Tag Archives: Honolulu

The Man Whisperer

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Dinner Table conversation

Recently I was invited to a dinner event  with people who spoke French in varying degrees.  I don’t pretend I am fluent, myself – I get French mixed up with Nepali these days…. always thinking of how to reply or say what I am thinking, in one or the other but it doesn’t always match the language we are speaking at the time, an odd situation to experience. It does funny things to my head and I wonder how people who speak six languages can keep them all straight.

accents

Among other things, there was a lively discussion as to why women with French accents were so attractive.  Appealing. Mysterious. Sophisticated. Surprisingly one of the French women present was a bit affronted, since she had devoted years to eradicating any trace of a personal accent when she spoke English. She took a great deal of pride in having *no detectable French accent whatsoever* (which was true). She rejected the idea that to add it back when speaking English would make her any more attractive than she already was. To that I had to agree, she had a valid point.

And besides, she said, women with an Italian accent were probably sexier than those with a French lilt.

Whoa! Mais non!

The Horse Whisperer

Well, maybe she has a point there…. I suppose it’s not the *accent* but more the tone – I think French requires a way of rolling a the “Rs” ……  rrrrRRRRrrrrrRrrrrr …………………..  How could a listener fail to respond to a woman purring like a kitty? regardless of the language? It implies a conspiratorial tone to all one-to-one conversations…..

And when it is a woman, I think men are more attuned to the cooing lullaby of a woman’s voice, than most American women would consider. It’s okay for a woman to talk plainly and not put on airs, in the USA – but I sometimes think this is a lost art that should be revived. And the mamzelle across the table from me would still possess that ineffable dulcet tonal quality in whichever language.  Conversing with her just made the shared food so much more enjoyable – an aid to digestion!

The Man Whisperer

Here’s a tip to every woman I know: don’t underestimate the power of using your voice in a tone apart from businesslike matter-of-fact speech, to get guys’ attention. I know it sounds anti-feminist, but there is a difference between men and women and as the French would say, vive la difference! I wrote about this phenomenon in my book, a certain person I met in Nepal used to do this quite well.  It worked for the sirens in the Greek legends, after all. ….. Here’s an experiment. Next time you are with somebody trying to have lighthearted fun, try whispering in a conspiratorial voice, with an accent if you can muster one,  and see what happens.

It’s like the Horse Whisperer, only better – a properly trained male will carry out hundreds of commands.

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Out of Town Guests from Nepal and points west

Out of Town Guests

So I have some out-of-town guests with an unusual (for me) request: to find a place to surf. Oahu is the place for this, obviously……

You would think it would easy to accommodate such a request. It would, if I myself were a surfer. I would rummage through my (imaginary) quiver of a dozen or so boards, choose the ones we’d use, strap them on to the ol’ woodie, and away we’d go.

But today:

A) the surf report is “flat.” ( Okay, one to two feet, strictly speaking).

B) I don’t surf, myself. Out of shape but even if I was at my peak I could not pop up on my right knee, reliably.

C) consequently, I don’t have any boards. My friends arrived here via Nepal, New Zealand and Australia, carrying backpacks, but alas, they did not bring their own boards. 

D) How do you transport it when you have one?  I don’t know for sure but I would imagine that theft of a board would be treated like cattle rustling here – frontier justice meted out if you are caught in the act.

D) the surfers in this town are almost a cult, and despite the internet surf reports, the best way to find out what’s happnin, is still, to talk to knowledgeable locals.

Surfing in Galway!

This was the topic of conversation partly because my friends are “stoked” – these two are both surf instructors in – Ireland. Yes, that’s right – the Emerald Isle. They tell me that til now, they never had even one session where they were not wearing a neoprene wetsuit. And yes, they have surfed the Irish coast in January. I took them to see Waikiki Beach and the first comment they made was “how crowded the waves are! we usually have the break to ourselves in Ireland!” (not a surprise when the water is fifty degrees there).

Yikes. Not sure that the vikings would have even attempted surfing the west coast of Ireland; even if surfboards and neoprene suits had been available in the 7th Century I suspect they would have stayed on shore. Katrin and Evelyn tell me that there is a hardy band of locals in Galway who do it though, and one of their friends circumnavigated Ireland in a kayak last year. so – these two are athletic and hardy.

The upshot is, they also planned to go to the Big Island to see the volcano there; they will return here in ten days when maybe the conditions are better. Sunday morning I brought them to catch the inter-island flight to Hilo. At that hour of day it took just twelve minutes to get to the airport.

I enjoy being with people who don’t have pretentions, and it was nice to feel as though I could just be myself. We could have gone out to eat but instead stayed home listening to Prairie Home Companion and Thistle & Shamrock on NPR. There was a  bit of hustle and bustle in the kitchen as we chopped the ingredients for a Cabbage Stew. We teased Evelyn about peeling the potatoes – my peeler is broken and she proved her expertise at using a plain old knife for the purpose.

Cabbage Stew recipe?

What ever you happen to have. Purple cabbage, russet potatoes, kielbasa, sauerkraut; pepper. Dill sprinkled on top. The whole thing washed down with beer. Tea and strawberries for dessert, then pleasant conversation on the Lanai. We got a laugh when Katrin translated the Schnaps song that’s in the Royal Elephant Brass Band songbook.

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Did Marco Polo have this much fun unpacking the Wonders of the Orient

The “new” blog has been up for ten days but I have not felt the compulsion to write in it each day. Honolulu is relatively boring compared to Kathmandu. And I am in a lull, just getting ready for fall semester to start.

