Some Favorite Pictures From India

Bananas.  I ate so many bananas!  They are the perfect snack food, like a granola bar or energy bar.  Bananas are filled with nutrients, cheap, safe to eat, and everywhere!

The top picture is of the things we needed for our simple temple wedding blessing.  It was a no-fuss ceremony.  It was nice to feel included and I’m very thankful to have had the ceremony.  We were blessed by many members of Satya’s family.  This made our fourth wedding ceremony and now we are done!

The other picture is one of the first pictures we took in India-out the window of our Bangalore hotel room.  We were looking onto a very busy street corner early in the morning.  People would stop at the temple to pray on their way to work or to school.

The solar water heater on the roof of Satya’s home.  The U.S. has a lot to learn from India in regards to energy efficiency.  Usually, this worked very well (sometimes too well!).

A view from the roof again.  This is the Tata Indica that seems to be very popular in India.  Very nice car, loaned from family friends.  We would load up to 6-8 people into this sometimes.  I liked zooming around, listening to booming Bollywood music on the cd player, and being crowded amongst family.

Monkey at Jog Falls.  Kids+Snacks=Being followed around by monkeys.  They are cute at a distance.  One of them snatched a bag of snacks from the 5 year old which was a little unsettling.  The monkey then proceeded to put the plastic bag over its head and empty all the snacks onto the ground.

Monkeys are also a fact of life in town.  Satya’s mom has had monkeys walk into the house and steal bags of peanuts from the kitchen.  Also, sometimes at night the monkeys will sleep in the trees which means they will pee in the yard in the morning.  Monkeys are also known to steal purses.

In India, nature is an integral part of life.  Every ceremony involves local plants.  Animals are respected.  The moon is important because it keeps the time of the Hindu festival calendar-every festival seems to either be on a full moon date or a new moon date.  Here in the U.S. the moon is completely ignored.

I saved the best for last…Nandi at the temple at Banavasi.  Nandi is the bull who is Shiva’s faithful companion.  Wherever there is Shiva in a temple, there will usually be Nandi looking in the direction of Shiva.  This particular Nandi is special because he is looking at both his parents, one eye towards Shiva and one towards Parvati.  Satya’s cousin told me this is to remind people that both parents are to be respected equally.  I love that message.

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The trip, Part 1

Where to begin…….First off overall the trip went really well.  I made some minor faux pas, but did not permanently wreck anything.  The trip was definitely easier on me than on Satya.  I think he just had too much to worry about and feel-returning home after nearly 10 years and worrying about whether I was having a great time and realizing how much India has changed. 

We left from NY and were nervous about missing the plane which made for tense train rides.  Once we got to the airport we relaxed.  Flew to Germany.  First plane was very nice-very cushy and modern. We landed in Germany late at night for our 8 hour layover.  Discovering that  water was $8/bottle was not fun.  The Frankfort airport was not very clean and we never did discover where the showers were.  Got on to the plane and discovered this one didn’t have all the amenities of the first plane-no personal video screen and stuff like that.  We also made another mistake-we ordered the “special meal”.  We felt pretty special to receive our food first, but then discovered that we somehow got on the vegan meal list instead of the regular vegetarian one.  We noticed others had some very tasty meals beside us. 

Landed in Bangalore.  The new Bangalore airport is very nice and extremely modern and clean.  Some people complain that it doesn’t reflect India at all, which could be true.  The bathroom was very clean-when one person leaves the stall the attendant briefly cleans the stall before you enter.  We were funneled through a place where a guy was sitting near a camera.  I guess the camera was a thermal one aimed at people’s foreheads to see if they were feverish.  Did not see anybody get stopped. 

We found Satya’s dad and cousin and the taxi and drove off.  It was about 3 am Bangalore time.  Then we entered the hotel Satya’s dad picked.  Satya’s dad calls it an “old-timer’s no-star hotel”.  What does that mean?  There was a toilet, but no shower just buckets.  No towels.  Flimsy sheets.  Hotel workers were sleeping in the hallways.  The hotel had a convenient location-right beside the bus stand where we’d catch the bus going north later that night.  Unfortunately, the hotel was insanely loud. The hotel was located at a corner and right below our window was the roof of a Ganesha temple.  Even at 4 and 5 am it was loud and at 6 am rush hour seemed to start up.  I don’t think either of us slept. 

Around 8 am we decided to give up sleeping.  We met Satya’s dad and cousin and then walked a few blocks to have idlis, rasam and tea for breakfast at a small restaurant.  Then we did more walking around Bangalore.  Bangalore seemed extremely noisy and busy but not in a very antagonistic way.  It seemed gentler than New York City, for example.  Satya noticed a lot of changes.  10 years ago there were more trees, less cars, less people.

We went to the government store.  The building seemed to sell almost everything from shoes to wooden statues to sports equipment.  We didn’t buy anything though.  Next was the Sapna Bookstore.  This had multiple floors and many books, dvds, and cds.  Next were the government buildings.  We took the rickshaw which was an adventure.  Rickshaws in Bangalore are definitely not for the faint of heart!  Only use rickshaws on short trips…….at the end of the trip we were in a rickshaw from one end of Bangalore to the other.  That experience will not be repeated! 

As others have said, horns are used for everything-when turning, when at an intersection, etc.  Later on in the trip we kept seeing big orange dump trucks filled with manganese.  On the back, the trucks said something like “Honk please”.  Horns seem to be crucial for safe driving. 

After looking at the outside of the government buildings and going to the park, we met up with another cousin and his family.  He had rented a minivan.  Minivan is a much more comfortable way of traveling than rickshaw!  We went to lunch inside a hotel.  One cultural difference was soon apparent-kids can run everywhere in India!  His cousin had a daughter who was about 3 but she would go to other tables and talk to other families and then go to the entrance of the hotel. When she strayed too far, she’d be called or brought back, but she was never forced to stay put or told “Don’t talk to strangers”. 

After doing some shopping and stopping at their house it was time to rush back to the hotel to catch the bus.  We just barely caught the bus.

Bus travel is not for the faint of heart either.  We did not travel on the new, fancy buses, but on the older ones-not too clean, no ac, no bathroom onboard (although that was probably a good thing).  After just managing to catch the bus, we settled in.  The trip would take about 10 hours and there would only be one bathroom stop.  The bathroom stop was at a small roadside restaurant (Indian equilvalent of a diner maybe).  Sleep did not come easy on the bus either.  The road was extremely bumpy (Satya explained that it was because in some places the road gets wiped out each year because of the monsoons), very noisy because of the horns, and there was lots of construction.

I’ll leave off here for now…..

No Leh, Jose

Kannada seems to place a lot of emphasis on respect.  There are many ways to show respect and many ways to take it away.

Recently, Satya was communicating via Instant Messenger with one of his younger cousins.  This cousin is 7 or 8 years younger and has a reputation for being mischievous (one time he destroyed a project Satya had taken all day to create).  This younger cousin wrote “leh” (pronounced roughly “lay”) which immediately annoyed Satya. 

“Leh” or “le” translates roughly to “buddy” or “guy”.  It can be used when speaking to close friends or to people below you-not to elders.  Satya also says that in Bangalore, in Southern Karnataka, men sometimes use it to refer to their wives and wives can use it with their husbands, if they are nontraditional.  (I’m not too sure about this as he’s from Northern Karnataka and hasn’t been back in nearly 8 years). 

As I learn more I will be writing more posts about Kannada. 

If I get anything wrong, please write a comment below! 

What are other subtle ways to give respect and take it away in Kannada?