Thursday, March 20, 2008

And you thought I was done...

I know you are thinking, what else could mom possibly share about India that could top the Taj Mahal? Well, I am not sure that this entry will compete with the Taj, but I am sure that you will enjoy these tidbits.
First, how do you think they mow the lawns at the Taj Mahal? Honestly, if husbands everywhere thought that they needed this equipment to get the job done, I don't think lawns would ever get mowed! Pretty clever, don't you think--a lean, green mowing machine!Here is a photo of us checking out the horsepower...or should I say Brahma power! I guess what is missed by the mower, the cows catch it while on their break! Seeing is believing!
In a previous post, I shared with you the crazy traffic that exists in India. A common sight you will often see, are families of three, four, five and six all riding together on a small motorcycle. We took this picture after a meeting...I am sorry that it is only a family a four, which seems rather 'ho hum' after you have witnessed a family of six riding this way in Delhi traffic. Surely you can see how much space is left on that seat...fitting two more children would not be a problem! Look what a darling family this!
Here is fun picture of a typical barber shop...we have seen this particular setting not just in India, but also in Pakistan! I am continually amazed at people's ingenuity when it comes to making a living in Asia. There is no space too small or unique that can't be adjusted to make a living! So inspiring!
A wonderful experience that I need to share is when we visited Gandhi's memorial. He is referred to as Mahatma Gandhi, which means "great soul". He was a man devoted to peace and reform. As we walked into the room where he had spent the last 3 years of his life, I was overwhelmed at the simpleness of his life. His earthly possessions consisted of woven slippers, a bowl for eating, his glasses and walking stick. That is all! There is a magnificent monument to the his historic "Salt March" in New Delhi that is not to be missed. The Salt March was a 241 mile march, completed in just 24 days, to protest the British Salt Tax. The Salt Tax made it illegal to sell or produce salt, allowing a complete British monopoly. All people in India were affected because it made it illegal for workers to collect their own salt from the coasts of India. They couldn't buy the salt, because they couldn't afford it! Gandhi made this a non violent march and it had a great impact on the British rule in India. I think he truly is a great soul!
This picture shows the exact place where he was assassinated. The grounds are so peaceful I loved it!
I think that this just about does it for India...Although I might share some funny candid shots with you sometime! Interested?

Incredible India--The Taj Mahal!

When I last blogged, we were in India, and since I haven't finished sharing our experiences there, I thought I would continue with the tour! Of course, there is one sight that is not to be missed. I am speaking of the Taj Mahal. This edifice is one of the most amazing structures in all of the world. It truly takes your breath away, it is so beautiful! And to think that I have visited it twice! What a gift! The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, and it takes about 5 hours by car to get there from New Delhi. However, seeing the sights in the countryside of India is well worth the long drive!

I thought you might like a little historical background. The Taj was begun in 1632 and it took 22 years to build. It is both a tomb and monument to enduring love. The Emperor Shah Jahan lost his beloved wife of 19 years, after giving birth to their 14th child--she was only 39 years old. Shah Jahan was so distraught with her death, that he resolved to immortalize his love for her by building a monument so incredible that she would never be forgotten. It worked! A more romantic monument would be hard to find. The workmanship is amazing and the use of precious and semi precious stones to accent the walls inside the edifice is a sight to behold. Coupled with the surrounding magnificent grounds, the Taj Mahal truly is the jewel of India.

To go onto the Taj complex, you must put white booties over your shoes. It is very dark inside the edifice and quite stuffy...making it difficult to see the precious inlaid designs on the walls and to breath comfortably! The Emperor and his wife are buried there...underneath the main floor in simple stone coffins. As a interesting side note, many years later, when Shah Jahan was 65 years old, one of his sons deposed him as Emperor and imprisoned him a few miles just down the river from the Taj Mahal. He remained there a prisoner until his death. He was put in room where he could look through the grill work of the prison window and gaze at the Taj Mahal...which brought him great comfort! If you look very carefully, you can see a palace fortress in the background of this picture. This is where he was imprisoned.

The first time that we went, it was in April, and it hot...around 112 degrees F. The white stone of the Taj was blindingly, brilliantly, white! Gazing upon it hurt the eyes! And HOT....oh, it was hot. Walking around the edifice was almost too much to much to bear, especially since our guide was intent on making sure that we learned everything he knew about the monument! When we went inside, it was like taking a steam bath with 150 plus tourists. I have to say, it was a relief to get outside and enjoy some shade under the trees!
Of course, you can't go to the Taj without holding it up...I have to say it, this was not as difficult to do as I thought it would be! Don't you wish you could do this?

Dad and I loved this experience. It is right up there with climbing the Great Wall of China!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It serves me right!

Ever since Erin and Kara started blogging, I have been rather impatient with them when their posts are sporadic. Since I tend to check their blogs at least twice daily, hoping for new postings, I become a little exasperated when nothing new comes up. I must admit, I have on occasion suggested that they could be more consistent with their blog posting. However, today is a new day! Now that I have a blog I completely understand why they don't post every day...

I love it when there are photos to share, and so, today, I shall share some of our India experiences via photos. It is difficult to find the words to describe India. The women in their saris are beautiful and colorful; the streets are exploding with sights, sounds and smells that have you saying over and over again, "I can't believe I am seeing this!"

While driving in heavy traffic, dad and I just looked at each other and exclaimed, "Surely that can't be an elephant...on a freeway overpass?" We took this photo just as we passed them!

This is what traffic looks like on a normal day. Six or more vehicles all vying for 3 lanes of traffic! Look one drives in their assigned lane! It seems completely crazy to me, but everyone seems to know just what to do! Not only do they make the most of the number of cars on the road, but they are also great at getting the maximum number of people in a vehicle.

One of the highlights of being in New Delhi is visiting Old Delhi. Look at the crazy conglomeration of electrical wires overhead--how would you like to be an electrician figuring this out?
This is a typical street scene in Old Delhi. Can you picture yourself pulling this load?

How about this load?

Finally, here are a couple of pictures that will forever change the way you think about ironing!

First you heat the coals!
Then you put them in the iron!

Now you are good to go!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Year of the Hair--1960!

I was looking at my photos today, and came across this picture of me from the 5th grade--probably taken in late September, or early October of 1960. This is the kind of memory that is pretty funny now, but extremely traumatic then!

In the spring of that same year (4th grade) my dad said that I could get my hair done in a real beauty salon. My mom and I decided that we should try a moderately curly perm...I was so excited to have bouncy curls, that I was counting the days until I could get it done. My dad said that we would even go to Lethbridge to have it done. Lethbridge! Can you imagine that? My dad was willing to drive 30 miles so that I could get my hair done! I was so excited! Of course, what I didn't realize, was that my father's idea of a professional beauty salon was the local beauty school for aspiring young hair-dressers (as they were called back then). The other reason my dad was so anxious to take me to the Lethbridge Beauty School, was that the cost was five dollars. Five dollars to cut, perm and style my hair...and with prices like that, the beauty school was assured of a consistent clientele. The day arrived--it was a Saturday morning in April and we made sure that we were there when they first opened. From 10 until 3 I was in the chair--while some young girl struggled to put the perm curlers in and saturate it with solution. Five hours later I was finally finished! My hair was so thick with curls she could barely get a comb through it to style it. The perm smell was so strong that it made me want to hold my nose. The hair-dresser told me not to wash my hair for a couple of days, so the perm would NOT lose its curl. (There was absolutely no chance of that happening...EVER) After the two days had passed, I was excited to wash and style my hair. I kept envisioning the lovely curls and how Louise (my BFF) would be so jealous. I remember washing my hair and then drying it. To my horror--where there should have been curls, there was only frizz...lots and lots of frizz. So much frizz, in fact, that my head looked like I had a hair helmet on. The tears flowed and I was so mad at my dad, that I told him that I would never, ever, go to a beauty school again! He responded that we couldn't blame the school, after all, they were just learning--but think of the money we saved! Sadly, I soon realized that the only way I could make my hair look "normal" was to wet it down and put some Dippity Doo on it to keep it in place!

Now, perhaps, you can understand why I told you it was in late September or early October of that same year when I got my 5th grade picture taken...some 7 months later...7 long months of hair washing, dippity dooing and praying for the perm to relax and "just go away." However, when the school pictures were announced, I was devastated. Yes, the hair had relaxed a little, but it still required a wetting down and dippity doo! I remember crying as I wet my hair that morning, knowing that this year I would not have anyone telling me that my school picture looked like a movie star...(My friend, Patty Jensen had taken a "movie star" picture the previous year, and me and all of my friends wanted our picture to look like hers--Come to think of it, she was the reason I wanted a perm--she had soft curls and looked fabulous!). Needless to say, the 5th grade would not be my year to dazzle--only to look frazzled! (I suppose I don't need to tell you that Louise was never jealous of my beauty school curls.)