Monday, May 11, 2015

Chennai--Day 10 and Day 11--the trip home

Casey and Dan left for work Wednesday morning after another lovely buffet breakfast. Gracia and I went back to our rooms to organize the luggage and make sure everything would fit and not be over weight. That really didn't take very long for me, but we had told the driver not to come until 2 o'clock, so I killed time writing down notes on what we'd done so far, and then watched some of an American movie about a high speed train (starring Chris Pine and Denzel Washington.) The Indian commercials were half in Tamil (or another Indian language) and half in English. There was one toothy announcer guy whose name made me laugh--Manish Paul. Also, his hair made me laugh. Here he is:
He also reminds me of my cousin Ryan. 

While I regretted having little to do during those hours, I have to admit I got an interesting perspective on Indian culture just by channel surfing their TV. A lot of the commercials focused on romantic love. Also, most of the commercials (and roadside billboards) featured very light skinned Indians or Caucasians.

Our driver called at 1:00 to say he was at the doors to pick us up. It is difficult to communicate sometimes, even when you do speak the same language. When you don't . . .  We told him we'd be down in 20 minutes, since we felt bad making him wait longer.

The only plan we had for the day, since we were going to meet Casey and Dan and the Cognizant team at 4, was to go see the church where St. Thomas was commemorated. It was supposedly just behind the LDS chapel, so we told our driver to take us to that neighborhood and then we'd find it. He asked a person or two, and it didn't take long.

So who knew that the Apostle Thomas (doubting Thomas) went on a mission to India? Millions of people, I'm sure, but I didn't. Not until Sister Roslyn told us on Sunday and said we should go and see the "hole in the rock" where he'd hidden from the soldiers of the shah.

There is a little church built over the cave, and lots of commemorative statuary all around the site.

We were met by a security guard who proceeded to boss us around, telling us what to take pictures of and finally just taking our cameras so he could do it for us.
You can see what he looks like in the reflection.

The cave. There is a rock with some grooves in it that the guide told us was worn that way from Saint Thomas leaning his arms there to pray. 

Back upstairs, our guide took a picture of us having our picture taken with some other visitors. (They asked us.)

Then he took us around the back to a little house built around a spring.

 Actually, it just looked like a puddle--no springing that I could see. (His foot.)

Then he handed us a little metal bucket on a chain and told us to get some of the water. Now, there was no way that I was going to drink that water, and I didn't know what else I should do with it, exactly, so I just put some on my forehead and then handed it off to Gracia.  And she did the same.
Then the guard had us sign the guest book (complete with addresses--I let Gracia's suffice for both of us) and told us to tip him 50 rupees. Gracia took care of that, too, as I had no cash on me at the time. Thanks, Gracia.

Then, since we didn't have any other plans, we had our driver take us to the office where Dan and Casey work.
They weren't expecting us so early. We had to be checked in and get temporary id badges. Then Vigna came to a conference room with us and talked to us for an hour or so. Again with the making her miss work . . .

At last Casey and Dan and the rest of the team came down and we gave the team Karachi Biscuits and we had our pictures taken with them and said goodbye to most of them.

Then the rest of them took us to Chokhi Dhani, a replica village from northern Indian, Rajasthani culture.

It took about an hour to drive there. 

We were met at the entrance by a woman who gave each of us a red dot (bindi) on our foreheads with some paste.  I had to remind myself not to swipe at it while it dried.

We spent the next couple of hours going from display to display seeing various aspects of Rajasthani culture. First stop: the paddle boats.
We weren't allowed to steer.

And then four guys from the team tried to beat our time.
Kite flying. Who knew?
Dancing with fire.

Breathing out fire.
Eating fire.

This couple sang us a lively song. I don't know what you call that instrument he's holding, but he played it like a fiddle and the bells on the end of the bow were part of the percussion. We never saw her face.
A dare-you-to-drink-this-station. Don't drink it. Just don't. 

The signal drum tower. It's harder than it looks. Makes you feel kind of foolish.
Riding camels. 

