Monthly Archives: June 2013

Rainy Day on the Eastern Pacific Rim

It’s me and my dog watching our backyard soak up a mess of grey wetness.  Brave and hungry birds still flash by, snag a snack from the feeders then quietly disappear.  I leave to go make coffee, but the Border Collie remains, just in case someone decides to invade. Like cats or crows. You never know. 

Lulu used to have a tiny, matching partner all long-haired black with identical white tuxedo and spats.  Together the bounding 65 pound dog and her elderly 8 pound kitty-partner rid our garden of noisy, messy Killer Crows and Robber Cats.  As Boutros aged, she sometimes laid down next to Lulu, curling her bony spine into the warmth of Lulu’s belly.  She hated it when Lulu licked her, but never ran away from The Tongue.

California is a “Desert State” and today is a gift, (since I’m blessed by having a roof over my head.)  I feel like a teenager enjoying one of Natures Pranks.  But I’m not sure how the tomatoes  think it’s so funny.  We shall see.  

I bet our billion dollar grape farmers (‘scuse me:  “Vinntners”) are on tippy toes, worrying about mildew and fungus and their other slimy-grape-sucking nemeses.  I’m not sure if that will mean they will have to re-poison our earth.  I hope not.  Once should be enough the next twenty eons, if we deserve that many.

I put an outdoor carpet in the Southwest corner of my garden.  That corner is shaded by my elderly Japanese Maple and my neighbor’s tasty plum tree.  It’s a cozy-warm place for a desert rat like me to have a coffee, do a little reading and writing.  I found a picture of poppies last year and hung it on the fence, mimicking my poppy fields in The North Sector.  It’s now a soaking wet outdoor living room, complete with sogging sofa, squishy chairs, but a clean coffee table.  I’m not worried: it will dry in one day… one day.

Ahh, my poppy field:  it surrounds our Ankh water feature that cools down those few days when the thermometer goes into triple digits, simply by the magic of sound. Thepoppies were the surprise of my garden- life and now the love of my garden.  We’ve just finished first bloom; the second will show up late next week, before July Fourth for sure. I think. 

I picked up one six-pack of “Thai Silk Poppies” at Harmony Farms out in hippy-dippy West County about ten years ago.  Thai Silk: I love Thai food1  And on that basis I purchased just one six-pack of poppies, not two or three.   I’ve been to opium fields in Chiang Mai and I didn’t want those scraggly tall, rangy field poppy plants.

California’s state flower is The Poppy.  It’s a hardy desert plant that might achieve a foot in height given a wet summer.  They are street-wise, brassy plants with an outrageous competition-orange blossom.  They can and do live anywhere birds want to drop them.

We also have a smaller and shyer California Poppy: a margarine-pale “mini poppy”, seen mostly in the cracks of serpentine rock areas.

 My half-dozen Thai Silk poppies took care of business in their first year.  They grew, they blossomed and I was shocked into rare delight by their variations on beautiful that these six little plants produced that first year.    

They bloomed strong, luxurious and brilliant, spreading an array of color mixes ranging from soft pinks and alabaster white, lavenders, magentas, coral, orange and red.  I found the Thai Poppy also has a quirky attribute, which allows me to keep track of them over the years:  each delicate Thai petal has a series of darker toned stripes radiating out from the pistils and stamen, giving th flower a pleated effect. 

About three years ago Los Californios showed up. 

These are the original settlers, the unmistakable desert-hardy plants who scream a silent hello of competition-orange throughout Californian fields and hillsides, blown in by wind or dropped by birds.  And in my garden they took over like the Calvary on Horseback, no doubt having heard about the Asian Invasion.  Los Californios are not vain, just loud and boisterous: they sport no showy design in their petals: the only dream in their heart is of reclaiming our state, it’s highways and byways. 

But something changed when they met the delicate Thai Silks in my garden.  I think I saw Los Californios cozy up to the Thais, intrigued by their delicate beauty, their quiet, contemplative demeanor.  By the end of that first Autumn, new and stronger families appeared, not quite as brazen; a little more conscious. 

The eighth generation of poppies has taken over the entire garden now, tolerating only elderly pink and red carnations,  and my one purple Desert Sage. 

And this year for the first time  I’m seeing  that some of the younger Californios now have a contemplative streak, a decorative pleat in their petals.

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A Complicated Question


Jazzbo was about seven, apparently in a romantic mood:

 “Mama, did Gigi get down on his knees and ask you to marry him?”

