Tag Archives: trash

Twisted Sister………

This morning when I was getting dressed, I was really missing India.

Yep, you read that right. I miss living in India this morning.

I have this bra that drives me nuts. The strap is twisted and I cannot get it straightened out.

Are you really confused now? Are you wondering why that would make me miss India?

Well, if I was still in India one of these things would happen….

The lady who did my laundry (yes, I miss that too) would notice the strap before I did and she would know a professional bra strap fixer who would fix it for about fifty cents.

My laundress would spend about 25 minutes explaining to me that she did not twist the strap. In fact, she has absolutely no idea how the strap got twisted. Maybe the housekeeper did it. But it’s okay because she knows somebody. A professional bra strap fixer.

If that professional could not fix it, she would know another professional bra strap replacer who specialized in just replacing straps. The old strap would be replaced with a new strap that is a little off color but it would be good enough. And that old strap would be turned into a shoelace by a professional “turning bra straps into shoe laces” specialist.

If those two tacts failed miserably, then I would simply abandon the perfectly-good-except-for-the-strap bra in the trash. And the lady who did my laundry would take it home and love it like no bra has been loved before. It would likely become a family heirloom and get passed down through generations.

There’d be no wasting and everyone would be happy and three people would have gotten paid something for their efforts.

So hard to explain………

I have been really grappling with how to share my transition back to America. It’s hard to explain. Sometimes I am truly paralyzed at the thought of doing it all justice which means that I have not been putting fingers to keyboard very much and I am afraid that some of it is going to slip away from my memory.

At least ten times a day, I look around and think (sometimes to myself and sometimes to any poor soul standing near me) that America is exactly the opposite of India. And I really, really mean that. It is exactly the opposite! And that does not mean bad or good – just so extremely different that I know my words would have a hard time describing it accurately.

This morning at Walmart was no exception. Just walking into Walmart is a little bit overwhelming. Heck, just getting to Walmart is different. I grab my car keys and I hop in the drivers seat and I drive myself there. No waiting for Rajinder to fill his water bottle. No giving a list to Francis and Rani for what I want. No asking Ravi if he needs anything. No trying to translate what he actually asks for. No waiting for the guard to unlock/open the gate. And certainly no wondering if I will be able to find what I need. Just me, myself, and I hop in the car.

I control the radio – hey, I listen to the radio. I decide which route to take. This way or that way is up to me once more.  On the way to the store, I pass tons of green trees along roads where (nearly) everyone stays in their own lane (everyone except those dingbats who are texting and driving – seriously that needs to stop). No one honks their horn. People stop at red lights and use their blinkers. There are no wild cows or dogs on the road. In fact, people are walking dogs on leashes and they are fatter than they need to be – the dogs and many of the people. There are no children begging or doing tricks on the side of the road. There are no bicycles with 3 or even 4 people on them. There are no women on the backs of motorcycles with their dupattas (scarves) flowing dangerously close to the back tire. There are street signs (in English) absolutely everywhere. There are no people running to literally catch a bus that is so full of people that it already looks like it might explode.

I pull into Walmart’s abundant parking lot and I pick where I want to park. I don’t have to tip anyone to push another car out of the way to make room for me. I don’t have to ask Rajinder where I should meet him when I am done or explain how long I think it might take. A man greets me as I enter the store and I get a cart. Oh sweet shopping cart heaven. No one follows me through the store. No one asks me 25 times if I need help. Two people and two carts can easily pass each other on each aisle. And while I am shopping I can get a Subway sandwich (with meatballs and s.a.f.e. lettuce), order eyeglasses, fill a prescription, develop photos, and just about anything else I want to do.

I do have to push my own cart and pull my own items from the shelves. And it takes me so much longer because there is so much more to look at and so many more choices. But I only have to go to one store.

The reason I went to Walmart was to get clear trash bags for the recycling container. Once again, we are responsible for our own recycling. And we have two trash cans in the kitchen. One for regular trash and another for anything that can be recycled – paper, plastic, glass, and metal items. So I like clear bags for the recycling. That way we can tell which is which and the trash men know which bags have recycling in them. I also wanted small bags for cleaning out the cat litter.

