Twins – the good and the bad

No, I don’t have and am not having twins :), but they are interesting.  On my father’s side, his aunt’s descendants have so many twins it is not funny.  Unfortunately, that gene is from the side of my grandaunt’s husband, so we missed it.  The twins in my grandaunt’s lineage are usually a boy and girl and not same sex twins.  I wonder if the twin gene breaks down further to determine the sex mix of twin.

Anyway, I want to write about my former neighbors’ twins years ago – a boy and girl. They had different personalities – the boy was outgoing but mature and serious about life, while the girl was outgoing, loud, an attention seeker and did not take her future into any consideration.  In spite of having different characters, the twins were so close that they felt when there was something wrong with the other.  I did not this when my niece first told me about it.

This changed when one day I saw the girl, Lucy, coming home around 6.00 am. This is a girl who never got up before 11.00 am for anything. My niece later that day told me that Lucy had spent a night out partying but woke up early because she felt that her twin, Larry, was not well.  When she got home, Larry was surely not well.   I found this surprising.

The next time I heard about their closeness was when Lucy announced that she was  pregnant (outside wedlock and at a tender age, so no one had been expecting the news).  Larry got angry with Lucy because he had been having the morning sickness and swollen feet instead of her, even before Lucy announced the pregnancy.  Larry had gone to different doctors, but none could diagnose the issue.  Larry had to wear big size sneakers throughout Lucy’s pregnancy.  Lucy had no problem with her pregnancy and she always teased Larry about his pregnancy symptoms.

One evening Larry fell ill but he could not put his finger on the problem.  He spent the whole night tossing and turning.  Lucy called in the morning and said she was in labor, so Larry found out why he was ill.  Larry only recovered after Lucy had delivered.  Needless to say, Lucy had a pain free labor and Larry bore it all for her.

Isn’t it interesting how twins can be so close that they unknowingly bear the other’s burdens?



My flying lesson

I had a great labor day weekend with a one hour flying lesson tucked somewhere in between.

My instructor handled the take off and landing because I would not have managed those on the first run.  The lesson was in Maryland and we went over Fort Meade, Ravens stadium, downtown Baltimore, United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Key Bridge and the Bay Bridge.  I did most of the flying.  The instructor would point to a site and tell me to go around it or towards it.  It was quite easy because I quickly realized that flying is just like driving.  I don’t like driving at all and unfortunately, that is how I felt about flying.  It was just a one hour lesson and I could see myself not going back for another lesson.

All in all it was fun and one item off my bucket list.


My Parents’ 60th Anniversary

That’s right, my parents have been married for 60th years.  I went to Zambia in May not only for my yearly visit, but to attend my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.

Well, the story started in 1958 in Livingstone, Zambia (then Southern Rhodesia).  My mother was going home one day and a young man greeted her and introduced himself.  The next time she met him was when he escorted his friend to visit my mum’s brother-in-law (mum does not remember this part, but apparently this was a strategic move by my dad to see her again).  The third time is when my mum came home one day and found a delegation of elders meeting with her father.  The young man was there as well.  Mum was asked to join the meeting and was asked if she knew the young man.  She said she had met him once but didn’t really know him.  Grandpa informed her that the young man was interested in marrying him and asked for her response.

Though mum was caught unawares she agreed to get to know young man, as she  was impressed that the young man had respected her and her family.  Thus began a 60 year old journey and here we are today.

I took my parents to Lilayi Lodge,, for a late lunch the Friday before the bash.  The Lodge is beautiful and the food was more than delicious, while the portions were huge.  Of course we took doggy bags.

See those portions?

Lilayi Lodge.jpg

I spent the night with them at Sandy’s Creation Lodge,, in prep for the following day.  The party was on Saturday at Sandy’s and all their kids, grandkids and great-grandkids attended.  I was my parents’ matron-of-honor and I know I got more pleasure from the celebrations than they did.  Of course, we were busy informing everyone who seemed remotely interested in us on what was going on.  They clapped, ululated or said congratulatory words much to my parents’ delight.

The thing that touched me the most was my mother saying “I never in my wildest dreams ever thought that I would have a wedding in my old age”.  I almost cried.  My parents only had a traditional ceremony when they married, so this was a delayed wedding for them.

I am grateful that we still have our parents with us and that we were able to appreciate them.

Feeling “Over the hill”? Not any more!!

A friend, Suzie, and I were talking about life in general three years ago.  She said all that was left for her (and by extension me, since we are about the same age) was retirement and then death.  She also said that we should have already done what we needed to do by our age.  Unfortunately, Suzie got me at a weak moment.  I agreed with her and felt very low and as if I was a failure.  I told myself that:

a) I could have gone further with my education

b) I could have had a better career

c) I could not have cared less about what people said and done what I wanted as long as I did not hurt others (God, how I could have cared less!)

d) I could have spent less resources helping others.  I thought I had helped too many people too much.

