Lucia has something to say

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tipsy and Besotted

This is my last night in Nepal, and I am besotted with this country and its people. I wish I could stay and stay here for a while, getting my balance and living my life. There are always parallel lives we could live, with different people in other places than the ones we live right now. There are parallel partners and adjacent happiness, and I sometimes wonder what would happen if I took other paths. I have greatly enjoyed spending time working with friends I have known for years.

The fireplace is roaring with rich orange flames, and a dozen people are absorbed in watching Octopussy as smoke seeps into the lobby. I will come down in an hour and wait for my friends to take me on a farewell dinner. Tomorrow, I fly to Bangkok.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Street Etiquette

Winding down narrow streets, past the Go Go Iron Works, the Hail Stone Restaurant, beauty palaces, stupas with prayer flags. To get to the lane going in the opposite direction, one inches the car across oncoming traffic, as bicycles, motorcyles and cars stream around, until one is free to move into the lane. The close calls are too many, but they always seem to be near misses instead of hits, and the traffic here is not half so bad as in other countries.

(Apparently the server where my blog lives has been replaced, wreaking havoc with photos and posts.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

And the Bride Wore Red

Today I saw a positively dizzying array of temples, stupas, and the like in both Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. As we wandered in Durbar Square, there were girls of 8-10 dressed in red--miniature brides in bright full wedding regalia. In a ceremony, they were to marry Lord Krishna, the handsome, young, flute-playing god of love. They come from families with old traditions of marrying young. Marrying Krishna a) allows the girls not to take on a real marriage at such a young age, and b) means they'll never become widows, since even if their earthly husband dies, they're still married to Krishna.

Here a girl is having her feet dipped in red paint as part of the preparation (red, as I noted before, being an auspicious color, and the color every Nepali bride wears).

Let me just add that I'm really loving my life.

Since then...I've learned that they may have been marrying a fruit...or the sun.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Night in the Thamel District

Wandering through winding streets full of small shops. Pashminas. Buddhas. Jewelry. Clothing. Handmade paper. An overwhelming mountain of goods for sale. Too much to take in. Live blues coming from a nearby club. Trying not to get run over by a motorcycle or car moving too fast through the crowds on the narrow street.

Under the stairs at my guest house, there's a small incense shop, and the incense drifts up to my room, smelling sweet.

There are guest house rules in my room. These are posted on the wall:

• Kathmandu Guest House was originally a Rana Palace, wherein most of the materials used for the construction for this magnificent Heritage Building is made of wood. As such the residents are requested to be very careful with candles, cigarettes, electric heaters and any other inflammatory products and equipments.

• Please TURN-OFF all electrical appliances and lights when leaving the room.

• Outside guests are NOT allowed in guest rooms. All outside guests are requested to be entertained in the Garden, Lobby or Café.

• Cooking / Washing of clothes / Pressing is strictly prohibited in the rooms or bathrooms.

• The laundry service being a separate entity from the hotel, the management will not bear any responsibility for any loss or damage of the laundry.

• Please do not play loud music or television for the consideration of other important guest like you and maintain peaceful atmosphere of the hotel.

• Drugs of any kind (unless prescribed by a licensed doctor) are prohibited in any part of the hotel. DRUGS are a punishable crime by the Nepalese Law.

After a full day of work with potters, papier mache mask makers, and weavers, I will forgo nightlife and fall into bed. I want to be rested for sightseeing tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

My First Taste of Nepal

My sari-clad friend, who is incidentally about half my height, indicated that we’d have a casual dinner here at the hotel my first night here. She (and her driver) instead picked me up and whisked me off to a fabulous restaurant that had the elaborate wood carved door and window frames that Nepal is known for. The place was gorgeous. We entered the lobby, took our shoes off, and washed our hands under water poured from a copper pot, directly under photos of Prince Charles, Hillary Clinton, the late Nepali Crown Prince (and King for a few days) Dipendra (more about him soon), and others various dignitaries, some of whom I did not recognize, and some who were big shots in the development world (USAID, the World Bank, etc.) dining at this restaurant.

