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Monday, June 7, 2010

Surrender

I read a quote a few months ago from a book about India that made tears well up in my eyes when I read it because it is so true for my time here.

"Sometimes you have to surrender before you win. Surrender is at the heart of the Indian experience. I gave in."

I don't believe this statement only applies to India, rather any person who lives in a foreign country. But since I've only traveled to other countries, and lived in India it counts as my Indian experience.

In the beginning, there are so many things I wanted to change and fix and know the reasons for why it's like it is and tell someone (sometimes shout at someone) why and how this could work better. There are scores of things I compared to the U.S. So many things that I thought "my way" was better. But eventually, after many wrinkles, nail biting, and angry flare ups you realize you just have to submit and surrender to have peace or that peace will never come.

Here are some of the things I surrendered to:

Traffic: I've finally stopped moaning, complaining, clawing the steering wheel and honking for long, annoying periods of time to make my point:) I do still have my moments and I do have thoughts of why does it have to be like this but I've learned to relax my face so as not to add to the wrinkles I've gained in the last 3 years from driving around Bangalore:)

Pollution and Trash

Poverty all around: Although I don't think it's good to ever "get used" to poverty and not try to do something to help, it does eventually just become part of your surrounding.

Indian working hours (i.e. Brian's long work hours/week:)

Strangers pinching my childrens' cheeks: I still don't like it but I'm not boiling inside anymore:)

Long, unashamed starring at our family wherever we go

How much I've aged since moving here:)

Lack of infrastructure and the slow process of finishing it (although I've been told the overpasses being built for over a year and the mall that has taken over 3 years near us are going at a fast rate for India:)

Sitting for 20 minutes @ The U-Turn that I've blogged about several times: And don't ya know, now that we are leaving they have cut an opening in the median to make the u-turn more efficient:D You still have to wait, but not as long, to turn around and head in the right direction:)


One thing (and there's certainly more) I haven't yet surrendered too but hoping I can in the next 2 weeks is People Cutting in Line! Oh, it still bugs so bad!! I need order, I need line rules, and 3 people cutting in front of me at the grocery store is like rubbing lemon juice into a sore for me:) I've got to surrender though...got to!!

I'm not trying to belittle or demean India by listing the above things. Like I said, I think this is true of every foreigner's experience no matter what country. There's a whole process that takes place in a new culture. That's why it's called culture shock:) And for all the pain of that process, it leaves so much good.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Day Came

Today I had to bring myself to tell our housekeeper that we are leaving. I told myself I had to tell her before June (the month we are leaving) so I of course waited til the last day of the month. It was as sad as I thought it would be. There was shock and then tears...from both of us. That set the reality of moving in motion. There's a little pit in my stomach when I think about having to tell her goodbye...along with all the others dear to us.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mountain Trip

We returned from a week in the Nilgiri mountains on Sunday. We went with our church for its yearly family camp. Then we stayed in the town of Ooty to meet my cousin Brittney who flew in from Texas with a group from her church for a week of missions. It was so fun to get to see her in India! Also on her team were our friends Kevin and Kerry...he was the pastor that married Brian and me and she was my matron of honor. So fun.

Ooty is a hill station city up in the Nilgiri mountains, and Kotagiri, where we stayed for camp, was not far away. The elevation was about 2000 ft and it felt so nice and cool...we needed jackets. It was refreshing to breath fresh air and bond with friends. Ooty is famous for homemade chocolate so we stocked up on it.

It was a fabulous week minus the whole family getting a stomach bug at camp--messy! Haddon also fell off the top bunk during the night:(:( Tramatic. And Kai got his fingers slammed in the car door. All things to be expected with a family of 3 boys:D

We were able to go with my cousin and two other of her teammates to visit a slum village in Ooty. She is a designer of children's clothing and she was able to give away dresses to the little girls of the village. It was overwhelming to see the conditions of the slum (running sewage on the pathways and tiny, dark huts for homes) but so sweet to be able to meet the whole village and cross language barriers with smiles and hugs.

Here are some pictures from camp, Ooty and a few other things we've done lately...visiting an organic farm with our playgroup and Kai playing with a birthday toy.

It's hard to believe that our time here in India is coming to a close. I had to force myself to write this because I'm trying to avoid the thought of goodbye's and the finality of almost 3 years here. I'm pushing it aside and hiding it behind other in-the-moment tasks such as finishing school and going to family camp with our church.

