26 February 2015

A Lesbian Union & the Gefilte Fish

I am back in Singapore after 2 weeks on the road.

I am battered.

I only went to India and Nepal but travel wearies me more now as I age.

Airports and planes annoy and bore me.

As I sorted through my accumulated mail I was surprised to see an envelope from Israel.

Inside was a hand-written letter and a wedding invitation from an Israeli lesbian couple I met some years ago.

Their names are Maya and Liat.

They were getting married and I was invited to the celebration.

Fancy that.

I know many Jewish people and have Jewish blood in my veins. From my mother’s mother side – which apparently qualifies me as Jewish.

My children though have much diluted blood and are not qualified as Jewish.

Suck ‘em Thomas and Charlotte.

I met the Jewish Israelis lesbians Maya and Liat only once – in the Club street district of Singapore at a friend’s farewell.

He was returning to the Untied Kingdom.

To the city of Bath in fact.

Ironically he has since returned.

There was no party for his return.

Maya and Liat were amongst half a dozen Israelis in who happened to be at the same venue as our farewell group.

They were all women and of various ages.

I was quite surprised when they collectively announced to me when I said hello that they were all lesbians.

I recall being a little taken aback at this unexpected declaration and I didn't really know how to respond.

I think that I simply congratulated them.

I then told them that I was a heterosexual.

It was a bit strange.

Of the group I mostly chatted to Liat and Maya.

They were then a couple.

When I asked them why they thought that it was necessary to tell me that they were all lesbians they looked at me in a fairly blank fashion and said, "Because ve are"

They were also initially quite aggressive and informed me that, "All men are peegs".

I told them that simply didn't make any sense and they got a bit arrogant and petulant.

Israelis are a bit like this.

I quite like it.

When I enquired "Israeli men are all pigs?'

"Beeg peegs" Maya replied.

"You think this too" I asked Liat.

She shrugged in a non-committal manner.

"I assume that you both have fathers? Are they pigs"

"You are calling my father a peeg?" Maya demanded. 

Her aggression was delighting me.

"No I am just asking. You said all men are pigs"

"He ees not a peeg"

I chatted for ages with Liat and Maya.

They chilled out after a while when they realized that I was neither drunk nor being sleazy.

I meant no harm.

They had then just completed their national service and were doing a whirlwind tour of Asia before going back to serve in the Israeli army.

I think they also warmed to me when I told them of my Hungarian Jewish heritage

My Hungarian grandmother was a mad woman.

She lived until her late nineties and was as mad as a cut snake my whole life.

Perhaps her whole life.

She was certifiable.

I am very curious about people who live in places where bombs are dropped and guns are shot at people so I asked the lesbian Israelis what it was like living in a country that was surrounded by Arab people who wanted to exterminate them. I have asked other Israelis and Palestinians I have encountered the same question.

I am not sure of their sexual preference - nor am I particularly interested.

Why the hell would I?

We are not morally defined - in any way - by our sexual preferences.

Grow up if you think otherwise.

Bigotry is ignorance.

Maya and Liat told me that living in a place where bombs regularly blow up was very difficult and stressful.

I thought it might be.

I have already made reference to the fact that I have talked about such matters to both Israelis and Palestinians before and can only imagine what it would be like.

I often repeat myself.

I often repeat myself.

Living amongst such constant violent conflict must be a real bitch.

It must be terrifying.

I was surprised when they informed me that they had many Palestinian friends and that they thought that Israel should remain out of Gaza.

I told them that I agreed that Palestine should be allowed to rule it's own destiny.

In the letter that came with the wedding invitation from Maya and Liat - they informed me that there would be lots of good Jewish food at the wedding celebration including Borsch. They signed both the letter and the wedding invitation with their names and, "See you later Alligator".

I taught the Israeli lesbians this when I last saw them.

We talked a lot about Australian and Israeli sayings and slang and language in the Club Street pub and I told them that an Australian farewell tradition was when someone would declare, "See you later Alligator" the correct and polite response would be to say, In a while crocodile"

They Israelied it "In a vile croocodile"

The reference to the “lots of good Jewish food” in the letter was that much of our last (and only) in-person conversation was about Australian and Israeli food.

Mostly about Jewish food though.

I like Jewish food

Most people know that we Jews are forbidden to eat pig however few outside the faith know that we are also prohibited to also eat hare or camel as well.

We are only able to eat meat from beasts that are hoven.

That has hoofs.

Or is it hooves?

Curiously the spell-check function on my Mac rejects neither of them.

Hooves and hoofs.

I eat a lot of bacon and ham.

I love it.

I am a non-practicing Jew.

I attribute my love of Jewish food to the Jewishness that flows through my blood from my mother’s mother’s side.

My grandmother - the Hungarian mad woman.

I attribute my love of bacon and ham to my Dad and his Dad before him.

My relatives on my dad side were fishermen and priests who came to Australia in the mid eighteen hundreds from Ireland.

They were meat eaters.

They were fish eaters too.

The Israeli lesbians Maya and Liat seemed to like the fact that I like Jewish food.

They were proud and patriotic.

“Ess Gesunt” – is the Yiddish for eat in good health

I like challah and babka and matzoh ball soup.

I like Gefilte fish.

I like borekas and kugal and shakshuka.

I have trouble with borsch though.

It is an abomination.

Beetroots in soup seems like a cannot.

“Cannot” in the context that I have used it is Singaporean for I-don’t-really-like-it.

