Archive for the ‘Musings’ 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  Laws were later repealed after India gained her independence.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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I have a birthday coming up soon.

Don’t mind the birthdays so much. Maybe because I really hardly ever know old I am.

Been known to say to one of my brothers, “How old are you?”

And then I do the laborious math.

I know the difference of years between us.

What do I mind about getting older?

Wrinkles? Forgetfulness? Weight gain?

No, the thing I really do mind is my eyesight not being as keen as it once was.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my Dad. I was a young girl and I was threading a needle.

My Dad said, “I remember when I was a boy in Ireland threading a needle for my Granny.”

Oh my gosh.

I’m now the Granny.

I’ve worn the “cheaters” for years. Pushing them back on my head when I didn’t need them to see fine print. Hair had a permanent imprint from the glasses.

Finally succumbed to multi-focal glasses. Wasn’t easy getting used to them.

I’d be climbing down stairs and escalators making sure I didn’t kill myself due to a misstep while looking out the distance lens when I should have been looking a little closer to home.

I appeared, on more than one occasion, to be really challenged.

Now I am wearing them all the freaking time!

I remember a few years back, while we were taking a family photo, saying to Mom, “Do you want to take your glasses off for the photo?”

She said, “Why would I want to take them off? I wear them all the time.”

Ummm, okay.

See, I’m not there yet.

I have nothing against glasses. Some of my best friends wear glasses. LOL

I just realize it’s not so easy.

How do you put makeup on each day? You need your glasses to see but how can you apply eye makeup with the glasses perched on your nose?

The other day I was in a hotel room. Before I hopped in the shower I lined up the shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in order of use.

Because I don’t wear glasses in the shower.

So, I’m like Mr. Magoo in a steam filled cubicle.

I’m not sure what I should do.

I could be chasing the botox people down, hiring a trainer to tone this fifty something year old body and furiously doing crossword puzzles to help my memory.

But what I am thinking about is laser surgery. If I am a candidate.

Not just because of the makeup or because I might put shower gel in my hair. Or gargle with astringent. Or brush my teeth with facial hair remover.

But because I want to see everything. Without assistance.

Like I did when I was young.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am visiting Kuala Lumpur for a few days and really enjoying seeing the many delightful friends I’ve made over the last five years.

Staying in a nice, clean hotel. Staff has been great. No complaints.

Until.

Yesterday, I was finishing up something when the guy came to clean the room. When I made my way out of the room he had just finished making up the bed.

I came back a bit later and he was gone. Noticed a stain on the bed cover. Looked like someone spilled coffee. And the mark obviously didn’t come out in the wash. Certainly knew it wasn’t me since the only thing I drank in the room was water.

Besides, it was a new cover. He had taken mine off and put the “fresh” one on the bed.

Left to meet a friend for coffee and when I returned the fellow who cleans the room was back. Making up the bed again.

I said, “Oh, you’re back.”

He replied that he was changing the bed cover because of the stain. Or something like that.

What I wanted to discuss-but didn’t want to lose him in conversation-is why on earth he kept the stained cover on the neatly made bed? Once he discovered the stain why not take it off and go find an unstained one?  

Weird.

This morning I hopped out of the shower and grabbed a neatly folded towel. It felt strange. I then took a good look at it. It had holes in it. Torn and worn.

towel

Weird.

I’m not blaming the cleaning guy (stain boy) who restocks the towel shelf in the bathroom. Because it was probably already folded in the laundry when it got to his cart.

Here’s my question.

Who folded it and thought it passed muster?

We’ve all folded a towel, right? And we all know that no matter how you fold a towel chances are pretty good that you would notice if it was torn nearly in half. No?

I’m not making a fuss. I thought both incidents were sort of funny in an odd way.

I will give my feedback to the hotel. But I’m still really curious.

 

 

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The other day I was reading a blog that I follow.  The fellow is fighting early onset Alzheimer’s and in this latest posting he was sharing his anger.

At God. At everything.

He discussed his feelings with a friend who is a pastor.

Wanted to know why he feels so angry. This is what the pastor told him.

“You have a right to be angry,” he tells me. “It’s okay at times to be angry at God. The book of Psalms is filled with such raw emotion, asking the Lord to ‘rouse thyself.’ We all think God is sleeping at times. ‘Wake up, we say, get on the job!’ The anger is understandable, yet misdirected. God doesn’t impart disease, but the Lord will use illness to bless.” 

