Lost my voice – interesting responses

I have been losing my voice quite regularly for some reason.  My allergist has referred me to another specialist who I will be seeing next week.  Life is great, apart from this little hiccup.

I normally preface by informing people – either by whispering (if my voice can come out), ‘sign language’ or in writing that I have lost my voice.  Ninety percent of the time they respond in one of the following interesting ways:

  1. They whisper back to me – no matter how long our conversation is.  It is interesting how we unconsciously mirror people we interact with.  (I think I will start  whispering with loud people so that I have a quieter life.)
  2. They write a note to me.  Don’t people realize that speaking is a faster and easier way to communicate?  Also, I am not deaf.
  3. They use ‘sign language’.  This is really interesting as both the other person and I don’t know sign language beyond logical signs and so sometimes the messages get lost.
  4. They shout their responses to me.  I SAID I LOST MY VOICE, NOT MY HEARING FACULTY!!!!!   AND, HERE HAVE TWO EXTRA!!
  5. They shout and use ‘sign language’ at the same time. Usually this does not help as the sign language just distracts me since it is usually exaggerated and obviously not ‘saying’ what the words mean.

I used to tell people that I could hear at first, but people continued doing whatever they thought was the best way of communication with me so I just stopped.  We will see what tomorrow holds in my Communications Department :).

Have a great weekend, all, and talk on my behalf


Allergies galore!

I was Zambia for three beautiful weeks and came back a couple of weeks ago.  Life had been beautiful and smooth in Zambia and I had not had to take an any allergy meds after the first week.  My mother even commented that I had stopped rubbing my nose.

Well, fast forward to landing in DC – life has not been as smooth.  I came down with severe allergies, was coughing, wheezing and voiceless for the past two weeks.  I have spent half the time off-sick.  My handbag has been a pharmacy on its own.

It’s been bad, but at least I am much better today.  Allergies are the one downside of my life in DC.  To make matters worse, I am allergic to grass so it is not a seasonal issue.

The bright side of allergies is that my times outside DC/the US are more enjoyable as I don’t suffer.  OK, not sure if there is a bright side to allergies…..

DC Public Property: Mice and Rats

I have never known the difference between mice and rats, but one thing I know for sure is that there was a huge influx/population explosion of the creature in DC in the years I was away.  I don’t remember seeing any mice on the streets before I left DC nine years ago, but they are everywhere now.  They seem to be DC public property.

I encountered this boy downtown


This situation got me thinking:

  • Is DC now a dirty city?
  • Has the mice’s habitat been overtaken by new construction?
  • Is the District broke and can’t afford regular exterminations?
  • Have the mice developed resistance to extermination chemicals?

I hope District officials find a way of dealing with this problem before we have an outbreak of the bubonic plague or some other such undesirables.  I don’t necessarily think that the plague will break out but, well, the mind wanders…..

I hope your cities/towns are not affected as we are here.






Visit to Durban

I took a weekend trip to Durban when I lived in South Africa.  I had always heard that there are a lot of people of Indian descent, and the stories did not lie.  They were everywhere you looked.

I had lunch at the revolving restaurant.  I can’t remember how the food was, but I liked having a revolving view of the city.

Yep, revolving restaurant!

Yep, revolving restaurant!


View one

View one


View 2 - loading dock

View 2 – loading dock


View 3 - Moses Mabhida Stadium view

View 3 – Moses Mabhida Stadium view in the distance


View 4 - Downtown Durban

View 4 – Downtown Durban



View 5 - ah, palm trees.  Beautiful view

View 5 – ah, palm trees. Beautiful view

I later took a walk on the beach where I saw some interesting and shocking things.    The interesting ones are shown in the pictures below, but I could/would not capture the shocking one.  There are open public showers where swimmers can clean up.  Well, one woman decided that taking a shower with her bathing costume was not good enough, so she showered in the nude and was laughing away.

There was a lot of sand art


The Titanic

The Titanic


The Calabash Stadium

The Calabash Stadium

I had heard of tides before, but had never seen one at work so to speak.  My guide took me to one spot and said it was very beautiful when the tide was high.  I could not believe that the water would come right up to the buildings in another hour, so I asked that we take a tour around town and come back later.  An hour later, the water  was right up to the buildings – what a surprise and an educational moment for me!

Baptism in the Indian Ocean

Baptism in the Indian Ocean


My favorite place was to the Valley of a Thousand Hills, a really beautiful place.  I did some gambling at the casino and decided that it was a boring way (for me, at least) to spend time.  I am glad, because I think it is an expensive pastime.  All in all, I had a good time in Durban.

















Pure Music

I just found this music and just fell in love with it.  Its simplicity and purity makes it have your attention and your spirit be moved.  This family is truly gifted.  I normally prefer upbeat music, but this band certainly has what it takes to get my attention.  Even the ‘simple’ presentation is uplifting.





