Sunday, July 27, 2008

No child left behind...

First, I AM SAFE! India is in a code red state right now, but we are grounded to campus for the next three days where we are as safe as can be. Please be in PRAYER FOR INDIA!

We went to go meet our friends from the park and we were taken to their school and 50 kids appeared! We played in the sun ALL DAY!

And then there's always the HOKIE POKIE

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Let all the little children come unto me" (and the gays)

Today marks my two week mark in India!
Today I met with my new creative writing professor, Hoshang Merchant. He is a famously known poet and a famously known gay poet. He refers to himself as the "Queen of India." I fell in love with him before I knew anything about him. He was wearing Ray Bans with a traditional Indian outfit. He asked us what we wanted the class to be and how we should run it. With just a few other American students we discussed literature and poetry and life. He took us to chai as we discussed America, Bush, Obama, and the nuclear/atom crisis facing India. We left in silence, knowing words could would only ruin such a radical moment. We just experienced one of the hidden minorities in India, homosexuals. I am not trying to get extreme but to be a homosexual in Indian culture and society is RADical. He left us each with a book and a new fire in our eyes.
I went to my hostel invigorated because I have been dwelling on homosexuality since meeting my group. We have a gay male and female in our group, one straight gay rights activist, one straight with lesbian parents, and most of us have gay friends or family. We have had lots of discussions on homosexuality in America, in college and in life. I love my group. We each come from such different views and experiences, but all of us completely respect each other. But a couple days ago we were joined with another program sharing the hostel with us. They are great, but our group is a family by now.
We ate lunch and a couple of us went for an adventure, got some more stuff and clothes to fill our barren (my america standards) rooms. When we got back we wanted to play, so we rounded up about six of us and headed to the soccer field with a ball and frisbee. Let the games begin!!!
We were just passing around when BAM BAM BAM!!! Three boys came out of the forest and played with us! Within ten mintues we were playing a game of keep away with over ten kids. We loved them. I don't use the word lightly, I honestly love each one of them. They are one of the first groups of Indians that accepted as equals. I respected them and they respected us. All language barriers were crossed with two hours of games! I felt like myself, I felt hyper and excited and funny for the first time in a long time! I love kids and the entire time I was just thanking God for letting the kids see pass our difference and accept us. I was so blessed and they can not even comprehend how powerful their love was.
An older guy appeared before we were about to leave and he explained that he founded a child care program for all the construction workers kids on campus.
I will take this moment to explain construction in India. First, it is always going on. Second, regular building is done by HAND. Third, lots of things get started and never finished. Fourth, 3/4 of the workers are women and these women bring their children to work. This guy we met created a safe place for these kids! His center has about 50 kids and another center across campus has about 40 kids. What a blessing. We were all touched and are headed back on sunday for another round of carefree fun.
After this we headed back for dinner and were greeted by the rest of our house already eating. I noticed my professors book was being passed around and he was the topic of every dinner table. "So he's gay?" "Is he famous just cause he's gay?"..."What he's gay?" HUH? All conversion stopped. Hahahaha...I wanted to laugh out loud. This girl that yelled this didn't know our group. She had no idea who she was saying this too. She quickly followed with "Wait, I'm not a homophob." I could see she was quickly going to offed people of my group, or me, so I got up and left and encouraged the rest of my group to do the same. But as we were all leaving I don't know what came over me but I stayed behind and went up to the girl. I breathed and spoke slowly. I like her and I believe she has a big heart and would never intentionally offed anyone. I simply said "Hey girl, I just want to make you aware of the fact that we have gays in our group here." She was stunned and flustered. "I just have never dealt with this" she quickly replies. THIS, THIS, THIS. We are all people, homosexuals are just as much human as Indians. I breathed again. "Listen, I am on your side so that is why I am asking you to be aware of what you say. You don't have to agree one way or the other, in fact, I don't care, just please before you speak or ask just imagine being gay and being asked that same question." "What?" She replies airily. Her friend speaks up, "Put yourself in their shoes."
So this is my rant, I don't care who you are, where you come from, or what you have left behind, YOU ARE GOD'S! YOU WERE CREATED BY MY CREATOR, BY OUR WORLD's CREATOR! So, please treat each other accordingly. These kids showed me love, so I did the same to this girl. I pray she takes this new challenge on and learns more about herself. I pray our group continues to bring as much joy to these kids lives as they have brought to ours.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Above the noise

Bob Marley once sang, "One good thing about music, when it hits you fell no pain, So hit me with music, hit me with music, Hit me with music, hit me with music now!"

