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Month: October 2010 (Page 2 of 4)

The one where my heart is stolen

The biggest reason we went to India was to meet with our contact and find out how we can help him with the school he’s starting in a remote village. The village was 4-5 hours from where we were staying and a good hour and a half (on a one lane, bumpy, half paved mountain road) from the nearest small town.

This made for the bumpiest, scariest ride of my life. Especially when it was night. It’s a miracle we didn’t die. No really.

Scary ride, but really pretty views.

The village is in the middle of a valley. They actually have some electricity, which surprised me but everything is very basic.

The biggest problem in this village and those around it is the water. It’s not safe to drink but since it’s all they have they’re slowly being poisoned by it.

The best part was, of course, meeting the kids.

This is in front of the school with most of the children who attend. Aren’t they sweet in their little uniforms?

No pencils, no books, no desks. Just a tiny room, some chalk and eager minds, willing to learn whatever was being taught.

Our contact didn’t really tell us what to expect before hand. We got there, he introduced us to them and basically said to entertain them for awhile. And left. We had no plan whatsoever. Kind of way scary. I made it work though by teaching them several different songs, games and telling them a couple stories.

Can you guess what song I was teaching them in this picture?

They seemed to have a good time. And I? Fell in love. How could I not?

There’s so much to be done still. We’ll post more about the specifics of the project on HelpSend.us in the near future.

(not so) Wordless Wednesdays: The food

The food. Oh the food. It was very different. Most of it was really tasty. Some things I still crave. A couple things triggered my gag reflex. It was tough to eat something with a smile on my face so not to offend the incredibly nice people who made it for us.

This is where we ate dinner most of the time.

My very favorite thing about the food though was eating with my hands. So fun.

The key is using your thumb to push the food into your mouth.

Street vendor food. Yes, that is a fried egg. It was actually delicious. Bonus: it didn’t kill me. Win!

My favorite food story: The main reason we went to India was to meet a new contact, A. A has a lot of big visions for ministry there but the main thing he’s working on is starting a school and getting clean water to a remote village in the mountains. When he was telling us about the food there he said that it’s too spicy for even him to eat. Remember when I told you that even the food they said wasn’t spicy made me cry? Yeah, my mouth probably would have melted had I tried to eat the village food. A told us not to worry though because they had peanut butter and jelly for when we’re up there. Great! We thought.

When we got to the village the first time it was just in time for dinner. Everyone was served their rice and whatever and they brought us our “peanut butter and jelly”. Except there was no peanut butter. And the bread was two giant tortillas. And the jelly was basically gelled sugar with fruit flavoring in a giant blob on one side. Better than having your tongue melt out of your mouth though.

Joel called it a jam-burrito.

::giggle::

Playing chicken and a camel

I mentioned in my post about what I learned in India that driving around is like one massive game of chicken. It’s really, really crazy. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Technically there are rules, but I think they’re more generally understood than hard and fast rules like we have in the US. For example, honking your horn means “I’m trying to pass you, get out of the way” and flashing your lights mean “We’re coming straight at each other and I am not going to be the one to get out of the way.”

Even traffic lights can have several different meanings. And if there’s not someone there to catch you? Red lights are basically optional.

I was ever amazed at all the skill the drivers had zipping in and out of traffic and squeezing an impossible amount of cars into the tiniest of spaces. Things didn’t always go so well though.

Ho.ly. crap.

India has over 1 billion people. It’s well on it’s way to surpassing China in population. However, the land mass of India compared to China is far smaller. That means there are people jam packed everywhere. Nothing makes this more evident than transportation.

This gives you an idea, although this was one of the more open streets I saw.

As you can imagine it made for some interesting rides, especially since they don’t believe in seat belts. Ever.

Notice the tense energy behind our smiles. And the fact we were holding on for dear life.

My favorite way to get around was by rickshaw. Or Auto.

It had the best natural “air conditioning” and I felt more a part of the city when I was in them.

I loved watching everything zoom past.

It was also fun because no two looked exactly alike. Every driver put their own personality into the artwork on the back.

The very best part of them though? Seeing how many people they could squeeze inside.

They’re built for four. HA!

I’m fairly sure there’s always room for just one more.

This philosophy applies to the buses too. Notice the people riding on top? That’s because the inside was full. Obviously being full is not a reason not to ride.

One way many get around that I didn’t get to experience was by motorcycle. In India, riding on a motorcycle is a family affair.

The tiniest kids got to “drive” the motorcycles. I saw babies that I’m sure weren’t old enough to walk driving them. Crazy scary. For me to observe anyway. It was normal to them.

Oh, and no traffic post would be complete without a picture of my favorite vehicle I saw while I was there.

Camels are the new Lexus.

A tale of three beds

There is so, so much to post about my trip to India that I feel overwhelmed. I have over 3,200 pictures. I’m not really sure where to start so I figured I’d start with the basics and go from there.

