I look that young?!!

I celebrated my 40th birthday several years and treated myself to a trip to Orlando.  I had a great time by myself.

I went out one evening and a (very) young man came over and had small talk with me.  He asked me what I was doing in Orland and I told him that I was celebrating my birthday.  He asked how I old I was and I said 40.  He laughed and asked me the same question.  Well, I gave him the same response but he was not impressed this time.  He said “I am also here celebrating my birthday.  I just turned 27 years old and I know you can’t be older than me.  Now how old are you?”  I was surprised at his response but decided to see what he would say if I gave him a ridiculous answer, so I told him that I had just turned 23.  He said “Well, that’s more like it.  Happy birthday.”  I could not believe that he had believed me, but apparently I looked that young.

I know most people in the west would find that flattering, but where I come from it’s not that flattering.  Why?  Because looking younger means people will not show respect to you.  As result, I had always hated the fact that I look far much younger than I really am.  However, I have now come to terms with this ‘flaw’ in my appearance because nothing I do makes me look my age.  I once changed my clothing to look older, to no avail.  I have even been scolded by strangers back for calling my friends  by their first names without the prefix “ba”, a word that shows respect even if these friends are younger than I.  Why fight something that I can’t change?

I am healthy and life is good, so why bother.


Are some talents not worth much?

I have started thinking that one’s talents must bring one some tangible results (in this case aka financial gain) as I have grown older.  I know this is not always or should it be the case, but well…

I know people who are leaders in every situation – whether they want it or not.  My mother, for example, is always selected to positions in any group even if she is brand new in that township.  She has had to refuse many positions especially as she has gotten older.  Unfortunately (or so I think) for me, I find myself leading mostly during sad circumstances, like when someone is ill or bereaved.  I did not know I had a knack for this until when I was about 25 years old and someone in our office passed away.  I went to the funeral house with some colleagues but there was no one from our team to comfort the grieving family (something visitors are expected to do back home).  I decided to take the lead and said a few words.  I must say that I was shocked at how people received my words – they seemed to be touched and comforted, especially the bereaved family.

Lo an behold, a story went around the company that I was someone to have when there was a bereavement because I knew how to comfort people.  People started requesting me to go and pray, encourage or comfort those who needed.  I refused to go for bereavements during working hours as I did not want to eat into my working time, but somehow visiting the ill, troubled and bereaved became an unofficial part of my job description.  My manager was enthusiastically behind this and would arrange for company transport, during working hours I must add, for me to do some of this outreach.   I did not really appreciate this gift until I needed a lot of comforting and uplifting last year because other people with a similar talent came up and comforted me.

The issue of me comforting others has continued in my life with family and friends expecting me to be in the forefront to say some ‘wise’ and comforting words when someone is faced with problems.  I find it interesting that even at times when I am not prepared to say anything, words that flow out of my mouth seem to uplift others.

I know some may say this is a good gift to have, but you know what?  I sometimes wish this was a talent I could make money from, though.  After all, comedians, among others, make money out of their talent.

What do you think?  Am I just being whiny?




Christmas Shopping by June?

I first saw this sign outside the White House gift shop in June – is it Christmas already?


To swear or not to swear….

now, that this the question.

There was no swearing in my house when I was growing up.    We would use body language and tone to show how annoyed we were with each other.  There were also fists, wrestling matches, pushing and slaps frequently and liberally exchanged between my immediate older brother and I.

You can imagine my shock when I heard people cursing and generally using bad language when my family moved to one town when I was 10/11 years old.  One of our neighbors, Lydia’s mum, actually used to have her kids, toddlers even, join her in loudly describing her perceived enemies’ anatomies when she saw them.  I could not believe it!

Therefore, I find it unfortunate that swearing nowadays is a way of life for many people, especially using four letter words.  Are there no better words to use?  I find it even more unfortunate when people think that kids/toddlers swearing is cute.  Maybe I am just old fashioned or a prude.

Not much of a post, just wondering why we need so many swear words in our vocabulary nowadays.

No more malaria, phew!

I first heard of malaria when I was 10 or 11 years when we moved to another town.  I can’t even remember ever seeing a mosquito or even hearing of an insect called ‘mosquito’ before then.  Well, I was rudely awakened to the existence of malaria one day when a classmate didn’t come to school because she had ‘malaria’.  I asked other classmates what malaria was and they looked at me as if I was crazy.  I persisted and one impatiently told me that it was a disease caused by mosquitoes. Well, my next question was to ask what mosquitoes are.  She explained and said that one gets an itchy ‘pimple’ when bitten by a mosquito.

As luck would have it, a friend (Brenda, I still remember her name) had an itchy pimple that she kept scratching.  Of course I was curious as to what it was and she said it was a mosquito bite.  I asked if that was the malaria I had heard so much of.  She said no and was not impressed as she thought I wished her to have malaria. Oh, how I wish I had gone on with my ignorance without ever being exposed to the devastating effects of malaria!

Fast forward a couple of years and I came face to face with malaria after we moved to a new area near a stream.  Everybody in that compound suffered from malaria frequently, including me.  The malaria would do rounds in homes, especially during the rain season.  Those days the medication was chloroquine which gave one nightmares and itchy feet and hands.  The effects were as horrible if not more than the malaria headaches, fevers and throwing up. The regular malaria was at least manageable, not the cerebral malaria that caused patients to act in a crazy way.

One of my parents was usually down with malaria whenever I called them from the US after I relocated.  I even started dreading calling home because of the malaria news.