“No, he didn’t Jazz”

“Well how did you get married?” his face puckered.

“In the surf On Virgin Gorda. The British West Indies.  Barefoot.”

“No. Mama! Did he ask you first before you got married?”

“No.  I asked him.”

His face un-puckered as his eyes widened,

and one of his eyebrows shot straight up.



“What about Grampa, did he ask you?”

“No.  And we went to Reno, got married in

Golden Wedding Bell Chapel  Number 2.

Number 1 was booked up”.

“Mama! Did anyone ever ask you to marry them?”

My grandson seemed a little desperate.

“Yes, Jazz.”


“Well, there was a Sea Captain named John in Portland,

And an Englishman named Stephen in the English Channel,”

I paused, lingering in the hall of incomplete marital memories.

“WELL?  Did you marry ANY of them?”

“No, Jazz, I was already married.”

“Well, how am I supposed to do it then?”

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Single Digit Romance


Jazzbo was about seven, apparently in a romantic mood:

 “Mama, did Gigi get down on his knees and ask you to marry him?”

“No, he didn’t Jazz”

“Well how did you get married?” his face puckered.

“In the surf On Virgin Gorda. In The British West Indies.  Barefoot.”

“No. Mama! Did he ask you first before you got married?”

“No.  I asked him.”

His face un-puckered as his eyes widened,

and one of his eyebrows shot straight up.



“What about Grampa, did he ask you?”

“No.  And we went to Reno, got married in

Golden Wedding Bell Chapel  Number 2.

Number 1 was booked up”.

“Mama! Did anyone ever ask you to marry them?”

My grandson seemed a little desperate.

“Yes, Jazz.”


“Well, there was a Sea Captain named John in Portland,

And an Englishman named Stephen in the English Channel,”

I paused, lingering in the hall of incomplete marital memories.

“WELL?  Did you marry ANY of them?”

“No, Jazz, I was already married.”

“Well, how am I supposed to do it then?”

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My Saga Continues:

By now anybody who reads my blogs should know I’m far from electronically adept.  I’ve got a fair amount of intelligence, able to follow directions; in fact I installed my kitchen stove.  Yes, it took some sweat and persistence, but I did it in a few hours.  In truth I made a mistake in the wiring for the hood and for a few days had to push the fan button to turn on the light and vice versa.  I let it ride because I rarely use those features.  When the mood hit me I went back in and re-wired.  It worked perfect until I decided to remodel the whole kitchen so I hired a contractor:  It is important to know one’s limitations.

I am better at reading maps than listening to my challenged GPS when travelling, so I keep maps handy in case she goes literally off the map.  I give Garmin 65% accuracy these days and my sense of direction a good 110%.  I know when she’s been hitting the bottle. I am still perplexed why a female voice from some other planet was used to “talk” me through my travels.  Sounds sexist to me: she’s often so wrong.

I assemble furniture, put together gas barbeques, built my own deck, change my oil and check my own tires.  I painted my one level home and extracted overgrown shrubbery with roots to the center of the earth.  As long as I can find directions and my body is in good shape I can do the work.

I discovered my apparent faulty brain wiring when Video Cams and Players arrived on scene.  First there was my confusion regarding players for tapes: they  were either Sony or VHS, and  Larry The Cable Guy came to our house to hook our TV and player to Cable or something like that. 

As I watched he did something so confusing regarding the in-plug and out-plug that I left the room feeling like an idiot: something between going in the out, going out the in.  In should be in; out should be out, no? Perhaps if I had been offered instructions to read or a map to SEE it could have made brain-sense to me.   I was slipping out of our concrete world into a Wonder Hole of Weird.   

Three decades later I’m more convinced about the WH of W.  and it seems everyone but me has expensive phones to carry around our entertainment, our life history, our family photos, gossip, and our many and asstute opinions. We keep it all in our ears and/or in our hands. That’s okay with me because I don’t want to participate. 

However I do get annoyed when the fabulous wired people walk smack into my car when I’m stopped at a stop sign!  Honestly, it’s happened twice:  once it was a preteen girl, wearing wires and looking at her palm;  the second time was a thirty-something Metro Man with earpods,  looking at the sky and shouting opinions or instructions to another apparent fool.

I’ve also been gently wrecked by a middle-aged real estate agent who thought she was sealing a deal as she backed out of her parking space and into me.  I was already out of my space, on the move, and slammed on my brakes when I saw her rear end aimed at me.  I honked and yelled, but, her head was truly in another place.  She was oblivious to anything other than the person she spoke to the person she could not see.  

