Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is the Indian Mouche Lost Forever?

Should we shed a tear or rejoice at the possible disappearance of the Indian mouche (mustache)? You be the judge:

Indian Moustaches 'face the chop'

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Some pictures from my last days in Delhi

Hey! One of my friends sent me these pictures they took during my last few days in Delhi... A bunch of Vivek and I being silly and also a few feeding the tiny, fuzzy, adorabible Indian squirrels.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Celebrate the Cuteness!

Murray is going to be 6 next month. And still as cute as ever.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Brookford Farm- A Success Story

I sit here, sipping the first Indian style tea I have had since I returned from India-- it has my Taj Mahal brand loose leaves, ginger, sugar, and of course... milk! But, for the first time in the U.S., I am not drinking pasteurized milk. I'm drinking raw milk. That's right folks... straight from the cow's teat! (well, not exactly). I read up on raw milk, and read that it isn't so dangerous as people think. The reason pasteurization started in the 1920s was due to unhygienic farming practices and transportation of milk. Nowadays, a small, local, organic farmer can have a hygienic milking area and clean ways to package it.

Raw milk is supposed to have more nutrients, many of which break down in the pasteurizing process, and it is also more flavorful. The fat in the milk of grass-fed cows is supposed to be higher in Omega 3 fatty acids, and some other stuff, I forgot, that is also good for you. So it has fat, but its better-for-you fat. And we also got the 'low fat' version of raw milk, which just means they scooped the cream off the top (which they probably used in one of their many other products.)

My sister and I gave Brookford Farm a call and set up a time for a first visit, where they will give us a tour of the farm. A very nice guy who works on the farm came out and gave us the tour. We went inside and petted adorable fuzzy Jersey cows and their reticent Holstein sisters. We saw the pastures they graze in, the multitude of hens running about (He said there were about 70) all over the farm and running up to us to see if we had any food scraps for them.

We also saw the baby cows, which are fed by their own mothers before they are milked. We did hear that the boy cows would eventually go to "s-l-a-u-g-h-t-e-r" when they are older (it was spelled as such so the poor little guys wouldn't hear, haha) but not as veal calves since they are allowed to roam and play as cows on the farm.

We also met Oliver, the adorable son of the farmers, who went on the tour with us, telling us interesting stories about farm.

All in all, a very nice day, and we bought a dozen fresh eggs and a 1/2 gallon of fresh raw milk.. now in my tea. Yum! It was a bit more expensive than the store, but I think it is worth it personally. And it was only 15 minutes from my house. Who knew eating morally could be so easy?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Exploring my Options

I've been a vegetarian for 15 years. There were a few things that sparked my vegetarianism as a 12 year old. First, I loved animals and always had. As a young child I had a 'bug cemetery" by an old stump that looked like a church where I buried the poor hapless dead bugs I found outside.

I used to spend hours watching animals outside. Once, after a lot of patience, I got a chipmunk to take food from my hand on the front step. I also always loved dogs, cats, horses, you name it. I was always observant and interested in animals body language and sounds. There was never any doubt in my mind that animals can think, feel, and enjoy their lives much like humans.

I still feel that the line we draw between humans and animals is exaggerated. Yes, we have opposable thumbs. We can make tools and tame our land. But don't chimps make tools, though simple? Don't dogs noises mean something to other dogs? And don't animals protect and love their families and friends (pack)?

One of my friends suddenly became a vegetarian around 5th or 6th grade. I thought, wow, what an idea. Growing up in Maine, I hadn't been exposed to vegetarianism as a food choice at that time. Around the same time, I wrote a paper for school on slaughterhouses. That sealed the deal, and since I was 12, I have been a vegetarian.

At that point, I was quite the anomaly in my small town in Maine. My family didn't know what to feed me, and felt frustrated by my refusal to eat meat. Restaurants often didn't have vegetarian options, and relatives weren't sure what I WOULD eat. People often joked by offering me meat at the dinner table:

"Hey Lindsey, want some chicken?"
"Hey Lindsey, are you SURE you don't want a hamburger? They are so juicy."

