Friday, March 26, 2010

The Inner Anatomy of a Walleye

This is a papaya. It is a fruit in abundance around here these days. The insides of a papaya remind me of the stomach or some part of the inner anatomy of a walleye. Ah, the memories of watching my dad fillet his catch of the day. Gross. I find that papayas taste like "dirty socks" to quote my mother. For some odd reason though, I want to come to enjoy the taste - I like a challenge. And isn't there a fact like you need to taste something 22 times before you actually like it? I don't remember that with dark chocolate or Grape Nuts, but I will think about this "fact" to help me persevere. So, every week I buy a papaya. I learned that a little lemon juice and a bit of sugar helps. Jovie likes papaya, with or without the condiments, but I do think they add. The rest of my family, besides Jovie, is opposed to joining me in my, "love papaya as my own child" challenge. Sometimes you just need to climb the mountain yourself...

For some odd reason we haven't mentioned our newest vehicle purchase - a motorcycle. When we moved to the new house, walking to work or school became impossible. So, along with the rest of the 1,139,964,932 people in India, we now own a motorcycle. We also transport our children on the motorcycle. Ani comes home every day from school on it - helmet on of course. Two children on with dad is my limit, and Jovie has not taken a spin yet. All though it is common to see up to five on a motorcycle here. I am pretty sure all these extra passengers would be illegal in the States. So, the motorcycle has been a fun part of making memories here, a season that will not be repeated. I can handle the motorcycle mainly because we never go over 30 miles per hour here, which for some reason makes it safer to me. I know that's not necessarily comforting to some, but for me, it is, so I am just going to have to go with it. One last thing about the motorcycle. Our other vehicle, the car/van/can, has a great name - something that just popped. But the motorcycle is feeling a bit blue about not having a name. There really is nothing funny about it though. It's a black motorcycle - its hard to go anywhere with it. If you have any ideas, please feel free to share them. P.S. Sarah, did you know that when your dad was here, he got a lift from Jayson on the motorcycle? I wish I would have had my camera to see Denny and Jayson together on the motorcycle.

The photo below is Saraa. Saraa comes over on Fridays to hang out with us. Her mom and dad are our friends who run the animal rescue center. Saraa is not yet two. Saraa knows three languages. Her mom is Finnish, her dad is Tamil (the state that we live in) and in their house, they speak English. Tamil, Finnish and English. She is smarter than me. The multiple language deal here knocks my socks off. Most Indians know at least three languages, if not four of five. Usually Hindi, English, their state language and their village dialect. Crazy. James is a bit confused on the whole language front. We had a 10 minute "argument" about how he things that we speak American and I think we speak English. He's very ethnocentric. At the end of the discussion he finally waved the white flag of surrender, but I think he did it with reluctance. I don't think he is quite sold on that fact that he now speaks English, instead of American.

I hang my head low. Kansas lost in the second round. I had them going all the way! I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Oh, I need to retract my statement about how high we live. Our friend Mark, let me know, that if we were at 7,000 meters, we would need oxygen masks. Meters, feet, is there a difference? So, its 7,000 feet about 2,400 meters. Sorry people. On this very undramatic note, I will leave you. We are having seven extra kids for pizza/movie night tonight, so I am going to get the dough a risin'.

Eleven kids plus one dad equals a good time in the car/van/can

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Crazy About the Man in My Kitchen

"So hey, what's goin' on?"

Yesterday I was floating. Dancing through my house with an effortless pirouette, a whoop of joy and near tears. I was crazy about the man in my kitchen - the washing machine repair man. Let me say this first. I am super grateful for a washing machine in a land where most of the population uses a stone and river to wash. That being said, when some major appliance konks out on me here, I turn into the mad character out of a horrible cartoon. Because it takes daily phone calls, begging, and sometime raising my voice to bring them to my house. And after three weeks of hauling the bare minimum of laundry around to friend’s houses - my washing machine is fixed. Not big news for most, but this mother of four in a land where it takes over two hours to do just one load of wash, I am blissfully happy. And I could not have been more content to switch out my laundry all day long, then letting the 7,000 meter altitude and close proximity to the equator dry my clean laundry in mere seconds.

On to other news - just to keep the bits and pieces from the day rolling... Sydney’s preschool class has been studying “night”. Syd’s teacher asked her on Tuesday, “What does Mommy do with you before going to bed?” Her answer was not reading, cuddling, singing, kisses, back scratches or prayers... It was “My mommy rummages in my hair for nits (as in lice) every night”. Sweet. Now, it’s not every night. Probably weekly though. One needs to keep on top of those things. After comments like that, I wonder if there is any hope in trying to control any sort of legacy or memories that my children have about me.

And there she is.

