01-23-2015 Friday Day 7
Last day of the second conference. Adam, Joel, Benny, Adam, Joel, Benny. Divided by tea breaks and lunch. At one break we captured a 15 minute interview with Pastor Rao, our IGL partner in Sariki. When asked about current needs, he said that he needs a motorcycle because there is no transportation in his area. To walk to each of the villages he serves is about a 15 kilometer journey, and a motorcycle would make this much more practical. He also said that getting a bored well is an emergency, as there is no drinking water in Sariki so women have long distances to walk for daily water. Finally, he is hoping for electricity in the church. We told him that we had raised the funds for that project a few months back and would check the project plan to find out when some progress will be made. He also told us his testimony—stay tuned for that video.
After the conference we headed out to the beach, by which I mean a huge Vizag arts festival with performances, bright lights, vendors, traffic, and about 100 million people along the beach. I exaggerate, but wait till you see the pictures! Why did we think it would be a leisurely stroll along the shore? So after awhile we went to dinner at a very nice hotel restaurant. Dinner for 9 was about $90. At dinner we were introduced to Ajay’s wife of two months and took turns swapping stories on how each of us “met” (or were arranged to marry) our wives. I’ll leave these out for now.
Now that the conference is concluded, my blog feels somehow disingenuous because I’m intentionally leaving out so many of the stories, people, lessons learned, and other content of a more spiritual nature. I just can’t do it justice right now. It has to filter through my mind and reappear later; there’s far too many anecdotes, observations, themes, insights, and questions to process all at once. I think that everyone else who’s been on an IGL trip understands what I am saying. Anyone around me in the next 6 weeks will probably hear a lot of “that reminds me of something in India…” I hope you don’t get sick of it.
Back to the hotel to sleep before our 6:30 departure for the flight to Bangalore. We decided to get some pictures from the roof. There was a sign that said “Roof: Starlight” and a door to a roof patio. So we went out and clowned around for awhile, taking really long exposure shots of Vizag. Unfortunately, someone dead bolted the only door back in from the roof while we were out there. Adam was able to get the attention of last night’s chef from the 4th floor patio restaurant below, who send a security guard to let us back in. Panic averted.
01-25-2015 Friday Day 8
Last day in India! Flight to Bangalore. On the way to the hotel, our driver decided to stop so Kyle and I could take a picture of the Parliament building. I wasn’t in the mood for a stroll while our car drove away, but he said he would wait 200 feet away so I trusted him. He was still there when we got back. At the hotel by 11:30. We leave in 13 hours (at midnight) for the airport. We encountered working internet and had a final buffet lunch at the hotel, then headed out shopping on the streets of Bangalore. An auto rickshaw driver saw us leaving the hotel and offered us a ride for 50 rupees to the shopping area. Less than a dollar for a 2 mile ride for four people! He dropped us off at a store where they whipped out a dozen amazing sari’s and scarves in 90 seconds. After that high-pressure sales session we were introduced to a thousand sandal wood elephants and other things I did not want. Then jewelry. Then perfume. I escaped with only minor damage, but I realize that they round off pretty liberally with rupees. The exchange rate today is 57-58 rupees to the dollar but in their fertile minds 3000 rupees is “only about $30 for this!” They stopped talking rupees and just said “dollars” after that. However, “only 10 dollars for this and 30 dollars for that” when added up across a few items becomes 6000 rupees, which is about $100. Ouch. Oh well. It’s only filthy lucre.
While they were ringing up my credit card the woman at the jewelry counter asked about our trip, just making polite conversation. I said we were teaching pastors in Salem and Vizag. She said “sometimes I think it’s important to put the money in the right hand.” By this she meant that a lot of people come to India to make a difference, and she worries about whether their efforts have lasting effects. A simple hand-out won’t change anything. I told her that we were with a reputable organization which practices holistic community development and she looked somewhat reassured.
Then we were taken to the real bazaar, which was overpowering. A woman with an infant was begging and followed us for about 5 minutes with outstretched hand, begging each of us in turn. We tried to be firm. We tried to pretend she was invisible. Eventually she moved on. We wandered around but I didn’t want to even begin to try to talk to a merchant or get any money out-the press of the crowd was constant and I wondered if dropping a 500 rupee note would evoke a swarm. Probably paranoid. We saw a few other white people (European? English?) wandering around, so clearly this was an attraction, but 1 hour was enough of hustle-bustle bazaar for me. On the way back we again crammed into one auto rickshaw. That was a sweaty ride. Kyle was able to touch the passing busses, they were so close. Now chillin’ in the room.