Fred, Frank, Tom, and Ted sit at their usual place at the counter of the Hullahoo Bar for their Friday night drinks with friends and not-so friends. The subject is TV panels.
‘You ever notice how the female panelists always sit cross-legged?” Fred initiates.
“Yeah,” Frank responds. “You wonder how they avoid getting cramps. I’d like to see what they do with their legs during the commercials.”
“I bet some physical therapist comes by to rub their calves,” Tom says.
“You ask yourself why they’re always sitting cross-legged in unison,” Ted says. “Are they hiding something?”
“You ever noticed how the male panelists sit?” throws in Cindy. “Always wide-legged.”
“Oh, they do,” Melissa croons. “With their hands folded at the groin. I wonder if they’re hiding something, too.”
“And some are thumbing their fingers at the same time while they’re pontificating.” Mary scoffs.
“Gross,” Cindy judges. “Why don’t they sit at tables so we don’t have to watch that exhibitionism?”
“It’s because male viewers like to see nice legs,” Mary retorts. “They’re not interested in what they’re saying.”
“Sure,” Tom interjects. “Some females wear their skirts so short that you see way up their upper thighs instead of hiding them.”
“I’m all for sitting at tables,” Melissa says. “Not all female panelists have nice legs. That’s discrimination.”
“Then the viewers will focus on too much facial makeup,” Frank says, “Ever noticed those dark lines under and above their eyes to hide wrinkles or a hangover?”
“Ever noticed those guys with black colored hair and grey beards?” Cindy shoots back.
“Why shouldn’t males have the right to paint their hair to look younger?” Fred asks. “Women paint their hair for that reason all the time.”
“We do because if we don’t you guys go look for younger blondies,” Mary says. “It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Painting our hair works for us.”
“Painting your hair while leaving your beard or mustache greying is preposterous,” Cindy insists. “It shows you’re having your mid-life crisis.”
“So table or no table doesn’t make a difference,” Fred concludes. “That’s a level playing field.”
“Oh, and then you have those false teeth,” Melissa deposits. “Amazing how different those guys look with their instasmiles. They can’t stop laughing broadly to show off how much they paid for it, regardless of the sordid issues they’re harping on.”
“That brings me to the facelifts,” Ted says. “Nancy Pelosi’s multiple facelifts. Or Kerry’s endless botox looks. And those of other celebrities. Panels feel forced to ape the anti-aging trends. It’s absurd.”
“Every woman has the right not to look her age,” Melissa says. “It’s all your males’ fault. You men go astray as soon as we get wrinkles.”
“Hear, hear,” Fred says. “I repeat there’s no difference between tabled panels and legged panels. That was what we were arguing about.”
“I suggest that all panelists, females and males, wear pants,” Cindy offers. “That solves the issue.”
“Right,” Frank pummels. “So they all can sit wide-legged.”
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While stationed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, between 1980 and 1984, for the World Bank, we traveled with the two kids, David and Samantha, (8 and 6), through India on several occasions, from east-west to north-south: wonderful and unforgettable experiences. Some pictures you may remember from your own travels in that intriguing part of the world.
How did we travel? By air (it takes three hours to fly north-south), taxicabs, and rickshaws. We visited palaces and temples of artful architecture which showed the richness of India in the Middle Ages and earlier, while Europe was building its own cathedrals and palaces.
We watched the Gometeswara statue above in awe on our way from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Bangalore. The kids were still too young to feel ‘shocked’ by the enormous penis, but on a beach in Goya later, daughter Samantha pointed startled at a live male nudist’s penis because to her big shock it dangled precipitously.
Dave and Sam in front of the impressive Palace at Mysore in southern India, a huge complex designed by Englishman Lord Henry Irwin and built between 1897-1912 after the old wooden structure burned down. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his mother Maharani Kempananjammanni Devi, commissioned Lord Henry to build it. The royal family lived in these palaces since the 14th century.
A photograph of the Hoysaleswara temple at Belur. Here is where Sam and Dave disappeared in the dark inside. Worried about child kidnapping in India, we found Sam later sitting with a local family, selling mango fruits as if she had become Indian. They did not want to be photographed. When Sam ran back to us I sneakily took a picture of them anyway.
Notice the natural Indian beauty of the young women selling mangos, squatting with – probably – their mother.
The ancient Indian art of temple sculpture is breathtaking. You see much of that art spread throughout South Asia and the Far East (Indonesia).
Of course, we had to visit the Taj Mahal (“Crown of the Palaces” – in Hindi) in the city of Agra while staying with friends in New Delhi who kindly babysat the kids for this trip. Joy is shown with the Taj Mahal in the background. My grandfather, a great-uncle, and father went there too, so it became sort of a pilgrimage for me. For Joy, all travel in India, in particular Bombay and the south where her family hailed from, was an all-out pilgrimage to visit her roots. Her family name in Guyana being Jaundoo, we searched the English language Bombay telephone book, which listed the name Chandoo. In Guyana, it had become Jaundoo. The pronunciation was exactly the same in Hindi, but spelled differently in English in British Guyana.
The inside of the Taj Mahal glorifies Persian, Mongol and Indian art. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (who reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (source Wikipedia) Next to the Taj Mahal is the tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah, commissioned by Nur Jahan, the wife of Jahangir, for her father Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, originally a Persian Amir in exile. I’timad was an important Persian official in the Mughal Empire, whose children served as wives, mothers, and generals of the Mughal Emperors.
From Agra we traveled to nearby Fatehpur Sikri, a remnant of the capital of the Mughal Empire in 1571 built by Emperor Akbar, serving in this role from 1571 to 1585 (Wikipedia). It is a remarkable assembly of impressive buildings which excel in structural simplicity.
From there, we traveled to Jaipur to complete the Taj Mahal ‘triangle.’ A historic old town with a remote castle on top of a mountain that one can only reach by elephant.
A ‘Joyful” elephant rider: the elephant seems to like her.
Following are two local Indian paintings we bought in Jaipur. The one with the Hindu figures we could not get because the store where we saw it displayed in the window case was closed. Indian friends of ours – thanks again Anand Seth if you read this blog! – who are from Jaipur purchased it for us later. The other painting displays a typical Indian rural scene as we encountered them on our travels by car.
Back to New Delhi to pick-up the kids to travel to Srinagar in Kashmir, a state torn by strife between Pakistan and India, now dangerous for tourists. We spent there a week in a houseboat on the lake at Srinagar, from where we traveled around Kasmir with its beautiful scenery that reminded me of Switzerland.
Following are some more pictures of fascinating Kashmir with Joy, Dave, and Sam:
It was great to relax in Kashmir. But on a day trip with a rented car, we got a flat…and no spare in the back! I had to walk to a nearby village to get some young guys to help me carry the tire to a local workshop to get it repaired. The young guys said proudly: ‘Kashmir is Pakistan.’ They were also proudly Islamic. It reminded me later when I sat with Palestinian colleagues looking over the Dead Sea at the West Bank mountain ridge. ‘There is Palestine,” they said, as proudly. Behind the scenic beauty in the world, strife is not far behind.
Meanwhile, Sam took it easy: she ate an apple I plucked from a nearby fruit yard, with the scenic valley and Himalayan mountain ridge in the back.
Next album: Darjeeling and more.