Saturday, April 26, 2008

Monday April 21, 2008
Today was a pretty uneventful day. I just sat around and finished my book Crytonomicon. Well worth the read but now I don’t have anything to do. It’s too hot to be outside so I sorted out my Itunes Library and made sure all the names and artists names were correct. Then I took pictures of the Staff here at the Mission India Bible College.
Thursday April 24th
Tuesday we took a flight to Calcutta b/c I was sick of riding trains and we got two plane tickets for 100 bucks so that was worth it. The flight was good and definitely better than sitting in a hot dusty train for 12 hours. Dev had never been on a plane before and he handled himself really well, he got stopped at security for having shaving razor blades in his carryon. Dev also took a million pictures with my little camera b/c he was amazed at everything. When we got to Calcutta we met up with a missionary and he took us to his brothers house but he wasn’t there so we went to the YMCA and it took forever to get there through all the Calcutta traffic. The Y in Calcutta is actually really nice, 25 bones and we got a double room with AC and hot water shower! I was impressed. After I took a shower we wondered around the markets and then stopped in Dominos pizza for dinner. Nothing like a bit of Americana. After this I was beat so we went to the room and watched Pearl Harbor in Hindi and I had to explain the premise of the war and events to Dev who was pretty vague on the details. When we got up we met with the missionary again and we went to the Indian Museum and made a quick tour around. The British built the museum in 1814 and have stocked it full of awesome stuff. After the whirlwind tour we took a taxi to St Pauls church another British monument. I think it was built for Queen Victoria so when she was in India she had a church to go to. Next we went to Queen Vics Indian Palace/House/Estate and marveled at how huge it was. The statue of Queen Vic in front of the building was covered in Bird shit, which made me sad but it was also funny. Next we took a ferry over to the train station b/c ferries are actually the best way to get around if your near the river that is. Traffic is insane and cabs don’t have AC so you just swelter in the heat. We rode past people scattering ashes into the river and then bathing in the river and cutting their hair. Sons cut all there hair off when their parents die. We got to the station and that was my visit to Calcutta, I wish I could have spent more time in Calcutta, I really liked the city but oh well. The Train Journey wasn’t bad I had a top bunk and tried really hard to sleep but failing miserably I just opted for listening to my ipod, reading the bible, since I finished Cyptonomicon and watching India flash by for 12 hours.

Now I’m sitting in Devs Uncles sweating b/c the power gets cut here for a couple hours randomly, and without a fan and air movement I’m done for! In a little bit we are going to catch a bus to Devs parents for the night and they live in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere so that’s going to be fun! Then tomorrow it’s back to Nagpur and hopefully the Internet! I need an Iphone …

Saturday April 26th
Back in Nagpur! The train journey here was not bad at all we rode on an express train and I had a reasonably comfortable seat. I was back for about 3 hours and I decided to go to the MI office to use the Internet and I got roped into designing a brochure and taking the photos for it today. I didn’t even get a chance to use the Internet! I thought I was done with my work in India but it never stops!

Well to get Devs parents from his uncles we first had to take a rickshaw to a bus/suv stop and take an Suv across town and then wait for about an hour for a rickshaw to take us to Devs village and theeeeen we had to walk a mile down dirt roads till we got there. His parents have a little farmhouse with two bulls in front for plowing and pulling carts and a well in the back and open-air bedrooms just roofs! They only had one small tabletop fan and I was dieing in the heat and just passed out for most of the day so Dev decided we couldn’t stay the night b/c I would have died so we went to another village and stayed with the Pastor that baptized Dev and his family. This pastor had a big cooling unit, which worked when the power was on which wasn’t that often but at least I got a good night sleep under a big fan! In the morning we trekked back to the train station and back to Nagpur.
Friday April 18th – Saturday April 19, 2008
So Friday morning we got up early and waited around til 9 when we were scheduled to leave for Darjeeling. Our SUV arrived and we pilled in. Pastor in the front passenger and dev and I in the back. Our driver was a local to the mountain towns where we are heading and has 17 years as a taxi driver under his belt, and that’s taxiing from Suliguri to Darjeeling on some of the steepest and tiniest roads crowded with trucks. Our driver had graduated from the Bible College I was staying at a year before and was now working in the area and being the official driver of the Campus. Our trip started of pretty tame just driving up through some quite hills covered in tea plants, but it got crazy quickly. The roads started getting bad and in need of repair and we were being bounced the inside of the jeep. Pastor up front just fell asleep and didn’t come out of his coma til our first stop which was Mirick a nice little town half way to Darjeeling and it strangely reminded me of my Grandparents village of East Kirby. Except it was full of Asians and Indians instead of wellie boat wearing, woolen covered, aristocratic farmers. Here we rode horses b/c Dev had never ridden a horse and I thought that was outrageous. After posing for pictures on horses we had a spot of lunch. Lunch consisted of a chicken club sandwich for me and curry for the rest. When you think chicken club, you would usually think slices of chicken maybe strips, bacon, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and a dab of mayo, BUT here in Mirick a chicken club is 4 layer monstrous sandwich comprising of layer one: egg over medium, layer two: tomato, cucumber and butter, layer 3: shredded chicken of questioning origins, layer 4: cheese and tomato ketchup. After being totally shocked I chomped it down and it was delicious. Back on the road heading into the Himalayas I realized things around started getting really cold and steep. I love cold, I havnt had five minutes in three weeks where I haven’t stopped sweating so this was really nice. We passed thousands of acres of Tea estates and even saw a huge TAZO tea company sign welcoming me. I took a mass of pictures as we ascended into the clouds and when I say clouds I really mean it I’ll show you the video where we couldn’t see 5 feet in front of us but our driver said he knows the roads and continued to drive like a maniac through the fog with sheer vertical cliffs that go on for miles to our right. When we emerged from the fog we weren’t very far away from Darjeeling. When we got to Darjeeling we drove around trying to find a hotel and finally got a great deal b/c the pastor we were with haggled the price down by half! Then we drove down the bottom of the Valley to walk around Gagamaya Park, which is a pretty little garden, and with a river running through it and a lake at the bottom. We relaxed and enjoyed the scenery then we met some people who worked there and had tea and chatted for a while. After the drive back up the valley it was getting dark so we went back to the hotel and freshened up. Dev and I went out for a walk around the city and through all the tourist markets and strange shops. After we walked around for a while we were getting hungry so we stopped at a Tai restaurant for dinner. While at dinner I met a father son and son team who were in Darjeeling and the surrounding area to do a bit of hiking. They were from Sussex right near London and they were all strangely tall. We talked with them for a couple of hours then found our way back to the hotel and turned in.

