A Cast of Thousands: Day Two

I remain in serious escapist mode, and in today’s post I continue to take us as far away as I can. I’m describing the magnificent Indian wedding  I attended in Mumbai just a few months ago.

The following night, the newlyweds held an evening reception for 500 guests at the same venue. A magician circulated around the room. The saris were a cross between Cinderella and the Arabian Nights. I saw really, really serious bling. It was a dazzling evening full of gorgeous, kind, friendly people. In the interest of privacy I am posting mostly photos that show the backs of gowns. These were taken with my old cell phone, so the quality’s not great. But these give an idea of how spectacular this celebration was!

The women who had taken my breath away the day of the wedding now wore evening saris. There are no words adequate to describing how gorgeous everyone appeared.

Once the event began the full bar stayed busy. I was served the largest gin and tonic I’ve ever had to drink: it was as big as my head. The drink was also one of the strongest I’ve ever tasted. I drank it and afterwards I immediately switched to white wine. Another g&t and I would have landed under a table.

I chatted with a large chocolatier-pastry chef who had worked in Switzerland. The woman who designed the bride’s clothes and the man who designed her jewelry. A professional jazz singer who had given her voice lessons.

The waiters worked both days and must have been exhausted. They circulated the room with appetizers served on trays of stone. The appetizers were wonderful: smoked salmon-asparagus-horseradish rolls. Lamb bites in tiny crusts. Spicy paneer. Corn fritters with salsa. Tikka chicken bites.

A full diner buffet included both vegetarian and meat dishes.  The buffet included a station carving up one leg of lamb after another, chopped into small strips and served au jus. There were various rice dishes, and breads freshly made on-the-spot (both days). Dhals. Another food station served chat: layers of potato patty with chutneys, chickpeas, cilantro. Another station served a variety of Mexican dishes. Other stations included vats of sautéed veggies. I didn’t even glance at the station with teriyaki dishes; the Indian food was just too good. A separate table held lots of desserts. I tried the chocolate mousse cups and the waffles with Nutella and fresh fruit: kiwi, mango, strawberries.

A waterfall is behind the beaded curtain. The sashes on the chairs were an elegant gray for the evening reception

My sister and I drank Sula, a surprisingly yummy Indian white wine. We were both delirious with how magical the evening felt, all those  beautiful people. When we left shortly before midnight the room had been converted into a dance floor….

… each outfit was even more beautiful …
…really stunning gowns

I will forever be grateful I was invited to attend an Indian wedding. The hosts (busy with the other 499 guests) were incredibly generous and gracious. My thanks to my dear friends in Mumbai and their family for allowing two visiting girls to share their joy.

NOTES: Text © Jadi Campbell 2020. Photos © Jadi Campbell and Pam Campbell.

To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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A Cast of Thousands: Day One

Preparing the dais for the wedding ceremony. The canopy is made from thousands of fresh flowers

I’m in serious escapist mode, and in today’s post I want to take us as far away as I can.

This weekend we’re meeting up with friends, a married couple with a little girl. They will be the first friends we’ve actually seen in person in over two months. I’ll finally climb out of the pair of tights I’ve been wearing since March except for when I go outdoors (and then the go-to fashion item is my surgical mask).

Our friends are from India, and that reminds me of the last really BIG social event I attended: a wedding in Mumbai back in January. I took my sister Pam to visit the bride’s mother’s uncle and his wife, and our visit coincided with the two-day celebration.

In secret I’d always wanted to be invited to an Indian wedding! The spectacle, the days of celebrating! A cast of thousands! I packed a couple dresses and a pair of heels. As you can see from the photographs, the clothes were beyond beautiful. Out of respect for privacy I’m not using any photographs that might identify people’s faces. But really these pictures are about the clothes, the venue, the amazing food, and the generosity of the hosts.

Women in saris with matching hair accessories

The bride is Farsi, the groom Hindu. The first day was the wedding ceremony. It was a small affair for immediate family and friends. All 250 of us….

