Friday, June 24, 2011

Birthday Parties and Child Labor

We had our birthday party for Velma last night!! Yesterday seemed extra hot, and I had gotten sick earlier in the day, so none of us felt very much like partying.  But we rinsed off and tried to make ourselves look as presentable as constant perspiration will allow, and partied on.  We got chicken again for dinner, it's only the 2nd time we've had meat here.  Gill actually took a video of our chickens getting killed and cleaned earlier that day.  He used Telma's camera, and when he brought it back there were actually blood splatters on the lens. Authentic.

There was so much going on, and so many people in a very small space, it was almost overwhelming.  I think most of the people who came over were cousins or neighbors...we had seen most of them before.  Still though, they all kept asking to take pictures with us. That gets exhausting; maybe the celebrity life isn't for me afterall. Velma said that she enjoyed it very much though.

We didn't go to the school today, I'm not completely sure why.  It did give us a chance to get some things done though.  I'm getting better at hand-washing everytime I do laundry.  That's also because Sharlini and the boys keep showing me the best ways to wash things.  Mowgli and Ely were like my little quality control monitors today while I did laundry.  They also loved to help out, and kept switching out my water buckets for clean water.  Eventually they just wanted to do the actual scrubbing for me, and I happily obliged.  Doing laundry outside is one of the more exhausting and sweaty things I have maybe ever done. It's at least tied with Bikram.  So to have them do my work for me was wonderful.  I told them I would buy them Pepsi's or Mango Fruitees later, which made them super happy too.

Speaking of which, Katy and I have discovered that our brothers are quite easily persuaded (read: bribed) into helping us out.  Whether it is giving us back massages, running errands for us, or finding our lost rings, they are eager to help.  And we usually don't have to even offer incentives but we still do.  It's making me think twice about child labor...just kidding. But I do love the ingenuity and creativity that they have.  We learned a phrase in Jaipur that the only thing not possible in India is nothing.  Indians are very inventive at finding solutions or fixing things.  It's fun to watch, especially in 7, 9, 11, and 12 year olds.

I only wish they could fix the power-outtages.  Those are the worst...they happen at least once a day still. When the power is out, we don't want to do anything but lay there.  And we still sweat doing that.  Even if we are getting used to it, it is still miserable.  I think the worst times are when it goes out at night and you wake up because it's just too hot.   
I think we are going to end up working at the hospital for about 2 weeks, for the last 2 weeks of July.  Kind of a long story but our volunteer agency emailed us asking how our hosptial placement was going and we pretty much let them know that we weren't doing anything of the sort.  We said we loved where we were living and were very happy, but if it was possible to do any hospital work that would be good too.  So they found us another placement, like another family, but now we don't want to leave our family yet.  So we settled on the final 2 weeks, so that we can still get some of that in at least.  Apparently this new house we'll be moving to has A/C and wireless internet, which will be glorious.  I'm willing to sweat for a couple more weeks though to hang out with our family. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I. P. R. U.

Katy and I were commenting today that it's funny  how much time we spend with our brothers and how much we talk to them, despite the fact that only William speaks much English and we certainly don't know Hindi.  I guess you can play in any language though.  Last week, when Ely was very upset with us, we looked up how to say "I love you" in Hindi. That proved to be too difficult to say, so we just took the word "love," which is "piyar."  We mixed it with English to say "I piyar you."  The boys definitely got it and loved the Hinglish.  So then they were writing all over their hands and our hands "I.P.R.U." It's now become kind of our phrase that we say back and forth to each other.

While we were in Delhi, we went to a larger grocery store and found Prego pasta sauce and some noodles, so we decided to make it for them last week before we left for Jaipur.  We weren't sure if they would like it, because it wasn't spicy at all, and Indians like all things spicy.  Either way, we were kind of happy to have something familiar.  So Katy and Rikke slaved in the kitchen to make the pasta, and I made Chappatti mixed with onions and garlic to kind of substitute for garlic bread.  We have helped with dinner before, but never that much.  It certainly gave us more appreciation for the work Sharlini does! I don't know if I've ever sweat so much. The results were mixed, mostly good though.  Sharlini didn't like the pasta, Gill said she doesn't like Western food.  Ely wasn't crazy about the sauce but he did like the noodles.  The rest of the family liked it and said we would have to make it again.  We tried to look for pasta sauce in Jaipur, but couldn't find a large enough grocery store.  We also want to make chicken tacos or fajitas for them.  We think that would be a good dish since it has some spice to it. 

