My Travels and work in India overthe summer of 2004.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
This are entrees I made during my three month stay in Northern India this summer. I am a new blogger so these entrees are rewritten online from what I wrote in my note book over the summer. They are being added all the time so please be patient. Enjoy :-)
Please comment on my site and feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Great Links For Travellers
- Top Travel Website HOBO TRAVELLER (everything you need to know about budget travel in Asia!)
- He is great! Mark Maxon gives tones of wonderful advise and stories about travel in Asia
- Jouney Women stories of women who dared to try
- My Lonely Planet guide book was my bible while I was in India, could not have survived without it
- India Mike photography and stories of travellers in India
- Vagobond great travel stories, info. and diaries
- Globe Trekker is my favorite TV travel series
- Learn to read Hindi or Punjabi script
Other Great Travel Blogs And Logs
Great photos of India and other places here
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Thanks To All My Sponsors!
I would like to thank the following people and business for making my dream become a reality and for being such a posative and uplifting force in the community.
Lind Chiropractic Center
335 NE LAFAYETTE AVE, BEND, OR 97701-4555, (541) 389-3072
Richard and Debbie Benson with Golden Bridge Seminars
Vickie and Virginia at Lazy Z Ranch
And most of all Raine Tyler.....my mother.
DANYAVAD!! (thank you with all my heart)
Friday, September 17, 2004
Home Sweet Home
I made it back. I burst into tears when Igot into the PDX but somehow it seemed like I had never left. I miss India already. I feel like I left part of me behind, like I left my home back in Delhi. India seems almost like a dream, was I ever really there at all? The sores in my mouth are gone but I get these waves if nausea every few hours that really suck. The world and life itself sem unreal. It is like I am watching someone elses life through someone elses eyes. Im totaly removed from it all. I have become addicted to India.
I made it back to school. I burst into tears when I got to Portland but it was not really that much of an adjustment. It is almost like I never left at all and just had a really vivid dream. The sores in my mouth are gond but I still get waves of nausea every few hours that really suck. The world and life seems so unreal. It is like I am watching life through someone elses eyes. I am not back yet. I miss India so much.
Friday, September 10, 2004
No You Don't!
Jesus a lot has happened since I last wrote in here. I am just leaving Delhi. “What?” you might say, “she was supposed to leave 4 days ago. Well, one of those unbelievably stupid mistakes I often make has caught up with me. I looked at my ticked for the fifth and somehow though that 110 must mean 11:00. I missed my flight! Before I go into that and the last few days, allow me to relay what little I can remember about what happened between the 4th and 6th. AI finally did meet Ajay and had a one sided conversation with him while I ate mo mos and tried in vain to him to eat something. Benji and I hung out everyday after that and went to Pizza Hut and the coffee place across from Hauz Khaus to spend time together. We went to two movies at a new cinema about 20 minutes from the flat. The first was a Hindi movie, Phir Melinge or something like that. It was good. The movie examined the injustices and misunderstands surrounding people who had been diagnosed with HIV. The second movie was Shrek 2. It was not brilliant but I was glade to see something in English all the same. I invited Benji over to look at some of the pictures that had been developed and sat outside on the steps to show them to him. Bela showed up and just about blew up. She was enraged. For the life of me, I cannot see why. I have never once invited him into the flat. She is sway to “above it all” and I do not think she walks her talk at all with her nice car and new cloth. Do you remember that Punjabi taxi driver I liked so much? He took me to the airport and before I left, he told me I was a “beautiful girl”. Now that was nice. He did not ask for anything, just gave a simple compliment. I could have hugged the man. After being put down and criticized so much by Benjamin, it was so nice to hear someone say something nice to me. Benjamin was there waiting and I gave him a letter that I had written along with 500 Rs. and walked inside. After waiting for half an hour and noting the absence of Seoul on the departure list, I figured out what had gone wrong. Benji, bless his little crazy heart, took care of me the best he could. Unfortunately, there was a holiday the next day and all the airline offices were closed; I was stuck in Delhi for the next 4 days. I am actually glade I did because I got to spend time in a real Indian household and got a much better idea of how things work there. I stayed in Benjis house because I had no money and he would not hear of me staying in a hotel. My attempts at making him American food failed terribly. I think the fruit salad and mashed potatoes I made were possibly the worst food I have ever had. He did not say anything but I think I have given a few Indians a bad impression of American cuisine. Benji on the other hand is an amazing cook. He mad fish curry and fish fry and they were amazing. The last two days he was serious and I could not tell if he was tired of me or sad to see me go. Mohit was also a big help, went to get food, movies, and checked on the airlines for me. They treated me more like family then anyone I have ever known. I really like Mohit. He treated me as if I was human which was nice. I would love to repay them someday. I wrote him a note on a dollar bill saying that I hoped he would consider being my brother. Puru was nice to but a little shifty. Sonu (Purus friend) seemed very sweet but he knew no English so it was difficult to communicate. I bought them pizza on the last day before I left and Puru and Mohit got me two small glass gunesh’s and a card. Finally, we all piled into a taxi and had the most terrifying drive I have ever had to the airport. It felt so perfect being surrounded by five guys who all were nice and were polite with good hearts. I knew that if any man so much as touched me the would jump him. It was as if I had five brothers for a few minutes. I never felt so at home in my life or so accepted. The driver was insane. He came within inches (literally) of head on collisions several times. We finally parted at the airport and I headed into the bowls of the airport and back to being invisable.
I am within an hour of San Francisco. I stink, look like hell and feel like shit. I have watched Shrek twice and Harry Potter twice and on my third round now. AMERICA Finally, the USA. Oh God I hate this country. It is so depressing to think I cannot go back to India for at least a year. The people here are so anal and self-centered; almost reptilian. I do not know how I am going to deal with it. I feel like I have left my family and home back in Delhi. I love the place even though it nearly killed me. The police here are even worse then Indian police. The second I came off the plane they started questioning me like I was a criminal…”how did you pay for your trip? Why did you go? What did you do there? Are you a terrorist? Whom do you live with? Why are you alive?” It does not seem like home anymore. They may not rip you off, stare at you, or treat you like a sex object but they do not smile or invite you in for Chai or treat you like family either. I miss India so much already that it hurts. Maybe I will move there next time. I have to get enough money to buy a house for mom and get someone to watch over her first. That should only take 20 years or so…I do not know, I will figure something out. PORTLAND I have no ride home. I will have to get the goddamn shuttle. All I want to do is be there. I would do anything to be back in India right now or home in the shower. I have not seen a mattress, washing machine or a dishwasher forever. I would choose kind people over showers or machines any day. Well, I will start crying if I keep thinking about it so I guess I will go wait some more. Thirty hours in the air and 15hours waiting and just 7 hours until I am finally in my own house. I have not eaten in three days and I am sick as hell. I cannot chew or swallow without tears coming to my eyes cuz of the sores in my mouth and I stink. However, I have taken a bucket bath in by candlelight, climbed atop a camel and ridden through an Indian village, and worshiped in the Golden Temple so at the end of the day, I would not givethat experiance up for the world.
Friday, September 03, 2004
Is India Trying To Kill Me?
Something is wrong with my blood test and I am going to the MAX hospital tomorrow to find out if I have 6 months to live or I just need to eat more carrots. I am at the last feedback meeting right now. The Dharmshala group came back yesterday and is practically in ecstasy explaining about their blissful experience there. I skipped out on having lunch with the patience at the hospital in order to go to the MAX hospital myself. Benji looked up my diagnoses on the blood report (Mild Leukocytes and lymphotyes) and apparently, it is either an indication of HIV, TB, or cancer. God I hope it is TB. Only in India could you be happy withg a diagnoses of tuberculosis but there you have it. Waiting…. The doctor is a jerk. He is the same one I had last time who had a “consultation” with me which amounted to jack *&%. When I said I had constant cold shakes and fever he replied with "okay, take some vitamins and good luck". Thanks doc, I could not have figured that out on my own! The guy literally did nothing. He did not come within 5 feet of me and didnt ask one question about my health history or anything. This is getting me all tense; I wish they would hurry up.
Hindi Words And Phrases
These are some words I have picked up while I've been here. They are spelled as they sound.
- TeekAy or Teek: Okay
- Shabash: Good
- Danyavod (Danyavad): Thanks
- Sundar: Beautiful
- Baksheesh: A bribe
- Nock: Nose
- Tum: You
- Pyar: Love
- Pet: Stomach
- Moti: Fat
- Mandi: Henna
- Hout: Lips
- Dot: Teeth
- Rucco: Stop
- Paneer: Cheese
- Panee: Water
- Shant: Cool (as in fashionable)
- Larkee: Girl
- Larka: Boy
- Ap ka nam kia hai: What is your name?
