Tuesday, September 30, 2008

India Day 11 Monkey on a String

Today was very similar to yesterday, more painting. The room is getting close to being finished. It's looking quite fabulous if I do say so myself. I saw the funniest thing today. There is a small, dirty little street right outside the center where the community’s children come to play. They are very lovely children with big bright smiles. Every time that I walk by them they run up, say hi, and shake my hand. “Photo, photo, photo,” they all chant. They love having their picture taken. Anyhow, the game that they had come up with was quite simple and incredibly amusing. They tied a piece of food to the end of a string and threw it up in a tree. “What’s this,” the monkey thought to himself,” free food and all I need to do is grab it.” However, every time that the monkey went for the food the children would jerk the string putting the food just out of reach. Then they would laugh and laugh and laugh. It was just too funny.

After work, a few of us took a tuk tuk to the mall. The mall was quite interesting because it looked exactly like any American mall, very clean, very nice, overly expensive, full of all of the typical stores, and very very western right down to all of the white people on the advertisements. I guess the only major difference would be the armed guards who patted you down at the entrance. I am also still having a hard time getting the girls to stay up and play cards with me. We did play BS and Jessica played a few rounds of Speed with me. I had to travel to India but alas I have found new people to play speed with.

In travel news I almost got hit by another bus but in India, almost doesn’t count. Speaking of dangerous busses, the one this morning was so full that the ticket guy tried to kick two fellows off because the doors wouldn’t close. They somehow managed to push their way in though. Also, on that same ride, a lady who hadn’t bought a ticket got kicked off. There was a lot of arguing. I think the bus inspectors were being kind of mean kicking off an old lady. She had the 10 rupees in her hand and was willing to buy the ticket. In case you didn’t notice I stopped missing home a long long time ago. I think it was last Thursday. I guess I just know that when I get home I will have to go back to work. The European girls here were horrified last night to hear that I only get 2 weeks paid vacation. In Europe everyone gets an automatic 6 weeks after working for only one year. Even Australians get 4 weeks. This isn’t fair. I’ve been defending America up to this point but that is just inexcusable. Well its 11 so I guess I’ll go to bed in a minute, no one but me has been up for the last hour. I wish I had the internet here.

Here is my daily walk to the center part 2, its shaky and bad quality but it will give you the basic idea.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

India Day 10 Painting the Walls

It’s back to work today. The walls of the center are looking much brighter. We worked all day painting the walls. I must admit, I am surprised at how well it is coming out. The painter Achanak painted my goofy pictures of monkeys in the jungle scene. I love it. Keith has been cleaning and repainting the walls in the other main room. Everything is looking a lot better. We got a few new kids this morning. The one that stuck out the most was a beautiful little boy. He’s eight and has been living on the railway tracks for a year. He has told us that both of his parents are dead and he has no family. When he first got here he didn’t show much emotion or expression. Keith played with him all day doing things that a child his age should have experienced a million times, tickling, this little piggy, and all of course hugs and pictures. These all seemed like brand new experiences to him and he laughed and he smiled and he wanted to do it all over again because he is only eight and that’s how eight year olds are.

In other news, I can’t seem to get anyone to stay up relatively late to play cards with me. We played a few rounds of spoons and then it was off to bed. I like to sleep but 10pm to 8am is a bit more than I need. Oh, and another person told me that I have very beautiful hair. Ha take that all of you Americans who don’t like my hair. India likes my hair. In fact, they love my hair. This is a video of Keith and the new child.

Friday, September 26, 2008

9 The Shortest Blog - Lots of Pictures

Day 9
And we have one more house guest. Her name is Marieke and she is Dutch. Ah, another day of sightseeing. India is beautiful. I think the most amazing historical site that I have seen thus far would have to be Humayun's Tomb. I’ll let the pictures tell the story there. I've heard that it is second only to the Taj. I believe it. I got a glimpse of the train station today. There are more people packed on them then there are on the metros, amazing. Also, today I counted vehicles 7 wide in 3 lanes. That has to be some sort of record.