The outdoor patio where the lunch buffet was served. Curtains of flowers hang over the entryway

Here are my impressions, recorded in my journal: “250 people came and went, waiters circulated with appetizers and drinks (vegetarian and non-alcoholic as it was a religious ceremony). A huge vegetarian lunch buffet was set up outside.

The chairs were all covered in white with purple and saffron yellow sashes tied on the backs. These matched the flower canopy over the dais. The canopy had been made of elaborate long drapes of thousands of fresh flowers.

The Hindu men’s turbans matched the bows on the chairs. Really a wild parade of colors. Gorgeous!

The wedding party sat on a dais and the rituals went on for two hours. Sadly, the professional photographers blocked the view most of that time. What I could glimpse was chanting, reading of sacred texts, the tossing of rice and flower petals, a fire lit towards the end of the religious ceremony. A yellow sash was tied to bind the bride and groom to one another. They then walked (circling) numerous times around the fire. Both sets of parents were seated on either side, the sisters too. All took part in the rituals.”

My next post will describe the second day and the evening portion of the wonderful wedding celebration.

NOTES: The clothes were incredible. Pam and I were seriously underdressed, luckily not shamefully underdressed. Everyone made us feel welcomed! Text © Jadi Campbell 2020. Photos © Jadi Campbell and Pamela Campbell.

To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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More Things Are Different

More Stuff That’s Different

#1 My friends have been known to shake their heads and remark how youthful I seem – “and that’s because half the time Jadi still acts like a kid”. With the corona virus now governing behavior, I have to make myself stop and think before I act like I normally do. Because our world is in a new normal…

We live on the third floor of an apartment building. Without ever noticing that I do it, as I head down the steps at every landing I grab the railing and swing myself around to the next set of stairs. Germs! Germs! Germs! Now I reach the second floor and catch myself doing this, yet again; I consciously remove my hand from where I’ve wrapped it around the railing, and slow myself down. I descend the rest of the stairs like a grown-up.

#2 I’m a list-maker. You know that joke about the first list? Someone made two columns a piece of paper and wrote that the world is divided into two groups: 1. those who makes lists and 2. those who don’t. Ahem. I’m a list-maker or I have a crap memory, take your pick.

A drawer in our kitchen contains an ever-longer grocery list. Our town has two butcher shops, plenty of bakeries, and vegetable and fruit vendors. I can still buy those items spontaneously. Uwe makes a run to a larger supermarket for stuff like toilet paper (hello there, all you other corona virus shut-ins!) and pasta, and rice, and canned tomatoes, etc. Gone are the days where I grab him before he can get out the door and suggest, “Since you’re going to the store anyway….” I guard that shopping list until it contains enough stuff that someone ‘has’ to make a shopping run. Because I’d rather go without spaghetti than have to go without Uwe.

Food shopping has become a high-risk activity. WTF.

#3 I don’t like the phone much, and I hate Skype. Who’s that old hag in the upper corner of the screen? Oh, right, that’s me, ouch, and where did this incarnation come from? Some things I can’t blame on the corona virus. I got old all by myself.

#4 Where was I?

#5 The phone, and Skype, and Zoom. I’m learning to love them. I miss all my friends and loved ones more than I can say. If talking through a stupid computer screen is the closest I can get to the real thing I’ll take it. Even if it’s painful to remove that piece of masking tape from the little camera on the screen.  It’s like ripping a bandage off to reveal reality. *(See #3)

#6 I nominate the sloth as the official animal mascot for my lockdown. Uwe photographed these gorgeous sloths in Panama and Costa Rica less than 3 months ago. It really does feel like Edgar Allan Poe’s words from 1859 :

All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream

Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: Text © Jadi Campbell 2020. Quotation from The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe Volume II. Poems and Tales  A Dream within a Dream. wikisource.org Photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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Notes from the Lockdown

March-April  2020

We’re still in lockdown in Germany, with the restrictions slowly easing. I took these photos on March 23rd when I went for a long walk to get some sunshine and stretch my legs:

Lots in bloom as a cold wind blows. Petals rain down on me as I walk by. The birds sound happy, anyway! Yeah, it’s spring outside. I have the empty streets and garden paths almost completely to myself.

