Thursday, September 11, 2008

India through Alaskan Eyes

The Taj MahalMy parents live in Bangalore, India where they're working as missionaries for three years and in the 14 months they've been there they've traveled to Nepal, Dehli, Mombai, Chennai, Vizak, Hyderabad, Goa, Sri Lanka, Coimbature, Rajahmundry and dozens of other places in between--they're hardly ever in one city for more than a few days.

We talk regularly and exchange letters and they're always sending me pictures of the amazing things they see.

Last week Dad sent me 59 pictures which I've whittled down to fifteen before presenting them to you along with descriptions in his own words (and one or two editorial comments of my own sneaked in here and there in brackets). So say hello to my Dad . . .

***

1. Snake Charmers. Yes there really are snake charmers in India. I hear they defang these cobras for safety purposes. I have no interest in getting close enough to a cobra to check if they still have fangs are not. Just like a gun, all cobras should be treated like they are loaded.


2. Power Wires. We have a lot of power outages and brown outs [I can only assume that's the Indian version of a "black out"?] Sometimes the power will go out over a couple of dozen times in a day. Maybe this picture explains some of the problem.

Power Wires in India
3. Waiting Hospitals and Funeral Pyres. This is one of the more amazing sights I have seen. Along the banks of this sacred river in Kathmandu (the same thing happens in India) there is a “waiting hospital" where dying persons are brought by their relatives or friends to die. As they expire their bodies are prepared and placed on these concrete altars built out on the river. A wooden pyre is built, the wrapped bodies are placed on the pyre and lit. It doesn't take long to consume everything--these men know what they are doing--and the ashes are swept into the river before the next body is brought out. This goes on all day.

Funeral Pyres in India
4. Holy Men. This is a Hindu Holy Man. However, if you try to take his picture he has a high opinion of what it will cost you to take that picture. He seems to have no other means of support.

Indian Holy Man
5. Indian School Children.
I love taking pictures of Indian children, particularly in their school uniforms. They are gorgeous.

School Children in India
Even the Muslim girls wanted to get in the act. All but one even dropped their veils. I wonder what their fathers would have thought? After the photo the remaining holdout finally dropped her veil too after some peer pressure from the others.

Muslim School Girls in India
6. Men Hanging by Their Skin. Some young Hindu men show their religious devotion by piercing their skin with steel hooks and then allowing themselves to be suspended in the air. They are then put in a parade and displayed. This photos was taken in Colombo, Sri Lanka but the young men are Tamils from Tamil Nadu in Southern India. This type of thing, along with walking on hot coals and piercing cheeks with long steel pins, is common.

Man Hanging from Hooks in His Skin in India
7. The Homeless. Many people in India live on the streets or in makeshift shelters composed of scrape material they have scavenged. Particularly popular is the omnipresent “blue tarps” so popular in Alaska. This man had simply gone to sleep on this concrete wall. Sleeping on concrete or hard surfaces is common in India--most Indian beds are about as hard as concrete anyway. [Notice how he slipped off his flip flops before lying down?]

Homeless Man in India
8. Carrying Loads on Your Head
. Seeing something carried on the head happens frequently and you see many more women carrying loads on their heads than men. It is remarkable what they can carry and for such long distances. I have seen loads that obviously weighed more than the woman who was carrying them and I haven't been able to figure out how she got the load up there in the first place. In the countryside the women are often carrying sticks and branches for cooking fires which are often longer than they are tall and obviously weigh more.

Man Carrying Load on His Head in India
9. Beautiful Faces. The young women of India are generally very beautiful. I have never been anywhere where there so many pretty young women and the young men are equally handsome. You see marvelous, wonderful “National Geographic” faces wherever you go. This woman was reported to be over 100 years old. [I think she's beautiful too--like someone's favorite grandmother].

Beautiful Centenarian in India
10. Street Sweepers. Six days a week from 6:00 am until about 11:00 am there is an army of women street sweepers on the streets of most large Indian cities, often in horrific traffic. They all use these brooms that require them to bend over in a terribly awkward and tiring position. They make 100 rupees a day or about $2.50 and they are always working--you never see them resting.

