A new purple water bottle.
New hair bands to tie back my hair during yoga.
A free “Nutty Professor” birthday smoothie at Four Seasons.
Drinking my smoothie with Tom and Vicki.
Roses, from Tom. A beautiful surprise.
A warm fall afternoon.
Holding Tom’s hand while we walked through the zoo.
His patience, as usual, while I took photos of animals.
Talking to Katie while I opened the new hair dryer she gave me.
A voicemail from Reva wishing me happy birthday.
Lots of birthday wishes on Facebook.
An unopened package on the dining room table.
Knowing Sarah and Eric will call.
Opening the package when they do.
In Williamsburg, actors dress up like 18th century characters. They wear petticoats and bonnets and ask where they might buy salt.
Several streets of the town are preserved. Some homes are private residences. Others are open for tours. Colonial Williamsburg has original taverns, churches, a cobbler, and post office.
Petticoats look more fun than they are. I was six during the Eisenhower-era petticoat days—layers of nylon organza rolled up and cinched at the waist. I suspect the 18th century version was just as uncomfortable.
Proud Americans walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, snapping photos of Old Granary Burial Ground. Moms and Dads gape up at the tower of the Old North Church. “One if by land and two if by sea,” they tell their children. They read from brochures that Benjamin Franklin attended First Public School until he dropped out.
Ben was lured, no doubt, by cool water on late summer days.
We remove our shoes before approaching the River Ganga. This river is a temple, her water holy.
Families gather on wide marble steps leading to the river banks. Men strip to the waist to swim. Mothers pull up their sarees to rest their legs in the cool water. Little boys jump in naked. Bathing in her waters washes away sins.
As the sun sets, steps fill with pilgrims. Music begins. The chant is familiar, if only because of George Harrison’s 1971 song “My Sweet Lord.”
As the sun sets across the Ganges, oil lamps are lit. Arms lift in praise. Lamps pass high over our heads and our arms stretch upward toward the fire. We waft smoke–a symbol of our praise and thanksgiving–toward our hair.
During British rule, elephants were put to work clearing the very forests from which they’d been captured. Timber was in huge demand for the new rail system of India.
By the time the British left, much of the forests of northern India were destroyed. Since then, poachers and tuskers and population growth have all taken a toll. As farming expands, elephants have little habitat remaining. Elephants in the wild now ravage farmers’ fields to find food. Villagers chase them back as best they can to save their crops.
Our best choices preserve the land and the integrity and stability of its animals. These elephants may or may not have better lives than their cousins in the wild. I’m certain they have better lives than most livestock raised and killed in cruel conditions in the US.
We did not ride the elephants of Jaipur.