sunday, May 15th (4:30ish PM)
Today went to church (non-denominational..English service) and saw a lot of the people last night. what a relief! some faces finally became more familiar and less obscured in the fog of massive introductions.
The questions continued of how i am feeling, if I have gotten sick after eating last night. which was very kind. but made me slightly paranoid. Apparently it was food ordered out from a place that, if i had seen, I would have refused to eat from. It was also spicy (survived by dousing in a type of milk curd mixture).
I am pleased to say that so far I am fully functioning.
After the service (air conditioned auditorium. so very tolerable!) we lingered, cha
tting. then a group, with many of the people i met from last night, stayed after and ordered out food (Indian take out..jar hearts???jug heart? something like that) Not spicy at all really. rice and noodles sort of a mix. I took two helpings. basically...I was hungry and if one is going to make you sick, might as well take two there won't be a difference. encouraging isnt it?
Then, with much debate and indecision an even smaller group headed to a coffee shop type of place. half took a car. the other half flagged down a taxi/car. 3 people fit snuggly. We squished in 5. All that lap space was available!
This is what we have been getting around in. note: three whells. Open sides. Green...like all of them are...which means they run on natural gas around here (cheaply) many other vehicles and trucks carry this green color or stripe indicating their fuel capabilities. These zip around through the 2-5 unmarked lanes of hectic traffic. Bartering with drivers is important. Learned: do not be afraid to walk away.
also note: like the UK, they drive on the opposite side of the street in India. I have not been nearly run down yet..thanks to Joel, Luke, and their liberal use of honking as communication. Honking here is like in italy and not like the U.S. it is not yelling (usually) it is as though a turn signal had a megaphone attached to it.
At the coffee shop, i tried Garam Masala Tea not like chai, but good and a hint of spice. It was given to me with a little cup of steamed milk and a large packet of sugar. It is good plain..but also rather good with these mixed in.
We had fun, I mostly just listened, more than a little clue less and still a teensy bit jet lagged. Not ready to faceplant in exhaustion. but i was up before the birds at 5am here (it dropped to barely below 100 last night) and out of principle..remained sprawled on the bed dozing until 7:30.
I have had time to process a little bit of what i have been seeing. Not all of it has sunk in, it is a bit of shock you see.
Women in colorful saris and lovely flowing clothes walk down the street, no two designs alike. Men dress, usually in long pants and a long sleeve button down shirt.
But at the same time, you see people sleeping next to the road on the sidewalk on some cardboard. Often people live in a cluster of "buildings" that are brick, or sticks on a couple sides and a tarp or cardboard on the others.
This morning, on the same block as what is considered upscale apartments, a couple men were napping on some cardboard with some pots and pans scattered nearby and the smell of a fire lingered in the air. We walked around them down the ally, hopped through a gate and continued..ignoring the begging wild dogs as well.
Many buildings have a narrow appearance. Unlike italy. Different architectures don't change block to block... they change every 6 feet, where a different building is stacked straight up to the sky, practically leaning on the one next to it, or pinned in between two others. (i will try and take pictures).
There is no sign telling you that you have entered into another neighborhood. they begin and end abruptly...defined by the sort of area your entering or exiting I suppose.
The caste system is also very present here. Mr. Bennett put it in a way that I agree... That people in America do not think that things are equal, and that people are discriminated. But compared to the rest of the world, everyone is treated on an even plane....flatter than pancake. think Kansas compared to this. He pointed out a few things...like how if he takes the trash outside other people in this building look at him oddly and ask why the servant doesnt do it, because upper class people, those high on the system (ie: automatic here if you are white) do not touch trash. they just don't. Compassion is lacking..what you did in your past life got you to where you are in this one... good or bad, you "deserve it". that is how it was explained.
Mexican dinner tonight at the American embassy.