Monday, July 25, 2011

Paradise, thy name is New Hampshire

The past four days I was completely out of touch with all friends and family except for the few with whom I was staying, at the World Fellowship Center, the tagline of which is Where Global Justice Meets Nature.

I soaked in nature, reveled in it, biked it, drank it, ate it, partied and laughed in it, swam in it... all but became one with it.

some of the memories that stand out:
  • floating on my back in the middle of Whitton Pond and gazing up at the blue sky and clouds while the water cradled me
  • getting coached by Bike Guru Howie on three consecutive days of progressively more difficult bikerides. (the second two being at six in the morning!)
  • learning how to properly get on and off a "tall bike" - as I always used to keep my seat way too low... (again from Bike Guru Howie)
  • greedily gathering wild blueberries at Whitton Pond and enjoying their plump blue-purpleness as they popped in my mouth
  • watching little M (my friend's daughter) enjoying wild blueberries for the first time
  • sharing the amazing World Fellowship food with friends who are family - and getting to share laughs with Galia about my odd food preferences (I think I was the only adult to request peanut butter and ketchup!)
  • relishing the musical offerings of Tomas Rodriguez (Spanish and Flamenco Guitar), mbira master Kevin Nathaniel Hylton and percussionist Urbano Sanchez
  • delighting in the prettiness of the white goat
  • getting scared (in a good way) as I got pushed by G. in the t-a-l-l swing that's hung high up in a tree
  • watching four year old S. and 2 year old M. each dance and delight in the music in her own way as the dining hall resonated with the sounds of the mbira, the guitar, and the rhythms
  • walking down to the pond - and then swimming, diving (diving!!!!) and floating around to my heart's content. and lounging about on the floating docks when a respite was needed...
  • learning (the hard way) that I don't know how to row a rowboat. But thankfully being saved by D's mad awesome rowing skills, and making it all the way to Blueberry Island (and back!)
  • singing French songs to little M. in the rowboat
  • snorting at H's deadpan jokes
  • laughing with S and G and friends over wine, beer, and chips in the buggy but snug porch of Weller House
  • creating art under the able guidance of Stephanie - who taught us a bit of printmaking - working with linoleum and rubber and inks!
All in all I feel like a hobbit who's returned from a glorious stay at Rivendell.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fourth time's the charm

For the fourth time in my life, I'll be crossing a graduation stage this June, this time to receive my MLS degree. In fact, I had made up my mind not to go. Who wants the fuss of a cap and gown? Who wants to swelter or have your legs fall asleep while listening to speeches galore, mostly by people you don't even know?

And yet, the time has come, and, with some prodding from my sister and parents, eager to put a stamp of fanfare and closure on the last four years of part-time schooling (which probably drove them almost as crazy as it did me, considering how often "But I've got a paper to do!" was an excuse for... whatever I needed it be an excuse for...) I decided, fine, I'll go through the process one more time.

It's not the ceremony that's important to me, (obviously). It's the being done, it's the breath I can finally exhale, it's the smile that's returned to my cheeks, it's the lack of guilt while I'm blogging, playing, or just lying there, the lack of, "oh damn. I've got that paper to do, that Blackboard post to write, that research project to research..." And, to be frank, it's the achievement of the Masters. For years to know that I was capable of this (and more) but not having done it, was a silent little thorn in my side, as much as I like to think I'm above such thinking. Now it's no more. I proved myself to myself. The breath of relief is exhaled and a sense of calm descends.... for a moment.