In the morning we were woken up at 3:45 so that we could get ready and jump in a taxi that was heading for Tiger hill; an amazing viewing point for the Himalayas and the sunrise. Dev and I hopped in the front of this SUV taxi and there were about 8 other people crammed in the back. We drove up to Tiger hill following a huge parade of taxis. When we finally got up near the lookout all hell had broken lose. Cars were everywhere, everyone was honking their horns and getting angry so Dev and I got out and legged it up the hill to get a good spot. The view WAS really amazing, looking north you could see Mt Everest and the peaks of the Himalayas and East was the burning sky getting ready to shoot up the sun. The place was crowded and when the sun peaked over the mountains everyone cheered and yelled until the sun had cleared the mountains. The peaks caught the sunlight and look beautiful. Thousands of cameras started going off and people scrambled to get the best shot. When the craziness died down Dev and I walked down the hill a little ways to get some other really good shots of mountains in the morning. Our taxi was really hard to find in the chaos. I thought that was it and he was going to take us back to the Hotel but instead he took us to a famous Buddhist temple and then to a war memorial for the Gurka soldiers and the Soldier was even carrying a FAL. We got back to the hotel around 9 and showered and checked out. We got directions to a museum and started walking but we got lost a couple of times and ended up at a boxing gym once and a deadend with a b&b the other time but eventually got there and what was said to be a museum was in fact a zoo and the HMI (Himalayan Mountaineering Institute). We wondered around the zoo looking at awesome animals then checked out the HMI museum and took a picture with Tanzing Nargay the first man along with Sir Hillary to be on Mt Everest. This took up most of our day so when we finally left the zoo and institute we met up with our crazy driver and left Darjeeling. It was sad leaving Darjeeling I liked that place a lot. When we got back to Siliguri I just passed out.
Sunday April 13, 2008
Today has been a good day so far, really hot but good. The service this morning that I attended was once again all in Hindi so I just sat for what seemed like an eternity waiting for the sermon to end. The only things I had to play with were my camera and a small Gideon bible so I tried to find some deep meaningful verses. I found some good verses pertaining to travel and a good verse about love. The first travel verse I found was Psalms 121. Go read it.

Monday April 14
Woke up early this morning and felt great we rented an SUV and drove out to some land that Mission India had recently purchased for building a Bible College and Orphanage and I took pictures of the land and the surrounding area and the neighbors and villages around it. Sagi is trying to find sponsors to help build the orphanage and he wanted some really good pictures of the land and area. The Land is about 3 acres and bone dry. It is near a main road that is in construction but like everything in this state it is taking a long time b/c of corruption in the state govt. The Indian Govt. gives money to the state govt. to build roads and wells and to repair roads and bring villages into contact with the rest of the world but the local officials just pay for a little bit of construction and pocket the rest. The same thing happens with builders they pay someone to do it and pocket a little bit so by the time something gets done it’s not very much. ANYHOWS, we drove around villages and saw how people were living and it is amazing to see people living in such conditions, then again I think their mud and straw huts and dirt floors are cleaner than the cities trash strewn streets. More later

Night met Mr Jonson, runs a Christian school
Tuesday April 15
Met Mr jonson SR, military 10 years, postmaster, missionary and interpreter for Methodist missions which used to be abundant in this area but not so much after a big earthquake 30 years ago. Well spoken, lives in a huge house.
Preached a sermon this evening on quiet times and retreats to reconnect with God. I think it was very well received, I think I’m getting the hang of this preaching thing.
Ate Sumosas, not as good as my Mums. Bed early
Wednesday April 16, 2008 - Thursday April 17
Today we were supposed to catch a train at 0645 and missed it. The pastor we were staying with kept telling us that the train is always late and we don’t need to worry about it. He got us there right as the train left. Genius. So I was really pissed off, and I went back to the school where I was staying and went back to sleep for a while and then read some of my book and vented into my diary. Dev and the pastor showed up a couple hours later and told me that we were going to take a night bus to our net destination. This would be a wonderful idea I thought until I realized that Indian roads suck balls and all vehicles in India lack suspension. This journey started at 1800 and finished at 0700 the next day. We traveled on a sleeper coach that had bunk beds above the seats and Dev and I stayed in one of those. It was really cozy and not in a good way and I didn’t get a wink of sleep. So far I’ve had the worst train journey of my life and this came close to being the worst bus journey of my life. Solely for the fact the roads haven’t been repaired since the British built them 40 years ago. Oh yeah no AC either so it was super hot and I don’t like being touched when it is super hot a little thing I got from my Dad. But in this tiny bunk it was unavoidable and apparently Dev can sleep anywhere b/c he is Indian and made good use of this fact and slept all the way with his legs on mine and elbows in my face. What was great was that I got to see some beautiful scenery at night b/c the moon was really bright. We passed over some bridges that I thought might fall at any second which was exciting and we stopped every couple of hours for a pee break and coffee break fro the driver. I used these stops to buy lays potato chips in various American flavors, which felt a little comforting. When we finally pulled into SiliGuli and unloaded my eyes were bloodshot and I was again visibly covered in dust. I hoped off the bus and was immediately hounded by very Asian looking Indian rickshaw drivers and young men wanting to know if I wanted to rent them and their SUV to get to Darjeeling up the mountain. Then out of nowhere a monk jumped me and before I knew what was going on I had a red dot on my forehead, a flower in my hand, a bracelet on my wrist and a wet palm. Then the guy proceeds to demand 10 rupees. This as fine with me b/c 10 rupees is not even 25 cents but Dev was pissed off and told him to look at the rickshaw drivers who are doing hard work and only getting paid 10 rupees. Dev flicked him 2 rupees and he scurried off. Before we got our ride to the Orphanage I managed to counter 3 more sneaky monks with flowers. Siliguli is bit of tourist waypoint on the way to Darjeeling so I didn’t expect all the staring but it still happens. A white guy standing on the sidewalk waiting is the perfect opportunity for loads of people to practice their English and for every rickshaw to stop and yell and point at their rickshaw and then me. I wave the rickshaws past and try to make sense of what some of these guys are trying to say and oblige with conversation that is only two sentences but takes 5 minutes to get across. Just as I was getting into these conversations with locals a silver SUV pulls up and Dev shouts and we pile into the SUV that has “JESUS LOVES YOU” printed in red, block letters across the upper windshield! We fight our way through a see of rickshaws and down the street a ways and then pull into a nice looking apartment community, which is a Christian enclave and I am shown my room at the Bible College. I cant wait to get out and see this city it looks fun and then tomorrow we are going to go to Darjeeling! I’ve heard it is very mountainous and I like mountains. Now it is time for a well needed shower a nap and some eats. After we rested we had a walk around the campus and met the Orphans and walked over to the local church and got a briefing on what it took to get here and what the future plans of the area are and that I need to pray really hard so that they can build another dorm room on the church for a full time pastor.