Some weeks later, this same pastor delivers a sermon to the congregation. Says that they all have a choice when walking through the darkest valley. He said, “Don’t squander the opportunity. Grow through what you go through.”

That’s a difficult thing.

He then shared a parable with the congregation. I had never heard it before this.

A young woman went to her mother. Told her how things were so hard for her. She wanted to give up because she was tired of fighting and struggling. Seemed as one problem was solved another one arose.  

The mother brings her into the kitchen. Brings three pots to a boil. Puts carrots in one. An egg in the second pot. Ground coffee beans in the the third pot. 

Twenty minutes later the mother takes them out of the pots. Puts the carrots in a bowl. Then places an egg in another bowl. Ladles coffee into the third bowl.  

Asks daughter what she sees. 

Daughter replies, “Carrots, egg and coffee.” 

Mother brings the carrots to her and asks her to feel them. She does and finds that they are soft.

Then the mom asks her to take the egg and break it. The daughter finds a hardboiled egg under the shell. 

Mother then asks daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiles as she tastes the rich, aromatic coffee.  

“What does it mean, Mother?” 

The mother explained that these objects all faced the same adversity: boiling water.

Each reacted differently.

The carrots went in strong, hard and unrelenting. But after being subjected to boiling water the carrots softened and became weak. 

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting in the boiling water its insides became hardened. 

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.  

I have friends who are currently facing adversity. In the form of breast cancer, early onset Alzheimer’s, divorce, the loss of a beloved child and the loss of a loving spouse.

All of us face or will face some type of adversity in our lives. Comes in many different forms. Visible and sometimes not so visible.

I suppose we cannot escape these things that are totally beyond our control.

Okay, so what exactly can we do?????????

We can be coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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This past summer I was driving to my friend’s home in Rhode Island with my two daughters. It’s a lovely area near the beaches. Tree lined roads winding by horses grazing, babbling brooks and placid ponds. Gorgeous old, clapboard homes on green acres dot the landscape.

My eldest, who is twenty five, says, “This area is so beautiful. Not like the usual creepy New England towns.”

I exclaim, “What?? Creepy like how? A van with no windows is creepy. But not New England!”

Later on, while we are soaking up the sun on a fabulous beach, same daughter proceeds to tell my friend that ever since she was a little kid I’ve told her probably every single ghost story or mystery that took place in our part of New England.

Okay, when you put it like that. I sound like a monster.

It’s true. I might have pointed out a haunted house or two.

The Westport house where folks claimed a ghost resided.  One of the occupants fell asleep in a rocking chair and woke up with a haircut.

I probably mentioned the ghost of the red-headed hitchhiker on Interstate 195.

Most likely gave the background of the childhood rhyme about Lizzie Borden. I did take my youngest (seventeen at the time) to Lizzie’s house last year where the gruesome crimes took place.

I may have pointed out the lovely house that sits at the bottom of Metacomet golf course in my home town. Shared that murders were never a thing while I was growing up but a few years before I was born an elderly widow had been murdered in that very home during a robbery.

Could have mentioned the still unsolved mystery of the “New Bedford Highway Killer.” Eleven prostitutes went missing. Nine were found strangled and dumped in the woods. And that it was very possible a local attorney was the killer and actually indicted at one time. He moved to Florida in 1988 and there were no more murders on that stretch of highway since then.

Yes, I might have shared a story or two.

Dear Norah,

I’m very sorry and hope that you realize it’s not New England that’s creepy. Stuff happens everywhere.

It’s just your Mom who is creepy.

Hope I didn’t do too much damage. I’m just thankful that I spent a lot of quality, non-creepy time with you when you were young.

I absolutely loved cuddling up with you at bedtime every evening while reading you many, many wonderful fairy tales. As you peacefully drifted off to sleep.

Like Snow White and her killer stepmother. The orphaned Bambi who yearns for his murdered mother. Three little pigs trying to protect themselves from the wolf who wants to destroy their home. Hansel and Gretel’s great escape from the witch who attempted to burn them alive in an oven. And so many others.

I pray that, in some small way, it makes up for the ghost stories.

Love,

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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