Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday Morning--A recap of Tuesday Day & Night

Wednesday 6:20 am India
Tuesday 6:50 pm USA


That’s how India hits you.

It’s hard enough when you make the flights, land in the middle of the night and crash in your hotel at 2 am.

Try adding 20 hours of fun before the crash.

We hung out in the Mumbai airport from whatever time we landed, until we took off again. (I am a brilliant observationist.) Mostly we just sat there and talked. A couple of us (RB and I included) lay down on the floor and tried to sleep. Rose Bud and I each got a chocolate chocolate chip muffin which wasn’t any worse than a store-bought muffin of that sort in the states. RB didn’t like that the chips were all in the top and none were in the bottom.

It’s so much fun to people-watch in the airport. A toddler of not quite two sat on him mother’s lap across the aisle from us and never made a peep for an hour and a half. He mostly sat silently watching music videos on the TV screen above him. Many of the toddlers we saw had been on our flight and were such little troopers. They were pretty shell-shocked, I suppose after all the traveling. As were we.

The flight from Mumbai to Hyderabad was at 6:30 in the morning and we got to watch the sunrise. It was only about a 30 minute flight. Our itinerary had said food to be purchased was available, but we were served a full breakfast of idly (little mini ones, they were so cute!) and sambhar along with upma, coffee or tea and fruit salad. All the plane food was delicious.

We landed in Hyd no problem and collected our mountains of luggage. People must surely think we are spoiled Americans, with all the luggage we bring with us.

Each person had 2 enormous suitcases, plus a carry-on of considerable size. Truth be told, the suitcases were stuffed with donations and everyone lived out of their carry-ons for 3 days. I actually didn’t change until the Hyd airport. (I won’t mention that I didn’t waste any clean unmentionables on my dirty body, just a new skirt and top. Just not mentioning that.)

We wheeled our full luggage carts out to the outside world and the sunshine to find Sarah and Theresa waiting for us. We had hugs all and introductions all around, then Sarah called the drivers waiting in the parking area to pull around to the pick-up lane. We had 3 cars: 2 for all the passengers (us) and one for our mountain of luggage.

Hyderabad, at least the part we saw, is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! All around the airport it is beautifully landscaped and flowers are blooming everywhere. Even driving in the city it’s so interesting. There are hills with huge—HUGE- - HUGE! boulders dotting the hills and houses built right around them. Sarah said there is actually a Save the Rock society here because builders were just blasting the boulders up and out to construct buildings and people got made about the ruination of them. You can go on a Boulder Walk to see many of the interesting ones.

Our first stop was to the new Worship House that ICM (ICM is Sarah’s husband James’ ministry organization) has acquired through a generous sponsor. I think it’s going to be something like a singing school for 30 men from ICM’s parishes. Sarah can also use it as a stopping place when she is in Hyd and I think can stay there rather than at the hostel. Not sure about that.

In any case, they had been staying there now, since the worship center was not up and running yet. Sarah’s 3 daughters, Simona (13), Shayna (7.5) and Amira (6) were waiting there along with a new little boy they had picked up the day before.

The cars pulled into the gated driveway (one at a time) and we all hopped out. There is a tiny landscaped yard with a teeny little lawn and the house is HUGE! There is a living room, sitting area, dining area and kitchen, all HUGE rooms, plus two bedrooms on the first floor. Upstairs was a common sitting area (HUGE) and 4 (HUGE) bedrooms off of that, each with it’s own bathroom and the basement had 2 more bedrooms (ok, that makes 8, maybe there were that many) plus a rec room type area that currently has a pool table. I missed what she said would be down there, but I think it was the worship area. Seriously, each bedroom is like 20 x 20. It is a beautiful property and they are very blessed to have the donor cover it.

We met the new little boy, N and he is absolutely a sweetie! He has cerebral palsy and is quite weak, nor is he verbal. He can’t sit up or stand, his head flops to the side when you sit him up.