Tuesday April 8, 2008
Night on the train went ok, no problems sleeping. I took some asprin and slept really well. Before I went to bed I met a nice chap named Rinku who is an engineering student at a university in Bombay. He taught me some Hindi words and how to write my name in Hindi. He taught me helpful phrases like sealed water? Where is the toilet? Food, water, watch, time, dog, cow and the like. When we reached our first destination we took a auto rickshaw to a pastors house in the middle of what seemed like a slum/govt housing. And I got a really bad first impression, the closest I’ve come to throwing up when eating dinner was today, cold really wet rice and un-chewable meat. The day got a lot better. We went to the Mercy home in Bakaro and met a new group of children. I spent what was left of the day teaching Dev some things on the computer, and then we ate curry, flat bread and fried potato wedges, really tasty! Tomorrow I’m scheduled to go meet a couple pastors and take family portraits and then Dev and I will wonder around the city taking pictures of Indian lifestyle and culture.
The Mercy home here only has boys, they have 20 boys, most are true orphans and some come from single parent homes. All the boys sleep on the concrete floor on top of rugs or thin mats. I watched them eat dinner today and all they get is rice and Dal. Dal is only water, oil, some seasoning, an onion and a little chili. They aren’t getting any nutrients at all. Now I’m just sitting on my bed and it’s not at all better than the concrete floor, I’m already getting a bruise on my side! The whole bed is just 2x4s and a warn-out deck chair pad! Tonight is going to suck. I’m being so humbled here in India. I don’t think I’ll ever get in to bed or take a hot shower without thinking of India. Am I spoilt or are these people just so unfortunate.

Saw two more camels got pictures. I also saw a man in short shorts running around chasing buffalo. This is going to be a good visit, first impression was not so good but I feel much better now. Hopefully I’ll get to play cricket with some of the kids!

Wednesday April 9th And Thursday April 10, 2008

Today was spent taking pictures of the mercy home children and hanging out with them and interviewing them for stories, some of these children have heart breaking life stories. Later in the day we went to the slums and a bunch of pastors got together and preached right in front of a Hindu temple which caused a big uproar and I took a whole bunch of pictures but they told me to be really careful b/c people might get really angry. By this time it was really dark and I had to use my flash so it was really obvious I was taking pictures. I hate using flash; it makes everything seem so fake. After they preached I was invited into one of the pastors homes for dinner. They live in mud huts off of dirt roads. I’ll show you pictures of it, it was incredible. I ate some food, which turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made it a long time. This is when the trip starts going down hill really fast on a slippery slope covered in curry. On the way home I started feeling sick and I thought it was just motion sickness b/c we were driving in a auto rickshaw on bumpy dirt roads, but when we got back to the orphanage I started throwing up and I broke out into a fever. I tried to get some sleep but I kept waking up and throwing up this went on about 5 times of waking up throwing up and then I finally just fell asleep from exhaustion. I didn’t get that much sleep and in the morning I felt terrible, I tried to eat a bit of food but I couldn’t, I just lay in bed all day. Later on I took some portraits of all the kids and I was still feeling bad so the pastor at the orphanage took me to the hospital just to make sure I was ok. Let me tell you this hospital was the dirtiest hospital I’ve ever seen, dirty enough for me to ask the nurse if the IV needle was sterile. I got seen straight away b/c the pastor knows a lot of the Doctors. The Doc said I looked really tired and weak and I’d just eaten some bad food and my body was trying to get it out. He hooked me up to an IV for an hour and then let me go. When I got back to the orphanage I ate some bread and fell asleep for 12 hours.
Friday April 11, 2008 – Saturday April 12
Today I as feeling a lot better but still kinda weak so I took it easy and read a lot and worked on photos. Later on in the evening we set off for the train station and this being India the train was an hour late and we boarded around 8:30. For some reason we didn’t get a confirmed ticket so we didn’t actually have seats so we wandered around the train trying to find the ticket guy so we could get seats but a army officer saw me wandering and said he could get me a seat no problem so we followed him to the back of the train to general/local coaches and he throw some people off of seats and sat us down. I was very impressed until I realized we were sitting on wooden seats, and a million people were piling on with us. The train journey was 12 hours all night and it was the worst travel experience I’ve ever had. I couldn’t sleep at all b/c there was no room, and the wooden seats killing my backside and my back and sides already hurt from sleeping on crappy beds at the orphanage! I just read my book listened to my ipod and tried my hardest to zone out the pain and noise and smell and heat. My back was drenched in sweat and all itchy after a couple of hours. I made small talk with some people on the train who wanted to practice English and talk about a politics. But eventually when the sun came up I decided that we were going to get off of the death coach and move up to a better coach and find a good Samaritan to sit next to. So at the next station at about 4:30 in the morning we jumped out of the train ran down the platform and boarded again and straight away a really nice old man who spoke very good English beckoned me to sit with him. A good cushioned seat and a fan and a nice chap to talk to was very well received. When we finally got of the train it was around 8 and two nice guys picked us up and we rode bicycle rickshaws to a ministry conference. They showed us our room for the night, which was maybe 6x6 with a small bed and no fan. Having no fan is not really an option for me b/c mosquitoes here love me and they carry all kinds of diseases but I go along with it. Then they said we could wash up and brought us around back to the toilets and gave us buckets of water, they explained that I was to shower standing over a hole in the ground filled with human waste. I politely put the bucket down and said up with this I will not put and told Dev to find me a hotel with Air Conditioning and a working toilet and a hot water shower. The pastor’s of conference were taken aback but kindly assisted us in finding a nice hotel. We tried a few places but finally found a suite in a downtown hotel in whatever city we are in. I’m told it’s going to cost 950 rupees, which is about 25 dollars for a clean room with AC and hot water and a TV. Bliss. If only they had Internet. I feel a lot better now but I’m really leaning on never wanted to come back here again in this manner. It’s just a kind of vicious cycle I’m in, I wake up and talk with people about financial problems and interview children on how they were abandoned or their parents died and then I photograph sad little faces and walk around the streets of these run down cities taking pictures of poverty. There’s nothing like a story of a child who doesn’t know his birthday and he doesn’t know when his mother died and his dad used to beat him b/c he was drunk all the time until he too died of alcohol poisoning and the child has to go live with his grandfather who cant afford to feed him or send him to school so he works in the fields until he is sent to an orphanage where he sleeps on a concrete floor plays in a construction site barefoot and eats rice two times with water and seasoning (and maybe an onion) poured over the top to really get your day going. I’m starting to count down the days till I get to come home, which is not a good sign.





