Archive for the ‘Husbands’ Category

A lot of people ask me if I like living in India.

The answer is absolutely.

Well, except for the air quality. 😦 No good.

Also the temps are starting to rise a bit. Today it is 102 degrees (F) or 30 degrees (C).

Despite those two things I do enjoy being here.

I love my neighborhood. Every day I discover something different, new or exciting. I’m totally learning.

We are getting ready to move. Again. LOL. But only a couple of blocks away. Same ‘hood.

Our house is in a lovely area. But the construction next door was/is driving us batty. It is like Chinese water torture. Every. Single. Minute. Drip. Drip. Drip.

We considered moving to a popular expat area across town.

Big skyscrapers in a gorgeous golf course setting. The apartments are ridiculously spacious-like 6000 square feet. The building boasts a movie theater on ground floor. Along with a gym, coffee shop and restaurant. Even a pub.

The outdoor pool would put you in mind of a Caribbean resort. Swimming through a labyrinth that’s shielded by towering palm trees.

Went to dinner there with my husband’s associate and his wife. They reside there and love it. Who wouldn’t? Very nice setup.

Couldn’t punch holes in it if I tried.

The wife of the associate was gracious. Explained how safe it was.

We totally figured that one out.

Had to register with guards to enter the gated community. Told them who we were visiting. Then we were on our way.

Came upon another gate at their actual building. Same drill. Security fellows allowed us entry.

Last line of defense against solar panel guys, Jehovah Witnesses and people like us who slipped past the first two gates? Yes, you guessed it.

One more smiling fellow on the ground floor of the building. Located near the elevators.

I was impressed with all of the amenities that the community offered. The woman told me about yoga classes, golfing, groups, etc.

She continued, “You’d never have to leave here.”

Ahhhh. And there it was. My hole punch.

I tried to hide my “deer in the headlights” look.

I’d never have to leave the grounds of this secure and closed community.

Which is totally fine for a four day stay at an island resort.

Okay, I understand that there are a lot of folks out there that would love this. Never have to worry about a thing. A pristine, sanitized, happy bubble.

I’m not knocking anyone. It’s just not me. At least, not the me I am today.

I know that no one stays in the community all of the time. They do leave the compound. LOL

We don’t drive here in India (company doesn’t allow) so I do a lot of walking. We have a driver but I have him drop me off at a park or I will just roam our neighborhood on foot. I always feel safe and I am careful.

You lose some independence by not driving. So I regain a bit of it by walking and exploring the dusty side streets. Never knowing what I will see. Monkeys, mongoose or sick bat stuck on a fence.

Strolling through the acres of the public parks with the funky birds and different sights.

I told my husband (we were waiting to hear on one last house in our current neighborhood) if the last house didn’t pan out then we needed to do what made the most sense financially, work transportation, etc. If that ended up being this expat spa resort then so be it.

I’d find friends and make the best of it. And leave the compound every now and again. 🙂

 

In the end, the house in our current neighborhood did pan out and we will move there in the next week or so.

Yay!

It really made me realize just how much I enjoy discovering something different, new or exciting. Each and every day in my wonderful host country. In my colorful neighborhood.

I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Today, I was looking up into the trees at a local park. There is a bird call that I hear all day long here in Delhi. Belongs to the Brown-headed Barbet. A small bird with a green body.

Took this photo a couple of days ago. Not great quality.

barbet

For some reason I associate this bird’s sound with the noise at crosswalks. The one which signals blind folks that it is safe to cross the road.

So all day, like the Pavlovian dog, I just keep wanting to cross the street. Safely. Thank you, barbets.

I looked up trying to find the little sucker.

Imagine my surprise when this is what I see. In the middle of the day. Again, not the best photo taken with my phone. But I think you can figure out what it is.

owl1

Then I realize there are two sets of eyes on me.

owl2

Definitely not barbets.

So cool.

I was laughing because I attempted to take photos at different angles. In front. Behind. Didn’t matter because his eyes were always on me. Sort of like Jesus’ eyes in a picture my Aunt Rose Marie use to have hanging in her house. Always following. I thought of the old saying, “Eyes in the back of your head.”

It really is fascinating how their heads can do the 360 degree turn thingy.

The first time I have ever seen an owl, outside of captivity, was this past January. My husband and I attended an event at a place in Providence, Rhode Island. A Snowy Owl happens to reside on the roof. We caught sight of him while we were leaving.

Owls are cool.

To me.