- Mera nam_____ hai: My name is____
- Khan: Ear
- Deco: Look
If you would like to learn more Hindi words you can go to http://www.wordanywhere.com/ and check it out.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Benji and I got in a mega fight today over nothing. It is amazing how much you can fight over nothing when you put your mind to it. The neighbor guy came over when Benjamin was out getting “Freaky Friday” and asked if we were married. When I said no he asked if we had sex. Just like that! The guy did not even know my name. When I told Benjamin about it he started getting all snappy and rude to me! That totally pissed me off. The guy came over and insulted me and Benji got mad at me! I went downstairs but Benjamin had already told his landlord and I had to do an unconvincing song and dance about having to go to back to a meeting and that everything was fine. I did not want to cause trouble because the guy had a wife and little boy. It would be embarrassing for them and I do not want to cause any scene for them. This is a guy who complained to the landlord about having me to visit because I was a “foreign” girl. They are worried about me, they are the ones that are obsessed with sex and have no manners! I really appreciate the landlord (his names Shatrughan by the way) welcoming me so warmly. I left when Benjamin was upstairs. It was a incredible bad idea to leave after dark alone but I did it and as usual, I was lucky. The rickshaw driver was a nice old man. I cried the whole drive home and the guy looked worried. I do not care what they say; hotel men are 100x worse then rickshaw drivers. Benjamin followed me home and looked genuinely afraid tfor my safety. He always tries his best and I wish he knew how much I appreciate his help. If I let him know he just demands more energy and attention and I am running critically low on those. He went shopping for me and bought spice and tea. He is so helpful.
Advise And Tips
- Avoide brightly colored beverages
- Be cautious in all isolated areas (parks)
- Avoid eye contact
- Carry only 1 big bag and pack light but make sure you have enough underwear
- Do NOT get a cheap hotel room near Jamma Mosjuid
- Bring Sandles, silk shirts, a watch, soup and music
- Never believe anyone if it is in their interest to lie
- Beware of ALL men
- Don't get too worried about making times, cuz your train or bus will always be late (if it comes at all) and you will miss everything, so relaxe
- Do not trust someone just because they are a police office or someone in authority
- Don't take anything personal
- Notice the random beauty
- ALWAYS get the price of a service before you accept it
- Question EVERYTHING
- Bring floss
- Beward the mango shake!
- Duct tape your guide books so you don't look quiet so touristy
- Be careful what you talk about(ext. hippies, drugs, etc.) you may be misunderstood by uneducated Muslims or conservative Hindus
- Be respectful at all times
- Trust your gut above all else
- Bring a dairy or book everywhere you go (especially women) incase you need to look busy
- Stay away from the party scene
- Carry a rage with you everywhere especially in the summer
- Never go on a 2nd class sleeper train alone (women)
- Learn to defend yourself and carry pepper spray if possible (not that it will help in most situations but at least itw ill make you feel better)
- You can't go wrong with Pizza Hut if your feeling a bit sick of Masala
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
The Delhi volunteer group at a Hindu temple
We went temple hopping today. We were hauled around to two temples and a mosque (Jama Mosjid). After the magical promise it is of red and white marble domes and gracefully erect prayer towers, Jamma Mosjid was a bit disappointing. Mosques are rather an anti climactic in my opinion. The people seemed slightly hostile and I do not know if it was my imagination or not but there seemed to be an angry gleam in the stares of the people there. My favorite place of all was the Sikh temple. It was wonderfully peaceful and spirituality almost permeated the walls of the place. You can feel god (in whatever form)in the air around it. It was not quiet as breath taking as the Golden Temple but I loved it never the less. There was a lake in it and huge red and white codfish swam in its waters. There were drummers and singers playing holy music and groups of worshipers praying. There was also a shallow pool to wash your feet in after you removed your shoes and gave them to the shoe counter for safekeeping. The last place we went was the Hindu temple. Statues of gods, and animals decorated the place and gawking men hung around every corner. Anyways, I met Benji last night but the conversational aspect of the evening was non-existent cuz he managed to tick me off right from the start. He listens to what everyone says but me. It drives me crazy. I have a confession to make. McDonalds, the evil American corp. finally sucked me in. Yes, I ate at the big M in India. Shame shame. The atmosphere is a little snobbish if you can believe it but god does Mcstraberry shakes (I had 2 actually…shhhh!) and Mcchicken nuggets taste good! After I finished writing we will head to Delhi is posh new theater where we will hopefully catch Shrek 2 at 9pm. I will be home by 12pm..Im sure Joggy will be thrilled and so will I at 5am tomorrow! The movie looks wonderfully Western and the popcorn has arrived so off to the show I go.
Virginia died last night. She was a volunteer from England who I did not know very well. Apparently, her liver exploded because of some Hepatitis she picked up in Egypt. It was Hep. A and contagious. God, life is nothing to rely on. I am starting to worry. I am feeling much better but I still am constantly exhausted and have at least two fever and/or cold sweat sessions that last around 20-30 minutes each day. I can be in the best air-conditioned café and the sweat will start rolling down my face and neck. Anyways, the whole lot of us are going to the hospital for blood tests and check ups. The thing that worries me is my complete lack of energy. Some of the other volunteers look worn down too so I hope its just India that is getting me down and nothing serious. At MAX HOSPITAL, I am back but at least this time, I have company. Life: I always thought of it as a guarantee, a sort of ticket from god to 80 years on earth. The reality is that it is in no way guaranteed and many people do not even get a shot at it. It is so devoid of magic, at least in the fairies, true love, and happy endings sense. Since there is not a whole hell of a lot I can do about it I will just have to give it my best shot (that goes for you to). Is there a “meaning” to life? I am beginning to think that there is not. No wonder people take drugs and drink. I talked to my Punjabi driver today that helped a lot more then any of the meds. I have been taking. We did not exchange many words but he did remember my name, which made me feel great. Work went well as usual. I should say more about it but I do not know what to say, you just have to be here to get it.
Monday, August 30, 2004
A Weekend With Benji
Benji's landlord, his landlords wife and me
I was not picked up for work this morning for some reason. I spent the weekend with Benji and it was reasonably good. We went to Ansal Plaza (a sort of modern shopping mall in New Delhi) and had an honest to god chicken hot dog before heading to the market. On the way, we picked up a woman who went with us to the market and helped with the barging. Most of the stuff was junk so I did not buy much. The weekend was spent eating, sleeping, chatting, playing cards and “socializing” with boundless members of the landlords family. Today is raksha bandhan, a Hindu holiday for brothers and sisters. I am supposed to go to Dili Hote to shop at 1pm and maybe chill in the modern art or national museum. We will see.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
My room after a month of fever...cleanliness is NOT a priority with the way I am feeling!
I want to go home. Joggy told me that I would be "terminated" if I didn't start doing something. Eat lunch everyday, stay away from Benji, smile? Jesus. I have not been going to enough lunchs or being social enough I guess...no shit! I didn't come here to smile or eat. I have only missed 1 day of work my whole time here, what does he expect? I am barely alive and he wants me to socialize! I am not even that good at socializing when I feel okay. It pissed me off. No, it made me feel like bursting into tears on the spot. He kept asking "is there something wrong with you?". he said it so many times I have started asking myself the same question. I know he is well intentioned but god Im loosing it. Is India driving me insane? Is there something wrong with me? I do not think so but everything or rather, everyone seems to point that way. LATER Yuk....modern Indians. I am in Ansal Plaza mall with you know who. I skipped work today because I could not breath when I woke up this morning. God I don't know why everything has to be so hard in this damn place.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
The hospitals washing machines
Happy feeling is a little deflated-fear is back and my throat is being uncooperative although it has not failed me completely yet. Work was great today. The patiences had a small dance party and the head caregiver actually participated in a dancing routine for an upcoming Rakja Bundhan festival. They were sweet and halfway decent at the dancing bit if I do say so myself. It was a beautiful thing to watch these people dancing, smiling, and enjoying such simple pleasures. Two women sat with me the last hour and massaged my legs and arms while gazing lovingly at me as if I was some sort of goddess sent to them to save their eternal souls. It was a strange feeling. THOUGHT they told me I would either hate this country or love it. In the end, I feel both ways intensely. I have felt fear, anger, hate, sadness, loneliness, shame, pity, jealousy, pain, powerlessness, despair, and prejudice. I have also felt love, hope, deep gratitude, connection, wisdom, pride, and confidance. I have felt part of a family and learned more then I could possible write down here. The waves of happiness at returning home are followed by waves of sorrow for leaving. It has been a while since I have felt anything this completely. I met Benji at 1pm. It was not to bad. Of all the people, I have ever known he has the most sincere and devoted heart by 10x. That kind of dedication gets people to the Olympics (which is going on in Athens Greece at the moment) if they let it.
