Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Culture Shock

After my last entry we were still in Vyara.  Since I was going to be on a train for 10 hours on my birthday the Indians took me out on the 3rd to celebrate my birthday.  They let me drive Sunil’s jeep and I have to say that driving in India is not something I hope to do anytime soon.  For starters you’re sitting on the wrong side of the car and you’re driving on the wrong side of the road.  On top of that you have to dodge other cars, cows, dogs, chickens, goats, bikes and pedestrians.  After that we went and got some food and then some drinks.  I got mango soda and they all got root beer.  We got back to the hotel around midnight and I had to pack and I will hopefully get the best birthday present of all.

So I got to spend my birthday on a train from 5:30 to 16:30 followed with a three-hour car ride.  But it was definitely worth the journey.  We were picked up at the train station by Kiron, Nalini and their son Daniel.  We got our things loaded onto the car and took off for Lasina.  We got to the home around 20:00 and the boys came running when they heard the horn honk to open the gate.  We were greeted by some boys who looked like they were about to rob a bank.  They came out wearing sweatshirts and ski masks that covered the whole head.  But it wasn’t too long after that before I purchased a ski hat of my own.  But it was late and we were tired from the long journey so we went to sleep.  I was very anxious for what the next day in store for me, because I will be doing it for the next 4 ½ months.

Well I was awoken at 5:30 to the sound of one of the older girls, Sonali, sweeping in front of my room.  I wasn’t a fan of this at first but she soon became my alarm clock.  She was the best alarm clock I’ve ever had, always on time, it had no snooze button and you couldn’t ignore it.  That first morning I watched the youngest kids having devotion followed by breakfast.  Next the kids have study time where they sit in rows outside on the ground and do their homework.  Some of the kids taught me their secret handshake.  After study time it is lunch time, at 9:30.  During lunch I watched two girls make two beautiful chalk drawings.  After that we walked with the kids to school and when we got back I hung out with the nursery, which I’ll be helping out with while I’m here.  At 15:00 I wandered into the kitchen and Mommy put me to work making the dough for chapatti.  This was not an easy task, the other boy made it look so easy.  I am basically just mixing the flour with the water.  This type of job would normally call for an industrial sized blender but all I had was my hands.  I don’t hang out around the kitchen at 15:00 anymore.  When the kids got back from school I found the two girls that made the drawings and I showed them the one they made in front of the girls hall.  I showed them the one they made in front of guesthouse where Lu, Doug and Cleveland were staying.  And then I showed them in front of my room but there was nothing to show.  They must have understood the point I was making because they came back not only with chalk, but with five other girls as well.  These seven girls made an even better one than the other two, complete with color.  It’s good to be me.  At dinner one of the girls was staring at me and when I caught her she signaled me to come sit by her.  So I picked up my plate and sat on the ground and ate dinner.  Since I was going native, I also decided to not use a fork.  So I cupped my hand and put it in my bowl of curry and splashed it over my rice.  In India, everything is finger food.  I now know what I should have told my Mom when she yelled at me for playing with my food.  I should have said, “I’m just practicing for being a missionary to India.”

Now I could go into as much detail for everyday I’ve been here but I haven’t got the time.  We participated in the largest water fight in Indian history which only widened U.S.-Indian relations.  Luckily the U.N. got Lu, Doug and Cleveland back to America safely, I was not so fortunate and have been taken captive.  We’ve visited two villages so far which was awesome.  The villages are something else.  I can’t even begin to describe or imagine living in those conditions.  I have eventually gotten to know every kid here along with their names.  I have five groups I teach, yes teach, English to.  Imitation is the greatest form of flattery so I imitate the kids all the time, especially Karishma, who is the shiest girl I’ve ever met.  I always catch her looking at me and then she gets really embarrassed and hides behind a tree or just covers her face, so I began copying her.  When she hid from me, I hid from her.  I also started imitating the way the girl’s laugh, which only makes them laugh more.  It’s funny when the kids try to imitate me.  When they see me “glaring” at them, some of the kids will try and glare back but will always start laughing.

