Wishing you a safe, happy and spooky Halloween.
Today we had an extra person in the barista department so instead of going home early (again. Hey, I took two weeks off, I need every penny I can get.) I helped in the grocery department. I went through the dairy case to check for expired product. Fun times. I only lost a finger tip to frostbite so it’s all good.
Anyway, as I was taking away the soon to expire milk, I passed an older gentleman. He was shuffling along and as I approached him I smiled and said hello, as I do with all customers. He stopped right in his tracks, his eyes got wide, and a huge grin spread across his face. His hands flew up in a gesture towards me and he exclaimed,
“Oh my gosh there is a santa claus!”
Aaaaand I died.
I walked to the back and tried not to snort too much in my giggle fit. One of my coworkers was back there and obviously asked what happened since I was practically doubled over laughing. I told him what the old dude said and he suggested that maybe the guy was hitting on me.
The thing is, this guy was old enough to be my great grandfather. It was just the most random thing to say ever, especially when accompanied by the look of shock and happiness on his face.
I don’t really know what to make of what I assume was a compliment. I do know I seemed to make him happy just by walking around the corner and smiling. And considering the fact that I have tears of joy streaming down my face as I write this, I’d say he did the same for me.
Our last full day in India we spent seeing some of the incredible sites around Hyderabad. As a wrap up to my posts about the trip I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from that day.
It’s kind of Hyderabad’s Taj Mahal. Really beautiful. Our host told us it was built to commemorate some king’s wife. However, Google tells me it was built in thanks to Allah for a plague ending… So maybe they’re both right?
Really fascinating. This fort had so much history. It was also rather sad because there was graffiti all over the place. There was obviously very little respect for preserving the history that was there. It was still so interesting to walk around in though. It was huge!
Our whole group.
It was also incredibly hot and there were like 10,000 stairs. I only exaggerate slightly. Coke never tasted so good.
Getting to the top was worth the hot climb though. The view was beautiful.
The whole trip was absolutely a dream come true. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Very rarely does a trip live up to your expectations, especially when those expectations have been building for 12 years. This trip was exactly what I wanted and what I didn’t know I needed. I became a stronger, braver person. I learned so much about myself and my eyes were opened to a whole new aspect of my world. I will never view things the same way.
I will never forget the sites, smells, tastes and noise of India. More than that though I will never forget the way it made me feel. India has a very special place in my heart. I can’t wait to go back someday.
We were really lucky as far as creepy crawlers were concerned. I don’t remember seeing a spider or snake the entire time I was there. Our time certainly wasn’t without some critters though.
The absolute worst were the mosquitoes. Oh my freaking god the mosquitoes. They were awful. What was worse was our contact didn’t quite understand our need for mosquito nets. We had deet but that only lasts so long. Or Indian mosquitoes are immune to deet. Or a combination of both. Anyway, they made me occasionally lose my mind just a little.
What? It kept the bugs away from my face instead of me constantly swatting them away like an insane person.
One thing that became my best friend while I was there was their bug zapper.
I enjoy killing mosquitoes way too much for a normal/sane person.
Mosquitoes weren’t the only visitors in our house though. One day I was sitting on the floor eating dinner when a mouse scampered across the floor. Now, I’m not terrified of mice or anything but it was under the fridge and right next to the kitchen so I figured they’d want to do something about it. I mentioned it to them and their response was:
Them- “Was it a big one?”
Me -“Well, no.”
Them- “Oh ok, that’s fine then”
Me- (thinking) okaaaay….
So yeah, mouse in the house? Totally normal. Apparently. As long as it wasn’t big, no problem. Awesome.
And lastly, this picture I took specifically for my twitter bff Mandy. Mandy, I couldn’t see one of these little buddies and not think of you. This guy was just above my bed. You’re welcome. Love, Me.
One of the strangest things about being in India was a sort of instant celebrity status. I’m not sure if it was having such light skin in a place where almost no westerners travel. We spent very little time in touristy areas. That combined with India’s obsession with light skin (It’s actually kind of sad. So many girls asked how they could get skin that looked like mine. They have such smooth, tan, beautiful skin that most Americans lie in tanning beds for ages trying to get. Why can’t we be happy with what we have? That’s a whole different post though.) we were quite the oddity.
This led to much waving and staring. We would sit on the balcony and talk while children across the street would watch us and wave. When we’d wave back they’d giggle and get so excited. I kind of felt like a monkey in a zoo. The entire time we were there they never got tired of waving at us.
Later we got a note from this girl saying how much she’d like to meet us and asking us to fill out a question book with our autographs.
We later went over to the note writer’s house for tea.
They were so happy to meet us. The way the little girl acted when she met me was kind of how I acted when I met Robin Williams. It was so strange to make someone that happy just by meeting them.
Another time a whole group of kids came to ask for our autographs and for us to answer questions like our favorite colors, food, musicians etc.
When we went to speak to a group of youth they all wanted our autographs as well. Here’s a video of me signing their hands with my name.
It was neat that one of the kids grabbed the camera from me so we got this clip of both of us with the youth.
When we were out seeing the sights in and around Hyderabad we had more of a celebrity type of experience. We were constantly being stopped and asked to have our pictures taken with different people.
Even the police wanted pictures with us. Not that we would have felt comfortable saying no.
I mean, look at those guns.
It was actually hard to see things because every few seconds someone would stop us for a picture. I can understand now how celebrities get body guards and deny taking photos with people. It’s kind of exhausting.
But I’m not going to lie, all that attention? I kind of loved it.