People still do this. Others, like my dad, view me as an 'extremist', a sort of outside of normal American culture freak. A Food fundamentalist. I of course, see his intake of meat (often 1-2 times a day) in the opposite light.

When I was 12, people regarded it as a 'phase', something I would get over and move on. Something new and trendy. Something I would get bored and tire of, eventually picking up that chicken wing or grabbing a slice of pork sirloin. But, here I am, age 27, still strong in my convictions.

Because for me, it was never a phase, but a moral conviction. I never wanted to be responsible for the suffering, pain, and death of other living creatures. At 27 though, I have a greater ability to educate myself about the world and the what's going on in it. For a long time, I felt sure in my convictions as a vegetarian who still eats eggs and milk, who still buys leather.

But, recently, I came across an "eat vegetarian" site which opened up Pandora's box for me. Maybe it never occurred to me, or maybe I just didn't want to know, but most eggs and milk in this country are also produced in large commercial facilities. For a long time, I have been buying 'cage free' eggs, thinking that is solving my dilemma. Chickens get to run free on a farm if they are 'cage free', right? Right?

It looks as though my assumptions are wrong. Cage free doesn't necessarily mean farm life, especially if its a big commercial brand. Instead, it looks as though it just means that 1,000s of chickens are crowded into a small, sunless shed. Still unable to go outside, they are sent to slaughter once they stop laying well. Bleck.

Then, we have milk. I have been somewhat lactose intolerant for years, and usually drink soy milk, but lately I found some probiotics that enable me to eat more milk products I enjoy, like cottage cheese, yogurt, and, my Achilles heel, ice cream. Let's be honest. I have no idea where that milk comes from. I never really thought of it. I always thought "Oh! Those silly vegans! Cows aren't killed for their milk, what's the problem?"

Well, it turns out these huge commercial dairy farms aren't so appealing either. From what I gathered, many keep these cows pumped up with hormones, separate their young soon after the birth, causing severely emotional reactions from both mother and calf, send the male calves to be raised for veal, shackled and unable to turn around, and due to lack of proper care, exercise, etc many of the dairy cows end up lame and sick, and are then sent off to slaughter. Double beck.

So, finally Lindsey needs to face the facts. Being a vegetarian is pretty good, but, umm, I have had my blinders on. My cage free eggs are not so farm life happy. My milk is feeding an industry of death, sickness, and torture.

So, now I am on a journey. I want to re-find that old fashioned, let's go milk the cows and send them out in the pasture to munch on grass while chickens are running around the barnyard, pecking up grains and vegetable scraps from the kitchen.

So I looked for a local organic farm that sells fresh farm eggs and milk. I found Brookford Farm not so farm from my house. Tomorrow I think I will give them a call and go get a tour of the farm, and see what they have for sale.

Now I just need to figure out what to do about leather.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I daresay, Maude, felines raally do enjoy yoga.

So, in addition to cycling, I have also been trying to do yoga regularly since I got home from India. When I was in India, Vivek bought me Shilpa's Yoga, and I must say, it's quite a good yoga dvd. It doesn't have any of the funny weird 'fad' (ahem, fake) yoga that is so popular in the U.S. this days. but rather a nice 50 min. workout that stretches and tones your body. It's good enough that I can see my body toning and getting stronger, but not so intense that it feels like a chore to do it. In fact, with the meditative breathing at the end, I end feeling happy and relaxed.

