Tuesday, May 17th
VBS again….jumbo sugar sticks had to have been mixed into those kids morning cereal. They almost all spoke English though..which was good, though unhelpful when chasing down the one trouble maker in the class. We made it through on an expression based system. But it was hard to instruct him on anything…it was all by pointing, scowling, or smiling. Sophia (not pronounced the way we do…and probably spelled differently too) was the instructer, so while she taught the lesson, I corralled and managed straying kids. Jocelyn (another volunteer) and the teacher she worked with had their hands full.
Although tired in almost every way (except heat! Due to working with the cute ankle biters.. we got the air conditioned basement. Which means I hadn’t lost all my body heat) I jumped at the chance to walk around with Gladwin (an intern/pastor to be? I think. Who is from delhi) who offered, or was coaxed by luke, to show us around for the afternoon. ((WHY THE AFTERNOON!?) still, It’s not like I’d say no just because of a little bit of heat.
Lunch at was at a place called SAGAR. Just down the street from the Delhi Bible Fellowship church (where we have VBS). The church was a narrow building squished in between the others on the block with an airy arch and stone covered courtyard/lobby/ entrance. Once inside it was all stairs…. With rooms on either side. But mostly the stairs.
Anyways..sagar was not a bad place at all.. with some fans spinning merrily, and all the food behind the cooking area where I could not see it (this is good. Remember? To not know is sometimes preferable) It was rather good though! He got us non-spicy chicken. (confirming that it does in fact exist here…it would not be impossible to think that they breed all their chickens to be spicy …straight from the egg)
We were served “barb-be-que” chicken, with naam, piping hot (not spicy..just temperature). Naam is a flat, pancake looking bread they wrap, dip, serve nearly everything on here. And yes, it is rather good too! So you’d tear off a piece of the bread, wrap the chicken in and take a bite like that. Option also to dip it in the green sauce in a dish placed in the center of the table. (a hint of mint in it. Rather good! Though I was cautioned not to touch the onions that came with it) really good meal!
Did not know what I was subjecting myself to. The next day when one of the other people working at the church heard where we ate he stopped, snapped his head back towards me and asked with concern in his voice.. “oh no, are you alright?!” not very comforting. Not very reassuring. He mostly meant due to the spicy tendencies of the place…mostly. Still, very good food. Eaten by hand. (a sink nearby to wash off with before or after).
Next we walked (my choice…I have been in an auto rickshaw almost everywhere) towards India gate.
This is a typical side street we walked past or down. Pretty empty too...only crazy people walk around in the afternoon eat. Notice how the stores are all scrunched together? you can buy "fresh food" at a place like this...or get auto parts, tires replaced. All kinds of things, available, (tax free) right on the street.
Along the way we stopped at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Red and White…cool and open and airy on the inside. Small space, but tall ceilings…even with a dome. Under going painting, but it was nice and peaceful to walk around. (especially compared to the streets).
Continued walking, stepping around people clustered on the sidewalks, sitting down, or sleeping in the shade.
While walking we passed a Sikh Temple. Which, I know nothing about. But Gladwin led us in. Along the white outer wall, with some pillars supporting the walkway (where a few people were sleeping). He explained that people who follow the religion would grow their hair and beard long. Wear the little turban. Have a silver bracelet on. And, in traditional attire, carry a short sword. It was hard to hear him explaining things, but what I gathered was that it is a very peaceful religion, a sort of meld between Hinduism and Islam? They focus on the teachings of Gurus..who write books for people to understand and follow. I think. (I’m not trying to explain the religion here…just what little I understood walking in).
First we checked in our shoes, walking in a line and handing them down to a man who handed back a little metal tag so we could get them back. Then we walked across alittle ditch/puddle of water (to rinse our feet). Up the marble steps to the enterance (covered tunnel leading to the door) first donned a scarf over each of our heads (which they had available.) I said a prayer against lice and tied it on. It’s not like I was going to say no and miss the opportunity to go inside.
Inside, there was no seats, or chairs or pews or anything. Just carpet, places where people sat randomly or against the wall, facing towards the center. In the middle, there was an alter sort of appearing thing. Around which a few people of importance were lined up. They sang in those tones that one would imagine hearing (not like a mosque…) I cant describe it. But it didn’t sound disruptive or disturbing to me, didn’t make the hair on my arm stand up. Didn’t make me uncomfortable. In fact, I sort of wanted to sit and listen. .. not to accompany, just to observe really. It’s something I’ve never seen before, or heard. Even if I don’t understand it, I can still admire and appreciate. I wonder what their view of Christianity is? I wonder how most Christians are supposed to view them?
We walked through rapidly. Apparently that was them worshiping the book. (they don’t worship people..is what I understand anyways). And suddenly, we were outside! Crossed the marble plaza beneath the golden domed temple, the marble was hot from the sun. There were strips of material put down to follow so that people could walk on that instead of hurting their feet on the hot stone. We paused by the large, square pool that as there for cleansing purposes. Today, was rather green. And on the outside edge small fishes were plentiful (including a couple gold fish). With or without fish, you couldn’t convince me to hop into that warm water (conditions which a bacteria would love to proliferate in. or a fungus). All kinds of purifying prayers would certainly be needed.
After we left, we walked along…stopping at one of the ice cream carts that are along the road. Pistachio J but the pistachio is not at like gelato pistachio…there is more in it. more flavors and spices even in ice cream?!?!? Luckiy, no hot spices. I would not have been surprised if there was.
