Totally Accurate Reenactment

I’ll be honest, I was a little worried about traveling to India with Mantamy for two weeks. I mean, sure we’ve been friends for years, and yes, we did go to India two years ago with no problems, but still. Two weeks is a long time to be share a tiny space, amiright? . I just knew something would come up to test our friendship. I just didn’t expect it to be on DAY TWO.

So there we were, our second night in India, in our room at the Children’s Home. It’s a very comfortable place, but no frills. Mantamy was sleeping on a metal twin bed, and I had pulled my mattress onto the floor where it was cooler. The room didn’t have air-conditioning, but with a ceiling fan, it wasn’t uncomfortable.

This is the point in the story where Mantamy always interrupts and insists that you know two things. First, about 3 years ago while visiting India, she got Dengue Fever, which everyone knows is a virus spread by mosquito bites. And TWO, since it was Lent, I was fasting breakfast, which everyone knows is the time between when you get up to start your day and 11:00 a.m. Okay?

I woke up about 3:30 a.m. due to a variety of circumstances. A) I was still suffering from jet lag and 3:30 in the morning is about 2:30 in the afternoon US time. B) The electricity had gone out, thus no ceiling fan so the room was a bit hot. And C) someone in the neighborhood decided 3:30 a.m. was the perfect time to have prayer at the local Hindu temple. Or Mosque. I’m not sure, it was just loud wailing to me. So I got up to visit the restroom, and as I was walking back to bed, this THING, hair all askew, sat up and in a loud voice said:

Wow. At first I thought Mantamy was making some sort of prophetic proclamation, like “Where there is no wind, and by wind I mean PRAYER, the mosquito (or SATAN) will come!” But no, she just meant that the wind in the house, or as normal people call it – the CEILING FAN – had gone off and I should get under the covers.

Okeey dokey. Seriously, as if the wailing down the street wasn’t bad enough, who could sleep after THAT. This is when I realized that I was hungry. So quietly and covertly, I turned on my flashlight, found a granola bar, and got back in bed. To combat the noise outside, I put on my headphones and turned on my Ipod. Ahhhh, heaven. There I was, happily laying in bed, listening to worship music and enjoying my granola bar.

Unbeknownst to me, Mantamy and her bionic ears, could hear my granola wrapper. She said, “What are you doing?” Oblivious, I continued to eat. So she asks louder, “What are you DOING?” Again, I was in my own world, enjoying my evening. Finally, she yells, “SERIOUSLY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Rude, amiright? I finally heard her, pulled off my headphones, and answered, “I’m eating a candy bar.”

To which she laughed hysterically, because she thought, erroneously, that eating at 3:30 a.m. is considered breakfast and I that I was cheating, which everyone can see is WAY off base. Thirty minutes later, she finally stopped laughing, I threw away my wrapper, and lay back down in the dark. Then I heard:

“And you want to know something else you do?”

You can imagine my enthusiasm. “Sure, what else do I do?”

“You make this weird breathing noise! You SIGH over and over.”

Day TWO and Mantamy doesn’t like the way I eat or breathe. After promising that I’d do my best during the rest of the trip to do neither, she finally allowed me to go to sleep. And sleep I did. A nice, relaxing, deep, sleep.

Until 8 a.m. when I awoke with a start because someone, with forethought and malice, was holding a granola wrapper inches away from my ear and making as much noise as possible.


Obviously, it’s only our great spiritual maturity that has allowed us to remain friends. That, and as annoying as we are, who else would we ever get to travel with us?

Travel Love

I saw the Taj Mahal.

Me, Zolligirl, saw the Taj frickin’ Mahal. How weird is that? It’s especially crazy if you know that I could have lived my entire life in Tennessee and not considered it a loss at all. Tennessee is the bomb as the young folks say. But seriously, traveling is not in my genetic makeup. So how did I get to India? The same way most people do. I left home, went to school in Murfreesboro, did really poorly, followed my parents to Georgia, met a boy, got married, went to church, made friends with Mantamy who believes in stuff like Jesus and traveling, got convinced I should go to India, went, came home, got convinced AGAIN, and voila – the Taj Mahal!

