Sunday, July 26, 2009

This One Was Hindu Through and Through

With a Hindu wedding there seemed to be a lot of extra arrangements. Everything had to be placed just so and the fire lit in the oil burners and kept going and kept going at just the right brightness. We were seated on the front row so I picked up a lot of tips on fires.
There were fruits and grains displayed and the coconut in the middle was carefully decorated with leaf and flowers and a delicate gold charm was tied around the middle.
As the ceremony progressed this charm was removed from the coconut and tied around the bride's forehead. Later several female guests came up and offered other gold charms and tied theirs in place with the first one.
The bride eventually was heavily adorned with gold. Little by little we will learn more about all of the tradition. Is it all real? Do you rent jewels for the wedding. What ever the answer one thing we noticed is that the door to the room where the bride was dressed was carefully locked every time someone came out. There must be a reason.
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Time Out For Another Wedding

This is the bride at a wedding that started at six in the morning. Of course it was an hour and a half late starting, but we still have trouble not being there on time. At the reception the night before the bride wore rubies and this morning her gold is adorned with diamonds.

This wedding was traditional Hindu and lots of gold was given to the couple. Many guests gave them gold rings and we were gifted with a coconut as we were leaving.
After greeting the new couple and presenting our gift we went upstairs for dinner at the Saturday night reception and at the wedding the next morning we were offered breakfast. This event introduced us to a new food. We still do not know the name, but it came in a cup and was pudding like but thin. We kept watching to see how some were eating this and saw a couple of empty cups but we were never able to catch any one actually eating this item until we finally looked up to see two men dumping theirs on the plates and stirring the concoction around with their fingers. Nope! Just could not do it. Right then a little cup of ice cream was served and I used the accompanying wooden spoon for the pudding and the ice cream. Saved! Dutifully I eat with my fingers but I still don't like it and there are limits.
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Up Close On Our Street

Out our side street notice the red roof, the palm tree in the middle and the white spot in the middle of the palm tree.
The white is the leaf shape on the right in this photo. It actually is a leaf and these are the coconuts that are all over our neighborhood. We have never seen anyone pick them nor seen one on the ground. This post however is more than just about our street. This is to announce that we have solved our camera problems and that we can zoom in and get up close and personal. AND

That we won't get behind on reporting baptisms. This young man was baptised today. Such a nice young man and he takes the prize for being the tallest.
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New Pipe On Our Street

It looks like we will not be having wedding marches on our street anytime soon as we are getting new pipes. We have heard from many sources that big street projects can come out of bid for twenty thousand but not get started for a very long time and when they finally get built there is only five thousand for the project. The quality is never too good and no one seems to know what happend to the fifteen thousand. The next big street over had work like our street and is still not finished after months. Things were different here because the next morning our street was drivable. Someone in the neighborhood knows someone the government!

Lots of work here is done by hand but more and more machines are creeping in. One of the best things India does is hire lots of people. The stores are full of clerks and every job has a group on board.
These men will be busy with their picks soon fine tuning the digging but for now they rest until the back hoe has done its job. Indians are not only hard workers they are smart too.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Street

Really, yesterday when I posted about the fruit lady was when I realized it was a perfect time to talk more about our street. You saw the wedding that at first sounded like music coming from the neighborhood school stadium. This little cart is in the same category. Very, very loud. This photo was taken back at the first of the year and a neighbor is buying some religious token in celebration of the harvest for Pongal.

The cart does not come everyday. It probably leaves from the Hindu temple down the street. It comes down the main street and turns right at our side street and continues past another school (another post for another day) Music blares loudly, and at first you think it is another parade as a woman sings in a high pitched nasal chant. She sounds like a misguided twelve year old. I am respectful of her expression of her beliefs but after months of this sound it still grates on my ears.

Yesterday I was working at a woman's home and she was playing this kind of music and I noticed my shoulders swaying. YIKES! Am I embracing this sound? As soon as I return to California I will play Ella Fitzgerald and Nora Jones to mellow out my brain.
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

The End Of The Papaya Breakfast

There is always traffic on our street until about ten at night. You learn to block it out, but something made us look as we heard the sound of a truck coming to a stop. Were lots of people hungry for papaya? A whole truck load?
No, it was a movie crew come to film our fruit lady. Well our former fruit lady! Before coming to India we were instructed to read Culture Shock India. We did and it said "always listen to your maid." Unfortunately, she arrived one morning as we were buying papayas across the street. The maid went into a tirade about not buying from this woman. It was a mixture of English and Tamil and the word "bad" was mentioned and we don't know if it was directed to the woman or the fruit but,

Now we shop for fruit several blocks away at a regular fruit market because that is where the maid sent us. The fruit lady? We will never know, but we are happy that now she is a movie star.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Breakfast On The Road

You could stop here for breakfast if you were out on the road. One day we did start out early and because we were traveling far we we did have a driver. He was hungry and needed to stop for breakfast. We had had papaya at home. He returned quickly and said it was too dirty. Lucky he was able to tell. Sometimes a place will seem fine but later you are paying a price. This has nothing to do with the class of the establishment. If you were in the restaurant of a fine hotel and noticed that everyone at a particular table was drinking coke you would know that they were seasoned travelers in India. Many travelers make it a practice to have a glass of coke after every meal to kill any bad things in the food. If coke is that powerful, what else does it do while it is inside you? One thing we did hear recently is that excessive coke drinking can cause kidneystones. Choose your poison.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Breakfast is easy once you discover that you like papayas. You just walk across the street to the fruit lady and find the perfect fruit.
Read the morning paper while the fruit is disinfecting, an absolute must. AND
Except for all those seeds you are ready. India definitely produces man size papayas.
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Days Gone By