Here again I am assaulted by choices. Upteen size and color options. I really just want trash bags but now I have to decide if I want white, flexwhite, green, black, clear, or slightly opaque. Do I want handles or ties or looped handles. Do I need 8 gallon, 15 gallon, 33 gallon, or yard bags. It takes me just a second to focus. But then I found the recycling bags I wanted.

Now onto the small trash bags. Holy trashbag batman – they come in colors – vanilla and mint green. Then, I realize – not just colors but scents. Huh? I fully understand that perfume was invented to cover up body odor – but we have moved away from that because it can really be a toxic combination. And as such, deodorant was invented. Perfume is much better on a bathed person and scents are much better for candles. And I know the makers of these cute little mint green 8 gallon bags with handles did not know that they would be used for litter – but the potential certainly existed that they would be used for something smelly. And not for nothing, who decided that 76 bags was the right number of bags. That must have been a fun meeting. And who lost out – the person who thought that 88 was just the right number?

So India is the land where not much of the trash finds its way into a bag and America is the land where trash bags are supposed to smell like a cupcake or a bowl of ice cream. I really don’t know if this makes sense to anyone who has not lived in both places – but honestly, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is different, different.

And the the final irony is that I searched and searched for these small bags for our kitties poop only to be given about 15 bags of almighty plastic to hold all of the c-r-a-p that I bought at checkout. And they are the same, same size and they do not smell like cotton candy and they would work perfectly fine for holding cat litter. And I would be recycling if I just used those.

On to checking out. Even that is different. The woman in front of me was using coupons. Dang, I forgot about that. Note to self – get Sunday paper, cut out coupons, and remember to bring them to the store – then remember to use them at checkout.

Most transactions in India are in cash – so the debit card machine temporarily stunned me. Do I want cash back? It’s a simple question – but I forgot that it prompts you for that. I stand there waiting to be done – and the people behind me think I have dropped in from another planet – how can I possibly not know what to do here. Okay, okay. No, I don’t want cash – well, unless it is a door prize – but I am guessing that is not the case, so no, I don’t need cash back. But that is not the end of it. Do I want to contribute to a fundraiser for a children’s hospital? I can buy a paper balloon and write my name on it. I should not have to think about it – but wait a minute – what did you ask me? Oh, a charitable donation? Sure. How much? A dollar? Fine. And no thanks, I don’t need to write my name on the balloon. Besides, my hands are full because I am going to have to carry my own bags to the car and remember where I parked it.

This guy – bicycles in Beijing………

A little while ago, I wrote a this guy post with random pictures of people we have seen along the way in our travels through Asia. This seemed a fitting way to make tribute to the many, many bicyclists we saw in Beijing. They were everywhere – and, India, if you are listening, the major roads in Beijing have bicycle lanes. I am sure I don’t need to tell you the number of reasons why this is a very, very good idea. 😉

And the helmet phenomena has apparently not hit Beijing. I did not see one helmet during our journey.

Anybike, it seems Delhi has many more motorcycles/scooters and Beijing has many more foot-powered bikes. But bikes were used for more than just transportation. These guys had bikes-slash-food stalls.

So sorry that the tree got in the way on this one – but I don’t know if I have mentioned that I am not a professional photographer and it is actually quite difficult to get a picture of a moving target when you are yourself moving and trying to take in all the sites. 😉 This bike looked like something out of the M.A.S.H. tv show but I don’t think that this guy was Radar riding on it.

I love this one – it is the bicycle repair shop. Fantastic. This guy can fix your bike – I bet he could even do it while you were riding by.

Yes, I am aware that this is not a bike – but it is fun, isn’t it? I think this is China’s version of a rickshaw – but don’t quote me on that.

This guy has the tire bike. But they are clearly not tires for bikes.

This guy has the trash bike.

A mini bike parade.

Another trash bike – maybe this is why there wasn’t much trash on the streets.

