Sunday, October 25, 2009

Almost Forgot

Some how I forgot to mention that McDonald's has arrived in Chennai. We came across town one afternoon after a long meeting and as we turned towards our neighborhood we saw an interesting sight. Beautiful red flags were posted along the center divider. They went on for six or seven blocks and we wondered what big Hindu celebration was in progress. We turned left and found it was just the opening of McDonald's. I guess it is fair to say that McDonald's has circled the earth. A new one is even coming to the food court at the Louvre in Paris. Our McDonald's is unique however. We have no beef!
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Thursday, October 15, 2009


My neighbor always has beautiful designs for the Hindu holidays. It's Diwali, our second one and crackers (fire) have been exploding every night for over a week. There are more every night. On the actual day they start as it gets dark and go on for hours. All kinds of fireworks are added and the sky is sparkling in every direction. As missionaries we are banded from leaving the house in the evening hours. Our first apartment was on the ground floor so we only heard the noise last year. This year we are up high and will be able to see in every direction.
Flowers play an important part in all these holidays and actually in everyday life.. We have a flower lady across the street from our bedroom. The only lady in the picture with gray hair. Every night she strings flowers and then a couple of other ladies go and leave flowers hanging on the door knobs of regular customers. (You can get milk in a little plastic bag in the morning and fragrant flowers at night.) Big holidays like Diwali demand more delivery woman and you can see them gathered around and ready to work.

Once day in the late afternoon the big Hindu man who lives beyond that wall and garden came out of his gate and started an augment with the flower lady. It was a hum dinger. He flung his arms and his face got puffed up and sweat drippy and the flower lady made one remark and then just sat there. the man gestured to the flowers spread out of the sidewalk, he pointed to her old wooden cart. He did not like her there. He wanted his street neat and orderly. Never mind the huge pile of dirt, trash and rocks on his corner. It has been there since last year. His maid sweeps the street every day and just adds to the mound.

What was the outcome of this confrontation? Another maid came up and began to yell at the man. The flower lady just sat there. The maid yelled louder and louder and so did the man, but after a half hour of yelling the maid won and the man retreated to his house. The next day the flower lady was gone. Again, day after day she was no longer on the corner. I felt so bad. I asked an auto driver what happen. Good news. Her daughter had just had a baby. In a few days the flower lady was back on the corner. She knows who I am and often makes an effort to catch my eye as I am leaping into an auto and taking off down the street. Her smiles tells me that we both know that she won the big argument. She learned from her great countryman that peace is the best weapon of war.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I am in the mall. Granted it is a small one but one of the very big ones looks like this hall only about five feet wider. I was in another mall the other day and it was dark and dingy and very smelly. You can never tell from the street what you will find inside.
We were looking for a travel agent and even though we found one we couldn't understand him. We did find this sweat shop and stopped for a visit.
Is it a sweat shop if the workers are happy?
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Middle

Right in the middle of the city of twelve million plus is a country lane. These two cows are heading "home" for the day. Way down past the bright pink and purple blankets on the right is an out cropping of grass. That is their goal, that and the huge trash pile next to it where lots of snacking will take place until the cows settle for the night. Yes, cows wander the city streets and all the trash piles they find give new meaning to the term "enriched and fortified milk."
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Every Home Should Have One

Our first apartment was a bug nightmare. Food went straight from takeout to the dining table and we only went into the kitchen for the refrigerator, to boil water or to clean from top to bottom when we moved which was in two weeks. The new place was orderly AND
Bug free thanks to this little guy. Every home should have a gecko. Luckily I had finally come to grips with sharing space with a lizard while visiting in Hawaii. I didn't give this fellow a name but I was very courteous to let him know that I was coming into the kitchen in the dark of night. He was much more out there in the night. I thought he was gone one day but found him outside a window one night and let him in. It was a good thing. It turned out that he was a she and she was trying to get back to her baby. Now we had two. We didn't see them for awhile then looked up one night to see that she had almost doubled in size.
Our association went on for almost eight months and then she was gone and so was the baby. By now we were in the the 104 degree heat for a few months and during that time you almost stop thinking so we didn't think to miss her, our little gecko. Then in September instead of cooling it was hot and very humid. We started seeing a few bugs then more. We needed a gecko. It turned out it was a heat spell, the hottest September in ten years and when it went to regular hot the bugs calmed down.

One night I saw a small gecko scampering back and forth across the three windows in the office. Her light colored tummy showed up against the dark night. Now really listen because this is true. She stopped, looked through the window and then tapped her head three times against the glass. The next night when I saw her we opened the window but she did not come in. It has been a few days now and I see her outside every night. It finally dawned on me that she wasn't saying, Knock, knock let me in." It was , "See what a good job I am doing out here. You have not had a mosquito bite in the office for one week and it is all thanks to me!"
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

What's In That Bottle?

