Local Celebrities

3 07 2013

For the previous posts on our India trip, visit: An Introduction to India and Meeting Sai.

Wednesday, June 12
I awoke again several hours before dawn. This is getting old. I have one fresh outfit which I must save for tomorrow, so digging through my already-worn-but-could-wear-again clothing bag I go. Unfortunately everything smells weird, not disgusting, but definitely not fresh. Only two more days until we’ll be at a hotel where we can get laundry service, hopefully.

We were back at Vinay’s for breakfast, a feast for them. They normally only eat one item, but today we were served no fewer than seven dishes. After eating, I used their restroom, and then Suneetha invited me into their home. Their home and church are all the same building, and we had been only in the church up till this point. They have a very small home that includes a small kitchen, a bed/TV area, a bathroom, and another closet/storage/foyer area. Suneetha told me they’ve been living there only two years. Before that they were renting a house in town. It cost $17,000 to build the church and house. Like everyone I know, they aspire to build a bigger house someday. The difference is, they must wait till they have the money to complete it.

Vinay's home/office

Vinay’s home/office

foyer/closet/storage area - door opens into the church

foyer/closet/storage area – door opens into the church

kitchen

kitchen

bathroom

bathroom

some of Vinay & Suneetha's family who were staying with them for the time

some of Vinay & Suneetha’s family who were staying with them for the time

Our first stop was to a school for handicapped children in Gudur, about 1/2 hour north of Naidupet. Today was the first day of school for children in this Indian state, and Vinay customarily hands out gifts of school supplies and clothing to a few students. Vinay told the school administrators that we would be with him, and all the stops were pulled out. The news was there videotaping the ceremony and taking pictures. Apparently we will be on the news tonight and in the paper tomorrow.

school for handicapped children

school for handicapped children

students and their families

students and their families

students and their families

students and their families

chalk board in school - notice English equivalents to Telugu words

chalk board in school – notice English equivalents to Telugu words

all the students who received the goodie bags

all the students who received the goodie bags

On our way home, we stopped for ice cream. We had a good chuckle at the trash cans they used.

trash can - front

trash can - back

Vinay wanted to get Matthew an authentic Indian shirt so he took us to a local tailor’s shop. The whole process, start to finish, only took about 2 hours, and result was a beautifully hand-crafted shirt, the only tailor-made shirt Matthew has ever had, at least that we can remember.

making Matthew's Indian shirt

making Matthew’s Indian shirt

making Matthew's Indian shirt

making Matthew’s Indian shirt

Hari - Vinay's brother-in-law - a tailor and driver

Hari – Vinay’s brother-in-law – a tailor and driver

We rested this afternoon; I could have slept for hours, but didn’t. I really need a full night’s sleep. Tonight we feasted at another local preacher’s house with no fewer than nine dishes. God help my stomach.

Random thoughts for the day:
•Those horn sounds I thought interesting a few days ago, not so much anymore. Think of how often you change lanes, turn, or pass another vehicle on your way to work. Now imagine honking each time you do one of those things. Now imagine that every single vehicle honking at all those times, too. Yeah, that’s what honking is here.
•Speed breakers (speed bumps) are everywhere, even on the main highways. And why have just one when you can have 16? Not joking. 16. In. A. Row.
•Driving here is like a never-ending game of chicken. You must be fearless to operate a vehicle. I don’t know how many times I’ve uttered, “Oh dear God” after a near accident. Despite this, there are very few accidents each year.
•The scarecrows here are very unsettling; they remind me of Ku Klux Klan dolls.
•I am completely unaware of world events.

Thursday, June 13
Woke up at 2:00 a.m. Getting really sick of this. We really were on the news last night, and our photo was in the paper today. We were stared at on the streets even more than usual today. Who knew that we’d be local celebrities after just one week in India?

this is the photo that made it on the front of the local newspaper

this is the photo that made it on the front of the local newspaper

Suneetha took me to get a saree this morning. Sadly I forgot to bring the camera. They laid out a bunch of different designs, and I got to pick the one I wanted. They cut a length of fabric off for the “jacket,” but there wasn’t enough time to sew it, so we’ll have to figure that out later. I thought we were going back to their house after so she could show me how to wrap it, but Vinay dropped us off at the hotel for a short rest before heading to the Chennai train station. I missed saying an official goodbye to Suneetha and the other family that were staying with them, but on the other hand, there were no long, emotional goodbyes. I’m not good at those.