We were seated on floor cushions at a table covered with all sorts of hand-forged utensils, copper glasses, and ceramic plates. The servers, women in traditional dress, came to put, get this, large white aprons on us (like chef aprons, tied at the waist and behind the neck) and to tuck big red napkins in our laps. (And this point, I am imagining flying food in this very dignified environment, but this is not to be.) A menu came with my name on it, the date 06 Mangshir, 2063, and a description of the six course traditional Newari dinner to come.

Given the circumstances, I followed my friend’s lead with how to move through the meal. The hors d’ oeuvres were foods served during religious ceremonies, and a bit was to be moved to a small leaf dish as an offering to Lord Krishna. (There are a lot of gods to keep happy.) My friend leaned in and said, “It’s OK to give Krishna more of what you don’t want than the things you like, that’s what I do.” (Doesn’t seem like this would be too effective if one were trying to get on a god’s best side, but so be it.)

The server poured rice wine (which tasted like dry sherry and must have been 100 proof) into a very very small bowl from a least two feet up. I was told this skill is learned before a woman is married, since she goes around to more than 100 wedding guests and serves each of them.

Thankfully, many of these courses were what she called “snacks” and were vegetarian. Roti and spinach. Nepali dumplings. Cream of cauliflower (and some other veggie) soup. Lentils and curries and tofu and potatoes. Things served in bowls and on leaves, and brought and taken away. The meal ended with saffron rice pudding, and I had the feeling of not being overly full, but having had eaten just the right amount of food. I was told that these meals can go up to 22 courses!

On the way out, I was given a very small terracotta brick with a flower astamangal on it as a souvenir. Astamangals are the 8 lucky signs of Nepali iconography. They are used throughout brick and wood carved architecture. I was given the flower, a sign of purity and pledge of salvation. There seems to be a very deeply ingrained system of omens, auspicious colors (red and black, best together), pujis (rituals to the gods) and other similar mystical elements that are integral to one’s everyday life. It does strike me that so many cultures have very concrete physical religious elements integrated into daily life (Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist). I wonder if we have lost something in relegating this to the corners of our lives or purging it altogether. In the van from the airport, there were some young Mormons from Utah who were talking about marriage and temple blessings, and this, I found, repelled me. (But how different is it really? I’m not sure.)

Back to the restaurant. As we were leaving, I remarked to my friend that I wished I had brought my camera. From her response, I think she would have been moderately horrified if I had. The restaurant had a number of picture-snapping tourists, but she knows the management (to the point where her apron has her name embroidered on it) and as in her mind we were most definitely not tourists, this would have breached the line of decorum.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Enroute Soon

Soon I'll be enroute to Kathmandu.

I never know before I go what internet access will be like. Sometimes it's easy. Most times it's difficult, both because of access points, speed, and available time. If I blog, it's likely that I won't post photos until I'm back, but stay tuned. Maybe it'll be different this time.

Forecast: Happy, 65-70 degrees, no malarial zones.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Letter From Zambia

There was a handwritten letter from Zambia on my desk today, and a pencil sketch of a rhino was in it. The return address is Maximum Security Prison, Death Row Ward. I was curious about the writer. And so I googled him. Here are some excerpts from his letter (in italics) and the story about one of the victims from a prison report as I learned it. (If you’re sensitive, you may want to skip this post.)

Dear Friends,
I am very happy to write you this letter for the first time. I am a Congolese by nationality, and I am on death row here in Zambia. I have got two children from my marriage.

On May 1, 1997, she was on her way to Mansa. She was given a lift in a Land Cruiser, and they were 3 women and 2 men in the vehicle. As they were driving, they were stopped by one man whom the driver recognized. As the driver was exchanging greetings with this man, four men sprung up from the bush, one armed with a gun and the other three with knives.

I am an artist by profession even when I was outside. I know how to make monuments, necklaces, malachite, etc. But it is now very difficult for me to do these here in prison. I do draw sketches and portraits in prison because we are allowed to do so.

These people wanted to grab the keys, but the driver resisted. The man armed with a gun fired in the air, and the driver surrendered the keys. When they got the keys, they ordered all those in the vehicle to come out, and they were taken into the bush while the men who has stopped the vehicle jumped into the vehicle and drove it into the bush.