But, to the point. During the time since I have been home that there is nothing that a fuzzy little feline enjoys more than a calm, stretching, meditative human. They just can't resist. It makes for quite an awkward time. When in "tree pose" (on one leg, stretching up) or "bow pose" (on your stomach, legs bent, holding ankles and arching up) the kitty just can't resist but rub rub rub on my one balancing leg, or under my turned up chin. One might think it's frustrating, but really, I must confess, I find it entirely adorable, and can't do much but laugh when the kitty winds her way between my arms and legs when I am in a pose. Oh kitties. Indeed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

....drum roll please!

here he is... my new cousin Nathan:

Being held by his big brother

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One of those "tagged" thingies

6 Things I Value

(In no particular order)

1. Love and compassion for all living things

2. Honesty

3. Accepting that life isn't going to be perfect, and that's OK.

4. My own golden rule: As long as anothers actions aren't hurting anyone, let them do as they desire.

5. Respecting the environment for the sake of humans and other living beings.

6. Helping others purely to help, rather than to "get something back later"

6 Things I Don’t Support

1. Assuming different= wrong

2. Thinking some people are more worthy of basic needs than others.

3. War/Violence in any form.

4. Treating some people like they are too ignorant to make their own decisions.

5. Ignoring an issue/problem/suffering rather than trying to find a solution.

6. Selfishness.

6 People I Tag

1. My sister

2. Vivek

3. Abby

4. Sue

5. Pooja

6. Anyone else who wants to do it.

You can either put your answers as a comment to this blog, or put them on your own blog and link in my comments. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ride that Bike! Yeah!

View Larger Map

So here is the bike route I took today, 5.7 miles... the longest ride I've taken yet and I'm definitely ready to do it again. I have been either going cycling or doing yoga everyday and trying to keep track of what I eat (by portion size, thought not a 'diet' per say). I have lost 8 pounds since I got home.. hooray! Hopefully it will keep going this well.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bay Cousin Nate (2)

So my baby cousin Nate was born soon after the other post.. but I didn't get to talk to the family until now about him... While his older bro Jake is blond and lighter toned, he has dark hair and tones. (I am waiting on his picture!) The most interesting thing is that he was born with a Mongol Spot, which is a blue birthmark, usually on the lower back or bum... Here's what a website says about them:

"The prevalence of Mongolian spots varies among different ethnic groups according to the overall depth of pigmentation. Mongolian spots are common among Asian, East Indian, and African races, but rare among Caucasian and other races. Reported incidences in representative ethnic infants are as follows:
Asian: 95-100%, East African: 90-95%, Native American: 85-90%, Hispanic: 50-70%, Caucasian: 1-10%"

Our family (on my mom's side) has Croatian and other eastern European ancestry.. so maybe it comes from there? Or maybe some of our Croatian ancestors were from the east, or from Turkey (I read that it is also common among Turks). Also, there is possible native American Blood in my family.. though we just have a name "Tecumsah Smith"..

All in all, an intriguing mystery...ancestry is very interesting, no?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Baby Cousin Nate

If all goes as planned, my baby cousin Nate will be born today! He will be my 5th cousin.. and they are ALL boys! Here he is hanging out in the womb:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hunger in India states 'alarming'

Twelve Indian states have "alarming" levels of hunger while the situation is "extremely alarming" in the state of Madhya Pradesh, says a new report.

Madhya Pradesh's nutrition problems, it says, are comparable to the African countries of Ethiopia and Chad.

India has more people suffering hunger - a figure above 200 million - than any other country in the world, it says.

The report, released as part of the 2008 Global Hunger Index, ranks India at 66 out 88 countries.

'Scored worse'

The hunger index has been released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) along with Welthungerhlife and the University of California.

It measures hunger on three indicators which include child malnutrition, rates of child mortality and the number of people who are calorie deficient.

The problem of hunger is measured in five categories - low, moderate, serious, alarming or extremely alarming.

The survey says that not one of the 17 states in India that were studied were in the low or moderate hunger category.

"Despite years of robust economic growth, India scored worse than nearly 25 sub-Saharan African countries and all of South Asia, except Bangladesh," the report says.

The best performing state was Punjab, which has a 'serious' hunger problem and does less well than developing countries such as Gabon, Vietnam and Honduras.

