Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Handmade Wooden Ladder

Jovie, on my lap, eating her breakfast. The morning routine.

Hello friends. It’s Thursday night. All is quiet at the Palm house. Today, James puked in class, on our doorstep, in our bed and then in a bucket. Poor buddy. James told me that he feels like his stomach is backwards. Good description. Speaking of my children and descriptions, lend me your ear for a moment whilst I tell you Ani’s (who is seven) spelling list. I am sure I will be amazed for years to come at what my children are learning in class, but this spelling list, while it may be normal for seven year olds in today’s world, I tell you that I just learned how to spell these words last year. Here we go.


Now, I know there is a major theme/pattern going on here, but still, what happened to this list for seven year olds?


Or even,


Oh well, what’s a mom to do, especially a mom who loves “spell check.”

So, yesterday, I took the following much celebrated pictures - the telephone repairman putting up our new phone line. So, as of four o’clock yesterday, we had internet again. So, so great. At eight o’clock last night, a storm rolled in, and lightening hit our phone line and fried our modem. What? WHAT? Do you remember this same thing happening last spring? When our modem finally got fixed, after weeks, and then a big bus with too much luggage strapped to the top came and clipped our telephone line, the very same day. Anyway, but I can’t expect too much dear friends. I don’t mean to disrespect India with that statement, but the reality, at least in Ooty, is that what we try to do with modern technology, really pushes the limits here. And sometimes the limits get pushed too far. It’s the marriage between India’s simplicity and its desire to welcome the demands of modern technology. Oftentimes it simply doesn’t work. The guy who came to fix our telephone walked up to the house with the telephone line wrapped around his shoulder - like we do with Christmas lights. When they were hanging the new line, the guy used a hand-made wooden ladder to get up our tree, because our tree is sort of proxy telephone pole. So, when our internet busts, it helps to remember that most of the people in this country do not have running water in their homes. It’s really important for me to remember that.

Here he is. Bag of phone line over his shoulder.

And here are his two helpful helpers. Note the phone line just behind them at Sydney's "head level." It's not normally like that.

Again, phone line right past the door and above the deck chairs.

And there it is, the handmaid wooden ladder. Note the broken step in the following picture.

Oh me, oh my, dear friends. What to do? What to do?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Back of Katie Couric's Head

Our bashful Ani at Mike and Mel's wedding.
You can see all the wedding photos on our Facebook page - click here.

I feel like I am sitting in a glass house currently. All of our curtains are off and in the wash, trying to get the damp smell to skitter skatter away. So with all of our windows, it’s all a bit eerie. Not being able to see out, since its black as tar outside, but anyone, anything can see in. Yikes!

Eerie, huh?

Seriously eerie.

So, it’s true confessions time. Are you ready? Here we go. I kind of go a little bananas when I know someone famous is within reach. Like, I think about it all the time. Try to go out of my way to see him or her. Talk about it with other people, etc., etc. A few years back, I was on Nantucket Island at my dear friend Ruth’s wedding, and I saw the back of Katie Couric’s head. And it made my day. I think the whole famous people thing started back in the day of New Kids on the Block. I loved them, heart and soul. And at any cost, I would see them in concert when they were within reach. Since then, it doesn’t matter if I know them or not, I get all excited inside. So, this week, the Prime Minister of Tamil Nadu’s (the state that we live in) son came to town. Who he is and what he stands for, I know not...but there was much pomp built up to welcome the kind sir. They had major road blocks, loads and loads of police around, etc... So, I had the funny, excited feeling inside of me when I knew the guy was near. I am completely ridiculous and slightly embarrassed. But there you have it folks. I did snap some photos of the festivities while I was driving... not always preferable in the safety category, but completely necessary to help convey my excitement.

Note the pomp. Lot's of pomp.

We went to the dentist on Saturday. Five checkups, two teeth cleaning, two cavities filled (one of the them was my four year old, all my fault), one enamel work, one glaze type thing to protect the teeth, and one trainer (to help pull Ani’s front two teeth together) - all for $80. You really can’t beat it. Granted, not everyone would think having your dental work done in India is desirable, but alas, you can’t win them all. The dentist was great, but my favorite part of the visit was when she asked me if I felt my teeth were wearing out. Its hard to know how to answer that one. But I must admit that there must be a better way of asking that question to a patient. Anyway, she gave me something called Tooth Mousse, and said that it would help my teeth not to wear out, whatever that means. I have no idea what it is, if you do, could you tell me?