I remember when my friend, Maria-Ann, and I ran a resale charity shop for a short while in Kuala Lumpur. We had a cute, wooden owl statue for sale. None of the Chinese customers gave it a second glance.

My friend mentioned that it didn’t give off positive vibes in the Chinese culture.

A lot of folks (from my part of the world) associate owls with age and wisdom.

Plenty of owls (with black, thick rimmed spectacles) on graduation cards in the United States. Every May stuffed owls or statues appear on the shelves in Hallmark stores. Ready to be purchased for the graduate-to-be.

Chinese do not have the same association. Believe owls are bad luck.

I get it. Everyone is different.

Here in India?

Owls are thought to bring good luck around the Diwali holiday.

That’s nice.

If sacrificed.

What?????

Folks looking to improve their financial situation think that the sacrificing of an owl will help.

India protects all of the species but there is a bustling black market that exists. Selling owls for hefty fees. All year round for different cures or luck but especially around the holiday.

You can even pay to have someone do the killing for you.

Now, we all have our beliefs, superstitions, etc. but I’m thinking if a person has to kill a living creature to enhance some aspect of their own life maybe a little regrouping is in order. A look at alternative, legal options in that quest for good luck.

Leave the owls alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

My cousin’s wife lost her grandmother the other day. She was, as they say, a good age. Ninety four.

But still. When I read it my eyes filled up.

With all the nastiness in the world that I could cry about this is the thing that finally gets me. Although I only teared up. No fits or anything. I’m just saying.

Grandmothers are special.

My paternal grandparents lived in Ireland (and I did not) so I never really knew them. There wasn’t the money to go back and forth. My maternal grandparents were also from Ireland but lived in the U.S. so I knew them very well.

I was close to my grandmother. I am her namesake.

minnie.jpg

She was a gorgeous woman. With auburn hair and green eyes. And a lovely peaches and cream complexion as a young woman according to her cousin Tom Creaney.

I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately. Not exactly sure why she keeps creeping into my thoughts. But I have some clues.

We bought that new house in Rhode Island during the winter so I still really have no idea what the landscaping will look like in the spring. But I did ask the previous owner if they planted lilacs. She said that there were some bushes in the backyard.

Yay! I love purple lilacs. We had them when I was growing up. So it’s a part of the grand scheme.

It made me remember my Nana. She was allergic to them. And there was a bush right outside her kitchen window. Where she sat a good portion of the day. Doing her puzzles, scanning the newspaper, reading letters, cutting out photos with “The Fonz” or “Donny Osmond” for me and eating her meals.

She did not own the house so she suffered instead of requesting the bush be removed.

Wish I could sit and commiserate with her until the allergy season passed.

I now walk every day in Delhi parks. I goof around on the gym equipment that the Lion’s Club has generously provided.

One day, I see a lady who looks like an expat. Maybe I will strike up a conversation. See what we have in common.

Ummm. She’s got banana curls. I cannot remember the last time I saw anyone with banana curls.

My first thought? Friendship might be a tad difficult if she is on the high maintenance side. That’s totally not my thing. I’m thinking banana curls take a bit o’ time.

I envision, “Hey, want to grab a coffee or a drink?”

Response, “Sure! In four to six hours. Gotta curl my hair!”

Okay, totally being unfair to this woman. Plus I am sure they’ve perfected that banana curl look with a simple tool.

Nancy, my Canadian friend said, “You never know!”

But it made me think of my grandmother once again.

I, too, had banana curls. My mom has the photos to prove it. Pictures documenting the before, during and after. I’d share but they are at Mom’s house. In a different country. Plus I was probably in second grade so a bit toothless. Not a good look. Makes me seem a bit off in the photos.

In the “during” photos I am seated at my grandmother’s knees. She is setting/weaving my hair with rags. Once a cotton pillow case but torn into strips that wrapped up my hair.

Wish I could sit at her knee now.

My husband and I would always invite her to join us. Even for a drive. She would say, “No thanks, you kids go on.”

I think the last time she said “Yes” was a trip to La Salette Shrine during the Christmas season. A place where there are tons of Christmas lights. That was many years ago.

Wish I could take her for a drive.

My brothers and I were reminiscing recently and talking about her. My little brother got in trouble with my Dad one day. After Nana had been babysitting us. Nothing to do with Nana. LOL. She just came up in the memory hashing.

Wish she was here to validate the childhood memories.

Anyway, she’s obviously been on my mind.

