india {day 1}

over the last few days a number of people have asked me how our trip was.  and i pause.  i struggle to even answer.  and my answers have been somewhat incoherent. see, the problem is, i can’t put the trip to india in a box that fits the 2 minutes the person is probably expecting from me.  i need to come up with a really quick summary, then leave room for questions, which i can totally answer.  its being given the blank slate of answering  how my 15,000 minutes in india was that is really stumping.  and i realize that my response of “it was awesome” just doesn’t do it justice.

so i’ve decided that in order to help me continue to process all that happened while we were in northern india, i’m just going to take it day by day of our time there.  logically, i’ll start with day 1 ;)  but really, day 1 lasted for about 2 days with the long flight and time difference, so bear with me!

i was packed for a couple weeks before we left.  for myself and sean.  the day before we left, sean casually mentioned to a friend that he should probably pack his bag soon.  to that i laughed!  he should know me better, letting him pack himself last minute!  i knew he was swamped with work and so much of what we needed for the trip needed to be thought through and organized, and some of it bought.  the day we left our kids to drive to lax to fly out early the next morning, i had left plenty of breathing room, to homeschool, to bond with the kids, to get a few last minute things done.  then i read the email.

my girl friend recommended i look at my kids’ hair for lice, because we had just had a playdate with her kids, and they now had it.  yes, start itching your heads now.  i am.  we are no strangers to lice as we, yes WE, had lice over christmas.  super fun.  so instead of our planned last day, sean and i spent a few hours in the bathroom with our kids, picking nits out of the girls’ hair and treating them, and cutting off silas’ hair.  doing 4 extra loads of laundry.  then turning the supplies over to my mom to finish off the job while we were gone (insert guilt here).  i guess i did get to spend some pretty intentional time with my kids that day, it just didn’t look like i expected it to.

but we were off, it was literally out of our control.  we drove to l.a. and started bonding with our team on the drive.  i had very little thought about the dynamics about our team before we left, but we were blessed with an amazing group (10 of us) that all traveled really well together and i can now call them all friends.

 we flew out of l.a. to dubai, about a 16 hour flight.  the pic above was taken in dubai.  we had a quick layover there, then another plane to delhi, about 3 hours or so.

 it felt like we hardly slept at all on the way there, but this pic says otherwise ;)  why sean’s arms are inside his shirt and not in a sweatshirt is beyond me.  but after awhile delirium sets in and you really don’t do much logical thinking!

we got into delhi at 10pm, their time, which was great.  we were exhausted and bedtime sounded great.   it would’ve been really hard to adjust getting there midday and not being able to sleep.  to taxi trip to the hotel in the dark was crazy!  traffic laws in india are very different than the u.s.  sean and i had been to bali, indonesia about 9 years ago, so we were prepped a little bit.  basically there doesn’t at first appear to be much organization to the chaos, but after a week or so we were starting to figure some of it out.  traffic lanes are merely suggestions.  going the correct way down the street is optional.  walking your cart and oxen down the middle of the street, along with buses, cars, bikes, rickshaws…. is totally normal.  there aren’t bike lanes.  the horn honking is actually encouraged and constant.  i think we figured out that if you are a bigger car wanting to pass another car, bike, cow,etc, you just honk when you’re behind them and they’ll slightly move to the side for you to squeeze past them.

this sign totally made us laugh because the question shouldn’t have been “do you have your helmet strapped” but “do you have a helmet on?”  oh, and motorcycles are not just for 2 people.  you can fit 5 or so.  and women only ride side saddle.  without holding on.  with a baby in their arms.  they rock.

it was crazy, but super fun, too.  i was so thankful we were driven everywhere we went.  not only for the sake of knowing the “rules” of the road, but also because i never saw any street signs!  i would never find where we were going.  apparently google maps doesn’t have any street signs for the area either!

along with the nutty traffic we went through late at night, we also saw a wedding processional (in the middle of the street, of course), complete with a groom on a horse (both dressed super fancy), a drum band, a couple rows of people carrying electrified lamps of some sort, with someone pushing a generator in the back.  it was awesome!  the clothing and details were incredible, even though we just saw them in passing.

by the time we got to the hotel my mind was racing, trying to process all we had just seen and take it all in.  when we got to our hotel room i thought i’d never fall asleep with the loud front desk down the hall and the constant horns outside, but i fell asleep immediately.

side note:  i totally struggled with our accommodations each night.  for the most part, where we stayed was nice, some really nice, some a little below par (for example, seemingly dirty sheets, no top sheets, stinky blankets).  but then i would feel totally guilty, i needed to find contentment with having a bed to sleep on and a roof over our head

we woke up the next morning, met with our group for breakfast and a meeting, and talked through our book we were all reading together, real-life discipleship. if the trip didn’t challenge me enough, this book sure did (has… i’m still reading it).

we had about 30 minutes to walk around outside before we went back to the airport for another flight.  the pic above was our “wake up” to india:  a man selling his freshly cooked meals at a stand on the side of the street, chai and eggs – pretty standard, and just out of the picture to the left is a “public restroom”, a tile walled stall open to the street (no door), with a hole in the corner.

 the size of the loads these people would take was unbelievable, whether it be on a cart, on a bike, on their heads.  see the blurry woman in turquoise above riding side-saddle?

