Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Team India

The beginning of the blog post is from the first two weeks in July.

On Monday afternoon we rested, the all day trip to Mysore left us very tired. On Tuesday we decided it would be nice to make cookies for our host family. We decided to make chocolate peanut butter no bake cookies. As we began making the cookies we realized there wasn’t enough sugar on the shelf for the cookies. Our host mother, Rita gave us a bag of what appeared to be very large sugar crystals. Katie stirred it into the pan with the other ingredients. After several minutes of stirring the cookies weren’t turning into the delectable consistency Katie had made before, instead the sugar crystals were retaining the chocolate liquid and turning rock hard. Katie chose to taste the delicious concoction and ended up with a mouthful of rock salt. Katie grabbed the bag of “sugar” and saw in tiny letters on the label on the back of the bag it said “salt.” We remade the cookies with real sugar and they were quite tasty. On Wednesday we went to Mahatma Ghandi Road (There is one in each city in India) to buy sandals to wear with our Saris. On Thursday we hung out with Aneesha, a teacher in the prevocational class at Asha Kiran. She helped us drape our first Saris (quite complicated!). In the evening the accountant at the school, Subatra, came over and did henna on our left hands. On Friday we went to our first Indian Wedding. It was a Christian service and did not last three days like typical Hindu weddings. The service was similar to Christian weddings in the States. Several hundred people attended the wedding and about 2,000 attended the reception. There was so much food at the wedding! The non-veg line was endless. We decided to join the vegetarian queue, where there wasn’t a long line. A few differences between receptions in the States and in India—There isn’t any dancing. There was a live band which sung several American and Christian songs. The couple greets an endless line of well-wishers on an elaborately decorated stage, with a sign above them that said “Shirley weds Charles.” Our host family said they greeted guests for six hours at their wedding. Wedding cake is eaten by the family of the married couple, not by their guests.

Indian Culture: We have learned a lot about the Indian culture this summer. The following are our findings. We have been pleasantly surprised with the hospitality we have received here. Multiple teachers have asked us to tea and dinner in their homes. We have met several of the locals wherever we go, they are always so welcoming and interested in where we are from and what we are doing in Bangalore. Everyone always asks how we like the spicy Indian food and are pleased to see us wearing Saris and Indian clothes. We can see the delight in the locals as we adopt Indian dress, culture, and customs like making Indian chai tea and the Indian head wobble. Every Sunday at church women comment on our ability to walk in Saris, they are surprised to see white women walking gracefully in them. People aren’t as verbal, or direct in conversation as those in the States. When we have communicated in a direct manner some people are a bit taken aback. Additionally, a month ago we realized how much Americans are afraid of awkward silences in conversations, perhaps it goes hand –in-hand with our chattiness. When our host family has guests over there are always awkward silences intermixed in conversations and a conversation ends after about a minute of silence. Americans are constantly aware of preventing such silences, we have an array of conversation topics in mind and always leave a conversation before an awkward silence occurs. Here awkward silences aren’t “awkward” Indians don’t worry about awkwardness. Life is slower paced and more relaxing here. Afternoon naps are common. Our host family was shocked at the typical work weeks of the careers we are pursuing (business and law). Teachers at Asha Kiran work 25 hours a week. We found that Americans’ emphasize building a career more. Note: we observe this as University students that are constantly confronted with thoughts and questions of what are major will be, what internships to apply for, and assessing future careers. In India there is a stronger emphasis on family (womens’ role as homemaker). Community is valued, there is a small shop down the road from our house, we have the option of paying whenever we shop there, or putting it on the tab of our host family. There is a share the wealth mentality. In the house we live in there is a person who cleans, ironing is sent out, person who waters the potted plants, and a person who cooks. This mentality implies employing friends to do the work they don’t enjoy. Most Americans value independence and self sufficiency. Here instead of having to do everything yourself, they glorify the individual talents of people and try to make use of those talents to benefit all.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers this summer. We have enjoyed our time in India and are looking forward to going home in ten days.
Much love,

Katie and Sarah

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