Sunday, June 27, 2010

India-Day 15

This weekend was nice. It was really relaxing and a fantastic cultural experience. Different from that which we've been doing. Saturday, we went shopping around. I bought a book on the Mafia. It was like $2, and I have decided that I really like coffee-table literature. It's just interesting enough that you can look at it for 20 minutes or so when you're procrastinating, but not interesting enough to read from cover to cover. I don't know if any of you can relate or not.
For lunch, we went to this restaurant that is the coolest buffet I have ever seen. It's not a buffet where you stand up and go get your own food when you want it. There are waiters walking around with platters of food. When you want some, you ask for more. And it only cost like $4. Tragically, I didn't eat. To be honest, the food didn't even look appetizing to me at the state of mind that I was in. I was still feeling sick from throwing up on Thursday. It sucked. The food was probably super good and all I felt like eating was water. So tragic.
India movie theatres are really interesting. We went to see The A-Team after we did some more shopping. My second time seeing the movie. All in all, it was entertaining, because of how over-the-top Hollywood has become. Anyway, before the movie, everyone in the theatre stands up and sings the Indian national anthem. Then, at the middle of the movie, they stop it for intermission. The intermission was actually really nice. It gave you a great chance to get up and go to the bathroom and stuff. Really cool stuff.
Saturday was Aaron's birthday, so everyone wanted to go celebrate. We got dropped off in some part of town where all the parties are going down. After everyone, with the exception of Dhruva and I, drank some booze, got a little buzzed, smoked some hookah, lost their buzz, then we went and tried to find some clubs. Despite being incredibly hot in Inda, you cannot wear shorts and go to clubs. Who'da thought? So it was a no-go on the clubs. Then, we got in a pretty epic 10 minute argument with some cab drivers because they wanted to charge a lot of money to take us home. We ended up talking them down to about $12 for the ride which was really good considering how far away we were.
Yesterday was Sunday and a really cool day. We got on a bus at 6:30 AM and rode 3 hours up a giant of a mountain. We spent the entire day driving and checking out these rad ancient temples. Seriously, these things were built like 4000 years ago. So crazy. One of the temples had a pool of water that was believed to be the source of the 5 great rivers of India. Everyone in the temple would go down to the cow statue waterfall that had water coming out of its mouth and would wash their hands, feet, hair, and face. Then, they would sometimes drink the water. Another temple seriously looked like it was straight out of Indiana Jones. It was on the edge of this huge cliff. Unfortunately, it had been raining so all we could see were clouds in front of us. But still, it was such an indescribable feeling to imagine thousands of years of monks sitting and meditating on that temple overlooking this great empty valley truly witnessing God's artistic hand in all of nature. It was overwhelming in some aspects. So beautiful.
It's been a trip for sure. India is an amazing place. One thing I am starting to realize, however, is that I wish I could work on more personal level with the people. The thing that I loved most about my mission in Japan was the people. Just working so closely with them, it was natural and easy to grow and love them. I don't feel I have had that kind of opportunity to do with the people of India, so I still feel so very distant from them.
Things are going well. I still can't get over this diarrhea, but that's probably more information that you were bargaining for. Anyway, I'm out. Special shout-out to my sister Mackenzie. I don't think she reads this, but I was just thinking about her. I love you, sis. Hope all is well.

Friday, June 25, 2010

India-Day 12

I couldn't hold off any longer. On Wednesday, I must have eaten something sketchy because I spent the entire day on Thursday throwing up and sleeping. It was horrible. I don't think I have been sick like that in long long time. It was pretty intense. I am still a little exhausted from it all.
We have been growing a little discouraged with the project. I think when we came to India, we all thought that we would be doing more humanitarian work than we have done up to this point. We work doing manual labor all day for the Ananda spiritual community, basically the people who we thought would be taking us to different villages. I don't mind doing hard labor or anything like that, but I was a little thrown off because I came here to help people who are underprivileged and need my help. The people here on this commune can hire people to do the work we are doing. I don't know. I try to keep a good attitude about it, but especially lately, as I have been so sick, I have been so discouraged about the whole thing. It has been so hard to continue working hard, when I feel like I have been taken advantage of. Luckily, Rahm and Kartik, the organizers of this whole project have made some calls, and hopefully, things will be improving this next week. We'll see.
I really got home sick this week. Not having the comforts of America really got to me as I was lying sick and hot in my uncomfortable bed. That kind of suffering is all part of the experience I need to gain. It still amazes me that people live here in India. The conditions almost seem unfathomable. If I wasn't here experiencing it in person, I don't know how much I would be able to believe. You hear about extreme poverty in the world, and I think naturally, it's hard for us to create that world. If you read my blog from the beginning, I think you can see how evident that is. I can look at pictures of kids starving, people suffering, and impoverished men and women living all day long, but it has nowhere near the effect it has on seeing one child up close and personal. Even worse, knowing that no matter what I do, it is beyond my ability to help that person out given the resources that I have. There are these villagers that live next to the commune. They have 3 or so children that are always running around. So cute. While I was reading, one of the children, a little girl about 5 years old, came up to me and without any shyness at all, started looking at the book with me. I opened to show her pictures (I was reading a film book, so there were some storyboard sketches). She then takes the book and begins to read it on her own. It's impossible for me to share with you the image of the cute innocence that existed in that child. While showering later on, it occurred to me how wonderful childhood is. The vast experiences we have that are so simple, yet teach us so much.. Then, we grow up only to make life complicated and difficult. We only allow ourselves to be taught in classrooms and professional settings. We give up to the simple truths of life and human interaction that can only be gained through childlike simplicity and innocence. Further, I thought more about this girl and how badly I did not want her to grow up. I wanted her to continue living as a child and not be tainted by the world.
My writing may or may not make sense. I did not intend to write as much as I have, but I like writing when it flows from my mind to the screen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Indai-day 9 ?