Pretty and peaceful out on the side streets

Then comes the disconnect: a children’s play area is marked in red and white tape. No entry! Closed due to the Novel Corona Virus!

I become aware of an intense fluttering sound. It takes me a minute, but finally I identify it: the wind is blowing so hard that it shakes the police tape around the other children’s Spielplatz. The tape’s rattling is the only thing I can hear beside the birds.

I shiver and pull my hat further down over my ears. I’ll walk again when it gets warmer. But, as I turn to head back home, I remind myself again of this: It’s springtime. The birds are singing.

Sun falls slant but bright in the March afternoon

Now, in April, the yards are beautiful. Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: Text and photos © Jadi Campbell 2020. To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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My Schizoid Loop

King Crimson is infamous for a song named 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neurosurgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door
Twenty first century schizoid man

Blood rack, barbed wire
Politicians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets starving, children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man

Songwriters: Robert Fripp/Michael Rex Giles/Greg Lake/Ian Mcdonald/ Peter John Sinfield. 21st Century Schizoid Man (2004 original master edition) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

That’s the opening soundtrack to days that are hard in lockdown. I’m fine most of the time. The sky is a blue I cannot remember ever seeing. Less pollution and few cars on the roads mean more and louder birds than before.

And I go for walks, and practice self-care. I love to cook, so that’s more than all right. I can take my time with elaborate recipes. Great way to channel my restlessness. Uwe and I live together in lockdown harmoniously most of the time.

Last night’s quiche

Some days, though,  I exist in a schizoid loop. I’m trapped in repeating cycles of WTF WTF WTF? Every couple of days I feel this: boom. I understand how we got to where we are right now. We’ve been pushing the envelope for decades. Why did we think we’d be exempt? Boom! But hard as I try, I cannot grasp how swiftly our world changed once that final roll of the cosmic dice was set in play.

We’ve been taken down by a virus, something you can’t even see without a microscope.

BOOM!

And fuck doing yoga, and meditating, and the crap version that’s all I can remember of the tai chi I learned from a Chinese man in my San Francisco neighborhood 40 years ago. What’s happening now overwhelms me. Forget trying to understand the point of view that claims we just need to get back to business as usual. That bullshit is literally killing us.

I gather myself back into a little ball and slowly unwind my cramped limbs and psyche. Writing helps more than anything. My first collection of short stories is taking shape as I try to deal with what’s happening.

I have friends with health issues who  live in  deadly serious lockdown. A few weeks into the self-quarantine the radio station I listen to played It’s All Too Much, a song from the Yellow Submarine album.  I’ve always loved this song! The Beatles were a big part of life’s soundtrack for my entire family, including my parents when they were alive.

My friend and her husband are Beatles fans too, and they turned me onto Radio Paradise in the first place. I was all smiles that morning, such fond associations and sweet memories all around. I thought, Hey, I’m gonna call her, and she answered her cell phone with a really cheery “Hi there!”

I lost it. I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. She hung on and waited for me to be able to speak, because that’s what friends do, and at some point my  crying jag stopped just as abruptly as it began. “That was not my plan when I dialed your number!” I said. “That’s the first time this has happened to me since this crisis began. I have a feeling it won’t be the last.”

And we had a really good laugh. I’m learning how to be less careful with my emotional balance, I figure if I need to weep then bring it on, because on some days crying is the single response that even approaches appropriate. I haven’t broken down since, but when I’m out for a walk and I see a family with little children in the distance, I feel those tears. Or when I hear from people I know in my present life, or from my past. Or anywhere else on the globe.

WTF WTF WTF?? I’m a hot mess, and that’s as it should be. If I find myself crying again, I’ll be in good company.

When I look into your eyes, your love is there for me
And the more I go inside, the more there is to see

It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around you
Everywhere, it’s what you make
For us to take, it’s all too much

Songwriter: George Harrison. It’s All Too Much lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: © Text Jadi Campbell 2020.  © Photos Uwe Hartmann 2020. To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Source: LyricFind

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Things are Different

Things are different now. Life goes on, I keep up my routines: Stretches of writing with occasional bursts of creativity. When the Muse does show up, it makes the trudgery worth it! Sporadic house cleaning (and when did our kitchen floor get so dirty?). Long walks out in the gardens five minutes from our apartment, those walks a get-me-out-of-the-house plea for freedom.

