A Pescatarian’s Dream

boat

Fisherfolk in Kovalom. Photo by the author.

I looked forward to sampling the local fish in India as we made our way farther and farther south.

We landed at the southern-most tip in the lovely city of Kovalam at a resort with a pool, hot-running water and a beach view.

After a restful New Year’s sleep, we looked out our window and saw a line of anglers pulling in a net.

The process—which looked like a game of tug-of-war–was well-organized, with men yanking on the line, pulling fist over fist, and chanting a hauling song.

We grabbed our clothes and trotted down to the beach.

Once the net landed in the sand, we saw about 40 bite-sized silver fish flutter and sigh.

Not an impressive catch.

That evening, we joined our fellow travelers and struck out toward the touristy section of town.

For the first time in weeks, we weren’t the only Westerners in sight.

We saw a bevy of blonde, tanned tourists in shorts and sandals, keenly on the hunt for beer. Continue reading

Advertisements
Posted in american indian, authenticity, India, Indian, Kerala, nativescience | Leave a comment

Travelling the World?

81h2s3gqkbl._sx700_

Here’s an idea: Pack for one week

What’s amazing is that even after five decades of trekking the globe, I’m still learning how to be a competent traveler.

My first solo trip was as an eight-year-old.

My parents loaded me on a Greyhound bus for a 300-mile trip from Long Beach to Salinas to visit my cousins.

Since then I’ve honed my packing skills and know to pocket Dramamine, extra cash, Kleenex and bottled water wherever I go.

We just returned from India where I needed …

  • Dramamine for five hours of endless curlicues to the high plains of Munnar (and I still threw up)
  • Extra cash for the restrooms that charge a user fee
  • Kleenex because there’s no toilet paper in the restrooms that charge a user fee
  • Bottled water to avoid diarrhea-inducing tap-water

The biggest life lesson for me was learning how to pack fewer clothes.

The epiphany emerged when I spent a summer in Washington, D.C. on fellowship at the National Museum of the American Indian.

I packed and repacked and packed again, until I made a fateful decision: Just pack enough for one week.

Taking one carry-on bag was liberating.

I packed only enough clothing for one week and used the washing facilities at my sub-let.

I learned to limit my clothing palette to the basics: white or beige and black or blue, with colorful scarves and sweaters to add spice.

When we travelled to London this month I sported one vibrant scarf, one dress, one pair of leggings, one pair of socks and one pair of boots, which I wore for three days and then packed in my carry-on bag (along with my winter coat) and stored at the hotel while we traipsed from London to India.

To plan for India, I had tucked a smaller bag inside my carry-on when I arrived in London.

Once packed for India, my bag and purse weighed 2 kilos less than our allowable 7 kilos (15.4 pounds).

I boarded the plane at Heathrow with sandals (in December)—sturdy, sole-supporting and breathable Keens—and took three pair of capri leggings, four summer dresses, one lightweight wedding-appropriate dress, one summer nightgown, one sweater, one scarf, and a week’s worth of underwear.

With bright, hot weather I needed sunblock which doubled for body lotion and found a lipstick that lasts 24 hours, which I topped off with chapstick throughout the day.

After years of searching for the perfect purse I settled on a cross-body—rather than a backpack or shoulder bag—constructed of thick fabric rather than heavy leather.

The sturdy and light-weight bag has three distinct, zipped compartments and holds my wallet, passport, cell-phone, book, medicine bag, large water bottle and leaves enough room to close the top zipper.

Turns out I had everything I needed to traverse India: cool clothing, bottled water, and motion-sickness meds.

It only took 50 years to sort it out.

###

8 January 2018

#nativewriter

#nativepress

#osage

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

#packfortravel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in nativescience | Leave a comment

It’s all in the sign

Felicitous new year

The signage in South India is fascinating.

Restaurants have “homely” food and you can get a haircut in a “saloon.”

Our haircuts and our hair coloring make us stand out like a beam in a lighthouse.

No one, I mean no one, has white hair like we do.

The women and the men dye their hair black black black and they can’t understand why somebody would want to show off their white locks.

The language here, Malayalum, is insurmountable.

I usually try to learn a few words in the language of the country where I’m going to travel.

For example, we listened to Turkish tapes before our trip to Istanbul.

We couldn’t remember one word once we had landed.

