WHAT A TRIP!

In our  more than six (6) decades of friendship, Jansie’s life and mine have frequently intersected. Here is our latest! 

In an attempt to get  warm during a grandson’s soccer game, Jansie started running in place…until people on either side heard the crack — 

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For me, it was a matter of stepping off a cart while unmindfully placing one foot through  the strap of my carry-on.

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 And as of this morning there is this —  like Jans and me,grandson Augustine and I now trade war stories (and a scooter!).

 

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That’s A Wrap

         (INAUGURATION Day 2017)

Tempting though an escape from the Trump years may be, time to get back and get to work — amazing to see friends and family marching the day after the election– and to be with family and friends. Videos and FaceTime are not all no substitute! 

Such a temple!

Vaikunta Ekadasi , the greatest festival of  the Ranganatharswamy Temple  year,  is about to begin in this Hindu temple, so today, police and people were swarming, traffic was redirected, and the hawkers were having a great time. Devotees – men, women, ancient and fairly young – were brilliant , the whole place just  glorious chaos.

The temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls, and according to Lonely Planet it has 21 gopurams (those pink and blue towers), 39 pavillions, 50 shrines, including  the Hall of 1000 Pillars (though I read somewhere that the number is actually 994). As a non-Hindu, I  could get up to the 2nd outer courtyard, but as always, not inside the gold-topped sanctum sanctorum. 

See these chappals (photo, below)?  I set mine there (black Crocs, left of the pink ones), paid the ancient woman the 10 rupees she required, then walked barefoot across the road to enter the temple. There, I saw a stall offering chappals storage. FREE. I know it was just 14 cents, & I know it was perfect weather – high 80’s(Minnesota people notice this sort of thing) – but it probably took a good 5 minutes for me to let go of the injustice. It was probably a good 5 minutes before I saw the malnourished, hunched-over woman, probably my age, leaning against the temple wall and holding out sticks of sandalwood incense for people like me  to buy.                                   REALLY, Mary Ellen?


Good day. Feeling very ready, now, for the ashram.

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Christmas Eve 2016

Man Mo is a temple  dedicated to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). For Jeanne, Elizabeth, and me,  the visit  was one of fragrant if chaotic moments filled with devotees’  incense and offerings of joss paper and oranges.

Later, with Allan and Cecilia, we heard Christmas Carols and and attended Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – amazing to follow it all w/o understanding a single word, until it was time for Communion, and the choir did a completely recognizable “O, Holy Night.”

(single-click any circle –> slide show)

 

After Mass, we walked to and through and around and up streets and escalators for a “Shanghaiese” meal,  which may have been the best yet; Allan ordered perfectly: 3 styles of noodles and  Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings). It was an incredible variety of hot (spicy), sour, and sweet,and as Elizabeth later pointed out, he kindly avoided ordering things like  Century Eggs

 Later, we spent a couple hours on the rooftop of the Prince’s Building – this link has a few photos (my camera-phone battery being long gone). And this one of Victoria Harbor  captures some of what we saw.

 

 

 

Planet Earth Part 2: SwissLand

A Note: Much, much more to my time here than recyling centers and Christmas markets, but before I lose these moments, I’ll send along some weekend photos.
It is probably stating the too-obvious to say that the Cronins are NOT in Kansas anymore!

Recycling Day @ the Commune (entirely DIY)

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Chris & Gus make a weekly drive to the Commune recycling center (open Saturdays, and “for about 10 minutes on Wednesday”).  A Commune Card allows entrance.

Augustine neatly lobs a bottle into the WHITE (vs BROWN or GREEN) glass bin.

Christmas Market ! 

It’s a huge (“largest in French-speaking Switzerland”) covered market in nearby Morges.

Planet Earth, Part 1: The Melissa Project

Melissa means “bee” in Greek,  a nod to the dedication of the young women who go there every weekday for Greek, English, poetry, art, knitting…I taught English at this Greek nonprofit for part of November-December.

img_9546For too short a time, I worked with women who mostly spoke Arabic and Farsi, and who came from the shelters, camps, and squats spread across Athens. I have many photos, and when I see you in person sometime, I’d love to share. For now, here’s a lesson from the first day . Melissa students are the most eager I’ve ever known, and the administrators, teachers, and other volunteers, the most committed. Lots more to do there, lots of people doing it, and I’d love to return

I’d walk back to Elizabeth’s studio at night, grateful, tired, hungry. I  often stopped for dinner in the neighborhood, Exarchia — 

img_9491For me, as  welcome in cool weather as in hot. Only the color of the wine changes! 

Athens’ Exarcheia: “An empty wall is a lonely wall/An empty wall is a sad wall.”

                  Rainy day, unforgiving marble stairs, so I trod carefully, the better to see it all. 

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