Friday, January 30, 2015

If you happen to be a Scottish soup maker...

you seriously need to consider ordering one of these Nessie soup ladles.  Because ... hilarious!

From here.  HT Boredpanda.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Tread

This is so cleverly awesome.  It's the Leatherman converted into a wristband. It's 25 tools on your wrist as links.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The island of Zakynthos

How A Bishop And A Mayor Saved 275 Jews in Greece

I watched the ABC's Drum tonight (start watching at 21 mins and finish just before 24 mins) and heard Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, recount a WWII story about the Jews of the Greek island of Zakynthos. 

It was in the context of the importance of not being a bystander to wrong-doing, and it was a beautiful example of people who were prepared to stand up for what was right even at the risk of grave danger.  In short, the Mayor and Bishop of the island offered themselves rather than see the 275 Jewish islanders taken by the Nazis.  Well worth the 3 minutes it takes to hear him tell the story. 

 And if you'd like to know a bit more, this article is an interview with one of the Jews that survived and this article tells the story of a Jewish journalist who stumbles across the story while on the visit to the island and who then plays her own part in returning thanks for the great courage of those involved.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The chillies are not optional

I was running a pile of errands yesterday morning and lunchtime snuck up on me. Feeling ravenous and about to succumb to the smell of the nearest fast-food multinational, I spied a Vietnamese bakery with pork rolls.  Deciding that would at least up my vegetable intake, I ducked in and faced an old Vietnamese lady waiting patiently to take my order.

"I'll have a BBQ pork roll, please, but no chillies."  The chillies were sliced and still bore the seeds so I thought it might be a bit much for me.
"You want everything but no chillies?" she asked a little surprised.
"Yes, please."

And, while I watched, she put together a mouth-watering roll.  Just before the end, she added several small slices of chilli.  Her eyes swept up to my face and she said, ever so sweetly, "Now. I only put two."

I laughed,  "No worries." 

Because apparently the chillies are not optional when she makes her rolls. She was right. What would I know?

I am already dreaming of another one of those rolls.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chez joyeux

Chez joyeux is a blog I read from time to time. Thought I'd share this post with you because I got a good giggle out of it.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The trip

Oh, the relentless jetlag! I still feel awful in the mornings and reasonably bright about 10 pm. However, if I wait till I feel able to write the *perfect* blog post about my trip it will never happen.

So, ten days in India: cold, fascinating, rugged, endearing, tiring, fun.

Cold - my parents live up in the north of India at the base of the foothills of the Himalayan mountains.  So January is very cold. I slept in socks, long undearwear, a woollen spencer, a long-sleeve t-shirt and then flannel pjs over all of that and some nights I wore a beanie for good measure. I don't think it is so much that the weather is extreme - they are down in the valley so they don't get snow - but that the heating that we take for granted in winter is absent and the housing is mainly large concrete bunkers that operate like a fridge. I never went around the house with bare feet or just socks. The concrete floors were like ice and you felt it creeping up your ankles as soon as your little toes touch the ground.

My bedroom.

Fascinating - I enjoyed the sights and sounds and diversions of being in a totally different place. Someone asked my parents before I came if they thought I'd be shocked by India. The answer is, no, I wasn't. In many ways it was very much like my own childhood memories: noisy streets, people and rubbish everywhere, rough streets, auto-rickshaws which are very much like what we got around in, motorbikes, street dogs.... and so on.  So the infrastructure was similar although the culture was different. It's fun to learn things and try and work out how to operate in a new place. I love the tricks and idiosyncrasies that you uncover as you learn how people live, love and work in a different environment.

Walking up the street to get to the main road

Main road
Rugged - my parents live in an apartment on the campus at which they work.  That said, it's very different to an apartment in Australia. There is hot water in the bathroom, but not the kitchen. The tap water is not safe unless it's run through the water filter first. The only heating is comes from a small heater that runs off a portable gas cylinder. They have a fridge and a washing machine.  Their stove is two burners that run off another gas cylinder. They have a microwave, mobile phones and television. Their home is comfortable and it's all fine if you are well. But it's another thing when you are sick. Dad had gastro for two days near the start of my visit after eating something dodgy (we never did figure out what). I felt pretty bad for him when he was under the weather and was trekking out of his bed to the freezing cold bathroom. Now that they are in their 70s, I'm glad they've decided to retire.

The shower.

The bathroom.

The stove.

Endearing - I can understand why they love the place. The campus they are part of is wonderful. Full of delightful people you can't help but fall in love with and full of meaningful, engaging and purposeful work. They are truly round pegs in round holes there. They are surrounded by people who obviously love them to bits and busy each day with kingdom work. I am not the least bit puzzled as to why they've stayed 15 years.

Chocolate Corner - one of Mum's favourite shops.
You just need to know before you go that it is not on a corner
and chocolate is not its primary business.

Tiring - sooooo cold. It was a bit exhausting.  And there was the constant meeting of new people.  And the diving in to deep conversations with the short amount of time available meant that I felt pretty spent at the end of each day.  Getting your head around how you do even ordinary things in a totally different environment and being always on alert for correct manners and conversation is tiring too. Also... soooooo cold.

The horn = indispensable road safety item.

Fun - I am glad I went. I have certainly not 'caught the travel bug'. I was very glad to see my own bed and *carpet* (oh the joy) again. But I did have a lot of fun while I was there. An Australian friend who has been working at the campus for a year took me out on her motor scooter one afternoon.  There I was, zipping along in the frosty air 9 km up the mountain, hanging on to the back of the scooter as we dodged handcarts, street dogs, crazy auto-drivers and slow moving pedestrians, without a helmet and not a care in the world! Shopping at the main bazaar was fun. Being invited to lunch at various houses was great because I got to wander down lanes and spend time in family homes rather than just look on from the outside.

I wish we had this shop near home. I could do with fewer problems.

Not so convinced about the name of this shop, however.

But it is LOVELY to be home.  I am so grateful to God for safety and good health while I was away. And so thankful to be home.  Did I mention home?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack

I am feeling very jet-lagged today so I don't trust myself to make enough sense to write a proper post. Instead, I'll post this ad for a Singaporean bank that I saw about a gizillion times on the flights to and from India.  I thought it was sweet.