Woman Sweeping Street in India
11. Monkeys Everywhere. The only thing I hate more than monkeys are snakes and monkeys are everywhere in India. They are nasty, dirty, aggressive and will bite you if given any chance to do so which can be bad as they carry disease. We had a senior woman missionary who had a monkey take her keys out of her purse while she was walking on the streets of Bangalore. [Sounds like she's lucky he didn't nip her ear off].

Monkeys in Bangalore, India
12. Green Coconut Snacks. Green coconuts are very popular, these street vendors are everywhere and a green coconut costs about 12 rupees. The vendor cuts off the top and sticks a straw into the coconut and hands it to you. Because the coconut is green, the milk is clear. I'm not sure why they are so popular--it's an acquired taste.

Green Coconuts in India
13. Bollywood Movies. Bollywood and its influence are everywhere. Movies are immensely popular and billboards are ubiquitous. This is a shot from a Bollywood movie being filmed on location in Hyderabad.

Bollywood Movie on Location in Hyderabad, India
14. Elephants for Riding. Elephants are common in India, both domesticated and in the wild--no one should come to India without riding one. Of course if you are going to offer rides on an elephant you'll need to set up an Elephant Booking Office.

Elephant Booking Office in India
15. Amazing Motorcycles. On motorcycles the women often sit sidesaddle on the back and once I saw a mother with twin babies, about six months old, in each arm. She was not hanging onto anything and the babies were fast asleep. It is quite common to see the children asleep on the cycles with their parents. Once I saw a motorcycle with three live goats balanced on it and on two occasions I've seen full length mirrors being transported this way.

A Indian Family on a Motorcycle
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83 comments:

Robin said...

They sell those green coconuts in Thailand too. I love them - so cool and refreshing on a hot day.

Michemily said...

What a cool post! I've heard "brown out" many times in my life growing up in Utah. It's just a dimming of the lights instead of a "black out," which is where they go completely out.

JanMary said...

Fascinating photos and insight.

Thanks

Do your parents have a blog?

A New Aunt... said...

This is just great! I really enjoyed this post and think its great that your dad had decriptions of each picture. You should post the rest of them over a period of time! Always a good thing to learn about another culture.

Its funny that you showed a picture of Bollywood. Not even 5 mins after I read your post, I came across this at another site I check daily *kirtsy*

http://bollywood-actress.info/

I never even heard of Bollywood before! LOL

calicobebop said...

Wow! The powerlines and stuff on the head are incredible! Your parents must really be soaking up the culture! I'm glad to see it from their point of view!

MoziEsmé said...

I LOVE all those photos! I was born in Bangladesh - my parents worked in India and Bangladesh for quite a few years - and this reminds me of that whole different world!

Flea said...

Wow. Wow. And Michemily's right about the brown outs. We grew up with those. But I don't remember that kind of wire action going on in Louisiana. :) Thanks for keeping us in the loop with your dad's photos and comments. Way cool.

Kasey Shoppping4Groceries.blogspot.com said...

Thanks for sharing the pictures. I'd love to see the others too. My parents took a mission trip to India last year. There were with a Bible college there.

India is an interesting place.

Katherine said...

Fascinating look at another place. I would love to see more pictures at another time.

But, ewww on hanging by your skin. makes my skin creep.

Lizzybee said...

Wow, this is very interesting, thanks for sharing!

Marie N. said...

Michelle! Thank you for this delightful post. I got no further than the snake charmer photo when I called my daughter over to get a glimpse of the other side of the world. We both agreed this was infinitely more fun than math class this morning. I think it was a fascinating cultural experience for her.

Mina Jade said...

They live in a wonderful place. India is a great country and Indian people are nice. I love the photos and would be eager to know more about this country.

patty w said...

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing those pics! Amazing...it's always so interesting to see how/where others live and how things are done and what is special to them!

Rani said...

I just got through telling my son how dangerous motorcycles are and then he sees this over my shoulder...wow. Amazing insight. I always wanted to be a missionary, ever since I started Sunday School...

Jolanthe said...

I had never heard of Bollywood movies until just recently...and I actually watched one loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. Pretty fun(ny). :)

Jolanthe

ugich konitari said...