The only problem is that I do not have materials such as water colors, brushes and drawing paper as they are very difficult for me to find. Now I am very lucky to find your address and I ask you to help me with colors and other drawing materials.

In the bush, the men raped the women and killed the men.

Please please do not forget me. I don’t have any relatives to assist me here in a foreign country. Here I have been for 10 years without a visitor from my relatives.

They assaulted her and raped her again after which she was told to run. She started running. At that time she was naked and bleeding. She walked in great pain, and it was not long then it became dark. When she left the scene, she did not see her friends. When it became dark, she slept by a log.

I do receive letters from my family in Congo. The only problem is for them to come here because they are very poor.

The following day, she continued walking not knowing where she was as it was in the bush. After walking for a long time, she came to a road and she sat by a tree. As she sat under a tree there came a woman from whom she asked for something to wrap herself in, and she also inquired where she was. She asked this woman to escort her to the police station, the woman refused but gave her directions and she walked up to police station.

That is why I call upon you to find me someone who can help me. I have sent this sketch so that you can know I am an artist. But it is not painted. I will paint some if you will send me colors.


Sammy K.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Going to Kathmandu

Today I wanted to put my life aside. I didn’t feel like making decisions about sending relief funds to artisans in Andhra Pradesh, India, who have been flooded out of their homes and watched their personal possessions float away. I didn’t feel like deciding whether to send money to Indonesia to replace sewing machines and batik equipment lost in an earthquake. I wanted a break for the day. But then I realized those artisans couldn’t take a break, so I didn’t.

And then, I remembered...

“I think I’m going to Kathmandu.
That’s really, really where I’m going to.
If I ever get out of here,
That’s what Im gonna do.
K-k-k-k-k-k Kathmandu.
I think that’s really where I’m going to.
If I ever get out of here,
I’m going to Kathmandu.”
I’ve never been there, and I think I’m going to love it so much I won’t want to come home. I’m headed to a great guest house with a garden and fabulous restaurants and an outdoor bar serving Everest Beer. A guest house that “acts as a magnet for mountaineers, pop stars, actors, troubadours and eccentric characters.” Now I’m psyched. Temples. Freak Street. Prayer flags. MoMos (Nepalese dumplings). Monkeys. Surging streets. Beggars. Life.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The World's Children

As life rumbles on under the gray Wisconsin sky, I’ve been thinking about children I meet when I travel.

Homeless boys in Nairobi who watch parked cars to make a little money. Well-fed daughters living with their families. Children laying on mats, starving because of a drought. Girls and boys in overcrowded orphanages. Street kids in Lima sniffing glue. Classrooms full of children in uniforms getting a basic education. Children working in India, bent over open flames shaping hot glass bangles. Boys in the Philippines mixed in with the adult prison population. African girls wearing dirty dresses that no longer zip up the back.

I think about what I’d like to see. A world where children have sufficient food, decent clothes, and a place to live. Where they receive a basic education. Where they need not work before their time. Where they can read and have access to books. Where they can play. Where they do not die of curable diseases. Where they are not put in prison or called on to be soldiers. Where loving adults would watch over them and care for them, so they can be children.

How do we get there? To that world?

(Lest you think I'm too intense, let me add that I'm watching Gilmore Girls and eating M&Ms while I write this.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Goodbye Bangladesh

This morning, my friends in Bangladesh sent email that said:
People cannot move from one place to another due to political unrest. There is no transport except for rickshaw. We cannot use cars. Our sea ports are closed due to political unrest, so we cannot export or import any goods. We cannot go to the office. This is not a suitable time for your visit. It is not safe for any foreigner to take the risk and come to Bangladesh.
And so, instead, I will leave in a week for Nepal.

I really appreciate your support and concern. It means a lot to me.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

So I may not be going tomorrow after all. This is what's happening in Dhaka. I'm working on alternate plans. I'm pretty flexible and strong, but I don't want to walk into this.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cruel, Crazy Bangladesh

I booked a flight on Biman, the Bangladesh Airlines, between Dhaka and Kathmandu. I didn't really want to. Biman is riddled with problems. Corruption. Inefficiency. Losing money on every passenger on every flight. Phantom repairs and phantom parts. It was Biman or flying for many more hours for much more money. The planes are old. The last time I flew Biman, when the plane landed, the luggage compartments flew open, one after the other when we hit the runway. There were only 3 or 4 women on the entire plane.

