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.


melanie said...

Well, this answers the clothes question that I had earlier.
The bootleg game had a pic of Berenstain Bears, that's hilarious!

Michael Joseph Sharp said...

I thought I asked this before (but perhaps did not post it right):

What was the God-scene like there?

DanThoms said...

The Hindus all know who Jesus is but to them he is just another incarnation of God. There are shrines and temples to the gods everywhere. There are also a lot of mosques. I visited quite a few mosques and temples while I was there. Christians are still persecuted to a degree in India and I read about it in the paper a few times. I know there are Christians in India but there aren't many and I didn't meet any.