Sunday, July 26, 2009

What I'm Looking Forward To

Now, on to another list...things I'm looking forward to. Of course, the top of the list is family and friends. But, here are some other things I can't wait for.

1. Driving. I have not driven a car since May 2008 when I went home for Blake's graduation. I think it's probably like riding a bike, if I can only remember to stay on the right side of the road and to not follow too closely!

2. Drinking water from the faucet! Yeah...I haven't done that in a while. It's going to be strange to just stick a glass under the faucet and then drink the water.

3. Wearing skirts and dresses. Oh! And high heels!

4. QUIET! No horns unless absolutely necessary, no loud vehicles, no screeching brakes, no construction noise (well, we are doing some repairs to our house in Colquitt), no random vendors yelling out the things they are selling as they walk down your street at 6:45 a.m., no pooja bells...

5. Stars. I live in a city of 8-9 million. Definitely cannot see the stars here.

6. Eating fruits and vegetables without having to wash them in potassium permanganate (aka poison).

7. One-stop shopping. Can I really go to one store and get everything I need in one stop? I can't remember. Target and Wal-mart, are you merely figments of my imagination?

8. People providing a service (like installing internet or making an order for, say, tailored clothes ready) when they say they are going to.

9. Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Mexican restaurants, Mama and Grannie's cooking, Daddy's grilled chicken, etc.

10. The holidays. "I'll be home for Christmas..."

11. Cold-ish weather. Fall and winter, I've missed you. I can't wait to wear a jacket and scarf and boots!

12. Feet that are almost always clean (and smooth).

13. My wonderful more dorm-sized, stiff mattress for me.

14. Lots and lots of grass!

15. Carpet.

16. Cashiers that are willing to make change even if you give them a bigger bill. That's one thing about business here that I still don't understand. You are hard-pressed to find a business or cashier that will give you change willingly. They always ask you for change...meaning they want the correct change from you because either they don't have change (why? aren't they running a business?) or they don't want to have to count it out.

17. Power that doesn't go out unless a thunderstorm, tornado or hurricane knocks it out.

18. Wide open spaces...South Georgia farmland, fields, pastures. Again, city of 8-9 million here. Also, personal space will be nice.

19. "Keeping the queue," or rather, no one breaking in front of you because it's just how things are done.

20. No staring. I won't be the only fair-skinned, blue-eyed blonde in the market anymore and won't get stared out. Wait...I might actually miss being the center of attention. ;-)

What I'm Going to Miss

I leave this place on tonight. I cannot believe it, but I am looking forward to what is to come. I am sad to leave but so happy to go home and reunite with my family and friends there. I thought I would compile a little list of things that I going to miss (besides, obviously, my friends and co-workers). So, here goes.

1. Auto Rickshaws. I love them. At first, they are a little scary, but then after a while you get used to it. It eventually becomes a soothing ride. I do my best thinking in autos. Man, I will miss that "fresh" air blowing through my hair!

2. Cheap, fresh, delicious produce that is delivered to your doorstep. We have great vegetables and fruit that will make you want to slap the person who ever invented canned vegetables and fruit. I will never be able to eat canned pineapple without regret. And...all this great produce can be delivered to you by your friendly neighborhood vegetable wallah.

3. Someone who comes to my door in the morning, takes my un-ironed laundry then returns it before lunch...all for less than $1.

4. Our security guards. Now, don't get me wrong. We don't think they could ever chase down and subdue a perpetrator, but they are just about the friendliest and kindest people you'll ever meet. The first time I cried about leaving this country was when I realized I would never see my favorite security guard again.

5. Speaking another language and making someone's day when you do. Everyday is an adventure when you are trying to communicate in a tongue that is not your "mother tongue." it sure is fun (and funny when you make mistakes) and so wonderful when a person you meet proudly thanks you for learning to speak their language.

6. The clothes! My style and eye for fashion has certainly changed. I love how bright and colorful everything is. I am going to think clothes in America are so "blah" when they are one color and without pattern.

7. The food and eating with my hands. Cheese paper dosa, fresh lime soda, dal, bende kaiyi palya, garlic nan...yummy. And, anyway, who needs utensils?

8. Chai breaks. Anytime, anywhere, with anybody...chai is a symbol of hospitality and kindness. No matter the time, the place or the people- there is always time for some tasty chai. Also, the city stops at 4 p.m. for chai.

9. The way people are willing to drop everything they had to do that day to help you with something whether it be shopping for a new sari, paying your electric bill or giving you a ride to somewhere on the other side of the city.

10. The custom of taking your stinkin' nasty shoes off at the door. Why don't we do this? It makes your house stay cleaner longer.