Jaipur was a great trip overall.  The hotel was a lot more low key than where we stayed in Delhi, but it had A/C, which is all we can ask for.  We loved the "pink city" (Jaipur) also! We spent Saturday morning at Amber Fort, and could've probably spent all day there.  It was so fun to explore-the rooms and hallways just went on forever.  We wanted to play hide and seek in them, but would've certainly gotten lost.  Afterwards our Tuk-Tuk driver took us to a place where we could do elephant riding for cheaper.  So Katy, Rikke, Telma, and I rode elephants for about $8/person.  THEN, he took us to ride camels for about  $6.50/person.  I don't think you can even get into the zoo for that cheap in the States.  The tuk-tuk driver was so great.  He spoke English well, and stayed with us all day as our tour guide/driver/photographer and only charged us 400 Rupees total.  We tipped him about 100% on top of that.  He also took us to a textile factory and gem factory to get things specially made for us that cost much less than they would've anywhere else.  My favorite purchase was a silver ring that they cut for me in the shape of India, to add to my Africa ring! If only I had more fingers for all the countries I want rings of.

Teaching is up and down everyday.  We've at least gotten to a point where we aren't as concerned about having a "lesson plan" every day.  A lot of the teaching comes in just talking with the kids.  We're learning a lot too, I think.

Friday, June 17, 2011

More about my Faridibad Family

This week seemed to go more quickly than last.  We are still teaching, and it seems to be going a little better every day  We’re not sure how effective we are, as the kids that understand what we are teaching usually already know the information, and those that don’t know it, don’t understand what we’re teaching.  Oh well though, I think just talking to them in English is probably helpful.  Plus, they’re fun.

Not to beat a dead horse, but my favorite part is obviously still the family.  Having lived with them for 2 weeks now, we are getting to know their personalities a bit more.  Let me introduce you…
Mowgli with his "toy box." He took great care to cut a window and gate into the side of it. 

This is Mowgli, the youngest.  Fast fact, his real name is Harry, but everyone calls him Mowgli.  He is a feisty one for sure.  I’ve discovered he is not as much of a morning person as the others.  When he wakes up he usually just wants to watch t.v., and doesn’t really care where we are.  When he watches t.v., he really concentrates on it.  He tilts his head and furrows his brow and almost looks angry, like this:
Intently watching his cartoons.
 Being the youngest, I think he is also probably the craziest.  Anytime we’re playing with any of the other boys, he’ll usually jump in.  He’s also hilarious when we “fight.”  He’ll participate the whole time, but then at the end he’ll always sit on us and says “I win I win!”  His laugh is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. 

Ely's beautiful grin.  Please tilt your head to properly see it. You'll be glad you did.
Ely, the second youngest is so sweet.  In the morning he’ll come up to us with a huge toothy smile and say “Good morning sister,” kind of quietly.  This boy definitely has me in the palm of his hand and knows it.  He gets “mad” at us easily, which really means that he pretends to be upset with us so we chase him even more and give him extra attention.  It works almost every time.  He has such a soft heart too.  The other night, after we mistakenly gave the boys Mt. Dew, they were extra crazy.  It was during bath time, and they were all fighting and trying to open the door on each other so everyone would see the other one naked.  Side note, Sharlini (aka Mom), was encouraging the whole thing.  Anyways, the boys ended up pantsing Ely because he hadn’t gotten in the bath yet.  He got so upset and starting bawling, standing in the corner.  He wouldn’t look at any of us and ended up running down the street to the park he was so upset.  Gil had to eventually go get him.  He still would barely look at us that night.  It was one of the most heartbreaking things I might have ever seen.  The next day, he was still very upset with us (not totally sure why, as it was his brothers who pantsed him).  It took all day, and lots of coaxing with cell phone games and cameras, but he finally liked us again last night.  It made for a very rough day for me though.
Here’s a video of them fighting, pre-Ely-pantsing.  Notice that he is fine to try to pants Mowgli.  There’s no reasoning with a 9 year old though.
Please listen for Mowgli's laugh at the very end. 

