funny signs

I see strange signs all the time, so I realized the other day I should be taking pictures of these. Here are just a small percentage of the crazy signs I've seen in the past 6 months:

Sometimes I can totally relate.

Written by the flowers? Or is the English just funny?

I'm still at a loss for what exactly a fancy cracker is.

This one requires a small explanation. This was posted at every escalator in the big western mall we went to. Apparently us Americans take for granted growing up using escalators from a small age. I saw one woman being led by the elbow very awkwardly on the steps, and she froze on the way down, frightened, much like on the movie Elf...remember that? Hopefully that image put a smile on your face.

(thanks to KimmySun, Beki, and Anna, who I 'borrowed' 3 of these from...I felt justified since I've been to each of these places they were taken :)

girls just wanna have fun!

This past weekend our company somehow knew us women would love a ladies retreat. It was great - some of the women in the capital city organized it, and I think there were about 20+ of us there. One thing we did was go to an honest-to-goodness western mall. This place had fancy shops, a kiddie play area, escalators, and not 1, not 2, not even 3, but 4 stories! I think all 20 of us white women stopped in our tracks when we walked into the mall with our mouths gaping open. This kind of place is just unheard of in our parts of south asia.

P.S. I have to thank the choir and dadto3 at our home office. I listened to my iPod as I took the bus (by myself!) down the mountain, and the first track of their most recent CD came on. Or at least I think it's the most recent...? Anyway, as I stared out the window, seeing the poverty, the hundreds of thousands who would probably die without knowing the Truth, and passing too many temples to count on the way, I could hear them singing, "There's no Boss like Jeh..." over and over again. Living in a land of 300 million bosses, those words have never seemed more true. Your version of that song is my favorite!


happy president's day!

Some of you may have gone all day without realizing it, but Monday was an American holiday. Yep, President's Day. So, in honor of our great country and its leaders, we celebrated. It all started out as a joke, because really, outside of your 1st grade class, who celebrates that? Somehow, though, it became a reality, and we even had a couple of friends from out of town make it! To celebrate, we had tons of food. It was like the dessert table at Thanksgiving...cherry cobbler, apple crisp, brownies, cookies, pumpkin bread; and then also we had pizza pockets, and Anna sacrificed her velveeta and rotel. (and made some awesome tortilla chips!) We were so full after it all, and still have tons left over. Leftover dessert? Always a good thing!

Also, we played a mix of American music. Now, of course I mean the America the Beautiful and songs like that, but basically any song with anything American in the title was fair game: American Woman, Surfin' USA, All My Exes Live in Texas, etc, and we also paid a tribute to the leader himself and played Hail to the Chief. It was nice to be completely, unashamedly, obnoxiously American for the day.


am i on candid camera?

Rarely does a week go by when I don't feel as if I'm the main character of a comedy. You know, the character that gets stuck in crazy situations, laughed at, or is perplexed at the actions around her.

I'll give a few For Instances: on Wednesday, husband and I were invited to go to lunch by one of the students in the storying class we are doing. This was our first time to go to her house and meet her family. Despite her several phone calls and constant text messages, we barely knew her ourselves. But we went anyway because that's what we're here for, right? Turns out, she's the only one who speaks any English at all, and hers is quite limited. No problem...we can hold shallow conversations in the language by now so we pushed through. We sat mainly with her dad the whole time while the women prepared the lunch. We found out that day that her dad is the South Asian version of the dad on My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was South Asia this, South Asia that, our culture is better than Western culture, our music is the best, etc. All he was missing was a bottle of Windex. It was hard to keep a straight face after awhile, especially when he remarked to husband that "everybody in the US listens to our music." Husband said, "No, not really," and he looked at husband as if he had sprouted two heads and nodded, as if to say, "You fool. What do you know about America?"