I like Jewish latkes and sufganiyot though.

I like Rugelach.

I like a lot of Jewish food.

I like the sound of it as well and I enjoy saying it.

It requires throaty enunciation.

The lesbians Maya and Liat left an RSVP with their email address.

I have already emailed congratulating them on their engagement and telling them I am honoured and delighted to attend the wedding.

I quite like weddings.

They are celebrations of the union of love.

They are joyous occasions.

The opportunity to share in the celebration in love and joy don’t come along every day.

We should snatch such moments when we can.

It will be great.

22 February 2015


“Hey baby I’m home”

That’s what I’d say if Kathmandu were a girl and not a city

And if she were standing here in front of me.

She is really – or more accurately - and less poetically, I am standing here in her.

I flew in last night.

From Delhi.

The New one.

Although I actually drove through the New one - to and from my office however I stayed each night in the Old one.


I have written about the naming and re-naming of Indian cities under different Empires and government so I will not repeat myself here.

I couldn’t be bothered.

I reserve the term “baby” for ladies I love.

I call my daughter Charlotte “baby” sometimes – as much as I call her Totty I would think.

Maybe more.

I also call my very favourite niece Georgina “baby” as well.


There are a few other persons I have referred to as “baby” but they shall remain nameless here in this blog thing.

I do not use the word liberally and I reserve it for the girls in my life that I love.

Special ladies.

Enough said.

So would Kathmandu be a woman if she had to have a gender?

Which she doesn’t of course.

Or he.

I was just pondering that whilst tapping.

I do that sometimes.

The Nepalese refer to the tallest of their mountains as Sagarmatha. 

It means “forehead in the sky”.

Or something similar to that.

The Tibetans name it “ Chomolunga” which sort of means the Mother of Earth.

We refer to at as Everest – who was some Welsh bloke who in the early nineteenth century worked in a British surveying office in India and might have had something to do with maps. He lived and worked mostly in Delhi.

The Old one I would have thought.

He was knighted.

Sit George Everest.

There you go.

Tibet and Nepal share the mountain.

It is that big.

Both believe the mountains to be female.

Same for me with Kathmandu.

If Kathmandu were this beautiful vibrant “baby” that I love  - as I kiss her I might also enquire,

“S’up baby? How are you doin?’

She is a little shy in public at times but she is curious.

She is cheeky and funny and has a wry sense of humour.

She is very quick and really smart.

She is quirky but most of all she is humble and polite.

She is decent and she is respectful and she is very kind.

She is sexy and she is beautiful.

She is smokin'.

She would call me “baby” back.

The bulk of the Nepalese people’s heritage is from villages. These are in high and isolated mountains. The villages are communities who are in many cases very large extended families and the bond between the people is strong.

They are gentle and they look after each other.

They are rugged and tough people.

Very tough.

Think Ghurka.

They are proud people who know their history and celebrate their culture.

Through song and dance and colorful festivals.

I sat next to a Tibetan Herbal Doctor at the Snowland School Lhasar celebration today. He was to my right in the front row before the stage.

To my left was the Guru Rinpoche – the Dolpo Buddha. The Doctor and I and many others were the guests of the Guru.

Here is a picture of the Guru and the Tibetan Herbal Doctor and I:

Lhasar is the lunar year celebrations for Tibetans.  They are predominantly Buddhist people.

It is the year 2142 in Nepal.

I know why it is not 2015 however I will not reveal it here.

Look it up yourself

I’m not fucking Wikipedia.

Without any prompting the Tibetan Herbal Doctor told me that his religion was of the Bon.

I told him that I knew the Bon pre-dated Buddhism and it was considered the oldest religion in the world.

The Herbal Doctor said he was surprised that I knew of the Bon.

I said nothing in reply.

I only know a bit of the Bon.

The Tibetan Herbal Doctor comes from the same village as Guru Rinpoche in the Upper Dolpo region of the Nepali Himalaya. The village was once in Tibet then the Chinese invaded and borders changed. Borders have always been a little blurred in the mountains.

There are monasteries nearby that are more than 1000 years old. They have been carved out of what Everest would have mapped the Crystal mountains. One of the monasteries is Rinpoche’s.

It is the Shey Monastery  

Shey Gompa to be exact.

The other two are the Saldang and Dho monasteries.

I haven’t been there – I have only seen pictures.

They are spectacular.

I asked the Tibetan Herbal Doctor whether he treated patients with Yartsa Gumba and he told me that he did.

He told me he mixes it with other Tibetan herbs though.

Yartsa Gumba is half animal and half plant. It grows from the nose of a specific moth and only at extreme altitudes. It is one of the rarest and most valuable commodities on earth and it only grows in the Upper Dolpo and Upper Mustang regions. It is used in Chinese medicine and is a Cordyceps.

It is a worm.

I have taken it.

I have written of it before.

Once again, I shall not repeat myself here.
The Lhosar celebration and concert given by the children was spectacular. There was much dancing and singing and laughing and clapping of hands.

The children had a ball.

So did I.

The sun is setting now and the sky is pink. There is a chill in the air as the wind blows down the valley from the mountains. From where I am sitting now I can see the silhouette of the mountain Himalay Ganesh – the snow is still heavy on its peak - and I can hear the distant sound of bells tolling and the chants of monks before the taking of alms.

I can smell the sweet odour of Frangipani from the gardens below.

It is thick in the air.

Yes I’ve missed you a lot Kathmandu baby.

Come over here.

Let’s dance.