P.S. I have learned to love Hindi music with a passion...Im not as found of the traditional songs but Hindi Pop has a sort of sappy livliness that I can not resist. Bhangra is a popular type of dance music in Punjab and I have learned to appriciate that as well. Sikhs tend to listen to Bhangra which is also a type of dance. When women dance it it is called Gita. I love it! Some of my favorite albums are Murder, Kal Hona Ho, Bhangra Top (punjabi dance music) and above all Lakshya...
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Heaven As Seen Through Insanity
Heaven Might Incluude....
Beautiful (body, soul and heart), tall, strong, Punjabi, Sikh w/big, kind, brown eyes complete with dark lashes, a smile that is kind and full of warmth, humor and kindness
- A crystal above the sink
A garden with veggies, flowers (blue bells, roses, lavender, poppies, snap dragons, willow trees, maples, daffodils, wild roses, tulips, and moss)
- A pond w/gold fish, lilies, lotuses also a crystal clear lake with a water fall for Travis to swim in
- Fields full of daisies (red tipped), wild flowers, no fences, a natural valley/rolling hills
The 3 Sisters mountains
- Squirrels, finches, chipmunks, frogs, mushrooms (fairy circles), bumble bees, banana slugs, salamanders, butterfly’s, lady bugs, daddy long legs, Gardner snakes, and few wild rabbits, eagles and moose
- A cow named Lu Lu Bell with a big bell around her neck and a huge chestnut gelding named Teddy (Goldy and Flaxen too)
- Complete fulfillment and love between my Sikh boy and me
- Strawberries fresh from the garden and cream
- An orchard with cherries, plums, apples, peaches, and wild blackberries in the woods
- Loki Travis and Mom
- Crackling fires and soft, fluffy blankets
- Clean air and water
- Hugz and conversation
- Love, magic, hope and adventure
Improvments, Appriciation And True Love
My washing buddy
Feeling better today. Oh My GOD! I almost forgot what living without a fever is like. It sure makes work more rewarding when I am not throwing up or fainting very 10 minutes. Anyways, I have found the one. Yep, he is the most beautiful person I have ever seen. Tall, Punjabi, Sikh, with amazing brown eyes, long dark lashes, skin like toffee, broad shoulders, strong build, curly black beard and a smile that glows with a warmth that makes me almost believe in life again. He simply radiates integrity, confidence, compassion and kindness and his name is Jasvindar. I do not care if we ever meet again; I have sat in the same car as the man of my dreams and that is more then most people in the world can say. He is our driver from work everyday. Our eyes meet in the mirror once in the while because I cannot help but look at his. They are like a giraffes eyes, big, brown, with long lashes, and overflowing with warmth. As we were driving back to the flat I started thinking about heaven…well Ill talk about that later. What else? There is this American Indian (not native American) that is a total bitch (for lack of a better word). God! He is the backstabbing type but hell I’m so far from perfect who am I to criticize? The other volunteers went to dinner last tonight. I was not invited of course. Today at work was uneventful. A lady who I have come to like took up most of my time there. She weighs about 80lbs. Moreover, her arms and hands are shriveled up and almost completely useless. I sit by her almost day while she sobs and cries and tells me her life story. I wish I could understand her because she sure does have something to say, unfortunately she says it in Hindi so I do not have a clue. I love these people. They do not judge me, they do not stare, and they do not critisize. Maybe it is bacause they are so wrapped up in their own suffering that they can not focuse enough on me to judg but it sure is nice to be accepted and appriciated. They hug me and hold my hands and rub my arms if I let them. Some are completly unaware of course but most of them are wonderful in their own ways. I am sure lucky. People could learn a lot from the dying and destitute. Love for one thing.
Monday, August 23, 2004
Waiting For Ajay
I have gotten behind in my journal entrees, yes; I have lost a few days. I have been one day behind for the last week and writing what happened the day after it has happened. They are all pretty much the same; fever, no sleep, mosquitoes and all in all hell. Oh, except Saturday when Benji showed up and just about sucked every drop of energy out of me. I was supposed to meet Ajay (a pen pal I have had for a few years) at the main gate of Hauz Khas. I am sitting here at a café across the street (coffee Barista) watching for him and am writing in my journal to look busy. The smell of disinfectant and urine at work has started making me dizzy and nauseous but it is starting to work a little better. Damn, Ajay did not show up. I have a meeting at the CCS office at 5pm about Indian History or some such thing. I am starting to get sick of Pizza Hut and Indian food has become revolting to me. What shall I do for food? McDonalds? NO! Starvation first. Okay, I am going to call mom for some moral support and search for a blue shirted guy with black hair and tan skin. Unfortunately, every guy around here fits that description. LATER Never found.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Strange Habits Of India
These are some differences I noticed between the Americans and Indians.
- People want to take photos of you and with you because you are white
- They ask very direct questions and make direct comments: You are fat! Have you had sex? How much money do you make? Your stupid!
- They wiggle their pinky finger when they need to pee
- The head wobble means yes and no
- There are very few slogans on tee shirts
- NO floss anywhere!
- Men are very intemate with eachother
- Men pee everywhere
- No paper bags at stores
Click here for do's and don'ts of India
Friday, August 20, 2004
Felt better today although I was covered in sweat all morning and I had a few more sores in my mouth. The one the size of Texas is feeling better so thats nice. Work went well today. I went to my first Catholic Mass which was beautiful (although the up and down deal was a bit exausting for me in my present state). Up and down up and down prais god up and down....*sigh*
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Sick Among The Sick
Anyways, I did not work today. I lay helplessly strewn on the coach with a bed sheet wrapped around me as a skirt wishing I were home. I feel like hell and every piece of clothing I own smells like rotten eggs, urine and sweat. When I have given my cloths to washer daubis they never seem to return in one piece (f at all) so I have taken to washing them myself (when our flat is not out of water which is about 3 days a week). Yesterday, after nearly vomiting several times while washing the women, I was ushered to a corner bed and soon slipped into unconsciousness. I woke up 3 hours later when they woke me up to go home. The office called me and Joggy got on the line in an extremely professional and polite voice that scared me. Had someone died? I was handed the phone and to my surprise, Benjis voice came on the line. The little guy had called my mother and heard that I was sick and had gotten worried. That guy has a heart that is stronger and bigger then anyone in the world. Gobd be kind to him. I hit him countless times in my attempt to get some personal space but he only raised a hand to me once. Anyways, he told me to take care of myself and that he was concerned. I lied and said I was fine. Joggy got back on the phone and said I need to come to the office. Great, what have I done? The van came over to pick me up and took me to the CCS office. I sat through 10 minutes of lecturing from Bela and Joggi. Joggi was okay but Bela pissed me off…way to overbearing and “I’m better then you” attitude. The two problems were that I had missed two lectures at the office and that I must go to the doctor. I have been sick as a dog, laying in bed frying to death and being eaten by clouds of starving mosquitoes, what do they expect? Going to the doctor, I could not argue with and we went. The MAX hospital only took 24$ and 1 hour to complete a check up, give me 4 bottles of pills and test me for typhoid and a urinary track infection. Everyone keeps asking what has happened to me? What is wrong? Am I having family difficulties? No idiot! I am dieing, do they expect me to be miss social butterfly feeling like this?! Jesus.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
A fellow volunteer powdering the face of a patient
Work went well. We made the beds and helped bath the patience that could not bath them. During lunch, I helped feed some of the more mentally challenged of the patiences. We also brought nail polish and cookies for the women. They loved it! The picture above is of one of my fellow volunteers powdering the face of an old woman who used to be a nurse at the hospital. She has five children and yet none of them have taken her on so she lives here. She is the only woman who speaks English but her mind is going fast and she goes in and out of reality. It is hard to talk to the patiences because they keep on begging us to take them home. On of the men that helped us with the washing died last nigh so some of women are a little down.
