The Welcome and Houses

So we left off with the bus trip.  Not fun at all.  I DO NOT recommend taking the budget overnight buses in India if you want a peaceful night sleep.  I thought they’d be like Greyhound buses or nicer, but no.  Next time (probably winter 2011) we’ll fly from Bangalore to his hometown.  Or maybe take the train and be adventurous…..this trip we never did get to take a train.

The bus stopped and we got off into a rickshaw.  From the rickshaw to his house was not far.  When we arrived at his house it was such a relief!  And we had such a warm welcome!  Satya’s mom and another cousin welcomed us and blessed us.  We were given a small bucket to wash our feet off before entering the house.  Also, everything was beautiful-the yard had been cleaned, the house repainted, and the entryway was decorated with colorful lights and garlands.  There were rangoli patterns on the sidewalk and a big “Welcome Home” sign. 

One moment was a little tense-as a daughter-in-law I was told to put my right foot on the threshold.  Then a nail was placed between my big toe and second toe and tapped in.  After my foot was removed, a cousin finished pounding the nail in. 

We had something to eat.  I think it was banana and maybe tea.  I don’t think I ever ate so many bananas as when I was in India.  Then it was nap time! 

We woke up to the sound of voices and found out more relatives arrived.  Most of the time everybody was spoke in Kannada.  Despite my intentions, I never did learn much before I went and while there, only picked up a few more words.  Body language does go a long way, though. 

In the evening we did some visiting.  It seems that every day around 4 pm our rounds of visits would begin.  This caused some stress because in India relationships seem much closer and much more almost political.  We had to be careful of who was visited and in what order. 

I loved seeing the different houses.  From what I could see, most people were either lower middle class to wealthy.  Many, many people had new houses.  Like others have commented, the value placed on furniture seems to be different.  Furniture does not seem important and often seems to be multipurpose because it seems in India you never know how many people you will need to entertain.  In many houses, the house would be absolutely gorgeous and so were the floors.  The floors would often be of fancy stone.  The first room where the entertaining would take place was often sparsely furnished.  There would be those ubiquitous plastic chairs (the patio, stackable kind here), and often a twin bed to sit on.  Sometimes that would be it.  Some homes did have fancy furniture-rosewood couches, but that was not the norm.

Every house did seem to have a “showcase” though.  This is where important gifts are kept-everything from large idols to photographs of grandkids.  Usually the showcase is built into a wall, has 2-4 shelves, and has a sliding glass or plastic door.  Maybe in the U.S. the equilvalent would be a mantel.  Magnets have not made it over to India yet.  I did not see any refrigerators covered in magnets. 

Overall, “stuff” in India did not seem important.  Traditionally, things like gold or land are what people save up for and really care about.  This is changing a bit, but not much.

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