The police are out in force today. I’ve seen them checking cars for bombs. They are at the entrances to almost every shopping center in the area.

Look there goes another one. As of tonight there are now 2 more girls, one from Sweden and one from Greece. There are now people in this house from 7 different nations.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

India Day 8 The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good
Today was my day off so out to explore the city we went. We were a regular league of nations with Keith the Englishman, Jessica the Australian, Juhye the Korean and me the American. We took the bus to Red Fort. I will let the pictures speak for themselves because it is difficult to describe the beauty of this ancient treasure. The funniest part of this was the fellow who told his friend to get his picture with the American. From here we headed across the street to the Digambar Jain Temple. This temple is known as a hospital for birds. The inner sanctuary was covered with gold. It was almost gaudy it was so over the top. This is also the place where Keith almost got his shoes stolen. You can't wear shoes in the holy places and when we returned to retrieve them his were missing. There was a bit of British style bloody cursing but the shoes were eventually returned. I think he scared them. From there we took a walk to the Jama Masjid masque. Wow, this place is huge, beautiful, and old. The problem is, with no shoes on, the floors are like giant hot irons, ouch. Then it was time to try a new mode of transportation, the bicycle rickshaw and we were off to the spice market in Chandi Chowk (the largest spice market in all of Asia.)

Have you ever had a parade watch you? This was perhaps one of the most amazing, colorful and flattering events of my life. As we emerged from a back alley full of dried peppers we saw a parade, coming down the street. Everyone loves a parade especially me. This was of course to celebrate one or two or perhaps ten of their gods. As the band started to play I began to bob my blond head instinctively. I quickly became aware the instead of me watching the parade, the parade was instead watching me. The musicians and the crowd had turned towards me. They were pointing and smiling and motioning towards me. They wanted to watch me. They wanted me to dance. So, I danced, and Juhye danced and Jessica danced. They pulled us into the middle of the street, the center of the parade. People were smiling and clapping from all sides, from the front and the back and the rooftops. Everyone was happy, they were happy watching us dance. When we would quit dancing mobs of people would gather around us to get their pictures taken and to shake our hands and to wish us well. And then we would move on and dance some more. Did I mention the devil dancer. I tried to video tape him from the rear of the crowd but they would have noting of it. They split the crowd and pulled me up with the holy men to watch and to dance. Dance with the devil? I had to refuse. So we walked a bit further and there were boys and drums, and we danced. And then more pictures. An old man gave me a handful of nuts to eat and offered cigarettes to Keith. We danced until we could dance no more. It was so much fun. From there we caught a tuk tuk and went for a bite to eat.

The Bad
As we were eating dinner when the breaking news came on the flat screen. Everyone in the restaurant stopped what they were doing and watched. Delhi was bombed by terrorist today. The bombs went off very near to were we just were in the markets, less then 1km from where we were eating. Many people were killed and even more injured.
(Note from the future, 5 bombs went off and 20 people were killed. 2 of the bombs went off in Connaught Place, the shopping center where we were eating. We were about a city block from the explosions.)

The Ugly
Delhi has beggars so many beggars. They line the steps to the mosque. They approach you at every major intersection in the market area. There are people horribly disfigured, people with limbs missing, twisted and distorted. It’s so sad to see and they all call out to you, “please, please, please.” The most disheartening though are the children. “Please”, they say as they motion with their hands towards their mouth. “Rupees sir, please, please, ten rupees.” They find you no matter where you are. They follow you through the markets or travel across hazardous roads to your vehicle to beg. There were even children performing tricks by the sides of the cars, one played a drum while the other did contortion tricks. I wish I could find the parents who send their kids out like this and punch them square in the face and then take their kids home with me. I know that poverty is real and is a fact of life for these people but this is not the way to deal with it. You don’t pimp your kids out as beggars. I don’t know, maybe they are orphans. I don’t know, I just don’t know.