Saturday April 5, 2008
Today is another beautiful day, again its super hot but that’s ok. Plenty of water and shade is abundant. So yesterday I ate dinner with my new friend Dev and we cooked a tasty dinner at his apartment. Dev went out to the market and I stayed at his apartment and watched a bunch of kids play marbles. These kids were really good, I don’t remember how I played marbles as a kid but these guys were having a lot of fun. When Dev got back he made a really delicious and spicy curry and I made some good ol mess. I got some onions, turmeric, a small chili, lots of tomatoes and lamb and cooked it all up with some other condiments and ate it fresh flat bread. While we cooked, we watched some TV and let me tell you there are some awesome shows and channels on here in India. They have a few channels dedicated to movie trailers, news in every language in India, which is a lot, and awesome kids shows. I watched the movie trailers for a while and there are some really incredible looking Bollywood films. Every movie seems to have a lot of singing and dancing except for the war epics, which look well epic. We watched some cricket for a while b/c it’s been a long time since I’ve watched any cricket and Indians love it. When our food settled Dev drove me back to the campus on his motorbike in the dark. Indian roads are terrible at the best of times but this particular road back to the campus is horrendous. You have to weave back and fourth from one side to the other to avoid huge holes and big rocks in the road. I was worried anyway b/c the ride is really bumpy and then Dev starts talking on his cell phone while riding a motorcycle on a crappy road. No helmets either, so I’m a little bit freaked out especially b/c there are a million bicycles on the road as well and they don’t even have lights. We finally made it and I turned in for the night.

As for today I need to do some laundry, which is looking like a difficult thing, and I need to take staff family portraits but I’ll do that later when the kids are back from school and the parents are done with work.

Ahh haaa I didn’t do anything of the things I said earlier, instead I went riding around town with Dev. We went to a Buddist Temple and two Hindu Temples and I even got blessed by a Hindu Priest who had a great philosophical conversation with me about Christianity and Hindu. We shared some similar opinions about God but that’s about where it stops but he was a really nice man who prophesized that I would get married in 6 – 9 months. He was a great man to talk to but Dev said we had to be going, so I sadly left the man to ponder his thoughts at the temple. At the other Hindu Temple I got yelled at for taking pictures, so I deleted them and that was that. The Buddhist Temple was really neat, it was huge and it had an exhibit in it about the life of the founder of Buddhism. Dev says that on our travels we’ll see many more temples. In between temples we stopped at a real estate firm where one of Dev’s friends works. This guy was really into his real estate and was telling all about the booming market here in Nagpur. Boeing just bought 75 acres here and they are planning a huge development. The Airport is nearly done with a new terminal but there are plans for making it 10 times as big. Nagpur is in the centre of India, so it makes it a prime spot for trade and it’s a great location for air travel from East Asia to West Asia. This guy was convinced that if you invest here you can double you money in a year! He even said that in 2 and half years if you sell they’ll guarantee double your money. He was even trying to recruit me to rep in America! He also wanted me to think about buying a townhouse in the Tech Park. He obviously didn’t understand when I said that I was a recent College Grad with no job and no money. Later on when Dev was buying our train tickets to Bokora I talked with an old homeless guy who just came out of a pawnshop. He was excited b/c he had some money to have a really good meal and he was telling that it was good day. So I took his picture and wished him good luck as he went off to find a restaurant.

Other observations: there is obviously not a law against public urination b/c everyone just pees into any stream available and people don’t care about littering they just throw all there trash on the floor outside. Then the cows and stray dogs rummage through the rubbish for food. They don’t have rickshaws anymore but they have auto-rickshaws, which fill the streets. I SAW my first Camel today on a bridge over a river, it was just hanging out and I didn’t get a picture b/c we were riding by on the motorcycle. I’ll get a picture of the next one I see, and I still haven’t seen an elephant, they have pictures of elephants everywhere but no elephants. I was reading in the newspaper this morning that just north of us is a whole bunch of tigers and they are trying to bring their numbers back up. In the same article they also mentioned a group of villagers beating a jaguar to death that came into the village. Random.


