That’s my job, the maid told me

On my last visit to my parents’ place, my mother and I took some time to prepare some veggies at the kitchen table while the maid (Sarah) was cooking.  As usual, we were chatting, laughing and having a good time.  At one point, the maid spilled some water on the kitchen floor.  I knew that she could not stop was she was doing and dry the floor, so I did the mopping.  As I finished, I noticed Sarah looking at me.  She then said:

“That’s my job, Auntie.”

“I know, Sarah, but I thought I should help since you are busy.”

“I do all the cleaning when you are not here, and I would have mopped the floor.”

“I am sorry, Sarah.  It’s just that I am used to doing all the housework in the States and so I did not think twice about mopping the floor.”

She did not respond but her expression said “Do you want me to lose my job?!” I understood where Sarah was coming from because this job is something that not helped her take care of her family, but was the only income her family had for several months when her husband was in between jobs.  I really felt bad, but I cannot help being used to doing chores back home even when there is a maid.

I hired Mary for a week a few years ago when I went home to hep with a big family gathering.  (This was long before Sarah was hired.)  At the end of her contract, Mary said she had been surprised that I was doing half the work.  She had experience as a maid, and said none of her former employers before had helped chores because she was there to do it.  She asked me why I was helping her.  Well, my answer was the same as the one I later gave Sarah.

Living in the west has changed me a lot.  I used to think that I am a very lazy pre-west living, but I continue proving myself wrong every time I go home. 🙂

“He is on ARVs,” they said

“He is has gotten better since he started taking panadol (painkillers)” the guys doing piece-work at my parents’ place said to my mother.

“Oh? Has he been having headaches?” my mother asked innocently.

“No.  He has HIV/AIDS and so he is now on ARVs (which we call panadol) and is improving” the men responded.

My mother was shocked that someone’s AIDS status was being discussed publicly, and it must have shown on her face because one of the men said: “Mum, everyone knows that he is HIV positive and it’s not an issue.  People nowadays mention their status and nobody bothers, because we know that AIDS is just an illness like other illnesses.  All we have to do is take care of us and take our medication.”

On another day, one of the piece-workers mentioned that he hadn’t felt well but the “panadol” was working and he was feeling better.

The fact that people are speaking about their HIV status openly without fear of discrimination is encouraging as it leads to containment of the disease.

we have definitely come a long way from when family members could not even discuss among themselves regarding the positive status of beloved family members.


Yes, clubs/bars are OK to visit

I grew up near a tavern (our local bar, lounge, club) and it was the only place of entertainment for both children and adults.  Patrons would start gravitating towards it around 4.00 pm while the majority went after 5.00 pm with others going there straight from work.  Us kids would only go there on some Saturday afternoons when there were nyau (dancers in masquerade) – good times.  I will do a separate post on nyau.

Most patrons were drunkards while most female patrons were ladies of the night (respectable women did not go to the tavern).  They would also be rowdy after one round of drinks.  This made me vow as a child never to go to one as an adult.  This was very easy as most of my friends (in Zambia) and I am are teetotalers, so we found other ways of entertainment.

I then moved to DC where I did not have friends, so enter music festivals.  I went to countless festivals and discovered that I prefer live music to recorded one, so I started going to live music clubs.  You can imagine my surprise when the patrons who were imbibing did not drink themselves silly and start misbehaving.  It was certainly an eye opener and I realized that one did not need to misbehave when drinking.  The men would also leave me alone apart from small civilized talk between sets.  I still go to clubs (though not as much) when I want to listen to live jazz, my favorite genre.

Unfortunately, patrons at my local tavern back home have continued to associate alcohol with bad behavior.  I wonder if it’s just the culture.

My visit to Seattle, WA

Finally, I took the trip to Seattle after first being invited to visit more so many years ago!  I arrived at night and the city skyline you see from across the river is simply breathtaking.  One that that shocked me was how expensive real estate is.  The two bedroom house that my friends are renting recently sold for $925,000!  I thought my neck of the woods was expensive but apparently not.  I did not have enough time, but I would have wanted to take a day trip to Vancouver, Canada which is about a three hour drive.  Anyway, I have a ten year multiple entry visa to Canada so I hope to go another time.

