Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


The REST of the Day

While at the shoe factory Lisa requested use of the bathroom, telling them that she was okay using a non-Western toilet. She has traveled in other Asian countries and the use of the facility, not its style, was what was important. The factory people were aghast, however. We probably were the only Western people who had ever visited and it was, after all, a building that was not well maintained and all the employees were men. Probably a bit…unclean.

While toilet paper was not typically provided, there always was a spigot with a hose attachment for cleaning.

While toilet paper was not typically provided, there always was a spigot with a hose attachment for cleaning.

So we headed out, and Bilal instructed the driver where to go to a nearby friend’s house. Soon we had pulled off a typically busy street and were in a very quiet neighborhood. On one side of the street was some vacant land, occupied by some tents. When asked if they were “homeless” we were informed they are a remnant of nomadic group of blacksmiths.

nomadic tents

Across the street were homes that were a bit newer than most we had seen.  We pulled up to one and I saw


which of course tickled me and I knew Graham would have enjoyed this meeting.  The professor was not at home but his wife happily greeted us, showed Lisa the bathroom (also non-Western but very clean) and then proceeded to offer us drinks and snacks.  Bilal had escorted his younger sister there for tutoring when she was in high school and it was apparent there was a lot of affection between Mrs. Sharma and him.DSCF6189I asked to see her kitchen and it was only a bit larger than the one in the poorer home, but had a counter.  She also had a refrigerator located in an adjacent room.DSCF6190This view of an upper-middle-class home allowed us to compare again, with our own.  It was obviously better than most people have there and would have been comfortable enough for our own living, but still did not have features we are very used to here in the US.

DSCF6196The adventure continued after that. Lisa was on a mission to purchase ayerveda medicine for a friend. While Arvind, our SmartTour guide felt we could go to any pharmacy, Bilal once again got on the phone and found out that there was a small place in another market.  The driver found his way there and we wandered around, looking for the Indian herbal shop.  Once again, the guides opined that we were the only Westerners who had been in that section of town.  

While the guides had not expected to purchase anything, I noticed they both got into animated conversation with the shop owner and soon everyone was carrying away parcels.

DSCF6204(Side note: Lisa has delivered the medicine to her friends who declared the pain was definitely eased! Ayervedic herbals medicines have been in use for thousands of years and, like Chinese herbs, can prove to be an effective alternative to Western medicine.)DSCF6202

Our next mission was also amusing to the guides at first, and then they understood our intent. Whenever I travel, where-ever I travel, I like to visit the local grocery store. Even here in the US it can be interesting to see regional foods that are not sold where I live. We had asked Arvind if there were supermarkets in India and he told us no, but sure enough, Bilal and the driver soon had found one.

It was about the size of what I have seen in New York City, maybe 5 or 6 aisles wide. Lisa and I were not quite sure what we would buy when we entered, but as soon as we saw the packaged spices we knew we had hit paydirt! I spent the equivalent of $10 and Lisa spent about $20 and we walked out with two large sacks of spices and spice mixes to bring home the flavor of India.


food show and tellAfter asking the guides to find a “regular” place to eat supper and enjoying a meal with them, we had them bring us back to the hotel. By that time we had spent over seven hours with them, introduced to areas that tourists don’t see and getting a wonderful view of real life. A fantastic experience and well worth the extra cost….remember when you travel, cost is what you pay. Value is what you gain.


A Small Bump in the Road

Sometimes the journeys that we take—the places we go—are not very far. And if we pay attention, even if they are doozies, we learn a lot.

On Friday I noticed my right eye was “leaking.” I wondered if I had an eye infection and made a note to call for an eye appointment on Monday.

On Saturday the water, which we have filtered to remove the chlorine and other chemicals, tasted horrible.  Everyone else said it was okay.

On Sunday it felt like I could not open my mouth right. Yet when I pushed it, it seemed to be open widely and normally. Weird. I noticed there was a little minor annoyance, not pain exactly, but you know the level when you feel something you usually don’t feel, in my jaw on the right side. I figured I better make a dentist appointment.

This morning when I woke up and looked in the mirror it was pretty startling. No, I didn’t have luscious long blonde hair. What showed up was a face that looked like it had had a stroke.

Not a bad one, but the right side of my mouth was drooping a bit. And when I smiled, that side did not go up. (Too bad Halloween isn’t today…..I could work this I think.)  bells-palsy-symptoms

As I took my morning meds I dribbled the water in the best Novocaine-induced fashion, but in reality my mouth was not numb. But obviously the muscles were not working right.

Graham looked at me and pronounced his diagnosis based on someone he knew years ago. Bell’s Palsy.

Yikes! So I went to the Internet and read what it was, running through the symptoms:

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:

  • Sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of your face that causes it to droop. This is the main symptom. It may make it hard for you to close your eye on that side of your face. Check!
  • Drooling. Check!
  • Eye problems, such as excessive tearing or a dry eye. Check!
  • Loss of ability to taste. Check!
  • Pain in or behind your ear. Well, now that you mention it, check!
  • Numbness in the affected side of your face. Not numb..phew!
  • Increased sensitivity to sound. Nope, thank goodness.

The cause is some virus, not entirely identified yet.

So, armed with this info, I called my doctor’s office and they had me come in during their lunch hour. The doc ordered some steroids to help reduce the inflammation quickly and some anti-viral to knock down the bug. She heartedly endorsed the discussion I had had earlier with my accupuncturist and herbalist to put me on an herbal concoction as well.

So, the important questions were next-how long was this going to take to get me better and since it was caused by a virus would it haunt me during my life?

Her answer was important and this is why I am sharing my aches and pains with you, not to just get sympathy and hugs. The important message is because I acted on it so quickly not only should it get controlled quickly (2-4 weeks) but it most likely will never bother me again.

People who develop Bell’s Palsy and do not get attention for it very quickly may have it for life.

So, pay attention to your body. When something happens significantly different from your normal aging aches and pains, GET MEDICAL HELP!!!

Oh, one last word…..I am thankful I am not a professional musician. My embouchure would be affected big time!