I haven't even had the heart to tell my beloved housekeeper that we are moving!! I can't do it. I will eventually have to bring myself to that point, but I am going to wait a few more weeks because I know every day after that will be a sad one. I admit the biggest reverse-culture shock ahead for me is no longer having house help:D:( , but the real reason I don't want to tell her is because we love her and she just adores the kids. After 3 years, she has just started to call me the more affectionate term "Amma" which means Momma (I take it as a sweet term meaning I am a Mom rather than meaning her mom:) after calling me the more colonial/proper title of "Madame" for years.

The boys and I will be heading to the States next month to visit family and friends for a few weeks while Brian finishes his job in July.

I thought I would try to take a look back at some of the first blog posts to relive the culture shock, confusion, and the comedy (now, not then) of what we experienced when arriving. We have learned so much since then so I'm sure to get some good laughs that I will share with you in upcoming posts. And saying that, even though we've learned some ins-and-outs about living here, it is just the tip of the iceberg. If we lived her our whole lives we still would not know all there is to know about the culture, beliefs and traditions of this vast and amazing country.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Differently Abled

Brian's company outsources data-entry to BPO's (Business Process Outsourcing) in India. One such BPO is Vindhya. It has about 200 employees, 95% of which are disabled or as Vindhya defines it...differently abled. (I like that term better.) Brian has visited this office several times and has brought other leaders to see the work being done there. He said everyone that visits can't help but be moved by the great opportunity being given and the professionalism displayed by the employees. To be disabled in India is much more difficult than it is in western countries. There are very few wheelchair or impaired friendly buildings, restrooms, transportation, etc. To find a job is even harder. The fact that this company is recruiting, training and giving young people secure income and skills is such a blessing.

From Vindhya's website:

"Differently Abled

95% of our 194 staff are differently abled.. but are highly professional & are dedicated to lead their own life. "

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Housewarming Party

Yesterday morning I was the spectator of something I hadn't seen before...A Brahmin housewarming party or a "pooja". Brahmins are the highest caste in India. Wikipedia defines Brahmins as "the class of educators, doctors, law makers, scholars, priests and preachers of Dharma in Hinduism".

The following are all assumptions from what I've gathered in our time here so I may be wrong...Our new neighbor is a Brahmin (in the 2nd video he is the guy in the walking circle with a long skirt (lungi) and no shirt. He would normally be wearing khakis and a button down shirt (work attire) but this is a special day. Brahmin boys and men also wear a string around their torso from the top of one shoulder down to the opposite waist which is not visible when wearing clothes but noticeable when swimming in the community pool:)

He and his family just bought this apartment and wanted to have it blessed by the priests and ward away the evil spirits. The priests are sitting in the middle of the living room (1st video) burning a fire for hours, chanting mantras, offering fruits, flowers, etc to the gods. Our neighbor invited friends and family to attend, hence the housewarming part. The ceremony was going on when I woke up and continued for several hours and candles burned throughout the night (with no one attending them. They are not moving in til next month.) In the video you can't make out what the priests look like but for those living outside of India they looked similar to this...It was an interesting morning of starring out my window ( I couldn't help it) and trying to do school:) And I'm pretty certain that some or most of the guests went home sick with smoke inhalation or asthma, because we had to close our windows, normally kept open for air, because the smoke was so strong:) Imagine the inside of that apartment!

video


video

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Bell in Bangalore!

Who would have thunk that Bangalore would be bestowed the great honor of having the first Indian Taco Bell restaurant? Our dream has come true!:D Note: your dining standards are lowered when you don't have regular access to native foods:) Therefore Taco Bell has sadly risen to the status of "dream" food in our dining book:)

We drove 2 hours, (which in Bangalore traffic equals 11 miles (no joke)), to visit Taco Bell at Bangalore's newest mall. It was a fun outing and amazing to see the line of people waiting to order out the door of TB the whole time we were at the mall.

The menu was similar to the U.S. just simpler choices. The tastes were recognizable. TB has the first "free refill" self-serve drink machine in India...so that was fun:) I'm a bean burrito fan... and they had it... ironically costing more than in the U.S. and with less filling inside but I was still happy to be eating it. Brian tried one of everything on the menu:) The restaurant was very nice, much nicer than any TB I've seen in the U.S. The menu boards behind the cashier counter were on digital screens that changed pictures and appeared 3-D.

Was it worth the drive...yes. Was it worth the food poisoning...no. Sad to say I was laid out Sunday due to a stomach bug that I suspect was from my bean burrito:( No one else ate a bean burrito and no one else got it thank goodness.Oh well...I'm still happy that Taco Bell is here:)