One thing about this trip was it was it was very authentic. We lived with and exactly like an Indian family. We ate the food (more on that later), drank the water, wore the clothes and slept on the beds floor just like they did.

The family we stayed with was amazing. They were some of the nicest friendliest people I’ve ever met. They welcomed us with open arms and by the time we left I felt like part of the family. The kids even called me Auntie which never failed to make me smile. One thing that was fairly tough for me though was the sleeping arrangements. See, they were in the process of moving into a brand new home and hadn’t gotten all any furniture yet. We sat on either lawn chairs or the floor and the first day we were there we slept like this:

Yup, that is a marble floor. Yes, those blankets are very, very thin. Thankfully we brought those little blow up neck pillows. That and our jackets made for decent pillows.

The next day our bed was upgraded.

Pillows! Woot!

But still the marble. Now, the whole family, kids, parents and grandma all slept like this. I honestly don’t know how they did night after night because it hurt. Moving hurt, lying still hurt. Just ouch. But we dealt with it, it’s not like we wanted them to think we thought we were better than them somehow because we couldn’t sleep like they did. But did I mention that it hurt? After awhile I found the cushiest parts of my body and figured out how to position them under me so it was more tolerable. Or there were times I’d curl myself onto the pillow and try to make that work out. Rolling off of it hurt more than just lying still though so it wasn’t really a permanent solution.

So this was our sleeping arrangement for three nights. Then, wonder of wonders we got a bed.

Or should I say a bed frame. It was glorious. I never realized how much more comfortable wood was than marble. Trust me, after three nights on marble, wood felt like a cloud.

We thought that was the end of it. It was definitely bearable and the bruises that had formed along our sides started to fade. Then, after two days on the frame they brought in an honest to goodness mattress.

You can see from the ridiculous look on my face how insanely happy I was to lie on it. I think my exact words were “Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

more pictures and stories to come…

Small

I’ve lost friends. Many friends. I have a really hard time keeping friends. It makes it hard for me to want to try and make friends again. But I long for friends. I need friends.

That’s why the people I’ve met online have meant so much for me. I know I’m not the most popular or coolest person on the internet. I’m just one little voice, emphasis on the little. I’m nothing in comparison to most others out there. The fact that anyone comes here to read means the world to me. Your comments? Put a giant smile on my face. Every single one of them.

So thank you. I hope I can do better with you “virtual” friends than I have with “real” ones.

You mean the world to me. And that is not small.

This sucks

Because I can’t remember the last time I was this sick. Joel even mentioned it today. He can’t remember seeing me have this bad of a cold/flu since we’ve been married. I’m not one that gets sick often. However, when I get sick, I get Sick. I’ve hardly had any appetite which never happens. Heck, usually even when I’m all pukey I’m usually craving pizza. I’m just weird like that. This time though I can’t smell or taste anything which makes eating totally uninteresting to me. I also can’t go 2 minutes without blowing my nose because it’s about to drip down my face. Stuffy and drippy. Nice. Having tissues glued to my face makes eating much trickier, especially if I want to continue breathing. Now the cold has moved firmly into my chest which has left me with a barking cough almost every time I try to breath in. Funness.

Joel has been the sweetest through all this. He’s gotten me whatever I wanted to try to eat. He even picked up the cutest get well card. What I’d really like are some snuggles though. That’s the one thing he can’t give me. With all the steroids he’s been on he really shouldn’t even be in the same house as me. Since we don’t have a second home anywhere we’ve just had to settle for keeping our distance from each other. Sucks, sucks, sucks.

Anyway, I’ve had to call off work which is lame because there really aren’t many people to cover for me and I’m losing money. Obviously no one would want me to serve them food with tissues hanging out of my nose though. Plus I don’t want to pass this on to the other people at work. When I came back I was told there was something going around and one person even said they were sick the two days I worked with them. With my immune system compromised from all the stress of the trip and then Joel being sick I just couldn’t handle it apparently. Have I mentioned this sucks?

So that’s the deal. Even lying on the couch typing this up has exhausted me. I’m beyond incoherent. My plan is not to move from the couch unless absolutely necessary until this thing is totally gone. I’ll update tomorrow more about how I’m doing and will return to blogging about India on Monday. Because if I’m not better by then…. well I just better be better. Besides, nobody reads blogs on the weekends anyway. Right?

There is a reason they call it a world wonder

When I found out that we were for sure going to India and that we were going to arrive four days before the “team”* I knew we had to make a visit to the Taj Mahal happen. I have a thing for world wonders. They just recently officially named the new 7 world wonders. The Taj Mahal of course being one of them. For the record, I have now seen 3 out of 7. Not too shabby, huh?

