-warm water comes out of the Hot Water Tap without heating it up in advance
-toilets flush automatically, scaring me because I'm not expecting it
-the toilet handle is on the left side of the toilet tank
We went x-country skiing as a family last night which was good exercise AND good for curing jet lag. I still fell asleep at 9:30 PM and awoke at 3:30 AM before taking some meds to catch a lil more sleep but I'm glad to be back with this crazy, quirky fam.
-This American Alternative wages a war of words against American Imperialism and claims to despise the British yet in the next breath he espouses brotherly love as the solution to the ills of the world. He spoke of how America is "keeping the world safe for hypocrisy" (rather than democracy) yet I sensed a bit of hypocrisy in what he said.
-This afternoon's glorification of anti-American sentiment concerns me. If Americans disdain their own country, does it become easier for others to justify their attempts to bring America to its knees?
-Haven't we spent enough time groaning about the abysmal foreign practices of America? Haven't recent changes given cause to hope for a brighter future? Am I naive to wish we would begin acting out of hope rather than despair?
Last Seen: November 14, 2008
at Dakshin Chitra Pottery Painting Station near Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Description: Height: 4 inches, Weight: 1 oz, Species: soft toy monkey, Characteristics: red body with purple face and ears
If found, please contact writer of this blog.
Reward: Eternal gratitude from numerous persons.
The photo illustrates another thing that got to me (though not in a feel-good way). I returned from two weeks in Delhi to find pigeons flying through the air and evidence of their residence everywhere. Yeah, that got to me. As I type, my apartment's maintenance man and his wife are cleaning which brings up another thing that gets to me. A neighbor recommended that I pay them Rs 50 (~$1) for their hour of cleaning. They're scraping pigeon poop off my floor and I pay them $1?! On the other hand, my neighbor is the one who will have to live with raised expectations if I begin paying outside of the acceptable pay scale. On the third proverbial hand, they're not doing such a great job cleaning. I would take another photo of the results but they're still here & I think that would be rude. I've asked him to have another go at it. Why does it always bother me to request that a job be completed well here? And why does it bother me that I'm doing my work and can't be bothered by their little boy pulling things from my drawers, jumping on the beds, and running across cleaned linens -- just in need of a lil attention? Just back from a 40 minute hiatus wherein I paid them Rs 50 and spent the rest of the time cleaning what they didn't clean (bird poop on the floor, on my desk, on my printer, on the cooler). I get really ticked off about these things so -- deep breath, Sarah.
Oh, another thing -- I was locked in my apartment this morning. My roommate locked the door when he left, not realizing I was inside. Not so bad except that I could not unlock it from the inside. I used my leatherman to crank the key -- bad idea because the key got twisted and stuck in the lock. I prayed, "Why, God? You know how much I hate Hyderabad at times and now I'm literally locked in here!" I felt the weight of the past two months come over me as I acted out my despair and frustration. I finally freed my key, got the spare key, and unlocked the door.
As my friend, Sara, would sometimes write, India: 1, Sarah: 0. I'll be back to loving it by this afternoon, I'm sure.
I'm visiting my fav Indian city, Delhi, and staying with a friend who has encouraged my coffee-drinking tendencies. I just drank a full mug and am a bit wired. We're feverishly following the upcoming US election and I'm feverishly getting out biz info to make this start-up happen in India. Coffee has only supported me in my quest to feel productive and empowered today. Hmm, maybe I should re-think this foray into the world of caffeine!
second, i've been reading Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss and wanted to include a passage that is cause to pause, especially living as a Western foreigner in a developing country:
"These people could name them, recognize them-the few rich-but Lola and Noni could barely distinguish between the individuals making up the crowd of poor.
Only before, the sisters had never paid much attention for the simple reason that they didn't have to. It was natural they would incite envy, the supposed, and the laws of probability favored their slipping through life without anything more than muttered comments, but every now and then, somebody suffered the rotten luck of being in the exact wrong place at the exact wrong time when it all caught up-and generations worth of trouble settled on them. Just when Lola had though it would continue, a hundred years like the one past-Trollope, BBC, a burst of hilarity at Christmas-all of a sudden, all that they had claimed innocent, fun, funny, not really to matter, was proven wrong.
It did matter, buying tinned ham roll in a rice and dal country; it did matter to live in a big house and sit beside a heater in the evening, even one that sparked and shocked; it did matter to fly to London and return with chocolates filled with kirsch; it did matter that others could not. They had pretended it didn't, or had nothing to do with them, and suddenly it had everything to do with the,. The wealth that seemed to protect them like a blanket was the very thing that left them exposed. They, amid extreme poverty, were baldly richer, and the statistics of difference were being broadcast over loudspeakers, written loudly across the walls. The anger had solidified into slogans and guns, and it turned out that they, they, Lola and Noni, were the unlucky ones who wouldn't slip through, who would pay the debt that should be shared with others over many generations."