It was very enjoyable for me, a native of Mumbai, to see what folks find interesting here. We all think Bangalore is a great place .

Incidentally, the photo of the motorcycle that you have, with a family of three, is not the ultimate. Currently, in Mumbai, you often see 5 of a family on a motorcycle, with a bunch of them nicely packed in between the parents, someone on the lap,....etc etc :-) like this

my greetings to your parents....

Pencil Writer said...

WOW! What a fun and informative view into India and its culture. Lovely pictures. Tell you Dad, "Thanks" for sharing!

Heather said...

The woman in #9 is absolutely beautiful.

Edi said...

I enjoyed the photos and commentary...

Robin M. said...

Thank you so much for sharing... I find it so interesting and educational to see the different culture.

Summer said...

Very cool post. I love learning about other cultures. I hope to be able to do some traveling when I'm older.

Maddy said...

Thanks for the excursion.
Cheers

Wild Squirrel said...

I loved reading this post and seeing the photos! Thanks for bringing it back to the States. :)

Lis Garrett said...

Amazing, amazing photos!

I will definitely have to show the snake charmer picture to Jacob - he is fascinated by cobras.

Mandy said...

Wow. All the pictures are quite fascinating.

The Source said...

What wonderful photos! The people really are beautiful and their way of life so interesting. I have always wondered how long one has to practice in order to be able to carry things on their head. I can't balance a wet towel on mine!

Blog O' Beth said...

I love India. I've never been there but I've met very few Indians I didn't like. Every story I've ever heard about visiting India seems amazing to me. Your parents have just solidified that. Wow - thank you so much for sharing.

Erin said...

I second what everyone has said. My grandma lived in India for years, and she told us stories of having to put each leg of her bed in a shallow can of kerosene, because otherwise she would wake up with all sorts of bugs all over her. I loved these pictures!

Sarah said...

incredible pictures. I especially like the 100 year old woman.

Thanks so much for sharing them.

Mercy's Maid said...

Who knew monkeys could be so mean? :)

Love the pictures.

Janet said...

These pictures are incredible. I loved the little old woman. I think she's beautiful too.

madamspud169 said...

The photo of the motorbike with the woman sitting sideways and the child asleep scares me senseless. I know the women sit like that for modesty reasons (or maybe to keep their female "protection" in place?) but still it is so obviously dangerous.

Also did anyone else notice that only the man was wearing protective clothing like a helmet?
Why not the kids?
Why not the wife?

Are they not worth the cost of a helmet?

This doesn't just happen in India though I saw it all the time in Morocco too and yet again it was only the men drivers that had helmets.

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

wow - amazing - a lot like China!

Amber said...

OK, I'm kind of freaking out about some of those. Talk about CULTURE SHOCK. But so utterly fascinating and it's about time you talked about their adventures in India!!!

Kristen M. said...

I really enjoyed this post. When I was in high school I spent a summer in Nepal and saw many of the same sights - the funeral pyres along the river, snake charmers, monkeys everywhere and I even took an elephant ride. These pictures bring back good memories. Maybe my time there explains my weird fascination of cheesy Bollywood movies. Thanks for sharing.

Amy said...

Those pictures are just amazing and I loved hearing all about India- what a beautiful culture!

Jolene said...

I'm so glad you shared these. I echo the requests for the rest of the pictures to be shared over time. It is fascinating. I had to skip over the hanging by the skin guy. My parents are in Cyprus serving a two year mission and surprisingly, there are not a lot of Greeks or Cypriots there, they are mostly working with Indians, Chinese and Thai students.
Will you go and visit your parents before they return home?

forgetfulone said...

Wow! I'm not sure which one is the most amazing. I love the monkeys, and there is so much I didn't know about such as Funeral Pyres and so many of the other things. Quite interesting.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I enjoyed your interview with 5 minutes for mom.

Barb said...

Thank you. That was really interesting.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

It's fascinating to see how people in other parts of the world live. We are very fortunate here in America.

fairytalesandmargaritas said...

So very interesting. Sad in some ways. Those wires are just crazy! And the driver of the motorcyle with a helmet, but a child in front of him too? Fascintating.

Shalee said...

That was awesome! Thanks to Michelle's dad for sharing that world with us!

