Dr. Who And A Contest ~

It’s no secret, I’m an enormous Dr. Who fan.  No, I don’t have a Tardis Talking Cookie Jar (in England shouldn’t it be referred to as a biscuit jar?)

or even a Dr. Who  set of minatures ~

However, that said ~ I’m also a fan of contests that get “young-uns” involved and creative.  Enter  BBC Learning in collaboration with Blue Peter announced this year’s Script to Screen competition:

“Launched by the Doctor himself, the challenge was simple. Schoolchildren aged 9-11 should write a short Olympics-themed script full of the usual Doctor Who ingredients including humour, drama and a touch of magic!

There was a huge response to the competition and Doctor Who’s Executive Producer, Caroline Skinner, praised the quality of the entries, saying: ‘We loved reading all of the scripts from schools across the UK and the standard of entries was truly outstanding. It was a difficult, but a tremendously fun task to choose a winner and it was just brilliant to see so many children being creative in developing an adventure for the Doctor. We hope all fans enjoy this special one-off mini episode!'”

Stephen Moffat picked the winner – and here’s the episode complete with sonic screwdriver and weeping angel … and the Olympics – who knew?”

 

And the beat goes on and on and on ~

As if living in a house that is still unfinished isn’t enough … I’m beginning to resemble someone on the show “Hoarders: Buried Alive”.  The kitchen cabinets STILL haven’t arrived which means there is nothing in the kitchen except a temporary sink/counter, microwave and “hallelujah” a coffee maker!!!

I’m grateful for electronic connections and the ability to store a lot of different information so that I don’t have to remember it … however (comma)…there is a down side.

I dropped my android phone cracking the screen – rendering it useless in about 2 hours.

I got a new phone – thanks to insurance – and then the problem hit. Sprint was unable to transfer my contacts – which are backed up on gmail. No problem you say? Unfortunately, I listened to gmail and put the 2 step authentication on the account.

This process involves a program ON THE PHONE…which, of course, I don’t have access to. I am now up to email 5 with gmail trying to prove that I own the #$& #@&* %&$$& account. Grrrrrrr. Hopefully, this last round will solve the problem.

But based one something their CEO said 3 years ago I don’t hold out much hope:

“Mr. Badros argued that Google asks so little personal information of a new Gmail customer that it’s hard to determine identity when the genuine user and the impostor both present themselves to claim the account, and neither can produce the verification. He said more information could be asked of users when they sign up, but the inconvenience would dissuade them from trying the service.

Mr. Gilbert added that proving identity with only minimal information is a problem, whatever form of communication is used to reach customer support. He said, “Even if they were standing right in front of us, it wouldn’t help.”” Stay tuned for information about the house … and the email….

The House

I’m still awaiting the photos from my daughter concerning the renovations going on to the house … sigh! Hopefully, soon….

Friday, my picky and demanding contractor (AKA “the-son-in-law” had us meet at the house to make some final decisions about electrical placement, etc. I think I’ve mentioned that there were various 1″ level differences throughout the house. That’s simply a result of the house being sliced/diced over the years. While we were there the workers were trying to remove what we THOUGHT were stick-on tiles in the sun-rooms….they were not. whoever put the sun-rooms in had placed the tiles  the WET cement and pushed them in – making it literally impossible to take up. I’m not sure what the thinking about that was, or even if they were thinking.

Regarding tile – On Tuesday my daughter/son-in-law and I went and picked out tile for the house. One of the major changes involves putting the same color tile throughout the entire house. we had a plan A and a plan B as far as color was concerned … no problem. On Wednesday, the tile man started calling the various stores to place the order. In the size of tiles needed (18″ x 18″ – 45.732 x 45.72 centimeters)it was discovered that in spite of being a highlighted for sale tile, not one single store here had enough tile. Some had 10 pieces (NOT boxes) another had 100 pieces, etc. My beloved son-in-law was ready to pull the hair out of his shaved head. Then one of the stores told him it could be ordered in delivered in – oh – three to four weeks. At this point my beloved son-in-law was starting to show signs of complete melt-down.

