"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Tuesday picture of Haiti : Combing Hair

Eleven weeks since the earthquake, and almost two months since my husband left to go and help with the relief effort, there.

He recently had to go to the Dominican Republic to participate in a conference, in preparation for the big one to be held at the United Nations in New York, tomorrow. While there, his camera was stolen inside his bag, in the UNICEF office - in other words, a place that only UNICEF staff are likely to have access to. To say that he was upset and disgusted it to put it mildly. Luckily, I had asked him to email me some of his pictures, and he had, on that same day. Unfortunately, connexions being slow, he was only able to email a handful. Still, here are two of these pictures, the first one taken in Haiti, the second in the Dominican Republic. Two countries and two people sharing an island.

Everyone has been praising the amazing outpouring of help coming from the DR since day one... and counting. Amazing in light of the bloody history between the two countries. Scenes like this, and the generous response to the January 12 earthquake, make it possible to remember that, in spite of the bad blood, and in spite of the fact that one country is much better off than the other, Haiti and the DR share a lot more than a border.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The beauty of our expat life

On Tuesday night, our daughters' school had their annual stage production, and it was such a joy to see these children partake in a celebration that honored diverse cultures.

The children were awesome, their costumes absolutely stunning, and as I watched my daughter sing a song in Hindi, then play a piano piece from American composer William Gillock, and finally perform an Indian folk dance, I thought about how lucky our Third Culture Kids are to be able to sample the world in this way.

Of course, being an expat has its downsides and heartbreaks, and it's always good, and even necessary to be aware of them, but the breadth of these children's experiences and exposure is something that needs to be celebrated as well. Today's post is an expression of gratitude for the richness of our very colorful life.

Very blurry picture above, because it's not a picture, but a short movie. Unfortunately, I have not been able to upload it. Not quite the tech wizard, me...

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Haiti : 10 Weeks

And this is the official We are The World video. One, because I don't think I can ever get tired of listening to that song. Two, because it features images of Haiti.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Haiti : We Are the World, 25 for Haiti

Insane week, here, which means I had no time for my weekly post on Haiti on Tuesday (nine weeks since the January 12 earthquake.) But I just came across this video. Enjoy...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Our Life in India : Beating the Hyderabadi heat.

The Qutb Shahi Tombs of Hyderabad were built during the reign of each one of the seven monarchs of the dynasty, and are surrounded by gardens that must have been magnificent in the old times. We'd been there a few years back, and I was pleased to see, this time, that there is a lot of work being done to restore them to - hopefully - their original splendor.

But this is not the point of this post. As we wandered about the gardens, I came across a stepwell that I had somehow missed, the first time (wonder how, as I love baolis. There is a beautiful one a the Mehrauli Archaeological park, in Delhi.)

Got it ?

Except that, sign notwithstanding, it is getting very HOT, now, in Hyderabad.

As I walked closer to the step, I saw a crowd watching down, and heard deep splashing sounds like when something heavy hits water.

Sure enough : Young men were diving in? Now, this may not be entirely obvious in the picture, but trust me when I tell you that the water was not exactly clean.

But what really impressed me was that these young men who jumped from a height of 15 to 20 meters seemed to pop back through the surface incredibly fast.

They had a technique, it seems. Sorry if this sounds a little duh, but my own limited experience in diving has always been that the higher the point of jumping, the deeper you go.

I watched these young men, and noticed that they bent their bodies in the air, and that seemed to break the momentum and allow them to resurface really quickly. Feeling very refreshed, I'm sure.

So, that was our slice of Indian life for Sunday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Tuesday picture of Haiti : Fishing Boats

Eight weeks since the earthquake...

... and Sean Penn, who was Bill Maher's guest, on his show,  mentioned how Haiti is no longer mentioned in the news (as many people had predicted.)

He also spoke about the rains that have started, and what that means for the hundreds of thousands of Haitian people who live in refugee camps : diseases, floods, etc.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Happy Holi !

Holi, the festival of colors, marks the end of winter, and is celebrated by throwing colored water and powders at everyone. This year, it was on Monday March 1, and as I type these words, I look at my still very purple fingers, and remember the jolly good time we had.

Here is how to celebrate Holi in 3 easy steps...

1/ To begin, search the town for natural colored powders (an organic store is a good bet.) They come in five colors only : red, blue, green, orange and yellow, while the synthetic ones come in bright pink, purple, etc, and are sold everywhere in the streets. But careful, as some can be toxic.

(I bought a few extra boxes for next year, in case we end up in a place where they don't know about Holi...)

2/ Before you leave home, do cover yourself in oil. Do not forget your hair!

3/ Finally, get several buckets, and fill them with water. If you really mean business, purchase a few water guns (some of those actually looked like really mean war machines, only in plastic.)

Ready ?

Here we go... And whenever you drench someone in water or throw colored powder at them, don't forget to scream HAPPY HOLI !

P.S: Afterwards, spend two hours in the shower scrubbing, scrubbing, and scrubbing until your skin is raw, and watch all the colors rushing down the drain... Discard ruined clothes. Spend a week walking around with green and pink streaks in your hair and exchange knowing smiles with people whose whole neck or side of the face is still bright pink... Who cares? It was FUN !

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Tuesday picture of Haiti : Peristyle Vodou

The last time we were in Haiti, we spent some time in the southern city of Jacmel, as seen in previous posts. One afternoon, coming back from the beach, I spotted this sign on the side of the road, and immediately asked my husband to stop and turn around.

Anyone interested in Haiti knows that Vodou is omnipresent. Yet, it is also very secret, and shrouded in mystery. One routinely hears drums rumbling through the night and voices singing as a Vodou ceremony is performed somewhere in the vicinity. This is something I still hope I can witness some day, so I couldn't possibly pass by that sign openly advertising a Vodou temple without trying to find it. I was curious to see not only what it looked like, but mostly to feel the energy, there.

Except that the sign must have been for the initiates. We spent over an hour driving around, asking everyone we saw (and I don't mean me, the "blan" as Haitians call all foreigners - whether they are white or black, by the way - but my very Haitian and Creole-speaking husband.) People either sent us down roads leading nowhere, or stared blankly and shrugged, as if they'd never heard of a Vodou peristyle in the area.

Needless to say, we never found it. We had to leave Jacmel soon after that, so we didn't have time to further investigate. But I often think about it. Next time...

Seven weeks since the earthquake.