Anyway, where the mission part of our trip was in relation to the Taj Mahal is the equivalent of a foreigner planning a trip to Florida but making sure they take a trip up to see the Statue of Liberty before they leave. Not exactly close, or easy to get to. We arrived in Mumbai (Bombay) and took a plane up to Delhi. For some reason the entire trip over I slept like someone had spiked my ginger ale with roofies. It was actually kind of bizarre. Once we got to the hotel at 11am we decided to take a nap and ended up waking up the next morning. I’m not even kidding. Thankfully we’d already arranged a car to take us the 4-5 hours from Delhi to Agra.

Yes, you read that right. It was a 4 hour taxi ride. One way. In crazy India traffic with their bumpy roads. Thankfully the cab had air conditioning because it was quite warm.

We knew we were getting close because we kept seeing signs for it. And then I gasped. There she was…

Our first glance. Surreal.

It was every bit as spectacular as I’d imagined it would be.

Oh hello gorgeous.

We took about 500 pictures. I won’t bore you with all of them. Needless to say, I was blown away.

We hired Raj as our tour guide. He peppered us with all kinds of fun facts, some of which may have been true and others I know were just made up. He made them sound good anyway. I’m so glad we hired him though because he was able to take a bunch of picture of both Joel and I together.

He said a million times, the Taj is the symbol of love. Aws.

Waving to Raj.

Actually touching the Taj Mahal. A big dream come true and a moment I will never, ever forget.

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*the “team” being one other person (the founder of the non-profit group we went with) who ended up not getting his visa in time and not coming at all leaving Joel and I basically on our own. In India. Yeah. More on that later.

I lied

Remember yesterday when I said I’d start posting pictures even if it killed me?

I lied.

I had every intention. Really. But I woke up this morning with a cold from hell that’s only gotten worse. It looks like it snowed used Kleenex in my living room.

I started sorting and resizing pictures but I can’t get my thoughts together and I obviously don’t want to just throw a couple pictures up here. I’d like to do my trip justice.

So you’re going to have to wait until this cold loosens it’s grip on my sinuses. Because until them I’m completely worthless, especially when it comes to completing a sentence without having to stop to sneeze, sniff or blow my nose.

Things I learned in India

My trip to India was amazing. Some parts were fantastic. Some parts were really, really hard. We both had at least one melt down. India and it’s culture is so vastly different from any culture I’ve ever been in. In some ways that was incredible and exciting and fun. In other ways it was just confusing and frustrating.

The best part was how much it caused me to grow. I learned so much about myself, Joel, God and others. I realized how strong I really am. Obviously there’s no way to sum up my trip up in one post. I don’t think I thoroughly could in 15 posts. I’ll do my best to keep it to as few as possible.

For today, I’ll share with you a list of a few things I learned while I was in India:

1. I really can do or eat anything. No really. Anything.

2. Wood is actually comfortable to sleep on after sleeping on marble for 3 days.

3. When you can smell yourself, you know it’s really bad.

4. Taken enough days in a row Pepto Bismol turns your tongue the most disgusting blackish brown color. But it prevents other, um, problems so it’s worth dealing with. But seriously, ew.

5. Indian clothes are the most comfortable things ever. I’m going to do my best to bring them into style here. You can thank me later.

6. A little blow up neck pillow is a lifesaver.

7. There are different levels of dirty clothes. What seemed too dirty a couple days into the trip seemed acceptable by the end.

8. There are different levels of “civilized”.

9. Being happy and content really is a choice. I can choose to have a good time and enjoy the moment even when things are really hard.

10. The national bird of India is a peacock. When you see a city street with all the women dressed in saris you understand why. Gorgeous.

11. Eating in the dirtiest places is scary but God really does protect me and neither Joel nor I got sick from the food. Trust me, we really should have.

12. Driving in India is like a massive game of chicken. Lanes mean next to nothing, three cars can fit where you’d think only one could, and the biggest car almost always wins.

13. When an Indian tells you “it’s not spicy” it will probably still make your nose run and your eyes water.

14. When an Indian says a time that can mean an hour before, two hours after or anywhere in between.

15. I get unreasonably happy every time I kill a mosquito.

16. How to eat, drink, dress and use a squatty potty like an Indian. Yes, they eat (with their hand) and drink differently (their lips never touch the cup and they swallow with their mouth open). Basically everything is different.

17. An ice cold shower feels wonderful when it’s hot and nothing feels as good as being clean.

Stay tuned for pictures tomorrow. I will sort and start posting them if it kills me.

Just hard

After the last two days I feel totally drained. Well really after the last two and a half weeks. The trip was amazing but it was also quite hard physically and mentally. I definitely wasn’t ready to deal with all this hard stuff coming home. I feel like I need a vacation even though I just got back from a trip. I’ve reached my limit. With all the trips to doctor’s offices and ERs and pharmacies I’m just not feeling up to blogging at all, much less trying to get my head around wrapping up my trip. Sorry.

I’m going to bed now and hopefully there will be no further drama so I can finally mentally and physically rest.

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