I have no idea what is in this bike – but it looks like it might be a cooler of some sort – so maybe drinks.

This guy is delivering someone’s lunch and apparently did not want his picture taken.

Another “I don’t know” picture – but fun.

This just might be my favorite. I love the baskets on the front of the bikes.

And more recycling. Yahoo!

And you might notice that there are no women in these pictures. Please don’t take that to mean that there are no women on bikes in Beijing – there are certainly women riding bikes. I just did not happen to capture any of them. Remember the whole “hard to take pictures of a moving target while moving” blah, blah, blah?

Seriously, feet and facebook………..

I try not to take myself too seriously. I see this blog as more therapeutic than a quick road to riches. And until a book publisher contacts me (anyone, anyone,  Bueller, Bueller), that is what I will continue to do. But, sometimes I do find myself wondering why I am doing this and who is really reading it anyway. I’ll admit my children sometimes try to read it over my shoulder (while I am writing of course), which, while endearing, ends up being mostly annoying  because it is hard to write and answer a million questions at the same time.  And “wait, go back” can kick a ingenious writing idea right out of your head faster than you can say blog post. Anyblog they are supposed to wait and read it when I am dead and gone so that they can marvel at how fantastic we were to drag them all over the world and how wonderfully I captured our memories. And number one hubby comes home every night and says, “I saw your blog today……” and comments on what he read. However, most of my readers remain nameless and faceless. There was even once a commenter whose name was “Can I please remain Unknown”. Pretty funny.

Luckily, I can answer some of those probing questions about why and where my readers come here by myself. (Hello Vietnam!) I get wonderful emails about my blog and lots of positive feedback from friends and readers. And, as the owner of this blog, I can see the key words that people use to find my blog on the great blogosphere. Some of those key word searches make me laugh and many of them make me wonder just what in the heck people are really looking for – and, more to the point,  w.h.y. they are looking for w.h.a.t. they are looking for. Some of you really should be embarrassed. 😉

Some bloggers will use these key words to their huge advantage to attract more hits on their blog. Throw in a couple of “trashy” words and your blog stats head up, up, up. That ticker ticks away higher and higher reader counts. (Of course, I am not talking about my blog friends – most of them write what they want and could give a rat’s arse about how many people read it.)

I try to be careful not to use too many “inappropriate words”. Remember my children sometimes read this over my shoulder. I try not to use words that will attract the attention of  Jerry Springer, ped*philes, terr*rists, or hubby’s old girlfriends. So, my stats roll slowly along. They are crawling at a good pace – we just hit over 70,000 together. Yippee!

Today, though, I am back to wondering if my blog has real appeal. As I travel the world and capture our experiences and impressions, my two most popular posts are about feet and facebook. Not poverty, not the Taj Mahal, not parenting (although it might be good that people are not seeking parenting advice here), not even living abroad, but feet and facebook. Wow. I may need to start trash talking. Seriously………..

A Perfect Example……………

I read a friend of mine’s post of Facebook the other day about her au pair quitting. It was a bad time for her not to have help and she was a little down. She went so far as to say “why me”? I felt bad for her but it was a little hard to delve too deep into sympathy. And I realized that it must be that way for many of you when I tell my tales of staff woes.

Always, I try to be clear that I am thankful for the help I have and I appreciate the work they do. Most of the time, I do not complain. Really. No, really, I don’t. Even what I am about to share with you is not a complaint – it is just an example of why it is hard to add extra people to your day.

We have a new cook. He is married and he and his wife have worked together for a long time. We only needed a cook. But….. now we have a cook and his wife. They have two adult sons. We have fairly decent quarters. I am not letting two adult men live behind my house. So, we also pay them extra for housing. So, now it is costing us a wee bit more than it should. However, they are a lovely couple and I am very happy to have them here. I do believe you get what you pay for.

They are also kind and easy to be around. The other day, Francis comes up to me with a large green piece of fruit.