A grandmother is truly a special gift. If you still have one give her a call. Take her out. Cherish her.

You will never regret the time spent and I can pretty much guarantee that you will always miss her once she is gone.

 

 

Read Full Post »

A few years ago I was walking along a beach with my cousin, Joanne. She would stop, every so often, to excavate a piece of glass from the sand. I had no real interest in this scavenger hunt. Didn’t really know why anyone would want to collect bits of glass on a beach. But everyone is different. We all have our hobbies.

This past January my husband and I moved into a new home that overlooks a bay. A waterway that leads from the Atlantic Ocean to the Port of Providence in Rhode Island.

Even though it was winter, we still walked down by the water to take in the fresh air and the bay views.

I began to notice small pieces of glass. Would just catch my eye. Here and there.

Each tide swept in treasures from the sea. Big wooden pilings, driftwood, shells, rocks, some trash and sea glass.

Sea glass is man made glass (old bottles, dishes, etc.) that has tumbled around the ocean for possibly decades. The sharp edges are dull and soft as a result of its travels. Its surface, once shiny, is now frosted.

Way back in the day people dumped their trash in the ocean. To avoid keeping it on land where it could attract unwanted vermin that spread all sorts of yucky things. Ships also used the water as a convenient place to dispose of their refuse.

Sea glass was once trash but now appears on shores ready and ripe for upcycling.

A shard from a beer bottle thrown overboard could be made into a beautiful pendant forty years later. Sort of interesting.

I am now a collector of sea glass. Once you pick up your first piece and all that. Always on the search for another one. Looking for the pièce de résistance. Not just the green, brown or white ones that were the popular bottle colors of the day. 

It started out innocently enough. I saw a piece of old glass that washed ashore. Picked it up and put the smooth, frosted treasure in my jacket pocket. Wait. There’s another one. And another. Soon my pockets were full and smelled like the ocean.

After a week or so I had a bunch.

seaglass1.jpg

This vase is the result of four beach combing sessions.

I headed out whenever I could. It was very cold on some days (my husband thought it was quite unhealthy for me to be out there) but I felt an amazing calm being by the water. It was therapeutic.

bay4

I collected the glass while I listened to the Canadian Geese honking and landing in unison with a big swoosh.

Other than a few unnatural muffled noises in the distance like the hunters targeting ducks, small clam boats and ship horns it was very quiet each day.

bay1

I totally enjoyed the tranquility that accompanied my beach combing.

Why does the tide deliver pieces of sea glass to our shore?

bay2

The location. Our home is in New England so the weather and tides can get stormy and riled up a bit. A little more than depicted in this photo.

It’s also situated on a busy waterway leading into a port so I am sure there was a lot of trash thrown from the ships in the past. As well as residents of yesteryear dumping on the shores.

beach3

The beach is also rocky and filled with shells after each tide so it’s easier for pieces of glass to get caught on the shore.

As a result of this new discovery I’ve read a lot about sea glass. And everything that popped into my mind has already sort of been written about and totally covered. By those who have been bitten by this bug long before me.

Like I’ve wondered about the origins of certain pieces when I picked them up.

Was it once a bottle that contained a scrolled up love note? Could it have just been a wayward whisky jug shard that was once whole and shared during a drunken night around a camp fire? Was it a lost and broken piece from a terrific shipwreck?

Others have had similar imaginings.

I have also entertained, in my head, the many ways that these newfound treasures could be used. Yup, tons of other people way ahead of me. The internet is chock full of ideas. Jewellery, art, home decor and more.

I mean, it really is a thing.

Who knew?

seaglass2

There are jewellery making classes in nearby shops. Sea glass shows and conventions. Lots of other things that I honestly did not know existed.

A few tidbits and I will take my leave.

Most countries no longer dump their trash into the oceans. So the opportunities to find sea glass will eventually diminish.

Not everything is trash. In fact, most things can be recycled, reused, or upcycled. Just have to really think about it!

A diamond is taken from the earth and refined by man. Sea glass is originally made by man but refined by nature.

Sea glass can also be a metaphor for life. No one gets through unscathed, right?

Waves knocking us down. Getting a few dents and chips in the process. The current throwing us around a bit. Losing our luster. Edges no longer sharply defined. Clarity sort of dulled.

Sounds kind of depressing until we see the transformation of the surviving pieces.

The frosted hue, softness, beauty and imperfections that are you.

Sea glass.

Really, who knew?

Cheers to your next discovery and have a lovely day!

