Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Just outside our window on the taxi ride to Bangalore.

Good evening. I am yawning uncontrollably right now. I wonder if you all yawned when you read that. Kind of like when you see someone yawning, and then you automatically yawn. Wouldn’t it be great if I passed on a yawn half a world away? Okay, maybe not amazing. But noteworthy. If you yawned, could you post it in the comments? My research is sure to be pretty scientific. Okay, now that I have almost spent a whole paragraph on yawning, I will try to make a lively transition. To waken us all up.

This past weekend, I went up to Pune with Bec and seven students from St. Hilda’s School and Hebron. We met her sister Debbie there, who currently lives in Pune. We wanted to take a crew of girls there to partner with the Sisters conference that is coming up in a week and a half. The goal of the trip was to broaden the knowledge base of the students on different social issues (HIV/AIDS, training centers for homeless youth, trafficking, meeting with the police commissioner, etcetera). The girls either interviewed staff or interacted with people at the different sites. They will take these experiences and be the “main speakers” for the social justice session during the conference. I went up on Saturday and came home Monday night. The rest of the crew is staying until Friday.

The girls on the balcony of the boarding school where we stayed.

The seven girls represented five different countries.

The lab at the HIV/AIDS clinic we visited.

Training stations for youth wanting to get jobs at car factories.

Let me tell you some of the more memorable moments... Interacting with students for the first time in probably four years (for those of you that don’t know, I was involved in youth work for about a decade, up until I had Sydney). That was such a big part of my life before. We had some meaningful conversations, as well as some good laughs. Another memorable time was going to my first movie in India. That was so fun. Also, I was opening my car door and didn’t look to the left and silly me knows that two wheelers can go between the sidewalk and the car... but I did not check and totally rammed the door into a passing scooter, not injuring the guys, but definitely tipping them over. Can you believe it? I tipped them over. Let me tell you how awful I felt. And so embarrassed. Moving on, my face is getting red just thinking about it... It was really incredible watching the students, in a very mature way, interview adults and engage in the social issues at hand (good eye contact, quite articulate, good non-verbals).

So, let me share with you another story of my travels. I flew from Pune to Bangalore Monday night. Then, I was to catch a 10:15 p.m. overnight bus to Ooty, getting in early Tuesday morning. Now, I could tell you that I was all breezy about going to the Bangalore bus stand at 10 o’clock at night and catching a bus. But then, I would be lying. I definitely had to put my big girl pants on and just do it. The fare was $8 U.S. dollars, comparatively to a car which is about $75. So, I got a bus from the airport to the bus stand, no problem. Found the platform that my bus was to come to, no problem. The bus didn’t come until 11:30, no problem. Bus came, gave the ticket to the driver, my ticket was for the next night, problem. No more seats left on the bus, problem. At this moment, I could have tried to pull myself together and talk rationally to these kind men. But I didn’t, I cried. I couldn’t help myself, people. In the big spectrum of life, not a big deal. But I was tired and overwhelmed and I simply just let it go. So, the driver was a bit startled by my reaction, looked at me as if my water just broke and I was going into labor and what in the world was he going to do with me. He told me that he did have a seat for me, but it was the seat that they usually don’t give to passengers. I didn’t care. Give it to me! But I needed to pay 400 rupees, and I freakin’ didn’t have it. I had 300 rupees though. No go. At this time everyone was getting anxious to get going. The driver told me to go to the office and get my ticket refunded, he said he would wait. I felt suspicious of that fact, but I went for it anyway. I flew up there and in a very broken conversation tried to tell the ticket guy my issue. Within moments, there were probably a dozen men surrounding me, giving me advice, all with very little English. After a time, they finally figured out what I needed, gave me a refund, and I flew back down to the platform. There was no bus going to Ooty in sight. So, in a bewildered and very loony way, just started yelling “OOTY BUS, OOTY BUS, OOTY BUS,” very loudly. And one of the traffic people heard me and told me to follow him and we ran after the bus, finally got to the moving door, tapped on it, and showed him that I had the money. I am pretty sure that he thought I was a serious nut case. But I got on the bus and found my seat. My seat was in the very back, in the middle of a block of five seats, and I think the reason they never sell that one to anyone is that the reclining feature of this particular seat never locks. So on every speed-bump, slow-down, speed-up, or curvy-curve, the seats moves up and down. It’s pretty much a constant roller coaster. But I didn’t really care my friends, because I was on my “OOTY BUS.”

