Friday, May 23, 2008

My Village I Call Home

Chavadi Pudur, just a small village one hour outside of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. It has a thousand people, maybe. I am constantly surprised at the new faces I continue to see and the wide age variety. There is a little girl that lives at the top of the road leading to Matthew and Jeeva's house, my host family. Everytime I pass (I must pass at least five or six times a day) she comes running out of her compound onto the street with her hand in the air and not wearing any pants or underwear. I think she trying to wave but all she has master is to stick her hand in the air. After two weeks here it has not gotten old.
I wake up at six thirty every morning. Around this time it starts to get warmer, the rooster is testing his vocal strength and the next door neighbor can't stand a waking moment without his radio. All these elements combine to my natural wake up call. It take about an hour and a half to get ready because bucket showers are not as easy as turning the faucet on. I do an assortment of things until about 12:30 in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day, and I talk the twenty minutes walk to lunch. On the right is a picture of the lane I walk down in order to get to the main street. I am usually wearing a sawarl camis, a long tunic with pants and a scarf. T he jerks who thought it was ok to wear a scarf when it is a hundred degrees outside will pay in the afterlife, I am certain. It was probably a man. Most woman here wear sarees. I can't do it. It is to much fabric and it is to complicated.
The landscape here is beautiful. Like this lake you see. One morning I went on the bus and found this lake. I got off the bus to see if I could eat a little breakfast and read a little. I was quickly disappointed. This was the ultimate public bathroom. As I walked down the hill towards the lake I saw it was a field of poo. I saw three people squatting to take a dump. Must be nice, poo with a view. So beautiful yet so disgusting.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Birthday in India

Hello Friends! Today is my birthday. I thought I would share with an excerpt from my journal,
'I am sitting in a temple of the top of a mountain in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. Heidi, next to me, is frantically writing notes. Besides her, I am the only white person on the mountain. The woman are me are seated on the floor 'indian style.' All are wearing bright fabric with gold on their ears, neck, and nose. Their hairs are pulled into a tight buns or braid wearing a string of jasmine. I sit with short, curly, red, frizzy hair, a stark contrast to the oily smooth black braid that often reaches their waist. I am learning that my own belief that differences are beautiful is not the case. Ina culture where tradition is a rule not a guideline, my differences are not easily accepted. A woman told me last night when talking about my hair, 'it's ok to be different in some things but not all.'
My hair is turning out to be a constant struggle. The humidity is making it curlier than ever and I love it. But woman do not hesitate to ask me why I didn't come my hair this morning. I struggle for words to explain to them that I like my hair. When I tell them that I often get a laughing response. Sometimes I will say I forgot and sometimes I won't answer. But it is my birthday today and I will wear my hair however I want. Even if it is culturally inappropriate.

Friday, May 9, 2008

On sunday night Heidi, Natalie and Caithlin and I decide to find a mosque. We felt this would be sunday appropriate. Women are not allowed into many mosques so we wanted to find one with a ladies' section but struggled to find even one. The mosque we found was very big. It is actually called the Big Mosque, so there you go. Upon entering the grounds we covered our head. To the est of the mosque there was a shrine to a saint. A man on a motorcycle stopped us and said that we could enter the grounds but we could not go in the mosque or the shrine. It seems as if Indians love to tell us what we can and cannot do, we have gotten that alot. Although in most cases it saved us from an embarrassing situation, in other cases, such as this one, it was a guideline and not a rule. When we approached the shrine they invited us to take our shoes and come worship. Eat that motorcycle man. I was very hesitant at first to walk inside because there were these huge ants crawling around, I am talking HUGE. I swallowed by hesitancy and put on my brave face and did it. i flinched, noticeably, a couple of times and was made fun of it for it but oh well.
Along with ants I am learning to get used to a lot of new elements. Yesterday was my first usage of squatter toilet. I have used one before but it was seven years ago. I have relearn somethings. Today I took my first bucket shower. I getting used to sleeping on the cement floor. Surprisingly it is not that bad. I am grateful I brought a pillow. I am also getting used to the aroma produced by the substance on the side of the road on the street Liann calls 'poo lane.' But people are nice. The women always tell me hello as I make a stroll through the village.
I have a wide range of emotions while staying here, and they differ at each time of day. When I am sitting on the veranda with a girl from my group and talking to the little village kids while feeling the wind blow I feel grateful to have the opportunity to experience this side of life.
I using my blog as a forum to tell the people I love what is going on in my life, but I would like to hear about yours. I may not have the time to start and email and send it to everybody but if you send me an email I will reply. I hope to have pictures up next week. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Go Touch the Calendar

My blog title is from one of my favorite lines these past two days. I cant believe I am only on my third day here. I am not implying that it goes by fast but rather I have had so many experiences and most have turned out positive or can be seen as a learning expereince. We are in India, not everything is peachy keen, despite what you guys have maybe previously thought about it. My flight to here left on tuesday night at 10pm and I arrived in Chennai on Friday morning at one am. I was so happy to see Liann and Heidi there to get my bags. It is so freaking hot here... so hot, so hot. The internet in this cafe is pricey but it has air con and I can't say the same for my hotel room. After getting a full wiff of the Indian air we took a taxi to the hotel. I tried to sleep but I could not so I chatted with Heidi and Liann about life and love and our new lives here. There have been times when I have said why the h did I come here. Why why why. It is hot and you can even cool down. You guys know I am from Arizona and I like the heat but not like this. It stinks because we are right next to the bay of Bengal but the community pumps waiste into the ocean so there will be no swimming.
But there are good parts and eventually the good will out way the bad and I won't be jet lagged and I will get used to the heat. There is this man with no legs that sit on a pillow and wears a cap. We pass him every day on the way to the train station and he always says good day madam and smiles. He doesnt even have a tin can in front of him. I have learned to appreciate his smile. At the end of the street there is a lady who sells jasmine flowers on a string. Women put flowers in their hair everyday. They usually attach the sting to their pony tail. Heidi buys Jasmine from this lady. My hair is short and cannot handle a pony tail but I really wanted to support this lady so i bought some. Later that day I returned and showed her how I jimmy rigged the thing in there. She said I looked beautiful. We hardly speak the same language!!
Today is sunday and we went to church. It was a crazy and beautiful. The getting was crazy but the being there was beautiful. They had AC! A whole three hours of AC!!
We will be in Chennai until wednesday afternoon and then we will take a train into Coimbatore, spend the night and then head over to our village, Chavadi Pudur, where it won't be as hot.
The quote in the subject line has to do with the crazy man who was checking the rest of the people in. He wanted them to pay for four nights and I said we would only pay for two nights. I dont think I can relate the story in text, you kind of have to know crazy man. Anyway, I'm actual.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Springtime in Chennai

Ok people. you can stop worrying because I made it safely to India. Unfortunately, at this time I am oh so tired and will not be able to tell you about my travels and adventures until I recieve some sleep...
So stay tuned.