Melting Pot

Barcelona, Spain. International Airport. 3:05 p.m.

Standing at baggage claim, awaiting my adventure in this new country and looking forward to practicing some rudimentary Spanish that I kind of remember from high school, and as soon as I think it I find myself in this conversation:

[Enter, oldish man wearing no front teeth, chapped lips, and a blue blazer. He shuffles toward Andrea, standing at the baggage belt. And says…]

“No puedo encontrar mi equipaje.”

[No response]

“No puedo encontrar mi equipaje.”

[Startled] “Oh, um, me? Um…siento, hablo sólo un pequeño español.”

[Pause]

“No puedo encontrar mi equipaje!”

“Again, um, otra sir, no entiendo. Lo siento.”

[pause]

“Usted no es de España?”

“Nope.”

[pause]

[Louder] “No puedo encontrar mi equipaje!”

[To self] “Equipaje? What the hell does that mean?”

“Um, bags? Las bolsas están aquí.”

[Gestures to baggage belt directly in front of them.]

“No, no, usted no entiende.”  [Slower and louder] “¿Dónde está mi equipaje?”

“Oh, you don’t know where your bags are? Um…”

[Points to the arrivals screen.]

“Qué aerolínea? Did you fly? Where? Donde?”

“Nueva York”

“Claro. Belt tres.”

“Gracias señora. Buenas dias.”

[Man shuffles off. Andrea is left at baggage claim flustered, but smiling.]

Conversations like this happen quite frequently when I travel to Europe. In Turkey I was asked questions in Turkish, in Greece in Greek, even in New York I’ve been approached in Italian and Spanish. I guess I look Turkish, or Greek, or Spanish, or Italian. Is it my olive skin? My brown eyes? My chestnut hair? Could be.  The truth is my cultural heritage is a mix of Scottish, English and German. My family’s theory is that when the Romans conquered the British Isles during the Roman Empire, some burly Roman soldier found a Scottish milk-maid he fancied and made his love “official,”  thus securing my future as a melting pot person. I like it actually. I’m proud to be an American of diverse cultural heritage.

I wonder if I’ll be mistaken for Japanese on Thursday?

Glass You Made It

My parents took my brother and I to the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. It was beautiful a beautiful day with my beautiful family.

Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens
Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens
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Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens
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Reflection @ Denver Botanic Gardens

 

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Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens

IMG_1866 IMG_1883

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Dale Chihuly @ Botanic Gardens
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Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens

 

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Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens

 

Mohammad

Mohammad is a driver from the state of Utter Prasesh in north India. He’s moved to Mumbai in hopes of making money to support his wife and daughter. He and his family are Muslim which Mohammad is very proud of. I’ve known Mohammad for three years, met him through my friend Megan (read more about her on her blog http://blondieinbombay.blogspot.in) who found him and knew he was a keeper. He has met my visiting friends, my parents, is always willing to take me where I need to go, and is full of questions about “Mad’am Megan” and “my country.” Today was no different. I needed to go to the Japanese Consolate to submit paperwork for my pending work visa and Mohammad drove me there. Here is a transcript of the hilarious conversation I had with Mohammad this morning, as so many of them are. 
 
It went a little like this: 
 
M: How many brothers you have? 
A: One
M: How many sisters? 
A: None. Just me and my brother. 
M: Oh, father only has two babies. 
A: Yep. Only 2. 
M: How many marriage you make? 
A: I’ve not yet been married Mohammad. 
M: You are not making any marriage? 
A: Nope. 
M: How many years your brother is? 
A: Two years younger than me. 
M: Oh, he is 43? 
A: No. I am not 45 Mohammad. I am 38. 
M: Ok, so he is 32? 
A: He’s 36. 
M: Is he making marriage? 
A: Nope. He’s a musician. 
M: So father not making marriage for you? 
A: Nope. In my country, we marry for love. 
M: Megan mad’am making marriage? 
A: Not that I know of, no. 
M: Megan mad’am also 45 years? 
A: No Mohammad. Megan mad’am isn’t 45 years old. She is younger than me. 
M: Oh, so 42? 
A: No Mohammad. I am 38, and Megan is younger than me. So she isn’t 42. 
M: Oh. ​
M: How much father is paying for your making marriage? 
A: He’s not Mohammad. I am not making marriage right now. And, my father won’t pay for my wedding. 
M: Megan mad’am’s father making marriage for her? 
A: Probably not. 
M: I am making party in UP. You coming and Megan mad’am coming. I making husband for you. 
A: So we would share a husband? 
M: No! I am making brothers. 
A: You are making brothers? Don’t you think they’ll be a little young for us? 
M: (no response) 
A: Because if you and your wife are making them, they aren’t born yet which means they would be way too young for us. 
M: (no response) 
A: Nevermind. Thanks for the ride Mohammad. 
M: Welcome mad’am
 