And then it's on to... What's next?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

new york: it is the best of cities, it is the worst of cities

today was just a fantabulously scrumptiously beautifully gorgeous day in NYC.
the sun was gloriously shining down on us, people were so just so happy to have a nice day on a Saturday, they were even smiling at strangers on the subway. (okay, so maybe i made that last part up, but one could always dream, eh?)

seriously. i had such a fantastic day. it started with South indian style brunch at Saravanaa's in Curry Hill with author-activist extraordinaire, Neesha Meminger. We talked of some ins and outs of the publishing world, and about the inequalities that exist within the current publishing paradigm, as well as creative ways writers can step around that structure to make things happen in ways that work for them and their audiences. I am not going into high level of detail here, as I didn't take notes... and maybe just maybe I'll get to interview Neesha for a podcast and we can talk about it more leisurely there...

then i was off to the post office to mail my friend Joy Weese Moll some books that she could (potentially) blog about... or just read for fun. As a just-one-class-away-from-being-a-librarian, I often get more books than I know what to do with. And teens will take only so many! At the post office, I was hoping to beg the staff to help me seal my yellow envelope with packing tape, (I had forgotten to bring mine), but what do you know, the PO, struggling with budget cuts, is no longer giving their employees pens to use, let alone tape!

It galled me to think of buying tape when I have so much just sitting there at home, but I went to a hardware store anyway... And then, lo and behold, the guy who worked there had a heart of gold, and let me use not only his tape but even his utility knife so i could hack off pieces of tape, for free! And he wouldn't even accept a candy for a thank you! May he have 7 years of good luck, I say! Then, having shipped off my lumpy bumpy package to Joy (hope you like 'em, Joy) I was off to the N train stop at 23rd and Broadway, to get back home to work on my (last leg of my) interminable research project. And there, at Madison Square Park, was a fully in swing Sikh festival going on, complete with langar for all... By then, my appetite was craving for a little something, so i satisfied it with salty lassi, paneer makhni, chole, roti, makki ki roti, and saag... oh yeah, and jalebi. and watermelon. yum. and it was so fun to see so many families just enjoying themselves. I think I saw more Sikh people in Madison Square Park than i did on my entire month long journey to india this past January! and everyone was so friendly, and genuinely happy to give you food and, i don't know, it was just such a warm feeling. Imagine... feeding complete strangers, for free, in midtown Manhattan!

and then, i was back on the subway, back on my way home. When my train arrived, the guy who was standing in front of me, paused and let me go in before him. so polite... (albeit unnecessary.) it brought to mind something (completely opposite) that happened a couple of days ago. As I was entering a station, having just swiped my Metro card, this guy who was leaving, just pushed himself out of the same entry/exit gate i had just swiped... thereby making my swipe invalid and trapping me outside the station, with a 15 minute wait ahead of me till my metrocard reset itself... (and, if my card had been the pay as you go, i'd have been so S.O.L.) When I protested to him, as he was about to push out, saying, 'hey, i just beeped my card!' his snarled response was, "you saw me, f- you." Beautiful.

So, there we have it, NYC and its people in all our splendor --- beautiful generosity, mixed with petty cheap meanness... it's part of what makes this city so surprisingly alive.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Found: Old To-Do lists, circa 1998 and 1999

To Do June 14, 1998

  • Newsletter

  • Transfer Newsletter

  • Letter to HI counselors/Telephone to the same(?)

  • Lunch with Nabila

  • Sending info to the USIS info centers in New Delhi and Bombay

  • Drawer Audits…

  • ---Deposit

  • ---Admit

  • ---Shortage
to do for yesha for 4.5.99

  1. call Honolulu Country Club and arrange for food .

  2. call Lei Lady (Phone #??) and perhaps arrange for Leis in HI

  3. Call HI High Schools and arrange visits (!!!)

  4. Call Lil World Travel and buy plane ticket (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  5. Evaluate files on desk

  6. F.A. phoning

  7. Shortage phoning

  8. Meet with Astrid re: LA reception. Talk about: a. slide show---can she/we put together ASAP... maybe take pics of "a day in the life of..." new version? b. Itinerary---print out an old one if possible...go over who will do what c. Making sure there are students there... maybe we need to arrange for a special LA-a-thon!

  9. Proof those Web Apps!!!

  10. ********Put together a list of Presidential scholar recommendees***********
to do 8-11-99

  1. Send Measles paper to dr. w’s nurse… also include note about needing TB test certification.

  2. send reg for Praxis exams.

