Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Then vs. Than

If you know me at all, you know that I care passionately about words. I care for words. So every now and then, if I come across a particularly clear explanation of a timely "word issue", I will post it.

If you have a pet peeve "word issue" - usage that drives you crazy - let me know! We will commiserate together ...

Here's a current pet peeve for me: using 'then' when the word that is needed is 'than'. Dictionary.com had this clear explanation:

What is the difference between then and than?

These two words are quite different! Their only similarity is in the way they sound. Than is used to compare or contrast things, as in "He is a lot smaller than his older brother." Then refers to time or consequence: "And the Canaanite was then in the land" (Gen. xii. 6.); "If all this be so, then man has a natural freedom" (Locke). So if one thing follows or results from another, use then. Than is also used before a pronoun, as in "Paul loves pizza more than me."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"I went to a shower and a hockey game broke out ..."

I will be returning to more stories and pictures about India, but thought you might like a glimpse into the events of this past Monday evening in which two of our TH family played significant roles ...

The evening started at 6:30 (okay, a little after -- you know me!) as friends of Nilgiris and Lois arrived to celebrate her upcoming nuptials with a kitchen shower. 

Lois, radiantly beautiful and with a joyful confidence about her, told us of her and Greg's plans for the next year (10 moves! including one up to Alaska!), and we took a little quiz called "Lois by the Numbers".

Our girl gets married in a little over two weeks. What a fortunate man Greg is!

Absent from the shower were Brent and Curtis, who had planned on being present and giving Lois a run-down of what they would look for in a wife (fortunately, our dear Brian was there and he summed it up succinctly: "Be on time!").

The reason the boys were absent is that Brent's hockey team, the Sabres, was in the final game of the season, and the league championship was at stake. "Throw them out by 9:00 ... move the shower to the arena ..." were two of the suggestions I received. 

After the shower Lois and I met up at the arena. It was the second period. The Sabres were leading 2-1. They were clearly the stronger team, with shots on goal almost double those of the rival.

And then, weirdly, everything seemed to go into slow motion for about four minutes and in that time the visiting team managed to score. Fortunately for all concerned about #4 he was not on the ice at the time, so his plus-minus ratio was not affected ...

The third period skidded by, and the game remained a tie. Eight minutes of full-strength overtime ensued, followed by three minutes of four on four and three minutes of three on three. STILL no score. So it went to a shootout. Five shots were caromed at the hapless goalies: our goalie managed to save four of them, while the visitors' goalie allowed two shots to bypass him and land in the net.

Pandemonium broke loose from the Sabre bench. Gloves, helmets, odd bits of equipment hailed onto centre ice as our valiant young men flung themselves at their teammates like exuberant puppies. The banner to hang from the rafters was unfurled and skated around the ice.

I texted Brent shortly after the win: "Congrats, #4! Almost as exciting as Team Canada's gold! Well done."

I could tell he was already putting it all into perspective by his response: "Thanks"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Scenes from the Road, part 1

Glimpses through the windshield as we sped by (everyone wants to be a Formula 1 driver, it seems!).

P.S. I just discovered that you can enlarge any of these pictures by clicking on it with your mouse ...

Flowers along the Bangalore Airport road

Bangalore's answer to the Colonel ...

School children heading home for lunch (notice the glass shards and barbed wire on the wall encircling the school ...)


On the road to Trivandrum

And this wasn't even rush hour!

                                           A slight "deviation"

The most versatile vehicle around (seatbelts optional, I believe ...)

Just don't, okay?

Not here either, thanks!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Two minutes after having been introduced, he gazed at me soulfully and proclaimed, "I've been waiting for you!"

And I fell instantly in love.

Debbie warned me this would happen; she lost her heart to him back in October ...

Abishai, son of Salome and Sam, is one of the smartest, quickest, brightest people I have ever met. He remembers everything he hears; and his powers of observation are unparalleled. He informed us that he doesn't need to go to school; he went and in the first few weeks he discovered that he already knew everything that they tried to teach him. And if there was nothing new they could teach him, what point was there in his continuing to go? I asked him to read me a couple of words from a disseration I was copyediting. When he admitted with reluctance that he couldn't, I suggested that when he went back to school in the fall, perhaps he could ask them not to tell him all the baby stuff but just to focus on teaching him to read. He seemed unconvinced; but when he saw his Dad marching down the graduation aisle in full regalia, and I told him he could only wear those robes and the cap if he went to school and learnt to read, he decided that he would go after all so that one day he too could walk with his Dad.