Today at Lost Kilos one the gals celebrated her one year anniversary of being in Lost Kilos. Collectively, my Thursday afternoon crew, which is an average of six women, have lost 30 kgs, which is roughly 70 lbs. Way to go! I am so proud of them.

This past weekend was Freedom Firm’s Annual Retreat. The staff from Pune came down and we met at a retreat center about 45 minutes down the mountain. It was a truly fantastic weekend; a necessary weekend for the staff. Instead of me chatting about it, I think I’ll share with you a note from one of the Pune Social Workers:

“Dear Jayson, I want to tell you a big thank you for making this retreat enjoyable with having Denny, lot of time to know the people, fun games, and a beautiful place. Indeed Brookland is a cooool place to have a retreat.
Thanks to Tarrah for the yummy food that she had baked for us and got. God bless you and your family! Jeremy is remembering you all and missed meeting you all on the retreat.”

Cute. I mentioned our friends Denny and Pat - the retreat speakers, parents of my friend Sarah, and friends from our church in Minnesota - in the last blog. To put it lightly, it was oh so great to have them here. I feel like in this corner of the world we are put in a bit of a bubble. Not many resources in the way of new voices, different ways of looking at things, and encouragement. So personally, as a family and as an organization, I think we all got a sort of spring cleaning. We’re a bit shinier, running more efficiently, and springing back in the work of anti-trafficking with more zeal. Thanks friends.

Hey, in closing, I do want to sound the bugle and say, "Happy March Madness!" I'm on nine years of filling out the March Madness brackets among our families, and I think I've won just about every year. I'm not saying that to gloat, it's just the truth. So, if anyone wants to challenge me, this is all I'll say. "Bring it on."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Grosser Than Gross

Biker Chick.

Be prepared to witness something grosser than gross. I am sorry to have to show you this, but I would really like to hear a collective groan of disgust across the globe. Are you ready?

Sick right?

This fly tape was put up two days ago. It’s in our kitchen. I cannot tell you how utterly grossed out I am. The flies are horrible. I keep a pretty tidy kitchen, try to mind the crumbs... but alas, I am harboring about a ka-gillion flies at the present moment. And I am a bit nervous because their number is only supposed to escalate until the mango season, which is in May - June. What am I going to do people? Please, if you have any ideas, share them. I am presently trying to devise some serious covert missions into the land of flies.

Well, we survived Delhi. And much to my surprise, it was a seamless trip filled with pleasant experiences and zero drama. Can you believe it? I was kind of waiting all weekend for something bad to happen. I was seriously surprised on how much I liked Delhi. Now, mind you, I was there for 48 hours, and saw only a few parts. But what I saw, was quite... how do I put it... dreamy. I can’t really believe that I said it. This is what made it great. First, it was so fun to celebrate Alum and Alan. She looked beautiful, him dashing, and they are in love... Second, Ani and I had space to just be -without the other three lovingly clamoring for our attention. Third, simple things like highways, McDonald’s, watching American Idol and a bagel with cream cheese. Ani said it best when we were heading to the airport... “Highways and McDonald’s, what a treat.”

The recently opened Delhi Airport. My new crush.

The wedding itself was fairly similar to what you would expect at a wedding in the West. The most noticeable difference was the amount of pictures each guest took. I would have to guess each guest took at least 50 pictures, probably more like 500. And there were 300+ guests. There was a serious photo shoot after the ceremony with all the wedding guests - all of these Ani was a part of. And everybody wanted a picture with her. I felt like her personal assistant. Fluffing her hair, bringing her water, fixing her flowers, letting people know when they can take pictures and then when it was time for them to move along. My dad emailed me a story of a wedding in Delhi that same weekend of a couple who brought a male elephant to their wedding (Click here to read the story). Hindus believe that it brings good luck. Anyway, the elephant was in heat and saw/smelled (whatever they do) a female elephant in a nearby field and in the process, which took over 15 hours, crushed 20 cars and damaged nearby shops. Yikes. I would love to have witnessed that.

Ani is in her element as "one of the girls" as Alum gets ready.

One of the ka-gillion pictures at the photo shoot.

This is Chon, Tour Guide Extraordinaire/Alum's Cousin.

I have to take a moment to wish my grandma a happy 80th birthday. I wish I was there to celebrate. My grandma is a strong and dedicated grandmother - and I miss her.

Next Thursday marks the start of the Freedom Firm retreat. Last year this was Jayson’s first project. It seems like yesterday - generic words, but so true. We welcome 51 staff and family to the retreat. Do you remember my friend Sarah that came last October? Well, her folks are coming to lead our sessions. We went to the same church and Jayson and I highly respect them. When we were making the decision to come here, they were one of the first people that we sought wisdom from. So, it’s go time, having them here.