And you know what? It was really cool.

It’s funny how you change as you get older. I heard a pastor on Sunday speak about marrying a girl from Texas and how up until then, he’d had no use for Mexican food. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, good ole country food was all he needed. The first time he tried nachos he didn’t like them. But now, after many years of marriage and Mexican food, he LOVES nachos. Like craves-them-every-single-night loves them. His point was that when you fall in love with someone, your perspective changes. You see things from their point of view, you delight in what delights them. Obviously, I love Mantamy.

Because I met her, my perspective on travel has changed.   And by “met her”, I totally mean “flew first class”.

My growth as a person must be beautiful to behold. Enjoy.

Travel- Zolligirl Style

I had a lot of fun traveling – seeing the Taj Mahal, eating crepes in Paris, dancing with a Justin Bieber cut-out. But nothing tops HOW I traveled. Due to my friends and their massive number of frequent flyer miles, I was able to travel halfway around the world and back for FREE. But that’s not even the best part. Somehow, for the flights home, they managed to get our seats in business class.

Kittens, it is how I was meant to fly.

Air France is the best. First they gave me champagne. For FREE. Then they handed out socks, a blanket, and a kit with a toothbrush, moisturizer and an eye mask.

Snuggling under my blanket, drinking champagne and watching movies, I wasn’t even worried about crashing! I would have died a happy woman. But I’m glad we DIDN’T crash because I would have missed out on the five course meal. First, foie gras with figs. Then, MORE foie gras with lox. Dinner was a braised veal dish, then a cheese plate, and finally a trio of desserts. All accompanied by a fine beaujolais!

I. Am. Fancy.

The hardest part was figuring out how to position my seat. Seriously. There are 33 ways to support your legs.

Mantamy figured it out in time for a quick nap. Or else she drank too many glasses of champagne. I know one of us did, but the details are fuzzy.

Viva la premiere classe!

Weekend Highs and Lows

I like weekends like the one that just passed – mainly because I did nothing. Cheers to laziness! Friday started on a LOW note when MoonPie came home from school in tears. Seems that her School BFF (not to be confused with her non-school BFF or her cousin BFF) no longer wants to be friends. Yes, it’s that time of life. Of course I gave great motherly advice like, “Some friends are forever and some are just for a season,” and “It’s her loss, not yours” and “Write that she’s a skank on the INSIDE of the bathroom door so the teachers won’t see it and erase it.” Then I went shopping so that she’d have some awesome, new clothes to wear on Monday. Nothing says “Who needs you ANYWAY” like a color-coordinated outfit from Justice, amiright?

Friday night, Moon and I left JD to his own devices and went to a friends house for Chicken Chili where I ate enough for five people.  I didn’t want to be RUDE. Plus it was yummy. A definite HIGH.

Saturday morning I dropped Moon off for an all-day Girl Scout event, then hit the yard sales. I found shoes, books, vintage gloves, and a Star Wars Battleship game that included most of the necessary pieces. High! Saturday night I made meatloaf and that was about as exciting as it sounds. It sounds LOW.

Sunday we went to church and the first song the band sang was this:

It struck me that I’ve been hearing this song for 46 years, since those first days at Flatt Creek Church of Christ. As cute Kristian Stanfill sang, I could hear my grandmother’s voice singing right along with him.

PRAISE the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead.

Total HIGH. And after that, how could there be a low? 

Seriously. Even Monday doesn’t seem so bad. Enjoy yours!

Multi-Rider, Multi-Tasking

One of the interesting things about India is the traffic. I mean it is CRAZY. There are so many cars and so many people – well, a lot of folks just use motorcycles so they can weave in and out of the lanes at will.