I find it difficult to be a woman in Bangladesh. (Although I really like the Bangladeshi women I work with there.) There isn't freedom to walk around. I'm looking around the house for clothes that will suitably fully cover my bum. I travel to a lot of countries, and for five years, not one has replaced Bangladesh as the most demanding.

Being in Dhaka can be arduous. It's polluted, suffocating, bursting with people, teeming with poverty. The pressure of so many people slows traffic. The electricity regularly goes out. There is pain and beauty and darkness and light. I hope to find beauty I had not seen before, to see symmetry and radiance.

Sunday update:
"Trains were set on fire, buses stoned and ferry services disrupted as riot police shooting teargas and rubber bullets battled with protesters on the streets of the capital." So, I'll need to do some last-minute decision making and am waiting for news from people in Dhaka.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Today I Flew

From Baltimore to Minneapolis. From Minneapolis to here. Drinks in real glasses in first class. And "Fancy Nut Mix" and pretzels.

But then I arrived. In the snow. With no available taxis. Then I spot my boss. At the rental car counter. Getting a car just to go home. And this saves me the wait.

And the snow makes it easier to go again on Monday. To warm places. My life right now is absorbed by travel. By my next flight. And the flight after that. Here to Detroit to Tokyo to Bangkok. Overnight in Bangkok and on to Dhaka. And then to Kathmandu. And then the whole thing again. But in reverse. Hours and hours and hours on a plane.

Where I Work

So maybe by now you're curious about where I work. And why I travel so frequently. And maybe I want to tell you because it's getting nearer to the holidays, time to do some fair trade, socially responsible holiday shopping. I work here. From where I am in our Maryland office, next to our customer service department, I can hear them on the phone, taking orders.

Meanwhile, it's another day of driving and flying for me, and to my great relief, my passport is now on my desk in my office. Phew!

Did I mention I'm also going to Nepal?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dusty Memories

The last time I was in Bangladesh was several years ago. I remember certain things, but not others. I remember the traffic in Dhaka crawling. It took an hour to get anywhere. I remember that staring is socially acceptable, so whether I was sitting in a van or eating at a restaurant, a crowd of people gathered, just to watch. I remember that the electricity periodically went out, and that the garment factory across the street had a generator so the girls could keep sewing. I remember jumping from a stoop to the back of a pickup because it was the rainy season and the water was about 2 1/2 feet high in a courtyard. I remember riding on an overcrowded ferry to a village in the countryside, where I slept under a tin roof that had holes which looked like stars. I remember that to get my passport checked in the airport that there was no queue, but simply men pushing their way to the desk. I remember accidently eating a hot pepper in a dish, thinking it was a green bean, and ruining a lovely meal with delicacies like thin fried leaves.

One of the things that stands out most in my mind was being in a village with a buyer from The Body Shop in the UK. The women sat down to hear her tell the story of Anita Roddick (the founder of The Body Shop).

Here's how it went.

"There was once a woman with a child. Her husband left her." All the women sigh. They can understand. Except that Anita's husband actually left to go trekking for a year or something, so he didn't really leave her, but the buyer never said that.

"She needed to find a way to make a living, to support her child. So she decided she wanted to start a business. She went to the bank, but the bank would not give her a loan." Again, the women nod. They know the bank won't give loans to women.

"So she went to a friend, and the friend gave her a loan." This, too, makes lots of sense to the women. A good friend will help.

"And she started The Body Shop and is now a millionaire with hundreds of stores." At this point, I'm thinking how the story that came across is colored dramatically, as the women think she's been left, couldn't make a living, and now is rich. The buyer didn't tell about the part where her husband comes back after a year because he's only been trekking.

Then, the buyer started pulling out the samples for the women--small bottles of soaps, hand lotions, and foot creams. Foot creams! In Bangladesh, one does not touch one's feet. So, as she handed them out, she gave the translator elaborate names like Lemon Froufou Foot Cream to be used at night. I heard him translate everything as "Soap," "Lotion," "Lotion," "Soap," "Lotion."

