Friday, 24 October 2014

7QT: Links and Funny Stories


A few days ago I had the fun opportunity of talking to 14 year olds about sexual morality. I LOVE doing talks like that, because I know how unusual it is for kids to hear about sex in such a frank and unembarrassed way. Plus there are always unexpected moments of hilarity.

Me: Today we're going to talk about sex! Do you know what that is?
One kid's hand shoots up: Yes! 
Me (really surprised)
Kid: It's whether you're a boy or or a girl!
Me: Yeah, but you know the other meaning too? That's the other one we're talking about.

Me: Is sex good or bad?
Kids: Umm...
Me: Who created our sexual desires? Where did they come from? God or the devil?
Kids: The devil!
Me: Really?????

In the small group QnA with just the girls, we asked them to write questions on slips of paper. After one very specific question, 
Me: You all DO know what sex is, right?
Some girls look unsure, half nod, half shake their heads.
Me: Wait, y'all are 14! Y'all must have done this in school, right? Right?
Girls: Um, maybe we'll do it in the 10th standard?
Me: So you really don't know what sex is?
Girl: We think we know, but we're not sure if it is what we think it is.
Me: So you want me to explain?
Girls: Yes.
Me: Oh my goodness.
Girls who DO know what sex is buried their faces in their hands. Lol.
I thought I was past getting embarrassed, but apparently not. Biological explanation of sex followed.


Okay, on to links.

Apart from the phrase 'Your Man' I liked this article. Living with two other girls means that PMS is a real and relevant aspect of our lives, and hey, it's good to think and talk about what that means.


I though it would be a stupid list like 'get a career' and 'stop drinking so much', but it was surprisingly though-provoking (maybe slightly guilt-producing?)

P.S. Less than a year a half to 30 for me!


I love the Myers Briggs personality types! And then there was this:

Perfect! I loled!


Are you struggling with making a decision for your life? Do you desire to do God's will, but are not sure what that is? This is one of my favourite articles on discernment:

Something useful I've been reflecting on is that the most important things is 'goodwill' or the will or desire to do God's will, and if you have that, abandonment and trust are all God calls you to. Something hard for this INTJ who likes to predict and control all possible outcomes.


I'm not a mom, or a 13 year old who spends hours doing hairstyles with her friends, but I thought his was fun:

In both the Philippines and the US I was struck by simple ways that girls and women prettied themselves, something that many Indian women either don't think about much or know much about. A pretty hairstyle takes a few minutes, and can be so pleasant on the eyes. Nowadays I've seen a lot more teenagers try stuff like this out though.

This was my favourite hairstyle for the past six months, especially in the summer


I'm out of links and funny stories, so here are some pictures of unusual cakes. I made the first one, my mum made the second. Yes, she IS very talented.

More QT at Jen's. #6 cracked me up.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Flash Mobs

You all know how I feel about flash mobs, right? Or do you?

Here you go... I love 'em! I could waste hours on Youtube watching them. (But don't, I promise.) When I first heard of them, my friends and I organized Pune's first ever flash mob in our junior college (well, that's what we like to believe anyway). Okay, it was not the most impressive thing ever, but we had so much fun! A bunch of us 17 year olds gathered in the main hanging out area of the college, silently set our bags down, pulled a handful of small change from our pockets, and silently and solemnly started counting money, while bemused college students looked on. 2 minutes later, we all walked away. Yeah, there was no real point.

One of my favourites.

Anyway, moving on.

A couple days ago, some of my friends organized a flash mob in a mall in my city. The cool thing about it (apart from the fact that it was a FLASH MOB!!) was that they did it along with a bunch of trash pickers, and social workers, and just friends, and were promoting a 'Clean India' message, which is our new prime minister's movement. They used buckets, djembes, lejhims, and basically seemed to have a great time creating some music (do you still call it music if it's just percussion?)

I've always been outraged by how mindlessly educated people in my city throw trash EVERYWHERE. How do they not get the connection between the fact that our streets are dirty, and the fact that they keep THROWING TRASH THERE? Stupidest response I've ever heard when I asked someone why they were throwing trash was "There are people who are supposed to clean it up. I'm just letting them do their job." Aaargghh. The trash pickers have the worst job, are looked down on, often considered 'dirty', and we only make it worse. For years I've been surprising people by saving trash in my bag when there's no dustbins around. Getting people conscious about their part keeping our city clean is something I'm kinda interested in. Hopefully this flash mob made them think for a moment about the people who clean up THEIR messes?

So yeah, here it is.

P.S. Although a percussion flash mob is a cool idea, I like singing better, and dance flash mobs are the best. Speaking of which, stay tuned for an exciting event in a few weeks ;-)

Sunday, 5 October 2014

You Thought 7QT Was Random?