11. Customer service. Although, it's not always that efficient or helpful sometimes, the concept of customer service is very important in this culture. You can walk into a simple clothing store and there will be more than enough salespeople to help you find exactly what you are looking for in the right color and size. I think I'll go into a normal clothing chain in America and wonder "Where are all the salespeople? And why can't I get anyone to help me out?"

12. Milk in little bags. No need for huge plastic jugs, milk in little bags is the way to go. I wonder how it will feel to take a whole gallon jug out of the fridge in the morning. Heavy.

13. My gym. I love my gym here. It is fully equipped with everything you need for cardio and strength training, and you even have a personal trainer, dietician and physical therapist I will never be able to afford that in America.

14. Care packages. I mean, who's gonna send me Mac 'n Cheese, salsa seasoning packets, M & M's and the like when I live in America?

15. Doing absolutely nothing when it rains and not feeling bad about it. When it rains in America, life has to carry on as usual. When it rains here, well, life cannot carry on as usual.

16. Two words: Mango. Season.

17. Our neighborhood. Oh, Malleshwaram. You have everything I need within walking distance and some really cool people to boot.

18. The wild donkeys that roam our neighborhood. Every other area of town has, understandably, cows roaming the streets. But, not ours. We have wild donkeys. That charge at us sometimes. I won't miss that, but I will miss how fun it is to count the new donkeys every now and then. They multiply rapidly.

19. South Asian hospitality. People here are very hospitable, always inviting you in to their homes even if they just met you. You will always be greeted with a glass of water, then chai and biscuits and, if you stay long enough, a delicious home-cooked meal.

20. The shopping. Most everything worth buying is beautifully hand-crafted and cheap. I love our local handicraft shops and markets, and I will miss visiting them and my favorite shopkeepers. They always make my day when I go shopping with "The best price for you, Madame. This shop is yours because you are a regular customer."

(P.S. I wanted to add pictures that went along with each point on the list, but the internet is not cooperating. Sorry!)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Last Visa Run to Thailand

Every six months, we have to leave our country for a visa run. Basically, we just need to leave the country for a few days. Then we can come back. Annually, my company uses this opportunity as a time for meetings, fellowship and corporate worship. For this, we go to Chiang Mai, Thailand. This was my last out of three trips to Thailand. Can I just say that I love Thailand? It's a good break from life in South Asia and has a lot of American amenities. Starbucks. Enough said. Here are some fun pictures from the trip.

Reba rented a scooter and did a great job driving around town.

Our "little bro" Zach was recognized at Senior Night.

The sponsoring fellowship brought chocolate fountains!

The typical mode of transportation is a songtaw- a pick-up truck with a covering over the bed.

Karaoke night is always fun!

My roommate for the trip- sweet Georgia girl Kimberly

Thailand, I'll miss visiting you every six months!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Playing Catch-up- Last visit to some dear friends

Just before we left for Thailand we took our last trip to a neighboring city where we have done most of our trainings. We spent the night with Arezoo for the last time and were surprised (and happy) to see that her mother, Mirnaz, was there, too! The next morning we went to church with our friends to see some of the girls that participated in our training. This was the last time we got to see these beautiful friends of ours. It was hard to say "see you later," but we were so glad to get to spend time with them again before we leave.

The power was out so we had dinner by candlelight.

We love her.

movie night and silly faces

"Two pretty ladies, walking down the street." (They used to always say this as we left. They said if for our last time leaving, too.)


With Sunitha, our translator and dear friend

Such bittersweet good-byes.

Playing Catch-up- Teaching the neighbors how to make salsa

A couple of weeks ago our neighbor needed to learn how to make something completely from scratch and without any kind of electricity for a school project. She asked us to help her because she didn't want to do anything traditional. She wanted to try something new that the judges of the contest may have never had before. So...we decided to teach her how to make my "famous" salsa (people around here sure like it and always ask me to make it for get-togethers). I have been able to perfect the recipe since coming here because I am always craving it. Here are some pictures from the night we taught our neighbor.

Chopping tomatoes...little brother was a great help!


Writing down the recipe and chowing down

Brittany's "Famous" Fresh Salsa
(super simple and super tasty)

1 kg of tomatoes (about 2.2 lbs.)- peeled, seeded and diced
(my trick to peeling is to stick the tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds and the peel comes right off)

1 medium size onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small green chili, diced into tiny pieces
(probably half of a small jalopeno, if you're in America)

the juice of one lime
(or lemon if you're in South Asia)

2 handfuls of cilantro, stems removed and chopped roughly

salt, pepper and cumin to taste
(if I have it available, I will replace the spices with a McCormick Salsa Seasoning packet)