Casey being a good sport. They wanted us to dance a lot. After the first time, I was done.
Pottery making. This guy was amazing. There was a long line of people waiting to try this.
Casey, the only one of us to ever use a pottery wheel before, is the only one who didn't completely mess up his piece. 

The mosquitoes began to be a problem and I wished I had some of those long leggings with extra bagginess around the ankles. I ended up with about a dozen bites, all on my legs. I am always the designated meal at any mosquito gathering. Good thing I was taking malaria pills.

This lady danced around with 6 separate clay pots on her head, and then bent over to pick up some money with her teeth. 

There were signs around the village that said we shouldn't be asked to give tips, and yet I still got the idea that they were hoping . . .

After a life-sized game of Chutes and Ladders we had dinner. It was entirely vegetarian, and the most unusual food that we ate in India. Rajasthani cuisine seemed quite different than what we had eaten before this in India. Some of it was very strange but most of it I liked. Especially a fried, syrup-coated sweetbread that they gave me far too much of. I think it's called Malpua.

These young team members had so much fun. Honestly, half of our fun came from watching these guys laugh it up. Only Vibra, on the far right, is married. The rest are waiting to be matched. 
On our way out of the park, we passed the magician. He invited a few people up, including Casey, and did some tricks. Then he did one where he had the audience (all ten of us) rub the backs of our hands together with our neighbors, and then we'd smell our favorite flower. Well, my hand smelled strongly of some kind of flower, but not one I recognized. Though it did smell different than the hand of my neighbor, so, good trick. 

Other things we saw or did while there: puppets, shooting balloons with a pellet gun, totally failing to shoot an arrow at a target because the arrow had no nock, a high-walled maze that was closed (too bad), and replicas of some very short houses (picture below.)

It was late when we got back to the hotel. This was our last full day in India. One of the team asked us what we liked best and worst about India--we each could think of so many things that we liked, and very few things we didn't like. It was such an amazing place. In the end, the best part was seeing how other people live--and those people we met made it such a fun and memorable experience. I'd love to go again.

Day 11- We didn't leave until evening on Thursday. So we spent the morning packing, and the afternoon buying a few more things, of course. We went to a place called Sri Krishna Sweets, which is a chain store where they sell Indian candy. Mostly nut based and very yummy. My favorite was the almond Halwa. (Carrot Halwa is also very good, and I plan to try making it someday.) We wanted to roam a grocery store to see what kinds of snack foods the locals regularly eat, but we couldn't quite make our driver understand. I know they sell a lot of the same kinds of snacks that we have in America, plus Cadbury, plus Tang. (I have unresolved childhood issues with Tang.) Their Cheetos look a little different. Anyway . . . 

And then we sat around in the lobby of our hotel for an hour or so. With the fancy ducks.

And then we flew home. It took a really long time. And this time, Casey and I were in the coach seats. Still, we had the same access to all their movies and TV shows, so when we couldn't sleep, we could at least be entertained. They fed us a lot, too. And the guy next to us in the aisle seat was asleep almost the whole time. How do they do it?

It was so fun to be able to see the ground rising into mountains as we got closer to home. 
Dan and Gracia's daughter-in-law picked us up from the airport and kept us entertained on the ride to Ogden with Taylor family news.

Anika met us in Ogden to take us home and kept us entertained with Songer family news, including a summary of her Prom date.

Our daughters Meri and Rosie and our nieces Chloe and Ellie had made us a welcome home sign for the door. We arrived just as they were walking home from the bus stop. We had to drive to the Mckays' and Harrises' houses to get our older kids. Then we were all together again.

It was good to be home. 
We knew we should try to stay awake until bedtime, five or six hours away, but my legs were swollen from the flight, so I had to put my feet up. Just try staying awake while lying down after a 28 hour trip. I kept being asleep without meaning to. We got over the jet lag a lot faster at home.

Two days later I woke up with regular legs again--whew, I was starting to think I must have gained weight, no matter what the scale said.

And that was our trip to India.


kate said...

That was amazing! So glad you shared it, I feel like I was in your suitcase.

kate said...

That was amazing! So glad you shared it, I feel like I was in your suitcase.

Phillip Hale said...

We totally enjoyed every episode and looked forward to the next. But we're glad you're home.