Jennifer Fulwiler created Seven Quick Takes Friday for bloggers to pull together a blog post out of seven thoughts/ideas/stories which they didn't have the energy or desire to expand into full blown posts. A kinda cheat blog post. I regularly post those, mostly because it requires less effort than thinking through one idea and making it readable.

Today I feel the urge to blog, have the time, but NO attention span worth speaking of...

Of course, the smarter option would be to get off the Internet, take a nap, and wait to blog when I have something coherent to say... but then I'd never blog.

So here you go. 12 Random Not Even Authentically Bloggable Tidbits.


Who says only Humans of New York can capture candid meaningful moments and expressions?

"We all wear masks."


I love catching hidden (or not so hidden) meanings and analogies in the Lord of the Rings... every time I read it, I'm like "Ah ha! Another Catholic analogy!" So of course I was excited to read a blog post called 'Éowyn & St Thérèse: The Story of Two Flowers.'


This is cool: (via Unequally Yoked)


Something I've been thinking about: what's the happy medium between constant self-justification and constant self-accusation? Both are real temptations, when anything goes wrong. "Everybody else was wrong, but me." Or "In some way, it was really my fault." How to be free from false guilt, but honest about real weakness and shortcomings? How to be conciliating and seek peace when someone's mad at you, while accepting the truth of your own sin, but rejecting anything which is NOT true?


Kinda related to that is this snippet from Leticia at Ramblings of a Crazy Face:

The one thing that I am learning how to do is how to set boundaries. How to say no and how to not feel like what someone else thinks or feels is something that I can control. I can’t. I can only control myself and do what I have to do to take care of myself and how they feel or what they think is on them. That is so hard for me because I have always heard that thinking of yourself is selfish. I’m still not sure how it isn’t selfish, but I know that God wants us to take care of ourselves.

Yeah, so how does setting boundaries work alongside sacrificial love that gives all? So confusing.


Also, here's another balance question:

What's the balance between 'keeping it real' and complaining all the time?

Person A: How are you doing?
Average person: Fine, how about you?
Me: Horrible! I couldn't sleep last night because it felt like I was coughing for hours, and every time I swallowed my throat HURT...

Yeah, TMI is the name of MY game.


On a completely unrelated note, (I did say random, so why do I need to explain?) riding in my city has gotten scarier in recent months due to an outbreak of crazy suicidal dogs over running the streets. I used to think city stray dogs must be street smart. No more do I think it. They stumble around in the middle of crazy traffic, shoot out into the street at unexpected moments, draw out all the bad language my mind is trying to forget, and keeps my guardian angel on his toes. My brother had a road accident a few days ago with a dog shooting out in front of him.

Although I am neither a dog-lover nor a dog-hater, I have seen too many limping or mangled dog bodies for my peace of mind.

Only in my city: First horror and then relief when you realize the mangled corpse on the road is just a piece of brown sacking.


Funny conversations while hanging out with our parish RCIA team at a wedding reception.
Me: Hey C, what about YOUR wedding?
C: Me? Why me?
Me: You're 25, you must be thinking of it! Does your family do arranged marriages?
C: No...
Me: Ooh, then can WE arrange something?
C: (Embarrassed!)
Aunty* 1: Yes! You're looking? I know someone!
Aunty 2: I also know someone! (Pulling at her purse) I have a photo!

I love our Indian culture where everyone takes a strong and active interest in everyone else's future marriages. Well, I only love it when I'm not at the receiving end.

Aunty 1: What about you, Sue? Can we look for someone for you?
Me: (piously) Only God is my matchmaker.
Aunty 1 (very seriously): We are all God's instruments.


I heard the cutest love story the other day. Paraphrased: They were for different states and communities, which in India is a no-no for marriages. They were working in the same area and saw each other, and started talking. They fell in love, but her family forbade her from marrying him. they even beat her, to try to change her mind, but she told them, "I will marry only him." Finally she ran away with him, with only the clothes she was wearing.

She said for the first year of her marriage she only had one pot to cook with. So she would cook the rice, serve it, clean the pot and then reuse it to make the dal. It was only after the first child was born that their families began to speak to them again, and all was forgiven. She told me, "He is such a good husband, he doesn't tell me that I'm not allowed to go anywhere, he likes me to wear jeans, he doesn't mind if I leave my hair loose." It said so much to me about most Indian marriages, that her husband is an exception.


I discovered yet another Time-Sucker. Facebook was bad enough. But have you played 2048? I looked it up out of curiosity when my sister posted her high score on FB and everyone seemed to know what she was talking about. I looked it up... and came back to real life four days later. Okay, not four days, but there have definitely been some hours sucked away through this game.