Brings a tear to my eye, Sydney's first cavity. All my fault.

I don’t think I ever told you about the washing machine/dryer repairman that almost stole three of my Ziplocs. No, I am sure I didn’t. Sounds like quite a story though, doesn’t it? So, when our dryer was broken right when we got back to India, the repairman was packing up his stuff and I went to go pay him and he was taking my brand new Ziplocs out their container and storing his stuff in them. I was so baffled. I said, “Are you stealing my Ziplocs?” and he said, “No stealing madam, just taking.” Oh, okay, that makes sense then. I then proceeded to make him give them all back. It wasn’t the fact that he was snatching my precious Ziplocs - lovingly sent from the States - it was more the principle of the matter. I told him, that if he would have asked, I would have totally given them to him. It was all a bit bizarre, and I wasn’t sure that I handled it correctly. So, fast forward to today. When he came to fix the washing machine, I kind of tried to schmooze him a bit, trying to make him feel better. Not that he probably cared, but I did. This was me in this afternoon... “Sir, would you like water? Tea? How about some lunch? No, sir, I don’t mind that I am paying you entirely too much to fix my washing machine that shouldn’t be broken in the first place.” Etcetera, etcetera. Probably overkill, but hey, I tried to clean up the whole Ziploc mess.

I am going to attach or at least somehow show you all the Sisters Conference brochure for the conference that I am a part of planning. I think it will give you all a better idea of what we are working on.

Click on either image below to see/read the Sisters Conference brochure I've been helping with.

Let me tell you about Gouri Tamang, the thirteen year old who testified against a major brothel keeper Tuesday. She is a Nepali girl who was rescued by Freedom Firm two years ago. Yes, at eleven years old. We flew her in for her court date (Monday) with no guarantee it would even happen. Monday came, the defense was “sick” and didn’t show, so the date was moved to Tuesday. Somehow everyone showed up on Tuesday and she testified brilliantly. We were so proud of her. Now she is back in Nepal, after being treated to some of the fun side of Pune by our staff before her flight, and we’ll patiently await the judge’s decision over the next few months.

That’s it for now folks. Grace and peace to you all as you move into your weekend.

Monday, September 13, 2010

This Cow Was Galloping

Ya gotta love pictures like these.

I love this girl!

Josephine puts out the laundry sometimes and as I stepped outside to take the laundry off the line, this made it on my list of favorites; the beautiful flower surrounded by our family's underwear.

I went for a walk on Saturday, and this is what I saw.

It’s Monday, September 13, 2010. This blog is written in two parts. The latter part was written last Thursday, and the next few paragraphs were written, well, right now. Right now being, Monday, September 13, 2010. I need to put on the broken record again, but our internet and washing machine are out again. What’s a girl to do around here? Along with the Shout Stain Remover, could you also please send me new internet and a new washing machine? Thank you.

So, it was a pretty festive weekend. Ramadan just ended and it’s party central around here. Lots of people coming in on big ol’ buses. When we were in Europe, I thought that I had seen lots of coach/bus travel. But, I think India has all of Europe beat. One interesting note about when people travel together here, it’s usually packs of men, and I mean packs, or sometimes families. You may see an all girls school tour going on occasionally, but mainly it’s just lots of men. That mostly has to do with it being quite inappropriate, at least in the south, for men and women to spend much time together outside of marriage.

Again at the dinner table tonight we had another exhilarating conversation. It all started when James asked how he could become famous. I guess one of his friends at school is in a magazine, and obviously now she is “famous”. We discussed all the advantages and disadvantages of becoming famous. I think of all my kids, if one of them were to become famous, it would be Sydney. She’s pretty, umm, charismatic. On Saturday night, she did convince an eight year old boy to marry her and then kiss her. Oh my...

My famous girl.

Written, Thursday -

So, Saturday, Jayson and I went out for a little date-date. It wasn’t raining hard, only misting, so we went on his motorcycle. Believe it or not, it was my first time on it. And it was fabulous. My most favorite part of the ride was when Jayson had to speed up to miss a cow that was heading straight for us. This cow was galloping, yes galloping I say... running away from his master, the master was running after him. And the cow was galloping on top of an embankment, and then all of the sudden took a dive for the road. And the cow was definitely bigger and stronger than the two of us on the motorcycle, so if we were to collide, the cow would have won. So, Jayson laid on the gas, and I could feel the cow’s breath on my back as we cruised by. Well done Jayson.