India Day 7 Fruit

I went to the train depot today. This is where the center finds a good number of the runaways that they help. This is also where I learned about fruit. Fruit is the street name for a potent mixture of industrial glue and a few other toxic chemicals. It’s cheap, it’s available, and it’s used by a lot of the children here in India. It is the street drug of choice. Darshan (the center director) and I, saw a group of children who were using at the station. Their eyes were glazed over and they had looks of stupor on their faces. They weren’t interested in finding help, they wanted fruit. We didn’t bring anyone back on this trip. I did however have an interesting chat with a nice fellow who shines shoes at the station. He was very kind and brought me some tea. Tea is the big thing here, I drank tea 5 different times today. Anyhow, back to the conversation. It was a bit rough because I don’t speak any Hindi and he doesn’t speak any English. I believe that the conversation went something like this.

“Hey those are nice shoes that you have on there. Can I see one?”
“Sure thing here you go.”
“They seem well made.” He says flexing and examining the sandal. “Made in America are they? My shoes are made in America too. See, here they are. How much did you pay for your shoes?”
“Um, in rupees, that’s um… like, 500 rupees.”
“Oh yea, they are much cheaper here in India. Oh by the way did you read that sign?”
“What are you pointing at, um a bird, um, wait, oh yes, the sign yes I just read it.”
“Yep, it says to watch out or people here will steal your stuff.”
“Ah, yes, hey, do you want something to drink, my treat?”
“No thanks.”

There was a new child at the center today and he loves to cuddle. He wants you to hug him and pat his head and to hold his hand. He is probably about 11 years old and when you go to walk away from he just smiles, reaches out, grabs your hand and pulls you back towards him. So, I hugged him and I held his hand and I rubbed his head until he looked like he was about to fall asleep. Every child deserves to be hugged and cuddled and loved. Every child deserves to be shown love. But here he was, alone and seemingly unloved. The boy who went back with his mother 2 days ago called today to say that he will be returning to the center. There is apparently a land dispute with in his family and his older brother has been beating him daily since his return. I know that life isn’t fair but these are things that I don’t understand.

I spent a good deal of today discussing the designs for the centers walls with the artist who is painting them. Have you ever tried to describe the color indigo to someone who doesn’t speak your language? I can’t even describe indigo in English. Anyhow, we got started on the walls. I’ve done 1,000s of designs and even though this may not be one of my best it’s sure to be one of my proudest.
Since I know how much everyone loves to hear about traffic in India here is today’s update. According to today’s paper India now has the highest rate of traffic accidents in the world. Why am I not surprised? I’ve observed that most of the cars here either don’t have side view mirrors or they have them pulled all the way in. They need that extra 12 inches to maneuver around rickshaws and buses. I have on occasion seen people pulled over by the traffic police but I can’t imagine what they could have done that was so much worse then everyone else behind the wheel. I did almost get macked by a bus today. The fellow that I was with gave him a good tongue lashing. Getting hit here can be far worse for the drive than for the pedestrian though. You see it, is traditional to pull the driver of the vehicle in violation out into the street and beat him.

Ps. We now have one more house mate, Jessica from Australia.

India Day 6 Cleaning the Walls

Day 6
He lost his job at the mattress factor because of the pains that he was having in his right side which prevented him from being efficient. His daily take home pay was all of 10 rupees ($0.25). Being only 16 he was doing his best to provide for his family who had recently left his psychotic father. He was going door to door in search of work when someone suggested that he visit the center and that’s where I met him. He’s a good kid who found himself in a terrible situation by no fault of his own. It’s heart wrenching because its real and its happening right here in front of me. I hope they can help him and his family.

Today I spent a great deal of time cleaning and scraping the walls of the center. I can still remember those fateful words, “Hey you’re a graphic designer, you can design a mural for our walls.” Yea, you see, the thing is, I’ve never designed a mural. At work I design all of my jobs on computers. Normally, if I was given this task it would be a mutable week project including a team of people, a host of supplies, and computers. So, anyhow, I made an attempt at designing a mural. Thank God someone else is going to lay it out on the wall and make it work. I am no painter. The walls currently look quite ragged so hopefully this paint job will do the trick.

I taught some of the kids how to play tick tack toe today. The one already figured out the strategy for winning every time. I don’t play with him anymore. I think I may be acquiring an Australian accent.

