Our home sits on a steep hill above the saltwater, so we don’t have a back yard. I grow a few veggies in 0.9 x 2.4 m (3 x 8 ft.) box beds in our driveway.
To make room for snowplowing, I move them back from the road. They’re around 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs.) each so it takes a bit of finagling with a floor jack, pvc pipe, a couple of heavy pry bars, maul, and heavy rope.
Fortunately, @katetroll is very strong. The two of us can hand push, coax, pry, and torture the beds into safety adjacent to our flower garden. With lots of travel this year, we moved beds during the first snowfall of the year.
With only a single day in Delhi, Prabhu took us into the streets of Old Delhi to visit the Jama Masjid mosque. The first day in a new place often overwhelms me. Cities like Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam or Athens, Greece or Delhi overload my senses and thoughts with dizzy swirling colors, smells, activities, and people.
But even on a first day, if I focus on a few small details, watch one person for a few minutes, or study a building, I begin to sense the rhythm of life, the order within the chaos.
Prabhu helped us enjoy this first day. We sampled street food from a vendor he knew was safe, took a short bicycle rickshaw ride through narrow allies, and then walked to the Jama Masjid mosque of Delhi, one of the oldest and largest mosques in India.
Shah Jajan, the 5th Mughul Emperor, began construction of the Jama Masjid mosque in 1644, the same year that he completed construction of the Taj Majal (although work would continue on both for 10 more years).
He was one of the richest kings on Earth, presiding over an empire that included what is now India, Pakistan, and much of Afghanistan, with a 1-million-man army. These beautiful structures were built not by slaves, but by paid workers at tremendous expense.
Today, the Jama Masjid mosque is one of the most important landmarks of Old Delhi.
We visited it on Eid (pronounced “eed”), the last day of Ramadan. Crowd of people from surrounding villages and cities were also visiting. The outdoor courtyard can hold 25,000 worshipers during the call to prayer. However, we visited between prayers, walking through the corridors and arches at each of the gates with hundreds of other people.
Before entering, our six women were given long tunics to cover their shoulders and below their knees. Although general photography is not allowed without a permit, I was able to purchase a permit at the entrance.
Why do ancient and holy places weigh so heavily upon me? The feeling is not oppressive. Rather, I think it is the atmosphere of long history and my desire to be respectful to the people and religions that continue to seek spiritual fulfillment there. It is a weight of feeling that I seek rather than avoid.
The smiles from worshipers, the flowing colors of people dressed in lovely clothing as they streamed across the central square on narrow carpets to protect their feet from blazing hot flagstones in the Delhi sun, a short conversation with a young boy who approached, and delicious street food: these were the highlights of my one day in Delhi, my first day in India.
Today with our electric shavers, disposable razors, and depilating creams, “the razor’s edge” might seem like nothing more than an idiom attached to an antique shaving tool, the straight-razor (aka open razor or cutthroat-razor!). Surprisingly, however, the straight razor is making a big come-back thanks to a scene in the James Bond movie, Skyfall. (Read more about this: The Straight-Razor Start-up Package: How to get into the boutique, nearly lost art of the wet shave, Outside Magazine 9/29/2016). More about Eve, James, and Skyfall below.
What the Hell do I Know About Shaving?
Of course, my friends would probably say: “Who the hell are you to talk about shaving?” A good point. Take one look at any photo of me on this website (or in my entire photo collection going back to 1977), and you’ll be hard-pressed to find me without a beard. Without clothes, maybe, but not without my self-defining beard. I once shaved it off without warning Kate and my kids (who were probably about 6 and 8-years-old). Kate told me she wanted divorce, and refused to talk to me until I grew it back (or at least for the first three days). I have to admit my face looked very short in the mirror. Erin said, “You don’t look like an Alaskan anymore.” That really hurt. As for survival of our marriage, it was a close shave (Yeah, I know, stupid. But irresistible).
For most of Billy Hanson’s life, shaving meant using a straight razor. Later, he adopted the “safety” razor (first patented in 1901). How do I know? It turns out that Billy seems to have had an affection for his razors, perhaps unable to let such a personal tool go. In his trunk, I find several straight razors and worn-out strops for sharpening them, safety razors, and a supply of razor blades. Perhaps “affection” is unfair. Living far from town, where even groceries required a 40-60 mile drive, and ordering from the “Monkey Ward” (Montgomery Ward) catalog was a staple, I think I’d save these potentially useful tools as back-ups as well.
The straight razor had the advantages that it was durable, could be resharpened, gave better control, shaved closer, and didn’t need electricity. The safety razor had the new advantages that it greatly reduced the chance of bloodshed, had extra sharp disposable blades, and still didn’t require electricity.
The electric shaver advantages are obvious – easy, no shaving cream. But for my minimal shaving, I still use the safety razor and shaving cream, perhaps because it takes me back to Billy.
Hollywood Loves Razors (and I love movies with cool shaving scenes)
Billy Hanson, however, never seems to have retained more than a neatly trimmed mustache, and that was in the early days. In 99% of his photos, he is neatly clean-shaven.
I remember him as always very particular about shaving, a daily routine that I occasionally caught sight of. More than that, the shaving cream had a distinct fragrance, sharp and masculine. When I was 14, my grandfather gave me two suede leather coats that he had worn for many years, mostly for work in spring and fall. I loved those coats and wore them every day. And even more than the feel of the well-worn leather, I loved the smell of his shaving cream, still distinct and wonderful, that somehow transferred his persona to my brain.
With all this, I’m completely surprised, and happy to discover that the shaving mug in the chest STILL, even after at least 60 years of disuse, has that same aroma of his shaving cream! Suddenly, I’m no longer looking at his photo. I see his eyes, feel his hand on my shoulder, hear him say, “Hello, Bill,” with that thin dry smile as I arrive for another adventure.