Take a look at a street in Chennai which was like this in the "good old days." On the far side of the street in a one block area you can count ten or eleven buses, a half dozen cars, a couple of delivery trucks and six to eight "two wheelers." We plan to show you what the traffic is like now. We have been having camera troubles but will have them solved soon. This time I have promised myself not to take pictures until I have read AND UNDERSTAND ALL THE DIRECTIONS. Soon, however, there will be a post on traffic. We have learned to take the little autos. It is hot but they scoot in and out and get through bad traffic easier and you also meet lots of interesting people and that is what we came to India to do.

It seems that there has been a mighty change in traffic since only three years back. If you count five years back you can't even recognize your own childhood street.

NOT More Fourth Of July

These fireworks are all about our excitement. Our own personal celebration. A couple of days after the fourth of July we got an email that said that our new Church location had been approved in Hong Kong. Two weeks before that we had gotten a "no" from Hong Kong unless we cut costs by 50%. Would it be possible? We sent a list to Bangalore of everything we could think of to cut and one of the architects went to the Bangalore office and all of a sudden there were enough costs cut to make a new meeting place a reality.
We have room for seventy or so in our chapel now - the new space will let us have 150. Now we have seven teaching stations and we will increase to ten and also add a library and a clerks office. Everyone is so excited.

Fifteen years ago this grandmother was baptised. Last week her two grandsons were baptised. With plans for the new building approved we will have enough space so no one will have to sit in the hall.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

More Fourth

Many vendors came to the Fourth of July celebration to donate and round out the wares for sampling. The consulate general's wife was in awe over the variety. It was amazing - think See's candy shop times four and then think See's, Godiva, my grandmother and any other excellent, genius, obscure candy maker and you can visualize the offerings before us. THE COMPANY HONORED US WITH 233 VARIETIES - ONE TO REPRESENT EACH YEAR OF OUR INDEPENDENCE!

Indian sweets are very different. I haven't had enough of then to really know how to compare to something familiar. An orange flavored pan of sweets looks like a pan of not shiny jello with cashew nuts. The sweets may have various flours in them too. They are VERY sweet.

The best memory of past fourths for us is stopping early in the morning for fresh picked corn and then heading for San Clemente and the beach for an all day and evening party that ended with fireworks and sleepy children.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Was He There?

We attended a Fourth of July Celebration hosted at the consulate here in Chennai by the U.S. Consulate General. Met a lot of interesting people who have made their careers the service of their county.
Was our new president there? There was an amazing likeness on the celebration cake.
There was a life sized rendition for a photo op.
Most important we were there and it was another year of celebrating an important holiday. We have probably spent over fifty July fourths together. We have enjoyed the company of good friends on this day and always the gathering in of family to mark the birth of our nation. In the fourth grade I learned to sing all four verses of the national anthem and it was then that parents and teachers instilled in me a deep love of this land - this beautiful nation that was brought forth to give all a pure freedom.

Let's not loose the progress we have made and let's get better everyday with seeing that freedom is ALWAYS extended to ALL.
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Am I Obsessed With Weather?

When I was a very small girl I remember visiting with relatives in Utah and before bed everyone would want to know what the weather report said for the next day. Working with crops it really mattered. Being from southern California we had so much of the same weather that we never thought about it. Just before the school bus was due to arrive we could step out onto the front porch and decide if we wanted a sweater that day or not.

In India weather matters. Both times we took the train to Bangalore we looked out on almost desert like country and saw empty reservoirs. That was months ago and everything was dry then. India is getting rain now, but rain will not come to our part of India in any amount to help until September. You find yourself becoming obsessed with the weather report.
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Filthy Lucre

This picture shows about the amount of money we use a month to run around doing what we do. There are three stacks of 10 Rp notes and some 100Rp bills. The tens are vital because auto drivers NEVER have change. They already charge us too much and we let them charge us just enough too much to give them a bit extra help but not to mess too much with the economy for our neighbors. The price of gas went up 4 Rps today. This is very difficult for the working man up in India.

Once while in the bank we saw stacks of tens. Now we go at the first of every month and get a supply. It saves lots of time. Now notice the three stacks of tens. The one on the right is brand new. The front one is a little less new and the one at top back looks like a lot more money because it is full of sweat and dirt. That is Chennai.
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Ninety-five percent of India is under Monsoon conditions. Not us. We have dropped from 102 to 100.4 so we are not out doing a lot of walking yet, but we have hope. Every time it rains at night it is hotter the next day. Late as the sun was setting yesterday the clouds piled and just as dark came it poured for all of twenty minutes. The paper today called it a drizzle.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oranges Trees

We were driving along down a wide street last week and I looked up and saw this huge, magnificent tree covered in orange blossoms. A few days later we discovered a smaller tree right on our side street. All the flowers have left the trees that bloomed in the Spring but now we know about these vibrant orange flowers to look forward to next summer. The irony: It takes this intense heat to bring on this beauty. How like it all. Good and evil. Sadness and joy! Tumult and peace. . . . .
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