Saturday, June 11, 2011

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.

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