And on a completely different note (literally), I was stunned to hear an auto rickshaw playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" as it reversed in my driveway this afternoon.
As the Indians say, I shifted from Delhi to Hyderabad. I'm actually in the process of doing this as I type, having re-sorted the mountains of stuff I kept in Delhi and planning my return flight down to Hyderabad (aka Hbad or HYD). Tonight I get to hang out with the Delhi Dems Abroad crew again. I've been making use of Carolyn's flat as my Delhi office space and crashing with my friend, PC. I've had many wonderful reunions as friends have come to town from the mountains, the South, and just across the neighborhood. Harsh, who lives in Chennai, told me he was having a gift delivered to me in Delhi that was about the shape of a baseball bat. I screamed when Harsh showed up at the door and laughed to think that he likened himself to a baseball bat.
Work is going. It's a challenge to connect with the right folks and to understand the pharmaceutical market but I love challenges!
2. auto drivers (enough said) refuse to give you proper change, even after you stage a sit-in following the ride.
3. you get to boulder at sunset to the sounds of evening prayers during Ramadan
4. you have more new friends after one day than you can count on two hands combined.
5. a complete stranger stops his motorcycle to tell your friend that you should be in hollywood.
back in the day, a church we used to attend invited a liturgical designer to visit in advance of beginning renovations on the church building. the designer took the stage and began, "i want you to dream your wildest dreams for this church." Dad looked at Mom and said, "this is going to be one of the biggest con jobs we've seen."
years ago, a youth organization with which my parents were active planned to hold a meeting to mediate between the youth leader, the local committee, and the leader's manager. Dad left a high-profile dinner that might have lead to more sales for his business to attend the mediation. he anticipated some heated discussion. the committee president got up and began speaking of peace and love. not a single harsh word was spoken.
it's amazing that after 27-1/2 years i'm still hearing new, memorable stories.
i still remember my surprise when i returned to CT years ago and my brother's roommate commented that i seemed to be settling into life in CA. "settling in," i exclaimed. "well, maybe chillin," he cautiously responded. "yeah, i'm chillin but definitely NOT settling in." however, tonight i sit in my all-time favorite bedroom, apparently settling in. hey, maybe it's just for the next few weeks but i'm content to settle in for as long as it lasts. all the same, let me share what sarah's version of "settling in" looks like . . .
it all started with one of the infamous hawes family partees, pictured above. we know how to celebrate together, importing people from europe, asia, and the south. next, the happy hiney kids hit the rocks and somewhere along the line Big Man explained how "something can't be the same and be different." profundity abounds! after that, i was desperate for indian food, so some friends dropped in and we made chapatti & channa. i had an indian party this past weekend & enjoyed lots of indian food, though dad made a run for hamburgers once i informed him i would not be buying hamburgers and hot dogs for the occasion. last week, mom & i embarked on a road trip to visit her friend in michigan, stopping to see my middle school teacher and pick up a friend, Chris (pictured), along the way. we scared ourselves in flint while getting gas, learning later that the city has one of the highest crime rates in the country. we stared in amazement at the miles of chemical manufacturing plants in midland. & mom & i rocked out to "california" on the drive home. it's been wicked busy but fun the entire time. i look forward to upcoming trips to dartmouth, the hamptons, & rumney in the next two weeks, so keep posted for more stories!
The title of today's post comes from my current foray into the world of colon cleansing. I drank a glass of charcoal today, all in the name of improved health. My teeth felt gritty afterward and I'll ingest in the capsule form hereafter, but I needed to determine how many capsules comprised one teaspoon of activated charcoal. And that's how I ended up drinking charcoal.
Now for some culture shock fun. Since returning, I have likened India to a gopher, a basketball poll, a light bulb, a window pane, and probably many other random objects I cannot presently recall. I have strange urges to embrace random Indians I see walking in the parking lot at Home Depot. I post pictures of a chat wallah in Lodi Gardens to remember Delhi. I successfully drove around the block and to a store but I still have an impulse reaction to correct my family when they begin driving on the right side of the road. For that matter, I have to picture myself sitting in my friend's car in Delhi to recall what side the driver sits on in India so I can then reverse that to determine where the driver sits in America. My brother laughs when my head seems disconnected from my neck, wobbling to and fro in nonchalant agreement. I do a double take when I see "Connecticut" written somewhere (which happens to be EVERYWHERE in the state of Connecticut). I become exhausted after 10PM (tonight being an exception) and rise at 6AM, despite my best attempts at sleeping in. Here's a list of other "shocking" experiences:
-People probably do not understand that "ji" means "yes" in Hindi. That doesn't stop me from saying it.