In travel news, we took another motor rickshaw (tut tuts as they’re known here). Not so great, it broke down and we had to walk. This morning’s bus ride was a different story. It was quite bad. It just felt so long. It started off well enough though. As I stood there on the bus I gazed across the road, into the windows of a parallel metro. As I scanned the crowd I noticed a beautiful young Indian girl, standing there, staring back at me. I looked away but every time I turned, there she was still gazing with a teasing look in here eyes. The busses pulled away from the station and for a while remained parallel with each other. I could see a small smile coming across her face and then, she was gone. I may have to start riding the Metro when I get back to Cincinnati. That is no doubt where true love is found.

Quick side note, today I tried a mango flavored soda made by Coke. It came in a glass bottled and was quite delicious. Its price, 10 rupees ($0.23) Keith and I also went back to that trendy little bar this evening. I don’t think that I’m near cool enough to go to this place, good thing I’m rich though.

Public restrooms are quite public here. A lot of men will just whip it out and pee on the side of the road. If you are the more private type though there are urinals. They have dividers, a waist high wall towards the street side, and sit on the side of the road. Yep, they are 100% outside and if you can recognize someone’s back you will know who is taking a leak.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

India Day 5 This isn't the Oprah Show

Day 5
Good day mate. An additional volunteer rejoined us here at the house. He was out taking a break from the center, touring India when I arrived. We are sharing a room and he is great company and loads of fun. He is a 65 year old Englishman living in Tazmania named Keith.

What I’m about to tell you may sound like a scene from the Opera show but it is quite real. After 6 years of being away from home and family, homeless and on his own, today one of the boys at the center was reunited with his mother and his twin brother. He had left home when he was about 11 and hadn’t seen them sense. Since that time, while out on his own, he had also, along with all the other changes in his life, had two major operations. And I was there, there to witness this reconciliation, this reuniting of a broken family. What did she think all these years? Was he dead? Was he being abused? Was he someone’s slave? Where was he? Why? How? And I was there to witness this. It happened in front of my own eyes.

Another boy in the group just returned from the hospital the other day after being treated for gangi fever. He very well could have, and may well have died if they hadn’t found him at the station.

I am still not able to grasp what I’m seeing and dealing with here. They’re all just kids, how can then can they homeless? As I’m sitting here, playing games or teaching stupid human tricks and bits of English to the boys, I can’t quite come to grips with the fact that they are indeed homeless and alone. Kids are kids, no matter their language, nationality, or living situation. These kids act 100% like kids. They interact with me just like the kids back home. How can they be homeless? I know that its happening but I still can’t understand it.

I did managed to teach one little fellow how to play chess today. The trick was, he only spoke Hindi and I only English. That was a fun little challenge.

On a lighter note, I rode in a motor rickshaw today. If you think that roller coasters are exciting you should try one of these. It cost Keith and I 50 rupees ($1.20) for two people. I remember driving head on into an oncoming car and then swerving at the last moment, just in time to avoid plowing headlong into it. I just laughed and laughed, it was so funny. I have managed so far not to get hit by any of the cars, ox carts, pedal rickshaws, auto rickshaws, motorcycles, scooters, horses, bicycles, or any of the men pulling carts. All of these things will pass through a single intersection within a moments notice so you had better watch out.

On an even lighter note, I spent 800 rupees today. My first purchase occurred at the market. The market is like nothing you have ever seen. Miles upon miles of tiny, bumpy, winding roads lined with miniature single room sized businesses. We were in search of some games for the children to play. They only have 2 game sets. What kind of exotic purchase did I make? Well, I bought some bootleg Super Nintendo games. I got six of them at 60 rupees each ($1.45). They are fantastic. I’ve got two 4 in 1s, an 8 in 1, 6 in one, 3 in 1 and a 64 in one. They include such classic games as UFO shooting (illustrated by a picture of Zelda), Panda Adventure (illustrated with a picture of the Berestine Bears) Jamnes Bond007 (yea that’s how its spelled on the cartridge) , Road Fighter (a picture of Dr. Mario of course) Streetfigher 12, and the classic Rockman 3 (wait is that Metroid in the picture).