We started learning Hindi on Monday. Learning a language is tough. I recall my days at the MTC when I was learning Japanese. And then realizing that my mission is over, I have one of those "Oh snap" moments. It's crazy. Now, here I am in India enjoying my next adventure.
I had a good meditating session yesterday. I really felt like I was benefiting from the blessings of clearing your mind. It was just peace. It was nice. Then, I started thinking about girls. Thus, I became distracted. too bad. I miss girls though.
Everyone here is really nice. I am always exhausted from a hard day's work. Recently, we've been working on the side of a hill digging out rocks and dirt. My hands are torn and blistered, as well as my feet. Everyone thinks that I am crazy, because I continue to wear sandals while I work. I have worn boots, but they are so hot; my feet always feel like they're on fire whenever I wear boots. So, I have just been wearing sandals and now my feet are super cut up.
We take cold showers. Heavenly in the hot Indian weather. We have been having really hot weather, which is different from what we were expecting: straight monsoons.
It's about 9 or so right now. I am listening to everyone talk about ghosts and spooks and all that stuff. Everyone is so beat up. We played an intense game of soccer yesterday. Matt took two nasty hits to the shins, one on each leg. Then today, we were jumping over this fairly large ravine; Tom messed up his ankle pretty good. Sunburns, sickness, cuts, scrapes. I feel like we're a beat up football team with mother nature kickin our trash.
While I was showering today, the septic tank started overflowing. I got out of the shower and smelled the most horrifying stench ever. Bummer. We got work to do tomorrow.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

India-Day 6

"Must've been the nuts" -Tom Dalske, in regards to why he has been throwing up for the past 2 days.

Out of 7 of us, 4 have become sick. Tom and Dhruva must have eaten some bad nuts. Krishna has some kind of fever. And Ashok, for some reason we can't explain, drank the waste water from the water filter. Matt, Aaron, and I are still holding strong. For how long, we know not. We're hold off the bacteria for as long as possible.

We've been doing a lot of meditating since arriving at the Ananda commune, one hour outside of Pune. Jemal, Jaydar, and the other monks taught us some simple meditation techniques yesterday dealing with breathing and clearing the mind. I didn't understand this at first, but our experience here is involving a lot more spiritual learning than I expected. The theology here is basically a mix between all religions with a little yoga twist to it all. Before we start meditation, we do some chants about Jesus Christ, some saint, and other stuff. There are prayers said to divine mother, heavenly father, holy Mary, and others. It's definitely different than what I'm used to. But I am in India so...when in Rome...?

Today, we went to downtown Pune's marketplace. Basically millions of people and cheap clothing and other goodies makes for a good time. Really exhausted, but so good. I got some traditional indian attire. I'll post pictures soon.

The poverty here in India is so difficult to see. Everywhere we go, there are children asking for money...or even worse, mothers carrying their sick children asking for money for food. We are encouraged not to give to them, for if we do then more will come asking for money. Its really tragic though. I did give some money away to a handicapped fellow. But I feel that it doesn't really help. Giving money will only benefit them so far. It's the whole idea that you can give a man fish or you can teach a man a fish. I wish that I knew how to teach them to fish.