This is typical – I’ve seen dad, mom, and little kids on one bike. You’ll see entire families riding together, usually without helmets. Women wear sari’s and ride sidesaddle, sometimes eating and hanging on at the same time.

And breastfeeding.

You don’t find talent like that in America!

Delhi Do’s and Dont’s

As I mentioned before, our first day in New Delhi was bad. REALLY bad. Exhausting, time-wasting, no sight-seeing, smell like a street dog bad. Here’s how to avoid the Day from Helhi –

1. Don’t forget you’re a woman. See, India treats women differently. There’s a “Woman’s Only” security line,  which Mantamy and I only figured out after being pulled out of a long line of men. Oopsie. Even better, there are Metro cars that don’t allow men. Take advantage of it.

2. Don’t go to the Train Station. Sure you want to go to Jaipur, but trust me, there is nothing there that is worth going to the Delhi Train Station. Hiring a car and a driver is inexpensive and way easier.  Our trip to Agra was 4.5 hours each way, AND we required our driver to spend the night. Total cost including tip? $110.00 dollars. If you must take the train, then be warned: buy your tickets well in advance. By the time we found the International Tourist Bureau all the seats were sold.

3. Don’t stay anywhere other than Sham Nath Villa. This place was awesome. It’s billed as a Bed and Breakfast, but since the home originally belonged to the governor, it’s a LARGE bed and breakfast. Our room opened onto a beautiful balcony, which overlooked a gorgeous courtyard. A double bed with bath and balcony, plus wi-fi, was only 70.00 per night. We could also eat breakfast or dinner for a nominal fee, and we had our laundry done – washed, pressed and folded for THIRTY CENTS per item.

The owner, Shalani, was awesome and arranged everything we needed – driver, sightseeing, etc.

4. Do everything. We saw the Red Fort, Humayan’s Tomb, Lodi Gardens, the Lotus Temple, Khan Market, the Indian Gate, Connaught Place, Qutb Mintar, and Chandni Chowk. Here’s what I remember: Red stone, dead guy, people jogging, no talking, good shopping, impressive sight, British influence, tall sphere, crazy busy. You might want to check a guide book for more details.

5. Do eat carefully. All of the guide books said that Delhi has great street food. All of the people on my trip suffered from what’s known as “Delhi Belly”. I’m not sure where it came from, but my money is on the roadside stand where we chose a table under the ceiling fan because there were fewer flies. But the food at the B & B was great, and we ate at Karim’s, known as one of the best places to eat in all of Asia!

6. Drink Bottled Water. Delhi is hot. Delhi is dry. You’ll want to drink lots of water to keep from being dehydrated. And you might want to carry tissues in your purse. All that water will make you have to go to the bathroom every five minutes, and the dry air….

well, it causes a few issues of its own.


Did you know that in addition to India, I also went to Paris? Yeah, I’m awesome. And by “awesome”, I mean broke. I would love to tell you all about it, but I’m still catching up on sleep. Every day gets a little easier and I’m sure I’ll be ready to blog more in the next day or two.

High five!

Think that was good? Check this out!

Kittens, I think we can all agree on one thing – Nick Taylor knows BS when he sees it. Just think how many more children could have been fed if that crazy American could stop spending money on scarves!! If he saw her jewelry case I’m pretty sure he’d spontaneously explode. Imagine what he’d do if he heard the check bounced! I’m scared just thinking about it.

Thankfully, I’m much deeper and more spiritually mature than my sister, and when I give to the poor, I give sacrificially. See, in addition to going to the Children’s Home, I actually SPONSOR one of the kids, let’s call her “Sheila”. This means that I send money every month, and while I don’t want to brag,  the woman who runs the home says it pays almost 1/4 of Sheila’s actual monthly expenses. Impressive, right? But sponsors don’t just give monthly, once a year they can send gifts to their child – things like clothing, books, etc. Once a year, unless you just happen to be VISITING. Then you can bring gifts with you. How awesome is that? In anticipation of my visit, I wrote and asked what Sheila liked, and then I set out to be the BEST SPONSOR EVER.