Still no word on the visa, and in typical developing world fashion, when I called the embassy today, the woman at the desk said coming tomorrow was not a good idea, because they didn't know yet whether they'd be open or not. This at 3 pm!

This just in: I can see tracking info on my passport in FedEx and it should be in my office first thing tomorrow morning. Hooray! Now I can sleep tonight and head back to the airport tomorrow without a loop through the DC embassy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MIA Passport

My passport seems to be stuck in the black hole of the Bangladeshi embassy in Washington DC. This is a problem. I have a ticket to leave for Bangladesh on Monday. Yes, Monday.

Can you hear the panic rising in my voice?

The embassy seems to have an unusual number of holidays--both American and Bangladeshi. And embassy personnel seem to take off days around those holidays as well, which occur about once a week. This week's holiday was yesterday--a day off "on the occasion of National Revolution & Solidarity Day." I've tried to call repeatedly, but no one ever picks up or returns calls, and I've listened to The Yellow Rose of Texas, their tinny boppy telephone waiting music all too often.

Maybe I won't be doing the quick turnabout I expected...flying home on Friday and to Bangladesh on Monday.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Old-time Peace and Tranquility"

When a town uses words to describe itself like old-time, tranquil, and quaint, you pretty much know you're not in a happening burb. New Windsor, Maryland, founded in 1797, boasts that it's been "untouched by growth since WWII." Uh huh.

I got into my cheap red rental Chevy Aveo at BWI and drove out in the rain, pulling into town with the radio blaring first with Ricky Martin's La Vida Loca followed immediately by John Lennon's Imagine. (An odd juxtaposition at best.)

I travel light. But somehow, my little bag was locked in the tiny hatch, and after manuevering the key until I had run out of ideas, I finally let my co-workers take a crack at the puzzle. Quandry solved, I dragged myself and my trappings up the stairs, not knowing the coup de grace was still to come.

Dinner. My co-worker leaned over and said, "The Road Kill is really good." I'm not too fussy, but having a meal named road kill doesn't sit well with me. I'll eat goat in the Sahara if need be, but I'm not eating anything called road kill, even if it's not. I mused over the Rattlesnake Bites and Chicken Critter Salad, and decided whatever I ate (which turned out to be a burger with no fancy name), I definitely needed beer.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I Should be Going to Laundrytown

The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. -Douglas Adams
I should be going to Laundrytown, but instead I'm headed to Baltimore. Actually, beyond Baltimore, to rural Maryland. Where we have an office that overlooks a corn field and a cement factory.

This means flights. From here. To Detroit. To Baltimore. And a rental car. From Baltimore. To ruralandia. And conference calls along the way. And deadly boring overheard airport conversations. Mundane. Silly. Unthinking people rushing from here to there, and there to here. Like ants. Pulling luggage.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Chromosomal Mystery

So I was reading Perplexio's blog, about a woman who sat at his table while he was dining alone, and it reminded me of this baffling mystery.

I've noticed in public places, like the dog park or the grocery store, that men share information about whether they've got wives or girlfriends irregardless of whether the situation calls for it or not. It's like they can't not share the information, and it comes burbling out in all sorts of forms.

Here's an example. When I'm walking in the dog park, if my dog starts walking with another dog, generally the humans with them wind up walking together for a while too. In the first 30 seconds, usually a guy will say, "Usually my girlfriend does this." or "My wife buys dog food."

Why? We're walking along doing nothing. Talking about nothing really. I'm not putting out some vibe. But, inevitably, this will tumble out of nowhere.

I appreciate men who are trying to do the right thing and be good partners, but I don't get this. I can't imagine myself saying, "I'm not available" to strangers. For example, I expect that a lot of people reading this blog don't know that I'm married. Generally this information only comes up when it's relevant in some way.

Does anyone have any idea why this happens? Is it men not knowing how to communicate this information? Is it egocentrism? The belief that everyone must want them? What exactly is going on here?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tips for Small Airports Around the World

1. If a small airline comes through the aisle with a booze cart before take off, drink. There’s usually a good reason. The doors on the overhead bins may fly open on take off, and it’ll keep you from being too concerned.

