Monkey Menace!

February 18, 2014 at 4:34 am

A letter written to the Times of India newspaper seeks relief from a monkey menace:

I am a student residing in PS Nagar colony.  This is to bring to the notice of the authorities that monkeys are creating havoc in our colony.  Children going to school run the risk of having their lunchboxes snatched away.  The monkeys also try to grab vegetable bags and trouble banana sellers.  I appeal to the authorities to rein in these animals before more harm is done.

Zainab Ifrah


Indian Spices and Might is Right

February 16, 2014 at 9:38 am

The contrasts between the US and India come more quickly to mind than the similarities.  The spices used in Indian food often make it hotter than eating a raw pepper.  American food is bland by comparison.  I have cultivated an openness to the ways of India.  After all isn’t it marvelous how  cultures that developed in isolation from one another can look at the experiences of life and construct different paradigms, filters, stories and customs for humans to understand or manage our way through life?  Who am I to be dismissive or judgmental of how another culture sees and lives life?  A people can have a different approach rather than a lesser one.    However, the longer that I am here,  I am concluding that it is possible to judge one way is better than another.    I will let you make your judgments.  I thought it might be fun to list some of the contrasts that we have experienced in this and future posts.  Anyone who has been to India will bobble their head to the left and then back to the right several times in recognition.

Western society is very organized.  The subcontinent is very chaotic.  I recall one of Patrick’s Ugandan friends visiting us in Columbus and talking about how “organized” we are.  I was not sure what he meant at the time.  Now I do.  For example, the driving is here is completely lawless by our standards.  The lanes painted on roads are completely irrelevant.  A road that is painted to have two lanes going each way, will have three cars or trucks abreast with motorcycles flitting in between them.  At a stoplight, there will be 10-20-30 motorcycles side by side waiting for the light to change.  Stop signs do not exist and stoplights are rare.  You get through intersections by driving your vehicle as you honk into the middle of the intersection if there is any daylight between  other cars.  My driver almost hit 3 motorcycles that darted into his path yesterday.    However, there is some courtesy as cars will slow down as you push into the road.  It is not quite a game of chicken.

The same principle applies to any queues.  Why wait in line when you can walk to the front of it, make excuses and get the attention of any clerk?  With Patrick and Martin, we were flying from Goa to Delhi and were patiently waiting in line to get through security. We had already stood in a queue to have our baggage scanned and then went to another queue to stand in line to get our boarding pass and check our scanned baggage. Now we were in our third queue. After about 10 minutes of winding our way toward the security check and just as we approached the soldier  who checks your id and boarding pass, a few gentlemen cut in front of the guy in front of me.  I said “Excuse Me, the back of the line is over there.”   They responded that they were afraid that they were going to be late for their flight.  I said I had the same concern.    They could care less.

In general, folks are accustomed to simply walking to the front of any line and when there is more than one individual at a time pushing to the front, it becomes standard operating procedure.  Gandhi described his experience of traveling by train in his autobiography  The Story of My Experiments with Truth.  In his quest for Truth which he identified as God, he sought to be “humbler than dust.  The world crushes the dust under its feet, but the seeker after truth should so humble himself that even the dust could crush him…  Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of truth….Christianity and Islam also amply bear it out.”  That had to be said so that you can comprehend his behavior when purchasing a ticket.  He would only ride third class because of his desire to be humble:

“We came face to face with the hardships that a third class passenger has to go through even in securing his ticket.  ‘Third class tickets are not booked so early’ we were told.  I went to the Station Master, though that too was a difficult business.  Someone kindly directed me to where he was, and I represented to him our difficulty.  He also made the same reply.  As soon as the booking window opened, I went to purchase the tickets.  But it was no easy thing to get them.  Might was right, and passengers, who were forward and indifferent to others, coming one after another, continued to push me out.  I was therefore about the last of the first crowd to get a ticket.

The train arrived, and getting into it was another trial.  There was a free exchange of abuse and pushes between passengers already in the train and those trying to get in.  We ran up and down the platform, but were everywhere met with the same reply:  ‘No room here’.  I went to the guard.  He said, ‘ you must try to get in where you can or take the next train.’  ‘But I have urgent business.’”

We had a similar experience in Dubai.  We decided to ride the spanking new Metro to visit the fort that was the original Dubai.  However when the elevated light rail train stopped, there was not much room available in the last carriage.  We pushed our way on.  At the next stop, we were informed by one of the passengers that this carriage was for women only.  I apologized and the four of us stepped out.  We walked towards the front of the train and  I proceeded to push my way onto another carriage.  Unfortunately, the doors closed before Kathleen and the boys could enter.  The train departed without them.  Patrick had been our navigator.  Fortunately he had shared with me which stop was our destination so I was hopeful that we would meet there.  In the meantime, I realized that I was again in a female carriage!  At the next stop, I managed to find my way to one where I belonged. Thank God at the appropriate, but busy stop which was a junction,  we managed to find each other as Patrick spotted me when their later train arrived.



More Theresa

February 14, 2014 at 5:10 am

Is it possible to get enough?  Think not.

Some quotes for today:

We must not create difficulties in our own minds.  To be holy doesn’t mean to do extraordinary things, to understand big things, but it is a simple acceptance, because I have given myself to God, because I belong to God—my total surrender.  He could put me here.  he could put me there.  He can use me. he cannot use me.  It doesn’t matter because I belong so totally to Him that he can do just what He wants to do with me.

Wherever God has put you , that is your vocation.  It is not what we do but how much love we put into it.