is as relevant today as it was then. Nature wreaking havoc (always) and the “blamers” coming out of the woodwork (always) to tag these disasters as God’s dissatisfaction with us.

“God is punishing us because…..!”

“God is punishing them because…..!

Ummm, no.

blame

It sort of struck me as interesting that I should find this-with the U.S. coming off the heels of Harvey and Irma and some folks wanting to place the blame on the sins of the people.

What Fred’s saying is that natural disasters are just that. We sometimes happen to be in the path because of where we live. It’s not a judgement or punishment. It is what it is.

Many folks are faced with personal disasters that have nothing to do with Mother Nature’s force and it’s hard to understand. It might be illness, an accident, death of a loved one, job loss, etc.

We are not being punished although it can feel like we are. It might not be anyone’s fault but still we are rendered feeling helpless. I suppose the only choice, in these instances, is how we try and move forward.

Other times we can get trapped in our very own disasters which are caused by the choices we make. Not anyone else.

This is when we need to be looking within and not blaming outside sources. And really ask ourselves if we are owning our choices.

We are not being punished.

It’s all about choices.

 

 

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The last six months have been very busy for me. At times quite stressful.

The weekend of my daughter’s high school graduation (she graduated on the Friday) seemed especially busy. My husband was preparing to fly back to India on the Sunday with Thumper (the infamous canine) in cargo. We were worried about the mutt. And doing a bunch of last minute things.

We drove them to the airport (an hour from our home) hours earlier than the flight to ensure all paperwork in order.

It was hot. But it’s always hot in Malaysia.

And I was sweating. But I was always sweating in Malaysia.

Had to rush home from the airport because a friend was in from Australia and we needed to meet a group for dinner.

It was rush, rush and rush.

Got home but no time for a shower. What to do?

Brushed my hair and put it up in a clip. Some lip color.

I stunk. Just being honest. So I grabbed a face cloth and soap and cleaned under my arms.

Because I smelled like a person who had labored all day in the Malaysian heat without deodorant. For the record I do wear deodorant. Sometimes it fails me. In Malaysia.

At least I’m aware of it.

Hightailed it out of the house with my daughters and our friends who lived two doors down to meet up with our visiting friends at an Indian restaurant in the city.

It ended up being a lovely evening. The young folks went home right after dinner. My daughters had an early flight out in the morning. My friend and I went with the visitors for a couple of drinks after dinner.

Not a late night.

Arrived home and readied myself for bed. Now, thankfully, I only smelled like Indian food and wine.

My eldest, who sleeps with me when she’s at home and my husband is not, mumbled a few words like, “How was it?”

I took that as my cue for conversation.

She’s not always a fan. Because I’m sometimes pillow to pillow, “Remember your friend, Melissa, from second grade? Whatever happened to her?” and the like.

So I said, “Was a good night with the friends.”

And then continued conversing.

She said, “Not tonight, Mom. Early flight tomorrow.”

Totally respected that and snuggled into my pillow for a good night’s sleep.

Few minutes later I hear, “Mom?”

“Yes?”

“When we came back from airport did you shower?” she asked.

“No! You know I didn’t have time for that. Had to get downtown. I just cleaned under my arms with soap and water.”

She continued, “With the face cloth that’s on the sink?”

“Yup.”

“Oh.”

Okay, I laughed out loud even though I was nearly in slumber town. Couldn’t help myself.  Total belly laugh.

I said, “I’m going to blog about this one day.”

She replied, “Be more embarrassing for you though.”

I retorted, “Not really. It was my face cloth. Who uses someone else’s face cloth????”

Wishing you all a fun weekend! With a belly laugh or two! I promise to be better at updating the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am preparing for another move in June. So I’m starting to clear things out of the house.

Little by little.

And also trying to use up things instead of just tossing them.

I’ve written about this same thing back in 2009 when I was preparing for a move so this is totally not a new Mary phenomenon.

My eldest daughter is home and she is a big proponent of “using up stuff.” As I am. It’s like a contest for her.

Youngest daughter and husband not so much.

My house sounds wacky if one were to hear the exclamations.

Used up the bucket of chia seeds! Yes!!!

We are making dishes to include many things purchased in the past for just one recipe.

Cans of beets gone. Who bought those anyway?

No more aromatic sticks. Check.

Starting to pull out the candles.

Working on the bottles of salad dressing.

Slowly using up the products. The tubs of moisturizers, little jars of airline perfumes, hair oils and face masks.

The other day, I said to my youngest, “Jeepers, I smell like a bordello!”

I put out my hand, while driving her to school, to give her a little squeeze. She sort of backed away and was wiping her hands.

I was like, “What???”

She said, “It’s just a little greasy.”

I laughed and said, “I know. I can hardly put on my clothes in the morning.”

In the end there will be re-gifting and many donations. But for now I am just using up stuff.

Even if it’s April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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