So I don’t have access to wifi and getting an aircard is quite difficult when I’m gone from 7 am to midnight. So, bear with me because this is from my iPad and it was 4 am when I typed this. And this is from several days ago. So, just, I’m sorry.
On Thursday we woke up after our first official night in India which involved 3 hours of official sleep. Thank you body for refusing to sleep even though you were up for about 42 out of 48 hours. You’re awesome as usual. Anyway, Yajira and I decided to cruise around Trivandrum since we were up so early and breakfast wasn’t until 9.
We found the library which had a fantastic tree.
And an entire street where they were selling books. It was heaven. It’s too bad I can’t be lugging them around for the next month, otherwise I would have bought several.
Afterwards we had an “American breakfast” provided by the hotel. I had a bowl of cornflakes drenched in hot milk. That was a bit of a surprise. I was not at all prepared for that. After breakfast, we loaded up to make the three hour drive to Kollum to begin our official program.
When we arrived in Kollum, we were greeted by a large representation from the local Rotary clubs. We enjoyed some hot coffee which I quickly learned is meant to be consumed while it is extremely hot and in about two sips. I was quickly discouraged from my blowing and sipping. But seriously, that stuff was scalding. Guess I’m going to need to man up about that because I’ve since learned that this is the official way of doing things.
Post-coffee, we were immediately swept away to our hotel families. In all honesty, I had a little bit of a panic attack. It just happened so fast and I didn’t get to talk to anyone in my group or even figure out what was going on for that night’s Rotary meeting. As we manically zipped through the city, I really struggled to pull myself together. I guess I didn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the fact that I would be completely alone with strangers, in a foreign city, and with no way to contact my team.
Thankfully, once I arrived, my family was so nice that I immediately forgot my worries. The hospitality in India is nothing like I’ve ever experienced. I mean people are super nice in Texas and extremely friendly, but these people really put everyone to shame. I enjoyed a few short hours getting to know my new family and familiarizing myself with my home for the next five days.
After some more coffee, we all got dressed and headed to the Rotary meeting. This was our first one, so I had no idea what to expect. The cultural norms for how people act in meetings is significantly different here and was extremely interesting to observe. It was also extremely hot since we were in an open air building with no fans. The jackets didn’t help, but the flowers around our necks were beautiful and very cold from being in a freezer. Thank God for the frozen flowers.
The Rotarians also provided us with a meal and a lot of alcohol. I was prepared to not drink the entire time I was here, so this has been pretty surprising. At every meal and event they have served us very generous portions of liquor (I managed to choke down about two shots of Scotch because of one overly generous gentleman) and large beers (of which I have no complaints). I don’t know if this is normal in private meetings like this or if it’s because they think that we have the social expectation of alcohol. But, we smiled and drank every time they presented us with something (since saying no is not an option and attempts at declining are largely ignored).
From the left, Vanessa (works in marketing and lives in the Valley), Janine (a photographer from the Valley), and Yajaira again.
We have had a really spectacular time so far. We have been spoiled rotten. I will probably gain about 15 pounds over the next month because we eat all day long. Enormous breakfasts, lunches that last for hours, all afternoon snacking, and a massive dinner. I haven’t been sick yet thankfully, but we have been consuming dinner around 10 pm which gives me some spectacular night time heartburn.
I’ve also completely given up on trying to avoid eating certain things. I had planned on not eating meat, fish, or dairy. But, I don’t know how to avoid these things without looking like a jerk and most of the time they serve us. Like Downton Abbey style. I sit and servers come around with endless platters of food. There is also no way to politely decline because our Indian hosts are so excited to share their food and culture with us. So, I’m just throwing in the towel there and hoping for the best.
I have also been sleeping and living without air conditioning. Yes, me. I’m even still alive. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t rough. The weather is pretty spot on for Corpus Christi in the springtime in terms of temperature and humidity. The only problem is, I avoid this weather by hiding in the AC or a pool. Now, there is not hiding. I’ve taken up showering in the morning, in the evening before our Rotary meetings, and before bed. I feel bad about wasting so much water, but it’s the only way I don’t feel like I’m disgusting and covered in sweaty slime. Between the warmth and the time zone change, sleeping hasn’t really been happening, but I do have a fan and that makes me incredibly happy.
Anyway, I am loving my trip and having a wonderful time. I’m sorry I haven’t responded to comments, but until I get access to wifi or an aircard, then I’m on a pretty strict MB budget. This is also why the pictures are super compressed and highly crappy. You’re welcome.