NOLA: Day 2


We had booked a trip on a paddle boat ride for a ride along the mighty Mississippi on Creole Queen. The most interesting part of the ride was a historian narrating the history of New Orleans. The mystery of Spanish haciendas in the French quarter was revealed, the several change of hands of New Orleans was told, the battle of New Orleans to beat the British under the command of Andrew Jackson was dramatically narrated. We made one stop at the museum at Chalmette plantation, the battle field where the battle of New Orleans was fought. A park ranger talked in depth about the volunteers who convened under one flag to cause considerable damage to the British and managed to drive them away. On our way back, the talk was about Katrina. Every member on board listened with horror as the historian narrated grimly almost hourly advent of the storm that took lives of thousands. As we listened, the sky opened up, almost in grief.

By the time we docked, the rain had diminished to mere sprinkles, so we opened our umbrellas, which we smartly carried, and made our way to Frenchmen’s street. We had been told that street was a great alternative to raucous Bourbon street in French quarter and worthy of a venture. The music was better, food was good. We were disappointed. Everything was sleepy, and closed. We checked out the menu of several restaurants, found nothing that Sean, a vegetarian who does not eat vegetables, could eat. Finally, we ended up in Mona’ s cafe, a Lebanese restaurant. I devoured a delicious Lula kabob and Sean had a vegetable platter that contained the best baba ganoush.

After lunch, we strolled slowly back towards our hotel, stopping to see the majestic St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.

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Once we were back, we promptly went to bed and fell asleep. Afternoon naps, everyday – a very important part of our vacation. Neither of us realized how sleep deprived we were.

In the evening, we went out late. We decided to stroll the French quarter again since every street gave us ample opportunity to catch snatches of music and watch people. As will be the norm each day, we rejected at least 12 restaurants since there was nothing for Sean and ate at a Mexican place. Sean had veg fajitas, I had shrimp po boy. We both had simply fabulous modoros (fried plantains). Our sweet server did not know how to change channels on their TV, so she handed the remote to Sean. He found NBA basketball game and we watched a game between Rockets and Golden State warriors. After wrapping up day 2 with more people watching as French quarter became increasingly inebriated we headed back to the hotel, watched NBA in bed and called it a night.

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I will end this blog with this observation. The mass of humanity in Bourbon street reminded me of the throng on the streets of Kolkata during Durga Pujo. The people on Bourbon street were immersed in the heady feeling of alcohol, jazz, beads and night clubs. The throng in Kolkata during Durga Pujo are focused on lights, pandals, extravagance, street food. But the energy in both places, I found, were similar. There was a feeling of letting loose, shedding inhibitions.

We saw quite a large number of homeless people on the streets of the city. Some were just listless while some socialized with other homeless men and women. A majority of them, especially women, had dogs with them. The dogs, interestingly enough, seemed to be in great health and exuded friendly demeanor. Sean and I conjectured whether the dogs served as body guards for many who were forced to sleep on the streets. There were dark corners too where hapless men just lay silently, most likely under the influence of some substance. One homeless man was downright honest. He asked folks for money saying, “Can you give me some money so that I can get drunk tonight?” We looked at him quizzically. He said, “What? I am not gonna lie. If I get any money, I am going to buy booze.”

We were in New Orleans. How could we not see the bayous and alligators? We had booked a swamp tour for the next day. We were going to be picked up by our transportation company to take us to the waterways, where we could either go on a loud, very fast speed boat or a slow moving, covered boat. We opted for the slow one to experience a leisurely boat ride. We gave up thrill in favor of serenity. More on that in the next blog.

 

 

Become an angry young man.


I believe one of the most rewarding aspects of parenthood is observing the slow emergence of the questioning, thinking mind of a child. It is a delight to see your child becoming socially conscious, questioning the wrongs that s/he sees around him/her, asking you for your thoughts on it and trying to figure out the chaos in his or her minds in his or her way. Questions, innumerable questions are hurled at us at all times. We try to answer to the best of our ability and resort to internet when we run out of answers. I personally try to convert each question about social equality or justice into a teaching moment by leading their thoughts in a certain direction and allowing them to persist and think it through.

While changing bed linen the other day, such a teaching moment arose when my younger child, Ryan followed me to the room asked a very pertinent question.

“Mom, do you get very, very angry when you read about all the bad stuff that happened to women in the past, that you read in history books? I feel bad for women that they had to suffer but I am a man and I don’t feel as angry as you or Sahana about it!

Every time I hear about violence done against women, my belief about teaching our sons to respect women (and men) gets reaffirmed. We are equally responsible as the law and order system in the world to bring about the change in the mindset of men and women regarding the equality of all. And we can do that by teaching our sons to respect women and teaching our daughters that they are not inferior to any because of their gender.

So I took Ryan’s question as a teaching moment to teach and reinforce fairness and equality.

I told him, “Think of the injustice done to the women throughout the ages as injustice done to humans. Don’t think of them as women. Think of them as a part of human race who were not given equal rights. They had to fight for their rights, they were ridiculed, violated, oppressed yet they continued their fight and continue to do so to this day. You get angry when you read about how the whites treated blacks, how the homosexuals are treated in the world still, right? It is the same with women. They were not treated equally and that should make you angry even if you are a man. And use the anger to help women fight for equality which is their right.”

He listened silently and walked out of the room. I knew I had planted a seed. I just hope the seed grows into a tree and bears fruit and the world receives a young man who gets angry at any form of injustice and uses that anger as a fuel to right the wrongs done.

Questions! I love them….most of the time!

I don’t have all the answers to their questions. But I felt good about this answer and I write it and store this away in my treasure chest as a good mommy moment.

 

The spectacular now