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September 26, 2003

India Revisited

I found a new internet cafe. The last one I was in was up some rickety steps in a little room that did not even have a ceiling fan. With temps in the 90's, it was hot! On the way home, Francis, who went with me so I wouldn't get lost, found this cafe, which has air conditioning and is much cheaper than the other one.

Today, I want to tell you a little about India. It is a city of 11-12 million people. They have a constant influx of people from villages throughout India. Needless to say, this has stretched their already limited resources.

There is a MacDonald's close by, a Baskin Robins, a Domino's Pizza and a Pizza Hut. More Indians have more disposable income to buy the kinds of things we buy in America. But abject poverty is always close by. With such a large population, there is no way that there can be enough jobs and housing for everyone. The government has tried, without success, to stop migration into the city. Families will find a spot along a wall, and that becomes their home. I saw one lady on the sidewalk with an umbrella and a few little household articles. Her house was the umbrella. She just moved it around throughout the day to ward off the hot sun.

Water is in critical supply. There is no longer freely running water. The city turns the water on at intervals, and you have to be ready to turn on your pumps and pump water into your storage tanks. If you don't turn on your pumps at that time, you don't get water for that day. This is for the people who have homes and storage tanks. I don't know what the people living on the street do.

In spite of this and other problems, India has grown significantly. Thirty years ago, most of the traffic was buses, taxis, scooters, rickshaw scooters, and bicycles. Today, it is mostly buses (using natural gas - much less pollution), cars, and motorcycles. Yet, in a step backwards, they also have bicycle rickshaws, a concession which was made in an effort to supply jobs for incoming village people.

More people are living in nice homes and driving nice cars. The government has granted loans, which they had not done in the past. They have built large complexes further out of the city, and people buy their apartment within that building complex. Sort of like condos. We went to Sunny David's place on Sunday, and it was really nice.

Clothing has also changed. In the cities, men gave up wearing traditional Indian garb in the middle part of the 20th century. Though the majority of women still wear traditional clothing, a lot of the younger women are wearing Western ware. Sari shops, which used to be everywhere, have converted to ready-made clothing. Thirty years ago, you could not find ready-made. The other day, Betty took some cotton sheet material to a seamstress to make some pants for me and some pajamas for her. Later, we went to Defence market (a big shopping area) and found ready-made pants for $1.00 and pjs for not much more! Now we are regretting the money we will have to pay the seamstress for stitching us some sheet-clothes!

The one thing that has not changed is the noise! Indians love to honk their horns. With the proliferation of cars and outrageous traffic conditions, they are honking fools! I wish I had a soundbite to share with you. They actually have no-honk zones. Technically, you are not supposed to honk within a 100 meters of a traffic light. If you do, a policeman can write your license number down and send you a ticket. Apparently, no one worries about that much, unless they see a policeman standing around!

Well, I am off to pick up my sheet-pants. More later.

September 24, 2003

In India

Finally, an internet cafe!

Well, the last time we talked, I was worried because J.C. took the back seat out of the van so he could get more luggage in. Betty rode to the airport in the back of the van on the suitcases, and I rode up front with J.C., because I get car sick (grin). The trip to India took a total of 48 hours!

We hopped on a plane to Atlanta, then back to Los Angeles. We were scanned and patted and passed through all the barriers without a problem. What they thought three old people weighed down with luggage would do is beyond me. If I were going to blow up a plane, I certainly wouldn't bother taking a bunch of luggage! But in a world that insists on asking me if I get the senior citizen discount, it was refreshing to be addressed as "young lady" by the security people. So that more than made up for the inconveniences!

There was a four-hour layover in Los Angeles before we boarded Singapore Airlines (the best airline!) for a 14-hour trip across the ocean. Being the old pros that they are, Betty and J.C. fell asleep everytime they sat down, while I watched movies and read. We reached Taipei, where we had another hour layover, then another four hours to Singapore for a 6-hour layover. We went into town to get a video camera for one of the men for his TV work, and J.C. asked me if I wanted to eat at Popeye's. I was scandalized! After finishing our errands, we decided to get back to the airport, where we ate at Burger King. It is a small world. Then it was back on the plane for another four hours to New Delhi.

The brethren picked us up at the airport, drove us to the church building and lugged all our heavy stuff upstairs. After visiting for a few minutes, they left us to ourselves.

The good news was, it was shower time. The bad news was, there was very little water. I will try to attach a picture to show you the shower. It is actually a bucket and a cup. You collect the water in the bucket, wash down and then rinse with the cup. The problem: only a half-gallon of water came out before the spigot dried up! We are still working on this problem. But you would be surprised how far you can stretch a half-gallon of water!

Saturday was a rest day. We went out to buy me some Indian garb. Sunday was wonderful! I met folks I had not seen in 30 years. Some of them had been tiny children when I left India in 1974; others, like me, had grown old and gray and fatter! I also met my internet buddy in person, my friend, Ajit, who is married to one of Sunny David's girls, Pretti. Sunny's mama, who is 82, just hugged and hugged me. I honestly had never expected to see her again.

India is unimaginable to most people. But the brethren are the same everywhere: wonderful to be with. And no matter the differences in dress, customs or language, God is worshipped in spirit and in truth.

September 16, 2003

Under Way

I have to warn you - I am a reader, not a writer. When I write, I get bored! So I usually have pity on fellow-readers by not inflicting them with my writing.

Now that you are sufficiently warned:

First stop: Jackson, Mississippi. I dumped the dog (not as easy as it sounds...sob!), tied up all my loose ends and packed my duds. We leave for Jackson after lunch.

I am a little worried because we removed the back seat in the van, where I usually sit. Hummm. Naw! They wouldn't leave me! I have a ticket!