My parents moved to a small holding a few years ago near a stream and were happy with the new place and their life there.  They also always had a good report for me whenever I called.  After one year I realized that they never mentioned having malaria. When I asked them, they said they had not had malaria since moving even though there were a lot of mosquitoes in the first year.  I told a friend about this and he said it was because my parents’ new house was far from other houses.  Apparently, mosquitoes do not fly very far and so cannot spread malaria from one home to another.  They still live near a stream and during the rain season there is all sorts of vegetation growing in their fields just outside their home.

I was relieved about the outcome of their move and I hope it stays that way, fingers crossed while knocking on wood.

Amish Village Visit

I had a great four day Labor Day weekend.  I met friends, went out, listened to great music, had great food and best of all, visited Lancaster County in Pennsylvania with a friend to see how the Amish live.  My friend and I first visited the Amish Village and were disappointed because this “Village” is just a replica of an Amish homestead and not an actual one.  However, our minds were changed for us once we had done a tour of the replica house and grounds as we learnt quite a lot from the tour guide.

We were informed that non-Amish are called ‘English’.  Even I am considered English so don’t be surprised if I change my block name to “English Lady” 🙂


I was surprised at how big Amish houses are – for some reason, I expected tiny ones.  Apparently, the Amish do not lack most of the mod cons that we have even though they use gas instead of electricity.  It was interesting to learn that they shun electricity because they do not want to be dependent on somebody.  They are less dependent on others when they use gas.

Amish kitchen….


Amish women have four dresses (I didn’t believe this) which they use for specific purposes.  Their wedding dress comprises a dark dress and a white apron over it.  They next time they wear white is when they pass away.  For wedding shoes, they wear black booties – quite interesting.

Washing machine…..


Summer kitchen which is in the cellar – this is the stove on which they cook food to be preserved.


A short legged donkey, or so I thought, until I was told that it was actually and miniature horse…


This was one sad mule, it had ‘tears’ dropping from its eye.  It was depressing to look at it.


An interesting story about the milk house….


Clothes on the line – I prefer drying my clothes this way as they smell fresh….


We went to the schoolhouse and it was interesting to see that the students also learn their ‘mother tongue’, German.  Pardon the blurry photo…


A buggy is the way the Amish mostly move around.  It was interesting to see a sleek one that young people use – something of a sports car in the conventional world.  For short distances, the Amish zoom around on kick scooters.  The Amish do not have cars and do not drive but hire them, get on buses and planes as long someone else is driving/flying.


A buggy similar to the one we were on to visit an Amish homestead.  The only thing we really saw, however, was the store that the family runs and the grounds.


Tobacco field


Alfalfa – I learnt of Alfalfa decades ago in high school, forgot about it, and only got to see it now.  I always thought it was long grass!


Windmill, of course.


The Amish have generational housing and there are three generations in this house.  I like that idea as the grandparents have people around them to help out when they are infirm.  This homestead has three generations.


The homestead has a dairy area.


Tobacco being air dried.


A statue of an Amish man at Hershey’s restaurant where we had dinner at.


Our homestead guide was very knowledgeable about the Amish.  She said she had only met one bachelor (that is an older man) in her 18 years since she has lived in Lancaster County and he is a very grumpy man.  She thinks that he is either grumpy because he is not married or he is not married because he is grumpy.

I like the Amish life since they emphasize spending time with family instead of in front of the TV of computer, though I love my internet connection :), and bright lights everywhere.  I guess I would be used to hard work if that is all I knew.  I also like the hard work ethic they have.  My friend said that the Amish live as many people still do in poor countries.  The only difference is that the Amish have the opportunity and money to live conventional lives but choose not to.

I know I should not have been, but I was surprised that the Amish are wealthy – after all they do not spend money on frivolous things.  They also do not pay school tax as they have their own schools.  They do not have medical insurance and pay cash for all procedures, no matter how much they cost.

Our visit was very satisfactory and I would definitely recommend it to everyone.  It would have been nicer, though, to have the Amish themselves being the tour guides instead of the “English”.

I have food – I am grateful

From the time I was born to about 12 years, my family had all the food we needed.  I can’t remember ever being hungry before then.  There were snacks for our ‘four o’clock tea’.  However, rude reality came knocking when I was about 12 years old and stayed with my family for some years.  This was as a result of my parents having to move the family for security reasons from another country.  They had had to leave their jobs and small business and it was hard for them to start over.  My mother, a designer, who had made most of my clothes could no longer afford to buy the material needed.  My friends taunted me about that fact and I had started walking barefoot since I had no clothes.  I had not noticed before that I always had footwear even when I was playing.  The lack of shoes and clothes did not bother me as much as not having food.

Having to think about whether we would have our next meal was rough, especially since I was child – and one who never  knew hunger before.  My parents did talk to us about facts of life and tried to explain why we went hungry, but it was still tough.  I would go to school without eating and spend the whole day at school without food and it was tough, tough, tough.  On top of that I had to walk at least 8 kms round trip to school on an empty tummy.  Many times we would have to eat stale food because that is all that we had and thankfully, no running tummies followed.  The lack of food is one of the reasons why I stayed away from mischief as a youth so that I could finish my education and have as secure a future as possible.

My parents’ situation improved after a few years, but my fear of having no food had a very strong unhealthy hold on me for several years.  I have managed to deal with the fear, but at the back of my mind I always remember what being is like and so try to secure my future.  I do not want to be in a position where I do not know where my next meal is coming from.  I do not want to eat stale food ever again just because it’s the only thing available.

My lack of food at one point has made me appreciate the fact that I can have any food I want at any time.  I am grateful that I do not have to worry about what I will eat because that is tiring and scary.  I am grateful for the good health and job that I have because those keep me for lacking my daily bread.  I am also grateful that my immediate family also have food, because they too, know what being is like.

What are you grateful for today?


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