I had enough time to get out of my car and heard my fender & bumper crunch, and she still did not notice.  Several witnesses chased her down with me and still she talked.

This is called  “distracted driving” and the fines are minimal, which annoys me. Distracted driving is the same as Drunk driving in my book:  brain not engaged.  Anyway,  her insurance paid $5,000.00 for my damage and I got a cute replacement car during the repairs. 

I see her every once in a while, and note that she’s still participating in distracted driving.  Well, laws will always be broken –  if the penalty fines are a joke.  Deadly Distracted Driving is  one fourth of the fine for driving in a “High Occupancy” Lane (and in our silly world “high occupancy” is just two persons, LOL & OMG.)

Aah, today I am faced with The Era of the Ether:  everything is somewhere in a “cloud” or on a “path” and I don’t do clouds, like to follow my own path.  I know that the only way to save my soul, my sanity (and probably some longtime friendships) is to get off my rear and go take some classes.

I’m constantly weighing the costs:  the cost of dollah coin, as well as the cost of spiritual and emotional coin:  What happens if I really AM too dumb to “get it”?

On my old 2003 p.c. I used to put on oversize earphones, plugged them in, pulled up Skype and selected my contact’s number  an ADDRESS BOOK  I had simple list of my friends and their numbers, each name decoratively sporting corresponding tiny flags of their respective countries.  How cute is that!

I installed Skype as soon as I got set up in my Windows 8 and immediately found that GoopSquid did not transfer my phone list, instead they’d added tons of unwanted Malware.

I don’t know, messing with phone numbers – maybe it’s  a security/legal issue. Besides, I have another method of finding telephone numbers!  It’s called an Address Book; mine is fake leather, a soft powder blue fake leather.  And I always know where it is.

I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time this morning getting all my out-of state/country numbers lined up in Skype, maybe give a long-time friend in the South of France a call. 

She wants me to come spend a some time with her in the hills just above…….Cannes. It’s a nice thought, but I’d have to lose weight, get money to buy a Louie Vee bag and probably a face stretch.  Maybe take up smoking again.  Gghagk!

As I fumbled around I found new updated and strange things with Skype today:  I could not find the address book in their site to set up my numbers.  Obeying my innate reasoning I opted to go to Skype’s “troubleshooting” site for help site because that’s what we do when we aren’t going to get a Flesh and Blood being. 

Here are the selections I found in my searches for “Address Book”  “New Address Book” “Creating  Address Book” and “Adding new Addresses”

(Italics below are my unspoken words) 


1- Multi-tasking during a Skype call  ~ Hello? I no longer believe in M/T.

 2- Starting conversations from The People Hub ~I don’t want whatever your  “Hub” is – I want an address or an address APP!   (desperately trying to speak the language)   

 3-  Settings for notifications ~no thank you I’d rather not be interrupted

 4-  Settings for lock screen notifications ~that’s why I don’t want no notifications!! I’ll have to lock ‘em out!

And the most offensive of all that nearly pushed me over the edge:

“So let’s get started, shall we?” ~ you supercilious  electronic jerk! Gimme my address book/site/place/ destination/locale/suite/preference on my Skype Site so I can see it!

Sigh, I’m thinking of an old man with enormous eyebrows, and I think I hear Mr. Andy Rooney laughing from the stars.



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Where Can Loss Take Us?

Two decades ago I was in love with a sweet gentleman, a retired lawyer with a beautiful estate in the Sonoma Valley.  We spoke of marriage and I was not so interested at the time.   From him I learned love affairs don’t need to end in shattered dreams and broken hearts.  Of course our parting was sadly sweet, and in retrospect it brought me to a place I needed, perhaps looked for most of my life.

Just prior to our parting of ways, we’d met the son of a couple who lived on a neighboring hillside, a steep hillside, so steep that after finding a spot on the winding road to park, you approached a ladder-like stairway and began the climb, but not to a traditional house with a common roof.  This home consisted of three independent structures a good distance apart from each with a ladder-like stairway.   A selection of umbrellas were posted by all doors.

The first cabin, the smallest, contained the kitchen and breakfast area;  second cabin was a very  large entertainment room, and the third held sleeping quarters at the top of the property.   Fascinating paths and special gardens were between cabins:  herbs, fruits and vegetables between kitchen and entertaining room,  and between the last two cabins a landscaped plateau, holding  a hot tub,  fragrance gardens, and the largest statue of Buddah I’ve seen in the states smiled gently over a lovely paved area large enough for Yoga or to sit down and meditate.