But what a personality! Leslie and Linda took turns holding him and his grin just lights up when you talk to him. Leslie started blowing raspberries into his palm and he laughed! She did it a couple of more times and he just loved it. After the first few, she waited to see if he’d “ask” for more and he did move his hand up to her mouth very slowly. She blew another raspberry and he cracked up again and moved his hand up. He caught on so fast and seems bright. He’d make little moans of pleasure when she did this with him.

Later, when Kailee was holding him, she got him to play an open mouth, close mouth mimicking game with her. He is very personable and fun. Rose Bud was bothered by a mosquito while I was outside later and started chasing it and its friend with her shoe, which cracked N up some more. She loved that she made him laugh.

After the tour, we unloaded all the luggage from the van and sorted through to find anything that we wanted to bring to the boys’ home, Victory House.

Sarah has two separate homes for the children. Victory House is about an hour and a half outside of Ongole toward the coast and houses boys from age 5-19. Angel Home, where we’ll be spending most of our time is right in Ongole and houses all the girls and infants and the most medically fragile children, boys included.

We spread all the luggage out in the driveway to dig through it. I really didn’t think I had anything. Sarah had mentioned that I had boys’ clothes and I said no, I didn’t. Once I began to dig through, though, I remembered that I DID have 2 suitcases filled with the uniforms from Land’s End. Duh. Boys’ clothes.

I found a green polo shirt and a pair of pants in a size that would fit N, as right now he had no clothes and was wearing Shayna’s pajamas. I rearranged suitcases so that all the clothes and the socks and underwear I had brought for the boys was in one. Anything that we didn’t need for the boys’ home was going to arrive via the van a different day. I also pulled out some games I’d brought that Sarah thought they could use.

So the things for Victory home traveled on top of our car, roped down and everything else piled back into the van. We took off in two cars for a physiotherapy shop were Sarah could get parallel bars that one of our team members wanted to purchase for the home.

Think of when you’ve watched gymnastics on TV and the men use the parallel bars—two long bars across from each other. Sarah wants a set because people learning to walk can use them for support while practicing taking steps.

We drove to a shop and waited in the car while the people involved went inside. In typical Indian fashion, this involved illegal parking, police shooing (they wanted the people inside the cars, not standing on the street talking), an irate rickshaw driver who became parked in by our cars, a stop at first one place for consulting, then a drive to a different place to actually purchase the bars, lots of waiting and people watching, much discussion about how the bars would fit on top of this car but not that car and the benefits of each, with the result that the bars would arrive later at the home…… bus.

Took about an hour.

We drove to Subway to eat. It was exactly the same Subway with a few alterations. RB and I each got a turkey sub. Theresa said it was safe to eat the veggies, so we did. They had Lays potato chips and RB got the Masala chips which she thought tasted like the Indian snacks we buy at home. Theresa got the tomato zing chips which taste exactly like ketchup. They really do! I had plain.

A little beggar girl of nine or ten was patiently hanging about outside the Subway and some of our group wanted to give her money. Theresa explained that she never gives to children or mothers with babies as giving to children makes them into successful workers and then they will never go to school. They are too valuable for income (whether to their parents or to the syndicate for which they work). The babies you see often do not even belong to the woman it is with and the babies are taught at a very young age to pathetically put their hands to their lips like they are hungry. Theresa said she will give to old people and cripples.

So our team bought themselves cookies for dessert and an extra one for the beggar girl. Theresa said she tries to show them love and kindness by giving them attention, without rewarding their begging with money.

Let’s just jump ahead now. Back into car. Remain in car on Indian roads for the next 7 hours. The end.

We did stop once for a stretch and bathroom break. The roads were very very good in most places—not very bumpy or potholely. Our driver, Ravi, was excellent and I want to say some more about driving in India, but RB wants breakfast, so I’d best get moving.

Our hotel is very very nice—similar to the Sri Nanak we stayed at in New Dehli. We finally got to bed at 10:15 and slept like rocks until 5 or 6.

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