First, I shopped until I found the perfect gift. Sure it was too big to fit into any of our luggage, but the Delta agent made me a super-duper shoulder bag out of some cardboard and tape. This made getting off and on three planes, and going through 19 security checkpoints a breeze.

Because we arrived just a few days before school was out for summer, we were able to use the “End of School Party” to debut the gift. All of the kids were gathered together on the veranda and told that a special guest was visiting. Then I walked around the corner with…

Justin Bieber!! C’mon, it doesn’t get much better than that, amiright? Sheila is a HUGE fan and was thrilled with the 5’10” cutout. All of the kids, and some of the adults, kept coming to have their photos taken with him.

Man, if I’d had a life-size cutout of Sean Cassidy back in 1981, I would have been UNDONE.

Zolligirl, humbly spreading Bieber Fever across India. If that’s not worth the Nick Taylor Humanitarian Award, I don’t know what is.

Doing Good Is Hard

Kittens, I think we can all agree that my aspirations of being a travel blogger are misguided. Travel AND blog? No way. I was lucky to find my way face down to the bed each night, much less try and think coherently. But that’s the price you pay for being a world traveling do-gooder.

Yes, I went to India to spread cheer, and that in itself doesn’t sound too hard, but then my SISTER got involved. See, she’s a member of the Grundy Woman’s Club and she made ME a member sometime last year. So when I said I was going to a Children’s Home in India, she promptly made me Chairman of the Grundy Woman’s Club’s International Committee. Despite the big title, turns out it’s not a paid position. The good news is that the club took a vote and decided to send me a check for $200 dollars to take to the home. The bad news is that it is not as easy as you think.

First of all, you can’t CHECK a check, what if someone steals it?? From Atlanta, to NY, to Paris, to India – on 16 airport trains and through 7 terminals, in and out of security, that check went everywhere I went.

On the Metro in Paris…

At the Red Fort in Delhi..

Haggling over prices with the merchants…

Causing a stir with the locals…

At Humayun’s Tomb…..

Lost and getting directions…

Buying fruit….

At the Taj Mahal…

And FINALLY, to the Children’s Home.

The kids were very excited and appreciated all of my effort in getting it to them. I’m pretty sure the only thing that would have made it MORE special, would have been a visit from the upcoming Grundy Woman’s Club President herself and a couple of club members.

Something to look forward to in 2013? As a GWC member in good-standing, I vote yes.

Out With the Old, In With the New Delhi

Oh M Gee. I firmly believe if you can find the International Tourist Counter at the New Delhi train station, you can do anything. Even if it takes you three frustrating hours and then you find out that all the trains to anywhere good are sold out, (and it will and they will be) consider the day an accomplishment. You found the International Counter AND you didn’t kill anyone in the process. Good job, You!

The best part of the day was finding ourselves at the Shamnath Villa, an Indian version of a Bed and Breakfast only with all meals and a hostess named Shalani who can do ANYTHING. She’s like your mom, if your mom knew Hindi and had a mobile phone loaded with contacts that she could call at the drop of the hat when you realize all the trains are full and if you have to ever go back to the Delhi train station you just might LOSE it, and your Indian phone is almost out of minutes and unless you find a band-aid, you’ll be seeing the Red Fort from a fetal position, cause no one has fed you in HOURS and your blister is the size of a rick-shaw, not the bicycle kind but the large, enclosed type with a motor!

Wish you were here.

Although Mantamy and I finally figured out the Metro system, and how to walk to the Red Fort without getting run over, we thought we’d live a little today and hire a driver. We can get an air-conditioned car with a driver who’ll take us all over town, waiting for us while we see the sights, for eight full hours – total cost $15.00 each.

Sure it won’t give me the same authentic feel as yesterday, but since by “feel” I mean “blister”, I can live with that.