  3. send in promissory note to fin aid office

  4. call fa aid and ask them if can reduce the unsub loan and then increase it later, if necessary…

  5. send j.m. an email about that class…cannot take due to scheduling conflict.

  6. register for that art history class(?)

  7. pack for new jersey

  8. laundry
---------- somehow laundry is the one that still resonates, all these years later...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

India Days 9 and 10- Thiruvannamalai

On Day 9 I flew freakin' early in the morning from Delhi to Chennai, and then hopped in a rented car for a 4 hour drive to Thiruvannamalai to visit my friend S's family -- her grandparents live there and her mom and bro and sis in law were also visiting. I felt so honored to be asked to visit!

This is short, as I have limited internet time, but... TV malai, as S's family calls it, was Spec.Tac.Cu.Lar.

things I remember, no particular order--
  • drinking fresh green coconuts, just picked from the tree in S's grandparents garden (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • eating fresh hot dosai
  • visiting the ashram of Ramana Maharshi... I have no words for the peace that descended as the devotees chanted...
  • Visiting the main temple and being blessed by a baby (girl) elephant! (it involves giving a coin in return for a gentle thump on the head!!!)
  • having S's tata (grandfather) show us around the temple, telling us the history, and even get us the opportunity for special pooja of the main deity as well as of the goddess
  • playing with S's 1.5 year old daughter
  • getting a (mild) electric shock - (Note: Be VERY careful when removing your phone from being charged!!!)
  • the gorgeous Arunachal Mountain
  • walking to the little temples next to S's grandparents' place and learning about her family's guru...
  • Taking time with D and S to hang out in S's grandfather's study... a timeless place that elicits thinking and contemplation, while staring out at the beauty of Arunachala
  • being blessed by S's grandmother and mother
  • the l-o-n-g car ride back to Chennai with little M and S, singing songs to little M to pass the time! :-)
  • The lovely dinner with S and big M in Chennai (even it was North Indian!!!)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

india day 8 - Delhi

In the morning, P and I went for an excursion to old Delhi... We saw the Jama Masjid. It was beautiful, with a vast stone courtyard, picturesque arches and ornate stone window screens. It was also freezing cold, as we had to remove our shoes. Thank god for socks, which protected our feet not only from the numbing stone vastness, but also from the product of thousands of pigeons which swoop over the courtyard.

After that we took a walk around the nooks and gullies of Chandni Chowk, the market of old Delhi. As it was a Sunday, many shops were closed, but that had the advantage of making the traffic easy to navigate, both by foot and car. Also, we focused on the beautiful if decrepit architectural details. (Again, I don't have the photos downloaded, but in due time some will be attached to this entry.)

Then we went to the very close by Kitab Bazaar (book bazaar) that's held in the area known as Daryaganj every Sunday. These guys spread out their wares (of secondhand books) and wear socks, to make it easy to traipse over the books to pick up the one that an interested customer is pointing at. P noted that most of the books were about computers, computer programs, business, or some type of educational book. Very few humanities represented, except for the ubiquitous "trashy novels." The librarian in me noticed that some of the books being sold were in good condition while others were so far gone that they would have been weeded asap, had they been discovered lurking in my library.

Then we found this guy who sells old stamps, not only Indian, but from over the whole world. That cheered us a bit, to find something we considered of real value out there, amidst all the detritus of C++ et al...

Lunch was with the whole gang and some of their friends and some of my friends, all at the Habitat Centre, specifically at the Delhi, O Delhi restaurant, which has an excellent buffet. I was stuffed when we left -- with good conversation, new friends, and a great meal. Yum.

Then we came home and S and M promptly put me to work, helping create a fairy treasure chest. It's hard work, you know! :-) Much talking and laughing happened, despite the taskmaster's strict orders to focus on the task at hand -- of painting the treasure chest as many bright colors as possible.