What is all this? Forms, passports, sunglasses for swollen eyes from inoculation shots AND a bottle of a toxic solution that you can put on your clothes to ward off mosquitoes. This is a year ago and our first stop in India. Next was a short flight to Chennai and our new home for two years. The mosquito repellent is still in the bottle and tucked back on a shelf. Never seems to be time to use it.

We have just finished the hot, hot, hot season and it was gloriously mosquito free but they are back. As careful as you are with closing the house up by 5:30 and not opening too early in the morning you still get zinged. Unfortunately when my English class left tonight the mosquitoes came in the front door again.

I was dutifully practicing the piano because a good friend suggested that I keep at it and I got bit three times on the elbow. Maybe this year I will MAKE TIME to put mosquito repellent on my clothes. The season for those little critters is eight and a half months long.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Remember When?

Remember when we had odd and even days? Could it be as long as twenty years (1979) ago. If you had a license plate that ended in an even number you gassed up one day and your friends with odd numbers ending their plates got in line the next day. What could be worse? No gas.

A new rule makes the little gold and black autos convert to LPG liquid but you hardly can find it at any of the stations. What's worse? No room on the road at all. It won't be long. As the economy changes and more people buy cars, an auto or a car - it won't mater what you drive if you can't find space on the street to travel. There are a lot of small cars in line at this petrol station here in Chennai . That's good because in New Delhi big cars are already banded.

In our little congregation no one owned a car when we arrived , but a few months ago two brothers came to listen and one took baptism. They own a car. See. It's coming. GRIDLOCK!
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In A Very Large Land

Last year we walked home one night in about this much rain. If we stayed toward the middle of the road the water came to just over the tops of our shoes. This all happened in the monsoon season but in 2008 the monsoon never came to Chennai. There was a cyclone late in the season and we saw a lot of destruction and suffering then. It was a blessing that the monsoon never arrived.

When you live in a big country you can be safe and a few states over "brothers and sister" have lost their homes in a cyclone. An earth quake can topple freeways and bridges near the Pacific and the plains states are peaceful. We are familiar with the ebb and flow of disasters over a large area. This morning our neighbors in the next state over reported two and a half million people homeless because of flooding. We are hot and dry and there two hundred have died because the Krishna River is higher that it has been in 106 years. I just couldn't post the picture of the woman sobbing because her home and what little she had was washed away. I couldn't post it but I will never forget the look in her eyes.

What is not familiar is we are at war. If I were home and one corner of my country was at war I would know it, think about it, pray about it, but here it is never mentioned. In Indian we are fighting communism and the communist are fighting back against capitalism and killing anyone who gets in their way. Whole villages disappear in the night and trains are blown up. Atrocities are committed and man's inhumanity to his fellowman rages. The Indian soldiers march through the jungles as they look for the enemy. They carry rifles on their shoulders and there is talk of accelerating the war. Some would call this an insurrection, but I remember from our history books at home that when some of our states fought against the government we called it war.
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Monday, October 5, 2009


What are the biggest changes since we arrived in India a year ago? We would have to say security. Ever since a man checked into a hotel with suitcases full of explosives the little walk through box has been paired with an x-ray machine for bags and purses. Once through the first doors of the five star hotels there is a friendly lady with the detecting wand. They seem to only check one side of your body before they are smiling and opening the door to the lobby. Love those classy hotels!
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Do We Have Friends?

Do we have friends here in India? Well yes and no. We have no friends even close to our age. There are a few older people that we know but they are probably younger, a lot younger than our age. There is one man who is 72 but he works very long hours so he has only been home one time when we went to visit. We have a young marrieds group of a dozen or more who meet once a month at our house. Those are the people we know best and who probably know us best. I am starting to know what one young married woman is thinking just when we look at each other.

I do have a second set of friends. Here they are talking with me between lessons. When I asked them a good place to shop in case I wanted to buy something for a granddaughter, they spoke, "Pothy's" in unison . Now I call them my personal shoppers. If India needs to count on women like these, her future is secure. I love to be in the room when they are called on to pray. Soon after any one of them starts you know that they are connected and heaven is listening. It is alright for the rest of us to be there but they are talking to God and through the Lord Jesus Christ these woman in little girl bodies have faith that their prayers will be answered.
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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Without Warning

I went to a lady's house and was there for two hours. When I left I could not get out the driveway or the gate. For a block there was new, sticky paving. Remember the little notices at home, "the water will be off Friday morning from nine to eleven. Please prepare." Here it just happens. One morning I left for appointments. When I came home a few hours later the street was torn up and I had to leap a ditch to get to my house. So what do you do when its too far to leap? Just choose the least gooey spots and walk on the hot tar.
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Friday, October 2, 2009

In Times Past

In smaller areas of India, families built homes that even by today's new building standards would be considered palaces. A generation has passed and the children have moved to the cities. They are no longer interested in the"treasures" their parents or grandparents have amassed. The antique trade has become a big business here. Even doors and other parts of the homes now are for sale.

In addition to the intricate carving of this massive door it comes with a sill of a foot thick marble. If you are good at bargaining you might be able to have this one for $80,000 plus shipping.

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