My remedy: INDIAN FUSION MUSIC (ie Hawaiian guitar-19 strings, Sitar, Violin, Tabla-two drums, Percussion-noise maker, and Keyboard-tuned to zesty indian sounds)

Our program once again took care of us and treated us to a night of the State's best Indian Fusion Music! I will never forget it! They play a raga-an improv based a composed tempo and style for about ten minutes each. Just jamming the business out of their instruments, passing around smiles at certain sections and nodding at other moments. Each guy just so pleased to be playing their traditional instrument. Most of them had been playing for over twenty years and still sounded crisper than ever. I decided while so lost in the music that if I enjoyed nothing else in India I would be satisfied with this one concert!

But the music was NOISY, everything at once, it was a chaotic-patterned-elaborate-beautiful mess within a Just like India, noisy! I am not saying this negative or positive. I am simply stating a fact. India is never quite. I was deep in the music when I realized all my senses were being used. The sounds accumulating upon my ears, the incense filtering through the room, the touch of my bare feet on the Persian carpets, the taste of my sweat around my lips.

So today I searched and found space above the noise. Yoga all day began this journey and it ended tonight upon our hostel roof. My friend Ben and I climbed to the very top to see the city lights and breath fresh air. We sat and meditated for fifteen minutes! The silence became overwhleming after having none for so long. I once again was forced to give over my entire self to God. To the silence, to the peace, to the renewed excitement of life...of freedom.

Be encouraged my dear friends, I may be lacking hot water, electricity, and in&out...but our GOD IS ALIVE IN WELL IN me. Have a great day for me. Flash your lights off and on, cause you can! Ha..wait save the energy


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wish I could share this with you

Hey family, I had a great ACTION packed day. We played a version of great adventure in hyderabad ALL DAY. It was our programs last chance to teach us how to navigate and become independent in a somewhat "controlled" setting. HA...ha...ha. We got rides in truck beds, overpriced, crowded rickshaws and buses. We got clues and had to answer questions, but let me tell you the truth it was all worth it. I kept a good attitude and had a fun non competitive team! Each destination was unforgettable. From a local textile hand crafted design linen store to a school of excellence and enlightenment in a quaint park. I loved it, we found places in the city I could have never found by myself. I gained some more confidence in myself getting around in India.

I will take this moment to share about India. There are no "road names" exactly. Street signs are rare, light signals are even rarer. Any map is not detailed because so much construction is happening and names are always changing. So how I would always use maps to confirm direction, now its left to asking and trying to visually remember(wish I had emily). There are no real "rules." The asking directions part is easy being an American, but the complications come from "Indian english" and multiple people giving different directions all at the same time.

So school starts tomorrow! I can't wait to get my hands dirty in the art department! I can't wait to put myself out there in a class full of Indians. I have been the minority my whole life, LETS DO THIS!

Along with school, intense yoga begins as well. Every morning from 6:30-8:00am! YOGA!

Here are the upsides that keep me balanced with all the challenges of India. But mostly I wanted to write to you. Yes you, my reader, my friend, my family. Today was just one of those days you wanted to share with friends. Don't get me wrong, I have great buddies on this trip and it was great. But they aren't you. I am so thankful for you. For each friend that ever saw me for who I was and is still my friend. For each friend that lasted through more than two of my phases. For each friend that needed me these five months. For each friend that is GOING THRU right now without a hug from me. For each friend that has just simply been a friend. Today I can only return the favor in prayer and meditation. Tonight I sleep with all of you on my mind. Praying for protection, strength, comfort. 1 cor. paul was encouraging the church to cry together, to rejoice together. So goodnight as I smile with with you..cry with you...scream with with you.

Sleep in my arms as we close our eyes under Gods wings. Be blessed

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One week down

Today is officially my one week in India and these are my thoughts so far:

I did not come here to become Indian.
I can not and will not become comfortable here.
As much as I love, I hate.
I have already formed a healthy addiction to chai.
The food is never ending spices (breakfast, lunch, or dinner).
Never have I ever seen some color together so vividly.
Abbreviate everything (veg and no veg- thats vegetarian and meat eaters).
10 am California time=10:30 pm Hyderabad time
New perfume=Heavy DEET bug spray
"CP Time" (colored people time) is universal
PDA is only allowed between same sex
1 dollar=40 rupees
Bobbling head=yes/ok
Condensed milk is staple
Always carry sunscreen, bug spray, toilet paper, a trash bag, an umbrella, water, fruit drink and anti-diarrheal
Women toe ring=marriage
Always have naan (lite pita bread mix maybe tortilla like) and water with every meal
Last resort "naheem naheem naheem" (no no no)

I start school on the 21st and I am super excited to start.
Please pray for two of our girls, Jessy and Molly, they are super sick! Already four have gotten sick and gotten time hasn't come yet.
I am excited to start taking yoga daily and get certified!
I am struggling with massive amounts of bug bites.
I have never sweated so much in my entire life.