 

 

Read Full Post »

Mark Twain once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”

Yesterday I received a notification on my phone. From an app I’ve installed.

“Congratulations! 1000 Hours Smoke Free.”

The app “Smoke Free” isn’t responsible for me quitting. But it does reinforce that I made the right decision and I think it prevents me from sliding back into the habit. It charts how much time spent not smoking, money saved, physical changes, goals, cravings, triggers, etc.

All positives.

Quitting a decades old habit is not easy. Even if a person smoked one cigarette a day it’s still a habit. And kicking it can be difficult.

My husband told me he was quitting and I said, “I’ll stop also.”

I was just being a supportive friend to him. He didn’t ask me to quit.

I figured, “Why not? Let’s see how it goes. Maybe we will last the day.”

And we stopped.

Times have certainly changed when it comes to smoking.

Used to be everyone smoked. Everywhere!

At the kitchen table. In the bedroom. Watching television.

I remember men and women lighting up the second Mass was finished. The teacher’s lunch room in the parochial school I attended allowed smoking. When I got my first office with a door at the phone company I smoked while I worked. As did my friends who came and sat with me. At my high school lots of kids smoked on the property.  Alongside the teachers who were also smoking.

People smoked in cars, busses and trains.

I remember smoking on a plane to Ireland in 1983. Looking back I can’t imagine how the non-smokers two seats down felt.

That’s how different things were.

When the tides of change swept in it was sort of funny. You’d go into a restaurant and they’d ask, “Smoking or non-smoking?” If you chose non-smoking you were seated directly across the aisle from the smoking section.

It took years for the U.S. to create a non-smoking environment. But they did. Office workers are clustered so many feet from the entrance to their building. Airplanes have messages all over them. Campuses are smoke free. Even college campuses. Young kids are taught about the dangers of smoking at school.

My friend Mary Ann once said that smoking in some places would be akin to blowing your nose on a curtain in a restaurant. It really is that frowned upon.

I remember once having a cigarette after dining in a KL restaurant last year. You know the deal. Huddled up against the building hoping you don’t see anyone you know. Like I was smoking dope or something.

In the distance I saw one of my daughter’s teachers. I panicked and dropped it. Like I was smoking dope or something.

My daughter said, “Mom. Own it.”

I guess that’s the thing. I didn’t really own it. Because of society and its stance on smoking. I was embarrassed by it. But that did not prevent me from doing it.

I did not smoke in my car. Or in the house. But I still did it.

Even though it was a legal activity for someone my age it was verboten at just about every place I frequented.

Today I am smoke free. I do not consider myself a non-smoker yet. Maybe I feel that I  need more time to earn that moniker.

Not smoking is absolutely freeing.

I did not have to rush outside in freezing cold Boston once I got off the plane.

I did not have to go into the “smoking room” at the international airport. Which is the grossest place on earth. I felt that way even when I smoked. But I still entered.

I do not have to leave the dinner table when finished and go grab a quick cigarette.

You get the drift. It was inconvenient.

Just have to be conscious of “triggers.”

So I guess my message in this posting today is this. If you smoke and want to quit I’m here to tell you it is doable. I’m doing it.

It can be hard. We all know there are people who have/had scary health issues and they continue to smoke. It’s a terrible addiction. I know. I did it for nearly forty years. That’s a long time.

I also know loads of folks who were heavy, heavy smokers and are now happily smoke free.

It’s totally doable. And only positives will come out of the decision to quit. I promise.

One month, thirteen days and one hour……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

About six months ago my husband told me about a Parsi funeral ritual that takes place in India. I had never heard of it.

Parsi is a Zoroastrian community. These folks from Greater Iran fled mostly to India centuries ago to avoid persecution and to retain their religious identity during the Muslim conquest of Persia. Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion before Islam.

That’s just a snippet of a history that could fill books.

Ain’t gonna lie. I was horrified when I heard about their funeral practice.

Sky burial.

Letting nature take its course. No burial. No cremation. Just exposure to the elements on an elevated area. Cutting up bits of the body for the vultures to feast.

Towers of Silence.

I was soon reading about different rituals. It appears that there are many reasons for this Sky burial. Tibetan Buddhists feel it is a generosity for the departed because it’s providing life source for other creatures and they respect all life. Some feel that the body is only a vessel. That fire and burial pollute the earth. Some view the dead body as impure.

Practicality, rather than religion, might have also played a role. The places where these rituals originated tended to be rocky with no source of timber.