Simon laughing during our "Mt. Dew" night.  Again, I can't rotate the picture,so you'll have to turn your head.  So much joy in his face. 
Simon is the 11 year old.  Well, we think he’s 11. We get told different ages every time we ask.  He was a little harder to break at first.  Like when we would be fighting with the other 3, he would just be watching t.v. in the other room.  He was also out playing a lot more and went to bed first, so we didn’t see as much of him.  But he’s come around, and now we are good friends.  He loves music and dancing and I have so many videos of him dancing.  He particularly loves Shakira and the “Gasolina” song. Again, at first I thought he was more standoff-ish and didn’t like us much, but now he is so loving and affectionate.  He is more likely to just sit around or lay around with us, instead of having to play all the time.  And those are some of my favorite times.  He has also come to school with us a couple of times.  He obviously walks around like he runs the place then.
So that leaves only William in the brother department.  He is the oldest.  I guess he’s 12, but he seems much older than Simon.  His English is quite good, and he helps us to translate a lot.  He is also just so enjoyable to have around.  Sometimes he is clearly the older brother and acts more mature than the others, but often he’s right in the thick of it, messing around with all the rest of them.  He is also a big fan of chess.  We have yet to beat him.  When we walked to the internet café the other day, or sometimes when we walk to get pops down the road, he’ll go with us.  It is so cute to have him there, half protecting us and half translating for us.  One of the funnier things that happened was earlier this week.  He came in, probably about 9 a.m., from playing in the park that morning.  He sat down in the living room and screamed “Mammi, khaanaa!”  Now, we don’t understand much Hindi, but we did understand that to mean “Mom, food!!”  He said it in such a way that it was like “Mom, I can’t believe I’ve been sitting here for 20 seconds and I don’t yet have food!” He didn’t realize that we understood him, so when we started laughing and he got that we thought it was hilarious, he of course repeated himself.  It actually reminded me a lot of my real brother.  His demands were met with a slap, and then a big plate of food.

Velma is the only daughter, and she is 15.  She helps us out a lot, and usually will go with us to help us get to the market or internet café.  We also brought her with us to Delhi last weekend.  Again, probably not our best idea, but it was well intended.  She can be a nice break from the boys, if we’d rather have some down time.  She is also our go-to for Indian pop-culture.  We sure have seen our share of India’s MTV and all their music videos.  At first it was fun and interesting to watch, now it’s getting a little repetitive.  Like any other 15 year old girl, she complains about her mom.  She says that her mom is crazy, asks too many questions, and is always bothering her.  Brings back such great memories.

Sharlini and Gil are hilarious.  Sharlini doesn’t speak much English but she still tries to communicate with us.  The other night, she came into our room and asked to have some of Katy’s Malibu Rum.  She was able to signal that it was too crazy out there, and she needed a drink.  They are a very liberal Indian family.  It’s also funny to see that they don’t care at all what the kids do.  The whole house is a play room.  The kids climb all over the furniture, walls, doorways, everything.  They hardly get yelled at for anything, and when they do it’s usually funny for everyone.  The boys are always fighting with each other.  Always. It’s funny to see and then to see Gil and Sharlini just ignoring them and letting it go on.  We tried to explain to Gil that, in the States, kids aren’t usually allowed to go at each other like that.  They’ll usually only get one or two good hits in before being separated.  Gil’s response was “It is good for them to use their muscles.”  I think their philosophy has some merit…we have yet to see a long-standing fight or offense between the kids.  Any problems are usually resolved pretty quickly with a kick or punch.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Back "Home"

So we're back in Faridabad now.  Delhi was both exhausting and relaxing.  At first I couldn't decide whether going to Delhi had been a good idea or not...when we got back home it was difficult to adjust again.  So Sunday and Monday were kind of difficult.