Francis: Do you like these ma’am?
Me: Uh, what is it?
Francis: It is a grapefruit, they were selling them at our church, we got you one.
Me: Wow, thank you. That was really sweet.
Rani (Francis’ wife): I will peel it for you so you can have it for breakfast. It is better to eat it on an empty stomach.

Okay, yes – awwwwwwwwwwww – that was really, really thoughtful. However, I am not a big fan of grapefruit. Yes, I really, I should just be grateful. However, I am really not a big fan of grapefruit. I am also not a big fan of breakfast or of things that are best eaten on an “empty stomach”. Maybe it’s me – but telling me that is not exactly enticing!

Anyway, Rani stands over the sink for about one hour and peels the grapefruit. Why does it take an hour, you ask? Because in India, peeling grapefruit does not simply mean removing the peel – it also means removing each piece of pulp and separating it from the membrane. No, I am not kidding. Yes, I walked into the kitchen at least five times and told Rani she really did not need to do that and I marveled at how much work it was. I did not add that it was all unnecessary because it was highly unlikely that I was going to actually eat a grapefruit. But you can be sure I thought it.

Jewish mothers have nothing on Indian staff when it comes to making you feel guilty. They don’t even mean to make you feel guilty. But how can you watch someone painstakingly peel the pulp of a grapefruit from its membrane and not at least try it. Dang it.

True to my normal forgetful self, the next morning, I totally forgot about the grapefruit. When Rani came in, she asked me if I liked it. She had already moved past me and was closer to the fridge than I was – so I had to be honest and say I didn’t feel great that morning. I was simply saving it for tomorrow morning.

Morning number two. I remember to pull out the grapefruit. My teeth are sensitive so I don’t like cold fruit. And I do not like grapefruit. Did I mention that yet? So, I let it sit for a little bit to warm up – I felt like I was five and my mother was about to spoon feed me cough medicine. Then I remembered that my dad puts sugar on his grapefruit. Hurray. That is what I could do. So I pull out the sugar container and dump 3 big spoonfuls of “sugar” on my grapefruit. Only, I have a cook, so I am not in the kitchen that much and apparently – when you haven’t been around it that much – salt looks just like sugar. Dagger.

So, in reality I dumped 3 very large spoonfuls of salt right onto my grapefruit. Did you know that I have Meniere’s and that I have to really, really watch my salt intake or I get nauseous and very dizzy – like can’t walk straight dizzy. Yes, brilliant.

Did you also know that Indian houses don’t have garbage disposals and that the toilets don’t generally flush everything down? Did you also know that in India, people are very resourceful and will go through the trash because there isn’t too much that cannot be reused. So, I could not dump the pulp down the garbage disposal (don’t have one), I could not flush it down the toilet (would not have all gone down and Rani cleans the toilets), and I could not throw it in the trash (because sometimes they sort through my trash). Because, even if you are rooting through MY garbage, I think it would be rude to throw away a gift from you.

Yes, I did try to rinse it off and then add the real sugar. Yes, I really did. No, it didn’t work so well.

My good intentions were making me crazy and I decided that I had to throw away the grapefruit. There was just no way I could risk taking in all that salt. And, besides – have I told you – I. do. not. happen. to. like. grape.fruit.

So, I wrapped it in a paper towel. But it seeped through the paper towel. So, I put it in a plastic bag and tied it in a knot. But I just knew it would be discovered. So, I went to the cat litter and cleaned out a little bit and put that in the bag and tied two more knots in it.

It sounds crazy – and it probably was – but, now, I couldn’t eat it – and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

Do you see how complicated it becomes and that is just the grapefruit! 😉

Hate your job?

Check this out – these guys pick thru garbage a-l-l d-a-y l-o-n-g. Please remember it is well over 100 degrees here and very humid.


India actually has an amazing recycling program. Many, many people will pick thru your garbage to find anything useful. There is someone who takes out the cans, someone else who takes out the cardboard, someone else who takes out the glass. So all that is left really is garbage.

Dear Mr. Hefty……

Dear Mr. Hefty (yes, as in the trash bag man),

I know times are lean and everyone is cutting back – but, it is not helpful that you are making your black trash bags thinner. So thin, in fact, that now you can apparently see through them. Yes, right through them. No x-ray vision required.