-From the airport, Mom, my bro, and a friend of mine from CA went to a Spanish karaoke restaurant. I realized how assertive, to put it nicely, I have become in service establishments as I explained how I wanted tap water (but soda water if I had to pay for still water anyway), no olives on the salad, seating far away from the karaoke singers, a Diet Pepsi to keep me awake, etc. I was relieved to drink a fresh lime soda which tastes pretty much the same here as it does in India.
-The "organic" method of recycling is gone. Now I have separate my garbage into the appropriate recycling receptacles because it will not be done by people picking through my trash.
-Drivers here shut off their bright lights for oncoming vehicles.
-I have to wear a seat belt and traffic rules are no longer optional. Yeah, I actually have to stop at red lights and stop signs.
-I still avoid drinking water in the shower even though it's now clean water. I also think twice before rinsing a utensil in the sink then reusing it without thoroughly drying it first.
-When I first returned, I assessed the toilet situation to determine if I would use toilet paper, a hose, or a water jug. That's before it occurred to me that there's toilet paper in every toilet here.
-I miss being treated well. I'm ashamed to admit this because I think this royal treatment comes, at least partly, as a result of my white skin. As I fumbled for proper change in Grand Central Station in New York City (seriously, I don't recognize nickels and dimes as quickly as I used to), I sensed the cashier's impatience. I realized that most businesses I patronized in Delhi were extremely patient with me, whereas here I'm just another American.
-While I'm at it, I miss Aunty's chapattis and paranthas (& the people that go along with that too, of course!).
-Daily, Dad asks, "So, Sarah, is it good to be home?" While I have many homes, it is good to be home here!
on my auto ride this morning, my mind raced through the items already residing on my list then i realized that i've already recorded them so why not enjoy the sites and sounds around me, instead? i vacillate between exhaustion and extremely high energy. unfortunately, the high energy levels tend to kick in at 1am. perhaps that's the result of my body subconsciously preparing me to shift times zones.
i haven't listed anything out for you recently, so here's a top (fill in the blank) list:
- i've been to bangalore, delhi, & hyderabad all in the past week and loved each of them
- i'm ditching the "buy presents" plan, (remember: simplify). i hope my presence is presents enough.
- i was involved in a high speed race to the airport monday which involved my friend jumping out of the vehicle and urging a bus to make way for us. it did.
- i'm listening to a david crowder band cd right now and determined to finally make it back to church tonight after a lengthy, travel-induced hiatus. oh, i just realized the cd has been looping for 10 min, waiting for me to select play.
- i'm planning to return at the end of summer so i get to pack up & store lots of stuff with a friend
- i'm in exhaustion mode now, so i think i'll stop
this is the first in a potential (currently undetermined) series titled "india's like . . ."
during our endpoint meeting last week in corbett national park (where we observed a liger with our very own eyes!), we discussed what we were NOT looking forward to facing in the US. topping my list was the unavoidable question to be posed by many well-meaning friends: "How was India?" you, my dear readers, can help me in advance by cleverly disguising your curiousity with other words. and i am planning how to stage my own inside joke. i will begin my answer with, "india's like (then fill in the blank with the first thing that comes to mind)." when practicing with a friend, she began, "india's like a bubble bath." the onus is then on her to make the connection so the inside joke goes undetected.
i KNOW, you don't have to tell me, how cruel this is in the face of genuine interest. but imagine, "india's like a gecko." this was my favorite of the day and put a smile on my face as i forced myself to make the mental leap -- "india's like a gecko, darting in so many directions that you can barely follow it. fearful at first, i came to recognize the innocence and intricacy of this crazy creature . . ."
1. Setting Altimeter: current reading: 12,145 ft/3701m, 86.5F/30.1C (which decreased to 67.5F/19.7C INSIDE the office), 1013 mb/h/Pa
2. Reviewing next three weeks’ activities with Freya: includes research on local geology, first aid training, evaluation of home stays, research on health care in area, evaluation of current local handicraft marketing
3. Filling in the infamous Med List to include uses and dosage for meds
fyi, I'm finally in the remotest corner of the world I have ever visited and will post pic's that will make you weep (maybe) when I return to non-hippiedom civilization where the air's smoggy and it's hotter than heck.