Having Velma with us in Delhi was definitely not what we expected.  She doesn't have an I.D., which the hotel requires for all overnight guests, so we kind of had to sneak her in.  Which meant that she didn't have a key and had to depend on us the whole time.  She also told us to convince her father to let her bring her cell phone.  She was on it non-stop...she even answered a call at 4 a.m. and proceeded to lay there talking until Katy had to tell her to go out in the hall to talk.  Now we know why her dad doesn't always let her have her phone. But, she is 15, so I guess that is not out of the ordinary.  I don't know how she felt about it all, really.  I think some of it was probably difficult for her because she was so limited.  She did get to go swimming for the first time in her life though! And we tried to teach her to swim, which is difficult with adults.  She made some progress, but was still uneasy without us holding her up.

The power and water seem to be going out more frequently now.  Or at least yesterday they went out a lot.  Which just made it even more difficult to get used to things again.  And when all you want is a shower and there is no water, there isn't a whole lot to do to feel better.

Seeing our brothers was some help though.  I had told them I would look for a Cricket bat for them when we were in New Delhi.  I didn't find one there and was hoping they wouldn't be too upset.  They said we could just go to the little market right down the street and get one though.  I wonder if that is what they had meant originally? Sometimes we get confused with communication.  So we all walked down the road to get was so simple but I just loved walking along with them, holding Mowgli's hand on one side and Ely's hand on the other.  We got a Cricket bat and tennis ball all for 110 Rupees, so about $2.50.  I think that's why we're such good friends, because I can buy their love.  Totally worth it though. Then they of course kept asking us to play Cricket with them.  I told them we were too tired on Sunday, but I said "maybe tomorrow."  They seemed to forget that I said "maybe," and so on Monday they kept asking all day if I would play with them.  I finally had to give in, and went to the park with Ely and Mowgli to play some Cricket.  Despite all of Dustin's attempts, I still have no idea what to do or how to play.  And William wasn't there to help teach me, since the younger boys don't really know much English.  So when it was my turn we decided that I would just try to hit it and Mowgli would do the running for me.  Judging by the amount of laughter that I caused, I don't think I did very well.  They kept saying that I was good, but I don't believe them. 

We are maybe going to go to Jaipur this weekend.  There is just so much to do and see while we're here so we're trying to plan it out as best we can.  Hopefully I'll be able to post more pictures at that time!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Learning my name

                                              New Delhi at night.

We're still in Delhi, our last day here. The hotel has been so fun, a good break and some comfort for us. It's good to have balance so we don't get exhausted or burnt out or anything. I love all the staff here too. They are so friendly, like genuinely friendly. I am sure part of it is that it is a nice hotel, so guests expect to be greeted and taken very good care of, but most everyone of them has asked us all about our travels here, why we're here, how long, etc. A lot of them have been in the States too, so then we get to talk to them about studying there or what they do. It makes it feel very personal and welcoming.

We definitely have not enough time to see Delhi though, so we will have to come back. I haven't seen any of the sights here, like the Lotus Temple or Humyun's Tomb. Yesterday we did do a walk through Old Delhi through an organization for the street kids of India. We got to see what street life is like and learned a lot about the street kids. Our guide was a former street kid that had been helped through the shelter house/program that puts on the tours. It was so interesting to hear his story...not to be tacky or cliche, but it was like Slumdog Millionaire in real life.

Back at the hotel we also made friends with a big group of Polish Engineers who are here on business. They were a little crazy, but fun to talk to. They also told me how to correctly say my last name. I already forgot though--I like the easier American version where I don't have to spit in someone's face when I say it. Oh and we were by the pool, so they were in speedos the whole time.

Our friend Gregory.
Oh Europeans and their Speedos.

We made Malibu and Pineapple--Hallie and Dustin have taught me well!

