Jaipur, India

We took a 2.5 hour flight to Jaipur, in northern India. Jaipur is also called “The Pink City” because hundreds of years ago, the king had the whole city painted pink to welcome a foreign dignitary. They’ve been painting things pink ever since. These are the gates to the city.

On the drive to our hotel, we noted quite a few differences between Bangalore and Jaipur. The Auto Rickshaws mostly had black tops and they also had the original type of rickshaw – the bicycle with two covered seats in the back.

In Bangalore, you always see cows wandering around and an occasional ox-cart. In Jaipur we saw a camel-cart. Camels!! I was so excited to see them. If fact, we got to ride one!

The weather in Jaipur is significantly more humid than Bangalore, making touring around a bit uncomfortable. The main attraction in Jaipur is Amber Fort. The Fort has a low wall all around it and houses a military barracks as well as palaces and court buildings.

We got to ride on elephants up into the Fort. That was pretty fun. The down side was getting somewhat assaulted by the hawkers who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

More about Jaipur in the next post.


White Guilt

“You just want us to volunteer so assuage your guilt,” one of my offspring lamented to me. I immediately denied it, but upon further reflection, I realized that I did feel guilty. Guilty that I have so much when people around me have so little. Guilty that our driver sits around waiting for us for hours, while we have a good time. Guilty that if I’m not doing something, I’m not a good person. As I prayed about this God showed me something interesting.

I felt the Lord said, ‘Many people look at all the suffering in the world and conclude that I don’t exist. When you see suffering and injustice, you question my goodness. Both are unbelief.’

Oh boy, that’s not good, I want to be a person of faith! My husband Jor likes to quote the scripture, “let every man be a liar, God is faithful.” God set up this world  and “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.” Where there is unrighteousness, it’s not God’s fault.

But what about God preventing things from happening? I felt like He said, ‘I intervene more than anyone will ever know. Where I don’t intervene, I have a larger plan that you cannot understand. So it comes down to trust. Would you believe someone if they told you that Jor tortured someone? No. That is not his character. So don’t believe that I do evil, that is not my character.’

Woah. When I asked where the guilt came from, he said, ‘That is false guilt. You see a need and you try to fulfill it apart from me. Then you feel guilty when it doesn’t work out. Your job is to do what I call you to do and trust Me with the injustices you see around you.’

Wow, that helped me so much. God wants us to enjoy our lives, not feel all kinds of false guilt for having it so well. I didn’t choose to be born in the middle class or in the USA. This is the “lot” in life that God had me. So my motto is to enjoy life, be a blessing as God leads and trust him for the big problems, like poverty!

Overnight Train

“I’ve always wanted to sleep on a train” said my son, and so we did. What an adventure! Here is our berth, with my kids on the top bunks.

And here I am ready to snooze:

And snooze I did. When I went to sleep, Jor and the kids were still awake. Ethan’s bunk was outside our berth, so we were hoping to switch with someone. When I woke up in the middle of the night to use the squat toilet (quite a challenge), I saw Jor in one bunk and Ethan in another, below me.  When our bunk mate turned on the light, before 7:00 AM, I realized 2 strangers were actually sleeping in our berth. Guess that wasn’t Jor and Ethan!

Jor unfortunately had a smaller bunk near the door across the hall from me (over the wheel of the train). He didn’t sleep well and was more than ready to get off the train. The lights went on in the cabin and everyone started to stir. I felt like, hey, can’t you just drive around a bit more, until I”m done sleeping? So funny to see everyone yawning and patting their hair down, tucking in shirts and getting out of bed. As we exited the train, the people who were getting on looked much better than we did. What an interesting concept, the overnight train. I would definitely do it again.

The shots below are from the other train we took.

Hampi Ruins

We spent 2 days touring the amazing Hampi ruins, from the 13th and 14th century.

We saw Hindu Temples.

And ancient market places.

We stopped for an traditional Indian lunch at The Mango Tree, where we sat on the floor (quite comfortable) and ate off banana leaves.

The picture of the veggies is a very typical sight, I call it the Indian version of a salad. The only lettuce we’ve seen here is sold in little bags, like herbs are sold in the US.

It was hot but again we had an air conditioned bus. The next day we saw an ancient chariot.

The Queen’s Palace:

Castle wall:

Pretty cool, eh? You can learn more about Hampi here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampi

Goa, India

This year we spent Independence Day eating Kabobs and packing for our trip to Goa. Very strange to not be in the US on the 4th of July. July 5th we flew just one hour to the coastal town of Goa. On the plane I bought something call Bhel from the flight attendant. Bhel is cornflakes with seasonings and you pour this red sauce on top and eat it with a spoon, like cereal. Very strange but quite tasty.

