Thursday Tidbits

Posted on January 5, 2017 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments

An oasis of tranquility. My home for the next few months in India


So, I’m driving in a taxi from the airport in Thiruvanatharum  ( say that three times after a glass of wine! ) to Kanyakumari. I hadn’t eaten since the morning as both of my flights were short hops and they weren’t even serving peanuts. I was so hungry that I could have eaten an elephant when what should appear blocking the road? Why, an elephant, of course. The thought of raw elephant seemed tantalizing and even in my weakened state, I thought I could bring him down.

Oh yes. My driver’s name was Wilson. He barely knew any English so you can imagine my astonishment when he plugged in his ipad to the vehicle sound system and started playing English gospel songs and Christmas hymns, including Oh Holy Night. And he could sing too. He attends a Pentecostal Church and is a soloist. Wilson knew how to “pick it” when it came to music. ( Only those of you born 5 decades ago will understand this groaner ).

I was met at the convent at 10:00 p.m by Sister Sophie and Sister Beena. They presented me with fresh flowers and curried chicken. There were two other people in the welcome party. Ninian and Carol Bliss are from Mayo, Ireland and are also volunteering at the convent. They are lovely people and have already been here two months establishing a B@B for the Sisters located on the convent grounds.

When I went to bed, I was struck by the utter tranquility of the place. When I awoke in the morning, I realized that I had landed in a small piece of paradise as their property is an oasis of peace. They are big into horticulture and the grounds are simply lovely. I went for an early morning walk and not more than five minutes away, I was on the shores of the Arabian Sea. To breathe salt air ( and not burning garbage)  was a near mystical experience.

One of the many projects operated by the Sisters is a leper colony which is another five minute walk from the convent. I was shocked to hear that there were still such facilities. There are no active cases of leprosy in this part of the world. All of these people are suffering from the ravages of the disease. On New Year’s Eve, we spent two hours with the lepers walking through their small village followed by mass. It was a humbling experience.

No fireworks at the convent. We went to another mass at a church right by the ocean at 9:30 .During the tsunami of 2005, the church was levelled and a new one erected. Where the water reached is simply staggering to imagine when you climb the long hill ( maybe 400 yards with a fairly steep incline ) up to the main road.

The B@B was very busy and I met some fascinating guests. I must ask you to read Faces in the Crowd even when they are faces that are not familiar to you. I have two new stories that I’m sure you’ll find interesting. One lady does simultaneous translations… for the Pope and Obama, among others. The other lady was the chief protocol officer for the United Nations. Their stories are fascinating. Several other guests from different parts of the world shared their stories of being in India during demonetization. I could go on and on and on about this subject. It still isn’t any better than it was 60 days ago. My vow of poverty remains unblemished!

I am reading the first Harry Potter book. I heard J.K. Rowling interviewed on NPR the other night and decided that I would expand my literary horizons. Tuck this piece of information away for a few minutes.

On Monday, I had my iphone plugged into my computer getting it charged. Both devices were sitting on top of the television set, as the only available electrical outlet was nearby. I needed to take the computer over to the main entrance of the convent to post Monday Morning Musings. I unplugged the computer and started to walk away with it. Regrettably, I forgot to also unplug my iphone. The phone dropped to the ground and the power cord… disappeared. Did you ever think , that after all these years, you were finally “ losing it”? ( and I don’t mean the charger cord )

After a thorough check of the room, I headed over to the convent. I asked one of the Sisters if they could ask the ladies who clean the B@B rooms ( my room is in the B@B ) to take a look. Sister went one step better. She and two of the staff immediately launched their own search party and came up empty handed. I started to wonder if Voldemort was lurking somewhere nearby.

My iphone is my lifeline so I decided to head into town to buy a new cord. One of my children had an uncanny knack for finding lost items. I asked myself, “ where would she look ?” The only place I hadn’t looked was on top of a wall mounted dresser. The room has very high ceilings and the top of the dresser is easily ten feet from floor level… and 20 feet away from the television where the drama began hours previously. Problem is that I couldn’t get up to check. The standard hotel room chair only got me half way up the dresser.

The bed. I got on the bed. ( Please , Lord, tell me they don’t have hidden cameras in a convent! ) I still couldn’t see the top of the dresser so I started jumping up and down like a trampoline specialist until I reached eye level. There were a few items on top of the dresser but I couldn’t tell for sure. I did a perfect dismount ( a 9.5 is my guess! ). I scoured the room and the only item that I could find to give me leverage and extra arm length, while standing on the chair, was the toilet scrubber. I stretched as far as I could and started hauling bits of discarded items towards the edge. And there it was!

I will be writing my own story of wizardry: “ Harry Potter and the Catapulting Cord.”


You knew this was coming. At some point in time, I had to tell you about Indian toilets. Many of you are sophisticated global travellers and have encountered many types of bathrooms. But for a small town guy, arriving in India for the first time two months ago, it was just a bit disconcerting the very first night to discover that there was no toilet paper in the bathroom. I was staying at the house of a friend in their guest room. When I came downstairs to inquire as to the whereabouts of toilet tissue, he matter of factly stated, “ What do you need that for?” It’s not very often that I can’t respond to a question.

The standard Indian bathroom has a toilet and beside it, a wall mounted device with a tap and a flexible hose. Some don’t have the latter but merely have a tap and a bucket. I did a quick Google search and discovered how to use both methods of cleaning after using the bathroom. ( see “semprotan cebok ) Rather than spoil your breakfast, I’ll stop there but like so many other things in India, I have adapted. I no longer carry toilet paper everywhere I go.

Have a great week.



You won’t find this at Shoppers or MacKinnon’s Pharamasave. It is a hot drink that can slay just about any malady, including the dreaded man cold. You’ll just need to go out and pluck a few leaves off your Neem tree, along with a few thulasi leaves. ( both are medicinal ) Add some dry ground ginger, lots of peppercorns and jaggary ( sugar cane ). Add water and boil for five minutes. Administer to the man of the house twice a day and after 48 hours, you won’t have to listen to your husband, partner or boyfriend whine and complain. Almost worth getting a shipment of ingredients from India, wouldn’t you say?!





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2 Responses to Thursday Tidbits

  1. Toni MacDonell says:

    I’ll have to go to the health food store and see if I can get any of those ingredients. Maybe I’ll wait until a man I know has a cold.

    Nice to read of all your adventures. Looking forward to buying the book.

  2. Patrice says:

    Love it Len. Your on this most sacred land. It is first satopradam then becomes the most Tamulpradam. (? Unsure of spelling) . Your musings are entertaining. You have no idea how close you are to God in India. I will be going to Rajastan in April because I have a special meeting with a very special soul. Have to go Mary Lynn has just phoned. Have you found out about Brahma Kumaris? Lots of love from London Patrice

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