Katy and I on the Terrace with New Delhi behind us.
The whole gang. It was a beautiful evening.

Crazy crazy crazy

We’re still here in Delhi and I am going to try to update as much as I can now while I have the chance. Normally when we are at the internet café, we only have about an hour, because Gil brings us with his motorcycle there and waits for us. We ride 3 at a time (Gil with 2 of us) to go to the school or the market/internet café when we need to. Gil always makes fun of us and says that we are making his tires go flat when we ride with him. Riding on the motorbike is so crazy though. Driving in general is crazy in India. All of the descriptions of India say that time is not really a priority, and we have seen that; it’s called Indian standard time, and it just means that being punctual is not really necessary. So we cannot figure out why the traffic is so crazy and everyone is in such a rush to get everywhere.
The roads are so crowded. It is one of the times that you realize that India does indeed have the second largest population. And the roads have no rules. Really. People drive on both sides, swerving in and out of each other. It is sometimes terrifying because it constantly looks like there is about to be an accident. We haven’t seen one yet though. But to add to the chaos, there is such a range of transportation. It is everything from donkey and camel drawn carts, to bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, cars, trucks and buses. And don’t forget the tuk-tuks. Tuk-tuks are their 3-wheeled motor cart taxis. We use them to get to the market sometimes or to the school, just depending on how many of us are going. For like a 30 minute ride, it is only 10 Rupees each--that’s like 25 cents. Back to the traffic though…to add to the chaos, everyone uses their horns all the time, for everything. It means get out of the way, it means I’m passing you, it’s a turn signal, it sometimes just means, “Hey I’m driving down the road.” It gets annoying after about 3 minutes, especially since, when everyone is honking, it doesn’t do any good.
Katy and I went to the market our second day at with the family. We wanted to get some more pants to wear and just do a little shopping. All of the vendors and people, coupled with the traffic though, proved to be too much. We ended up just getting overwhelmed, dehydrated, and exhausted, and left without buying anything. It was just chaos and we were not at all prepared for it. However, we went back the other night and it was much more successful! We all got some pairs of pants, tops, scarves, and a couple other things. For everything, we kept saying it was too cheap to pass up. I need to come back to India with an empty suitcase next time. Velma again was with us, and I’m sure she saved us a lot of money because they couldn’t jack their prices way up. Also, since her birthday is coming up, we all decided we wanted to get her a present. So she picked out a dress for her party. Well, we thought it was a dress. Apparently it only qualifies as a top here, and she needed pants to go with it. She ended up getting a pair of Capri pants and leggings. Even with the capris, which were mid-calf length, she wasn’t sure if they would be long enough to be appropriate. When we got home and she showed her mom, her mom had the typical parent reaction of “Those aren’t long enough, where are the rest of them,” etc. But again, they were mid-calf length jean capris. We were all laughing about how that never even crossed our minds. Us scandalous westerners and our exposed calves! But we were glad to be able to buy a present for Velma and she seemed very happy with it. We also got hair dye and colored her hair for her. It was a red dye, but since her hair is so dark, it’s just kind of a red tint. When all was said and done, I think all of her stuff only cost a little more than $12! And split by 4 people. It seems like such a small gift, but I think she was very happy with it. Some of the best $3 I have ever spent.
When we got the placement in Faridibad, I saw on the map that it was very close to New Delhi. I thought it would be a bigger city, similar to New Delhi. Being in New Delhi though, I see what a big difference there is. Many people in Faridibad do not know English, like when we get the tuk-tuks or when we go to the market. Most everyone we’ve had in Delhi does know English though. Also, anytime we go anywhere in Faridibad, we get so many stares. I mean, I knew that we would stick out, but it is crazy how people react. They do double takes when they drive past us, stare at us when we go by, and all of the kids always say hi to us. I feel like we are in animals in a zoo when we go through town in the tuk-tuks. The other day, a guy legitimately fell off his bike as he drove past our house because he was staring. Velma said that it is very rare for any foreigners to come to Faridibad. Other than the volunteers that stay with her family, she has never seen another foreigner there. So that makes more sense that we get stared at; I did not realize it was that far from New Delhi culturally.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I. Love. India.