How do I know that you ask? Well, Mr. Hefty, I am trying to covertly clean out my house of all the j.u.n.k. that we my children have sequestered over the past 10 years. I did not think that I needed the dark of night to sneak the hostages out of their secret hiding places in my children’s rooms and out to the curb for the trash men warriors. But I was w.r.o.n.g. Dead w.r.o.n.g.

Mr. Hefty, I wonder if you are aware of what exactly it is that happens when a child realizes that things s/he has not played with for well over a year are being taken out to the trash. Those things become new again and oh so sought after. And yes, I am fully aware that it is my job as a parent is to put my foot down and my trash bag out. But it is easier with dark, thick black trash bags. Really, really it is.

Mr. Hefty, black is the new black. Dark black. Thick black. Black that you cannot see through. Bring back the thick, black trash bags.

Not exactly hugs and kisses,
One very tired mom

Some updates……….

Just a few random updates in case you are wondering…….

We now have Laxmi cooking for us. Monday she made chicken enchilladas and last night roast beef. She is a very good cook and has a sweet disposition. I think she might be a keeper. She made homemade bread yesterday and has promised to make cookies today. YAHOOO!

Our allergies are really bothering all of us. It does not rain here much at all – yeah, I know, just wait until June.

You hear a lot about malaria when you are coming to India – but Denge fever seems to be at least as big of a worry. Yeah, that’s great.

I have two blog friends who are moving here this summer – one from Ohio and one from France. Yes, I think that is very cool. I have encouraged them both to bring bug spray.

Some of my college friends in the U.S. got together for dinner the other night and ate spinach dip in my honor. I miss them! They also drank wine. Damn them.


I offered to write for a magazine here that caters to expats – wasn’t that nice of me – yes, I will definitely let you know how that goes.

It is time for me to give up caffeine again. Yes, my blogs might become a little cranky. Bear with me.

Today at school is earth day. No classes for the middle schoolers – just a whole lot of eco-friendly things like:

Making puppets out of (clean) trash
I think they also made a game
A swim/walk/yoga/or dance-a-thon
A eco-friendly mela (craft Fair) with mostly products made from recycled materials
(one of the vendors makes paper out of elephant poop – no, I am not clear on why that is necessary, but yes, I am going to check it out – maybe from a distance)
Several presentations re: the environment
Trash free lunch day – everyone has to bring a lunch that leaves no trash behind

Yes, it is all very cool. My children are really becoming more global thinkers.

That’s all I have right now. See you tomorrow.

Now there is an idea………

India is teaching me a lot of things and here is what I learned yesterday.

Our (new, we are trying her out) cook made dinner for us last night. She made some things earlier in the day and then put them in the fridge until we were ready to eat. Instead of covering them with aluminum foil or saran wrap, she put plates on top of the bowls.

Seriously, this is brilliant. I don’t know why, but I am not a big fan of tupperware with lids. Maybe it’s the potential for major spillage when you pull the lid off. But, I am trying to be more conscious of our trash footprint – saran wrap and foil make that footprint larger. That is not good.

But this works great and it makes things much more stackable – which increases your fridge space. And there is nothing to throw away. YAHOO!

Just thought I would share………


The Scarlet “T”………

UPDATE: After hearing much discussion from my neighbors about the letters they have gotten re: their trash not being appropriately located – well, I jumped to assumptions on this one – it turns out that the person who was on my property is not on the HOA board and is apparently not employed by the HOA board either. (That might lead to another blog about why he was here, but probably not.) So, I apologize for making assumptions and I pledge to better place my trash can – I cannot promise anything on the Halloween decorations though. I do my best.  Really, I do. I am sure to get a scarlet letter of one sort or the other but it will not be an A (ever) and it apparently won’t be a T either.

You know I am always trying to look at the bright side – so I will say this – our HOA is attentive – they read my blog after all – they may not be fans – but they read it – at least once.