Online Radio Interview mp3 link:

check out this link:

http://nepaliradio.org/2011/08/joe-niemczura-2/

Time to prepare for school

My University always starts *before* Labor Day, unlike Universities on the mainland. Our first day of classes is August 22nd, and in fact, I begin taking students to clinical on Thursday of that week – the 25th. So we jump right in, with not much preliminaries. Actually, I like it that way. And I look forward to the return of the students – the  kids here are really bright and hardworking and motivated.

School always starts with a week of faculty meetings; in fact the new faculty have already had a week of orientation which just finished. There’s always a welcome back feeling of anticipation, and we’ll get to hear about every one’s summer.

My story will be “it was nice. Everyone should do this.”

Define “ready” – does teaching count as “work?”

The nursing building is very quiet these days. Faculty members don’t have to appear there, and many work from home. For a person who is used to punching a time clock, the transition to a faculty role presents a challenge. You have to accept a different definition of “work” when you become a teacher. I always think back to my first teaching job, when I set up my desk at home so as to look out the window at the (usually snow covered) former farm fields of my property in rural Maine. I would generally spend a day each week working at that desk, correcting papers and writing lesson plans. My first wife would request that I also do laundry, clean the place, fix stuff, etc. After not too long, it dawned on me that when she saw me spend a day sitting at a desk going through papers, sipping on coffee and listening to WERU-FM on the radio, it did not look like “work” and therefore did not count as “work.”

Oh yes it does.

That’s the peril of being on salary. To what degree does “work” become abstract? How do you explain what you do? justify your existence? Are you only working when you have an actual student in your presence? No. Faculty have homework just as students do.

Fast forward to the present. Everyone has a system for puttering around the office to get ready. I suppose you could quantify the ratio of procrastination to actual output; or maybe the number of hours spent to prepare for each course. In fact, My school had a committee to study the ways to assign workload in which the intangible factors ( new course; larger class size; writing-intensive etc) were included.

For that matter, every faculty develops their own system to keep track of stuff. I know one faculty who uses the floor space as part of the filing system. There are neat stacks of oak tag folders in rows like cubes of bricks in a brick yard.

Other faculty seem to do it with no clutter whatsoever. At the end of the day, their office counter space is squeaky clean.

Anyway, even during my procrastination times, part of my brain is churning away, digesting the upcoming classes and work, a subliminal processing of the task ahead. I like to think of this an an element of creativity, part of the process of turning the course concpets this way and that until they make sense. When I snap back to attention, the background processing makes it easier for me to get the work onto paper and into a plan.

Home decor

The Wonders of the Orient have been unpacked. This time I brought more trinkets from Nepal than usual. The new bedspread is on the bed – looking handsome, red with concentric circles of little elephants marching along. The large singing bowl is on display, even though unfortunatley it cracked in transit; I did not pad it well enough. The posters of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are back up on the wall, reminders of the 2009 trip. The coffee table book is – on the coffee table. The prayer flags are still up, in the living room.

I guess you could say that a South Asian motif has emerged. I like certain things they do. Most homes I visited did not have “clutter” and there was an airiness and simiplicity which characterized the place. Not many piles of paper or foofaraw laying around. I suppose this was because originally, the people did not own much ( and still don’t). Nowadays, it’s an indication that consumer culture has not caught on. I hope it never does.

Thangka

The thangka I bought is now also framed and dominates one wall, as it should. I saw this in Thamel, and wanted it from first sight. I did not buy it until three weeks after the first viewing, a strategy which helped me get a good price (don’t ask).

A Thangka is a style of Tibetan painting that includes a lot of detail and helps to focus meditation the way a mantra or mandala would. In fact, a mandala is the most common form of thangka. For example, it might depict the life of Buddha, with a wheel showing the Six Categories of Reincarnation, etc. Oone popular theme is the more abstract one based on a sand mandala once constructed by the Dalai Lama. The one I bought, I was told, had been in a hotel lobby somewhere, but even so, it’s not all that old. Thangkas are never signed by the person who painted them; most are copies of an original and some of the designs are traditional designs. The copyist learns to be precise in the same manner of those medieval monks who took pains to transcribe each new Bible accurately onto parchment. Some thangkas have that quality of an illuminated manuscript.

Is bigger the same as better?

The one in my living room is large – fifty-one inches by thirty-one inches. Despite that, it’s not the kind of thangka that makes sense from thirty feet away. You need to be fairly close to it to enjoy the painting. For this reason, I was reluctant to photograph it; and I will not divulge the topic of it, over the internets. You will need to come here, sign the guestbook, and stand in front of it with me, perhaps with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (Merlot is passe) as we discuss the layout and concepts. It hangs at eye level.

Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm………

Some of Wonders of the Orient have yet to be mailed to their ultimate recipient. Soon. Be patient!

Joe

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Back to Honolulu and ready to start teaching here in Manoa

The trip to Nepal for 2011 is complete, and it would be misleading to continue blogging from there, but fortunately wordpress has a solution for this – leave the old blog up on the intertubes; start a new blog!

And that is what I will do.

Anyway, I am back to Honolulou and to teaching at University of Hawaii School of Nursing And Dental Hygiene. (SONDH).

I am “refreshed” – and grateful that UH SONDH allows me the flexibility to do what  I do during my holiday. I can honestly say I love my job. The students are wonderful and hardworking. They always step up to plate a nd reposnd to the challenges of nursing education. I have some terrific co-workers.

I am seriously considering book two. More on this later. I have lots of research, the basis for a plot and characters, and the idea that a work of fiction set in Nepal woudl be of interest. Wider interest than a work of nonfiction.

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