I cannot stop smiling.

We are at the Marriott Hotel in New Delhi for the weekend.  It's a nice break.  There is A/C and a pool, which is spoiling me a little bit.  It is also giving me time to reflect on this last week and actually write more about it...

Telma and I got a drink tonight and our server stayed and talked with us for a good 30-45 minutes while we sat outside.  It was so great, I don't think I've ever had such a conversation with a waiter or waitress before.  He had lived in the U.K. for about 4 years while he went to school, so he was able to relate to a lot of what we said.  We got to chat about a lot of the little nuances that we have seen here, and honestly, the whole time I was smiling.  Sometimes near tearing up because I have loved it so much.

We have been here in New Delhi for about 10 hours so far.  Again, I am loving the A/C and comfortable accommodations, but all I can think about is how I wish my host family was here with me .I am glad that Velma is here, and I am anxious to hear more about what she thinks of it all.  She is 15 (almost 16!) and has only been to New Delhi 2 times in her life.  I also doubt that those 2 times were spent in a nice hotel, etc.  I hope that she can enjoy herself and her time here.  She has spent a lot of time on her phone, and we think she is talking to friends, telling them about her stay. She has been more quiet and shy than normal, and I think she may feel a bit out of place or overwhelmed.  I just hope that this will prove to be a good experience and a fun memory for her to look back on.

Back to Faridabad will be strange, and less joyful, to wake up tomorrow without hearing the sounds of bathtime.  Bathtime at our house has become one of Katy and my favorite times.  The 4 boys take a bath in the mornings in a tub in the backyard (They call it the "backside," which lead to some confusion for us at first...). So we get to hear a lot of splashing and laughing.  They usually bathe 2 at a time.  The barrel that they use for baths also doubles as a great toy during the day.  They climb in and do log rolls back and forth across the courtyard.  But in the morning, it's all business. Some of my favorite picutres have come from bathtime.  And I am convinced that there is no better way to wake up, in the whole wide world, than to hear them splashing around and laughing and yelling. It is impossible to wake up and be anything but happy.

                                                Mowgli and Simon in the tub

The other night though, it got even better. William is the oldest boy.  Which means that he is usually picking on his brothers and dunking them in the bathtub, etc.  So Katy and I figured that he needed to be picked on a little bit.  Also, most of our nights are spent "fighting" with our brothers, and no matter what, they always claim that they win. So we checked with Gil to make sure it was okay, and then we set it up so that we could dunk William in the bath tub at night.  We got him into the backyard and then picked him up and put him head first into the tub. After all was said and done, Katy and I ended up getting in the tub for fun too and we all ended up soaking wet.  And so the boys of course claimed that they again won.

I miss them so much already. It feels too quiet not having them screaming and climbing all over us.  I cannot even think about what it will be like in 2 months when we have to leave, so please don't ask me to.  I will be a wreck.

I really love the Indian attitude and way of life so far. This includes so many different things, but one of the ones that has really stood out, is their sense (or lack thereof) of entitlement.  Like I have said, our house is rather small, only two bedrooms for all 7 family members.  And right now those 2 bedrooms are both occupied by the volunteers.  So the family has their one bed and 2 cots in the living room, and couch to sleep on.  We asked Velma what they do when they don't have volunteers and they have the whole place to themselves; do they have specific sleeping spots? She said they don't, that whoever goes to sleep first will just go into one of the bedrooms etc.  Such a contrast to what we know! They don't have their own "room" or "space."  Even though the siblings fight a lot(more on this later), it is never about what is mine or yours.  We have bought some treats (pop and chocolates) for them a couple of times, and they are so good about sharing. And they want to share with us too.  They don't have a sense of ownership, in a very good way.  This has been so cool to be a part of, and it's kind of rubbing off.  Between us 4 volunteers, we are always mixing and sharing what we have brought or bought.  It might be because everything here is so cheap so it's not that big of a deal to pay for each other on some things, but I think some of it is just that Indian mentality to share everything. 