Monday April 7, 2008
Today when I got up I was just talking some people outside my room when the huge beehive I can see from my room erupted and all the bees came out and moved in a giant black cloud across the campus and away into the distance. I’m not sure as the reason for the mass exodus but they was probably two queens and they split, but that was sooo scary watching all the bees just 20 feet away swarm together in a cloud.
Today is a Travel day, not fun, but I wrote a lot of things about my journey in my diary, I’ll copy it down for you.

“Sitting at the Train station waiting and waiting. It’s awesome to see all the different types of people. A buddhit Monk just walked by talking w/ a man wearing a complete England Football outfit from the World Cup. They got on the train and were followed by two more monks who were really old and when I say Old I mean really really old, hunched over walking with canes they nearly missed the train, they had to hobble fast and jump aboard. I’m sitting on a marble seat and right next to me on the floor is a man sleeping and he is covered in flies. People just throw there rubbish on to the tracks. No one has any regard for cleanliness. A Muslim women just walked by covered head to toe in a black shoal. It is a billion degrees out here and I don’t understand how she can deal with the heat. But the cutest little girl in a dress that looked like a figure skating dress, all showy and bright colours with sequins, was pulling her along. Other than that lady in black other ladies are wearing the brightest colours, it’s amazing. Bright yellow outfits and blue ones and bright pink as well. Every once in a while you’ll see a policeman officer walking by with his big baton, the baton is very interesting, they seem to be clear plastic. Everywhere is people wearing very western clothes, I’ve even seen some pairs of shorts today! Which is amazing b/c no one wears shorts in India. Even people working in the fields in blistering heat don’t wear shorts. Yeah fields here have always got people in, no trackers or combine harvesters, just mass labor. On the way to the train station I saw my first white guy, he was riding a scooter like he’d been here for years. I saw him as we passed the hospital district, so I’m assuming he was a Doctor.
Here in India I’m told its custom to get married before you are 25 b/c if you don’t you are considered to old. But I have nothing to worry about b/c that Hindu priest said I would get married soon. I just saw a huge bold guy with a big red beard. A few guys in nice suits jjust walked up, they look really sharp, maybe I should get a suit tailored while I’m here I’ve heard they are really cheap. Oh and another thing I’ve noticed and experienced is that guy friends like to hold hands when they walk somewhere. I had to shake this one guy off a couple of times. I was not into it. Apparently it’s totally normal but what’s weird is that I never see any male female affection. Moustaches are in here in India everyone has a moustache. I think that’s all they can grow actually. You can buy lays potato chips here, I think lays has a factory here b/c Indians have embraced the chip, America did that a century ago. I went into a book shop at the station to try and find Shantaram, a book about India but they didn’t understand me and I couldn’t find it. Pretty much all of the book were in Hindi anyway.

Well it’s 18:22, I’ve been on the train for 4 and half hours and my back is sore and have a headache. I’m hungry but I’ve been told to avoid train food. We traveled through some of the most beautiful country side on the way north, some great forests and woods. Huge termite mounds populate the trees and dirt. Huge beehives hang in clusters from big trees. The air is dry and dusty and when a train swoops by on the other track hot air streams in and blasts your face. Dust gets in your nose and dries out your nostrils and air shoots into your tear ducks. A family of five w/ four little ones sit opposite me with beady eyes and vacant expression as they stare at me. The smallest girl struggles to stand upright as the train jolts back and fourth. The mother hands the kids some 100% pure glucose, apparently for dinner. Father mixes his with water and gulps it down. I spend my time looking at the dry and dusty landscape as fields and rock outcrops wiz by. We hit a few industrial areas on the way which are teeming w/ life. Smoke plumes from stacks and workers labor away. Guards patrol barbwire fences and boys with canes herd cattle around the perimeter. The screeching of wheels on the track and vendors chanting fills the cars with a constant ring that penetrates your ear. A one legged man crawls the length of the cars sweeping and asking for change. I give him a granola bar and he gives me a bow and a smile.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sorry for the Lack of Posting

Sorry for the lack of posting, I've been out in the boondocks and I havnt been anywhere near Internet let alone an eletrical socket. I'm going to be in Calcutta tomorrow and I hope to sit down and have a good long posting session. Things here in India are amazing and really depressing at the same time. There is so much poverty everywhere but also so much economic growth. I spent the last couple of days in Darjeeling on the Nepal border, I'll give you full details tomorrow but it was pretty much amazing, I stepped foot into Nepal for about 15 seconds and then a soldier told me to get out and I saw mount everest which is neat and from the same view point you can see China. So I've seen Everest and China and been in Napel!!! When I hook up my Computer tomorrow I'll download some awesome photos and my postings from each day. I've even had the pleasure of being in an Indian hospital with an IV in my arm, not a fun couple of hours. I ate some really bad food out in a village in the middle of nowhere. It messed me up pretty bad and I was out of commission for two days. But I'm much better and sitting in a Church office on a pastors computer stealing a few minutes of internet time. I've been doing lots of preaching and teaching which I find amusing b/c I'm not that good at speaking but I'm getting a lot better at this sermon thing. I'll be home in a week and I'm looking forward to having a hot shower, a steak, and a toilet that I can sit on instead of a hole in the earth! I really suggest that everyone come to India or somewhere of similar poverty strickennesss b/c it is most humbling. I've spent pretty much all of my time here in India visiting the poorest areas and it is a little depressing.

MORE tomorrow MUCHO love

MARK

PS happy birthday Seth I know your reading this hope you have a great day

PSS Scott if your reading this I have the craziest dreams that I need to Write and email to you, Malaria tabs make me have the strangest most awesome dreams and sometimes nightmares, you'll love them

Friday, April 4, 2008




This is the crazy 15th century Palace/Fort City
I have a billion pictures of kids!

Pretty sky

?

Oxen
Cute little dog that hangs around the campus, I want to pet him but he is always covered in flies and flies.
This is pretty much what I eat for every meal, sometimes breakfast as well. I usually just skip breakfast and eat some fruit. On the plate is a lot of rice some Dal which is a non spicy curry that goes over rice then there is a really spicy curry to the left with bits of lamb. Then there are some kind of chicken wings and flat bread and a pompadom which is like a big chip. In the picture is a fork which I carry around with me for eating b/c Indians dont use silverware they just use their hand!