2. If you are called to the cockpit of a plane in India or Bangladesh go. Chances are good that you didn’t know you needed to point out your luggage on the tarmac before boarding, and you’ll see your lone bag directly in front of the plane and need to gesture to get it loaded into the luggage hold.

3. Don’t expect a jetway. Sometimes things are better without one if it’s made of plywood or some other not-so-stable material.

4. If the pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics all stand outside the plane looking at smoke coming from the wing, and then shrug and board, everything should be fine.

5. If you are told to take your baggage onto the plane, look for a meshed area in the back and lob your luggage over the net.

6. If there is only a departure card to fill out when you’re going through immigration and entering a country, fill it out. It’s likely they’ve run out of entry cards, and, well, you know.

7. Do not expect a boarding announcement. When there’s a sudden surge toward the gate, go with the flow.

8. If you enter a country after 6 pm, do not expect to be able to change money. This will make paying for a taxi and tipping at the hotel ridiculously difficult.

9. If you see me in a line to go through immigration, do not follow me. I have a gift for choosing the slowest line.

10. Talk to your cab driver when leaving the airport. This is the best way to get a quick read on all sorts of things in a country. Last month, my driver in Kenya filled me in on the economy, the state of coffee farming, the country’s president, and what had changed in Nairobi since my last visit.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Condom Accommodations

There are two times I remember being in condom accommodations.

Chiang Rai, Thailand: This photo is the happy waving welcome condom at Cabbages and Condoms. The colorful mini-condoms point the way to the resort, restaurant, mini-mart, and restroom. There was a lovely condom family waving along the road, and I regret not having a picture of them--mom and pop condom with little Chanakam and her older brother Aroon, the little condom children still growing up. (OK, so they didn't have names, but they could have.) Cabbages and Condoms is a lovely project that supports rural development--literacy training, HIV/AIDs education, and environmental protection, so it's a good place to stay.

Manila, Philippines:
I checked into a guest house in Manila, and the caretaker said, "You're in the condom room." "Excuse me, what room?" "The condom room, up the stairs and to the left." And so I went up, and sure enough, there was a sign on the door that said "Condom Room." I should say that the guest house was generally for medical aid workers, so it may have made more sense to them. I pushed the door open, and sure enough, the room was decorated with, you guessed it, condom-related stuff. There was a how-to-use-a-condom poster on the wall. And a pair of emergency boxer shorts with lots of pockets filled with condoms. And a wooden ash tray with a big condomless penis. And, I settled into the room for a week, and whenever I came in, I had to announce in a loud voice that I needed the key to the condom room.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Brushes With The Famous

So a lunchtime conversation with my friend and co-worker, wound around, as lunchtime conversations sometimes do, to our brushes with the famous.

She recalled running into Richard Harris coming down some stairs in a public building in Milwaukee. He said, "Hello, pretty lady." (This was before the time when saying this would have been terribly politically incorrect.) She still blushes when she thinks about it and wishes she would have turned around and asked him to coffee.

And I recalled power walking in Lawrence, Kansas, and early in the morning running smack into Matt Dillon, who was filming a movie there, and looking back, I'm probably lucky he didn't sue my ass.

And she remembered Jane Fonda's limp handshake in her Ted Turner days (which doesn't surprise me, because her personality seems to have gone limp fish in those days), and I recalled seeing Joe DiMaggio in the airport in San Francisco, and he most certainly didn't want to be recognized and said so.

And then I remembered seeing Chelsea Clinton with her pals and hip secret service agents on that same trip, through a shelf in a store in San Francisco's Chinatown, telling her friends how her parents used incense in their bedroom (and this is when they were at the White House, pre-Monica), and I thought how I really didn't want to know about anything they did in their bedroom. And she remembered meeting Dan Quayle, and I tease her terribly about saying he was cute. (I mean really!)

And Gloria Steinem interviewed her about a silk project she was working on in Colombia, and me, I met Bob Seeger, well, sort of, because he was drunk and on the floor at a party in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I'm not sure how much you can really meet someone when they're so out of it.

And I stacked my four and measured them against her four, and she wins.

I know if you live in LA or NYC or even Chicago, these brushes are a little bit of nothing. But wherever you live, tell me about your brushes with the famous and the infamous.