 

 lots of pictures were hard to get since i took a bunch from the car as we drove past things, but one sight we saw quite a bit were these chicken coops.  basically, this is where you buy your fresh chicken.  right behind the man with the bike is a man with a chopping block, preparing your chosen chicken for you to take home.

on our way to the airport we were stopped in traffic and a little boy, maybe 8 years old, was playing his drum in the middle of the street next to our car with a little girl, maybe 4, doing backbends and gymnastic-type things then asking for money.  i couldn’t help but put silas and gracie in that situation in my mind, since they are about the same ages.  they couldn’t even cross the street by themselves, let alone stand in the middle of traffic, let alone fend and provide for themselves.

our next flight took us to varanasi, most well known as a holy city and the home of the ganges river, or as its called in india, the river ganga.  we dropped our bags off at our hotel and quickly got to the river as the sun was setting to see the nightly festivities.

 indian nightlife is booming!  i was shocked at how busy the streets and shops are with people so late in the evening.

 it was really hard to peer into the shops as we walked by and try to take any pictures and not get lost from the group – i was looking down most of the time, watching my step – remember cows walk the streets, too, and leave remembrances behind!

 the colors and lights and sounds of the festivities were so fun!  so much effort and details were put into everything.  but along with that came a lot of vendors and begging and disfigured bodies and children fending for themselves.

these offerings were lit and floated out on the river.

 we decided to take a boat out on the river to see things from another perspective…

along with all the other tourists.

 

 not far up the river from the ceremony site is the cremation site.  apparently, these fires are continually burning.  in Hinduism its desirable to be cremated as close to the river as possible, even to die as close to the river as possible as the river is considered to be holy water.  which was shocking to me as it was horribly polluted, but that again was just another thing i struggled to wrap my mind around.

 already, looking back, i am able to see more beauty than i was able to see while i was there, especially the first couple days.  it was a lot to take in and super overwhelming.

but still, i’d say it was awesome ;)

after the river, we went back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before visiting our first training center the next morning.

{part 2 coming soon!}

 

Comments

  1. 1

    Your trip so far sounds wonderful, and at the very least a wake up call to show how lucky and blessed we are. What group did you go with? My husband and I are trying to plan a trip there soon. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  2. 2

    Thank you for sharing your stories with us!!

  3. 3

    Okay, I should probably comment on your trip to India, but I’m stuck at “we had lice over Christmas.” We did, too! I discovered them in my second grader’s hair the day before Christmas Eve, and I’m sure you can fill in the rest. Gag, gag, gag, gross, gross, gross. I think I went overboard on the treatment and elimination, but how could I not? We totally pinpointed the source of our lice, though, while we were opening presents. We opened the gift our second grader had made for us at school: a handmade frame containing a picture of her–taken at school–wearing a fuzzy Santa hat. We asked, “So, did everyone in your class wear this hat when your teacher took pictures?” and she replied, “No, just all the girls.” Oh, the irony!

  4. 5

    I’ve been looking forward to hearing your update! Thanks for sharing stories and pics :)

  5. 6

    Day 1/2. Aren’t international trips just like that? SO much packed in to so little time on so little sleep. You’ll be so thankful you took the time to document in word and photos.
    Thank you for sharing Lindsey.

    Oh, and team dynamics! Makes all the difference…

  6. 7

    i loved this post! sounds like you had a wonderful time in india. my husband (then boyfriend) spent a lot of time in jakarta, indonesia and chennai, india with his old job. we’re talking, like, 8 weeks at a time for three years straight. even after being there so much, he said the thing that struck him the most was always the kids that were working (really, begging, but they call it work) at such a young age and the way people drive there. he videoed his “commute” for me once on his phone and just watching it made me car sick!

    thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  7. 8

    Thank you for sharing! Your pics and words are both beautiful and eye-opening! ~C

  8. 9

    I have to say that at this point in my life I don’t think I could do what you have just done. I think you are very brave and committed and I admire all that you have given to your mission :)

  9. 10

    Thanks for sharing! I absolutely relate to what you said about people asking how the trip was but not being able to really put it in words. It’s also hard too because in the end, a lot of people don’t REALLY want to hear about it. Like, if you take longer than 5 minutes than they sorta get that blank stare on their face and do the “uh huh oh that’s nice” thing. haha. I can understand being that it’s all abstract for someone who has never been or experienced such things. I LOVE your description of India though…sounds exactly like Sri Lanka. Can’t wait to hear more. And HA on the lice. I caught it on my last trip to Sri Lanka and it SUCKED! :) Sorry your kiddies had it.

  10. 11
    Lacey Prentice says:

    Thank you for sharing about your trip. I know how hard it is to put into words a trip like that, I experienced the same difficulty when I got back. Seeing your pictures brings me back to my time there and unless you have been there then it is really hard to show people the depravity of that place. I feel an instant connection with your trip because we spent a week in Varanasi! So glad to hear about all God is doing there with the ministry and I look forward to your future posts about your time there. God Bless, Lacey

  11. 12

    Hi Lindsey,

    I just came back from 14 months in southern India with international justice mission. It was such an incredible experience… it was neat to relive the craziness that is India via your blog. I totally understand what you mean about not being able to summarize your tip… I think India is un-summarizable (if thats a word!)! Thanks for sharing.

  12. 13

    Love it. Although, I, like Ruth can’t believe the lice thing. I think you guys were pretty great not to lose your minds over the lice thing and do what you had to do.
    I so looking forward to all your India posts and if you can let us know how your kids were doing while you were away. And your mom – how did the “nit picking” go?
    We have had lice twice in this house and I feel ya.

  13. 14

    I’m so glad you’ve decided to share day by day instead of attempt to explain it all in one post! I can’t wait to read the other days!

  14. 15

    This sounds so awesome. Thank you for sharing your experiences in such detail!

    Catherine
    FEST (a new blog about food, style & travel)

  15. 16

    I totally agree…you are able to see more beauty when you look back on a trip…especially, a trip to India. Or at least that was my experience.

    What a wonderful trip….OH how I remember that long plane trip. EXHAUSTING. We were also completely DELIRIOUS.

    I can’t wait to read more about your trip….

  16. 17

    Looking at your pics it seems that you had a wonderful time in India. ;)

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