His tile guy looked at the back of the sample piece and literally called the plant where the tile was manufactured. He discovered that 1) the tile was manufactured in a plant about 7 hours from here and 2) if they were there the next morning they would load up ALL the tiles that had been chosen (tiles,boarders, edging, etc.) as well as all the grout and other things necessary to install them.

Two of my son-in-law’s workers put his trailer on the back of their truck and drove – basically all night – and picked up the tiles and drove back to get them there to have the house tile finished this weekend.

However, I was informed Friday that I have been placed on “house restriction” – meaning that I am not allowed to see the house until Monday….

I threatened today to get into “drag” and visit the house incognito. My son-in-law texts back that when he finally stopped laughing hysterically – it wouldn’t work. So, I promised that I would behave and NOT go to the house this weekend. And frankly with the temperatures and heat index being in the triple digits all weekend and much of next week … I don’t plan on going too many places at all…

More to follow – hopefully with more pictures!!!!!!

The House ~ continued

After reading today of Mitt Romney’s decision to bulldoze his “small” house and build an 11,000 square foot addition, I’m almost afraid to write about mine. It certainly isn’t anything like his ~ but after all the years I’ve been paying money to apartment owners, it probably will feel like it!!!

As I’ve mentioned my Son-in-Law is doing all the destruction/reconstuction on the house. On Monday, I thought I would surprise him and his workers by showing up – unannounced. My good friend BW drove me to the house. I don’t drive, but that’s for another set of posts, dear friends. I was sure I saw his truck in the driveway along with all the other vehicles. We entered the front door and as I was pushing back the plastic keeping dust and such contained – I yelled out: “My moving van is outside, where do I put all my stuff?”

As we rounded the corner, I realized that 1) he was NOT there and 2) these folks had absolutely NO idea who in the heck I was. SIGH! Fortunately, I introduced myself quickly, and the ice thawed even more quickly. I was taken on a tour and shown what was happening, and what was planned. If it is possible, I became even more excited!!! S was the fellow in charge and he explained as much as possible. He had a couple of questions for me and we made our way over piles and piles of lumber, etc. It was obvious, the dumpster had not arrived yet….very obvious.

I felt as if I’d caused enough chaos for the day, and we left more quietly than we arrived…

Wednesday, my daughter and I met J at the house for further discussions about plans and such. Unfortunately, my son-in-law IS a contractor and just as in other professions, they speak their own language. Fortunately, S was there to translate – both directions I might add.

Friday, we had to meet there again and this time, the dumpster had arrived and the place looked less as if something or someone had exploded in there and more like a construction site. There were some issues that needed to have decisions – for instance, my idea for the master bathroom had hit the reality of the space. Not a big problem, but that took some time to talk out.

This is a picture of the bathroom I’m talking about. I decided it was the winner of the “world’s worst bathroom” … to give a point of reference, it will be almost three times the size it is in the picture.

The toilet was taped closed for the estate sale – for very good reasons, and I’ll leave it at that!!

More later – and hopefully, I’ll have some pictures of the destruction by then!!!

Dear Me ~ Part 3

And so the re-construction began this week for real. I’ve gone a quite a roller-coaster of emotions about this purchase. Everything from “this is wonderful” to the to be expected “OMG ~ “What am I doing, have I completely lost my mind!!!!”. Let it not be said that I do something like this quietly and with no outward show of emotion.

I also made it a point to talk to my children about this ~ and they were amazingly supportive, vocal in their love of the idea and more than willing to suggest way to spend the money!!! I’ve been living in apartments for so long, I’d almost forgotten about what owning a home is like ~ almost.

The house had been owned by one family since 1960. The Father has passed away a number of months ago, and the Mother wasn’t doing all that well. The Son came a lived with her for awhile, and decided that she needed to move back to where he lived and worked. That’s how the estate sale came to be. the son helped gather the stuff up for the sale, and then the next day, he and his Mother boarded a plane. They literally locked up the house and walked away….leaving in the process an incredible amount of things ~ including the contents of the refrigerator.