Here is a map of INDIA and I've marked some important places. Enlarge it and you can see it better, in the middle is Nagpur where I've been staying mostly. To the West is Mumbai or Bombay, big city that I flew into. South of nagpur is warangel where I traveled with Sam Abraham. The Red route is the journey I'm going on starting Monday. Up in the North is Dehli which is the Capital, and above that in the state I circled is the MercyHome/Orphanage that Asbury UMC in Madison Sponsors. NEAAAATO




And here is a picture of the huge beehive.


Here is a picture of me wondering around the countryside, it's really hot over here.




Today has been a super-boring day; I was stuck at the campus with nothing to do. I’ve taken all the pictures I need to take around here except for staff families but I’m going to take those tomorrow b/c it’s Saturday and all the kids will be around. So today I tried to get into town and I didn’t get into town until nearly 4. That doesn’t seem that late but remember that I get up at 630-7 every day so yeah it’s kinda late. You know what I miss a lot is music, they dont have music here, it's so quite all the time well apart from the constant construction. Whenever I'm in my room I blast music! And I really want to watch a movie or just watch the news but seen one tv the entire time I've been here and the news is in Hindi. Oh Well time to ride around town on a sweet motorcycle!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What I'm actually doing here

I'm here in India working as a photographer for a mission organization. I was contacted by the president of RIMI ,which is reach india missions international, and asked to go to India to take promotional shots of all the places they have a hand. Like orphanages, seminaries, hospitals, churches and the like. I'm updating all the childrens photos and staff family photogs and new construction and things like that. The organization gets a lot of funding from America and they like to keep the sponsors updated on everything.

On Monday when I got home from Waranga I met up with Sagi the president of RIMI and we went into town to buy me a kurta. A kurta is a traditional Indian shirt that goes down nearly to your knees. Everyone wears them here. Sagi wants me to travel in it when I go off on my journey. While in town we also stopped at Sagi's favorite juice bar and got pomegranate juice. They make it in front of you; they use a hardcore blender and crush up just pomegranate seeds until you have a cup of juice. It was sooooo good! Next we walked around town visiting shops and being harassed by little kids trying to sell me toy helicopters. I stuck out like a sore thumb wondering around the streets.

Tues. April 1, 2008
Today I had a meeting with Sagi and we discussed my plans for the next three weeks. I've already told you about it earlier. For the rest of the day I just relaxed and took my ease back at the guesthouse.

Wednesday april 2, 2008
This morning Sagi left to go back to Chicago and I moved to the Mission India Theological seminary out in the boondocks. I was shown my new room for the next few days and it is realy an apartment. It even has an AC unit and a shower, but b/c we are in the boondocks the government cuts the power for a couple hours at a time to save energy for industry. The shower is not hot but at least the water falls from above on its own. I was given a tour of the facility by the campus Liberian, they have 40 acres and a bunch of buildings. They have a dining hall that can seat 800 and a orphanage with 96 kids. It was sooooo damn hot and really dusty, the campus is right next to about 3 rock quarries and the air is just filled with dust. I went for a long walk around the campus to shoot pictures of building and I got a wicked headache so I took a long break and played some chess with a few people and dominated of course. Then I spent the rest of the day playing with the kids at the orphanage.


Thursday 3rd april
Well I've got 96 orphans to photograph today, it hurts my heart to see so many kids here at this orphanage in Nagpur.They sleep about 8 to a room in bunks on really hard beds. They have just a bit of foam sometimes nothings on a plywood base. There are kids here all the way up to high school level and most of them speak English. I'm trying to learn a bit of hindi but I'm having a hard time. I got down a few phrases and words, like food, water, eat, drink, come here, stop, just me (the kids one pictures of just them). At the seminary I'm staying at all the students have gone home for summer holiday and so they rent out the dorms and conference halls for big meetings and company conferences. Yesterday I ate lunch with a Doctor of a local hospital, he spent time in England studying and was very well spoken. Some of the Indian people here are surprised at how much I know about Indian cuisine, which is funny. But some of that Indian food kills my stomach, I have to pop a few peptos after eating.

While I'm writing this I'm helping a college kid apply to a seminary in America. Southeastern seminary, something like that.

oooh and I saw the biggest bee hive I've ever seen I'll show you a picture soon, but I'm at an internet cafe and I cant use my puter.

Maleria pills make you have crazy dreams !

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Senior


Senior portrait -

Orphanage in Warangel



This is a picture from an orphanage in Warangal.

I have a PLAN



Ok so I have a plan for the next couple of weeks! I'm staying here in Nagpur til the 6th and then I'm traveling East to Bokaro and spending three days there. Then on the 11th I'm going to go up to Patna til the 15th. On the 16th I'm traveling to Sili Guru in West Bengal for a couple of days then going due south to Kolkata. After that I'm catching a train back to Nagpur on the 22nd and doing some editing and organizing and resting before I fly home on the 27th. I have no idea if I'm going to be able to get the internet where I'm going, some of the places I'm visiting are really remote, but I'll try my best to update.



