Monday, July 28, 2008

Under the table and other games

So about these bombings in Istanbul. . .

As some of you know, the honeymoon location went back and forth, back and forth. There was seemingly no end in sight, till one of us said, "I've always wanted to go to Turkey!"

Turkey would be perfect. Spendy flights, but affordable lodging and in-country travel. So much history! Great weather! Turkey! So last month, we bought ourselves two tickets to Istanbul.

And though the news lately isn't great, we are not freaking out. But it's not precisely news you want pre-honeymoon either. Realizing, of course, that our honeymoon is not the part that's most tragic about this news.

The story that this triggers is a kind of odd childhood one. It's one that's mine, although really only because I've heard it so many times.

So I don't know how much you know about the history of Bangladesh, but odds are, not a whole lot. We were in Delhi during the war for independence, and as India sided with the rebels in East Pakistan, which then became Bangladesh, India and (then West) Pakistan were at war.

I turned two that summer, and I feel like I remember the blackouts, but these probably aren't memories but visuals created from hearing the stories. Plus then we moved to Bangladesh, where our car had the top of the headlights painted black during the war. Imagined memory makes the most sense to me, since I was so young at the time.

Anyway. In these memories my parents turned the blackouts into play time. Everyone had paper over the windows so no light would shine through. All the lights in the neighborhood would have to go out when there were planes overhead. And my parents made a game of turning all the lights out so we could play in the dark.

My memories, the ones I think I can pull, they aren't scary.

But my parents have this story of a boat trip we took a year or two later. We would come back to the US to visit grandparents every summer, and once, instead of flying, we took a boat from England to the States.

Apparently one night there was a big celebration. An anniversary of the boat or the queen's birthday or something. There was a huge cake with candles. And just before they brought in the cake, they turned off all the lights at once.

And I yelled, "Air raid! Under the table!"

The lights were flung on, as you might imagine, and there were two of us crouching under tables. Me. And a woman who'd been a child in Britain during WWII. She said that muscle memory just took over.

Well, first she said, "Where on earth has this child been?"


  1. this is so heartbreakingly've had such an interesting life so far, and i know it's just going to keep on getting more interesting as you go along!

  2. Ah, thanks moosie! I hope this is the case.

  3. What a beautifully and innocent memory of such events.

    I remember hearing a story like this from a teacher in DC who I knew. She was talking to student of hers who was telling her about the "under the table" game they played at her house some nights. Turned out that this was a neighborhood that had a lot of gang fighting, and their house was sometimes caught in crossfire. They had bullets go through the windows, so this game was invented to protect the kids. The mom had made up a whole scene with toys and a table tent, and the child version was magical and flowerly and fun...the memory that will most likely be the lasting one.

    And I hope it's less dangerous as you move along, but I know it will always be interesting.

  4. Oh! That is really funny, but sad at the same time. I'm going to keep a good thought for your honeymoon.

    Peace would be nice, wouldn't it?

  5. this is so heartbreakingly funny

    moosie hit the nail on the head, so so true.

    great post :-)

  6. When I saw the news about the bombings, I though about you, but then I thought, "aw, she'll be fine." You were in India during the riots following Mrs. Ghandi's assassination, right? And I remember the school assembly we had after the U.S. bombing of Libya, when they told us that Khaddafi had threatened U.S. embassies abroad, so we would have to start alternating our routes home from school to evade snipers and such.

    The world is a dangerous place. But we should still go out in it.

  7. Janie - Oh, wow. Those poor kids. This was a very defined period of my life - but not "normal life." That's amazing, really.

    DCup - Peace would be so nice, yes indeed.

    mrsmac - Thanks very much. :)

    Wendy - Yah, we'll be fine. It's bad news, but my assumption/hope is that it's isolated. And yes, we were there during the riots. I believe that entirely. You can't NOT go out in it.

  8. This is how I am with earthquakes.

  9. That's pretty amazing, the those reflexes were built in.

    "Spendy" is a really cool word.


  10. Catching up with my blogs and just read this -- a tad late. I literally laughed out loud at work. Damn, way to show that I'm not working!!


Tell me about it.