On our drive back from the hospital today a man was struck down by a car infront of us. He flew about 10 feet and slammed against the pavment in an alarmingly aqward angle. I will never know his condition because our jerk of driver did not stop, nobody did. The cars flowed around him like water and not a single person seemed to give a damn about his fait. The van that hit him did not stop, we did not stop, the cars around him did not stop, it was horrible. They actually seemed to speed up as they went buy as if afraid to get involved. If our driver would not stop, an employee of a charity oragnization, who would? I was outraged and my eyes filled up with tears. That man could have been someones father or someones husband, that man could have been me. God, what a crual society.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Click here to read my Essay On Womens Issues In India. This was written from notes we talked about today from a lecture on womens rights whcih was part of our perspective programin. A women from Indias leading womens rights groups Jagori cam and talked to us for about two hours and I found it both fascinating and deeply disturbing. Basically, India is a sexist, racist and violent country that is simulataniously inmproving and getting worse year by year. Indian men are pigs and women and women have the choice to be quiet and thus, support their husbands or take the chance of being beaten or killed. For more information about Jagori click on the picture above.
Monday, August 16, 2004
Missionaries Of Charity-The Mother Teresa Home For The Destitute And Dying
Patience and volunteers at Missionaries Of Charity Hospital
The next morning 4 volunteers (3 girls and a boy) and I left to start our work at the Missionaries Of Charity (MTC) home for the destitute and dying which was founded by Mother Teresa. The conditions and the patients were in a much better state then I had expected. If I felt a little better, I would really have enjoyed it. There are around 150-200 women and the same amount of men in the hospital. All the female workers help with the women wile the male volunteer is with the men. The first day was spent washing cloths and helping to wring them out. They wash their cloths in giant concrete bats full of water and it is all done by hand. Many of the patients do not have bladder or bowl control so it is a very intense job. Most of the women have something like downs syndrome or brain injuries from illness or car accidents. A few of the patients are old or seriously ill with tuberculosis or cancer. Other have amputated limbs, hearing or sight problems, or simply have nowhere else to go.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
A Nightmare In Heaven August 14-15
Benjamin and I at dinner
have agreed to go to a town few hours away-called Mt. Abu that I have heard is nice and hopefully, things might start looking up there. LATER we have arrived for Mt. Abu. I do not like this place one bit. Of course other people had different experiances, so it may have been my state of mind. I think I was thinking of a place called Mt. Mandu. Damn. The 4-hour bus trip from Udaipur was nice though. Mt. Abu itself is rather disreputable feeling and there is not a foreigner to be seen around here, which is very unsettling. There is a notable number of men who are walking crooked, perhaps a drinking hub? NOTE Watching cable now. Thank god for TV, it helps me relax. The American movies here are horrible and I have resorted to National Geographic for entertainment. We are staying in Hotel Lake View. The staff here are unreal. I swear they come in every 5 minutes on the dot for something. It is a very annoying habit; all I want to do is become unconscious for a few days. They have knocked 11 times since I have been here and it is only the first 2 hours I have occupied the room. The whole atmosphere of the place is almost desperate. No more fighting, Benji is easier to deal with now. Men seem to flock around me here like buzzards and the abundance of alcohol makes them very menacing. Benji seems serious and yelled at me, which made me burst into tears. India sure does bring out the emotions. I have never cried so much in my life. If you have ever taken a non-AC bus through Rajastan for 20 hours in mid August with a bladder infection and constant nausea, you know how much it sucks. After getting a bus 1 day later then I had hoped, we finally arrived in Delhi. The whole trip was a waste of money and time but Benji seems happy enough. At least someone had fun. In Delhi, I went straight to Hauz Khaus, found an empty bed and crashed. The next day Joggy and Bela (The head honcho of CCS) came over. They were pissed because I was a day late but after what I have been through, I could care less. I am just glade I am alive. Screw them, after what I have paid they can afford some sympathy.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Here And There August 12-13
My second attempt at solo travel, Udaipur, the most romantic and classically beautiful city I’ve seen in India visited in India. Although I am feeling a bit run down, I can’t help but appriciate it’s beauty …would like to return someday. Nearly all of its 6$ hotels have beautiful views of the lake palace and the rooftop restaurants are wonderful places to relax with a lassi and soak up the beautiful surroundings. The view from my hotel room was of the Lake Palace Hotel, the main tourist attraction of the city. We did not go there but we did go to the City Palace (for photoe click here) was nice. The museums were also well kept up for India and I enjoyed walking around them. The Monsoon Palace was built on a hill a few miles out of town. We went up there but it was freezing and it was not very spectacular. The best point about the place was the view that would have been lovely if it was not for the rain.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Udaipur August 10-15 Flashback
The view from my hotel room, the Lake Palace
Okay, what happened over the past week will fill a few pages. The worst week I have spent in India was oddly in one of the most romantic and beautiful cities that I have ever visited. I foolishly met Benji before leaving Udaipur and he somehow convinced me to let him tag along. I think he convinced me so easily because I was a little shaken up from the New City Palace experience and the prospect of spending a week alone again was rather daunting. Benjamin’s landlords are very nice, kind people; the kind that I had hoped to find here. They are simple and friendly with an open curiosity that I love. I liked Mohit (Benjis roommate). He was mature, polite and did not talk much. Puru (Mohits best friend) seemed nice but I get the feeling he ahs less integrity. The landlord’s brother’s wife (little aunty) made me a sari free out of some red and gold fabric. I was really touched by her. I wish I could meet and spend more time with the women of India and the families here. The sari did not fit very well but the thought was very sweet. In an attempt to save money, Benji exchanged the first class ticket I bought for second class ticked (bad idea) and we were on our way that night at around 8pm. The train was horrible or rather; the men on the train were horrible. I seriously felt in danger just going to the bathroom. There were about six men in our compartment. When Benji asked for a seat by the window, two of the men (both very large and very Muslim) blew up. The gist of the conversation was “go back to own country”. They yelled at Benjamin for breaking their culture by talking to a foreigner and that foreigners were immoral with no idea of Indian culture and should all be wiped off the face of the planet. One actually grabbed Benjis face. It scared me to death. Before the attack, I was attempting to explain that the Hippie movement originally developed to encourage peace and to stop the Vietnam War as well as to gain equal rights for women and minorities. Many Indians hate hippies and many hippies in India give them good reason to. They take drugs; have sex and party, which is not a good way to represent our country abroad. Anyways, I was explaining all this to him and the men, being of limited English skills, seemed to get the idea that I thought sex and drugs were a good thing. After yelling for a few minutes, the bigger of the two men abruptly left. I cried for the next 20 minutes and then crawled on the top bunk (about 12inch from bed to roof) and curled up with my bad. The men were gone by the time I woke up. The next morning an old, decrepit, toothless man sat with us and restored some (not all) of my faith in the human race. From the looks of him, he was a beggar but he was not. The man had 2 degrees and knew English (which I could not understand because of his lack of teeth). He was a Muslim and one of the sanest and most good-natured people I have ever met. He was the way I had expected Muslims to be. The train had about 2in. of water on its floor and it rattled ominously but we finally made it to Udaipur around 5pm. We were greeted at the station by sheets and sheets of rain that stayed with us most of our stay there. Twenty rupees seems to be the price for just about anywhere in Udaipur so we got a rickshaw and were whisked away to the Lal Ghat Guest House which is where we spent the next 3 hellish days. The guesthouse was nice enough but the lack of a TV was a pain in the butt. I shed tears, sweat and blood in that room and I felt as if I was somewhere between the afterlife and earth the entire time I was there. Those nights were possibly the worst nights of my life. I do not want to talk about it. I hate being smothered. I hate being controlled. I hate not having any time alone. AHHHHH! Okay, that is all I will say about it. We walked around the city the next day. Udaipur is beautiful and peaceful.
Monday, August 09, 2004
By The Grace Of God Go I (and God indeed has boundless grace!)