Tonight we had the Freedom Firm volunteers over - a lovely bunch of girls if I do say so myself. The volunteers that come over must commit to at least three months. They work day in and day out with the girls. Some of them also have come to work in the Horse Therapy program. One of the extra bonuses (or is it bonus), anyway, let’s go with bonuses, is that my kids always love all the volunteers. It’s one of their favorite nights of the week. I feel grateful, on so many levels, for these and all the past volunteers that have come to work with Freedom Firm.

The wonderful Freedom Firm volunteers.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Finding the Funny

Happy September 1, from these bathing beauties.

My #1 mom goal this year is to go until mid-term break without a single stain on James' school shirts. But it requires a lot of time and Shout stain removal, which they don't sell here in India, so could someone please send me some more Shout?

A bit of our pantry, just in case you're interested to see the Indian labels

Happy September 1, 2010, people. September. It’s the time of year here, here being India, that we have chances of sun. It’s wonderful. Vitamin D peeking its little head out. I was able to put three loads of wash on the line. None of it really dried fully, but dried to damp and then a little finish-finish in the dryer. I know, I know, you love it when I talk about my laundry. Two weeks in a row. I hope I am not seeing a pattern here.

The poinsettia tree. Who knew that it was not just a small plant at Christmas?
Does anybody know if this is lemon basil? It smells a little lemony, a little basily.

Anyway, I feel a bit lighter this week folks. Last week, a bit down. Let’s blame it on the rain, yeah, yeah - You gotta blame it on somethin’. Finding the funny in my days again. For example, at dinner tonight, the kids were talking about secret passageways around the world - to Ireland, to England, to Horseland. And then I mistakenly told them about the Chunnel. That being sort of, kind of, a secret passageway. Boy, I should have never opened the big can of Chunnel. Because for the next 30 minutes, the kids all tried to figure out how they built the Chunnel. Let’s just say it was a bit mind numbing.

Last night, I actually went out after dark. It’s a very rare experience here. First of all, I hate walking in the dark. I am afraid that I will kick a rat. Not like they’re running wildly all over, but I do hear them whilst I walk to and fro. Secondly, I hate driving in the dark. Street lights are few and far between. The narrow roads seem narrower. The near misses of hitting other cars seem more frightening. And there are lots of nighttime walkers that one day I feel as if I am going to give them a little bump while driving. But there was a meeting of the minds that was calling to me and I braved the night and just did it. Hooray.

So the meeting of the minds was about a conference that my friend Bec is initiating, along with her sister Debbie. Bec and her husband Glen are the ones that really held our hands 24/7 as we tried to sort through living here. Bec also, besides holding my hand, can really convince you of almost anything. I swear she could convince you that it would be okay to buy someone’s dirty underwear. Okay, I am digressing. Anyway, Bec has a huge heart for Indian women - Indian teenage girls specifically. So she, along with several others women, are trying to pull of a conference for teenage girls in Ooty come late October. They have invited about 400 girls from eight boarding schools in the area. Girls in India often get the raw end of the deal. There are few, if any, conferences for teenage girls in India. Here is a little snippet from the brochure, “The mission of ‘Sisters’ is to enable teenage girls to face the challenges of growing into womanhood with confidence and maturity. ‘Sisters’ empowers these girls to contribute their gifts and talents to help one another and to provide solutions to the failings of the status quo.” So, I hope to keep you all in the know of how the conference planning goes.

The meeting of the minds.

In other India news, three more brothel keepers were convicted to time in prison, which makes six total in FF’s four years. Two more girls were also rescued from brothels in Pune, both on the same raid two weeks ago. At the same time, our operatives have located a number of other girls who have not been rescued because they’ve either been moved or the police aren’t cooperating. One of these girls gave us amazing information about her trafficker, including a photo. We’re all praying that soon these girls will be rescued and that this trafficker will also be found and convicted.

So, I do need to give a shout us. Us being Jayson and Tarrah Palm. You have got to love when you can give a shout out to yourself. Anyway, we celebrate our ninth anniversary tomorrow. We will celebrate it with our four darling children and the Freedom Firm volunteers and single staff. Pretty hot stuff, eh?

Happy Anniversary to us. Don't you love that I totally told you all it is our anniversary?

I wish you a wonderful start to your September and bid you farewell for now.