Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Lucky Ones

Yep, that's us... we are the lucky ones

I know that some of my friends feel that this is a crazy huge, who takes
their family and lives in INDIA for a year? : )

But, I have to tell you...I just feel so dang lucky.
This year has been an incredible and amazing GIFT.

And sadly, it feels like time keeps speeding up. The days and weeks are passing and I just want to hang on to them a little longer. There are many things that I will be so glad to
return to in the States:
smooth roads
our own car
family and friends
MORE SALADS (I'm not kidding!)
and PUbLiC SChOolS!
(Oh,yeah! Can someone give me a Hallelujah?)

But there are even more things I will miss:

the simplicity of life here

the time to just be together
the beauty of this campus and the surrounding villages
LIFE everywhere
...the villagers, the goats, cows, ducks, and birds
how amazing is it that every few weeks we get to meet another group of people that would sacrifice their time and money to come here and serve?
our cRaZy India FaMilY
 these wonderful long-term volunteers who have truly become our loved ones
and ThE ChiLdReN! heart hurts every time I think of saying goodbye to all these beautiful little people. There are so, so many of them that I have come to know and love and I will be leaving many pieces of my heart here with them.

On Friday, I went on a bike ride with Cohen, Avery, and Liberty to "the junction" intersection of two larger roads about 2 miles away. Cohen is too small to ride his own bike, so he straddles the little luggage rack on the back of mine.
(YES...that is about as comfortable for a little boy as you are imagining!  ; )

Even though the roads are bumpy and the bike seats are terribly uncomfortable, I love being out on a bike in the Indian countryside. Especially on breezy, cool days when the sun is hidden behind the clouds. I would love to say that is it all peace and palm trees in the breeze...but it's not. One thing is for sure, though--it is ALWAYS an adventure.

To go out as a white-skinned person means you will be stared at and at least half of the people will yell, "Hi. Bye. How are you?" as you go by. I have had men riding on a motorcycle speed by me saying, "Hi. How are you?" as they race on. It's as if they have to cram all the English that they know into those few seconds.

You never know what you are going to see when you go out in India. Groups of sari-clad women walking slowly with sheaves of wheat balanced on their head, 4 men straddling a motorcycle zipping by, a cotton candy peddler on a bike with a fluffy pink tower of little baggies on the back...and huge trucks zooming by literally 2 or 3 feet from your handlebars. It was pretty unnerving when we first got here, but now we are old pros. : )

The best part of the ride is that Cohen becomes a chatterbox on the back of my bike. His little disembodied voice is the soundtrack to all our off-campus adventures. India is the perfect place for Cohen...because he LOVES animals. So, to take Cohen into a village means he will
have his heart melted every other minute by some adorable baby animal.

"Oh, mom...look at that little tiny puppy. He's so cute!"
"Aaaaah...look at that little baby goat with his mommy"
"Oh, I love that little brown and white cow...he looks so soft"
..... chatter, chatter, chatter....

On the way back home through our neighboring village, after seeing more baby animals than he could stand, he asked, "Mom, how much does a farm cost?"
(This is not a new thing...he has been adamant that we need to buy a farm when
we get home for many months now.)

But now he's working out some of the details...
"The land, the house, all the much would it all cost?"

"Well, probably around 200,000 dollars", I say.

"What? But Avery's friend has a farm and I didn't know she was twice as rich as you!"
(Huh?? I have no idea why he thinks I have 100,000 dollars.)

"Well," he reasons, "I guess they only have sheep in their backyard."
(so, I guess that means they aren't twice as rich as us? ; )

His wheels are turning, so there is about 4 seconds of silence before he asks,
"Can we have sheep in our backyard?"

"Nope. Sorry, bud. We aren't allowed to have sheep."

"Uh...but why not," he whines, "They only 'maaaaah' a little and it's not even very loud."

Again, two beats of silence while the wheels turn...

"And if any of our neighbors complain, we can just make them fuzzy earmuffs out of the wool!"

That boy just makes me laugh!

Another India moment that made me laugh until I cried...
Yesterday, I was out on another bike ride...this time with Lon. Months ago, in the summer, we had gone on a long, long ride together and I wanted to do it one more time before we leave. It was a beautiful morning and the fun thing about this route is that it takes us through 2 villages that pretty much NEVER see white people. So, the looks on their faces are pretty much what you would expect if a two-headed alien rode by. : )

We had looped around and were out on the larger road headed back toward our local village when to our surprise, an Indian man passed us on his bike. This does. not. happen. We were going at a pretty good speed and Indians NEVER hurry anywhere. As he passes to the right of me, just 18 inches away, he stares right at me the entire time and does the little Indian head wobble to say hello. He then does the same thing to Lon 4 feet ahead of me.

"Oh, I see" I thought to myself..."he was just curious and wanted to see us." Not even 2 minutes later, we passed him up again and that was that...or so I thought!

We had been riding side by side and chatting for at least 5-10 minutes more when I happened to glance over my right shoulder and there he was...his front tire less than a foot away from our back tires. I said to Lon under my breath (though I'm fairly certain the man spoke no English),
"He's right there!!"

Now, in America, someone would have to be mentally impaired to act like this...but here in India, there are none of those social conventions. He had just decided to join us on our little bike ride. And it is not the prerogative of Indians to have any personal space!
So we aren't given any personal space either. : )

We tried everything....we sped up and sure enough, there he was pumping harder than I've ever seen an Indian pump.  Then we slowed down and he happily passed us again, head turned over his left shoulder to stare right into our faces, then wobble-wobble goes his head with his toothy grin beaming white against his chocolate skin.

But then once he passed us, he slowed and every few seconds checked over his shoulder to see if we were coming yet. Like he wanted to say, "Come on, guys! Hurry up."

Lon even stopped and pretended to fix his shoe and the man started coasting along not willing to lose his unwitting riding companions.

When we started riding again, he was about 30 yards ahead of us still craning his neck around every few seconds to see where we were. We came to the spot where we would turn off the main road and right then he looked back at us and I gave him a huge wave and his face lit up and he waved back like we were the best of friends and he wasn't just totally stalking us for the last mile and a half.

Crazy just gotta love it!

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