Friday, June 13, 2014

Arriving in India...

I have so many photos and videos that I want to share, but on the second night we were in India, there was a huge storm that knocked down our 50+ foot cell tower. Right now I am sitting in the Marriott lobby in Chennai (2 hours from the school) using their Wi-fi.  This is some journaling that I did on my iPad on Monday, June 9th. I will come back and add pictures as soon as I can!

We were so happy when all of our baggage came through the turnstyle at Chennai and even Lon's guitar was delivered to us not terribly worse for the wear. We loaded up two large luggage carts and headed out the doors to the most welcoming sight...our beautiful Brooklyn waiting to welcome us. We loaded the van while many Indian men called out to us. "Welcome to India."

The ride out of the city is hard to describe. We had been told that our senses would be overwhelmed and that was definitely how we felt. The sights are all so foreign. The streets are lined with rubble and trash. It looks like there was a recent war they have not recovered from. There are many buildings that are unfinished, three stories of concrete with re-bar sticking out the top. Yet many of the people are dressed in beautiful, richly colored clothing and are amazingly well-kept. How do they stay so clean in the midst of all this filth? There are cows and herds of goats, stray dogs and chickens. The children are beautiful and striking.  I look across at people sitting on a packed bus and meet eyes with an Indian man.  I smile, he smiles back, waving. I try to look at the people, to look in their eyes, to see them as individuals. We are stopped at an intersection and four women surround our van, each with a baby on their hip.  They are begging for money to feed their children. They are beautiful and exotic looking, each meticulously dressed and their babies faces are round and sweet. If I were just here on a tourist trip, I would have had to give them something.  But we are here to serve in other ways and our organization is very clear that there are better ways to actually help the poor here in India.

There are times when a wave of stench will reach us, but then it passes and I am happy to notice that the general smell is tolerable. We are delivered to our new home and all suitcases and bags are lugged up the stairs. This first night goes quickly as we try to unpack a few items and assign the kids their new rooms. There are four bedrooms, but none of the kids want to sleep alone at this point, so one is left empty.
We immediately see a few geckos on our walls and discover a frog in two of the three bathrooms. Cohen is ecstatic. He names his Hopper and has plans to catch him at some point. The next morning, when I wake at 4, I am actually glad to see that Cohen is awake. I send him in, my own little FBI agent, to clear the toilet of the frog so I can quickly use it. One thing is for sure, I will not be relaxing on the toilet for the next year.  You gotta do your business and get out before the frog comes back out from behind the toilet tank.

Our first day here was Sunday. I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty draining. The only reason I went to church was because I HAD to do some shopping for groceries. Since the only day we go into the city is Sunday, we will always do our shopping after church. Avery opted to come to church with me. The bus ride there was hot and bumpy and one of the volunteers threw up on the way. She had taken her malaria medication on an empty stomach right before she got on the bus. Luckily, she got off the bus before she was sick and really looked much better afterward, but I started to get worried about feeling car sick myself, so I focused on watching the road and breathing deeply. Traffic was horrible, so it took a full two hours to get there and we walked in right as they began. I sat down in a seat and pretty much immediately started nodding off. Like I said, I needed to go shopping, otherwise, I would have stayed home to sleep off the jet lag.

Sometime during Relief Society, I stepped out to get a drink of water and ended up being drawn to the window. I stood there, transfixed as the people on the streets went about their everyday life. Busses drove by, people running along side them to jump on. A constant stream of people walked, Frogger-style, through the weaving traffic. The streets are teeming with people.  It is like watching an ant hill. Your mind can't make sense of the chaos and commotion. Try as you might, you cannot discern any order, any rules of the road.

My eyes filled with tears, but I could not name the emotion I felt.  I didn't feel sad or regretful.  I wasn't thinking, "What in the heck have we done?" I still can't think of a word to describe it. I felt overwhelmed, but with what, exactly?

I came home so road weary. Ready for bed. We had dinner on the roof with our volunteer session (a group of BYU nurses) and then got the kids settled. Many of them had slept way too long during the day.  I took a Unisom, but my little blue pill was no match for what ensued. At one a.m. I woke to Lon searching for some type of stomach medicine. He had stomach cramps. Then the power kept shutting off and eventually popping back on.  A huge storm was raging outside making all the palm trees and mango trees scrape against our windows. The kids were all awake when I went to check at about 2 a.m. I tried to help them relax and assure the little ones that we were safe. When the power goes out, the fans and a/c's all stop and the air becomes heavy and dense.  It is impossible to sleep. I finally handed out melatonin around 4 am and got back to sleep myself.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What an adventure in just the first day. I can't wait to read more of your remarkable journey in India!