The head of the estate sale outfit has his phone number and we connected by phone. It was a very positive chat and then he had his realtor call me. Several phone calls later it was decided that it would NOT be a good idea for his agent to represent both of us – so another agent from the same office called me and we were off to the races!!!

The closing was two days before our beloved congress tried to drive the economy over the cliff – really good timing on my part!!

My dearly loved son-in-law is a contractor and is doing all the work on the house. He also has a lot of work to do for various franchise owners of a certain fast food outlet. Again, with them rolling out a new menu item requiring re-doing most of the kitchens in a rather short space of time, my timing couldn’t have been better.

More tomorrow or Saturday. Until then here’s a teaser pic of the start of the re-construction!

There will be a LOT more pictures of the mess of re-doing it all that I will post later. My daughter took them, and her camera does pictures that are HUGE HUGE HUGE! She’ll get them to me, and I’ll get them into a size that will fit….

Erin Go . . . ~ Late Evening Thoughts

To say that last week was interesting would be an understatement. It was a wild, intense and one where a lot was accomplished. Not easily ~ not always with charm ~ not always without some stress. But then the weekend had arrived and I was “good to go.” Little did I know it should have gotten up and gone!

I was especially looking forward to Sunday when someone that I have gotten to know quite well and I were going to have a quick sandwich and coffee at a small streetside cafe and then spend the afternoon exploring Half Price Books. We had arranged to meet at the cafe around 1:30 in the afternoon. This would still give plenty of time for enjoying the book store. Around 10:00 in the morning I began to get text messages and then phone calls changing the time and location of where we were to meet. Finally I told that the place we would meet would be La Strada. (cue mournful music here.) This establishment was an attempt at an upscale Italian restaurant. Fortunately, they managed the upscale and the upscale price part. Unfortunately, (as far as I was concerned) they didn’t manage the food part.

I decided that I would have some dessert and let that be that.
I headed out on the adventure of the day. (cue Psycho violins here.)

When I arrived at the place, I realized even before I got to the door, there had been a change. The place was very noisy…very noisy. I though maybe it was because the windows on the street were open but then as I approached the door I had the reality hit me ~ this was not the case at all.

The upscale restaurant had become (on Sundays) a 21 (barely) and up (barely) party central location. It’s a little hard to remain upscale when all the drinks are being served in plastic glasses – coffee in foam cups!! And the place was packed. I realized that probably 80% of the boys “guy’s” voices hadn’t changed (21??) and NONE of the women’s voiced had progressed beyond grade school. It was as if I were at a Hanna Montana concert that was never going to start.

My friend? He was at the bar trying very hard to get under it – I think. To say that he had been drinking his lunch would have been been an understatement. He had used all the breakfast, dinners AND lunches for three weeks or more. I am now surrounded by people in high-pitched shriek(s) and a very intoxicated friend who is pawing me and giving me bone crushing bear hugs inbetween telling me what I was going to do and asking me for money. Great conversation points there!!

And, of course, Monday was St. Patrick’s Day . . . I found something very interesting and decided to end tonight’s post with these VERY clever cell phone charms from Japan. They are called the 6 stages of drunkenness ~

the first stage is the lecture stage: “Let me tell you something … over and over and over…

The rest and the conclusion tomorrow …

Meme Or Not To Meme (conclusion) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

On the 16th I posted a meme involving five statements only one of which was true. I asked for guesses as to which one it was. I’ll explain the wrong statements, and tell the story of the true one.

1. I spent part of my college life working at a sea park.
I spent part of my college life as a dancer (not theatrical – I’ll tell that story sometime), theater organist, and a few other occupations. There was no sea park near, so that was not an option.

