Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Friends

Howdy! (Why I keep coming up with southern US phrases in India, I cannot say.)
Today was really fun so I have a bunch of pictures to show you!

We got to hang out with some college students from the Women's Christian College (WCC). They were all psychology majors. We split into groups of two Bethelites and one WCC student. The girl in my group was named Srinity (not sure on spelling). She was great!

[me, Srinity, Shannon, Megan]

We all got coffee together at the hotel and then went out to eat together. I told her to help me pick out something that was not spicy, and she told me to try a dhal (spelling, again?) or something. It was like a thin crispy crepe filled with vegetables. Naturally, it still burned my mouth, but it wasn't as bad as some other stuff.
Some things I learned about Indians:
  • not weird for college students to wear western clothes
  • people of different religions and Hindu castes are friends in college
  • no one speaks Hindi in Tamil, that is the language of the northe (they speak Tamil)
  • Indian weddings are 3-5 days long, and there is no dance during it
  • snake charmers are not around anymore
  • love marriages (aka not arranged) are not uncommon, but arranged marriages tend to be more successful
  • dating in college is not weird, though some choose not to
  • most Indian college students have a Facebook
  • right now it is in the 70's and 80's, but it is their winter!
After lunch, we went with the WCC girls to work in a slum. Our guides were three ladies who do a lot of work in slums and start self-help groups for women.

In the slum, we met the self-help group. This group is allowed loans for a low interest and learns to build savings which they pool together for hard times. They also each have sales or sewing businesses of their own.

[the group listens to someone else intently, ignoring my call for a photo]

Since most of these women were uneducated, none of them could speak English. So the WCC girls and our guide helped translate. We all went around and asked them questions about their children's futures, what they do for fun, problems of living in the slums, how they make money, and so on. They were very excited to answer and simply for us to be there.
They even bought each of us a rose, some orange pop, and some snacks--garlic flavored nuts and a squishy sweet orange-colored thing that I'm not sure of the name.

['tis it. doesn't photograph well, I guess.]

Then we got to explore the communtity. It was fun because everyone was friendly, but also hard because conditions were very poor there.
The children were the most excited to see us and kept following us around and letting us take pictures of them. They were very cute, and it didn't make much of a difference that they only knew "hello" and "my name is" while we only knew the word for "hello" in Tamil or less (sounds like va-NA-cum).

[Sara with one of the most friendly kids there]

[Laura adores Indian children]

[standing by a type of tree that is sacred. they put red saffron dots on it, just like the dots one might get on his or her forehead after going to the temple (comparable to what Christians have on Ash Wednesday, except every time) and that is how they worship it.]

[chillin' with the gang. told you that girl was friendly.]

[these ones were far too cute for words]

We also read the children some stories. They were European fairy tales (picked out by our guide's wife) and a few things got lost in translation. For example, it took a long time to explain what lettuce was and why it was called Rapunzel in, you guessed it, Rapunzel. Also, when "Cat" in boots hunted rabbits it took a bit for the kids to figure out what those were too.
Still, they loved the stories, and we gave them the books at the end.
It was so much fun, and they were so joyful and great.

Also, I got to use my first squat toilet (don't worry, I brought Kleenex for toilet paper, it's too engrained in me as an American to ever switch!)...

[hey, better than the ground, right?]

The people in the slum were lovely, most of them were so welcoming. The women we talked to had a lot of hope for the future, especially with the new self-help group they are a part of.
And there were some animals around, millions of kitties, some chickens, and one goat!

[look at the lil' goaty-woaty smile for the camera!]

Eventually, we had to leave, even though the kids followed us all the way to the cars.

[bye bye, now]

It was a really good experience, for sure.


  1. cute! those kids are so cute haha. did they just enjoy the idea of a camera so they wanted to have their picture taken?
    and a goat? haha, do they just roam around everywhere in the town?

  2. Christie! This all looks awesome, it makes me feel better about not living with you for the next month. Now I know that you aren't wasting your time. I miss you loads! Keep up the pictures of the kids, I love it!

    P.S. A quick snippit about my life: Billy had the hiccups and peanut butter made them go away! I have never felt so superior.

  3. Wow Christie that is awesome!! I love those pictures of the kids, the little guy by the tree saluting (?) was very cute.

    It is so colorful there I can't get over it.

    The toilet was uh....lovely....uh....i guess its better than the ground....

    What is the alternative to toilet paper????

    I made Kevin mad when I read about the 'goaty-woaty smile' in my baby voice that he hates hahaha!

    I got the payment plans all set up for spring semester-you should be proud of me!!!

    You should take some pictures of your room and lodgings too!!!

    Love you :D

  4. The children are adorable! They are wearing western clothes. Is this common for children?

    The handles or anything to lean on....are you sure that wasn't a men's squatter? My curiosity wants me to ask more questions about it, but I'm not sure I want to hear the answers. :-)

    Okay, moving on....all of the smiles in these pictures are beautiful. I'm glad you're being met with kindness.

    Take care,


  5. Marina:
    Yeah, I think the kids thought the camera was fun, and that we were so foreign (plus, rich/middle class people practically never go in the slums) which made them really excited to get our attention. It was kind of a language we could all understand, since they only spoke Tamil.

    And dogs roam everywhere and some cats, but that was the only goat I ever saw. I've seen maybe 2-3 chickens.

    Thanks!!! Now that you know I am doing something worthwhile you and Ashley can't make a secret club without me !! Hahahah.

    And you ARE superior. (Sorry, Billy.)

    The alternative to toilet paper is your left hand. That's why it is rude to eat or shake hands with it here. There is always a faucet next to the toilet to wash off.

    All of the men here wear western clothes. Execept the poor ones who can't afford pants and wear make-shift skirts. Then with females, it isn't uncommon for the adults to wear western clothes, but most wear saris. Hence the colorfulness. Saris for little girls must be too expensive or something for them. Or impractical. Idk.

    Nope, all squatters are the same, I've been in a men's and a women's and a unisex. You just squat, no leaning is possible.