Writting in my diary in Benji's flat
Men! Yuk.... Talk about slimy creeps, I just had an experience with one. Last night was the worst hotel experience I have ever had. I think my faith in men is almost completely dead. I was talking to the waiter and actually having a half way decent conversation for a change. I was starting to think he was actually a nice guy who wanted to talk. Foolish me. He said he wanted to show me a great view of the Mosque and so I agreed to join him on the roof (big warning sign...never go on the roof!). Okay so I go and sit by the edge and watch the view (truly amazing). I was quiet happily observing the huge domes and lights coming from the mosque when I turned to look at my "friend". First, let me explain that the reason I took the chance of being alone with this guy is because he was only about 5ft tall. That is a 10-inch hight difference! Therefore, if he tried anything I could easily fend him off. Anyways, this little guy starts to undo his belt and then lunges at me with his mouth wide open like a starving dog that has not eaten in a month. I would have been afraid but he was so little I almost laughed. He obviously had no idea what romance was and even if I were one of those "loose" Americans, he would not have won me over with that. It was pathetic and a little scary at the same time. Rape, it is a real possibility here. I was shocked. You know the scary thing is I did not get that angry with him. I am to damn polite. I mean that, if I do not get a grip, it will kill me. The little guy smashed his face against me before I could come to my senses. I had to literally hold his head back. Truly, it was the worst experience with a guy that I have ever had in my life. Grope, smash, hump, yuk! If they are obsessed with sex they might as well learn to be romantic. I think the Italians have the idea. They may be into all of that but at least they know how to do it well. I went back to my room. At 2 am, someone knocked but I did not open the door. At 7am, someone knocked and I thought it was my room service order so I opened it. Raj! After a few seconds struggle I pushed him out enough to shut the door. I lay in bed for hours before I got up enough courage to venture out into the street. Thank God, I do not live in a Muslim country! It is unbelievable that people choose to impose such limitations and oppression upon themselves. I am in the CCS office now waiting for the travel agent who is coming to give me my train tickets to Udaipur. LATER Dealt with the tickets-he will bring them by tomorrow cuz he brought two instead of one by mistake. I am waiting for Benji. He probably wont show up but , I have missed the little guy. Bless his psycho heart, no wonder he is insane living in this country. My standards for guys have sure dropped. If they do not kill me or insult me I feel like hugging them, I am so grateful. I really care about him. He insisted I stay with him and his roommates in his flat. I am actually glade about it. I think I would die if I stayed in that hotel one more night and I am pretty sure Benji wont kill me. Benji is the most honest and unpretentious guy I have met here. In America, they would lock him away but here he is nice to have around. I hope his life turnes out all right. I could not stand it if he got hurt. He is so little and innocent in some ways. I wish he could see life in America; it would change his whole world.
A BAD Hotel With A Great View-The New City Palace
Old Delhi near Jamma Masjuid
Click the picture above for more info. about Islamic heritage
Damn it, I just spent the last hour writing a 4 page email and my god damn stupid &*$%ing computer crashed….AHHHHH! Okay…start again…(breath in…breath out) So what did I write before? Ah…. I moved out of the CCS flats yesterday and did a real stupid thing…I got a cheap hotel room right next to the mosque in old Delhi….It is the Islamic area of Delhi and the streets are swarming with muslims. I love hearing the call to prayer (Allahu Akbar) every few times and I find Islam a fascinating religion. I have read the Quran and have a pretty good understand of Islam compaired to most. Even with my interest in Islam I feel like I am in hostile territory. I don’t go outside much. I only am there for 1 more night before I head off to Udaipur so it will be all right.
I had rather a disillusioning night last night. The one thing that seriously bugs me about the people (men) here is that they are so friendly but its usually just cuz they wanna sleep with you or get you to buy something which sucks cuz I want to have a real conversation once in a while without any expectations or pressure behind it. Last night I went to the rooftop restaurant on my hotel and the waiter struck up a conversation I thought. We talked for about an hour with no mention of sex and I thought great, finally a guy who has an honest desire to be friends and learn about American culture. He then invited me to the roof to look at the mosque which sounded kool so I went, the second we got in the lunged at me like a starving bear (a 4’11ft bear) and started shedding the layers like he was in the strip Olympics…I would have been scared if he wasn’t so ridiculously short. I removed myself from the kitchen and stayed in my hotel room till 1pm the today. Why sex? Of all the things in the world, this amazing world, why sex? A rat can do it. I don’t get it. Humanity is so amazing, the world is incredible, and the universe is full of unimaginable beauty yet half the people in this country cant get past what’s in their pants! Common, it’s really depressing. I’m hoping Udaipur will give me some time to relax. *sigh * So I better go and pick up my tickets, the travel agent should be here soon and I don’t wanna drive through old Delhi at night. You know what’s weird I absolutely love India. For all its craziness I love it. My room at the hotel has much to be desired, 10x10 with 3 beds put together (you do the math), a TV that has the worst American movies ever made (such as Breast Men…the history of silicon and Battle Monks) and sheets to whom whiteness is but a distant memory. The room does have 3 qualities however that somewhat redeem it from the never return category. First of all its about 10$ a night which isn’t half bad, secondly it has an amazing view of the mosque and thirdly, it is the perfect place to people watch. The streets in India are so full of life. In the half a block I can see from my window I can watch the daily routines of around 5 families who do almost everything on the street. They work, play, eat, shower sleep, argue, smoke, live,” enjoy”, you name it…they do it all right on the sidewalk. Its great to be able to watch without being seen (did you ever realize people almost never look up?) and to have a perfect view of what is like for India’s homeless. Shoot…travel agents probably there….ahh..better run…write again soon…..byeee
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Me on the "Princess Diana chair"
Okay, have to catch up on a few days. After some confusion over the trip, home we finally headed "home". Driving at night through Punjab was interesting. I loved being able to watch the daily lives of people out the window. I swear, about five TATA trucks that had been rolled over, smashed, or flipped on the road but there was not a hijacker in sight, which was nice. They say the monsoon has hit but for the life of me, I could not find a flooded road or a drop of rain anywhere. After spending the night in Hauz Khaus a group of us volunteers took a 3-hour drive to the dirty, rather slummy town of Agra to see the Taj Mahal. The drive was more or less a constant stream of slums, people and a random scattering of camels, ox carts and bears (yes, I said bears). As you have probably heard the Taj Mahaul was built for love and yes indeed, it is a sight. The marble work is unsurpassed and the beauty of the surroundings is undeniable. Never the less, the 120-degree heat made it hard to reval in awe and wonder for more then a few seconds. After a few moments of staring reverently at the place your mind was brought back to earth by the fact that your feet were slowly frying on the intricately designed marble steps and the gallons of sweat that were pouring down your face was making it hard to see. Despite this, it was an inspirationally magical place and I would definitely recommend anyone going…. once. I had expected that it would be bigger inside. The outside promised of lavish rooms and beautifully decorated halls but there were non-to be found. There was a medium sized mosque to the right and a tomb or building of some sort on the other. To the back of the Taj was a beautiful view of a river; although it was mostly dry by the time I saw it. Our guides name was Raj (I think he just said that so we could pronounce it alright because just about every guide seemed to be named Raj). He was a stone and jewel designer; smooth slick sales guy type who would not hesitate to rip you off if given the opportunity. Agra itself was certainly not my favorite city. LATER I just have one more day before I am off to Jaipur for 4 days and then I will be starting my final leg of my work with CCS in Delhi. I will sure miss this place. This evening I left Huaz Khaus for a rather mediocre hotel (The New City Palace) in old Delhi near Jama Masjid. I have a feeling this was a bad idea. I have a filthy bed with a broken air conditioner and bad TV reception for just 350Rs. Pulse it is in the heart of Muslim land to boot. Smart one Monet. The room does have an excellent view so I guess that is worth something. I have sat most of the say looking down from my window at the people below. Its funny how no one ever seems to look up. Well that is all for now. Byee
Thursday, August 05, 2004
The Golden Temple
It is about 6:30am and I have already had the most amazing experience in Ameritsar. The group got up at around 3am and drove to the Golden Temple…a 10-minute drive from our hotel. The Golden Temple is the Mecca for the Sikh religion. Sikhs form the majority in Punjab. This temple is the largest and most important center for the Sikh people in the world and it is an amazing place indeed. As we drew close to the temple the sounds of worship songs and drumming filled the air with an almost magic beat. Before entering the main worship area, we removed our shoes and covered our heads (guys too). The first glimpse inside the temple was breath taking. A huge marble courtyard with a small lake in the center and two long walkways leading into a sculpted room plated with gold in the center of the lake which contained musicians seated on cushions. The music was live and blared from several huge speakers surrounding the temple. I think the atmosphere of a mosque must be similar to that of the Golden Temple. There were hundreds of men, women and children, heads shrouded in turbans and duppattas, praying, sleeping, bathing, and worshiping. I felt almost ashamed to be there because I was so obviously out of place. In spit of my misgivings, everyone seemed to accept my presence well enough.I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures there but I found these on the internet, I hope they give you an idea of the beauty and magic of the place.