March 28, 2008
I woke up this morning at 2 and couldn’t get back to sleep, jetlag has really messed up my body clock, but it’s ok b/c I’m supposed to be up at 3:00. Dev and Sam arrived at 3:15 and we drove to the train station. The streets were dead, no one was moving, except for the occasional dog running across the road, and lonely cows wondering around the streets. We got to the train station and found out our train was running late. I used the time to write an email to my parents. The train finally arrived at 4:22 and we boarded the sleeper car. We booked the tickets to late to get an AC car so we made do with bunk beds in the open car. If you want an experience take the open-air sleeper car. I met a lot of people on the train and everyone was really friendly. I met a 24 yr old army grunt that has been in the service for 5 years and he is waiting to see if he made it into officer training. (Insert picture) He taught himself English, which is really broken and bad, but his writing was perfect. The train journey took roughly 7 hours. We started in Nagpur and went to Warangal (due south). I tried to get some sleep on the top bunk but its too hard with all the noises, there are people serving coffee and chai tea and shouting like a hotdog salesmen at a baseball game! Traveling on the train was a great experience; I got to see a ton of the countryside and beautiful scenery. Sam and I talked a lot on this trip about Indian customs and the British rule 50 years ago. Sam informs me that we are entering the dry season and there is so much dust in the air. I wonder how much dust is in my lungs right now! video I have a really dry throat. When we arrived at Warangal we were picked up by a Mission India car and driven through town to the Mission campus. At the campus they have a church, a mercy home, classrooms for bible college student, apartments for staff and a small medical clinic. The pastors’ conference was already underway when we arrived so we were shown to our room and freshened up as best we could. I find bathing with a bucket and pail a little weird but I’ll get used to it. I met some of the mercy home kids, who are cute as can be and very interested in cameras. After some playtime with the kids I went to take some pictures of the pastors conference. Rev. Michael Allen from Uptown Baptist church in Chicago was speaking and had some powerful things to say. Rev. Mike is a very well spoken man. He is an extremely nice person and very passionate about the mission work here in India. He is from Jamaica and is used to spicy food and a hot climate! When Rev. Mike finished we sat down for lunch. Rice, Dal, and really really spicy chicken! I ate it but with some help from lots of yogurt and limejuice, which cuts down the spice. Rev. Mike had some advice about eating food, he said that I should only eat food that is peeled or cooked. That way you can avoid an upset stomach. For the rest of the day I took pictures of the crowd and speakers at the conference, as well as a lot of pictures of children, they can’t get enough of having their photo taken. After a little while I was introduced to the crowd, and received a garland of flowers to honor my visit. It was a very nice gesture. In the field next to the conference was a group of people harvesting watermelons, when they were done they brought a few dozen over for us at the mission. It is hot hot hot out here and I’m drinking so much water to stay hydrated. Tomorrow is a graduation ceremony for the bible college. I hope I can get some sleep tonight and get used to the time zone.

Today I met Rev. Dr. Jesroon Levi who is another man who has visited Asbury UMC in Huntsville.
Later on at night Rev. Mike spoke again, and was followed by traditional dances by the mercy home kids. The little underprivileged kids have a great facility here in Warangel. They performed dances (guys and gals) to music about Jesus but in traditional Indian song. The little kids cant get enough of having their picture taken! I cant get any other pictures for all the little blitters running around in front of me. 10 o’clock time for bed I hope to get a really good night sleep. Probably up really early again.



Saturday March 29, 2008
Another really busy day. When I went to bed I slept like a rock, we had the fans going flat out and the windows open. I slept until about 4 in the morning when I guess my jet lag kicked in and I couldn’t get back to sleep. When the sun rose I got out of bed and showered? Bathed out of a bucket with cold water? After a breakfast of cereal and Indian donuts, we began the graduation ceremony. It lasted a really long time and I took a lot of pictures. They even honored me with a shoal, garland and a memento. The ceremony ran right into the hottest part of the day and the tent we were in got extremely hot. When the service closed, we ate a delicious meal and then I took my ease and tried to relax and drink a lot of water. In the late afternoon I spent more time with the mercy home kids taking their picture and letting them take pictures with my camera. We talked and played and enjoyed each other’s company. Some of these children don’t have parents and most of them don’t have fathers. One young boy was found at a railway station, abandoned. He now lives at the mercy home and goes to school and is cared for by loving people. At night we moved to an air-conditioned room and turned in. AC is ammmmazing.

Sunday March 30, 2008
Woke up this morning really refreshed, AC is a marvelous thing. Today being Sunday we were planning on going to a church in the city centre, but before we went we spent some time at the Mercy home children’s service. After some singing and a little bit of preaching we left for the city church. The church had a huge congregation and only a small room. There must have been close to 600 people packed in like sardines with no AC. It was a long hot service with some good preaching, I couldn’t understand the preaching b/c it was in a different language but that’s ok I got the jist of it. When it came time to give I was asked to speak some words of encouragement to the congregation in hopes that they would give more. I started out with a joke about AC but no one laughed, I don’t think it translated well but my comment apparently inspired the people to pledge 5 AC units for the church. After I spoke the offering was collected and many people couldn’t afford to give money so they would bring rice, as much as they could spare. It was quiet remarkable. After the service the preacher invited us to his home to join him for lunch. Lunch consisted of two types of rice and many different types of curry, some way to spicy for me. For dessert we had a homemade yogurt and fruit, homegrown watermelon and pomegranate seeds.

On our way home we stopped at one of India’s historical landmarks. It turns out that the city of Warangel is a historical city; it was once called Orugallu and ruled over by the Kakatiyas clan. They built a mighty fort city in the 13th century. We drove into the city and to get there you have to drive through the original winding streets and huge archways to slow down any attackers. The Indian government is still excavating the Kings palace and discovering new national treasures. The palace has these four 30 ft tall monstrous gates that have been carved out of a single piece of stone each, and they are identical and super ornate. The fort city was named after a huge rock that dominates the landscape. We walked up to the top and looked down upon the city, from the top you can see the huge earth walls that surround the city. It’s a truly impressive sight. When we were done walking around we went back to the campus and I talked with the kids again during their night service and then we went to Jesroons house to eat dinner. Jesroon is a wonderful man who stayed with my parents once when he visited Huntsville. Dinner was delicious and I was really ready for my bed.

Monday March 31, 2008
Up early to catch the train back to Nagpur. Sam and I stayed in an AC coach this time and I pretty much slept the whole way. I put some ear plugs in and passed out for the 6 hour journey home.

