25 Nov 2016 Leave a comment
in 2016: Athens
It will take 4 minutes to listen to Sean Connery read C.P. Cavafy’s “ITHACA.” Aside from being the place Odysseus left, Ithaca is also where he returned, utterly changed. Some have said that “Ithaca” is about the journey. So here we go —
No photos of yesterday’s odyssey from San Francisco to Athens, but the memory of some moments worth savoring, all of them involving the latest in travel gear for those long hauls through Trump-size international airports. A WHEELCHAIR. Really, it’s amazing what you can take in from that perch.
There was the family of young and old women in gold and red saris in San Francisco – headed home for a visit. Or a funeral, as I think.
By Rome, the sense of being shepherded or rather, sherpa-ed, came more easily. I sat back in my chair and saw shops I’d never really attended to back in the day when I was always focused on dragging myself and my carry-on to the gate in time: the scents of seafood from a seafood restaurant (L’Osteria Dell’Orologio, I think), could make you change your mind about leaving Rome. And the shops! Armani (jeans only), Boggi Milano, Bulgari, Vasari (“ottico” – eyeglass frames only, I think)…
At JFK, I had befriended the woman sitting in a wheelchair next to mine, who explained she was traveling “to be home for 6 or 7 months.” By the time we arrived in Rome, I understood her English and she understood my very broken Italian. But she wasn’t stopping in Italy; I mean I thought she understood my Italian, until we had been wheeled into the outdoor lift, called an “elevator-to-plane,” which was our method of boarding the plane to Athens – no stairs for us! She explained that she had “much family near Athens,” and I suddenly realized she wasn’t Italian at all, wasn’t going to visit Greece — this woman was going home to Greece!
That also explained why, after our Italian lunch courtesy of Alitalia, she slipped her hand delicately into a ziplok snack bag and took out a piece of Greek lemon shortbread she’d made the night before at her home in Connecticut: “Lemon. Like Greece. You like.” I loved that she wasn’t posing a question. My mouth full, I wiped crumbs from my chin and nodded an enthusiastic endorsement as we got into our chairs and were pushed – before everybody else – towards the airport exit.
It really is a white city, isn’t it?
Pleased to say that not even China’s latest production line could break the peace —
21 Nov 2016 1 Comment
Worcester with Lei, Matt, and Mary
The Ecotarium , great for young scientists, artists, dancers, parents, grandparents…
40th in Switzerland
On the morning of her birthday, Teresa headed out for the fourth time to try for a Driver’s License
AFTER SCHOOL —
06 Feb 2016 1 Comment
It’s part of why I came back in February — I’d heard about the flowers, didn’t imagine it was a festival to rival the you-know-which-state’s State Fair.
I left from here with the kids …
Lots to see and to do, as the students set up their booth- full of purses, backpacks, key chains ( which some village people make for the kids to sell)…& food.
Light batter, rolled sausage(hot dog)
Beyond food, jewelry, clothes…
Some random photo videos here —
Yes, that is his brow being wiped – by 10, it was getting warm.
PS So, perhaps it’s not like the Minnesota State Fair at all — have I been away so long, that it just felt like it for awhile? Probably.
Or as one MN friend who knows this place well has put it, “You’re becoming allergic to Mai Pen Rai…” Someday, I’ll explain, or try to. For now, experiencing it (Mai Pen Tai) as I am, it is enough to say I’m finding life here boulversant/amazing.
23 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
This temple complex is more like a small city, with its 49 separate shrines and 7 gopurams: the last one, added about 30 years ago, at 73m. is one of Asia’s tallest temple towers.
I wandered through streets of shops selling the area’s famous kitchen ironware, and clay incense-holders and ghee-lamps, as well as geegaws of all sorts. It wasn’t too hot yet, so I took my time, milling along with women in red saris (a wedding? temple visit?), men in dhotis long and short, motorbikes, auto-and a few bike-rickshaws.
Leaving, I looked back and my eyes and camera lens landed on this man – sadhu? shopkeeper?
16 Jan 2016 2 Comments
Overnight, elaborate RONGOLIS, drawn with brilliant colored powder, appeared in front of village houses and shops: the great Harvest and Thanksgiving feast of Pongal, Day 2.
At the ashram cowshed: Pongal altar, and Shantivanam ‘s young prior, with the pujari on the left.
Earlier, he had been the attentive attendant bell-ringer as his dad and the pujari blessed the cows.
When he’d had enough, Abishish became full-on 6.5 years old again.
Towards sunset, I heard him ask for Amma’s blessing.
27 Dec 2015 3 Comments
Last night, Elizabeth, Roy, and I enjoyed one last fling, Chiang Mai’s Night Market
It’s Sunday, so I returned to SEVEN FOUNTAINS this morning, and a Feast of the Holy Family homily which I think only a Jesuit could give. He spoke of how M,J,&J — and other Jews — continued to make this trip to Jerusalem because they continued to believe in freedom, even when they weren’t experiencing it themselves, at least not at that moment (those pesky Romans). It was not much of a leap from there to the Finding in the Temple, and then (in northern Thailand, where we are) from the Finding in the Temple to the situation (& incidents) in nearby Myanmar.
So, no photos , but a great time during and after Mass. But I digress.
To get to the retreat center, I’d chosen a Red Truck driver who became lost; then there was about a mile of bumper-to-bumper traffic on Huai Kaeo Rd. Consequently, I arrived at a packed Mass as the homily was starting. I flashed my cane, and a young man in the last row – the one with cushioned chairs – literally leapt up to give me his seat. After the homily, when the woman next to me stood up to sing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” I stood up, too, so she shared her hymnal. It was somewhere in the 5th or 6th verse, and the line “…and ever over Babel sounds,” that I smiled to myself, looked around… and realized I’d landed in the choir .
Oh, well. It was a fine seat, as I say, so I stood up and joined in for the rest of the songs, too – all Christmas Carols, all wonderful to sing. After the Recessional – a belted-out rendition of “Go, Tell It on the Mountain,” my beautiful Thai hymnal owner leaned over to ask if I’d be there with them next week…. I said no, but I’d be back for the month of February, and she smiled: relieved she’d have a month to prepare the rest of the choir? I wasn’t quite sure.
Afterwards, in the guesthouse at Seven Fointains, I met with a lovely Jesuit who assures me that my notion (Rosellen’s advice, really –) of reading the book by — every left wing Catholic’s second favorite Jesuit author — James Martin, on the Spiritual Exercises, is a good way to prepare for a short retreat @ 7 Fountains, and then a February blitz on (in?) the Exercises. Well, we’ll see.
I ended the morning and began the afternoon @ the Orange Mac Cafe, a place which, even while missing from this Chiang Mai coffee shop list, has the best iced coffee in Chiang Mai. IMHO.