Another example: Just now, a man who sells gas cylinders came to the house. When I opened the door, there happened to be 3 women on the road in front of our house, one whom was so curious about me, that she walked right up to the door along with the salesman, and started to speak to me. And even though I was clearly conversing with the salesman, she began to translate anyway. To save her some time, I finally told her that I speak the language, to which she acted completely shocked, as if I hadn't been speaking it for a few minutes already right in front of her. At least this is a very friendly culture that they are ready and willing to translate when we need help!

And this one is my favorite. Yesterday, I was at the vegetable seller's shop. A friend walks up, greets me, and then asks, "What are you doing?" I thought it was pretty obvious, but I said, "Buying vegetables." "Ohh!" she said, like a mystery was solved. Then, immediately after I asked the salesman for a kilo of potatoes, she asked, "What are you making?" Again, it was Captain Obvious to the rescue..."Potatoes," I answered slowly. Once again, she looked completely taken aback at my answer, and giggled delightedly with surprise.

All of this has happened in the past 48 hours. I wonder what comedic relief is in store for the next 2 days?


wait a sec, this is south asia...?

A big happy late valentine's day to everyone! This time last year, husband and I sat, eating a fancy steak dinner, wondering how our Feb 14, 2006 would be. I pictured us running around a desert town looking for some place semi-nice to eat at. Sadly, I already knew there would be no steak house to be found. (although we do frequent a restaurant with a decent, if not incredibly spicy, vegetable steak...but that's another story)

But fortunately, we found a nice place for a romantic date. Actually, a very nice place. Although maybe our stateside friends should let us know if 6 months of South Asia has clouded our view of nice. I take that back - please don't. I'd rather impress myself with stories of this magnificent old hotel on the edge of town with beautiful wood paneling, chandeliers, a cozy lounge, and the charm of another century. It was beyond my expectations! We forgot for a few hours that we were even in this country. And as we cruised home on the scooter, I looked around at the lights of this city on the side of a hill, the narrow streets, and the stars, I realized that as much I pine after Paris sometimes, our town can be pretty charming too. I just may have to squint a little harder to see it.


it's our anniversary!

Well, not that kind of anniversary...but today does mark 6 months of us being in South Asia. Can you believe it's already been half a year? I sure can't.

And in unrelated news, we woke up this morning to an interesting picture in the paper. Let me backtrack. Yesterday, we took all the visitors to the touristy areas of our town and took tons of pics. This morning, husband went to the vegetable guy who smiled hugely when he saw husband, and said, "Hey!" and grabbed today's local paper and showed him a picture of us on the front page! Oh man, it was quite a shock when husband brought it to us, but now it's kind of a joke because everyone is telling us how they saw us today. So, to commemorate our 6th month of being in South Asia, they put us in the paper. Not really...the caption on the picture talks about how many tourists come to our town. But it sure it fun to think that highly of ourselves.


the guests are coming

Husband and I love having guests. It's the main reason we wanted a place with two bedrooms. Anytime people come stay with us, we see that as an excuse to make extra snacks. Husband always makes his famous salsa, and I usually make spinach and cheese dip with some sort of dessert. Well today, for our guests coming this afternoon, I decided in honor of Valentine's Day coming up that I'd try out some very chocolatey candies - Mocha Brownie Sweethearts (the sweetheart comes from them being cut into heart shapes) and French Truffles. Well, once again, I must have thought I was magical in the kitchen, because I do not have a small heart shaped cookie cutter. The Mocha Brownie Sweethearts are now Mocha Brownie Sweetsquares. And the French Truffles...the recipe is so easy, and as a side note, I think this is a dessert my sister-in-law can eat.

However, after cooling, the truffle chocolate becomes hard. The recipe (another side note: thanks to momsfriend who gave me the awesome cookbook, Extending the Table, with all these cool international recipes in it) says that once you use your fingers to shape the chocolate, it will soften. The recipe failed to mention not only does it soften, but it will turn your hands into a big chocolate mess.

The guests are here, so gotta go now...