3. My musical instrument of choice in high school was the accordion, earning me extra money (and pick-ups) at parties.
I suffered through piano lessons for a number of years, and then discovered the Hammond Organ and fell in love with the instrument. I did take classical training on pipe organ, but that didn’t work out all that well. I did earn extra money in high school playing for clubs and such. As this posting attests, I also worked with theater organs …

4. I am terrified of thunder and lightning.
Not at all, as the pictures of storms and lightning in the blog will attest.

5. I was once an extra in a major motion picture.
This was was a slight trick. I was never an extra in a motion picture (although I did try for “Tin Cup” when it was filmed), however – those who can remember the television show “Route 66” I appeared in one episode. In short, I carried a suitcase across the Minneapolis train station in the background (w a y in the background).

2. Thanks to my youngest son, I spent a night in jail.

And here’s the story. It was the 80’s, we (wife, three kids, dog, cat and canary) had moved to Texas with no idea where we were going to live, what it was going to be like and such. All I had was a job with an airline. Eventually we found ourselves truly living IN Texas. within a couple of years, we bought a house, and settled in. Unfortunately, after a number of years – the marriage came to an end and she moved back. I stayed in the house with the kids (all but one of whom had graduated from high school – and he was to graduate that spring) and was working two jobs…which in itself is an interesting story.

I was driving at the time a yellow Fiat that worked quite well for what was needed as far as being somewhat reliable, paid for and reasonable on gas. However, it still could exceed the speed limit – and I got a ticket. Because of work, I rescheduled my court date, and put the ticket on the top of the refrigerator. Unknown to anyone in the household my youngest got three speeding tickets with his Toyota. He didn’t want anyone to know about them.

I forgot about the ticket, and – as courts do – was sent a couple of reminders of the fact AND at least one reminder that I was doomed if I didn’t get it taken care of. I never saw the letters as the speedster was removing any letter that looked as if it was something from a court.

There’s a wonderful pub-like place here called “The Black Lab” and I had gone out for a late dinner with a couple of friends. The pub’s specialty is shepard’s pie, and thank goodness that was ALL I had indulged in.

Anyone who has ever driven a Fiat (aka: Fix It Again Tony) knows that each car will develop it’s own little “tics” or idiosyncrasies. Mine was no exception. The car had a back tail light that loved to fall into the trunk with no notice whatsoever.

I’m driving home (cue theme music from “Jaws” here) and get pulled over on one of the busiest streets. I have all my papers, and the officer told me my tail light was out. I said that’s not a problem, let me get out of the car and put it back. I was informed that I was to turn my flashers on, and wait in the car. And so, I waited and waited and waited. I had come to the realization that this was not a good wait, and looked in the rear view mirror. There are now three (yes, folks three) cars with flashing lights behind me. I realized then that this was either going to be a festive parade of four, or I was in trouble. Then it hit me – the ticket. By now, my stomach had fallen through the floorboard of the car and my heart was about to break ribs from pounding.

Policeman Number One came to tell me to get out of the car carefully and stand with my hands on the hood. He is supported by a contingent of other officers standing looking exceedingly serious. I’m looking exceedingly panicked. I was informed there was a warrant out for my arrest and that’s what they intended to do. I’m questioned about weapons (I’m wondering if pens count), dangerous drugs and what I’ve consumed that evening. The fact that it was only shepard’s pie and coffee did not go over well with the officers.

As a friend of mine would say: “Moving right along!” The rights were done, the cuffs applied and I’m being poked into the back seat of Policeman Number One’s car. The others, having decided that I was not a major threat to anyone, headed back to their cars and went their separate ways. I’m now headed to jail. Now, my only idea of jail was from movies and some TV shows. I kept trying to get the images of “Cool Hand Luke” out of my mind, but it wasn’t working too well.

We arrive, and I’m photographed and booked and placed in some kind of cell with a lot of other people. Evidently it was a blue light special (the booking clerk’s words to me) as far as the population of the jail is concerned. Finally a place with a phone. Now, all calls from the jail have to be collect and cost at that time about $5 a call. I think they call it a revenue stream for the jail. I finally get a hold of my daughter, who being the bright young thing that she is – decided (after she stopped laughing) that it was payback time. “Dad,” she said all sweetness and light, “Do you remember what you told us if we ever were arrested at night? About having to wait until the morning?”

Resisting the urge to add a far more serious crime to my “rap sheet,” I finally convinced her to come and get me out. Which in a large jail system, with a large jail population is easier said than done. I ended up sleeping in the cafeteria with a lot of people, had a video trial and was fined. No problem, the kids are coming to get me out. No problem except for the jail. I was told that I would be taken to where I could work out a payment plan for my fine and get out. I thought that was a good arrangement as that would make it easier for my Daughter and her Boy Friend to come get me.

In order to “make the payment plan” I needed to get on a bus, which I did. After about fifteen minutes, I now discover that I am on my way to the prison farm. Not to work out a payment plan, but to work off the fine owed. At this point, I’m numb and quite ready to drop off the face of the earth – but there’s no where to drop off of, let alone to.

At this point in the story, Daughter and her Boy Friend have arrived at the jail only to find out that no one is quite sure where I am. Finally, a bail bondsman seemed to have some kind of inside track – or at least knew how the system worked and my new place of residence had been located.

I have now been checked into the farm, changed into the delightful, well-fitting and exceptionally stylish jump-suit (which according to signs could not be unzipped more than three inches at anytime and would only be washed once a week). I’d found which bed was mine and was deciding what invented back-story I could tell when people asked what I was in for.

Finally, the escape had arrived and I was released into the custody of my Daughter and her Boy Friend. The details of which have been sealed by family order.

Squeeze A Grape (The Finale) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

The Finale (Chapter one) (Chapter two)

Our train car still overflowing, was beginning to settle down. We were still crowded beyond belief, still trying to find ways to get comfortable and the village was still encamped around the bathroom. Evidently, my maneuver with the drag queens had given me a small bit of notoriety, and there were no longer complaints or grumblings when any of us had to use the bathroom. And the car was still connected very close to the engine. A coal fired engine.

At this point, some of the negatives of the situation were becoming very overwhelming – especially to the students. They had put up with the train station upheaval, the conditions – and all the people. However, even their willingness to be adventurous was being tried to the limit.

The train pulled into a station for a quick stop. That was when we discovered that the Cirque De Woodystock was about the enter the free market zone. From that point on – until we reached our destination – the wheels of commerce had joined our group. I think I would have welcomed the dancers back. During this time we were treated to vendors getting on at a stop and getting off at the next. We were all wondering why the passengers weren’t doing that as well.

We had booze sellers – of both the hot and cold variety, no ID check required. My immediate answer was no – which had to be repeated several times to the older students. The villagers in front of the bathroom were very glad to see that vendor. We had people selling various food items – some identifiable and some (most) not. Roasted nuts proved to be very popular among everyone in the car. At some point two fruit vendors got on the train and walked the aisles with bananas and such. We had vendors with dishes, cooking pots of all sizes. We had someone selling a rubber band ukulele and something I had not seen before nor since – a tin can guitar. There were at least two booksellers, I think. (Remember, at this point we all have been without any or much sleep, food had been sporadic and no one had been near a shower for awhile. We were “the sweaty unwashed masses.” ) One of the booksellers realized the breadth of his audience ages. He tried to sell children’s books to the students and to the adults – in full view of the students, he offered a selection of adult books. The covers of some would have been cause for immediate arrest in the US.

While the phenomenon went unnoticed at first – a couple of the more alert students picked up on it, and acted accordingly. At some of the stops, passengers were getting off along with the various side-show people that had made our long night more interesting. As this occurred, more spaces became available around us. Students and adults would gradually move into the available spaces and could actually begin to move limbs that had been immobile for the entire evening. A few changes in luggage placement and several more could actually stretch out and attempt some sleep.

Eventually, the vendors seemed to be gone. The sun was coming up over the horizon, and with it the new day – surely our stop couldn’t be too far from now. More and more of the puppy-pile bodies were disentangled and finding spots to claim as their own. The last vendor, I remember was selling a new invention: the safety pin (!?), and had gone to…wherever these vendors were going. Not, I’m sure where several of the people in the group had wished they would. At last, I thought I might have a chance to get some sleep – in relative peace and quiet.

Any chance of that was abruptly ended by a very loud, repetitive “alms for the poor” type chant/song from the other end of the car. And I do mean very loud and very repetitive. When there was a pause for breath, the chat was punctuated by the “tugga-tugga, tugga-tugga” of a damaru. (A small hour-glass shaped drum, with a hard object attached to leather or such, allows the drum to sound by moving one hand back and forth.) Some damru’s are very lovely and sell for quite a bit of money. In this case, the drum was home-made and had a very distinctive sound…”tugga-tugga-tugga-tugaa” followed or preceded with the very loud, very repetitive “alms for the poor.” I was convinced that I was going to be trapped forever on this train, in some kind of Twilight Zone existence, doomed to repeat all the nights activities – over and over.

As the alms seeker made his way toward us, I realized that he was “blind” or so I thought. When he arrived so I had a closer look … he gave the appearance of having had some terrible problem with his eyes. They weren’t clouded by cataracts or such. They were covered with a very white, somewhat wrinkled film. It had small folds in it, and covered the entire eye – something he made sure that everyone still left on the train had a very good look at.
Then, I remembered a piece of trivia I probably would have been better off forgetting. When I was in college studying drama in all its forms. We had gotten an article about Lawrence Oliver and one of his earlier performances of Oedipus Rex, the great Greek tragedy. He was looking for a way to make coming onstage after blinding himself more real and horrifying to the audience. Evidently, he did some experimenting and took the inside membrane of a chicken egg and put it on his eyes. It was translucent and allowed light and some shadow in – and gave exactly the same appearance as I was now looking at. My suspicions were confirmed when we reached the next stop and as he was getting off, he reached up and pulled the membranes off his eyes and walked away having had a “miracle,” and made money in the process.

The next stop would be ours, and we began the process of gathering up what was left of our energy, relocating luggage and preparing to get off the train. The schools auditor/financial officer was to meet us.
He and his wife had left after we did and were flying to meet us before they left on their vacation. By now, we understood what being in a car close to a coal fired engine meant. We were literally covered with soot. It was in the hair, clothes, on the skin. I felt as if Sherman’s Army had “marched to the sea” barefoot in my mouth.

We got off the train and gathered on the platform looking, I’m sure, as a very dispirited band of ragamuffins setting out to the new world without a penny to their name. We were met by absolute visions in white. Absolutely blinding white. The financial officer and his wife – who had spent two very relaxing days waiting for our arrival – were walking toward us with big (rested) smiles on their faces. Their clothes were crisply white, their smiles glistened with white – I think even their hair had turned bright white. I will not repeat what one of the students said under their breath behind me, but suffice to say I didn’t correct her either.

“And so, did you have a great trip?” were the first words out of his mouth.

For the first and only time in my life I contemplated murder most foul.

“Squeeze a lemon and you don’t get apple juice” was a popular saying a few years ago. The meaning was quite simple – whatever I am inside, is going to come out during stress and strain. Whatever masks or identities I wear — when the going gets personally tough, whatever is within – whatever I hold as “me” is probably going to “shine” when the push becomes the shove. Miss Marley (an elderly lady who lived at the school – and was the oldest resident of the school) always told me – “When you squeeze a grape, you don’t get wine. It’s got to be mashed around a bit first.”

Squeeze A Grape (Chapter Two) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

–Chapter Two (Chapter one here)

We are squeezed into a train car along with a lot of other people, and the train is heading down the track. Normally, there would be the soft lulling sound of the train, the track and the gentle rolling of the car. This time, I’m looking over at bodies of students, and adults looking like some kind of huge puppy-pile – involving arms, legs, heads and luggage. The group camped in front of and around the bathroom were highly protective of their space, and resented having to move for anyone. But, at least, with some grumbling they were willing to eventually move. And the train continued to head down the track. I mentioned earlier that we were one of the cars close to the engine. A coal fired engine.