The bus station...pre-meltdown.

****You may be wondering how the ticket mishap happened and why I didn’t catch it. Well there is no clear reason, just that between the four people that were handling the ticket, the dates got switched somewhere. It really doesn’t matter. And I never know the date of the month, so I am complete loser in that category.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pot Roast Dinner in the Car

The most beat-up package we've yet received. (Thank you Askers, it was fantastic nonetheless!)

Photos from Ani's first trail ride

Sydney's had a bit of a cold

Jovie wasn't crying in this photo. She's all "cold" as well.

Gather around while I tell you a tale that is unforgettable. That was my sentence that was supposed to grab you, did it? It actually is a tale about forgetting. Within a course of two days, we found out that we skipped right over Mike, our new brother-in-law’s, birthday; I got all mixed up with Sammy’s and David’s birthday (I have been giving gifts to them for about a decade); and I congratulated Betsie on getting married, finding out that I was about a month off. I was very teary when I realized all my blunders, because here’s the twisted deal that goes on in my mind about me being here (here being India). If I am at least present enough in people’s lives, whether it’s emails, phone calls, gifts, notes, blogs, etc... then I won’t be forgotten. And within the course of a few days, I was ridiculously not present. Now, my mind, when it comes to birthdays and such, is not as sharp as a tack. One would think that I would set up some very easy reminders, such as, hmmm... a calendar. I go in waves with calendars. This year, I do not have one going. I don’t know why, I just don’t. So, usually, with my cat-like sensory skills, I pick up on lines that give me clues about upcoming events. But here, I miss the clues. I miss lots of them. Sometimes I don’t always know what to do with all that I am missing.

Jovie is screaming wildly right now in bed, protesting the fate of sleep. I protest with staying up too late reading or watching a movie. I like my protest better.

Today our car wouldn’t start, which is surprising. The Car/Van/Can is surprisingly reliable. A mechanic came out to look at the car... rats had chewed on some very important wires I guess. The mechanic said that if we wouldn’t eat snacks in the car, that would help the rats not to chew on the wires. Okay. It’s not like we eat a pot roast dinner in the car, it’s crackers, chips or cut-up fruit. You try having four kids and not having car snacks. I dare you. The car still isn’t running great, I had this flash of fear while I was driving today, that a rat was scrambling around in the motor and since I practically sit on the motor, that a rat would take a chomp out of my rear. It’s not unheard of you know. When I was growing up, we once had family of mice scrambling around in the van... So, you can understand my fears, right?

Yesterday, we took in two boarders. JJ and Snowball. They are cute. They also have fleas. Do fleas bother humans? Or do they just bother animals? I need to figure out how to get rid of the fleas. Anyway, my eldest is an animal lover. So, kittens it is. I haven’t started sneezing yet, maybe kitten dander isn’t as lethal... I know nothing really. I about wet myself yesterday trying to chase down JJ as he darted around our bedroom. It took me half an hour trying to snatch him up. Half an hour of life, snap, just gone, because of a two pound creature.

Meet JJ and Snowball

Bec told me that I could tell you a sweet story of generosity. First, an important side note. Often in India, instead of people saving money in the bank, they buy gold jewelry and when they want to take out a loan, they give the gold to the bank and the bank gives them as much cash as the gold is worth, and when they have the money back, they take it to the bank and get their jewelry back. Now back to the story. Bec’s husband Glen is looking for a job, and has been looking for the last few months. Well, the family that works for Bec and Glen at their home, took them aside last week and told them that they had taken all their gold jewelry to the bank, cashed it in, and wanted to lend that money (about 50,000 rupees, which is about $1100 U.S. dollars) to Bec and Glen until he finds a job. The family that works for them does not have running water in their house. Amazing.