 

Feeling Blue

I’ve never been a lover of sapphires. Their deep blue color was nice, but not so appealing to me. Having an April birthday, I prefer the clean, crisp diamond to colored gemstones.  But, one look at the azure sea of sapphire toned homes in the Indian city of Jodhpur instantly changed my opinion on the shade.

This most beautiful tangle of royal blue, turquoise, indigo, and slate homes weaves it’s way through the muddled terra-cotta streets leading to the gem in Jodhpur’s crown: Mehrangarh Fort. Deep red, gold, and amber in color it’s stark contrast to the royal blue beneath it only enhances the beauty of the city. 

My parents and I had the pleasure of strolling through the alleyways one afternoon clicking photo after photo. Beautiful blue after dazzling purple, rows and rows of azure abodes, we were mesmerized by the simplicity of these monochrome streets. However, what struck us most was not the richness of color but the strong sense of community woven together as tightly as the intertwining rows of buildings.

Women, men, children, animals clumped together like rubies in a crown, basking in shadow and protection of the ancient fort. Worshipping, having tea, chasing chickens, playing cards or gossiping about the strange tourists asking permission to take their photos. We were welcomed, embraced, shown personal artifacts, and told stories of how magical their blue city is.

Our time spent in the silver chain of sapphires was only an hour, but it was the most significant and astounding part of the city. What lies amongst the ocean of aqua is a deep sense of serenity, contentment, and pride to be part of the diamond that is Jodhpur.

Royal Blue
Royal Blue

 

Rubies in Jodhpur
Rubies in Jodhpur
Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort

Jaipur, India

Printing in Jaipur.
Printing in Jaipur.
Kite flying on the roof. Jaipur, India
Kite flying on the roof. Jaipur, India
Jaipur driver, Jai.
Jaipur driver, Jai.
Jaipur, India
Jaipur, India
Jaipur, India
Jaipur, India
Jaipur, India
Jaipur, India
Temple in the Mist
Beautiful elephant
Amber Fort, Jaipur
Misty Mountainside
Fort in the fog
Courtyard
Courtyard, Amber Fort
Amber Fort
Mom and Dad at Amber Fort
Amber Fort
Gateway to Paradise, Palace at Amber Fort
Amber Fort
Room with a view
Amber Fort, Jaipur.
Amber Fort, Jaipur.
Dense fog, Jaipur.
Dense fog, Jaipur.

‘Twas the Night

‘Twas the night before Holi and all through Bombay,

not a pigment was tossed not even green-gray.

White Kurtas were hung by the window with care,

In hopes that a color parade soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds

While visions of a color war danced in their heads.

With ‘Ma in their Kurta and I in my white,

We had just settled down for a bon-fire filled night.

When out on the street, there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my couch to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I drove like a car,

Tore open the curtains and unlocked the bar.

The moon was abreast on the cobble-stone road,

Giving peace to the people, the cows, and the goat.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?

But a pot-laced bhang-lassi and locals who sneer.

With a rainbow of pigments so bright and so rolly

I knew right away that it must be the Holi!

More rapid than eagles the colors they came,

And they whistled, and shouted, and called me by name.

“Now teachers, and students, and parents, and pets!

On children, now go on, and leave no regrets.

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall,

Hues dash away, dash away, dash away all!”

We sprang from our couches and dressed in all white,

and grabbed all our colors and spray guns to fight.

And we heard, ‘er we danced in the courtyard, delighted

“Happy Holi to all and to all become brighted!”

This is what my white shirt looks like tonight. Complete with color powder packets and water pencils.

Can’t wait to play Holi tomorrow!
For more info on what’s in store for me tomorrow…

http://www.holifestival.org/