Monday, 27 January 2014

A Knock on the Door

"I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?" - Mother Teresa

A couple of weeks ago, I was eating dinner with R and a friend, L, while watching a talk about 'Christian Womanly Character' and there was a knock on the door. We generally know exactly who's at the door at any given moment (lady to pick up garbage, library book delivery guy, my dad to put up yet another nail in the wall) so that knock was a bit of a surprise.

I opened the door and saw four little neighbourhood kids looking up at me. They looked like 9 to 11 year olds.

"Can you come down?"

Because of the 'N'* rather than 'S'* in my INTJ personality type, I immediately started trying to analyze what was going on. At first I thought there was something wrong in the neighborhood, and they needed help... A fire? A fight? But no.

"We all are downstairs, and we want you to come."

So then I thought maybe there was some neighbourhood event that they wanted us to join. A Diwali party? A Christmas party? A new year's party? Um, no.

"We want you to come play with us."


Our interaction with our neighbours had been fairly limited. In the big city, neighbours in apartment building come and go, and there isn't necessarily a lot of hanging around (except sometimes with the mummies). Still, I knew it was important, so when we moved in three months ago, we tried to look for opportunities to be friendly. At Christmas we made plates of Christmas sweets and cookies with a Christmas card and dropped them off at each of our neighbours' homes. That was quite the adventure in itself.

One old Muslim couple started telling us about their various illnesses and pressed a banana and a few dates on us in exchange (a very Indian custom, I believe). One neighbour thought we were selling her stuff, and brusquely said "Nahi chahiye" (Don't want) and closed the door in our faces. I had to go back and convince her it was a gift. One guy opened the door wearing a towel!!!! I handed him the plate, did NOT ask his name or make any small talk, and fled. (Side note: Guys, put on your clothes before answering the door!)

We often saw the kids playing downstairs, and R once made a contribution to a collection the kids were taking up to get the neighbourhood stray dog spayed (she had just given birth to a litter of cute puppies). I once disentangled a kid from a bicycle her long skirt had gotten entangled in. But that was the extent of our interaction with them.

But somehow something about us must have attracted them because I can tell you for sure it is NOT normal Indian custom for kids to come ask adults to play.

"Play what?" I asked.

"Um... Cricket... Football... Badminton..."

Confessing my shameful lack of skills at all these essential sports, I promised them we would come another time, but chatted for a while. They were from different schools- some from the fancy rich schools, some from the middle class ones, but they were apparently playing together pretty happily.

Going to down to play with the kids is definitely something to put back on my to do list. It hasn't been on there since 1997.

Also, Mother Teresa, I'm happy to say that yes, I do know my next door neighbour- She came over and asked us to watch her kids while she popped out. This introvert counts that a success.

P.S. This incident reminded me of one of Jennifer Fulwiler's posts years ago that still counts as one of my favourites: The story of a friendship.

*From Wikipedia: Sensing and intuition are the information-gathering (perceiving) functions. They describe how new information is understood and interpreted. Individuals who prefer sensing (S) are more likely to trust information that is in the present, tangible, and concrete: that is, information that can be understood by the five senses. They tend to distrust hunches, which seem to come "out of nowhere". They prefer to look for details and facts. For them, the meaning is in the data. 

On the other hand, those who prefer intuition (N) tend to trust information that is more abstract or theoretical, that can be associated with other information (either remembered or discovered by seeking a wider context or pattern). They may be more interested in future possibilities. For them, the meaning is in the underlying theory and principles which are manifested in the data.

Friday, 3 January 2014

7QT: The I'm Pretty Much Asleep So Here are Some Links Edition

Really. No chit chat. Well, maybe a little. But good links!


This is my brain on hugs.

Ahh, someone who is even more socially awkward than I am! And soo funny. Yes, I was actually lol!


New year's resolutions? Here's Pope Francis again!

New Year's resolutions: The Pope Francis list

Always good stuff.


An mp3 talk that everyone told me would convict me, but I don't easily feel convicted (too complacent), so I was doubtful. And I listened to the first half and I was like "Mm hmm," and I agreed, but was still not convicted, and then I listened to the second half and then BOOM I was convicted AND in tears. What can I say? Listen to it. Unless you really hate being convicted.

Poor Church for the Poor (soundcloud mp3)


And then speaking of the poor, and convicting, which you're probably tired of, but anyway I've been saving these links to share with you, here's Marc Barnes, (you know, the Baddest Catholic), with

Giving Your Money to Drug Addicts


Okay, that was heavy. Take a breather and listen to Straight No Chaser with this cute medley that has been making the rounds for years:


Here's a great Christmas idea from Joseph Prever/Steve Gershom. I think I might actually do it this year.