Malayalum sounds like you’re trying to make pretzels with your lips.

So we just speak English and use sign language while we are in India.

We’ve managed to learn the words of much of the food, however.

In addition to homemade breads we get lots of curry here: fish curry, chicken curry, and lamb curry.

And it is highly spiced.

My refuge is bananas.

The local variety is a small, very sweet, yellow banana, which has sated my appetite on more than one occasion.

We drink lots of bottled water, which is plentiful, and have discovered toddy, a fermented coconut drink very much like kombucha.

Our hosts have found a delightful lodging with hot water (mostly) and western-style bathrooms.

Still, we occasionally run into a local bathroom while trekking across country.

Local toilets are called squats.

I leave the rest to your imagination.

The best sign I’ve seen so far is for a restroom that reads:

TOILET

FELICITY

HERE

###

Sign at a national park

1 January 2019

@nativescience

@Nativewriter

Posted in nativescience | Leave a comment

Spending Christmas with the Monkeys

Cows have the right of way

As we wind through the narrow roads in northern India, we occasionally see a cow alongside the car.

Cows have the right of way in India.

I wouldn’t be surprised if cows in other countries pray that when they die they go to India.

Cow heaven.

Yesterday we took a stroll by a river and were met by a family of bonnet macaque monkeys (see image).

The monkeys look like somebody gave them a rat-tail comb so they could part their hair in the middle and grease down the sides, like Alfafa, in Little Rascals.

Baby macaques played with their parents in a game of rumble-tumble-knock-me-down, before taking time out to do some grooming.

One baby lay very still while its parent pawed through fur, looking for critters.

You might not guess that it is Christmas day in Munnar, except all the businesses are shut, the ATMs are fresh out of cash, and occasionally you’ll spot someone wearing a red Sinterklaas hat.

Our hotel even put up a Christmas crèche under a small evergreen tree.

The tree is adorned with lights, a handful of ornaments, and yellow, red and white balloons.

The crèche is made of hay–threaded and braided together, offering protection for the itty- bitty Joseph and Mary and Jesus, who are surrounded by lambs and cows.

But no monkeys.

Happy holidays, everyone.

###

25 December 2018

Photo by the author

Posted in nativescience, Osage, Vacation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What will your Obituary Say about You?

red cloud cemetary

Red Cloud cemetery in Pine Ridge

And what will others think?

Today’s news is full of memories of the 41st president of the United States: George Herbert Walker Bush.

I listened to the entire broadcast of NPR’s live coverage of his funeral because of happenstance: I was working on a project that allowed me to listen while my hands were working.

As you would expect, the coverage was hagiographic.

Speakers used similar words in their praise: hard-working, generous, courageous and skillful.

The words dignity and honor also peppered the eulogies.

One remark I remember is that, as a leader, Bush shared praise with others for successes, and alone accepted the blame for troubles.

What a contrast to what we read in the headlines about the current leaders of our republic.

Instead we hear about partisanship politics and ego-driven management.

We learn our leaders today are driven by secret agendas that benefit them, personally: not the country.

Today I heard stories about how former president Bush worked with folks outside his tribe, and cared deeply about our country, demonstrated by his service in World War II.

I wondered: what will they say about our current president?

Who will care?

Writing for the New York Times, Peter Baker today notes:

While speakers talked about Mr. Bush’s civility, his commitment to the institutions of government and his faith in alliances, Mr. Trump was sitting just feet away, his arms sometimes crossed, almost as if in defiance. Without directly saying so, the speakers pushed back against Mr. Trump …

I wonder: what will people say about me? What about you? Who will care?

The writer Stephen Covey coached business-folk to write their own obituaries.

Covey’s exercise is revealing:

  • Write an obituary from your own perspective about … yourself
  • Write an obituary about what others would say about you
  • Compare the two missives

How do the two perspectives converge?

Is what we think about ourselves the same as what we think others think about us?

That’s a bold and revealing question.

Perhaps a less egotistical question is:

How do we want others to remember us?

