Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ready for Bed

I was ready to go to bed at 4:30 in the afternoon.

My mother and I have spent the last two days in St. Bernard Parish, one of the most devastated areas in SE Louisiana. We worked with other disaster relief volunteers handing out supplies like bleach, buckets, drinking water, and toiletries. Carrying boxes containing gallons of water and bleach will wear you out.

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This photo is not from St. Bernard Parish. It's from a much less damaged area.

Earlier in the week my mother and I took a little drive to Terrytown in Jefferson Parish. We used to live there years and years ago. This photo is of the golden arches from the local McDonald's where I had my five-year-old birthday party. My brother had his birthday party there the year he turned three.

The memories... Dropping plastic spoons from our noses into a McDonald's drink cup to see who could get the most inside... Helium balloons tied to the backs of our swivel chairs... Shaking the bars of the rocking Grimace cage outside on the playground...

I'm guessing there won't be any more birthday parties there for quite some time.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Photo Essay

I have taken exactly one photo since returning to New Orleans. Maybe that will change tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a link to a photo essay called Five Days With Katrina created by Alvaro Morales. It's amazing.

One thing I've learned, which has nothing to do with photography, is that ears can hold a lot of dirt. It was windy today and we spent hours outside scooping up dirt and sticks. As a result, my ears seem to have collected a lot of soil. Same phenomena often happened on buses in India. Wind + dirt = soiled ears. Felt like sharing that discovery.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Was I really in Bangkok two days ago?

I'm so tired that I might fall alseep at the keyboard before finishing to type.

It was a family day. We spent almost the whole day outside trying to clean up the mess Katrina made. Several hours raking and sweeping up branches, leaves, chunks of roof, you name it. Other hours passed tearing down damaged fencing and putting up new boards. My mother and I capped off the evening by picking out chunks of gravel from a pile of leaves in the backyard. We're hoping to find the gravel a new home. It doesn't need to live at our house anymore. While we picked through the dirt, my dad helped the neighbors carry the dismembered remains of a large tree to the curb.

Now it's time for the folks to work on insurance claims. My jetlagged body is heading to bed.

Tomorrow we hope to finish the gravel project and start cleaning out the attic. It's always a party in New Orleans.

P.S. The Roman Candy Man is back on the streets.

Almost Home

Not sure what day it is exactly. I saw a sunrise, then a sunet, then another sunrise and another sunset and it was all in the same day. Crossing the international dateline is fun.

Leaving Thailand was hard, having to say goodbye to Chris for the next two months. His job is to take lots of photos of Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. I want to know what I'm missing. He can make me jealous when he comes to New Orleans at Christmas.

Today my parents and I drove from Houston to the outskirts of New Orleans. In a few minutes we are making the last push home to New Orleans proper. I'll be home soon and happy to receive and make telephone calls (hint hint). Our house has the same number as always!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Back in Thailand

I miss Myanmar already. It may have a despotic government and a terrible human rights record (hmmmm, that sounds like home), but the country as a whole is amazing and is home to the best people you could meet anywhere...

We just arrived in Bangkok and were welcomed by a taxi driver who tried to start a fight with us in his car, made fun of us repeatedly, and emitted some incredibly disgusting and dramatic spitting noises out the car door (opened while speeding down the freeway). Welcome to Bangkok!

I have to say it's nice to be back in the realm of email and cheap telephone calls. You can use internet and international telephone service in Myanmar, but it comes with a price. The phone call to Bangkok to make our hotel reservation cost $13. We met Israelis who had to pay $6/minute to call home. They were not happy about that. You can imagine.

Anyway, we have four full days in Bangkok where Chris will be organizing visas for the rest of his trip through SE Asia. I will do a little clothes shopping on Khao San Road. It's hard to pass up on stocking the wardrobe with brightly colored Thai fisherman pants at $2.50 a pair.

I'm headed HOME on Friday. Home to the States, and back to New Orleans. My parents are going to meet me at the airport in Houston on Saturday night. Hopefully we'll make the drive to New Orleans on Sunday. Anxious to get back...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

More India Photos

Now is the time to take advantage of my favorite part of leaving a country - spending the random coins and notes left in the wallet. There's not enough left to make exchanging them worthwhile. This evening I bought one postcard and the soundtracks to three Bollywood blockbusters, Dhoom, Hum Tum, and Kal Ho Naa Ho.

Chris and i both spent the afternoon uploading photos into our Yahoo! photo albums. You can see new photos of Agra and Varanasi in our India II albums. Follow the links on the sidebar. Also, I found a cache of Italy photos I forgot about. There are 150 or so of those with more to come once the remaining pictures from Milan and Venice are organized...

Last Day in India

I say Calcutta, you say Kolkata...

Tomorrow morning this India experience will be complete. Time to move on and hop on a plane. Whoooohooo!

I wanted to write about the last couple of days but realized it would just end up as one long rant about the taxi, the hotel, the food, the streets, internet crashes, moldy books, amplified Christian singing, and monkeys on leashes. So, forget the report on Calcutta.

Reading Paul Theroux's book The Great Railway Bazaar he has this to say about the city:

Calcutta had been very unlucky: Chicago had a great fire, San Francisco an earthquake, and London a plague as well as a fire. But nothing happened to Calcutta to give planners a chance to redesign it.

It shows. I guess by that definition, New Orleans has hit the luckiness jackpot.

Tomorrow we hop on a plane and fly over the border into the country next door. We'll be there for a little over two weeks and completely without internet access as far as we know. No posting, no reading or writing emails. I'm taking bets on how many spam messages will collect in my bulk folder in the course of 2 weeks. 700+?

The blog will be a quiet place until the 17th of October or so. Once we reenter the 21st century by crossing the Thai border, it should be possible to make contact again and find out what's happened in the world in the meantime.