The Lord is constant and faithful, I feel him in the littles things. I am surrounded by noise and unknown, when all I want is someone to tell me everything will be ok.
Just to go out it is a hassle, everything is posed as a quest and you must have the stamina to go out and then come back home. I am exhausted in a way unlike I have ever felt. BUT, I refuse to settle. I will find rest in the arms of MY GOD...I must.

My roomate and I were saying we can't wait until next month when we love it here and time is going by quickly...I dunno. Today I will hope in hope. I will be renewed in all your words, prayers, and support. Today I am defined by every friend that has ever hugged me. I rest in the nourishment of community.

So I send blessings and thanks. Enjoy today for I am determined to do the same.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just another day in India...

among the chaos...

another dead dog among waste lying on the streets...

Just some snap shots...will write when I have more time! Be encouraged the creator of India created YOU!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A ride to koti

Day three: Today our task was to go with our peer tutors and get on the right bus, explore great markets, and take the right bus home. Oh...if Indian life were only this easy.
Taking the first step unto that bus will never be forgotten. I was the minority, I was the intruder, I was not expected or accepted. It felt like the world stopped with a thousand Indians stareing directly at ME. Ok, ok, this passed in a second and I shoved my way into the middle front. In India ALL buses are segregated. Women and elderly only enter the front door, men in back. The first five or so rows that are indicated are only for the women and elderly to sit and the rest is for the men to fight over. Each bus squeezed about 300 percent more than it seems possible. People holding on the sides and people pushed side to side. A few side notes...its HOT and everyone is SWEATY and Indians do not believe in PERSONAL SPACE. Us girls jumped, pushed, and shoved our way in. Then the bus just stopped! Oh, another side note to consider of Indian transportation is that its on its own schedule. There are no driving rules only to use horn liberally and get there quickly.
So we are in the bus that is now parked and I turn to my new friend Molly and she calmly and confidently tells me, "I am going to faint." (The next things happened within I dunno what time frame or if the bus was even moving.) I smile say ok to Molly, being a past experienced fainter as well. I hear nothing and see nothing but Molly. She turns pale and I grab her body, she goes limp in my arms and I feel no weight or strength, just Molly. I remember saying her name to her over and over. We are given a seat and she slides on, I get water down her mouth and she comes to just as quickly as she left. She apologies and I realize a child is screaming within in inches of us. Just stareing at Molly and screaming.
Thats all I wanted to do, scream with this baby. I wanted something comfortable and easy. I wanted to quickly and efficiently take her to get re dehydrated, but we were an hour and a half from our hotel and who knows where from the hospital. BUT THIS IS INDIA (Tii) I was told before I got here. So our leaders hundled around us and we got her a juice box and banana. She quickly regained the color in her face and we just keep apologizing to each Indian around us. We all breathed a little easier and I just kept praying and thanking God that I had spent time with him this very morning and opened up my day with Him. (we are all safe and healthy, after food and naps)
I am overwhelmed not from Molly, but from the entire day. So much goes into just getting to market. Heck, so much goes into taking the bus. All convenience is lost. I wonder if this reality is too simple for me to even grasp. Life is hard. Statements like these filter through my day here. From seeing rows and rows of slums to rich wealthy Americans dine out upstairs. Tii...this is India.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Hey all, I am here and safe! I only have a few moments this morning to post some pictures and quick captions and I come back to this post later today! First of all it took me three days of travel to get here and along the way I truly ENJOYED MYSELF! Prayed, read, thought...

ah have to go right now, but here is my plane...a lady i loved...and (not permanent) henna

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Last goodbyes and First hellos...

This is it! "This is India!" some say. I leave today for a land I have only dreamed of. To live among people I have only prayer for. To grow in a way with the Lord I have only read of. But I am going. God has given me a peace the last three days that honestly has passed all understanding. I have been able to sleep and think clearly and see everyone I needed to. Said goodbye to my friends and life in San Diego. Said goodbye to my boyfriend and decided it could only be a "see you later." In some hours I will say goodbye to my parents and California for the next five months! Here it goes! Please don't stop thinking about me! Please don't stop smiling when you remember me! Please eat meat and lots of it for me! Goodbye California. Goodbye family. Goodbye Jordan. Goodbye friends. Thank you everyone, each one of you that has supported me. I leave with you in my heart. So here we go, traveling as one, some in my hands, some in my feet, some in my heart. Come along to India we go...

See you again soon!