Keith also took me to a small joint he discovered where India’s more elite hang out. Point in case, there is a guard at the front door to either let you in or deny you entry. It was quite the trendy little place with reliefs of scenes from the Kama Sutra on the wall. The music was all top 40 US hits and all of the customers were very westernized and no doubt richer than your average Indian. This place would fit in any large American city without a problem. I had a espresso milk shake and a dipping plate. My total was 400 rupees ($8.75). Considering the fact that the average meal in India will run you 20 rupees, that’s quite rich. After I got back to the house I realized that I had visited this trendy place wearing the same clothes that I had been wearing for the last 5 days. Yea, how trendy am I? I now have my luggage though so tomorrow I will be wearing new clothes. How nice. I think I’ll even brush my teeth with toothpaste. Not much toothpaste here in India but strangely the people still manages to keep nice teeth. This is one of the many mysteries that is India.

Walking to the Center Video Part 1 - youtube kind of butchers the quality and it is shaky but it will give you the basic idea.

Monday, September 22, 2008

India Day 4 The Work Begins

India Blog 4 of 14. These are being posted after the fact because I had almost no internet access in India. If you read them order things will make a lot more sense.

If your ever in Delhi, India you must ride the metro bus. It is an experience that you will not soon forget. Imagine with me if you will, a rock concert. Ok, now at the front of that concert are all of the people who want to rock out hard core style and maush, all tightly compressed into one small area. Ok, now take that scene, take a way the music, and put it in a Metro bus. I promise you that I am in no way exaggerating this scene. I was shocked that the doors were able to shut after I got in. Rajiv, my host, took the first ride with me to the center to show me the ropes but he couldn’t stay. Oh, and watch out for pick pockets. Let’s just say that I no longer have my monogrammed money clip and am down 140 ruppies ($3.25). Oh snap, I could have road the bus 14 times with that kind of money.

The center is located near the main bus stop. This is where a lot of runaways end up and the center has people there that attempt to convince the kids to come to the center for food, and whatever help they may need. The center is located in one of the poorest sectors of Delhi. Imagine tiny, unmappable, winding, twisting, ally ways lined with very crude housing. It’s similar to what you’ve seen on the “send us money” commercials but being there is so much different, so much more real. The center, as it’s called, is on the second story in one of the better of these buildings and is about the size of an apartment.

The kids at the center were very friendly. We watched a movie, of which I understood almost nothing. I did see that the title was Naughty Fairy Tale of the 7 Horny Dwarfs. I kid you not, that was the title. I played a lot of chess and even lost one game. I blame it on fatigue. This particular kid doesn’t speak any English so only you and I will ever know the true reason for my defeat. Tomorrow I’m going to beat that kid so he had better watch out. One of the boys at the center was especially impressive to me. He was 14 years old, had already traveled 50% of India, was very fluent in English along with his native tongue Hindi. He also knew he a great deal about world politics along with everything else there is to know. He also enjoys WWF. The Undertaker seemed to be the crowd favorite.

The trip back was also fun. This time I didn’t have any money in my pockets to be picked. The people were especially friendly about letting me know where my stop was. This is a 45 minute ride and getting on and off of these busses is no joke. There’s a lot of running and jumping involved. One kind gentleman even walked me home. He may have been worried about me. I can’t imagine why. Oh, and you know how I stand out in Cincinnati, yea, I stand out here too. So far I am the only long haired blond guy that I’ve seen. One little school girl on the bus was looking at me like, “um, what are you doing on this bus?” One of the boys at the center told me that I look like Jesus. That led go a good conversation. By the way I’m still wearing these same clothes. 4 days so far.

I think that for me there has only been one very difficult thing about this trip thus far and that is being away from home. It’s only been 4 days since I last saw my family and already I’m dying inside. I want so badly to be back home with you but I also have a desire to stay here in India for a while more. This is perhaps stretching me more than I had anticipated. 11 more days.