The work we are doing is for the Ananda spiritual community they are building outside of Pune. Yesterday, I spent most of the day surveying elevations of the ground so we can install a water tank tomorrow. We are going to be working on the community for this week and traveling during the weekends. It sounds like we have some really interesting trips planned to different temples and stuff. The Indian culture is very spiritual and drawn to the inner energy that exists all around us. In meditation or in their everyday lives, they seek to find the inner energy of the planet. Really interesting stuff.

I hope you are all doing well. I love India. I miss you all. Namaste

Saturday, June 19, 2010


An Indian sweets shop
Our housing accommodations
The "monk-mobile"
The famous Taj hotel where all the foreign ambassador
A bunch of "Auto-rikshas" (3 wheeled taxis)
A Indian taxi
No, not the ghetto. It's Mumbai.

Enjoy the pictures

Thursday, June 17, 2010

India-day 3

We met up with the group today. Basically, the first group arrived 3 days ago. Another group of 3 arrived today. We met up and were taken away to look at India and all its splendor. The gateway to India was really rad. It was to welcome the British when they came into India in like 1911 or something like that. While there, we met up with this nice British woman named Inshella. She came with us to eat. Then, we met this other woman from Washington D.C. named Monica. So we had a nice group of tourists together for lunch.
The food here is so freaking delicious. Everything I have eaten has been great. I have had to be careful about the water and such. We only drink bottled water. I have drank some coke, which I still think is disgusting, but being that it is so hot, I had to drink something.
The poverty here is tragic. In the city we were staying in, Mumbai, there is the largest slum in all of Asia. I saw it flying in and it just continued and continued over hills and hills of Mumbai. Seeing children on the street come up to me asking for money to eat or food is really hard. Especially because I still have not had a chance to exchange my American dollars into Indian Rupies. So, even if I wanted to give them something, I couldn't. I did, however, give two little kids that kept following me a quarter each. I don't know if it'll help them at all, but if it does, good. They left me alone after that.
We met Jemal today. Such a humble, good, down-to-earth guy. He is the monk who has been coordinating this project. He has an interesting story that has led him to where he is now. I don't feel it's my place to share over a blog or anything, but basically he has just taken his path to happiness by becoming a monk. Driving to Pune from Mumbai, he and I had a chance to discuss religious, or rather, ethic values for a good hour or so. It was a great mutual respect that I felt talking with him. He taught me and I like to think that I taught him. It was a beautiful, uplifting conversation about life in general that touched me. I am looking forward to learning more from him. He'll be instructing our meditation classes and supervising our work and such.
So tonight we're staying in Pune at the monks' apartments. Tomorrow, we'll drive the 2 hours or so into the monestary and so it begins...

Monday, June 14, 2010

India-En route

Leaving America was like a dream. My life is going to be so dismissed. so distant, for the next 5 weeks. However, it helped me to recall my experience as a missionary in Japan. I thought back to that day of nearly 3 years ago. Although I was not much younger in years or anything, I would consider myself a lot younger. I had not yet had the experience of a mission to change and form me as it had. I hadn't met all the people in Japan that helped shaped me into who I am now. So, leaving America was similar to that feeling right before I left for Japan. I felt so unaware and so in awe of the world in its vastness. I was going to fly across the Pacific Ocean once again. I would experience the surreal feeling of knowing that should I crash, there is nothing but water for thousands of miles to swallow up me, my friends, and the hundred or so other passengers. But that feeling, as strange as it might be, brings such a sense of peace and serenity. The trip was incredibly different from my plane flights to and from Japan. I watched movies. It made the time pass a lot more quickly. 3 movies, one men's health magazine, and 30 pages or so from Farenheit 451. And I slept. All in all, it passed pretty quickly. Anyway, I dabble. As I always do.
So here we are. 4 of us in the Singapore airport, a place I know nothing about. I hardly knew where Singapore was on a map before I left. Dhruva is playing chess on the free X box 360 system. Tom is playing Dynasty Warriors or something like that. Matt is...I don't know what Matt is doing. Maybe going to the bathroom. I heard him mentioning it a while ago. Here I am blogging. I love blogging. Guilty pleasure, I know. And I know of my few followers, I probably drive them pretty insane with my spacey thoughts and my spastic sarcasm. But do know, I do have a point, my friends. Getting my thoughts from my mind to the paper has always been one of my most important endeavors. I can type so much faster than I can write, so it's easier to dabble than in a journal or something like that.
7 minutes left on this computer before it logs me out. I think I'll cut that short and go find a bathroom. I'm about to enter Indian borders. I don't even know what is about to hit me. I think about India and an image of Bollywood pops into my mind. I have heard about the large amounts of poverty that exist in the country, and in all honesty, I don't think I am ready to see it. But ready or not, here it comes. It's okay. It'll help me out, in some deep and profound way... I suppose.