Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Welcome to India!

"The Crew" at RDU by johnenzor
"The Crew" at RDU, a photo by johnenzor on Flickr.

We left the US Friday night, Dec 30th at 6 pm. 3 Flights and 27+ hours of traveling, we finally landed in India around 4am their time. Although a few of us got a few hours of sleep on the planes, we were still very exhausted. By the time we landed, all we cared about was sleep and a shower.

Now, from here on out, everything I had ever known was new. Even my ideas of what was weird or crazy was nothing compared to what I was about to experience.

Well, let me back up. Here's a few things you need to know about India before we get too far along:

1 - India is predominately made up of ...what for it...Indians. Yes, shocking I know, but you need to know this to realize how rare it is for these people to see white people. White people are all over their ads, their posters, any TV show, they're all white, or very fair skinned Indians. Saying we stood out was an understatement.

2 - From education or TV, some people speak both English and one (or two) of the many Indian languages. Many of the kids we ran into could say things like "Hi" or "How are you" but not many could speak more than that.

3 - In their culture, it is a sign of respect for them to ask you to sit, and then to wait on you hand and foot. You think that sounds all wonderful, but it is very humbling to be asked to sit in a chair, up on a stage, with 50+ adult, elderly people, or pregnant women, sitting on a dirty concrete floor at your feet, every where you go.

So, with all that laid out, we get off the plane and through customs.

Immediately, you start to notice the thousands of people waiting for family or loved ones, who all start staring at us. They're taking pictures, staring with no self awareness or feeling to turn away when you look at them, and they just stare. If one of them saw you and his friend didn't, he'd nudge him to get him to turn, and immediately you'd have all of them staring at you. In America, if someone was to stare at you like this, when you look at them, they'll turn away. But not in India.

We immediately knew, we are the only white people here!

Part of the organization that our team is partnered with, is a Children's Orphanage in Hyderabad. The main contact from this home for us was a man named Raja. When we landed, he had a few of the boys there from the orphanage and another leader there to great us with beautiful ornate flower leis. These leis, are by far the most fragrant arrangement of flowers I have ever smelled, and they were gorgeous! They were packed with lillies, roses, and fragrant herbs. As we later learned, we would get these everywhere we went, as a sign of honor and respect, but there was nothing like that first deep breath of the first lei, right after you land from being on a hot plane ride for days.

Raja brought one of the leaders with him to greet us. He was such an inspiration! Having been born with 2 clubbed feet, he walked with crutches and grew up in the orphanage. Now an adult, he spent most of his free time pouring his time and love back into the place that fostered him into a very articulate, intelligent young man of God. His sense of humor was uplifting and I enjoyed being around him. He spoke English well, with the exception of some of our more rare or slang phrases, and was a great asset to have when speaking with the children. Currently, he is in college for his Masters in Engineering.

It was surreal to get off the plane and see how incredibly different everything was from where we were just a few hours before. Being in a strange place, with people who didn't fully understand my language was really beginning to set in that this trip would be crazy, fun, challenging, incredible, and surreal.

Welcome to India!!

No comments:

Post a Comment