Today I went to the cold store, which is a short walk from our home. I take the lift down to the parking structure and use my garage door opener to open the shuttered door. Then I walk out of our building, across an alley, and into another building, through a long hallway and out the other side, turn the corner, pass one store front and go into the next, a small store that has fresh fruits and veggies, milk and juice, and everything else a tiny grocery store could have. One of the beautiful things about Bahrain is there are no food deserts. Everyone has access to cold stores in their neighborhoods.
We go to our little store regularly to return our empty five-gallon drinking water jug to trade for another one. We buy a few groceries as needed–fresh okra, green beans, wilted grapes when they are the best-looking fruit, or something needed for a recipe like canned mushrooms or whole coriander seeds.
Today, though, I only needed a full water bottle. I was being kind to my husband because at his age those bottles are not easy to carry, especially in this weather. Today the high was 108 degrees and the humidity was 63%. It’s the kind of weather that makes my glasses steam up for half or more of the walk to the cold store.
Fortunately, the store employs some young men who make deliveries. One of them, a new guy I hadn’t met before named Anshad (AN-shad), came and helped me by carrying the water bottle to our flat. Then I had to go back down to close the garage door behind him.
“Have you been to Kerala yet?” he asked as we rode down the elevator.
“No, not yet–but I definitely want to go and stay in a houseboat in the backwaters.”
“It’s beautiful. Be sure to go to Meesapulimala, too,” he said, as I opened the garage door again.
“Esapaalimalay?” I said, trying to mimic any consonant or vowel sounds I heard and keep them in fairly the same order. I had no idea what he was saying. Later I read about it and I realized all the many things I still don’t know about Kerala, a southern state in India where a lot of my friends are from. There is a Ghat mountain range; this is the second highest mountain in the western Ghats; it’s 8,724 feet high. So many beautiful places I have never seen, never thought about, never wondered about. Even though I have a bachelors degree in geography, I have never learned anything about the physical geography of India.
“Meesapulimala,” he repeated.
Then I took my phone out. I let him take it from me as I fumbled with even knowing what letter to put in first. He typed in trekking at Meesapulimala.
I thanked him, said goodbye and came home to look up some of the images and experiences you can have hiking in southern India.
I am constantly amazed that the world is such a big and beautiful place.
Also, I’ve been thinking of this young man, who has left his home country and works in a cold store in the Middle East, probably sending money home to his family. He is at least bilingual. Maybe trilingual or who knows how many languages he can speak.
In other news today. My husband and I were discussing a reading about King Hezekiah in Isaiah 39. The king made some leadership blunders. God made a prophecy through Isaiah that explained all the bad things that were going to happen to Hezekiah’s offspring and lineage. His response: “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”
It made us think of the resident of the White House. I wrote this haiku:
architect of disaster
“but I will have peace”