Horrible 2015, but thank God for family and friends

Misery loves company, they say.  I had two devastating losses in 2015 one after another (as if one was not bad enough) and thought I would die just from the pain.

My brother sent an elderly relative to come and be with me in Austria.  The circumstances were so bad that I wanted to resign and return home to be with those who loved me.  My older relative who had come and a close friend in Zambia urged me not to resign when I told them of my decision to do so.  I told them that I was OK financially even if I did not find a job for a couple of years, but they stressed that money was not the issue.  They said the problem was that I would have too much time on my hands and keep on crying when everyone started carrying on with their lives.  My relative said she was going to stay with me until I felt strong enough to be on my own.  I listened to their advice, though with quite a bit of grumbling.  I am glad I listed because I was overwhelmed and could/did not reason.

Other family members and friends back home sent messages of support the whole time and even after.  Friends from DC and other places also reached out to me.  The Zambian community in Vienna rallied around me and my relative was comforted because she knew that I had a ‘family’ that cared about me in a strange land.  In fact some of the Zambian men rebuked me for ‘acting alone’ and said I could call upon them any time.  I really felt loved. I had not been an active member of the community before, but became quite active after my losses as I started seeing them as a family.

When I looked back a couple of years later when my emotions had quietened down, I realized how nasty (for lack of a better word) I was during that period.  It was not because I just wanted to be that way, but because I would get overwhelmed with even the smallest of tasks and had no control over my responses. I am grateful that people were understanding and did not retaliate.

I am grateful for my family and friends.  They supported me, put their lives on hold while they comforted and availed themselves to me.  I never knew the importance of loved ones until I needed them at my low point.

Thank God for family and friends.

Visit to Barcelona

In 2013, a Spanish colleague invited me to go with her to Spain.  Her family lives an hour’s train ride outside Barcelona and we went there when we arrived.  Her mother quickly prepared dinner at about 4.00 pm, but my friend refused to eat.  I had dinner on my own and we left to sightsee. One thing that stood out was the old infrastructure that was  incorporated into the new.  Apparently if someone was making any renovation and they found any old/ancient infrastructure, they had to inform the government department in charge of infrastructure and work with them on how best to incorporate it into the new building.

Around 8.00 pm my friend said we should go back to her parents’ place for dinner.  What?  Apparently, the 4.00 pm meal was a ‘snack’ and that’s why she had refused to eat. Anyway, we went home.  Her younger brother came and he shook my hand and greeted me in perfect English.  Her older brother came later and immediately hugged (OK more like grabbed), kissed me heartily on both cheeks and said how happy he was to see me.  My friend saw my shock and laughed and said: “Zambian Lady, my young brother wanted to learn about other cultures and English, hence his response to meeting you.  My older brother, on the other hand, is a real Spaniard and greets everybody with kisses and a lot of touching.”  Older brother’s wife was more reserved in her greeting, but the patriarch of the house also displayed a lot of love for me.

Dinner was at 9.00 pm and it was quite an affair and the table was covered with all sorts of food.  I mentioned this to my friend and asked if her mother had gone all out cooking because we were visiting.  I was told that this was how they ate everyday.  The whole family gathered every evening for dinner at 9.00 pm and the table was always full.  I was surprised because I thought that was a lot of work for her elderly mother who did the cooking.

I went to Barcelona the following day and stayed there for the next couple of days where I walked about a lot.  I liked it a lot

  1. See the red and yellow flag of Catalunya?  These flags were all over Barcelona even back then.

See the red and yellow flag of Catalunya?


2. Narrow streets in Old Town

Narrow streets in Old Town


3. Temple d’August – these columns predate Christ

Temple d'August


4. What ‘animal’ does this sculpture look like?  Apparently, the mason had never seen an elephant, but it was described to him and this is what he can up with.

What 'animal' does this sculpture look like?


5. Spear sharpening did this on one of the old buildings!

Spear sharpening did this!


6. Casa Battlo by Gaudi – I did not manage to go in, but it is quite flamboyant.

Casa Battlo


7. Casa Mila – another building by Gaudi.

Casa Mila


8. Barca! For the first time, I went to watch professional football and saw Messi score his 78th goal.  I remember that number for some reason.  I had a great time.  Barca opponents had come from another city and had only about 20 fans.  Barca fans were so good that about 100 of them joined the visiting fans and cheered for the visiting team.  It was really a fun time.



9. For the love of Barcelona, I do not know what the back of this lady’s head and the lamp shot have anything to do with anything, but in the background is the 1992 summer Olympics venue.

Lamp post and back of head


I did not visit the Barcelona Cathedral, also by Gaudi.  It just looked too busy for me – it overwhelmed me just looking at it from the outside.  Maybe I am just not artistic enough, but I found the Cathedral a bit off putting, so much that I did not even take a photo of it even from the outside.  I am a simple woman, I guess.





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