This home was a thrilling, soothing, naturally inspirational place, and it hosted the funeral for the wife’s only child, Michael, who died in a motorcycle accident.  He was only 27 years old.  Michael’s passing marked the beginning of a very new life for me.

The Practitioner gave a brief heart-touching ceremony, speaking words of comfort for our loss, and of  joy for having had Michael touch our lives, and of the sadness as we all let go, let it be.

The closure of his remembrance was breath-taking.   Michael’s parents each had divorced then remarried.  Michael and his first wife, Alla were in the process of divorce, and he was in a relationship with a very lovely young woman named Julie.  The Practitioner invited the two sets of parents, Michael’s wife, and the young girlfriend to a small table draped with a simple blue cloth, his favorite color.  In the center three candles burned, representing the three decades of Michael’s life.

The biological parents joined hands and together they snuffed out the first candle.  The step parents joined hands with respective mates and snuffed out the second candle.  And finally the divorcing widow joined hands with the lovely younger woman, and together they snuffed out the final candle.

From a place further up the hill John Lennon sang Imagine, and we all joined in, tears rolling down our faces, as Michael’s wife Alla, cradled a broken-hearted Julie in her arms, singing with the rest of us.

Within six months, I suffered the breakup of that  three year relationship, lost my job, and my children decided to live with their father.  For the second time in my life I was totally alone and grieving deeply.

I remembered Michael’s funeral,  and tried to remember the spiritual place the Practitioner had trained at or worked for.  It was not a “church”, but a “center”.  But center of WHAT I had no idea.

One rainy Sunday morning I opened up the newspaper, urged on by an almost physical need to go  find this center, find that wonderful Practitioner.  I scanned the religion listings and finally came upon a “Center for the Science of Religion” and placed a call.  Lo and behold the new Minister, Rev. Edward, answered  and with his musical South African accent invited me to join him and everyone at the center, and gave me directions.

I made a bee-line for the Center, and was gob-smacked when I walked into the gathering hall before service was to begin.   I met at least seven people from all walks of my life there:  two from my early childhood in Calistoga, several real estate agents I worked for and with, a lady from my yoga class, and a fellow on my tennis team.  They laughed when I “finally found” the Center.  They had been members for decades.

On that day,Edward, the new South African Minister welcomed everyone to the gathering, and said something to the effect that we can change our lives by changing our minds; and if we cried ourselves to sleep last night, we had come to the right place.

I felt like he spoke directly to me.  I called myself  a “Renegade Christian”, having given up on traditional Christianity at the age of fourteen, and who had married, a “Bar Mitzvah Jew” – the one I was divorcing.  Our two children were reared deliberately without any religious instruction.  On that day I felt like I found the place I truly belonged, my home, after three decades in two very different kinds of “deserts”.

The Church of Religious Sciences, of which there are thousands throughout the world, changed the name The Center for Spiritual Living a few years ago.  The Religious Science moniker was getting  confused with a newer and somewhat disturbing organization.

I took a lot of classes there, taught  5th grade Sunday School and met up with old friends again through that.  I thought seriously about becoming a Practitioner, but I had a busy life and bla bla bla.   I haven’t totally stopped thinking about it though, especially now, as I’m also thinking of celebrating marriages again.

This morning I reached for my Science of Mind to look up the Guide for today, and it is about LOSS.  Boo! Loss certainly strikes a resounding chord in my heart,and for most people.  We know Loss.  I grew up in Loss, and I’ve Lost a Lotta stuff!  I’ve lived in Loss and from it all, I h learned an important thing:  Nothing remains the same:  it’s all change, which some call Loss.

The SOM title for the June 11th thought is “Letting Loss Lead Me”.  That got my attention, because Loss does tend to lead us places.  I read the piece and it was about  Jalal ad-Din Rumi, the famous Persian poet.  He lost a person very dear to him and went deep into grief.  The story is that he wandered into his back yard where there was a pole,  a team of his students trailed behind, out of concern for him.  Rumi leaned on the pole, perhaps sobbing, and caught up in his grief, walk round and round it, letting his tears flow.   Unexpectedly his thoughts changed.  Grief left and he heard incredible words of poetry stream from his mouth.  His words were so lovely that his students wrote them down.

These followers of Rumi  adopted his pole walking tradition and now seven centuries later, we call them the Whirling Dervishes.  These are the followers of Rumi and they believe that by whirling they let God in.