My crew of reluctant campers sat silent during their first solo experience, a 30 minute moment repeated daily. I noticed lights come to life, suspended mid-air. One blink, then another, then three blinking simultaneously. Fireflies synchronized – could I attune to others as effortlessly as these?
I took care walking through the coffee plantation for cows were wont to leave their paddies in the middle of paths. I ventured across one such paddy during the first week of camp and rediscovered it during the second week, turned completely into fertilized dirt! Amazing what happens when nature takes its course.
My friends make fun of me when I climb because I approach the rock with such stern consternation and focus, as though preparing to meet my end right there. Lo and behold, when I listen to the rock and allow myself to smile as I climb, the rock sings back in appreciation. It really IS about the journey if I let it be.
Heat lightening shattered the sky on one night out. The moon hid behind the clouds, causing the effect of light to be dramatic and immediate. A light display put on by a masterful Artist intent upon showing how deeply He loves His own . . .
And that was the moment at which I lost it. I started grinning; I glanced at the runner and he looked back as though nothing was amiss; I started silently giggling. I glanced to the other side and my neighboring ellipticalist was grinning back with a knowing look. I closed my eyes and pictured sobering, terrible scenes to control myself. I had flashbacks to first grade when I would catch the eye of a friend and we'd start giggling uncontrollably. The only difference between then and now is 20 years. Some things never change.
Now, on to the snowballs. I was SO wishing my brother was in my kitchen this morning because my freezer spontaneously defrosted, leaving piles of slushiness that I began shoveling out, packing into balls, and throwing into the sink. It would have been SO much better if I could have taken target practice. Of course, as usual, I would have been the better (read: more frequently hit) target but it's always fun to instigate these things with my siblings.
Then there was this amazing poi performance, aka fire dancing. Roshini's swinging up a royal celebration in this pic and she was followed by Xav and Kutts. Imagine a rooftop performance, accompanied by the tunes of DJ G and the warm Delhi breeze! Brian and I commented on how other-worldly the experience was. Like I said, my friends know how to have fun.
Oh, so if you scroll down a few posts, you'll read about my camp experience. This was the same crew -- all kids at heart. I'm thoroughly looking forward to spending a couple weeks with them this month as Program Leaders at camp. The poi performance was followed by cake at midnight, once my birthday officially began. Note to self and others: when in India on your birthday someone offers you cake to eat, accept the bite and offer them a bite as well. I overlooked this time-honored tradition, but I think my friends forgave me.
After our fun celebration, a few of us escaped the city madness for a lovely evening at Neemrana Fort-Palace. Built in 1464, this amazing gem played backdrop to a magical evening of watching lightening storms roll across the plains of Rajasthan, taking tea on the rooftop terrace, sipping wine while discussing life, taking a late night dip in the infinity pool, and enjoying delectable granola at breakfast. Fit for a princess!
It's Saturday and in every place I've ever lived, certain Saturdays have been devoted to top to bottom cleaning. I turned down two concerts and a fashion show to keep with that tradition today. And, I'll admit it, my place was in desperate need of a thorough cleaning.
As I began scrubbing away (with rubber gloves since I was in for the long haul), the mali or gardener appeared to care for the potted plants (see patio photo two posts down). He commented on how I was working. Next, Sapna, my landlord's maid, appeared and inspected my work, offering suggestions for how I could improve my cleaning techniques. Sapna offered to help but I declined her offer since I gain therapeutic value from cleaning. I heard voices outside my door and realized Sapna had left the door open and my neighbors were peering in. One of the girls, about my age, came in and seemed shocked that I clean my own flat. I explained that I keep an irregular schedule so it's easier to not have someone come to clean. Then I shared how I have always cleaned my own place and feel a little uncomfortable having someone else clean for me.
I am no longer irritated by these responses like I was during the experience. I wonder if I've lost standing in the eyes of those that watched me because I was engaging in a task commonly left for servants. I wonder why I have this foolish pride that insists that I clean my own place because I will clean better than anyone else (save my mother). I wonder why this social structure is so rigid and if I can really break barriers, as a foreigner. I wonder.