When we arrived we really experienced the tropics –  beautiful lush palm tree forests and verdant grass.

Upon arrival at our hotel, they rolled out the red carpet for us, Indian style – a red dot was placed on our forehead, a wet cloth hand towel was given to each of us to freshen up, along with a sparkling drink. We definitely felt like royalty.

The family wanted to hit the beach right away, but they found it deserted and the lifeguards told them that no swimming was allowed, a major disappointment. However, they had a great time in the pool. The following day, Jor wasn’t feeling great, so the kids and I went on a bus tour. I had no idea where we were going, but we wound up in 3 places – a hindu temple, a catholic church and a market place.

We enjoyed seeing the sites, though it was beastly hot and humid. Thankfully the bus had AC. Instead of shopping in the heat with no money, we found a restaurant and ordered smoothies. We also risked buying roasted corn on the cob from a street vendor. YUM!

The next day the lifeguard at the beach allowed us to frolic in the shallows which satisfied my need to have swam in the Indian ocean. The water was warm and sandy. We ate lots of Indian food and even sang Kareoke one night. Then it was off to Hampi. We got up early and took the train for 7 hours inland. The train was a bit smelly, not super clean and I got to use a squat toilet for the first time.

On the upside, we had our own berth, so we stretched out, read, talked and looked out the window. We saw a super cool waterfall and an ever changing landscape – from mountainous rain forest to flat fields of rice paddies and sugar cane. Fantastic.

Errands – India Style

In preparation for our upcoming vacation, Mr. Kahn, our neighbor/apartment manager, took me to do some errands.  First we walked a few blocks to the tailor, but the shop was closed. Then we headed to the hair salon, which… no longer existed. This does not seem to be a rare occurence here. Mr. Kahn carefully suggested we take his motorcycle to another place. He is a devout Muslim, so I was surprised he didn’t mind giving me a ride.

I haven’t been on a motorcycle in awhile. With a grin on my face, we  traveled through some litter strewn streets to another salon. Guess what,  it TOO was closed. However, Mr. Kahn met a friend who told him where the lady lived and took him there.

They came back with the hair stylist, she lifted the garage-like door to her salon and I entered.

Mr. Kahn went home and the woman cut and colored my hair. The grand total: $10! Sweet. Ok, my hair is a little more purple than I want it, AND she called Mr. Kahn to come pick  me up before she rinsed my hair out, so I got to go around with a hair net, but hey.

We found out about yet another tailor down the street, so we pulled over and ascended the narrow stairway into this person’s house. Through Mr. Kahn and with the wife measuring, we explained what I needed done. Ok now most things in India take more time than in the US, but this time the guy said he’d be done in an hour. Sweet. Mr. Kahn drove me home and later dropped off my clothes – $2 for 3 tailored items. More sweetness! When I told my family about my adventure, my daughter said, “Mr. Kahn knows all the ghetto places.” We all laughed.

Medical Adventure

Early last Tuesday morning I caught a Rickshaw to Bangalore Baptist Hospital. It was time for my monthly allergy shot, which I have received for years, though never in a foreign country.

The hospital reminds me of something from the 1950’s, very insitutional with tile floors, white walls and no adornments. I made my way to the reception area, where two women helped two other people registering, so I took a seat.

As I sat there, more people came up, got the receptionists attention and away they went. Needless to say, I stood up too and was eventually given some paperwork to fill out.

After I waited awhile and payed the fee, they sent me to room 33 where I sat in the hall with many other people for about an hour. Finally they called my name, though at first I didn’t respond, as I couldn’t understand what they said. I met the Dr., we talked awhile and she led me to the ER. There, the nurse told me I needed to buy syringes at the Pharmacy. She wrote a prescription and I headed to the pharmacy, a building with people lined up outside a window. There was a bench, so I sat down, but kept my feet out to keep my place in line. But another line formed and people cut that way.

Eventually I paid for the syringes and went back to the ER, where I was put on a cot and the nurse’s aid gave me the shot with the nurse and doctor watching. So much attention for a couple of allergy shots! Here I am on the cot:

My adventure took me 4 hours. As a comparison, in San Jose I would wait in line at the doctors’s office, (usually of one or two people), receive my shot from the nurse, sit in the waiting room for 30 minutes (to make sure I didn’t have a reaction), show my arm to the nurse and leave. About 1 hour round trip. Life in India is more complex, as you can see.