Posted by Emily Block | 0 comments

India! (Day 3)

   What a wonderful day!  I started things out right with waking up extra early to make sure I didn't miss breakfast.  :0)

   When I got to the bus, I was happy to see that my guide from the first day would be leading us again today!  We ended up exchanging e-mails by the end of the trip!  The bus ride was about an hour and a half through the new center of Kochi and out into the suburbs.  We arrived at the Chendamangalam Village where we would spend the day.  The village has many different types of jobs that are independent or funded by the government.  The government here gives everyone a job to ensure that poverty does not exist.  Maybe it does still exist somewhere, but I have not seen evidence of it yet.  I'm telling you, things are run well in this state!  I love it that every kid has an equal opportunity to succeed, not matter what their background is.  I can see why the communist party wins almost all the elections.  (They do have an opposing party but everyone I talk to says that it is a party who only cares about rich people so they never get elected.) 

  We were greeted with jasmine garlands and coconuts to drink when we arrived at the village.  The people putting on the program for us, as well as some prominent people from the village were introduced.  Some of those prominent people were actually kids who met every Friday to discuss important matters, study, and work to support tourism in their village.  I was very impressed at how ambitious and mature the kids were!   


  The greeting also included a drum performance and a dance and singing performance.  In between each act we got to explore the nearby area and talk to the people who lived there. 



 I took the opportunity for a pit stop and was baffled when this was it:


  It's actually easier to use than it looks though.  Luckily, I had my own toilet paper because there was none to be found there.  

   I was getting really hungry and ready for lunch by the time the welcoming was finished.  Lunch was amazing!  It was even more amazing because we got to see a demonstration of how it was cooked and received a copy of the recipe!  In the traditional manner, we were served some truly delicious food on a banana leaf and I opted to only eat with my hands this time.  I swear it makes the food taste better!  
   




   After lunch, we talked a bit more with the villagers and I was presented with the unique challenge of explaining why I used a wheelchair in very basic words.  (Hint:  Dysautonomia and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome are not basic words.)  I think I finally made sense by showing a normal heart beat with my hands and pointing to myself and showing it beating rapidly.  


   We then got a tour of the village.  I wanted to wheel myself to get some exercise, but there was nothing I could say to convince the boys that I could do it myself.  I was getting a little frustrated until I realized that it wasn't about me needing help.  It was about them wanting to help the American girl.  If I insisted on doing it myself, I suppose I would have felt more accomplished, but if I let them push me, they would get so much out of learning to push a wheelchair and being able to help someone.  After all, that's kind of what I am doing in a lot of the service visits; going to people's homes and saying "I'm going to help you now."  So I completely changed my attitude and made sure to thank them many times and give them each and origami bird as thanks at the end of the walk.  Turns out I felt accomplished after all.  :0)

  The village was absolutely beautiful.  The houses were HUGE and painted bright colors, sometimes with carved designs.  We also got to meet more of the people who lived in the village during the walk.







This is one of my wheelchair helpers outside his house. You can't see it because of the trees, but it was a big beautiful white house.  
Snake Tail Fruit

   And of course there were lots of cows!  I was determined to pet one despite the emphatic advise of some of my fellow SASers.  The cows seemed to be pretty scared of people though.  Every time someone would walk close to get a picture, the cow would run away.  But I was determined.  I found that I could get close to the cows to take pictures if I went slowly and talked calmly as I inched forward.  The ladies from the village were laughing hysterically because I was talking to the cows and thanking them for letting me take their picture in the local language.  I suppose that is a bit silly.  haha  I finally got the guts to walk up to a cow and try to pet it.  I was surprised that when I got within a few feet, it actually came towards me.  I let it sniff me and it must have approved because it liked my hand and nudged me trying to be pet.  I spend a while petting it's nose until one of the ladies from the village spotted me and said I should catch up with my group.  From then on, they kept an eye on me whenever a cow was around.  oops.  I can't bring myself to regret it though.  :0) 



   When we got back, we sat back in our seats near the wonderful, beautiful, amazing, fan and cooled off for a bit.  The lady who ran the program came up to me and said, "You look Indian."  I smiled and said I was actually Russian and Italian.  She shook her head and said, "no you ARE Indian.  Not just in how you look.  Welcome home. Welcome home."  IT was truly a beautiful moment.  :0)
  

 After saying our goodbyes (that I must say were almost tearful) we loaded back onto the bus to go to our second to last stop.  This was a fabric weaving factory.  I hate to say it, but it reminded me of the sweat shops I learned about during the American Industrial Revolution.  The room was incredibly hot, and it was full of people working very hard on monotonous tasks.  I was surprised to see how happy the workers seemed.  Of course it could have been an act for us tourists, but it could have been genuine.  The people working there were excited to show us about their craft and explain (in the local language) what they were doing.  

 

  I ventured behind the building to search for another pit stop and found a really dodgy looking bathroom.  I headed inside to go anyway but was met face to face with a spider that was probably bigger than my head.  I held in a scream and was out of there at superhuman speed.  The bathroom stop would have to wait!


  Our last stop was just down the road at the place where the woven fabrics from the factory were being sold.  I bought a bright teal piece of fabric that is usually used as a bath towel, but I'm going to try and make it into a skirt.  
  

 The bus ride home was quite long with the traffic, so I took the opportunity to take a few pictures and doze.











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