Friday, September 26, 2008
To be completely honest, I've also been avoiding posting here lately because I've been having a hard time in general, and haven't wanted my negativity to come out too strongly. But, I finally decided two things today. One: The goal of this blog is to tell people about my experiences in India- both good and bad; and Two: I am in charge of how I choose to view my circumstances, and it just might help lift my spirits to try to look at things from a positive light. So, on that note, I've dedicated today's entry to a Top 10 List. Inspired by the Top 10 List some friends of mine posted on their blog, I am making my own, focusing on things I've learned in India. Some of my choices are rather tongue-in-cheek, but all of them definitely represent the knowledge I've acquired since coming to such a new and often confusing environment!
TOP TEN THINGS I'VE LEARNED IN INDIA
10. How to eat an appreciate ALL kinds of wonderful foods, even when I have no idea what they are! (and with my hands, no less!)
9. Nothing in India will ever start on time, (Or finish on time, for that matter) so I can relax, and take my time getting places.
8. The skill of crossing the street: Step out in front of oncoming traffic, hold out your hand, and stare the driver of the approaching car down until he finally stops two inches from you. (Ignore the incessant honking. They are bluffing, I promise!)
7. Just because a store carried something last week does not mean it will carry that item this week, or ever again. So buy it while you can!
6.How to read!
5. Vegetables that have been bargained for in an open-air market taste better than those bought in an air-conditioned grocery store. (Of course, I could just be savoring the sense of accomplishment from getting the same produce at about 1/4th of the price!)
4. Animals make life more exciting! (This first picture is a cow in front of my flat. The second, a dog in our class at school. She generally comes in the window, but sometimes we let her use the door.)
3. Showers are the best invention ever!
2. My Indian friends are some of the nicest, most patient people I have ever met.
1. Joy can be found even in the most unlikely of circumstances. But you have to be looking for it!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A woman who was not so lucky with the pink powder. (I'm sure she wasn't trying to avoid being dusted!)
I think the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around is the idea of worshipping objects. Because my belief is that God is Omnipresent and Spirit, I can’t imagine having a connection or feeling the need to show such incredible respect to a man-made statue as if it were my God. In fact, I feel like in my journey of faith, most of my efforts have been to keep myself from confining God to human constraints of time or space.
Ephesians 3:20-21 says: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” When I read that, I am reminded how often I limit God in my own head, by looking at a task and seeing it as too big to overcome, forgetting that the Creator of the world is behind me! In a way, it’s like I am creating a miniature god and forgetting how big He truly is!
Anyway, I’m not intending for this to be a Bible lesson. It’s just some of my recent musings that have come up. Encounters with such a diverse and rich culture seem to have a way of making me think about my own values and beliefs, which, in my opinion, is never a bad thing.
Monday, September 8, 2008
(I was forced to pose for this picture, in case anyone is wondering why I look so enthralled by this sign!)
This is Gandhi's room.
I love this quote!
As excited as I was to be able to see where Mahatma Gandhi lived, I must admit that another part of me was excited about this excursion for a completely different and selfish reason. You see, a lot of my friends in the U.S. have been asking me “So what’s it like living in Bombay?” My responses seem to disappoint them, as I haven’t really ventured out into the more famous parts of the city. To be honest, sometimes I even forget that I live in the 3rd most populated city in the world. My little corner of Bombay often lacks the cosmopolitan flair one associates with this metropolis.
Govandi, the neighbourhood I technically live in, is a smaller neighbourhood about an hour north of Central Bombay, where traditional India is still very much the dominant culture. Being the absolute only Westerner in the area, I attract quite a crowd wherever I go. I have been able to minimize my conspicuousness a bit by adopting the traditional dress. For example, in Govandi I almost always don a shawl (or dupatta) just to run to the vegetable stall around the corner from my flat. While going out in traditional western clothes wouldn’t shock anyone here, it would stand out quite starkly against the backdrop of women dressed in full salwar kameez or saris. So, even on days when I do opt for a t-shirt instead of a kurta, I try to “cover up” in some form or fashion, just to minimize the stares, if nothing else.
So, part of my excitement about our field trip to the southern part of the city was also that it meant getting to venture into the more “touristy” areas, do some shopping, and forget my painfully obvious foreignness for at least a little while.
After our visit to the museum, a few of my friends and I decided to go to Colaba Causeway, a known street market full of vendors selling anything and everything to locals as well as the massive amounts of tourists. Immediately I saw the contrast between South Mumbai and Govandi/Chembur where I live. Suddenly, instead of being surrounded by Hindi-speaking locals drinking chai and hacking up a piece of their lung which they somehow feel compelled to spit in my path, I was inundated with westerners clad in tank tops and capris, consulting guide books and looking generally confused. Now, it was my salwaar kameez which drew attention rather than my incredibly pale complexion!
We spent the afternoon doing quite a bit of shopping, haggling over prices, eating good food, and just enjoying time away from the campus. I was happy to finally buy a few of the “typical” Indian souvenirs that I had been wanting to get, and took great comfort in the knowledge that my Indian companions ensured I did not pay “foreign” prices for any of my purchases.
After this trip, I have decided that I really do need to venture out of Govandi a bit more. Mumbai is a gorgeous city with lots of rich history and fun activities. True, a trip to South Mumbai does take a bit of advanced planning. But two hours of travel seems worth it when it means getting to experience one of the most diverse places on earth!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
This is some sort of centipede that I find just about everywhere. This morning there was one in the kitchen sink!
This "little" guy was just haning out in the middle of the floor one morning when I woke up. Shradha sent him to cockroach heaven with her shoe. (But she did feel really guilty about it!)
And for those of you who aren't insect fans, we have some reptile representatives in the house. These lizards also roam fairly freely around the place. I see them in the bathroom a lot, and sometimes on the window sill in the kitchen. They're really fast, though, so getting this picture took some effort on my part.
Finally, we have an animal with a little more crowd appeal. This is the stray cat that one of my roommates has adopted and started feeding. She doesn't have a name, but she does come inside and get fed and loved by us on a daily basis. I couldn't get her to look at the camera, though, so you'll just have to make due with these pictures of her strutting her stuff! She's a little scraggly right now, but I think that with all the attention she's getting now, she'll be soft and cuddly in no time!