Some of the other volunteers (namely an young Indian American brat named Raj) were completely disrespectful and insensitive. I could have strangled him. Taking photos of worshipers, talking and telling a Sikh man to move over so he could sit his fat a** down next to his friends…the disrespect of it made me cringe. At that point, I left the central temple and passed a thrown held by several men on my way out. Placed upon the thrown was the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book), which contains the teachings of their 10 gurus (teachers). I walked to the front of the lake and sat on a marble ledge that surrounds the water, absorbing the atmosphere and watching the ceremony in peace. It was so beautiful to sit on the shores of that holy lake and watch all the people praying and walking through the golden plated structure that glowed like a shining star in the center of the water while the moon shone serenely overhead and the stars reflected in the water. When we left, the temple, I began to look more deeply at the people around me. Punjabi guys are sure good looking relative to other Indian men and they have something that resembles manners. They are tall, strong and dark with serious faces and slightly slanted eyes with an upright poster that gives them an air of authority. The Punjabi culture is intriguing and I wish that I had more time to learn about these people who worship so beautifully. If I ever married an Indian, it would be a Punjabi. I have finished my two pineapple juices that I had for breakfast and everyone else has been asleep for hours so I guess I will hit the sack. LATER All hell has broken loose with the group. Apparently, none of the trains are running due to flooding on the tracks around Chandigar so the plan is to take sumo cars back to Delhi by the cover of night. Before we head back, we will go see the changing of the guard at the Pakistani border at around 6PM. Everyone is a little panicked because we are going to have to drive through Chandigar. Chandigar is the location of a resent bus hijacking that occurred in an attempt to encourage the U.S. and Indian govt. to make a deal with Iraq about two Indian truck drivers being held hostage there (or so the story goes). I hope that it will turn out all right. I am a little angry with Joggi for demanding that I return to Delhi instead of hanging out in Punjab but he may be right, there is an air of tension about. This afternoon we went to a Hindu temple. It was all right but the Golden Temple would be impossible to beat for beauty and atmosphere. I witnessed an older man literally kicking the sh** out of a little half dead puppy covered in sores and mange. The wretched creature kept screaming in pain and the bastard that was kicking him actually laughed. It made me sick. The whole scene put me off the place. Although the Hindu temple was nice, I still felt like I should not be there and was somehow insulting to the people there. Anyways, I can feel Pakistan. Maybe that is what the tense feeling is in the air. It is like a giant hostile beast, laying in wait, ready to explode in violent aggression and blood shed at any moment. Islam is looming just over the hill with all its hatred and oppressive violence. Terrorism does indeed suck. Besides, the fact that it undermines the sensation of well being and overall assurance of safety we American take for granted and costs thousands of lives-it is damned inconvenient. You cannot trust anyone; you cannot go where you like or when you like. It is so restricting. I cannot imagine how people in Palestine or Israel have kept it up for so long. Fear is its fuel and it is not a foundationless fear by any means. The good thing about the hijacking is they are every unlikely to kill us since they already have a busload of foreign hostages. Rape and uncomfortable/unfriendly conditions are more likely. I hope that we wont have to deal with that. Wow, Punjabi guys are cute. The guy cleaning the room looks like a model. Tall, dark, lean with a muscular build and at least the ability to pretend he has manners. I hope you do not get the impression I am guy crazy. But when you are in India a guy who is tall and has manners is almost as shocking as meeting a hot pink talking monkey from Venus in Bend…so I can’t help but notice. Well, most people decided to fly back to Delhi but me and a few others are taking a chance and going in a car. All I have seen in the papers about Delhi over the past few days is floods, drowning and other unpleasant watery things. In other words, monsoon has hit with full force (according to the news paper). Hot as hell and 3 feet of water to boot..can’t be that bad right? I wish I could get into the heart of Islam, meet its people and truly understand their culture without having a 90% chance of being raped, bombed or stoned to death. It’s an interesting culture. I love the feel of ancient religion (even though Sikhism is not that old) in the Golden Temple. Mecca must be truly amazing during the Hajj. I cannot imagine how intense that would be. Maybe somehow I will experience it someday. That is all to report now. Better, go or I wont be able to stop gawking at that guy. India must be rubbing off; I am starting to stare at white people and handsome devils the same way as Indians do.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Last Day Of Camp
The kids waving goodbye
Last day of camp today. It was sad. I was really getting attached to the whole motley crew. We had races most of the time and gave away candy and pens to everyone. The older girls turned out to be my favorite although the little salesmen (the 7th grad boys) in the making were starting to get to me as well. The staff was hard to leave and the volunteers that came with me from Rajgarh too. The drive to Ameritsar from Dharmshala took about 5 hours and was beautiful. Punjab seems to be very clean, developed and oriented toward agriculture. The state is to be doing very well for itself. Several stores are American quality and hold international brands like Sony and Baby Fashion. The hotel we are staying in (Royal Castle Hotel) is deluxe (for India) with a doorman and plus sheets that are more on the white side then any I have seen in India before. Very spendy but better then finding a place to stay myself. We are getting up at 3am to see the changing of the guards at the Pakistani border so I am off to sleep. P.S. I had a REAL shower tonight….heaven…sheer heaven!
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Prayer wheels at a temple in Macloed Ganj
Okay-blew the last of my money today at McLoed Ganj on a necklace for mom, and some bangals. Camp was fun but I did not do too much. It was raining and most of the times I just sat with some of the older girls and watched the boys play basketball and cricket. Some of the older boys tried to come over and talk but
Vickie (lil Sikh guy) told them to bug off. After getting back to the flats, I ate three cookies complete with peanut butter and went to McLoed Ganj. I am with the evening group now, which is a joke. The older kids are having a meeting and the younger ones are drawing. I just finished playing speed with Vickie (I won twice!). Not much of anything to write about. We are leaving for Ameritsar tomorrow 2:30pm and we will stay there for about 2 days. I figure being close to a country full of hostile Muslims is better then being immersed in a city full of hostile Indians. Wow, I can actually see the sky today. It is the first time I have seen blue since I have come here. You can see houses scattered through the valley and perched amongst the trees on the gently slopping hills around us. Whisks of clouds are drifting across the landscape and the green tops of hills are enshrined in white mist. I catch on occasional glimpse of brightly colored Saris making their way up the closest slopes, presumably on their way to the small Hindu shrine at the temple, dedicated to one Hindu God or another of the Gods, about half way up the hill. Well, the smells of our farewell dinner are wafting out from the kitchen so I wills sign off now. I cannot believe I only have one month left. I can almost feel time slipping past me…. anyhow, c ya
Monday, August 02, 2004
Women washing cloths in the river on the way to cummer camp
Not to eventful so far. Camp went excellently. Kevin (an obscenely rich and endearingly nice fellow who’s family owns dairy queen or some such company) gave the kids an "Earth Day" in an attempt to make them more aware of the environment. The children picked up garbage, had an environmental poster contest and listened to a lecture about the importance of keeping our communities clean. One of the oldest girls taught me a clapping game which was a blast. They tried to confiscate one of my attempts at art, which resulted in me lurching about the schoolyard and looking like of the Red Sox, sliding into third base at about 100 miles per hour and taking several children with me into the mud. With all that effort they managed to steal my poster anyways, uh.... kids can make you feel old can't that? I cam back and went to my new found haven.... a soft blanket I bought from a monk/sales man in McLeod Ganj for 200 rupees. I never thought a blanket could bring so much happiness but man, it sure is satisfying to pull it over my head and drift off into nothingness for a while. Next week is an unknown. I do not feel like dieing now but the temptation of going to Kashmir is definitely alluring. Perhaps Ameritsar, but the Pakistani border is not exactly the neutral zone either. Hmm. I could always go with Benji to West Bengal but from what I have heard, it is a lawless, impoverished and corrupt state and some how it seems like a place to miss. LATER Just finished watching a really sweet skit done by the older kids from evening group about trash and the need to protect the environment. It was a definite step toward awareness and some of the children’s parents came which was really exciting. It makes me think there might be some small hope for these kids. If they can understand and continue what they have learned here...they may just make an impact on India as adults. How exciting is that! Benjamin sure can be a prick. It is nice to have someone I know here but god he is hard to be patient with. Ahhh my legs are having some problems. They seem to fall asleep a lot and one went completely dead for about 5 minutes today at the Manali Phesant that resulted in a lurching exit and a near fall on the street. Another troubling thing is my lungs, I can't seem to breath anymore without putting conscious effort into the task. India sure is hard on the body.