                                             Me with my brothers: Mowgli, Me, Ely, William, and Simon :)))))

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We're still settling in and getting used to things here in India, and I'm still loving (almost) all of it! The best part continues to be the family we are living with.  I now have 4 more brothers, and whenever we're at home they are always saying "sister look, sister look!"  They are so much fun.  It's like a perpetual state of babysitting. :) I love just sitting on the couch or one of the beds with them all around, or losing in chess or playing catch with them.  They're great.  Velma keeps teaching us more and more about Indian culture, specifically all of their singers/actors/actresses.  I still don't completely understand, but they apparently have music videos for songs, but the people in all the videos are only pretending to be the singers--they are just actors and actresses, and the real singers aren't very famous.  I would say it seems weird, but then we saw a commercial for Lady Gaga, which eclipses most of the oddities of any culture.

We went to a slum school yesterday, one that Gil owns.  The kids are not actually in school right now, as they are on summer break.  Still though, about 20-30 kids from the area all came so that we could teach them some things while we are here.  We had no idea that we would be teaching, so Katy and I were just making it up as we went along! We covered all the basic vocab topics we could think of: body parts, fruits and vegetables, counting and age, countries, months and days.  Then we did some math because , as Cady Heron said "It's the same in every country. (That's beautiful)"  They asked us to give them homework at the end, so we assigned them some multiplication problems.  That also meant that Katy and I had to go home and figure them out too.  :/

The other 2 volunteers got to our house yesterday.  They had started out in one of the orphanages for about two days, but couldn't stand it.  Apparently there weren't showers and the toilets didn't really work, and it was just terrible.  So now we're all staying together and we'll be teaching together. Telma is from Iceland and Rica is from Denmark. 

It does seem that we are getting used to the heat! At least it wasn't the first thing I mentioned!! The power has gone out a couple of times at home, which means that the fans, our only way to keep cool, also stop.  It usually is only for about 5 minutes, but sometimes it's been up to half an hour . Once it comes back on and we get the fans back, we feel like we are in heaven.  It's funny how your perspective changes so quickly!

The four of us (Katy, Telma, Rica, and I) are probably going to go into New Delhi this weekend.  We're planning on maybe staying at a hotel so that we can maybe go swimming or cool down somehow.  So hopefully we'll get wi-fi or something and be able to upload pictures!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


We made it here!! I got into India Sunday morning, India time.  So that was like 30 hours of travel. Very boring, but other than that it wasn't too bad. Plus I got to watch the Justin Beiber movie on the plane.

India has definitely proven to be an adventure already! We got to our host family's house last night.  We are living with a family of 7.  Plus us 2, so that makes 9 of us in the one house.  Oh, and 2 more volunteers are coming today or tomorrow, so we'll have 11 people together total.  And it's not a big house at all. Very basic for sure. Katy and I share a bedroom with a bathroom attached.  They don't have a specific "shower," just the shower head in the middle of the bathroom. So the water just goes all over and there's a drain in the corner.

Back to the family though...Dad is Gil and mom is Shalini. Then there are the 5 kids: 4 boys ages 4ish-12ish.  They are adorable and lots of entertainment.  William is the oldest, followed by Simon, Ellie, and Mowgli is the youngest. They also have a daughter, Velma, age 15.  She is very helpful with translating everything.  She also gave us henna last night.  We really like her.  Her birthday is coming up in June, so she told us we would be having a party! :)

They made us dinner last night and it was delicious.  I think I could eat Indian food for every meal of my life and love it.  Which is good, because we had the leftovers for breakfast.  Don't worry, I keep telling them that they have to teach us their secrets, so they let Katy and I cut the tomatoes and onions last night for dinner! They're starting us with the basics. Other than that though, they don't let us do much work. 

The really exciting part of last night came when we were about to go to bed.  Katy was getting a towel off of the drying line in our room and her finger hit the fan (which was on).  It sliced her finger pretty deep.  Lots of blood.  We're not sure how bad it is, and are kind of anxious to get to the hospital for our work part of the project, to have them look at it.  So far we've just had Neosporin and a cloth bandage for it. 