"When Indian states are compared to countries in the Global Hunger Index, [the central Indian state of] Madhya Pradesh ranks between Ethiopia and Chad," it says.

India is long known to have some of the highest rates of child malnutrition and mortality in under-fives in the world.

According to the Indian government statistics two years ago, around 60% of more than 10 million children in the state were malnourished.

Nutrition experts say the abysmal record is due to an inadequate access to food, poor feeding practices and poor childcare practices in India.

And now the rise in the global food prices has reduced the food-buying capacity of many poor families, making their situation worse.

In the past year food prices have increased significantly, but people's incomes haven't kept pace, forcing many families further into hunger, experts say.

The report says "improving child nutrition is of utmost urgency in most Indian states".

"All states also need to improve strategies to facilitate inclusive economic growth, ensure food sufficiency and reduce child mortality," it adds.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/10/14 12:24:13 GMT


Thursday, October 02, 2008

O politics. oh... politics. ugh.


I have been stressing out muchily trying to decide who to vote for in this upcoming election.. In the past I have always voting Green Party and totally avoided the two party system (and voting for a candidate that might actually get elected) but things are getting soo bad I was actually tempted for the "lesser of two evils" Barack Obama. Now, don't get me wrong, he has some nice ideas.. Health care is a huge step forward (especially since I don't have any!)And focusing more on education and such is nice too.

But, being a firm believer in non-violence, I am extremely uncomfortable with his comfort in talking about going into Pakistan.. putting sanctions on Iran (don't we know yet that sanctions hurt the common innocent people, not the crazies in charge!?!) and his super-support of Israel... Why is Israel such a big agenda these days anyways? I mean, I understand that they and Palestine need to work something out, but there are issues like that in MANY many places.. like India/Pakistan over Kashmir.. or China and Tibet... I guess it's because Israel is there only ally in the middle east.. where the U.S. has gotten itself into a mess of trouble.

Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. What would the Dalai Lama do? Seriously. Can I support any candidates who are advocating to go to war at any moment? Aren't there any other OPTIONS to create peace besides creating MORE violence?

I am bummed out. I don't know if I can bring myself to be responsible for war and death by voting for the democrats.. but at the same time the Green Party.. seems like a dead fish (it's not even flopping around!) this year. So what's the point? These sort of things make me wonder.. should I even vote at all?

Sigh. I feel disenfranchised.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We had one 9-11... how many will India have before anyone outside takes notice?


27 September: Bomb blasts kills one in Delhi

13 September: Five bomb blasts kill 18 in Delhi

26 July: At least 22 small bombs kill 49 in Ahmedabad

25 July: Seven bombs go off in Bangalore killing two people

13 May: Seven bomb hit markets and crowded streets in Jaipur killing 63

(from the BBC)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back and Back and Back Again

Wow, it's been a long time since I have posted. I have been in Delhi since May, working as an English teacher for an international language school. It was tough at first, and stressful getting used to teaching adults in a new teaching method.. After that I was really enjoying myself, though between teaching and the heat of Delhi summers I wasn't doing much else.

I have made a few very good friends and had time to spend with my "old" friends in Delhi too.. All in all pretty good.

But, unfortunately, I decided that I need to return to the U.S. for monetary and school (ahem masters is STILL not finished) reasons. I'm going to head back in about a month, and I'm going from living half-way around the world to living in the house I grew up in. I am really excited to see my family and friends in the U.S. again, and take care of my sweet (though sometimes troublesome) little mutt again... It's amazing how as you get older ("older" as a relative term.. I guess, I'm going to be 27 on August 24!) you miss your family more and more.

I am also going to be very sad leaving India.. it seems almost unreal that I am leaving so soon. I haven't had a perfect time, and spent (too much) time complaining... but still, damn, I'm going to miss this place, even the honking cars and cow poop on the sidewalks!

I'm sure I'm going to have culture shock when I get home.. it will be so quiet.. so.. I don't know.. different. It will take awhile to get used to.