Here's the reason (I think): It gives me space to think. I love mindless repetitive tasks for exactly that reason.  There's always so much going on in my brain and in my life that there doesn't seem to be space to process it all. That also may be why I have such an active dream life. My brain is frantically trying to figure it all out, fit it into patterns, draw conclusions, put pieces together. When I play games like 2048, my brain feels free to do so peacefully.


Here's one of the reasons my brain gets tired easily. Whenever I'm giving a talk, or listening to a talk or a homily, I'm not just listening to it. I am switching between different perspectives as I listen. First, there's me... what am I personally getting from this? Then there's Truth-Scanner, where my brain is constantly comparing what I hear with authentic Catholic teaching that I'v read or heard. There's so often heresy taught so naturally that my brain is always on alert. Syncretism alert! Prosperity gospel alert! Etc.

Then my brain keeps switching to different people in the audience. What is THAT person hearing? Are they getting what they need to hear? This is too simple for that cynical person. This is too high-falutin' for that simple person. This is too Catholic-sounding. This is not Catholic-sounding enough.

Phew. No wonder my brain hurts.


Something I was going to write about at some point... I've had some anxiety struggles in the past year. I've tried a lot of different ways of dealing with it, but the most successful one was this book:

And then a good friend dropped by a few days ago with an 'anti-anxiety package', with solutions that she looked up online. It included chamomile tea, a scented candle, lavender soap, probiotic yogurt and hot chocolate because tea and coffee make my anxiety worse. It was so special. I can only wish I was so thoughtful.

Okay, goodbye.

*Aunty doesn't mean blood relation, it's just a generic term for any woman in India over the age of... 40?

Friday, 3 October 2014

7QT: 7 Lessons Learned from Taking 55 Slum Kids for a Picnic

So my team and our Christian professionals group got together on Saturday to accomplish the exciting but somewhat scary mission of taking 55 kids from the slum for a picnic to a nearby garden. Most of the kids were from the tuition class I teach at, but some were just kids who live on the street where we teach who hang out with on Saturdays. (Funny aside, kids in India DRESS UP for picnics- they all came in their best clothes with heels and earrings and even lipstick! I guess it's quite the event for them.) This is what I learned:


Having a child to volunteer ratio of 4:1 is a very good idea. About 20 adults turned up to help. Dividing them up, about 4 kids to a volunteer an even better idea. Instead of 20 people herding a wild mob of 55 kids, each of the didis (big sisters) and bhaiyas (brothers) were holding the hands of their little mischief makers, which probably reduced the chaos a zillion fold. Plus we had enough extra adults for food distributors, emergency bathroom break guides, and law enforcement officers.


Forbidding 55 kids from dipping their feet in the VERY tempting stream was a BAD idea. It's like dangling candy in front of them and then repeating "No candy! No candy for you!" But, once the rule was made... consistency and discipline demanded that it be followed.


Kids can think of very creative ways around rules they don't like. The footballs they were playing with very conveniently kept falling into the stream. "Oh no" they helplessly gestured to me, "I guess I'll make the supreme sacrifice of jumping in the water and getting it out." I didn't think so. I started confiscating the ball.

Next I see kids with little plastic cups, practically inside the stream. "No, Miss, we're not playing in the water... We're just catching fish!" Later there was some 'miscommunication' and a couple of the more rowdy ones landed up in the stream (when I wasn't around of course)... with no clothes on except their underwear. Yeah.


A little Hindi goes a long way when it comes to controlling children. I had a few handy phrases which worked wonderfully. "What did I say?" was the top used line, "Don't fight", "If you don't listen, I'm taking you straight home." "Come here", "Do NOT throw trash on the ground!" Actually, hanging out with kids is a great way to learn the basics of a language... it's very simple sentence structures, and there's usually a sense of urgency. Sometimes you just NEED to know how to scream "DO NOT DO THAT!" in another language.


A mixture of not feeling well, kids not obeying rules, and the need to control the chaos turns me into Dragon Lady.
I played the Bad Cop and all the other volunteers played Good Cop. I sat by the stream and scared kids away, while the others volunteers laughed and played and ran around with the kids. Hmm, who sounds like they chose the better part?

When I say Dragon Lady, this is what I mean. Yikes.


Kids don't hold a grudge. Even though I played the role of Foiler of Fun Plans, they still seemed to be happy to be with me. I think in India, the 'Discipliner' is a recognized and not unduly resented role, as long as one is not unfair or mean.


Picnics are fun! Even though I think Don Bosco was probably a little disappointed in me (he believed in the preventive method of discipline, not the repressive system , by using 'reason, religion and loving kindness' with children), I think the picnic was a blessing for the kids, and for us. We got to hang out, outside of the little classroom in the dirty slum. We got to be surrounded by God's beautiful creation. And we got to hold hands, push swings, and listen to them chatter about everything.

Plus there's always next time.

More QT at Jen's.