After dinner, it was Harry Potter time again, and today we read all about Grawp - Hagrid's half brother. Much giggling happened alongside the reading, due to the antics of both Grawp and of 5-year old S, who was in a zany mood. The goodnights were bittersweet, as I depart (fog allowing) for Chennai tomorrow morning...

Then a little more conversation, a lot of readjustment packing (keeping in mind the warmer weather in South India) and now off to sleep... Good night!

oh, and p.s.... Forgot to mention that I started off the morning with a short brisk walk around the track at Gulmohar Club. There were swings too, so I got in a few swings before the security guard informed me that the swings would break if adults went on them. I don't know... it seemed sturdy to me!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

India day 7 - Delhi


  • birthday party for my friends' 5 yr old... complete with an indoor bouncy castle and to-die-for chocolate cake made by a Canadian bakery
  • Making a string doll with the 5 yr old's nine year old sister
  • dinner at a chic Italian restaurant to celebrate the 5 yr old's dad's 39th birthday. Yum!
  • a before sunset stroll by myself in a beautiful, quiet neighborhood
  • drawing bunnies, genies, and puppies with my 5 yr old and 9 yr old nieces
  • watching the five yr old's eyes glow as her birthday presents towered in front of her
  • talking with my friends M and P about their newly-found grudging acceptance of Barbies
  • going to a party being held by a writer at her barsati, and meeting journalists, artists, anthropologists, and even a former race car driver there!
  • going to sleep!

Friday, January 07, 2011

India day 6 - Delhi

As today I was (shakily) feeling better, I was up and about, but cautiously. I took a short trip to a local market... (Didn't feel up to going to a museum or anything more touristy). Bought some birthday gifts and clothes to wear when I go to South India (which is warmer)

Then came home and spent time with five year old S., making a string Bharata Natyam doll, complete with a flying house. Much fun was had.

But I must say, 5 year olds have a LOT of energy. Who knew? :-) I ended up taking a 2 hour nap in the evening to compensate.

Evening routine was the same, with the Harry Potter and chat with P and M...

Pictures to follow.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

India day 5 - Delhi

I was sick all day... Just lay in bed with a fever and other things... And was taken care of by P and M. I couldn't ask for better friends, who talked with the doctor on the phone, got the meds, made me take them, fussed and hovered...

Today was.... achy sleep.....

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

India day 4 - Delhi

  • explored Dilli Haat some more and shopped for some more gifts
  • watched a fun dance program in the courtyard at Dilli Haat - Rajasthani bhavai - wherein there was singing, whirling, whirling with pots (6!) balanced on head, and accomplishments of feats of balance, like dancing on top of two swords! I have photos galore, but not on this computer, so if one were to return to this blog, in time there would be photos to see...
  • went to Khan Market to revisit Manzil - a youth empowerment and learning center. This time my friends P and M and P and S came with me. Manzil is just an amazing organization, and if I were to return to volunteer, this would be an excellent place to come. I'm so glad my friends came with me, as they're in Delhi longer, and I think they might volunteer. The kids there are so confident in themselves. It is a beauty to see. We first had a nice talk with Ravi, the founder of the center, and then were given a tour and an opportunity to observe a couple of English classes by R, a 13 year old with an intrepid gaze and surety beyond her years. It also gives one pause to think, that Manzil is located smack dab in the middle of Khan Market, a hustling bustling capitalistic enterprise... It's a great metaphor for what is possible in life, if one chooses to focus on the important things...
  • came home, had a nice dinner, a nice Harry Potter reading, and a nice chat with P and M by the "fireplace" (actually a radiant heater) (The indoor temps here hover between 40 to 55 degrees, sometimes feeling lower due to the dampness of things.)
  • Then... at night, things started to fall apart, leading to..... my first sickness of the India trip.
  • All I can say is, thank Spirit of the Universe that I was / am with friends who took amazing care of me, despite my stubbornness.