Some highlights:

The International Fountain and the park around it is really nice.  I am told that many families with young children frequent the area in the summer.  I could see that in my mind’s eye.  It must be refreshing.


Chihuly Garden and Glass – the glass pieces were really beautiful.  My eyes saw what they saw, but my brain couldn’t agree that the art before me was real.  I could have stayed in the glass area the whole day.  We also watched some artists make some pieces.  The process was fast, but difficult and delicate.

This first piece was my favorite.



Space Needle – I saw this in a movie in the nineties and I told myself that I should visit some day.  Apparently, it has been renovated and there is a glass platform at 500 or something feet.  I have fear of heights so I could not go onto or even near the platform.  Even trying to see Seattle from different sides of the Needle was a feat too great for me and I ended up only exploring inside the building.


We visited Pike Place Market which I liked a lot.  You guessed it, the Pike Place Fish Co. was top of the list to visit.  I was surprised to see that it was smaller than I had seen on a documentary. The workers yelled (as was expected) whatever was needed to be said and we, the tourists, cheered.  One interesting thing I noticed though, was that the workers  did not seem to have their heart in it.   I would not either, if I had to do that for years.  It was interesting all the same.



Then on to a nasty tourist site about a two minute walk from the Market.  Yes, I said “nasty” and it is.  It is the Gum Wall.  People chew gum and throw it onto the wall.  I did not understand this tradition, but just had to see it since it was nearby.


Bruce Lee grave – the cemetery was closed earlier than we expected so that was disappointing.  This is one tourist site my dad would have loved hearing about, but oh well.

I am no foodie, but the Indian dinner I had on my last night was delicious.  I would definitely eat there again should I visit Seattle again.

Have you visited Seattle before?  What did you think?


Slugging in the DC Area

There is an interesting form of commuting in the DC area called “slugging”.  This is a form of carpooling where drivers pick up riders, who are total strangers, from designated spots and drop them off at designated stops.  A friend works downtown DC and lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, about 40 kms away.  She drives 5 minutes to a park-and-ride lot, stands in the queue going in the direction of her office and hitches a ride.  She has been doing this for years, saves money and time, loves it and says it’s very safe.

This works for both driver and riders as the former does not have to pay for using the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes which are faster, while the riders get a free ride.  Yes, passengers ride for free.

This form of commuting has been around for a long time in DC and helps both people who save resources, and Mother Earth who gets less pollution.   In Zambia, drivers now pick up people on the way and charge them lower fares than regular buses.  It helps drivers with fuel money while passengers save a bit of money, have a comfortable and quiet ride, and don’t get hustled by bus conductors.

Do you live in a city that has a form of slugging?

Just because I am Chinese???

she responded to me.  I was shocked and confused.

There is a Chinese woman that I regularly bump into and we usually chit chat.  Well, a few weeks ago I met her again at a time when the news of coronavirus was getting more media coverage.  I know that most of her family is back in China and I was concerned for them, so I asked her how her family was doing.  Her response was:

“Are you asking me just because I am Chinese?  I do not have coronavirus and neither does my family.  I have not traveled to China in a long time and neither have my parents who live with me (I did not know that her parents live with her).”

That went in a direction I had not been expecting fast!  I explained that I was only concerned for her family.

Around the DC area when something happens in a given country or region, people from other places ask concerned nationals how their families are.  Therefore, it did not cross my mind that the lady would take my concern in a wrong way especially since I sometimes ask after her young son who has a chronic illness and she willingly gives me updates.  I know that there are now some attacks against Chinese or people perceived to be Chinese, but it was disappointing to see that this lady would think so low of me.

I have moved on and learned a lesson not to show concern for people except if they I am close to them.

I hope you are all keeping as safe as can be.

I don’t eat Avocado

I find the craze for avocado very interesting.  I grew up eating avocado a lot especially if we couldn’t afford butter or margarine, which happened frequently.  I don’t like the taste or texture – especially the texture as it seems like a ‘mistake’ to me.  So, you will not find me eating avocado to look cool, healthy or anything!

My parents have countless avocado trees which are very fruitful.  My mother does not eat butter, for medical reasons, and so uses avocado as bread spread.  Fortunately, she enjoys it and she always tries to get me to eat some when I visit.  It’s always a “no” from me.

I hope you enjoy your avocado toast.  Let me know if my mother should send you some! 🙂

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: