Hindu Wedding!

IMG_20170411_170137The religions of Mauritius are primarily Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. In the neighborhood where we stayed on our recent visit we notice the Hindu temple, a mosque and St. Anne’s Church all in close proximity. We could hear the call to prayer from the mosque, the bells from the temple and the tolling bell of St. Anne’s throughout the course of any given day.

People of all three religions share a neighborhood, live next door to each other, share in each other’s life events. That is how it happened that we were invited to attend a nearby Hindu wedding by friends of our hosts.

Thanks to the generosity of another friend, Maria, we were gifted with traditional clothes and I also received a beautiful gold and red sari. It has 5 1/2 yards of fabric – but it’s silk – so it was very light and comfortable to wear. I’m not sure I could wrap it up myself – although, Maria did it quickly and easily.

The saris at the wedding were magnificent, with each sari more beautiful and ornate than the previous one. Women wore flowers and jewels in their hair, necklaces that draped down the back as well as in the front. Colors that were spectacular – eye popping – think bright turquoise silk bordered with fuchsia or emerald green rimmed in rich purple! Each woman there looked like a queen. Now imagine hundreds of guests. Live music.

Sit-down tables allowed dozens of guests to be served dinner at one time. As guests arrived throughout the evening they were seated at the tables. Seven different curries were served placed around on mound of rice on a place mat that looked like a banana leaf. Originally they used banana leaves. We used naan bread and our fingers to eat the rice dipped in curry. So different – but yum!

After dinner guests mingled, talked, greeted friends and family. A Hindu wedding is an impressive experience. I’m so glad we that the chance to attend.

Beach Town of Flic en Flac

CAM00342One of the most well known vacation spots in Mauritius is the beach town of Flic en Flac. The pastel bungalows in the photos are its calling card.

Our hosts (Marcel and Marceline) rented a bungalow for two nights so that we could spend some time at the beach on the Indian Ocean. Chris, Champa and Rita, friends we met in Mauritius, also had a place at Flic en Flac. They provided an impromptu picnic on the beach for us while we were there! It was an afternoon of fun, delicious food and great conversation.

The beach is great, the water is warm enough that you don’t have to get used to it – you can go right in! We really enjoyed our time at Flic en Flac.

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An Invitation to Mauritius

Traveling is always an amazing opportunity to learn and grow. I like to travel – but I prefer travel with a purpose. Almost two years ago I visited Slovenia in order to present a paper at a conference – and to learn about Slovenia and Slovenians. This year I had the opportunity to travel in order to teach and to learn as well.

Recently, we visited the nation of Mauritius thanks to a generous invitation from our good friends, Marcel and Marceline, who live there. Where is Mauritius you might ask? Mauritius is east of Madagascar – the large island off the eastern coast of Africa. Go east of Madagascar to Mauritius – a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Traveling to Mauritius requires two very long plane rides. The first half of the trip is an eight-hour plane ride to Paris (or Amsterdam) and the second is a twelve hour flight to Mauritius.

Situated in the tropics, near the equator, Mauritius was just beginning its winter season when we were there – end of March, early April. Nevertheless, it was quite hot and humid by our standards – although this was relative. It was perceived as cooler by those who live there, compared to the even hotter summer temps.

Our hosts live in the area of Rose-Hill outside of Port Louis, the capital city. This is the northwestern area of the island. Breadfruit, sour sop (tastes like a passion fruit, a very large passion fruit!), bananas and more grew in the courtyard area of their house. In addition, Marceline created a beautiful container garden along the stairway up to their front door.

Picture1Picture2 Come along with me as we explore the country of Mauritius.

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Welcome to Switzerland!

Part of what makes life fabulous is the opportunity to visit new people in new places. While I’ve been to Switzerland briefly in the past, I’ve never had the opportunity to stop and stay for awhile. This time I did. Staying for a longer time provides the opportunity to view life through the eyes of those living in Winterthur, just outside of Zurich.

Via my smart phone camera – you can join us!

Walk by the market area or town center

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Public transportation is easy and on time. For example, our friends met us at the airport and traveled with us on the local commuter train for the 10 minute trip into Winterthur.

Local streets cater to pedestrians and cyclists since not as many people drive cars. Pollution is low because traffic is light. Winterthur is quite walkable.

Look at these vintage shutters and ironwork – amazing, isn’t it?

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R. Meshar

R. Meshar

The water is crystal clear everywhere. Our host often fills her water bottle during the day at town fountains and assures us that it is pristine. It certainly looked clear – all the way to the bottom!

Next we’ve planned an excursion to a nearby a castle, complete with moat . . .

Christmas Present

CelebratingMyHome

These days Christmas for me is less about decorations and buying gifts and more about experiencing the beauty all around us and being with people I love and who love me. As I have moved more into experiencing Christmas, rather than doing the “tasks for Christmas” for others, the season has taken on a different shape. It’s starts earlier and lasts longer. It’s more enjoyable, peaceful and renewing.

This year for example, we participated in a “Biscotti Blitz” early in the month with a group of friends. We had fun making many flavors of biscotti – then passing them on to others, too, to enjoy. We saw a movie and went to the Jewish Community Theater and experienced a play about Hanukkah and racism. Dinner afterward gave space to discuss the ideas presented in the play and appreciate DH’s take on the performance.

Scattered throughout the season I have been going to Taizé. Taizé liturgy has songs styled in repetitive chant often with readings and candles. It is slow. There are long spaces of silence. The church is darkened. It restores my soul. At St. John Neumann, I can gaze out the large expanse of windows behind the altar and watch the snow covered evergreens, glistening in the night.

Christmas Eve brings midnight mass, Christmas music, readings and connecting with friends. Christmas day brings a relaxed late morning gathering with more friends for brunch.

Year end reminds me to give back since I have received so, so much. A candle is lit. Volunteer projects are considered, donations are made. I have enjoyed the practice of tithing for many years now. It keeps me focused on how over privileged I am and how much of what I have rightfully belongs to others.

New Year’s Eve takes us to another group of friends gathering together. Taize continues well into January. Liturgically, the season of Christmas begins Christmas Eve and lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of Christ in January. So much time to celebrate.

And so it goes. What was one day in my life is now expanded to embrace an entire season. Relaxed. Not too much fuss. Space for long walks in the snow, discussion, candle lights and reading by the fireplace.

Photo: GetGreen365.com

Birch logs or scented evergreen boughs and candles complete my decorating. Christmas Present – for me – means being present.

Whatever your tradition, happy holidays to all of you on the other side of this screen. May you receive peace, health and joy in the year to come.

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