We're leaving for Thailand, so I may not be able to blog as often. Since you may come to the page periodically and see the same post for awhile, I thought I'd try to do a reminder post. I'm going to post about my good friend Jaya*, and my hope is that every time you come to this page and see the same post, you will be reminded to lift up Jaya.

I met Jaya earlier this year walking in the park. She was walking with her mom, who happens to live next door to her. We struck up a conversation, and I asked her last name in case she was a J. Her last name was not a common J last name, so I figured she must not be one. Then, about month later, she told me that is a J! Isn't that just like the boss to introduce me to one of the few J's living in our neighborhood?

Jaya married the boy next door (literally) and has a son. Her husband, by hobby, is a musician, and his parents are artists. Like most typical families here, they live with her husband's parents. If she lived in America, she would be the team mom in little league. Every so often, she hosts some sort of game (usually cricket) for her son and any of his friends, at a local sports complex, and provides lunch and prizes for all the kids. Every time I go walking with her, a dozen kids will come up to her at different times calling her Auntie and asking her questions. She thinks she doesn't have many friends, but she is well known in the neighborhood.

We joke a lot when we are together, and she laughs often and loudly. We talk about Bollywood probably too much. She loves SRK even more than I do. She says she used to talk about him so much that her husband refuses to watch any of his movies now! Jaya loves to serve us food, snacks, ice cream, or lemonade any time we come over, and will even bring food to us when she makes more than her family can eat. They also have the fattest yellow lab I think I've ever seen, and she tells me he has a crush on me, because every time I go over there, he freaks out. They can't even bribe him away from me with food, and have taken to locking him up in a room when I am over because otherwise he jumps on me, and like I said, he is too fat for that. Jaya tells me all about their culture and says that I am even more South Asian than some of the real South Asians. She tells me I am too formal with her though, and I've had to convince her that should treat me the way she would treat a South Asian - not call before coming over, etc. It's so hard for me to not call before showing up at someone's house that I still call her, and I guess she's decided to follow my lead.

Jaya is very excited for the arrival of the baby. She told me she's coming over every day after the baby is born. She's also really excited to meet my mom and mother-in-law. I think they will love her!

She has a certain room in her house where she does worship to her idols. (this is very typical) She never goes to the temple, but does all the offerings at her house. I have shared with her my story in two languages, and also the good news. I have told her a couple of stories from the book. She loves to hear about my beliefs, but she doesn't see hers as any different. I will be gone for a month - please join me in asking that the boss will work in her heart, and the hearts of all her family members, while I am away. My hope is that I come back and they all have questions for me and husband, and that they accept the truth.


the gas men

The other day, the gas men came to our place as a safety house call. They flashed their official gas men cards and I let them in. They were checking our stove. Our stove sits on top of the counter and has 4 burners and 4 knobs, and that's all it has. That's the way stoves are here - South Asia hasn't quite modernized enough for the nice ranges with built-in ovens and timers and broilers and all that. It's just a stove, nothing else. And it's a gas stove, which I've actually come to appreciate a lot more than electric stoves because you light the burner, and immediately it's hot.

All stoves here have a big gas cylinder connect to them through a regulator and some sort of hose. Now, most kitchens are equipped with a place to put this cylinder - under the counter, in a shelf, etc. But not ours. So our big ol' gas cylinder just sits in the middle of the kitchen and we're always having to slide it around to get into cabinets and such. We've gotten used to it, so it's not a big deal. But I'm sure visitors find it pretty amusing.

So back to the gas men. This is the first time we've had them come by for a courtesy safety check, so I was pretty intrigued. They came to check on a gas leak, and I tried explaining to them that I had no money with me at the time, and one of the men seemed extremely insulted by this comment. "It is for your safety!" he practically yelled at me. Glad to know the gas company takes gas leaks seriously.

I have no idea how they do it in the states, but here, they test for gas leaks in a very unorthodox way - by lighting a match.
First, they turned on all 4 burners at one time. Then he asked for a matchbook. Actually he asked for a candle, and when I handed him one, he was extremely confused. Finally I figured out his word "candle" really meant matches. So he lit the match and held it at each knob on the stove to check for a leak. Two of the knobs caught on fire (their reactions were pretty funny to this, but it's impossible to describe) meaning two of the knobs had a leak. The men tightened up some stove parts under the stove, jotted down their number for husband to call about replacing the two knobs, and then left.

It all happened very fast, and at the time I didn't think anything weird of it until I told husband in the vicinity of our volunteer team. They all looked at me very strangely when I mentioned he checked for a gas leak by lighting matches. See, this is why I need Americans fresh from the states around me so I can be reminded how odd things seem sometime.


random bits and pieces

My mom said I'm not blogging enough. I told her she doesn't comment on my blog so she has no voice to complain, but she did carry me for 9 hot months and gave birth to me, so I guess she gets a voice by default. I have nothing of blog-worthy nature right now, but here goes my best shot.