Some of the differences I can handle. Kind of. Stay at home to keep the world safe? I’m down with that idea. We are so all in this together.

But the small changes… those are the ones that make my stomach queasy. Here are the changes that are itty bitty things, letting me know life is altered:

  1. We know the owners of Diverso, the best Italian restaurant in our town. They initially had to close, of course. On the day Heidrun and Pasquale began offering takeaway, a Thursday, we ordered pizzas. We’ve done this every Thursday since then. Because we want to support our friends, because this is now the closest we can get to going out to eat, because Pasquale’s gourmet pizza includes gorgonzola cheese and shaved white truffle, and because there is nothing like cold pizza for breakfast the next day. Nothing.
  2. I use two ply of toilet paper now. I don’t know how many I used on average before the lockdown: I do know that the roll gets counted out now that it’s so hard to buy.
  3. There is a book exchange by the UBahn metro stop. It’s wonderful! – a red British phone booth, transformed into a spot to get new books and drop off old ones. I detour and go check it every single time I walk in that direction, because you never know when English language books might be on the shelves. I’ve seen Russian, Polish, French and Spanish books along with the majority German ones. After the first week of lockdown, I had a stack of finally-read books to pass along, and headed over to the phone booth. I entered it and when the heavy door swung shut, I thought “I just stepped inside a Petri dish. Ohhh shit.” I held my breath, shoved my books onto the top shelf where the foreign language books go, and got the hell out of there. Since then I scan the shelves for potential reading material before I open that door. I try not to breathe as I’m looking. And I hold the door open until I’m done.
  4. And then I use the little bottle of hand sanitizer that I began to carry everywhere with me. Touch a surface? Sterilize your hands. Repeat, as many times as needed.
  5. We have bottles of wine we got as gifts, or I’d been saving for a special occasion. Honey, if the current world situation doesn’t meet the definition of ‘special occasion’, nothing does. So I’m pulling those wines from the cellar to drink. I hope that if it’s a good bottle I won’t give into my desire to chug it. I want to treat life right now as special. If this is it, I want to celebrate the fact that Uwe and I are safe, and healthy, and have a roof over our heads, and are connected to everything.

 

 

Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: © Text and photo Jadi Campbell 2020.  To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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My Interview With Shaz’s Book Blog

Hear ye, hear ye, I was interviewed. Read it here. Shaz’s Book Blog. Sharon describes herself as a bookaholic and she asks great questions! This is a very cool blog.

I worked on the answers in Costa Rica and sent them to her as soon as we got home, and I can’t grasp what that sentence even means now.

Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2020. A To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Me and La Corona

I have a strange relationship with this novel corona virus. The virus first broke out in December in a Chinese city. I was in China, visiting my nephew who lives in the New Territories just forty-five minutes outside of Hong Kong. Then my sister and I flew to Mumbai, India for ten days. From there I flew to Germany for a few weeks before climbing back on another plane and heading to Costa Rica and Panama at the end of January. The pandemic and I had been circling one another around the globe for quite some time.

I got home at the start of March, finishing my longest concentrated period of traveling ever. It’s been about three weeks since the lockdown began. I thought I was coming back to my old routines after being on three different continents.

There were things I’d been meditating on while I was away. What did I want to do with my life when I got home again? Where should I focus? Instead, I’ve gone inward. I don’t mean contracting, or shrinking… I’m home, but the world I planned to return to is gone. Is it gone for another month? Longer? Forever? How do I mark the transition? Yeah, I feel myself going inward. This is the planet’s new milestone: before the virus, and after.

How can we honor earlier milestones? April 1st marked 28 years that I’ve been in Europe. A plane left America on March 31st twenty-eight years ago and landed in Frankfurt on April Fool’s Day. I’ve appreciated the joke (the joke on me, that is!) ever since.