India’s pretty cool in a lot of ways. It’s just so diverse and in many ways tolerant of other practices.

This ritual still takes place today.

But there is one small problem. Well, not really small.

The vulture population declined drastically. The birds (the cleaner uppers) were getting sick from eating the carrion of Indian livestock.

Hmmmm.

I learned more about vultures than I ever cared to imagine.

Since it’s India (Hindu) there are 500 million cattle and only 4% of that number is for human consumption. Cows are considered sacred so most people aren’t eating them.

That’s a bunch of cows.

So when cattle die the vultures are a welcome sight. A natural and efficient process.

But due to an anti-inflammatory drug which was being given to the cattle the vultures started dying in droves. Their system couldn’t take this particular drug.

By now I am not thinking about funeral practices at all because I am so fascinated by vultures!

Apparently vultures can make efficient, quick work of any animal carcass and due to their metabolism not suffer the effects of (or carry) any pathogens from their recent meal. Stops with them.

Wow! Truly cast iron stomachs. Except for when humans inject animals with a certain drug.

This decline in the vulture population has led to a host of problems for India.

Huge problems. It was a natural system. And when things break down….

In the 1980s there were 80 million vultures. Today several thousand. That’s unbelievable.

Vultures used to pick clean the carcasses in no time. Now the dead cows and other animals rot in village fields.

Contaminating the drinking water.

And if there are no vultures on the scene? Who takes their place in this pecking order? No pun intended. Who’s on deck?

Rats and wild dogs (India has 18 million wild dogs-seems like about a million on our street alone lol) are all too happy to step into the newly opened positions. But they, unlike vultures, do carry things like rabies, anthrax and plague. And pass it on to us. The humans. Yikes!

Back to the Parsi death rituals. They are still performed but not with the same frequency due to the decrease in the vulture population. Some people are opting for cremation. Those who choose the “old way” will be doing so with the assistance of solar reflectors to move things along. Remember when you were a kid with a magnifying glass trying to use the sun’s reflection to burn a piece of paper. Yeah, that. Same.

I never knew anything about the Towers of Silence. And I did not know much about vultures except maybe seeing them as a menacing backdrop in cute Disney movies. Or observing a turkey vulture munching on roadkill that one time in Lake Tahoe while we whizzed by it.

Pretty amazing to think about it. One small bit of human tinkering can upset a system that has been working just fine. Maybe from the beginning of time. Compromising the health of a nation. And in the process eradicating rituals that have been around for centuries and centuries.

First I was horrified to hear of the Parsi practice. Then I moved on to understanding and sort of appreciating it. I remain sad about the Indian vulture crisis and its effect on the nation.

Lastly, I’m feeling more than a little sympathetic for the Parsi community as they lose a grip on pieces of their tradition and identity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I was never a big fan of pigeons.

Until one was nesting outside our bathroom window here in Delhi. My husband pointed it out to me from another window.

There was a pigeon sitting in a nest on top of our water heater that’s attached to the outside wall. Located on the second floor. For some of you it would be considered the first floor.

It was a good sized nest because I could see the branches and twigs sticking out all over the place.

I could hear her making her pigeon noises when I was in my bathroom.

I was totally excited.

Because a nest means what?

I’ll actually see baby pigeons!

And no one ever sees baby pigeons.

There is a reason for that. Pigeons construct their nests in high, unreachable places. The babies stay in their home for a long time, being fed by Mom, until they emerge almost full grown. That’s why we never see them. We don’t recognize them.

Almost every day I would take a peek out of the other window. She was still there.

Until one day I was in my bedroom and heard a commotion from outside the bathroom window. My dog ran into the room barking after hearing the clamor.

On the ground in the outdoor courtyard was the destroyed nest. 😦

I went and checked for eggs or little babies but I didn’t see any. Just the twigs and branches.

I’d say the villainous black crows with their light brown necks squawking from the nearby fence posts were to blame.

So much for that.

I felt really sad for the mother pigeon.

But then a few days later I was in the bathroom and heard the pigeon noises again.

She was back!

This pigeon is not the only one whose nest has been destroyed.

Happens to many. The predator could come in different forms. Not a crow. But the death of a loved one, illness, job loss, divorce and others. The rug absolutely pulled out from under us. Sometimes expected. Other times, like the pigeon, in a moment.

And what does one do when that happens?

Rebuild the nest.

Maybe not in the same place.

We know that it will never again be the same nest. It will be different.

But we rebuild the nest.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »