Personal Ramblings, Places

10 things airports reveal about people

I’ve been people watching at airports for the past 24 hours. Here are my observations:

1. Parents traveling with three or more children yell a lot.
2. Fathers traveling alone with a brood are like sad pandas that have given up on ever finding a succulent bamboo reed again.
3. Women traveling in really short skirts and really tall heels look like they swam out the same genetic pool.
4. The one tall guy out of every 30 tall guys would be rich if he shared his shopping secret of where to find trousers in the right length.
5. There’s an inordinate number of women who splay glitter and sparkles on their bosom and derriere.
6. There’s an inordinate number of people who have yet to embrace the deodorant.
7. The world would be a more peaceful place if there were walkways exclusively for Type A personalities.
8. Seniors from the age of the telegram panic when they can’t find free WiFi.
9. Even the most beautiful human being looks stupid when lip singing to their iPod.
10. Couples in matching clothes are cuter than kittens in bonnets.

Photo by 褚 天成 on Unsplash

Misc Stuff, Places

why we’re fat

In 1822, the average American ate the amount of sugar found in one of today’s 12-ounce sodas every 5 days. Now, we eat that much every 7 hours.

The average American eats 100 pounds of sugar a year. (Read more here.)
Feature image by Maria Cappelli on Unsplash

Life in Nepal, Personal Ramblings, Places

neither shockers nor surprises

There’s so such thing as quality assurance or JCAHO certification in many hospitals overseas. So, after being shocked by things around Scheer Memorial Hospital for the first three months, we became immuned to pretty much everything. You would also be if you were witness to bricks used as weights for traction; sleeping bags strewn in the hallways for patients when the beds were full; the surgeon walking out of surgery to the maintenance shed so he could retro fit a cranial brace to fit a leg; or a child scream through stitches across his face for lack of anesthesia.

Yeah, you pretty much have to be ready for anything to survive. That’s why when we thought we heard some kind of bleating sound coming from the X-Ray department as we were walking across the hospital courtyard, from home to work one morning, Roy pulled me by the elbow saying, “Just keep walking. It’s way too early in the morning to wonder what that could be. Just keep walking.”

About an hour later, I saw Dr. Rick saying goodbye to his patient. There he was–affluent surgeon, who once lived in the same neighborhood as Tom Hanks, now turned missionary–taking care of the goat of a friend of friend of someone he barely knew. A couple hours of hospital time, x-rays, an orthopedic consult, follow up visit, medical supplies–all pro bono.

Yeah, we saw a lot of strange stuff in that hospital that one would never see in the Western world. And all that we saw made every day so fulfilling and meaningful.

Feature image by Tobias Federle on Unsplash

Personal Ramblings, Places

grandpa’s influence

I found this email from my father to my daughter when she was 11 years old. So glad I saved it–It reminds of all things about him that have influenced her: His encouraging spirit, his dry sense of humor, his interest in history and trivia, his respect for and love of people and cultures, and his astute sense of finances (Well, that last one might just be an Indian thing!)


To: The Residents of the Administrator’s home at Scheer Memorial Hospital, Banepa, Nepal, particularly to one named Sky

From: The Residents of **** Athey Road, Burtonsville, MD 20866, particularly from one called grandpa

Dearest Sky:

Thank you for the lovely card you sent from Bali, and especially for the beautiful, well crafted, letter sent to all of us. Your language was not only perfect, but it tells me that you could turn out to be a better writer than your mom, your uncle, and most definitely your grandpa. And your handwriting is beautiful–not as beautiful as you are, but quite admirable. Keep up those skills.

God has blessed you with so many talents–singing, speaking with choice words, writing, great brains to study, good humor, and so on. With all these, and with the help of God and your parents and the rest of us who love you the most, you cannot but succeed well in life.

Yes, Bali is a nice place. I was three some four years ago, and stayed in a large hotel on the beach somewhat outside the town. I used to go into town almost daily to watch the lovely handicrafts being made. I am not sure if you know it, but Bali and Tamil Nadu (ie., Southern part of India) had great trade links for centuries, beginning some 2500 years ago. That’s why the architecture, the names, and even the use of coconut reflect the style of the Tamil people (ie., me). Even the Hindu religion has had its impact on Bali and the western coast of Java. I am glad you are getting to see so much of the world at this young age, and this should help you appreciate better the cultures and the problems of other people groups.

I know you are studying well. Keep up the good work, and keep prodding your brother to do his studies just as well.

Have you started saving toward a car fund. In another few years, you will be driving, and as I said before, I will match whatever you save.

Love to you and other residents in the administrator’s house, from all of us here.

Feature image by Jara Lenz on Unsplash

Life in Nepal, Places

remembering those 13-course meals

One of our favorite places to eat in Kathmandu was Nepali Chulo. We made sure every volunteer group that visited us experienced  it. For $7, you got a 13-course dinner that included folk dances and raksi on fire.

The food was always so good that I stopped taking pictures once I was served. These were taken on Roy’s birthday. The Klines and the Forbes spent the day shopping, had dinner at the Chulo and pampered ourselves with a night at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza.

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Feature image by Tiago Rosado on Unsplash

Personal Ramblings, Places, Previously Published, Reading Life Between the Lines

The Woman in the Trunk

My most memorable journeys have been those punctuated by stories of people I’ve met along the way. This one happened at It’s a Burl in Kerby.

I almost drove right by the hodgepodge of wood carvings piled along the roadside and the tall strange structure that spewed purple waters into a frothy pool. But I’m glad I didn’t. It was a treasure-trove of art and artists, one of whom was Robert Marconkowski.

Oblivious to the people milling around him and the giant fly buzzing in his ear, Robert buried his head in the cloud of sawdust billowing from his chainsaw. Peering into the trunk of a dead cedar, he was looking at something. Moving closer, I hovered.

He was carving out a woman who stretched from the trunk. Slender yet voluptuous, the woman seemed to rise out of the wood — tall and confident, looking upward, letting her curls fall toward her hips.

Robert didn’t see me. It was more his need for a cigarette than my breath on his neck that finally had him turning off his saw and noticing me.

“How do you do that freestyle?” I asked.

“It’s not me. It’s her,” he said, waving his saw toward the trunk. “She’s been in there all (the) time. I’m just letting her out.”

When I asked him to tell me about her, he set down the chainsaw, lit a cigarette and told me a story that went like this:

“The story doesn’t start with her,” he said. “It begins with her friend.

“The friend is walking through the woods one day. She is thinking, meditating, praying “… whatever “… for her friend. They’ve been friends a long time.

“And then she sees this dead tree in the middle of a forest full of live trees. ‘Not fair,’ she thinks. ‘All these beautiful trees continue to live, but not this one? Not fair.’

“The tree reminds her of the friend for whom she’s been sending up good thoughts. It’s not fair. When everyone around her is alive, why should her friend be dying? Life is not fair.

“The friend circles the dead tree, thinking angry thoughts about life, about cancer, about death. And then she notices what used to be the joint where a strong limb grew out of the trunk. The joint is now a gnarly, empty socket; no strong limb there anymore. But there was something else: a tiny green sapling, stubbornly holding onto life, refusing to give into death.

“The woman’s despair turned to hope. It happened in that one moment. So she brings the trunk to me and says, ‘Make something for my friend.’

“So I looked very hard and very deep inside this trunk. I looked for a very long time, trying to see her, to listen to her. The more I looked, the clearer I could see her. She was in there, struggling to come out and say something. She wanted to say something to this cancer that was trying to kill her.

“Look at her! Can you hear her? She’s looking up, head held high in confidence, breasts anew in victory. And she’s yelling out, as loud as she can: ‘#%@!# cancer! You may kill my body, but not my spirit!’ “

Taking one last puff, Robert put out his cigarette and picked up his saw.

“The best part of the story,” he said, “is that the friend went into remission while I’ve been working on this.”

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_(This one was published in the November 16, 2011 issue of the Mail Tribune’s Joy magazine.)

Feature image by Katie Musial on Unsplash


hughes house, port orford

I am a faithful patron of the National Trust of Historical Preservations. I love old homes and buildings shrouded in history and antiques. I have visited many, but only just recently realized that my memory fails at recollecting details of places I’ve visited. So, I’ve decided to take pictures of places I visit.

This is Hughes House in Port Orford, Oregon. Was there last month. What struck me most was that the volunteers who work hard at keeping the place together cannot have difficulty finding funds and support because the house is now is an area designated as a Tsunami zone. (From the side of the house, you can see the Pacific Ocean.)

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Feature image by Chuck Gasaway on Unsplash