Well the kids are the most amazing kids I’ve ever met.  I have more stories, pictures and videos than I know what to do with.  I am flying high once again, I busted through the culture shock wall that had me in bed and the bathroom for a couple of days and am now focused on what I’m here to do.  I can’t wait to share more with you all soon.  Can’t wait, tomorrow is Christmas.  Have a safe and merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Here is the address exactly how it should appear. Aubrey I can't wait for those cookies.

Kiron Gaikwad,
Behind Kinetic Showroom,
Giri Nagar,
Yavatmal - 445001

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

India so far

Well our flights combined were about 18 hours.  We had a nine-hour layover in London and we were able to get out of the airport.  We didn’t hangout much because it was raining.  We did manage to get a pint and some fish and chips at pub.  We had yet another red eye flight to Mumbai topped off with a seven-hour car ride to Vyarra, or five hours in Indian time.  We got picked up by three of Cleveland’s friends: Kishor, Vinay and Sunil.  Sunil is the best driver I’ve ever seen, it makes me realize why they make such good taxi drivers.  He drove us out of the city in what I can only describe as the most chaotic experience I’ve ever had.  There were cars, buses, motorcycles, semi trucks, pedestrians and animals everywhere.  Everyone is honking and I thought we were going to die multiple times.  During the drive I noticed the extreme poverty the people live in, and because of the caste system, are content with their conditions.  But this extreme poverty only made the beautiful colors of India stand out even more.  The women wear the most beautiful and colorful saris.  It is very stunning.  India is a county that appeals to all five senses in a way that really has to be experienced.

Now the drive through the country is no exception to the chaos.  I dozed off for a bit after lunch only to awake to the sound of horns, pedestrians all over the road and the headlights of a two-ton semi truck heading right at us.  We also seemed to be the only car in a hurry.  We were flying down the road, narrowly missing everything.  But we made it safe and I am very thankful for that.  The experiences I’ve had already are incredible.  The men who have been taking us to these villages and the villagers are amazing and very beautiful with amazing stories.  The men are incredible men of God.  They are all educated and could be working in the major cities making good money but instead are using their education and skills to bring education to the children of their villages.  It’s simply amazing their commitment and the heart they have for these children and I am very thankful to be apart of their movement.

Nicole you are right, I am eating some great food and I love you.  So far we have eaten like kings, we haven’t had a bad meal yet.  We have been treated to some excellent homemade meals and some restaurant meals.  When we go to restaurants we order tons of food.  We order enough food to feed about nine people which ends up only costing us about $20.  It’s ridiculous how much food we buy and every meal has been delicious.  My favorite so far has been the breakfast we had Sunday at Kishor’s house.  We had the best eggs I’ve ever had and some deep fried leaf wraps.

The city we’re staying at, Vyara, and the villages we’ve been going to not tourist spots.  They are deep in the heart of India.  This being the case, everywhere we go people stare at us.  It’s a little unnerving because there are radical Hindus out there who don’t like Westerners.  Whenever I start walking through a village or Vyara by myself, Vinay tells me to come back.  Whenever we go through the city, the beggars always find us.  They come right up to, and sometimes they follow us back to our hotel, asking for money the whole way there.  It’s kind of ironic because if it weren’t for their religion, they wouldn’t be so poor.  Kishor told me that he hasn’t seen a Christian begging yet.

I have a lot to be thankful for.  My health has been good.  My tummy was still a little woozy from Wednesday night so I had a lot of “special drink” on the flight and it really helped.  I have tons of stories and pictures already and I can’t wait to share with all of you.  And as soon as I find out the mailing address of where I’m going to stay I’ll post it.  Leschi students you can write me letters and I will write back to you.  Aubrey, I can’t wait to get those peanut butter cookies for Christmas but I am going to want some fresh ones on my return.  But I don’t even want to think about returning.

Also, for those of you not on Facebook, send me and e-mail if you want to receive a link to view the photos I post from India.