And so out of an unbearable loss came a gift for the entire world!

And, today in America Rumi is the best-selling poet.  It is true that loss can break one, one without a support system.   But it also is said that The Broken Heart can hold more love:  I believe loss can expand us if we let it.

As far as the Whirling Dervishes go, I can tell you what I know about them from personal experience.   The first time I went my children were very young.  I didn’t take them again.The site was I think South, (but it could be North or West  – it was so hard in the desert with no roads, dusty yellow desert beneath your feet, flat yellow sky above your head – couldn’t even see the sun, no shadows.)   I could take you there, but not tell you how to go on your own, when or where to turn.  Its twenty minutes past the ancient trading city of Omdurman.  You leave the road and drive on (one of the) tracks that goes through the graveyard.  Good Luck!

On the other side of the graveyard men in their white jellabias assemble, taking their shoes off and piling them around a telephone pole.  They face one direction, possibly East toward Mecca, and begin to walk around the pole.  Two men in white jellabias escort a third man who appears to have a crippling disorder, perhaps cerebral palsy.  They begin walking him slowly round and round at his pace.

Some men wear bright green flaring tunics, white breeches, with green fez-like hats embroidered with red and yellow on their heads.   As more men arrive and take their place in the walk-around, drums start beating, slowly at first, then with more intensity as the drummers get caught up in a rhythm of their own.  As they beat louder and faster, the men moved quicker, loping around the pole – even the crippled man!

My own blood is coursing through my veins, my brain; the pounding rhythm is matched by my heartbeat.  The mystics in green break loose, begin to twirl, their skirts flanged out  and I recall an old top I had as a kid, spinning, spinning.

The two men escorting the handicapped friend step aside, and let go of their friend! And the man who could not walk alone, dances and twirls with the best of them!

My children were as fascinated as I was.  We stood watching and weaving to the beat of the drums until I saw  some men jad brought sticks with them, and began hitting their own backs fiercely, in some cases drawing blood.

They had gone into another place, self-flagellation.  The kids and I made our way back to the car and headed home.  As soon as the drumming faded I felt my pulse return to normal.

I went out there twice more, taking (adults only) newcomers around Khartoum, teaching them how to navigate.  Eventually the political/military events started up, and it was considered no longer safe for a “kawajah” woman to go past Ombdurman alone.

Belief can be amazingly powerful.  Mind: over matter!  Change your mind:  change your life!  Believe and see!  What I think is what I do!  Loss will lead me to a fuller life if I let it.

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Travel 101 or Know Before You Go

Most everyone knows by now that our family became expatriats in the 1980s, and that over the course of the next several years we visited five of the seven continents. I hope to go to South America some day and will gladly skip the sixth continent because I really hate cold. 

We rubbed shoulders with new cultures inside our new home, our new country and when we toured other countries.  I learned it is very important to know how not to rub people the wrong way; not only at work or in a marriage, but when we are guests in a strange country.

We never had a problem.  With the exception of a particular country directly across the Red Sea from Sudan that we entered carrying the wrong type of visas.  It was an intense and frightening experience. 

Unbeknownst to us, our return visas were not international, they were prepared in The Sudan incorrectly. 

So on entering Saudi Arabia our passports were confiscated and we were held under armed guard for a full 24 hours.  Passport Control had every right to suspect we might be terrorists, a little family of terrorists, travelling with two pre-terrorists.  As soon as they got our paperwork mess sorted out for us we caught the next flight to home.  It should never have happened and we learned to be ultra vigalent about our paperwork.

This post was made possible by………………me reading a report this morning, about unhappy  tourists visiting the pyramids in Giza are having problems.  Much of what I read has to do with locals dubbed “aggressive” vendors”. I recalled being a little miffed at first with such people.  Until I understood that our friendly and well-fed little family were traipsing through worlds never encountered, knew nothing about, and certainly did not have to live there. 

I’m betting the tourists in the news needed to speed things up to accommodate their tour guides, preferring to skip negotiations and buy at a flat price. I’m thinking the vendors knew they had a short time to make a deal.  Maybe they wanted to holler “Next” if current purchasers didn’t get with the program. 

