Shish Gumbab

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I can remember that because it sounds like shish kabob, and I love food. As a matter of fact, just as a side note – my sweetie’s new favorite pet name for me is Lunch Box.  I’ll let you guess why, then I’ll tell you the story when I see you, if you remind me.

One of the many things that I have found to love about India is the element of surprise.  You never know what you’ll see or encounter next.

An example of that is these ancient structures, many of them tombs, built many moons before my country even existed, that just appear in the middle of random places.  This one is in a park, at Lodi Garden.

It’s a tomb called Shish Gumbad, named for the blue glazed tiles that covered it. You can still see some on the upper part after 500-600 years. Mughal architecture, with its arches within arches design, is so beautiful.

No one seems to know who the three people are who are buried inside, but it is assumed that they were part of the royal Lodi family who ruled this part of India 600 years or so ago.  Whoever they are, they don’t have much of a chance to get lonely, as there are always people milling about. Lodi Garden is the most beautiful and pleasant green area in the whole Delhi NCR (National Capital Region), so it’s a very popular place to hang out.  And eat lunch.

They Call Me Skeeter

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I have what I call a healthy respect for mosquitos. I don’t like them AT ALL!  Others might call it a paranoia, an unreasonable aversion, but I think it’s pretty reasonable.

I came by the name Skeeter when, back at home in the US, I developed a pretty severe allergy to the saliva of the local mosquitos at my home by a lake in North Carolina.

I have the body chemistry that they love, I suppose, because a lone mosquito can smell me at 20 miles away and pick me out of a crowd of a hundred. And she doesn’t just peg me once…..she’ll track a trail up an arm or a leg like she’s trying to drop bread crumbs of spit into my skin. That escapade would leave an arm swelled to the size of my thighs, which aren’t small, and the skin red and angry like it had been burned, itching so bad that it hurt. I’d have ice packs, hydrocortisone cream, and Benadryl along with my computer in my giant rolling briefcase.

I looked up the symptoms online and discovered that the condition had a name. The name was, oddly enough, fashioned after a rather back-country Appalachian term for mosquitos that we used in Tennessee where I grew up: Skeeters. My condition was called “Skeeter Syndrome”. I had to laugh. One of my colleagues at work found that quite funny as well, and took to calling me “Skeeter”.

So you can imagine my anxiety when I was planning the move to India and discovered that Malaria and Dengue, two serious although rarely life-threatening if treated diseases in India, are mosquito borne diseases. I learned that there was a Malaria preventive medication, but it is not a vaccination. It is an oral once a week pill that one takes, starting a week before the trip and ending a week after. I go to my doctor and ask for Malaria pills for a trip. She asks how long I’ll be gone. Oh, three years or so, I say. Oh. Three years. Huh. I don’t know if it’s good to be on medication for that long……it’s really meant for short term use. Let me do some research, she says. “Please”, I think to myself, like a junkie needing a fix, “ I need my pills!” The good doctor comes through.

Fortunately for me, I don’t seem to be as allergic to the Indian mosquitos, and they don’t seem to like my foreign blood. I guess it’s an acquired taste.

I still have a healthy respect for mosquitos, though, and am always glad to hear the fog blower start up in our neighborhood every evening at 7:30. A guy walks around the whole place with a mosquito fog blower that looks and sounds like a giant leaf blower that leaves the place shrouded in a fog that makes it look haunted for the next few minutes.

‘YEAH!” I say to myself. “Now, THAT’S what we do to Skeeters round here! Go get em Dude!”

Because 1) there’s not much standing water around our place, 2) you don’t hear much about Malaria in the urban areas, and 3) I’ve only had a couple of bites since we got here, I stopped taking my weekly dose of Malaria meds, saving it for trips that might involve trekking into more undeveloped terrain and/or a lot of water.

I have heard recently, though, of a few cases of Dengue that friends or family of acquaintances are fighting, and they ask for urgent blood donors to go directly to the hospital. Kinda scary.

So when I saw this sign on someone’s facebook wall, I had to adopt it. Keep calm. Breathe (but not in the fog). And kill those little buggars.