Those power lines just scare me... almost as much as the snakes and monkeys.

Oh to age as beautifully as that woman. She was absolutely gorgeous.

Abby said...

Wow how fascinating what an experience!

planetnomad said...

LOVE this post! Brown outs is when the electricity starts to go out. The lights dim dramatically, and then sometimes die, sometimes come back. It's REALLY hard on your appliances, worse than black outs. Electronics don't last long in such environments.

I love the photo of that woman's face! And the motorcycle pic cracked me up--we see that here in Morocco a lot too.

Now I want to go to India too! What about some curry recipes now?

Emily ~ Little Window Shoppe said...

I can only imagine what an experience they must be having on their mission. I hope I am doing something like this with my husband in the future. These pictures are great.

Grafxgurl said...

:D im from India , now staying in Nashville! My husband is American and its been hilarious trying to explain various imageries and visuals to him!!!

saratogajean said...

Awesome pictures! I especially enjoyed the motorcycle picture. I can only imagine what one would look like loaded with 3 goats (live or dead).

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

What beautiful photographs...thank you for sharing these with us.

I read somewhere that in cultures where the women carry heavy weights on their heads, there is a lot of damage done to their neck and spine. Somehow, I had this foolish idea that because they had been doing it for generations, somehow they know how to do it without hurting themselves. Apparently not.

girlymama said...

LOVE IT!
My in-laws are missionaries in India and we went to visit last year. It was AMAZING!!!! (so lots of those looked very familiar!) My favorite was the baby asleep on the motorcycle. I almost DIED when I saw that in India. I was nervous just having my kids out of car seats!

MommyTime said...

These are fabulous and fascinating. The last one is mind-boggling, and really goes to show the different sense of what is "appropriate" from one culture to the next. Thanks so much for sharing these and the great details to go with them! I love coming here because I feel like I always learn something new.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing your parent's adventure. I love this sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing these with us. Your dad is a very good photographer, and I suspect he's also a very friendly person. The way people posed for him gives that away!
- Debra

Jennifer said...

Unbelievable!

thepipers said...

I was particularly interested in this post--I have some dear friends who relocated to Bangalore about the same time your parents did. I'm going to send this post to my friend right now. She's started a blog and often talks about the differences she encounters living in India with three small children. Perhaps my friends should meet your parents!

SarahHub said...

Oh, I'd love to travel to India some day!

Kelly said...

Such beautiful photos. The telephones wires amaze me.

Mel, A Dramatic Mommy said...

What great pictures! Many of the places they've visited are on my "someday" list.

The Motherboard said...

I loved these photos! My uncle used to be the area president over that area, and my neighbor was one of the missionaries that opened up India...

Someday I WILL go there...

Leslie said...

Those pictures and descriptions are wonderful! Thank you for sharing them!

Anjali said...

Oh thank you for this lovely trip down memory lane. I've been to India many times, but not for many years. I can't wait to go back!

Enzie at World Market Portraits said...

India is such an exotic place that I hope to be able to visit one day. Just thinking of the multitude of vivid colors of the Saris send me off day dreaming.

Wonderful post Michelle!

Jthemilker said...

I really enjoyed this post. In my profession I work with a good many indian physicians and often find myself corresponding with this part of the world... Isn't it interesting that in the photo of the motorcycle, the man has a helmet but not the wife or child????

melody is slurping life said...

Thank your Dad (and you) for sharing these photos of a place I will most likely never see. My favorite is #9...the lady over 100 years old. She is beautiful.

Tell Dad that he did good.

Monkey's Momma said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing.

KelliGirl said...

Thank you for these amazing pictures and your dad's comments! I have a friend going to India in a few weeks, so it's cool to be able to see the kinds of things she might.

tjhirst said...

This is one of your most informative and interesting posts. I learned so much. The waiting hospitals were the most unique cultural standout for me. I wonder what it would be like to spend your last moments of life in such a place.

One Mom said...

Your Dad has a great eye. My stepdaughter was in India this summer and blogged about it at http://aimeewheels.blogspot.com/2008_07_01_archive.html. She will love your post!

The bombings in Bangalore really terrified her - she almost came home. Were your parents there at that time?