Tonight is the first time in 12 days that I have an evening to myself. I miss being surrounded by close friends, deep fellowship, and challenging conversations. A friend's e-mail today reminded me to desire fellowship with my dear LORD before any other kind of fellowship. We are made for community and this deep yearning expresses a divine aspect of our character as humans. It is easier to run into the arms or living room of a close human rather than bow before an unseen God. But from whence cometh the love that I bring to those close humans? And Who is deserving of my very best?
i've been working in delhi for one month and need a break so i'm heading to the mountains tomorrow night for a week of training with youreka, an educational organization whose offerings include outdoor summer camps for students. i hope to spend a couple weeks with them this summer. for the next week, i'll play games and learn about youreka's educational philosophy and approach.
now, let me share about today's activities. i love the ngo with which i'm working, i love my flexible work arrangement that allows me to work from home on my own schedule, i love my neighborhood, & i love my flat. where else would i get to watch a daily parade from my doorway? my sis was concerned i would be isolated working remotely. little did she know that the maid who lives downstairs, Sapna, would make regular appearances at my door, sometimes accompanied by the gardener. today, the generator repairman returned and commenced sawing or sanding something or other. i was placed on the energy efficiency watchlist for leaving my hot water heater (aka geyser) on for too long AND for leaving my patio light on at night. yes, i accept responsibility for the geyser. i should have taken a shower long before Sapna asked me to turn the heater off. the light, however, is NOT my fault. my friend turned it on as she left to catch an early morning train so it was not on all night. i g-chatted about this experience with a friend, thinking how amusing it would be to align my version of these various conversations with Sapna's version. i fear i've agreed to things in Hindi that i wouldn't knowingly agree to. hand signals work wonders but there's still only so much that can be communicated in this way. pictured here is the infamous patio, the site of laundry washing, gardening, generator sawing, Hindi/English intrigues, and sun soaking when my bedroom turns into an ice box.
We began at Jallianwala Bagh, a garden that was the site of a 1919 massacre of Indians. British troops fired on the crowd that had gathered to commemorate the religious new year, leading to people throwing themselves into a well to escape the relentless fire of bullets. After a lunchtime intermission at the Langar Canteen at the Golden Temple where meals are offered free of cost to anyone, we continued to the Indo-Pak border crossing known as the Wagah Border. The atmosphere was festive, replete with music, dancing, and cheering. Only after my initial excitement did I realize that the crowd was also jeering at the Pakistanis across the border. Indian soldiers held back the crowd of rowdy boys quickly becoming vengeful men. We left early, sad to see hatred propagated. Our final destination, the Golden Temple, has its own horrid history dating back only to 1984. Then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, ordered Indian troops to invade the Sikh temple where suspected terrorists had been hiding. Gandhi's Sikh bodyguard assassinated the PM shortly thereafter which led to anti-Sikh rioting in Delhi, resulting in the deaths of up to 4,000 innocent Sikhs.
So where does that leave us now? For me, these visits served as a reminder that the world we live in today faces very real threats to peace. Whether religiously-based like the attacks on Sikhs and, more recently, attacks on churches in Orissa, or racially-based like the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and, more recently, Darfur and now Chad, when will it end? How can we enable an end to grievous devastation and heart ache? I pray that we examine our hearts to determine how to promote righteousness.
ALSO, if you consider yourself a potential consumer of my NGO's products which currently include food products and community-based ecotourism in the Spiti Valley of the Indian Himalayas, please take 10 seconds and complete a survey. I am supporting my Indian NGO through the branding process. As part of that, we are determining what brand names appeal to a broad (Indian and international) audience of likely consumers. You can also suggest names in the comment box. I will be collecting results over the next week or so.
Thanks so much for your help!
First off, let me take the liberty of disclosing too much information by telling you that, ONCE AGAIN, I'm sick with diarrhea. I'm truly sick of, well, being sick over here -- the sulphur burps, frequent trips to the toilet, feeling my stomach gurgling. Do I REALLY need to use filtered water to wash my toothbrush? My WFR-certified, saver-of-lives, Indian Nepali friend was in town this week and even he encouraged me to take precautions so maybe I'll rethink my water standards.
On another note, the siblings made an impromptu trip to India and we had a blast, as you can see. Tim fell through a sewage grate, Lisa was sleepy at 10AM and wide awake at 2AM, and I tried to keep to my itinerary (like that was gonna happen!), but those all became sources of much amusement after the fact. Monk's role as my right-hand monkey was eclipsed by Lisa, who's covering him up in the photo. Not that Monk's been forgotten, but it's much more gratifying to talk to people that reply.
I updated my pictures with shots dating back to November, including trips to Delhi, Dehra Dun, Kullu, Shimla, Mumbai, Jaipur, Agra, back to Delhi, and back to Palampur. I'll post some photos soon of life in Delhi because it's official -- I'm living in Delhi for the next few months as I begin work with my new NGO, Muse. I suppose all this excitement is what makes minor inconveniences like diarrhea bearable. Plus, I have a very reliable internet connection since I will be working from home which lends me a certain amount of comfort.