As the late afternoon turned into evening, people had made peace with the situation – somewhat, and were beginning to settle into a resigned manner of getting as comfortable as possible for what was obviously going to be a very long night. I looked around and realized that if someone were to take a picture, we would look as if we were advertising a multi-cultural performance of “The Lower Depths” (a play by Maxim Gorky). I didn’t dare chuckle about it too loudly, as trying to explain where my mind was wandering unaided would be too difficult.

A few hours passed…

I started to come to the realization I was about to “lose it.” As in – completely lose it. I felt I had reached the end of my patience, understanding – you name it. Something had to happen, or something was about to happen. I think almost everyone has reached that point at some time. In this case, the idea of losing it was actually quite a delightful idea. I had this crazy picture of a madman (me) tearing through the train compartment luggage and all flying in my wake. At that moment, there was a commotion from all those camped in front of the bathroom door. They were actually laughing and whooping and such…and pointing to the door of the bathroom. I found this interesting, as I hadn’t seen (or heard the loud complaints about) anyone going in – let alone coming out.

Imagine my total shock and surprise, when two VERY lovely Indian ladies came (evidently) from the bathroom. And I do mean lovely. They were in beautiful sari’s, jewelry with their hair impeccably done and make-up absolutely perfect. Bollywood (Bombay) film actresses was my first thought, which was immediately followed by the question of what would film actresses be doing on THIS train and that was followed by the thought that I must have lost my mind, or gone into total hallucination. These lovely ladies gently moved their way through all the encampment and ended up in front of the first compartment and myself. At that point, they leaned over and put on their dancing bells. These bells are wrapped around the legs of dancers and the legend has it that a superior dancer is able to ring each bell individually.

By now I was sure I was suffering from a gigantic hallucination – however, the students continually asking me what they were doing and/or going to do, convinced me that this was NO hallucination.

The attaching of the bells finished – the two began to sing a Hindi film song, and to dance (well, dance with as much room as was available). The “encampers” had reach a state of almost football game excitement. As in, they were shouting and being very loud – with much shoulder and back slapping. The students and adults (to say nothing of the rest of the train car) were now completely awake, and all thoughts of how uncomfortable they might have been – had been forgotten as they watched this performance.

I thought that this interesting tamasha (a Hindi word that really has no easy English translation) might simply be moving down the car – a sort of impromptu entertainment. But, it soon became apparent that they had no intention of moving…until they were paid for their performance. As I was looking at the ladies, I made other discoveries. One of them had 5 o’clock shadow beginning to peek through the make-up and the other had a bosom that seemed to be moving in different directions – and slipping slightly -occasionally. Of course, the adams apples should have been my first clue. And the students – who are never as naive as people think they are – had begun to figure this out as well. Now, I was in a quandary. There is no set price for these performances, and it’s true – they will not stop and will not move on unless they get what they think is a good price. As I had mentioned earlier, the trip was tightly budgeted – and there was no money for extraneous performances such as this, which I wasn’t sure I would be able to explain with any degree of rationality to the administration.

So, I did the first thing that popped into my mind.

I got up, and precariously stood on the bench I was sitting on, and began to imitate them. By this time, our entire end of the car was in complete uproar. To say nothing of the students and adults. However, I was now committed – and there was no turning back. I tried to match them gesture for gesture, hip bump for hip bump. I guess that one of them decided to humiliate me by reaching over and grabbing my rear end. We used to refer to that as a bah-poo (accent on second syllable) . As I was told, that’s the affectionate pat one gives a baby’s bottom, and in the wonders of Hindi – it can also be a term of endearment (and you thought English could be difficult). So, there I was trying to keep from being a total fool (probably too late for that) and was having my rear bahpooed by a drag queen in a crowded train in the middle of somewhere.

Again, I did the first thing that popped into my mind.

I whirled around, stuck out my hand and demanded 5 rupees. I repeated it several times (each time pointing to my rear). “Five rupees.” They finally figured out that I was either 1) completely crazy or 2) completely crazy and serious. They gently took their leave of the first compartments and moved on down the train car. And I was five rupees richer.

–the finale tomorrow