Besides fulfilling my lifelong dream of traveling there, the main reason we went to India was to meet our contact. We got along very well because he’s a big dreamer as well as us, perhaps even more if that’s possible. The sheer amount that needs to be done can be completely overwhelming. There’s just so much need. He has a lot of big ideas and I think with lots of help from both the connections he has in India and the states we can actually start to make a difference.
One major thing that will help is his cousin. You know, the one we stayed with. While we were there they had a big political meeting. After much yelling and shouting and clapping we were invited upstairs and were surprised to be invited to sit down with the leaders.
Then we watched as our host was appointed as (from what I understood) a sort of state representative.
Then we were even included in part of the ceremony.
Receiving a dot and being fed a sweet was part of the ceremony. Very fascinating to be able to be a part of.
We then had pictures taken with the whole big group.
This picture ended up in the paper in a report about the election. Or rather in 7 or 8 papers. Then the next day several papers called and interviewed M about why we were there and ran a story just about us in just as many papers.
As a result the chief of police wanted to have a meeting with us.
We also got a tour of the station. During the tour one of the officers made sure to emphasize that they no longer beat or torment their prisoners. Um, that’s good to know. Very modern of them.
I’m not sure whether it was because of the article in the paper or just because of our light skin but we became very popular later in the trip. Like, celebrity popular. But those stories can wait until my next post. *smile*
From my experience, Indians are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met. Our host family immediately embraced us and by the end I felt like I had become an extended relative. They were wonderful.
Joel and I with our contact, A and his cousin M. M is a politician but I’ll write more on that later.
The house we stayed in was M’s with his wife, mother and three kids.
The kids adored us despite what it may seem like by the look on the littlest one’s face in this picture.
One other semi- member of the family?
Aws! Ok, so it was a stray that had decided to make their front yard it’s home. Joel about killed me for picking it up but it was so freaking adorable! As far as I can tell I did not catch rabies, fleas or lice from it so yay.
The kids, Joel and I had a ton of silly fun.
My phone was fascinating to them. I guess that’s pretty much a universal thing.
One of their favorite things was playing hand clap games. They taught me a couple in their language. Don’t ask me to repeat them back now, I don’t remember. They were fun though.
Their mom braiding their very long beautiful hair for school.
I loved being their “Auntie” and treasure all the happy moments I got to share with them. Our flight out was early in the morning so I figured I had to say my goodbyes the night before. We were scheduled to leave the house at 5am and I was surprised that everyone was waking up while we were. But every one of them got up, showered, got dressed and piled into a tiny five-seater car. For the record it was Joel, Me and the wife with a child each on our lap. Then M, A and one of the pastors we met with in the front. In case you weren’t counting that’s NINE people in a car the size of a Geo Metro. I was afraid that little car wasn’t going to make it. It definitely bottomed out more than once. We did though and they parked and went as far into the airport with us as they could.
We were very lucky to have met them. I’m so glad that I now have an Indian family waiting for me whenever we get to go back. I hope it’s soon.
So, I’m not quite a year into my 30 by 30 list and already I’m making changes. Not a huge one though.
A long time ago a friend of mine linked to a list of 100 books on Facebook. They were all classics that (in my opinion) everyone should at least know about if not have read. It was fun seeing which ones I’d already read and I was a little ashamed at the amount that I have yet to read.
When I started my 30 by 30 list I knew I wanted to give myself a reading goal. I love to read but lately I’ve been too occupied with mindless television to pick up a book. I tend to like to do 5 things at once (Joel always gives me grief about the number of tabs I always have open. Apparently it slows the computer down. Whatever.) and I can have a show playing in the background while I chat on twitter, check my email and read blogs. If I read I have to give the book my full attention. Focusing on just one thing is actually something I should work on more often. I’m quite the scatterbrain lately.
So, when I googled top 100 books and top 100 movies the best ones I found were Time’s. I read through the entire movie list because I added all that I could into my Blockbuster queue. However, I just basically copy and pasted the book list. As things went along and I tried to start going through the list I realized that it wasn’t the list I had been thinking of. I tried searching for the other list but other than reading through a year or two of my friend’s Facebook wall (um, stalker much?) I couldn’t figure out a way to find it.
The thing is, I didn’t just want a list of novels. I’m sure the novels on Time’s list are fantastic but I only recognized a handful. My goal wasn’t to read a bunch of books that I’d never heard of, my goal was to catch up on all the books I thought I should have already read.
So, I finally found the list I was looking for thanks to my resident Google guru. I swear Joel is like the search engine whisperer. I can search for hours and find nothing and in 3 minutes he has what I was looking for and more. It definitely is never annoying.
I don’t consider this cheating since this was the list I intended to read in the first place. I’m still going to cross a 100 books of a list, it’s just a different list than I originally posted. I think this particular list is a lot more comprehensive. It includes non fiction as well which I very rarely read.
I already have read a few of the books. Others I’m almost positive I’ve read but I’m leaving them uncrossed because I want to be sure. I read quite a few abridged books growing up so I want to make sure I read the full versions.
I’m actually excited about this list, much more so than I was about the other one. I feel like I’ll be a much more well rounded person when I finish.
If you missed yesterday’s post you should definitely check it out for more pictures and stories about the village we visited. Today Joel finally put together a short video of the actual activities I did with the kids. Like I said, I didn’t really have a plan when we got there because I wasn’t aware we were going to be in charge of doing an actual program. I knew we were going to spend some time with them but no one informed us of exactly how until we were in front of them. Then it was basically:
A – “Hey, I’m going to leave now. You’re in charge”
Us – “Uuuuummm….”
I ended up just picking random songs and games to teach them. Next time I’ll definitely have several activities planned out for them to do instead of just winging it, if for no other reason than the stress of feeling put on the spot was less than fun.
However, once I got in a groove I had all kinds of fun…
I think the kids did too.