Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Udhagamandalam, Say What?

We have a pirate in our house this very moment.  He has a black patch on one eye and walks with a limp.  He has been sleeping under our washing machine and is a bit nervous.  He is also our cat, Pirate.  Pirate got dropped off at our house yesterday, and we again, like with Obi, had absolutely no clue what to do with him.  I actually have not even petted him, afraid of the itchy eyes and stuffed sinuses.  I just outsource the petting to my children.  So, there you have it.  It’s a regular petting zoo around here - at least for this family.


It was a busy weekend in Udhagamandalam, India (affectionately known as Ooty, because the formal name is quite the tongue twister).  It’s the annual flower show, and boy does it bring in the tourists.  Approximately 100,000 people live in Ooty, but the smallerish town feels more like 30,000.  Anyway, the flower show says to bring in 200,000-300,000 people in a matter of one week.  The police and other town officials try to bring as much as order as they can, but the town just feels swamped.  Today when I was driving through the madness, a police officer stopped me and yelled at me for what seemed like an hour (probably 2 minutes).  He was yelling at me in Tamil and from what I could gather my offense was either that I was using the horn too much or too little.  Hmm, I  guess I will never know.  


I took a few pictures of our usual walk into town and also some pictures of the front of the house and our neighbors house, so you can get a bit of feel of what we see on a daily basis. When we do walk, Sydney’s and Jovie’s cheeks get pinched by the locals or the tourists (and sometimes right after they get pinched, they also crack their knuckle on their head - kind of, umm, different) and after a bit their cheeks turn red.  So now, Sydney merely covers her cheeks when she walks - it’s quite cute of her.  


Another fun fact about our daily life is that the end of our driveway is the local urinal.  Yes, you heard it right folks, the local urinal.  And there isn’t an outhouse, it’s just our shrubs.  Mostly men, but occasionally I do see a woman hike up her sari.  At first, I was not amused at this local landmark, but now I am disappointed when I drive in and there isn’t somebody there to greet me...  


Changing subjects, I am going to pass the keyboard over to Jayson to have him write a bit about his trip up to Mumbai and then the camp that Freedom Firm hosted for rescued girls that are living in aftercare homes across India.  Take it away Jayson.


My first trip for Freedom Firm was to Mumbai and Pune this past weekend. We have five staff between the two cities and an operational office in Pune, so I’ll be traveling there every now and again to meet with these staff. On this trip, aside from meetings, I spent time with Brian Mann, a brilliant media guru from Houston, Texas, whose church sent him here to tape a new FF video. We got footage of the red-light areas - undercover style, except that we got caught and then got a talking-to from the local police - and got hours of footage of staff interviews and everyday India life. 


When I returned to Ooty I had the privilege of visiting Avalanche, a camp Freedom Firm puts on (staffed by a number of wonderful volunteers from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis) where rescued girls from all over India come to simply be teenage girls and have a ton of fun. I got to be a fly on the wall for a day and watch these girls get loved on, laugh til their stomachs hurt, and hear about the God who loves them dearly. It was amazing to see, and even more amazing to hear from Mala, FF’s Aftercare Director, when the camp ended that from her perspective it was an unprecedented week and that two girls from the camp might move from their government aftercare facility to our aftercare home in Ooty. 


That’s it folks for this week’s edition - thanks for reading and we welcome any and all cat care tips...


(And if you see my dad, Curt, wish him a happy 60th birthday. He turns the big six oh on the 30th.)

5 comments:

mel said...

thanks for your wonderful update!! its fantastic to see a bit of your day to day through your words and the photos! just picturing syd covering her rosy cheeks while walking about makes me smile ear to ear! she's a smart little thing...thats pretty great problem solving for such a little person!
also pretty hilarious that people pee at the end of your driveway...i can't help but wonder if there is any embarrassment on their end when you drive up? i'm guessing no, which (for what its worth) strikes me as a potent reminder that you're not in "minnesota" anymore :) love you guys!!

Dad(Curt) said...

Really don't need any further reminders about the big "60"....

Jennifer Swanson said...

"using the horn too much or too little"...lol. So thankful for you that your Dad is turning 60. What a blessing that is, remember that.

Kara said...

I had wondered about the cat/rat thing... glad you brought us all up to date. The camp sounds amazing - so cool to see the video and see the girls having fun. Wow. Do we get to see any of the Mann footage in the future?
Kara

Hannah said...

Wow... I am having SOOO much fun reading your blogs... fun happenings here and there, and WOW, India! Who would have thought? As far as cat care goes, I would say this: most people think that cats bite for either dumb reasons or no reasons... the truth (after living with one for 8 years) is that they are much harder to understand that dogs! Dogs are more plain in emotions, and therefore easier for humans to understand why the bite and stuff like that. Cats are a different story... but lovable by all means, if you ask me: the cat lover. Anyway. Sorry this is so long.