Posts Tagged ‘india’

Each day I take a walk by myself here in Delhi. Mostly at a local park named Lodi.

I try and give the Fitbit some action. But I also sit and do a lot of watching. There is always something going on here. More than twenty types of birds. Hawks swooping down with their unique scream agitating the crows. It’s a cacophony that the forty young deaf people doing some type of team bonding in the middle of the field cannot hear. Soccer/football playing. Family photo sessions. Picnics. People working out on exercise equipment. Contortionists in the yoga section.

Starting to see some of the same people each day. An old fellow with what appears to be a radio in his hand. A guy walking a Bull Terrier just like Spuds Mackenzie-except black. Too many young lovers to count. Not sure if they are same ones each day. An elderly man who is undergoing chemotherapy walking with a cane and a young assistant. He wears a tweed jacket that is too big for him and a black Greek fisherman’s woolen cap. A guy playing the flute on a bench in the middle of the park.

India really is incredible. You never know what to expect. Every day is different.

See below for some of my park photos. I hope you enjoy them.

nowine2

I am all for this.

nowine

Wait a second! The back of these signs. I’m getting mixed messages here.

greenbirds

Bird house in the middle of the park? Check out the two photo bombers.

greenbirds2

Hundreds of these birds in the park. Never gets old.

sacredfig

Caught my eye. Sacred Fig. Considered a sacred tree for Hindu folks.

disabled.JPG

Very cool. Section of park that has exercise equipment for those in wheelchairs.

turquoise

Not the best quality photo. Color coordinated Sikh family photo shoot.

carving

carving2

Loved these carvings.

hijira

Hijra (transgendered folks) looking for monetary donations from people in the park.

smoke

Not sure what the colored smoke symbolised.

lilies

Lily pads.

colors

steppingstones

Stepping stones.

narcissus

I call this one Narcissus.

pigeon

sweetpotato

Sweet potato man. As in the potato is sweet. I am not sure about the man.

wall

birds

hawk.jpg

hawks

Hawks on the ground, in flight and resting in the trees.

vendor

Vendor with a lot on his mind.

palms

Palm trees.

spuds

Spud Makenzie’s Indian cousin.

parrakeet

I happened upon this crew. A parakeet chowing down with three squirrels.

lovem

M for Mary.

doggie

A dog just curled up and napping away.

yoga

Seriously how does one do that?

donotfeed

I liked this sign. They certainly spelled it out for visitors.

exit

The end. I slip under the chain to exit at Gate 11. Not where I entered. 🙂

 

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have now been in Delhi for almost two months. And it’s been totally okay.

No, I do not have any real friends here yet. Think I am fine with that for the moment. So no feeling bad for me. 🙂

Although I have reached out to a few groups and/or organizations.

But I’m taking it slow.

I joined this one international organization. Which is present in just about every country in the world. Designed to connect folks.

Only information I shared was my name, gender, birth date and my nationality.

Haven’t attended any events yet but I get regular emails from them keeping me abreast of current happenings.

Was nice to receive a personalized birthday message from them on my special day.

Sweet that I got a request to connect with Sahil from Delhi. He likes movies, wine tasting, badminton, etc. Checked his profile and he has fourteen contacts. All lovely looking young women. Obviously he was taking quite a risk with me since I did not post a photo of myself to the profile. I’m sure he’s a wonderful person. No, I did not accept request.

Lovely to get invited to “Diva’s Night Out with MEN of Exotica.” I don’t even know what that is. No, I did not attend.

Cute that I got a “Twinkle” in my inbox waiting for a response “Twinkle.” Don’t know what that is either! I haven’t twinkled back.

Yesterday I received an email that said my profile was attracting a lot of attention from members.

Really?

It said, “Click here to see who visited your profile.”

Not quite sure how I feel about this.

I guess it’s like “LinkedIn.” The business social networking service where people can see if you looked them up and you can also see who stalked your profile. No, I do not have a LinkedIn account.

Just didn’t realize that Sahil would be able to know I checked out his profile when I received the original “connect” request.

Think I’m just going to take it slow for the moment.

 

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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 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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