###

Photo taken in Pine Ridge by  the author

5 December 2018

#Presidentghwbush

#41stpresident

#mefirst

#portlandia

#bearpeople

#morality

#monopoly

#thanksgiving

#nativewriter

#nativepress

#cetisawkin

#kiyuska

#nationalnativeamericanheritagemonth

#mahtotatonka

#bearrobe

#henrichatillon

#oldsmoke

#osage

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

#thebuddhaway

#deplorable

#dumptrump

 

 

 

Posted in dumprtump, dumptrump, nativescience | Leave a comment

Me, First

1280px-john_william_waterhouse_-_echo_and_narcissus_-_cropped

Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse

Does the Collective Matter? When?

When you research “ways of knowing” among cultures, you find solid evidence that communities are important.

Primitive is the new modern, as we come to realize that it takes many hands to steer a child with love and care.

My favorite metaphor is our (Native) word for “father”—which is the same word for uncle.

All those fathers and uncles stand ready to help the youngin’ into adulthood.

And not just Indians.

My father’s brothers—all refugees from the outback of West Virginia—landed in Southern California after the Korean War.

And each helped raise his brother’s children.

My mother’s clan—the Native American offspring—sent kids to live with sisters and brothers and aunties and uncles, knowing their children would be safe.

My youngest sister came to live with me (I was working in California) during her high school years.

My parents moved to a country with no schools for young women, so they dispatched my sister into my care.

I welcomed the chance to teach her how to navigate life in the United States: how to manage money and how to drive a car.

Later, when my sister decided on college, she chose one close to me, and she became second mother to my babies.

Families remind us that we are not alone, and, for some of us, never alone.

When I hear a CEO or politician brag that only she (or he) can guide us through a crisis, I feel sorry for the sheer nearsightedness.

Most leaders are equipped with a bevy of educated, seasoned mavens whose expertise should be heeded.

The problem arises when confidantes are afraid to be candid, from fear of reproach.

A mature leader needs more than sycophants, brown-nosers, and “yessirs.”

Just like children, to nurture a leader—it takes a village.

###

Day 27: Native American Heritage Month

27 November 2018

Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse (1903), in the public domain

#mefirst

#portlandia

#bearpeople

#morality

#monopoly

#thanksgiving

#nativewriter

#nativepress

#cetisawkin

#kiyuska

#nationalnativeamericanheritagemonth

#mahtotatonka

#bearrobe

#henrichatillon

#oldsmoke

#osage

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

#thebuddhaway

#deplorable

#dumptrump

Posted in nativescience | Leave a comment

Can I Afford to be Moral?

book reading

Books by Native American Authors

The delightful feature of attending Portland’s annual literary fair—held this month–was discovering the works of American Indian writers.

I was transfixed, hearing Layli Long Soldier, Tommy Orange, Trevino Brings Plenty, and a host of American Indian writers talk about their craft.

Listening to each speaker, I took notes, and–once ensconced at home–made a list of the books I wanted to read or share with family: There-There, Heart Berries, Scared Smokes, and Awakenings.

I discovered our beloved bookstore, Powell’s, carried all four books, which could be had for about $108.

After checking Amazon I found I could purchase the exact same books and save about $36.

OK, $36: That’s the price of one fat book or two slim books.

Now I find myself stymied: do I support my local bookstore or buy the volumes at the behemoth?

I figure the writers aren’t to blame—they are caught in the wheels of the publishing structure.

The question is: who benefits from my purchase?

Do I want my dollars to land at Amazon, where I can get books cheaper and delivered right to my door?

Or do I support my local merchant and local workers—some of whom are former students–and schlep over to Powell’s across town—take two hours from my day–and buy the books in person?

Do I have a moral duty to support my hometown bookstore?

Truth is, my family would rather shop at the local hardware store and avoid the Walmart monopoly.

We prefer the neighborhood cinema to the giant movie franchise.

And we sip local coffee rather than Starbucks.

Behaving morally comes at a cost: I will pay 33 percent more to shop locally for four books than I would if I bought them at Amazon.

But if my budget were tighter, could I afford to be moral?

###

Day 25: Native American Heritage Month

25 November 2018

#powellsbooks

#portlandia

#bearpeople

#morality

#monopoly

#thanksgiving

#nativewriter

#nativepress

#cetisawkin

#kiyuska

#nationalnativeamericanheritagemonth

#mahtotatonka

#bearrobe

#henrichatillon

#oldsmoke

#osage

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

#thebuddhaway

#deplorable

#dumptrump

Posted in Amazon, american indian, monopoly, nativescience, Powell's | Tagged | 2 Comments