India Day 2&3 The Journey Continues

India Blog 2&3 of 14. These are being posted after the fact because I had almost no internet access in India. If you read them order things will make a lot more sense.

Day 2, 3
There are few things in life lonelier than waiting at the airport by yourself. Today was another one of those days. Very few people talked to me, or even noticed me there. I spent $1.25 for a 5 minute call to my dad and it was worth it. Finally, after all this waiting it was time to board the plane. The jet was huge, it was probably larger than my house. Boarding was hectic, no one wanted to wait their turn, and there was a lot of crowding and a lack of communication. Eventually though, everyone made it to their seats and it was time to fly.

Now this is the way to travel, 2 meals, a snack, and all the movies you can watch on your own tv. I watched What happens in Vegas, Drill bit Taylor, and a whole boatload of tv shows. I also watched half of the new TMNT movie and will have to give that a big thumbs down. The flight was about 13 hours total, we flew at around 30,000 feet and at around 600mph. The coldest I saw the outside temperature get was -70f. That’s just a bit colder than it felt inside. After a long, almost sleepless trip, I finally arrived in Delhi only to discover that they had forgotten to put my baggage on the jet. Of course they did, no surprise there. At least the baggage claim girls were very helpful and very good looking. 5 good looking baggage claim girls helped me fill out the forms. My baggage is still in Newark but it’s on its way, or at least it will be next time they fly from Newark to Delhi. Hey, I’ve been wearing these clothes for 3 days already so what’s 2 more? I was met at airport just like planned so that went well, although he was beginning to give up hope after the long wait.

Traffic in India is INSANE! Never in my life have I seen anything that compares to how hectic and aggressive it is here. There are tiny cars, auto rickshaws, motorbikes, large trucks, pedal rickshaws, along with vehicles that just can’t be categorized And the honking, there is more honking than I have ever heard in my life. I saw a guy on a motorbike almost get creamed and no one even blinked an eye. I even saw a lady sitting side saddle on the back of a motorcycle with here newborn in her arms. Now that’s scary. No one bothers to stay in their own lane and everyone seems to ignore basic traffic laws. If you can drive here you can drive anywhere.

The air quality here is by far, not as good as it is in the US. I’m used to waking up, walking outside and smelling my flowers. The air here is very thick, muggy, and has a distinct odor. This, combined with the time difference, and my rock hard bed is making it very difficult for me to sleep. Hopefully I will adjust to these changes very quickly though.

I miss everyone so much and will log online as often as I can. (note from the future, I was only able to log on twice and couldn’t upload any blogs) I get so home sick, I’m such a wimp. I love Cincinnati, I love you guys.

Ps. Thanks for the Suduku book Dad, that was a great last minute idea.

Pss. I adjusted to the time change on the first day. No problem. Its too much math for me to even figure out what time it is back home so most of the time I just don’t.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

So We Keep On Waiting...

"So we keep on waiting" was the song playing in the bus that took me to this hotel. Today has been terrible. I feel like crying but I probably won't because I'm a man. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm not in India. I am in fact in Newark. I got to the Cincinnati airport two hours before I needed too and waited. Then my flight was delayed for 2 hours so I waited. Because my flight was delayed by 2 hours I missed my next flight to India. So then I talked to the Continental guys and they said it was Deltas fault and if someone was going to give me a hotel room it would be them. So, I went to Delta, about a half mile of walking in the other direction. Guess what, Deltas not there that late so I went to the information desk. They sent me back to Continental. I took those dumb slow trains 4 times. This process took about 2 hours. Thank God I found someone who had pity on me and gave me a free hotel room. She was very nice and said if anyone asks I'm sick. So I waited for he hotel bus. Hey look here it is, the bus for Holiday Inn North, but no, as the driver informed me I now needed to go to the Four Points Sheraton. Finally its all over, right? Nope, I called the guy in India who was supposed to pick me up and he said that he waited 3 hours for me yesterday. Yesterday! How could this be? I felt so bad. I don't even understand how he got the wrong information. He was a bit upset. Well, at least this is a really nice hotel. I think I'll take a bath.