Sunday, August 01, 2004
Lazy Day Of Wasting Money
Sitting at Macloed Ganj in a little restaurant at top end of the market awaiting steamed chicken mo mo's and a cold coffee. the waiters are actually kind of sweet. The night went fairly well although the hotel sure did suck. The cable was distracting if not entertaining. The room was at the end of a long hallway, which seemed to funnel every noise in the building into my room. I swear I could here people’s footsteps on the floor above me as clear as if it had been inchs away from my ears. I kept hearing this scrapping and tapping. I finally located the culprit. It was a man brushing off his shoes two stories below on the street! I could here the clatters and splashes of people taking bucket baths in the other rooms and the slap slap slap of someone making chapatti in the kitchen. When I ordered chicken fried rice I was told sternly that they only served VEG food although half the menu was chicken and mutton and when I ordered hot chocolate I was told in a "are you stupid or something?!" voice that they did not serve it. Why they had it on their hotel menu remains a mystery. I lay in bed (shivering slightly) watching "40 days and 40 nights” and trying to ignore the chorus of noises resounding from the each side of my room. I soon curled up into a ball an prepared to drift into a blissful slumber when I noticed that a multi legged, 4 inch long creature was sharing the pillow with me. . After sending my friend on a trip to the sewers I returned to bed, watching the worst the American movie industry had to offer untill the early hours of the morning. All this for 555Rs! India-what a country. I finally got up the never to shop, blowing several hundred on beads, jewelry and junk. I didn't bargain once which seems rather odd but somehow it didn't seem like the way to go with these merchants. My favorite purchase was a silver Tibetan bracelets and a turquoise pendant for mom. No sleazy guys, no hassle, and the beggars weren’t all that bad. Life is good. I almost feel invisible. I also met a nice guy today at the Kashmir Indian Gifts And Arts Emporium. Of course he just wanted to sell stuff but he was nice about it. LATER Jeff (Buddhist wannabee) is a sweetheart. I went with him to his hotel right next to the Dalai Lamas residence and he shower me the temple there and the room he stayed in. Wow-money sure does make a difference. It was one of those hotels that have theme rooms and deluxe waiting rooms...the whole shebang. Hey, did I mention my theory about American food consumption? I think they (American corps.) are putting additives in our food to make us hungry and thus, obese. Seriously! I eat half as much here as I do in America. Anyways, it is something to look into when I get back. Mass MSG production? The Manali waiter just might have to wait on our meeting. I don't think I will be able to make it today because it is pouring rain. Knowing Indians, he probably wouldn't show up anyways. LATER Ahhh...I went to the Manali and I am stuffed! Lets see, Wednesday we are going to Amritsar for two days before heading back to Delhi. Maybe it’s the fact that you fry in pollution and the filth constantly permeates your every pore that’s Delhi hard to take, or maybe it’s just the intensity of it all. I am in one of those places where it is important to look busy and I can't think of anything to write. Hmm, 45 minutes to go. Why do I get myself into these situations? I really scare myself sometimes. It is like there is a wiser, bigger me who watches in terror at what stupid things the physical side of me does. I wonder if that’s my soul? I will go somewhere and know full well that it’s a bad idea but some how that idea does not translate into action. It is actually like a generally feeling of doom rather then a thought. Ugh, old men with no manners is revolting....YUK! Oh my god they just brought me like 10lbs of rice...I’m going to die! Wow, the waiter here isn’t a sleaze. He actually left me alone. To bad all the nice guys around here are shy as mice. This rice is about 50% salt... must have changed cooks. The meal from hell continues.....with lukewarm milk to pass as coffee, my salty rice and my waiters hacking as if they are on their death beds (you know that flemmy sick sounding hack people do when they are dying) this meal is working out just great. My waiter has vanished (the one I am eating this for). I hate it when I can't think of anything to say to people...it’s so awkward. The secret to journaling is taking it with you everywhere, especially when you eat alone. It will not only make you remember to write, it will also save you from awkward pauses in conversation. It is sort of like a third dinner guest.
Friday, July 30, 2004
I feel like shit. Didn't do much today after camp (or before camp for that matter). Almost everyone has left for Amritsar or another town because it is our free weekend. I probably wont do much judging by the way I feel and being "out of the fold" the way I am. The staff has been nice to me today that made me feel better. I will try the trek to the ATM tomorrow and maybe go shopping in Macloed Ganj if I can muster up the energy.
Things You Must Have In Order To Survive India
- Food And Water
- Bug Repellent
- A freind
- A book
- Rin (soap) and brush
- 1 pair of sandles
- Smiles from people
- Somewhere safe to call home
- Air conditioning
- Apple juice
- A bag and blanket
- Somewhere to hide
Things That Are Unessisary For Happiness
- Toilet paper or toilet
- A car
- A mattress
- A phone or computer
- Chairs or Tables
Thursday, July 29, 2004
The cricket boys-a real handfull
The day kicked off sort of badly but it ended up all right in the end. The older boys at camp were being complete jerks. The kids were great as usual but guys, what a pain. We did paper mishae, which turned out to be a real mess, but the kids enjoyed it. I am not sure if the balloons will work. We covered them with newspaper and flower mixed with water instead of glue (teaching them to be creative with the resources they already have). I am starting to connect with the older girls. It is nice because they have a very strong sisterhood among them…something I have not been a part of much in India so far. The girls know how to deal with the guys and seem to agree completely that they are sleazy. The older boys came to hang out today-apparently they were making fun of my accent cuz the girls kept getting mad at them-jerks. The oldest girl came from a public (which is actually private in India) school called The Sacred Hearts. She told me what they were saying and it really pissed me off. These guys were 18-19 and still had to come and take away from their younger brothers and educational time. Well, maybe it will keep them from trouble, but it is still annoying. Next time I will have to buck up and scold them for being so disrespectful. After getting my spirits knocked down from the boy ordeal and the fact that our taxi driver insinuated that I was sick in the head because I went barefoot and got wet in the rain when I played with the kids, I proceeded to trip and fall flat on my face while going back to my flat. All my school supplies scattered across the walk way and rolled down the hill I was walking up, my bags busting like bombs as they smacked into the pavement and my legs and palms took a thorough shredding. Lunch was rice and Dhal…. again. I slept for an hour or so and walked down to town. Guess who brightened my day? Benji! The little guy sure did make me feel better. It is to bad he can’t be more like that all of the time. . I had dinner at the Manali Pheasant again-very good. After I finished eating the waiter sat down and talked to me for about half an hour and he actually seemed like a decent guy. It was so nice to have someone to talk to! We agreed to meet again on Sunday and I told him I would show him my photo of my hometown. I got some nice shirts from the free box that I finally discovered in one of the other flats…I’m sooo excited about them! I talked to mom a long time, it was like a breath of fresh air to talk to someone who had a clue about where I was coming from…Vicky (lil Sikh boy) came today…glade to see him.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Good Day At Camp
My students at work on art projects
It was an average day. I didn’t check my email that was a first since I’ve been in Dhamrshala. Camp was productive in spit of the down pooring. I am starting to feel like I might actually be making a little bit of a difference to these kids. It sure is a great feeling! This camp is a great success and I love seeing the children (especially the girls) gain confidence and learn how to use their imagination to express their ideas. I think we really are making a positive impact on these kids. In the evening we went to a fort about half an hour away from the flat. It would have been even better with a buddy to hang out with. Have I mentioned the massive amounts of biting insects that there are here? They don’t seem to bother the Indians but they bite me all night long and leave big welts all over my legs. Bella (the CCS India head honcho) and Joggi had a meeting with us tonight and it really helped me to understand our goals and the reasons we do not bring more paper and pens to the camp…
P.S. The fort was Congra Fort
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Just Another Rainy Day
Rained out again. I spent the night outside on the roof. Yep, I am going insane. I tossed half the time and settled down on the marble deck below the other half while it proceeded to drizzle constantly throughout the night. I wrote in my diary while I was sitting on the deck watching the clouds roll in. Gee Tu just announced school will proceed regardless of the rain, joy. I wish he was joking, it’s flooding here! It is only 8:30am so I guess we will still go. My partner is sick so I guess Ill be going it alone…LATER…The rest of the day went fairly well. We played sports and the kids seemed to have fun, which made me happy.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Wrote this while contemplating the purpose of life and waiting for my check.... which took 3 hours to get!
Statement of Intent
For the next year I will seek to discover what exactly I am living for. This is my mission. I will decide what my life purpose is and how I intend to carry it out. This is my goal.