Vinay had to rent a car to get us back to Chennai as he only has the equivalent of a learner’s permit. Chennai seems to go on forever, even more so than American cities like Chicago and New York; probably because it’s population is over 13,000,000. At the train station, we saw a little more variety in clothing, but we were still he only white people around. We got our tickets, boarded the train, prayed with Vinay, and said goodbye . . . till September, God willing.

en route to Chennai train station

en route to Chennai train station

en route to Chennai train station

en route to Chennai train station

en route to Chennai train station

en route to Chennai train station

Proverbs 11:25 is definitely a theme so far on this trip, and it is my prayer for Vinay and Suneetha as well as Sai. May they all be blessed as they have blessed us.

Our express train from Chennai to Bangalore was five hours, and apparently all food, snacks, and drinks were included in the ticket price. I am really excited, though, that we’ll be in charge of our own diets from here on out. No more seven-dish feasts at every meal and eating dinner at 9:00 p.m. Except the train does offer a lot of food, including: a carrot sandwich, a spicy pastry, a cookie, coffee, tea, soup, water, and breadsticks–and that was before the main meal of chicken, rice, curry, vegetables, chipathi, and ice cream. Alan, our Compassion host, referred to this over-abundant feeding as “love torture.”

Chennai train station - it is rare to see couples touching in public

Chennai train station – it is rare to see couples touching in public

Chennai train station

Chennai train station

our train from Chennai to Bangalore

our train from Chennai to Bangalore

our train from Chennai to Bangalore

our train from Chennai to Bangalore

our train from Chennai to Bangalore - each carriage posts all the passengers, their ages, and their seats

our train from Chennai to Bangalore – each carriage posts all the passengers, their ages, and their seats

train toilet - they also had a squat toilet across the hall, and this was one of the nicest trains in all of India

train toilet – they also had a squat toilet across the hall, and this was one of the nicest trains in all of India

eating dinner on the train - we were once again given a ridiculous amount of food

eating dinner on the train – we were once again given a ridiculous amount of food

Random thoughts for the day:
•I will miss the ring tone on Vinay’s phone (la la la la, la la la la)
•No one wears sunglasses here, except this American.
•Despite how heart-attack-inducing driving is here, drivers are pretty polite to one another.
•Air conditioning is really cold here, like at my parent’s house. Even Matthew gets chilly sometimes, which means it really is cold.
•I’m amazed there is not more obesity in India. We definitely saw some overweight people, but obesity hasn’t made its mark on the country like it has in the US. I’m always shocked coming back to America by just how prevalent obesity is here compared to most of the rest of the world.

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7 responses

5 07 2013
Speaking to India’s Future Leaders | To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] Previous posts on our trip to India: -An Introduction to India -Meeting Sai -Local Celebrities […]

11 07 2013
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[…] posts on our trip to India: -An Introduction to India -Meeting Sai -Local Celebrities -Speaking to India’s Future […]

13 07 2013
ileneonwords

Enjoyed your article. I know someone who will be leaving very shortly to teach and live in Chennai. Any suggestions of what to pack? Are there things he should purchase beforehand that are not readily available in Chennai? Thanks so much!

13 07 2013
huddlestonk

Hello, and thanks for reading! I actually have a blog post in the works about my packing recommendations for traveling in India as a group from our church is going for their first time in January. It may be a few days before it’s live, but if you need advice sooner, I’ll certainly get back to you.

13 07 2013
ileneonwords

Thanks so much! I’ll check back in a few days!

15 07 2013
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[…] posts on our trip to India: -An Introduction to India -Meeting Sai -Local Celebrities -Speaking to India’s Future Leaders -Varanasi (Dark, Deceived, […]

22 07 2013
Dining With Royalty | To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

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