There is a culturally important sport in the Middle East called “negotiating”.  Americans tend to call it bargaining, worse yet, haggling.  Larry and I soon learned this pleasant and often lengthy game and had fun with it. The wage-earner in our little troop spent hours enjoying the sport, sipping tea on a rug, laughing and sipping; discussing every topic in the world before coming to an equitable price and sealing the purchase.   It’s called bargaining, and in truth if you waste the vendors time by playing around, you may not be welcome again.  Do not engage then walk away.  Time is food on the table for him.  Conversely, we as prospective purchasers  found nothing “worthy” of purchasing in Ahmad’s stand, he would insist on giving US baksheesh, usually small scarabs or little leather coin holders, as an apology for having nothing for us to purchase.  . 

We learned to slooooooow down, have some teeeeeeeeeeaa, tell some stoooories!  We learned that by making personal inquiries about our vendors world and quite probably get inside info on “don’t miss” sites, or where his wife’s uncle’s restaurant is. 

 This is impossible to do on slam-bam-thankyou-mam schedules.

I recommend that untraveled Americans in particular consider reading up on the countries they intend to visit.  Go to the library, learn timportant cultural customs, try for some basic language, and puh-leeze learn what  attire and/or gestures might be considered highly offensive. 

Western garb, particularly of this century can be dicy in the Middle East.  The female body should not be overly exposed.  I was surprised to find the soft tender underside upper arm actually is breast tissue, and is viewed as a body part of intense beauty in some cultures. 

I was surprised and I made it my business to always keep my seductive tricepts covered when necessary.  Always when I went downtown in Khartoum  I wore long sleeves, buttoned to the neck shirt, baggy pants and usually a hat.  My job was to not offend the homies.

In stricter societies, womens Crowns of Glory might be covered in order not to attract negative cultural attention.  Amerians have our constitutional rights at home but we cannot bring them with us. 

I told the story of the camel stampede last week, but that damn video recorder also created havoc in our attempt to enter Greece! 

Athens passport control held us up and all we understood was  the customs agent didn’t like our video camera and we simply were not going into country with it.   Greek being Greek to us, we worried that we might have to cancel reservations and catch a flight somewhere else; worse yet, go to jail?  Ahh, a  man of the moment showed up to save our biscuits. An Arab businessman, fluent in both Greek and English.  First  he asked permission to intervene and explained the customs agent was following procedure.  Certain things could not be permitted entry because the could end up on theblack market.  One of the things not permitted was our video camera

Our new friend negotiated on our behalf recommending the video cam serial number of the unit to be written under my husband’s visa stamp, so when we returned with the cam, the next agent at Passport Control could verify we had not sold it for profit. 

It’s good to know cultures.  It takes the fear and annoyance factor out of a good time.

Some of the interesting offenses Americans and others might make include pointing the dastardly “pointer finger” at any person or thing!  This is Mr. Bad Finger!  Substitute a head nod, or relax your hand, pointer, thumb, middleman and ringo dangling limply and use pinkie to vaguely wave in the general direction. 

As a general rule, never cross your legs in the East.  If the toes of your shoe is “pointing” at someone, you are being extremely rude when you only thought you were being “comfy”.  Shoes are interesting, as President Bush found, they can be used as missiles by unhappy people.  Throwing shoes would be akin to throwing Cow Pies.

Here is an easily misunderstood signal:  In a number of countries to becon with your hand means go away!  Hold your hand flat up stiff armed in the states is recognized as “stop!” In the East and Middle ease it can mean “come hither”.  Beyond that, a sense of humor and a sense of generosity go far.  After all, we are the precious people: wealthy (by comparison) travelers from a blessed world who’s generosity  brings food to the table for the vendor’s children. 

It’s important as a traveler to understand that getting angry and offended when one does not have a handle on the new culture could result in the kind of escaltated misunderstandings that end up in newspapers.

Speaking of getalongs, I carried my treasure sack for when I was mobbed by beggars in third world countries, full of  wonderful stuff: wrapped candies! Gum! Pens and lighters made internationally famous by a three-letter company! Small mirrors! Teeshirts and Jeans! And sorry to say I was a smoker back in the day, so I distributed deadly cigarettes.  Consider this, those contents of my treasure sack likely became a form of currency: income for a family. 

There is a theory I heard again and again from my Western Expatriate world:  keep the prices down in the souks, the markets.  Bargain, baragain, bargain!  Don’t spoil the takings for us! 

I bargained to be playful, for it is a friendly and fair game.   Also, if you don’t enter negotiations, the vendor may feel his products were unworthy…and he is required to appease you, give you trinkets or gum or fruits for taking your time with him. 

It’s okay to let him give something to the kids, but as an adult it’s better to thank him for sharing his time with you, you consider him a friend and will tell all your friends….then have me reach in my treasure bag and give him a lighter.


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