Here's two books that I haven't real and yet HIGHLY recommend! Even though neither have been published in print yet, and one of them hasn't been published at all... wait have I already talked about this?


which Jennifer Fulwiler has been working on for years, and which all her readers are beyond excited about.


even though I'm not married, and unlikely to be using NFP in the forseeable future (although I am a sinner). Just because it's Simcha Fisher. If I'm excited when I see she's put up a new blog post... a whole book? I'd read about archaeology if she was writing. But also, it's NFP, as we know a Catholic hot topic, so yeah, I'm interested.

Here's an interview with her.

Oh, Simcha Fisher just had a miscarriage. Please pray for her.

More Quick Takes at Jen's.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Christmas Highlights

It's been quite the month. You do want to hear about it, right? Well, you're probably low on attention because of sleep deprivation, so here's a mostly picture update about some of the awesome bits of the last few weeks...

1. These socks. A Christmas gift from awesome roommate R. They rarely left my feet  for most of the winter. (Let's hear a collective ewwww.) Quite the fashion statement, eh? Especially when I wore them outside the house paired with my rubber slippers.

2. The perfect gift for my four year old niece. How many of you have given a gift that was kissed, hugged, cuddled, talked to, named and not put down for a week after Christmas? I have! Introducing Sarah the Horsie. Godmother/auntie win!

3. This beautiful nativity set, brought all the way from the US, chosen with love by good friends. Interesting story- we had the most beautiful nativity set, but had no time to make a stable/crib scene. My newly married cousin B made a a beautiful setting for a nativity set- stable, inn, hills... and couldn't get an affordable nativity set. So she put a card in the place where Baby Jesus should have laid which said 'HIS home is where YOUR heart is.'

4. These manly (but blurry) men and the showcase they stand beside/have collapsed on:

My friend B not only donated the showcase, but took responsibility for transporting it to our house... and together with D and I, carried what turned out to be an EXTREMELY heave piece of furniture up and down flights of stairs. But now we have a place for our books (not a bookshelf, but close)... woohoo!

5. This spontaneous and very successful sweater drive, which I promise to write an entire blog post about because it was so cool.

6. A successful Christ-like Christmas celebration on the 25th night that was a little crazier than I expected it to be, but included a visit to our neighbouring migrant worker with biriyani and gulab jamuns, a very crowded and noisy house, old, old friends who turned up unexpectedly, and singing late into the night.

7. This article written by Matthew Archbold:

3 of the Most Wildly UnChristian Christmas Songs Ever

that I wish I had written because I have been mocking 'Feed the World/Do they Know It's Christmas' for years... it kinda begs mocking, notably this line:

Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you


How did this line make the cut? What a wonderful Christmas sentiment- let's reflect on those who suffer while you do not... and THANK GOD it's them, not you!

And then,

Do they know it's Christmas time at all?

Because if it isn't snowing, if you don't live in the USA, and if you're poor, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT OR WHEN CHRISTMAS IS!!!! If they think AFRICA doesn't celebrate Christmas, I wonder what they think of Indian Christians. Probably never heard of 'em.

Okay, I'll stop.

8.  These books:

My sister gave me an awesome Christmas present that arrived early- a subscription to a library that delivers books to your doorstep. So after all the tension, tiredness and work of Christmas preparation was over, I came back from Midnight Mass, grabbed some freshly baked Christmas cookies, snuggled into my blankets and started reading the first Hunger Games. I really enjoyed it, and finished the last book a couple of days ago. I do have a lot of thoughts and opinions (blog post anyone?) but overall they was thought-provoking and very readable. The end was kinda a downer though... I expected it to end on a more unrealistic high note, I guess.

I did have to resist the urge to retreat to my bedroom in the middle of the noisy crowded party I was hosting to finish reading my book. But mature hostess trumped introverted bookworm. This time.

9. Christmas card from a blog reader (thank you, S!), and more expected in the mail, Christmas cards that I made and mailed, and probably arrived long after Christmas :-), a fruitful Christmas outreach at our church, a cousin's engagement, Baileys Irish Cream (which people only offer me at Christmas).

10. A wonderful New Year's Eve celebration with a small group of friends- we played my favourite game, Balderdash, ate some good pasta and quiche, shared our highs and lows of the past year over a glass of wine, and prayed for each other. What better way to start the year? (Apart from Midnight Mass, which I skipped because I'm tired of being out in the cold.)

It was a good Christmas. Now can I take a breath?