Today husband and I had a great opportunity thrown in our laps. Deepak teaches a group of students some career courses, and when he heard our stories about the boss, he said his students should hear as well. They specifically asked how the world was created. So today we went over there and husband told the story right before creation...you know, about how the humans' protectors were created, and how a third of them rebelled, and about the leader of the rebellion, the father of all lies. He told it twice, then the students had a turn at telling the story, in their language, and their homework tonight is to tell 2 people the story they heard.
Already, they are asking how they can overcome the separation between perfection and imperfection. Since they want us to come for an hour three times a week, we should get to the story of the one who cleanses us of our imperfections pretty soon. It's pretty exciting.
And Betsy is doing better after her...operation. We took her down to the class today, and since I was wearing traditional clothes, I had to ride sidesaddle. I felt so very South Asian.


cruising day

"I get 70 miles to the gallon on this hog."

Today husband and I took Betsy for a spin. Betsy is what husband calls the scooter (or really, pretty much anything…guitars, stray dogs, nothing is safe from the nickname). We cruised for a couple of hours, checking out nearby villages and the beautiful scenery.

Can you see the snow-capped mtns in the back?
Check out our way serious helmets

A couple times, Betsy needed to rest because, well, the girl’s old. At one of the rests, we decided to head back, and fortunately the road back was downhill, because Betsy wouldn’t start. We coasted and hoped for the best. Right when the road was too flat to go on, there was a mechanic, so we left her with him, told him we’d be back tomorrow to pick her up, and hopped on a bus to get back home.

Halfway through the bus ride, husband remembered that our house key was still with the mechanic, so we got off at our stop, and got on another bus back to the mechanic. We arrived, after quite a hike and a bus switch, and the mechanic, whose name means ‘Carpenter’ in this language, thrust some tea at us and walked away. Of course, we had to drink it, so we did so as fast as we could, and then had to track down where Carpenter had run off with our keys. The owner of the shop started pointing us where to go, but since we had already been down several shops to ask where Carpenter had gone, we didn’t want to go alone again, so we told the owner to show us. Well in this society, menial tasks such as this get handed off to the guy with the lowest status. So these 5 workers began arguing for several minutes about who had to show us where to go, and finally, the youngest was chosen, and then he walked us the mere 200 yards or so to where Carpenter was. Carpenter was in a hurry at this point, and handed our keys to us and told us to follow him back to the shop to negotiate price. Turns out the head gasket is messed up, or the piston, I’m not sure if they ever decided which one needed work, and our town probably doesn’t have the part, and hey, did you two crazy white folks realize this scooter is too weak to be cruising through the mountains anyway? We finally made it back to our house, over 2 hours after we dropped the scooter off at the mechanic’s. I think today may have been my first and last ride on ol’ Betsy. She belongs on safer and flatter pasture.

Poor Betsy


Coffee Day!

Unfortunately, husband wasn't able to go to the village. As things often change here in South Asia, the "ceremony" was cancelled. That was the reason he couldn't go, and I'm still not sure if he even knew there was a ceremony in the first place. He was pretty bummed about it, but we know there will be more opportunities later.

Today, Hannah and I took a road trip to get some coffee! Who would've thought that I would ever consider a two hour car ride as a day-and-back trip. And technically, it should be, seeing as the town we went to is only about 50 km away (that's about 30 miles for the metric system challenged). That's windy mountain roads for you. Not to mention windy South Asian mountain roads.

So there are two main chain coffee shops here in South Asia, and we have one of them in our town, which is a miracle in itself, considering how small our town is. But the other chain is located on a road in the middle of nowhere 50 km south of us. Hannah and I have been throwing around the idea of going there for a day to study just for a change of pace. It was great, and enjoying the scenery on the way is always refreshing.

Hazelnut Latte and a Chocolate Pie - doesn't get much better than that! The driver stopped at a temple to send money on the way, but in true South Asian style, his cell phone rang and he answered it. Temple time over. And the last pic is a town we passed.