Of course these thoughts made me feel as if I had wasted my life.  It took me a couple of days to realize that I was not doing myself a favour.   I usually dwell on positive things in my life when I am feeling low and that is what I did at this time.  Yes, I may not have done as well professionally as I could have, but I have not done too badly either.  I could have saved some more money by not being ‘over’ helpful.   There are other things I did very well and got a lot of satisfaction from, like paving the way for prisoners to be receiving free ARV drugs.  I told myself to count my successes and blessings one by one and I would be amazed at what I had achieved and been blessed with.

I felt much better after looking at my life from a non-judgemental and non-dejected point of view.  I did not feel ancient or as a failure any longer.

I am amazed that I could have thought that I was ‘over the hill’, the term Suzie used.  I have done a lot of things since then and travelled to several more countries.  Life has been good to me and my family, knock on wood.  I have become adventurous and have some interesting adventures lined up.

How could I have possibly thought that the only things left for me were retirement and death?!!!




Race issues in America

I happened to be near the White House this past Sunday and saw several people and groups peacefully coming from the Unite the Right2 protest.  I am glad that there was no ‘major’ violence like what happened last year in Charlottesville.  Seeing the different races with differing beliefs reminded me of a conversation I had with a black African friend, Henry, some months ago.

I have written about the racism I have experienced in the US before, but that experience was nothing compared to what Henry told me.  He works for a local company and goes to work sites a lot for his job.  He is a manager in his company and supervises people of different racial backgrounds.  Henry enjoys his job but said he has seen a lot of discrimination because of his race, as have his Caucasian counterparts.

If a client needs to have a meeting, Henry and his team discuss the client’s race as part of preparation. If the client is white, then Henry’s white report pretends to be the manager and chairs the meeting while Henry acts a support staff member and takes the minutes.   However, the ‘manager’ defers tough questions to Henry all the while pretending to be the boss.  Apparently, most of their Caucasian clients do not accept Henry and his fellow black managers and so do not take well to Henry supervising whites.  This has led many clients withdrawing their business, though they would give different reasons for doing so.

One day Henry got a call from his Caucasian report asking him to join him at a site. Henry refused and said the job was easy and the report should be able to handle it.  However, his colleague pressed him to come though he would not say why.  Henry went and was surprised to see his colleague standing far away from the clients.  Apparently, the colleague was not welcomed by the client because they wanted a black person to work with them. You guessed it – the clients were black.  Henry took over the job and his colleague only joined him when going back to the office.

It was only after my discussion with Henry about the racial issues his company has to deal with that I realized that I truly know nothing about race here in US.  It was really a big shock for me.  It seems I have been fortunate so far, I guess.

Western marriage proposals

There is one thing I don’t understand (I guess because of my culture) – the fuss about marriage proposals in the west.  I always wonder why it has to be a big spectacle.  Why don’t people just involve their loved ones if they want to, instead of doing it during half time at football matches, and other such places, with huge rings?  I am not bashing this culture, but I would just like to understand why the pomp around engagements.

In today’s Zambia, an engagement generally goes like this:

  • A couple date
  • The guy pops the question
  • The woman agrees
  • The guy’s family visits the woman’s family to ask for her hand from her family
  • The family agrees
  • The guy gives a small token, usually a bit of money, as a sign of commitment.  I guess this may be equated to an engagement ring (?).

Only at this stage is the couple considered engaged.  However, nowadays the guy may pop the question after this to the woman and give her a ring.  I know one guy who asked for the second time at an upscale restaurant and the people around cheered.  This is just to be romantic as they are already engaged.

Relative was visiting

A young male relative visited me last month.  I have always gotten along with him, but was worried that I would bore him out of his mind since he is a young adult with different interests.  Instead, he had a big blast as much as I did.

It was his first time in the US, so I took him all over DC metro area where we even rode Segways, something I have wanted to do for a long time.  I took him to NYC where we walked on the Brooklyn Bridge, toured the Statue of Liberty (another thing I have long wanted to do) and visited ground zero new developments among other tourist things.

Young man did not have any places except for a couple that he was interested in, so he did what I said we do.  However – and this is a big however – he was interested in tasting new foods that he had seen on TV shows like Anthony Bourdain’s.  First up was Ben’s Chilli bowl, a place I had never been interested in.  We went to the H street place, and I enjoyed the food so much that I took young man to the Arlington one as well where I ordered a hot chilli dog and a chilli burger for one meal.  Delicious!  In NYC, he had Korean food which was to die for, Philly cheesesteak (it was so-so) and the New York cheesecake which was out of this world.

It was fun to bond with young man and see the States through his eyes.  It was also nice to hear him speak as an adult and not as a boy.  One thing that touched me, though, was that he said the highlight of his visit for him was talking about a beloved who passed on a few years ago.  He said it helped him heal.  I enjoyed that part of the visit as well.

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