This year is different. I’ve pretty much lost all concept of what day it is, much less what day of the month. The lockdown seems like it’s only lasted a few days – or an eternity. Such a long time; such a short time.

The other night I had no idea what the date was, the 3rd of April? The 4th? Maybe the 5th already? I thought it was the 5th, and that meant that for the first time I’d forgotten when our wedding anniversary rolled around. So I asked Uwe, “Isn’t today the 5th? Do you know?”

He had to check. “Sunday’s the 5th,” he answered. Uwe hadn’t seen the date creep up on us either.

After we established what day it was, we watched a film. It was my turn to pick, because we have to be really fair about this whole whose-turn-is-it-to-choose thing, there are so few things we can choose right now! I settled on The Tailor of Panama. It seemed like a good night for an escapist Le Carré thriller, because really his plots and writing are so damned good. I love his books but find him depressing, knowing that he describes a world all too close. Never mind. Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis and Pierce Brosnan are brilliant, you feel the relish they bring to their roles, I mean really they’re fantastic, and so is the film. The characters are all chasing lies, and money, and bodies: it’s pure escapism.

Nothing like the way the virus and I still play tag. I’m not going to be coming out for a while to see if it’s still waiting for me though.

Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2020. A To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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Let it Rain!

What a difference a few weeks or even days makes… Today most of the world is on lockdown. A month ago I was in a cloud forest for the first time. I look at Uwe’s photos and am filled with wonder.

The first of many hummingbirds we saw in Costa Rica

February 2020

Monteverde in northern Costa Rica is one of the few cloud forests left on the planet. We arrived yesterday, using a bus service to travel from the hot, sunny Pacific coast. Now we’re at a higher (and definitely colder) elevation. Winds from the Caribbean smack into currents from the Pacific. The results are a steady light mist all day.

Green crowned brilliant

Or, like this morning, a heavy falling rain. Uwe and I both wear the super-duper, Chinese-made raincoats we bought last year in Borneo for a $1 apiece. We unfold them and discover that these are thin, glorified garbage bags with holes cut out for our arms and heads. I’m glad to have mine – it’s still pouring. Uwe’s bummed. It’s raining so hard that he has to leave his  camera equipment in its special backpack. It’s windy here, too! His camera’s way better protected against the weather than we are….

Magenta-throated woodstar

The park guide tells us about primeval forest, secondary growth, the Quaker settlers who came here and founded this nature preserve. We see almost zero wildlife, and that’s because everything is hunkered down against the shitty weather. He points out an orchid the size of my thumbnail as my sneakered feet and my blue jeans grow damper. It. is. cold.

Violet sabrewing

Uwe’s face is glum. His cellphone camera is a poor substitute for the Nikon. I try hard not to think about how little fun he’s having. Then the guide points to a pale slender green object on a leaf. I peer closer in the rain.

Purple throated mountaingem

It’s a walking stick! I haven’t seen one of these in the wild since I was a kid! I’m suddenly a kid again myself, I’m way beyond excited. “Any biosphere that’s got walking sticks is an intact one for sure!” I exclaim. Oh my god! I stand there and stare at it, wetter by the minute.

Thirty minutes later we’re back at the park entrance’s buildings. The downpour vanishes. Uwe gets out his telefoto lens to capture the 7 varieties of blue, emerald, crimson, orange, purple hummingbirds darting in and out to the feeders on the porch. A white nosed coatimundi scurries under the hummingbird feeders, licking up the sugar water that’s dripped down onto the floorboards.

“A walking stick!” I murmur.

Everybody’s happy.

Green crowned brilliant
Empress brilliant. The feathers overlapped in a way that made me think of snake scales

NOTES: I’m still mad at my spousal unit for not taking a photo of that walking stick with his cell phone! Monteverde orchids and hummingbirds © Jadi Campbell 2020. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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Tsunami Cowboys is Longlisted!

My second novel Tsunami Cowboys was just named a semifinalist in the ScreenCraft Cinematic Book competition. Over 1,200 books were considered. Here is the official notice. Click to go to the link and see the list of books still in the running, including mine!

Announcing the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition Semifinalists