Time to Catch you guys up

March 26th 2008
My first flight of my crazy journey to India went really well, I slept the whole way to Dullus, on a virtually empty plane. The next flight however was jam packed, and there were babies everywhere! I slept as much as I could but the near constant crying of babies during the turbulence was a little frustrating. We were flying a boeing 747, but a really out of date one, the tv above the aisle flickered while I tried to watch National Treasure book of secrets (not as good as the first). During the flight, straight out of a movie, the captain calls for a doctor! There was a Doctor on board and I assume he sorted out the problem. Then near the end of the flight another person had a medical emergency. The Doctor attended to the man and laid him down at the front of a bulkhead and the doctor sat with him. He looked really unhappy and the doctor mentioned that his blood pressure was really low. The doctor stayed with him until the very last second when an attendant rushed over and said “we’re landing now” he hurried to a jump seat and we landed before he got his seatbelt on. When we got to Frankfurt it was snowing and really chilly. Paramedics were waiting and came onto the plane to assist the man. After some commotion we finally got off the plane. Now it’s a 5-hour wait for my next flight to Mumbai

March 27th 2008
Flight to Mumbai was pretty empty; I had three seats to myself. I slept a lot on this flight considering I was arriving 1:30 am local time. For the in flight meal I had vegetarian korma which was quite tasty. I managed to watch most of Enchanted on this flight, which is a ridiculous movie, I missed the ending but something tells me I didn’t miss much. Getting through the airport was not an issue, I was ushered where I needed to go and I checked in for my last leg. My flight to Nagpur didn’t leave till 7:30 so I had a big wait. The seats at Mumbai domestic terminal were really uncomfortable and I couldn’t get any sleep. I just read my book and took walks around the terminal to stretch out my legs. I watched the same news stories 10 times over in the hopes that something new would happen. I couldn’t understand the language but it’s news, you get the gist of it, a boy fell down a well, India was struggling against South Africa in Cricket. Posted around the airport was the occasional guard with a FAL riffle keeping the peace? I’m not sure how they organize things at the Mumbai airport and for the life of me I cant figure out how things get done. Even the bus driver taking me from the international to domestic kept driving on the wrong side of the road in a sort of really unfunny game of chicken. There are posters for Dubai everywhere in the airport. I’m guessing a huge amount of Indian workers head there to work and return regularly.

So let me figure this out I left at 13:00 on March 25, and arriving 8:30 on March 27th. WOW I lost a whole day. I’ve been traveling for 30 hours, I stink and I’m tired and I’m still not there.

What is with the whole paying for Internet thing, DUMB. Free wifi for all

March 27th 2008
Last flight was easy just an hour long, did some reading. There was a military dignitary on the plane and all of first class was reserved for three people. Disembarked the plane and headed for construction which was the airport, my bag was pretty much first out so I grabbed it and headed for the door. I walked out into the hot hot heat of the day right into a taxi War. Men are pushing a shoving to get to people first. I fended of some and told people that someone was picking me up. I waited a little while and then I called Vishwas the only number in my Indian cell phone that my father gave me. Vishwas is a really nice guy who lives up in the north of India working with orphanages. I asked Vishwas for Sagi Lukos’s number, my contact here in Nagpur and I then called Sagi. Sagi apologized for making me wait and he sent Sam Abraham to pick me up. Apparently there was some confusion on when I was arriving, but everything worked out, I wasn’t worried at all. Sam, who picked me up, is a really kind and compassionate man, he knows my parents from their trips to India and Sam has even stayed on the Farm with my parents when he visited America. We talked of Alabama and my parents and my journey as we drove through the city to Reggie and Helen’s house, Sagi’s brother. On the drive over there was so much going on, I took in so much and I don’t want to sound like a goober but I love that there are so many bicycles all over the streets, all of them are single speed. Everything in the city seems to be under construction just like the airport. On the streets there is so much honking; apparently you can do anything on the road as long as you honk your horn! They have roundabouts here, which make sense since England established the road system. The only difference is with no traffic laws roundabouts turn into death traps. I saw my first cow on the road in the other lane, the cow was walking in traffic and everyone was avoiding it and a big traffic jam insured. We arrived at Reggies at 10:00 and Sam introduced me to Helen and the family and then left to make travel plans for the next day. I took a quick shower and changed out of my smelly travel clothes. A shower was well received and then breakfast was served. Helen made me a really tasty omelet, and some hot tea with lots and lots of sugar in it! All tea in India has immense amounts of sugar in it. After breakfast I met Helens son who is a great little energetic boy. After pleasantries I went up stairs to take a well-needed nap. A pillow and a flat surface to sleep on were glorious, I fell asleep instantly and before I knew it, it was already 14:00. I had some crazy dreams; my Doc said that would probably happen with my malaria tablets. Helens mother woke me up for some lunch, which was really good. I had some fried flat bread with a potato relish, rice and a chicken dish that was not spicy just really flavorful. I washed it all down with a banana and returned upstairs to pack up my stuff. It’s really hot here and it’s only going to get hotter I’m told. Sam sent word that we might be catching a train in the late afternoon so I was ready to go. I left some things in a closet since I was coming back in 3 days time. No point carrying everything. I thought I was leaving but 4 o’clock rolled around. Helen then informs me that I will be leaving in the morning instead. Around the house there are some great-framed pictures on the wall saying, “Sickness is Gods messenger to chill us to meet with God” and another “Prayer is the language of a man burdened with a sense of need.”

My arms are less sore today (three vaccines in the arms on the day I left) but my whole body is tired of traveling for so long. I’m trying not to think about the fact that it is 4 in the morning, Alabama time. 10 hours behind I think. More observations, ladies ride sidesaddle on motorcycles carrying things even babies! If you want to make a turn you just have to do it, no one is going to let you in. Lanes are marked on the road but everyone ignores them. It’s just like NYC but 10 times crazier and I’m not even in a major city.

I’m going to miss LOST, I’ll just have to watch it online when I get some free time and can find the Internet! I wonder if they get FOX out here! haha

I’m reminded to only drink boiled water or bottled water that is sealed.

Forgot tri-pod oops

Dad gave me a phone that doesn’t work so I fixed it with help from my new friend Dev that I met at the India mission offices. I visited dev’s place, then he drove me back to Helens on his motorcycle; I slept til 9 then ate some food and went back to bed. Up at 3, on train at 4 urgh! Traveling just doesn’t end, and I can’t sleep.