Friday, September 5, 2008

24 Hours the Countdown to Delhi, India

In 24 hours I will be on my way to Delhi for the adventure of a lifetime. Oh, for all of you Cincinnatians that's Delhi in India not on the westside of Cincinnati near Western hills. And its pronounced del-ee not del-hi. I would have to imagine that when Delhi (del-hi) in Cincinnati was founded it was named after the famous Indian city but a bunch of rednecks butchered the pronunciation. Anyhow, enough about my redneck friends. I'm ready to go. I've checked my list and I am nearly packed. My list includes 5 pairs of pants, a laptop and luggage all borrowed from my brother. If my brother Phil ever gets fat I don't know what I'll do. Who will I borrow clothes from? That would be tragic. Ok, Phil, try not to get fat. If your wife cooks you a fatty meal, abstain.

This trip reminds me of the 100 year old 500lb safe that sits in my messy laundry room. It's cool to look at but whats inside? I don't know because I don't have the combination. I want to know. What does this trip have in store for me? I've heard everything that is bad about Delhi and a lot that is good. I want to experience their culture, eat their food, work with their homeless, hug them, love them, be one of them if only for 2 weeks. I want to know what their reality is. I say lets do this thing!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

120 Decibles is TOO MUCH!!!

Tonight was Encounter, a special service dedicated to experiencing Gods presence in a deeper way. There were a lot of people there but one fellow stood out as a bit more striking than the others. He was an old man with a long, bristly, white beard and a nice wide rimmed hat. Now, when I see a white beard I think of three distinct types of people, Santa, wizards, or wise gurus. Since Santa and wizards are fictional characters that leaves only wise gurus. So, obviously when this old bearded fellow spoke up, I waited for the wisdom to flow. I did say that he had a long white beard didn't I because he did? What would he say, how would our lives be bettered by his wisdom?

In a loud booming voice he proclaimed "120 decibels is too loud! 84 decibels is enough. Deaf is deaf. We're going to have to pray for the deaf if you play that loud!" Ok, so that wasn't the wisdom that I was expecting. In fact, in my 27 years of church life I have never beheld such a spectacle as this. I was even a sound man myself for 9 years.

Our Sasquatchest electric guitar player looked bumfuzzeled. You see the next song started with the electric guitar and it was a much louder song. Well enough was enough, the bearded fellow put on his hat and headed for the door. But wait, what's this, he is making a detour toward the sound man. Oh, no, poor sound man. "I know why God sent me here tonight, he sent me to tell you that this music is too loud?" Oh, no, our sound man is now being assaulted by an old man with an awesome beard. Oh well, he'll survive. Needless to say, we didn't turn the music down and the old fellow chose to leave. But as our worship leader Jon would soon declare, "We like to worship and we like to worship loud!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Party Time

Tis the season to party. Tonight I went to Greg's 15th birthday party. Imagine if you will, a room full of family and friends (mostly kids, he has 9 brothers and sisters if I'm counting correctly), loud music, and chicken wings. I'm not sure if I fall into the family or friends category. Granted, I'm not blood but a few of the kiddos do insist that I am indeed their uncle, a title that I am more than happy to accept.

One of my favorite things about kids is how uninhibited they are. A more perfect example than karaoke and dancing does not exist. I do not myself attempt to bust a move because I am painfully aware that I have no moves. I can barely raise the roof correctly. Kids don't care. I don't sing solos because I know good and well that I can't sing worth a lick. Kids can sing karaoke. They aren't American Idol material but the thing is, they just don't care. Its all about having fun. Can you do a crooked cartwheel? I bet you can. Will you do a crooked cartwheel? I bet you won't. Why is that, when did this happen? When did I get old?

Speaking of old, upon arrival I immediately locked my keys in my car. Thanks to a bent hanger, the light of my digital camera, a piece of junk car window and the help of Wolfy I got my keys back. Thanks Wolfy.

Greg, I had fun at your birthday party, wish you could have been there. I'll see you on the other side buddy.