He is a sunny, well-behaved little man of four, the apple of his grandparents' eye and the darling of the campus. His mother is expecting a baby in May, and when Abi was speaking to "Uncle Ironside" and his own Dad about the roles people played in his family, he decided he wanted to be the boss of the family. "Daddy is the boss of the family," Sam explained. When he asked his Dad who he could be the boss of, Sam said that Abi could be the boss of the family dog. "And the baby!" Abi amended.

When his Mummy and Dad decided that it was time he slept in his own bed, he didn't think it was fair that they got to sleep in the same bed and he had to sleep alone. "We're married," Shalu explained to him. "Then I want to get married too," he retorted. And now he is on a new mission. His grandfather told him that if he didn't go to school he wouldn't get a good wife. Big mistake. "You are not in school, and you got a good wife!" he flashed back immediately. "But you're too little for a wife," I tried to argue. "I will find a small wife," he countered.

Fully engaged in all aspects of the life of the household, he was right beside me as I made chocolate pudding for dinner one evening. Standing on a little footstool, he measured ingredients, stirred, poured the finished pudding into a cut-glass bowl, opened the fridge door for it to be chilled -- and, of course, got to lick the spatula and the saucepan when it was all over, eyes sparkling with delight. He earnestly tried to wipe the counter because "we shouldn't make extra work for Mary"; poor Mary!

One day, his mother told me, he chattered from the moment he woke up until about 11 o'clock that evening. Finally - in exhaustion - she asked him, "Abishai, why do you talk so much?"

"Because I am smart and I have so much to say," he replied matter of factly, without any trace of pride. Indeed, that is one more noteworthy thing about this child. He is completely secure in himself, knowing absolutely that he is surrounded with love and by people who want only the best for him. Perhaps because of this he has not an ounce of vanity, and is very receptive to taking direction. He is one of the most obedient, easygoing kids I've ever spent time with.

The last day I was with him in Coimbatore, we had been chatting about various things people do with their lives. I asked him what he would like to be when he grew up. Almost instantaneously the answer came back: "I don't know; what do you want to be when you're 65?" 

Of course, this child cut right to the heart of it all ...

Good question, Abi; do you have the answer for me?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Massage Therapy

It seems that no matter where we go, someone comes up to my Dad and starts to work on his neck, shoulders, arms, etc. They know about his sore shoulders and pinched, broken collar bone, and they delight in trying to ease his pain and discomfort. They love my Dad dearly, and this is something they can do for him. He loves them, and this is something he can do for them.

Even when we returned from Trivandrum and Coimbatore to Bangalore, Dad's good friend, Mr. Subbaiah, had arranged for us to have an intense foot massage followed by a back massage.

We visited a former student's home and she had pictures from Dad's trip up north in October. I've added a few of those too ...

Dad often quotes the verse, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." And just as he believes it, lives it through his own life and receives great blessing by giving to others, he in turn allows other people the opportunity to be blessed by giving as well.
Back in Canada

Dad and I are back in Canada. I can't say I'm overjoyed ... but there's a time for everything, and I guess it's time I get cracking back here again!

I had no internet connection from March 10 until this afternoon, so I will backtrack and post more pictures and comments about our time in India over the next few days. In the meantime, bunches of our family were there to meet us at YYC, we had a wonderful meal together -- and when we walked up to the house, this sign was there to greet us:

As Dad says, "East or west, home is best!"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Five Servings of Fruit a Day

Do I have to be limited to five?!

The banana shop

                                              Oranges and pineapples


(Rs. 10 is the equivalent of 21 cents; that's what you'd pay for a coconut ...)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Colours of Hope

What's that saying? A person can live without food for forty days; without water for four days; but without hope for very little time at all. In these villages and townships we have been hurtling through on the way to our destination, I noticed some vivid buildings and some startlingly beautiful flowers springing up even through the dust and the lack of water and electricity. Even through the APPALLING price of petrol. Even through the lack of education and a way out.

They spoke of hope to me ...

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Roads of Kerala

Driving on the main streets and back roads is taking one's life into one's hands. First of all, the crazier the traffic, the bolder you must be to plough into the onslaught ... Even if it means you are driving on the wrong side of the street against oncoming traffic, if you decide you need to check your tire for a puncture, that's what you do. And when you find everything's okay, you merely plunge your car back into the traffic on the wrong side of the road and nonchalantly start sidling back across the street until you are on the left hand side again and once again in the flow. "By the grace of God," as Suresh put it, "no accidents yet." Even those of you who don't necessarily believe in the grace of God would have to say a fervent "Amen" to that!


                                          Through the windshield

Loaded autorickshaw

Driver's ed: learning to do a U-turn in the midst of traffic coming at you both ways can only be beneficial to you down the road, right?!

                                                      Cruising around the corner of a shopping centre

Festival lights at 90 km / hour ...