Tara said...

Wonderful pictures! I went to Nepal as a teenager (Teen Missions Int'l) and I saw the funeral pyre and the ashes being swept into the river... amazing. It was before digital camera time so I barely have any decent pictures of my time there!

perilloparodies said...

I love stuff like this and i appreciate your parent's dedication to missions. may God continue to protect them, use them greatly, and minister to them in His marvelous ways... Blessings to you. please DO continue to share more when possible. Have a great day!!

Geekwif said...

Wow. What a fascinating place! It's amazing how sterile our western world looks when compared to this.

I love that picture of the 100-year-old woman. You're right. She is beautiful.

Heather said...

So very interesting! I can only hope I look half as good as the lady in #9 when I'm over 100. :o)
Thanks to you and your parents for sharing!

SabineM said...

Lovely! Having been to India a few times, I can relate to all of those photos! The moped ones with family of fours are soo common! Yikes!
The Holy man photo is fabulous! They are always so interesting!

AS if HOMELESS, that is an understatement. We have NOT seen poverty and homelessness here in the US, like they have in India!
India used to have to classes, the super RICH and the super poor. LUCKILY, there is now a bit of a middle class (thanks to all the call centers and International companies that have moved there)....but the poverty is still HUGE over there...a really sad aspect of India! But what beautiful people!
NICE post!

Laurie said...

Bravo! Once again, this post is one of your best yet! I am happy your parents are joining the great adventure of helping get the Gospel to other cultures. It's a job that has infinite rewards.

Ashley said...

When we went to Jamaica, they gave us a green coconut as well. Not only was it supposed to be "refreshing," but they believe when the pulp from a green coconut is mixed with a little rum (160 proof), it's supposed to make you more fertile. My husband liked the rum and the pulp about the same (not at all), but all of the other men on the outing did it, so.... lol. (They even offered a hut to one newly married couple after drinking the concoction!! lol)

luckyzmom said...

Incredible. Thanks for sharing your Dad's photos with us.

Lisa said...

Those are amazing! I cannot believe the power lines!

Alice Wills Gold said...

76 comments!!! And, you weren't even giving anything away???

Good luck on responding to all of these...I don't know how you get anything done at home.

O.k. my very fav was the motorcycle carrying a family.

With the gas gauge we are experiencing right now, I think we need to get one.

Tell your dad thanks for the photos, I feel like I actually visited India.

You also need to tell your dad that with all those photos, I believe he's got the blogging blood. :)

Organizing Mommy said...

these are amazing. Did you hear about the problems in Orissa? When do you ever get to see your parents? That is nice that they are serving the Lord there. Can you go and visit ever?

Anonymous said...

I am from India and not sure where the last photograph was taken but very few Indian cities have laws for helmets to be used by the pillion rider - the helmet is compulsory only for the driver of the motorcyle in most Indian cities - there are a few exceptions like Delhi where it is compulsory for both the persons.

As far as sitting the way she is, with both legs on both sides, that is probably due to the sari she is wearing - it is very difficult to sit with legs on two sides while wearing a sari (imagine riding on a motorcycle while wearing a long ankle length skirt).

As far as the child in the front in concerned, even I am seeing that for the first time in my entire life - I too am finding it very scary!!

Jane Hamilton said...

Hey there!
It's so wonderful to see my country featured on your blog. I've been away for a while, and it was a nice surprise to see India on Scribbit!
Those pictures are wonderful, and to get an American's insight into it, interesting! say Hi to your Dad for me... I used to work in COimbatore. too bad we didn't meet...

Scribbit said...

Lovely to meet you Jane--they really love it there and enjoy all the interesting things they see. Andrew and I are hoping to get a chance to visit them in the next year and see a bit of their lives there. Especially Goa. I'd REALLY like to see Goa :)

Ashley said...

My Brother-in-law just returned home from the Bangalore mission in May. He loved it! I bet they knew each other as it is hard for the U.S. to get visa'a to stay over there. Very cool! He has the most amazing stories!

iamyuva said...

be indian..i lived in india for 22yrs and traveled around the country. i can safely say-- mostly i cannot relative to the india you are talking about. and i can also say atleast few hundred millions of them would agree with me..