Walked past the business district. (I think that’s how he described it) lots of little shops tucked into a big building. All along the edge with open windows and doors which you could walk past under the shaded walkway. On every corner, post, column, sidebaoard…whatever, were red stains from people spitting the version of tobacco they chew here. Also, one had to carefully avoid eye contact with vendors, and side step sleeping dogs.
We also stopped for a milkshake. I was warned, it is the opposite of what you get in the U.S. (so of course, I assumed…oh..instead of cold..they give it to you hot!!) not really. It is literally, shaken flavored milk. (I tried some of Luke’s strawberry…rather full for my own… shocking right? Must be the heat). And it was refreshing! Served cool (so cold ish) in a glass bottle with a straw. Hope the milk was pasteurized, and hope it was clean… though doubtful looking at the large, aluminum (?) containers sitting on the sidewalk where the milk probably come from. Once done, you put the glass bottle back in with others in a large crate. (and tell me, how do those get cleaned?)
While sitting (having a contest of who would get up first because the stone was so hot… like the opposite of rome, where touching the cold marble or concrete would suck all the warmth out of you..here you touch it and you start sweating all over the place even more!) an older beggar woman approached us. She was really sweet and cute, but I did not give her anything. It does no good to do so. No matter what country. Gladwin bought her some water though, then watched as she tried to give it back to the vendor for money. So he walked over and kindly opened the cap for her! Haha a good way to give water and make certain it is not refunded.
We walked through the Pallika Bazaar. It is underground, and a total maze. Shops squished in next to one another, with their wares packed into the tiny space behind them and displayed along the walkway. And in that walkspace, tons of people herded together, moving in a steady, packed, flow amidst the shops. Before entering he asked if I had a cell phone, I said no. he said if I get lost it must be destiny then. Fantastic. Little does he know my maneuvering techniques! They were fully employed down there too. The ceilings felt low, it was dark, and they randomly used black lights. if there wasn’t so many people, I would have been a little creeped out.
Vendors were shouting after us…persistant, and eager to sell their wares. Bargaining is hands down the way to be in these places. But arguing gets annoying. And I saw nothing worth fighting through a pack of people then bartering for (though would have been good to do with an Indian on my team!)
Technique employed: ignore them. I do not speak English…sorry.. “hello” rings no cultural bells as a greeting. I actually used some sign language when I was asked a question by luke in front of store owner..playing deaf.
Once we emerged, I realized that though crowded, it was cool. We caught an auto rickshaw the rest of the way to the India gate. Luke and I hung back so Gladwin could get a good deal on driving there. White-raised prices. Even he said it bothers him how the people treat foreigners. (in business anyways). Once there, with more green surrounding it than I had seen in all of delhi… it was very interesting. The india gate was never a gate or entry point like the carved archway we saw in rome. It was built as a monument to the soldiers lost in previous wars. Built out of redish stone and into it is inscribed with the names of those Indian soldiers killed. An eternally lit flame is guarded beneath it.
It was very nice to actually see, and is a big deal here (when I ask what I should see, that is always mentioned).
After that, I was pretty tired, but proud of myself for having made it walking around in the heat of the day.
We drove back to the church to cool off. Workers there were gathered in the same room, fans flying and AC lightly on. We were offered coffee by one of the guys who work there…and it was FANTASTIC coffee. Sweet and strong. (like me! Haha joking).
Finally home, after stopping at INA to pick up the shirt I had tailored. It is CUTE!
3+ liters of water…and no pee stops. 111 degrees F …and 10% humidity.
That evening we went to one of the malls here in Delhi and met up with two of The Andrews Sisters (there’s three of them and they are a lot of fun to be around! ) The mall is like a whole other world. People hardly dress the way they do everywhere else. It is brightly lit, and clean clean clean. No dust! Full of people on a weekday evening. It has to be crazy on the weekends. When in stores, people who work there hover near you. Not to shoo you out, or check for suspect activity.. like one would think when hovered over in the U.S. They are there to help, assist, point the right direction, find the right size or color. Not pushy like in markets, just, poised to assist. We shopped a couple places. I found earrings for like $2 or $3… cheap quality. But pretty for what they are! Also a few bangles… tried on some Indian clothes. Tried on some American clothes. Bought no clothes (be impressed). Things are very expensive at the mall…especially for Indians. But only a little more pricey than what you would find at a mall in the US.
For dinner, went across the road, through security again…like you have to do upon every entry. It’s like a collection of fast food places…Indian style. Mostly food, and some drink places as well. Clean and good to eat! I boldly tried something new and good sounding. And two bites in went slurping down my lassi. Lassi is a big deal here, it’s like, liquid yogurt…nice and sweet and soothing. Used along with the spicy food. I would have proably died without it. People said I was turning pink because of the spice. I dunked the food in the curd/mik that is supposed to “take the edge off” or something. i managed to have over half of the very full plate though. I felt bad for leaving so much behind but…felt accomplished for getting down so much. Afterwards, despite the lassi, my existence was still spiced hot. So I went in search of some mango juice. All it took was one slurp to convince me that I may have died from the spice, because mango juice is akin to heaven. Cold. Fruity. Not spicy. Sweet. Sunny. Heaven!
We drove home in the auto rickshaw…the driver racing and weaving in an out of traffic, from one side of the road to the other, squeezing in between vehicles and zooming around slower ones. And, although slightly concerned, I was happily squished in between luke and joel. Sweaty and dirty from the dust blowing around, but happy as can be with my mango juice! Made all the spice and heat totally worth it. Glad for the adventuring! Despite my dashing to the toilet that later that night; it only took a few quick sits.