Anyways, in about a month I'll be headed back... I am wrapping up work and thinking about packing.. whew.. it's back and back and back again!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wanna Help?

Since October I have been going a couple of times a week to a special place. It's called Child Inn and it's one of the 5 homes for street children run by I-India in Jaipur, Rajastan. This organization, in addition to the homes for street children, also runs a lot of other programs in Jaipur: they run the Jaipur Child-line, which is a free number for children to call if they need any help. They also run mobile schools, and shower buses for children who live on the streets or in the slums. They also run vocational training programs for jewelry making, sewing, and arts & crafts.

I have been going to Child Inn, which is a boy's home. The boys there are usually between 10-18 years old. Most of them go to school and take computer classes, tutoring (for extra help) and sewing or craft classes after school. When I come I do drawing with them, or just play and chat.

Working there for a long time, I have come to see that while the staff wants the best for the kids, it is always a struggle because they need more funding for the children's education, health care, and daily needs like food, clothes etc. I wanted to share with everyone about this organization and the great work they are doing for children here in Jaipur, many of whom, without this program, would be forced to live on the streets. There are lots of ways to help, you can sponsor one child, or donate for different programs. You can read more about it here.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Goats in Coats and Local Pests

Whew.... again, a long time since I have posted. I "lost" my house internet connection, and Jaipur is back to it's regular electricity schedule where the electricity goes off between at least 10 am-12 noon and sometimes even longer making my chances to sit down and write a blog far and in between.

So since my return from the U.S. for Christmas things have been going pretty decently for my stomach in Jaipur.. those probiotics really make a huge difference...

Now that my stomach issues have settled down, I have realized lately just how normal it feels for me to live in India. When I'm on a bus to Delhi on the highway the scenery feels so familiar and normal now, getting a rickshaw or going grocery shopping is run of the mill, and overall I feel generally... normal. I think that revelation came while I was on the bus and I just thought... wow. I have always thought I could live in India for a long term and feel happy, but I was really worried this fall that maybe I couldn't, and that maybe my whole plan in life would have to be rearranged.. A daunting task, to say the least.

Not to say everything is perfect and happy all the time, but any problems I have nowadays seem to be normal life problems rather than "living in a foreign land" problems.

So, then, the title, you ask. Well, it's winter here, which doesn't necessarily mean it is freezing cold, though it is really chilly without heating and the houses aren't really insulated in anyway. Generally I am doing fine with all that, but I came to know some really cute practices which I never would have guessed. First people put coats on their dogs, and sometimes the neighborhood street dogs also strut their stuff in their winter sweaters. But the best by far is the goats in coats. Now, these goats are herded about, with their big floppy ears and strange goaty-eyes, all over the place, city included. A cute little old grandma comes through my neighborhood regularly, herding her goats through the city blocks. These goats seem of a hardy stock, but for some reason, it seems everyone decides that in 40-60 degree weather, a goat needs a coat to keep itself toasty warm. Indeed. So, if I am ever down, I can think, of goats in coats.

The second interesting issue as of late are some local pests... now generally pests in a house could be... let's see... ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes, flies, maybe a mouse or such.... not so here these days.. the pests giving me the most trouble of all...


oh monkeys. How I fear them. One day they were in the front hall, stealing someones pants and trying to rip them up. I have to say. Monkeys are scary. ouff.

and then lately... even worse... the monkeys have decided to use my balcony as there special-monkey-gift-deposit spot.. aka... monkey toilet. This not only means that my porch is now covered in little miniature human-turds and pee stains... it also means... HELP!!! I can't open the door to my porch.. monkeys might come in...!!!

Someone at school told a story of former residents of their flat who left their porch door unlatched one day and a monkey sauntered in, open the fridge and started downing the eggs as if he did this every morning. Of course, they couldn't do anything but watch, those sale monkeys have teeth, yaar.