1. I have a baby blog. If you want the address, email me and I'll be happy to send the link to you.
2. We leave for Thailand next week! I get to eat beef and seafood, swim, stay on a lake for 2 nights, get out of the heat/monsoon (although it is rainy season there now too), and find out the sex of the baby. Will he be EJR? Or will she be HER? How funny, I never realized the girl name's initials.
3. Speaking of beef, I've been missing meatloaf lately. I love my mom's meatloaf! I got an idea yesterday and after a delivery from our butcher, a check online for special instructions (there were none), and a quick phone call to my mom, I finished up with mutton meatloaf! Yea! It tasted exactly the same. Why didn't I think of that before?
4. Husband is blogging again! Will it last? :)


hot season parties

I think the heat has driven us to entertain ourselves, because this week has been full of parties! First, last Saturday night, some of our friends in the eastern part of town hosted a ladies game night. I finally got to stay a night at the famous "EDH", there was more food than we could eat, and ended up playing a big game of Taboo. Is it boasting to say that my team won? :)

Then, we had our team and three others over to our house on Sunday. They wanted to watch a Bollywood movie, and well, I would never stop anyone from cheesy musical fun. All 14 of us gathered into our bedroom because that's the room with the A/C. They all really enjoyed it (well, all but the two who fell asleep, and frankly, I blame jet lag) and I even caught several tearing up. They have been asking me to take them to a movie store to buy some more, so I'm glad that I could convince them, if not my parents, to watch it. Maybe it takes being here to fully enjoy the movies?

And finally, there was a farewell party this week for 3 of our friends last night. 2 of them, J&K, are leaving tomorrow, and then next week, LR is leaving. Goodbyes are the nature of our business, but that doesn't mean we won't miss them. Our Capital team really got into American Idol this year, so the farewell party was AI themed. And it was put together by our storytelling team here, so as AD, our "Ryan Seacrest" said, last night was American Idol, Story Telling theme night. 3 contestants told some oft-forgotten but fun stories from our beloved Book, mentored by a "world renowned" storyer with a questionable accent, and then the contestants were judged. I was asked to be Paula - should I be insulted...? Anyway, after the stories, the hostess pointed out who was really going home this week, and we had a nice little time of goodbyes.

Contestant #1 telling a story about a king getting eaten by worms. She pointed out this was a story the audience could relate to.

Fans holding up signs for those going home

I love our team here. They are so creative. I mean, they even made signs, like "Mom the Bomb" or "Lindsey Frenzy." How cool are these people??


we're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave....

Our team is here! They are the biggest troopers too because, and I don't think you'll even believe me when I say this, but this past weekend we had quite the heat wave and the high on Saturday and Sunday was 120 degrees!! (according to weatherbug) On Friday night, I went walking in our park with Jaya from 7-8, and we kept exclaiming over and over again how incredibly nice it felt outside, such a cool relief after the 117 degree day. I got home after the walk and saw that it was still 108 outside! haha And this weekend the weather is supposed to go back down to 105 or so, and we are all looking forward to that "cool front".

So what does 115+ degrees feel like? Well I'll give a few examples. There is no such thing as a cold shower anymore, because the black water tanks are located on the roofs. We went two days without any water, and when the water man came to look at it, he discovered that our water pump had actually melted. Speaking of melting, one of my magazines melted. That's not as surprising as one of my friends here - she told me her bathing suit straps had melted. (!) Chocolate is no longer in a hard form. You literally drink water all day long and never have to go to the bathroom. And finally, if you really want the full effect, just get a hair dryer and blow it in your face. That is our breeze. :)

The paper yesterday said it hasn't been this hot since 1945. I told my mom that, and she laughed and said welcome to her second pregnancy! Apparently when she was pregnant with me was the hottest summer they had had in decades. So now I'm getting paid back for the pain I caused my mom. :)

So the moral of this blog is don't come visit us in June.


good ideas

After having experienced life in South Asia, I can't help but compare it to life in America. And I've noticed that, of course, there are things that America has to offer to South Asia, but surprisingly, South Asia has some to offer to America as well.

We'll take what South Asia could glean from America first: people who keep track of medical records. First of all, this is a country of a billion people, many of whom could use a better job, or a job at all. Why not employ some people to work at doctor's offices and hospitals who keep the medical records? Instead of what to me seems like such a logical thing, the patients themselves have to hold on to our own records, and lug them around everytime we go back to the doctor. There are no patient charts, and doctors here have no comprehension why this crazy foreigner has once again forgotten to bring her records with her, and so makes it hard on the doctor to figure out how to treat her or know her history. I try, really I do. But I am so accustomed to not having to take anything but money to the doctor's office that I forget about half the time to take my charts with me. South Asia, why not make it easier not only on the patients, but also on the unemployed, and hire some people to keep record of medical charts?

There are 2 great ideas that work here that I think should be copied in America, pronto. One is the movie theater seating charts. I can't tell you how many times we have gone to the movies in America, getting there pretty early too, only to find that there are no two seats together, and the people already sitting refuse to move over one seat. Here, when you buy your tickets, you also must pick out where you will sit. They show you a little diagram of the movie theater, you pick out your seats, they print the seat numbers on the tickets, no one has surprises when they arrive in the theater, neither did they have to arrive 5 hours before the movie started just to make sure they could sit together, and everyone is happy.

Another great idea to introduce to America is the traffic light timer. When you sit at some traffic lights here, you can see a little countdown timer telling you just how much longer it is until your light turns green, or the opposite, how much time you have before your green light turns red. And if that's not enough to lower stress during traffic, if you do miss the green light and have wait, the red lights will sometimes actually say, "Relax" on them. Who can stay stressed with that reminder?