Speaking of work, we're not sure when we're going to start.  I think today, but no one seems in any hurry for anything.  I think we'll be going after we are done here at the internet cafe and market.  They really seem pretty lax on what we will be doing. 

I know there is a lot more to add, that just covers the basics of what we've seen and experienced.  But to sum up, it's very hot here. Very hot. And we're living in pretty basic conditions.  But still, it's been great.  Katy and I seem to have both adjusted to it very well thus far.   We're not bothered by the conditions, and the family is great.  They keep calling us "daughter" and "sister" and saying we are part of the family now.  It's been wonderful.

Also, the internet cafe is currently jamming some Justin Beiber. This kid is everywhere.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Here we go!

So I guess I'm leaving tomorrow, whether or not I'm ready! Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited to be going, but being ready is a whole different story. Part of the problem is that I don't even know what I need to prepare for. But usually in a good way. I've got a lot on my agenda for the next couple of months, and with that is a lot of variety. From the hot hot hot and humid two months in India, to Europe in the fall, it is very difficult to condense all that to one suitcase. So I think, to prevent a nervous breakdown, I'm just going to have to wing it and make the best of it.

I think this will be a good lesson for me in minimalism. Essentially living out of a backpack, and not a very big one mind you, I will be forced to prioritize what I really need each step of the way. I'm pretty excited to try it. I'm just hoping that I won't have to keep buying things along the way, thus minimalizing my bank account in the process.

So, in a nutshell, here is what the next couple of months will most likely look like for me. Notice that, still, some of the details are hazy.

I'll start in India for about 9 weeks. 8 of those weeks will be spent volunteering in a hospital. I don't know what I'll be doing in the hospital yet, they're going to try to put us in places of interest to us, also depending on our qualifications. Of which I have nothing that would be useful in a hospital setting. Maybe I can befriend all the old Indian people while they get IV's. We might also get to help out at an orphanage (hopefully!), we'll see. "We" as in Katy Demitruk and myself; Katy is one of best friends frond high school and I am stoked to get to adventure with her!!

Next I'll be meeting up with my mom and sister to travel around Thailand for about a week. We'll hopefully be hitting some beaches, maybe ride some elephants, and maybe stop by Singapore for funsies. It'll be good to have some vacay time after India.

This puts us at mid August, and this is where the details get a little fuzzy. After Thailand will probably be Israel. Originally it was going to be Egypt, but because of all the unrest, etc., we're probably going to skip over that part. So Israel it is. The girls I'll be traveling with at this point, Suzanne and Emily, will have been traveling throughput Australia and Indonesia beforehand, and we'll meet up in Israel. Suz has a friend in Israel that I think we're going to team up with, maybe do some local missions while we're there. I'm sure we will also get to do a lot of sightseeing of all the awesomeness of Israel.

After Israel is Italy. We're planning to be about a month in Italy, specifically the month of September. Hopefully that will mean we'll get to go all over Italy. As far as what we're doing there, organic farming is on the list of possibilities. I'm so excited for this. Farming in Italy? Maybe at a vineyard? Awesome.

So my flight out of London is on October 13th, so I just have to get there by then. Suz and Emily are probably going to go to Sweden after Italy. I may or may not join them for that. I think Paris would also be a fun alternative.

So, clearly, plans are not set in stone yet. Which brings me back to the difficulty of preparing for everything. I'm excited though. So far, God has been so faithful to take care of so many details. Everything has lined up so so well with the programs, the timing, people to travel with, everything. So I'm not overly concerned with some of the finer details. That will make it fun too, to not know every step of the way. At this point I don't even know what to expect from this whole adventure. I know I will experience, learn, and grow a lot; I just don't know how, where, or why. Again though, God has always been so faithful on my life, in every season, and each time it has been in unexpected ways. I know that he has given me a heart for the world, for adventure, and for people. Which is what I'm hoping the next four months will be all about!!