A mission, a friend, excitement, adventure, romance, health and fitness, to make a difference, help my mother, travel, learn to read and write Hindi, graduate, understand myself clearly, to know God, strengthen my morals, deepen my character and create morals that are unshakable, dance, make lasting friendships, spend time in the mountains camping, raft, talk to people, listen whole heartedly, do not judge, feel beautiful, laugh, cry, make a positive difference, be a source of inspiration, be helpful, play, work, relax, be creative, sing, be selfless, love deeply and unconditionally, have integrity, live, feel, run, communicate, take Travis to the lake, try new things, dress well, spend quality time with people I care about, volunteer, be feminine, simplify, be musical, be colorful, read, be kind, pamper myself, vote, be real, write, have confidence, believe in myself, stand up for someone, , be involved. Get my nose pierced, do acts of random kindness, and have fun.
Rain Rain Plz Stay
It poured today so work was cancelled. Thank god! I am exhausted for no good reason. After crashing for a few hours I headed to town for the daily email pilgrimage which was rather a disappointment. Only 2 emails and no one was online to chat. I killed 2 hours there and had lunch at a dingy but quiet little restaurant called the Manali Pheasant. The chicken fried rice was good but I have had better cold coffee. The waiters were rather shy and not too pushy at all. The check took two hours to come and I had to request it 3 times (I am not joking)! It was actually good to have some time to write and chill. That’s about all I did today. Picked up some cloths last night…. 3 salwar suites for 350 rupees or so after tailoring. They are not all that great but what can you expect at that price! The pants are a little tight. The man I bought my cloths from went out of his way to make sure I got a good deal from the tailor (only 100 rupees to make 1 suite not 150rs), which surprised me. I don’t know if he is just a nice guy or what but his assistant sure was nice.
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Hotel Room Rave
God I am tired. Last night was crazy. I wish I could go home for just a day, I am feeling worn down by everything. I love it here but I just need a break for a little while. It would be so nice to walk down the street and not be stared at.... to be completely invisible...and at the same time I am feeling so alone, my groups are all clicking and I don’t know how to do that...I guess I just don't fit in very easily. I try talking, being all interested in them, they ignore me, and so I have resorted to just shutting up and staying to myself as usual. I cant figure it out...what do they do to get in the click...their conversation isn’t all that deep most of the time and I can match it pretty well so what the hell is the problem. In America a guy wont talk to me and here every single and several married guys would be glade to sleep with me but its just that, they don’t care about anything, its just about sex and money and visas so I can’t do that, its just not right. So, what the hell am I supposed to do? ...I want someone to talk to and give massages and go to eat with and spend time with. I want to go out and have someone to talk to in a group instead of tagging along all the time. Indian guys are sleazy, most American guys are to, and the ones that are not wont give me the time of day. I donno, just feeling somewhat alone. The dancing last night was awesome, but I donno, it got a little out of hand and that is totally not me. I hate that, I hate beer and I donno.... damn.... everat in a way that was just not "you"? That did not make you proud? .....anyways.... better go.... I have 3 hours to kill and if I go back to the flat I will just be lone in my room and if I stay here and walk back in the dark ill get killed, god I miss sisters.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
My First Disco (24th)
Macloed Ganj resturant (on the corner on the second level) that we ate at last night
Macloed Ganj is where the Tibetans live. They drive nice cars, are relatively clean, and seem to have an air of prosperity about them, while minutes down the road is a ramshackle group of tents where a group of 20 or so Indian families live in poverty. It’s very strange, I have lost much of the sympathy I had for the Tibetans although their monks are wonderfuly warm and kind people. Anyways, last night was crazy but most of it is a haze. A group of the younger volunteers and I went to a nice restaurant on an upper floor of building in Macloed Ganj where we were dropped off by the taxis. It was about 6pm when we arrived and proceeded to gorge ourselves on plate after plate of Indian and Tibetan food and & Day Apple Wine. From that time on the night seems like a dream. We went to a disco club next door and danced for a few hours. The only women there were us but that did not stop the 40 or so men that were there from enjoying themselves. We were supposed to have bodyguards but they came a little late. It was the best time I have had in my life. I never knew how much I love to dance. I love the dark heat of it and the upbeat, energizing music. I love the closeness of other people; it’s all so fun if only people didn’t add drugs, alcohol and sex into it. It was a mass of humanity. It was a kaleidoscope of hands, hips, sweat, pulsating, smells, colored lights, salt, turbans, and Punjabi music combined with Brittany Spears blasting from the speakers. I was completely oblivious to anything until I was dragged out onto the roof with the rest of the group. I swear they made me drink about 2 gallons of water that made me sick. My stomach felt like it was going to rupture. A guy came up and asked Michael if he could dance with his wife (me)…. he shushed him away…god bless Michael and every one of them…every one. When I returned to the dance floor the bodyguards had come and we left soon after that and hunkered down in a Yogi studio at the top of the floor. The cold cement and hard mats did not make for the best I have ever slept but, as all the hotels were fool of Dhali Lama followers, there wasn’t much of an option.
Tibetan Cultural Center-An Email To A Teacher
Tibetan rock painting
I am writing you from Dharmshala India. India is an amazing country full of contrast, color and pollution. I’m staying where the current Tibetan Govt. is located, in the foothills of the Himalayas. A few days back we went to the Tibetan Institute For Culture And Art about 20 minutes away from town and got to see how the traditional artists learn their trade. It was so amazing how focused those kids were. Many of them would spend more then 10 years studying their craft, be it painting or sculpture or clothing. All of their art has a religious basis and they do general prayers every day before beginning their work. I've spent most of my time teaching...schooling here is a different world. There are usually between 50-150 children in the primary schools and the building consists of a square concrete structure with a stonewall around it. The teachers seem to come and go as they please and a few never show up at all. It’s amazing that the kids learn at all. Teaching is a challenge because they kids have no supplies (no pens or paper or books) and most only know a few words of English. Any ideas how to teach kids you cant communicate with and who have no supplies? :-) Well, its going pretty well all things considered and I love India. Its so hard to explain...anything I tell you, the opposite will also be true, so what can I say? Its colorful, full of smells and pollution, friendly people, crooks, animals, rickshaws, beautiful and intricate art, trash and millions of children. I spent a week in Jaipur, which is a city about 5hours from Delhi, and it was a different world from the Himalayas. Camels, elephants, cows, turbaned Sikhs, you name it, you can find it on the streets of Jaipur! I went to a clothing factory there and saw the dying process of the saris and khamizes as well as the stone cutting factory. The stone cutting factories there use ancient techniques and tools that have been passed down from generation to generation and have hardly changed at all over the past hundred years. Anyways, as far as history, India is full of it. Its amazing how everything has been around so long here....I went to a village outside of Jaipur where most of the houses were nearly 500 years old and had been owned by the maharaja. The religious mix is also interesting here. You have this idea about something like Islam or Hinduism or whatever and when you come here you realize there is no one Islam or one Hindu, they are completely different in different areas. When I thought of Islam I though conservative, but in India most of the Muslims are much more open then I would ever expect and most don't even pray 5 times a day. Some Muslims believe in karma and have gurus, weird ha? I saw an anti American protest to! I’m sure you would have been interested to see it. We were warned to stay inside on Friday because its the Muslim day for prayer and they had planned an anti war march through Old Delhi. My friend invited me out and I went. and before I knew it I was in the middle of about 200 Muslims chanting in Hindi, it scared me to death but it ended up alright.....everyone hates Bush here, including the Americans I’ve talked to but they don’t seem to be overly resentful of American people in general which is good. Anyways, I better go. The rains have stopped for the moment and its getting dark (walking alone at night is asking for trouble here
Thursday, July 22, 2004
First Day Of Summer Camp
The group catching the taxi to camp in the morning
Today was my first day of camp. We drove for about 20 minutes and arrived at a stone walled schoolyard with 4 or 5 rooms that had rolled up mats in the backs instead of desks. When the van rolled to a stop about 100 brown little faces popped up over the courtyard wall. The day went fairly well although the kids are a lot less open and friendly then they were in Rajgarh. My inquiry of “Nam?” was met with blank stares and vacant expressions. I am pretty sure they speak Hindi but you would never guess it from their reactions. All together there were about 150 kids and 50 or so parents and older siblings. Apparently they came to ease their fear that we would steal their children and whisk them back to America with us. Tempting…but I will pass on that one. Anyways, we hung out the rest of the day at the flat. I called mom after a late night walk to the cyber café. I have been having constant feeling of queasiness but it is not crippling which is nice. I am also getting used to the group. Many are still obnoxious but it is not all that bad. My roommate moved out of my room with no explanation and we have not talked since which is weird but whatever.