Camp starts tomorrow (well, tonight if you count the teacher session we are having this afternoon) so we are still in the “calm before the storm” resting up phase before the next four days – which will be go, go, go intense.
This morning was a lovely, peaceful Sunday morning – slept until 10ish, had french toast, french press, OJ, mangos, and about an hour and a half of great breakfast conversation around the table with my family for the month! So blessed to be sharing life and these experiences with such great people right now.
I thought I would use today’s post to share a few things that take getting used to here in Coastal Andhra Pradesh. We’ve been gone for almost a week now, so things are starting to fall into place and become more common.
- Sketchiness. Things in India are just plain sketchier. That’s all there is to it. The first day we were here, we sat outside of the Bapuji Complex before going shopping while Chinna, Sean and Paige’s main Indian assistant, called someone who “knows a guy” to come exchange money for us. After a few seconds of Telugu phone exchange, a dude rolls up to our car window on a bicycle. Chinna hands our $600 in American cash out the window to him, and off this dude pedals. Sketchy? It gets better. We go to the place to pick out fabric for our outfits and come downstairs where Chinna is sitting with a yellow plastic bag with two huge wads of rupees. (See below – this was after I had spent quite a bit of my wad already!)
Turns out bicycle dude was Sukamar – another fellow who works for Sean and Paige, but no one knows who this exchange dude he knows is, why he has this much money, and how he can offer an extremely better exchange rate than the banks. Sketchy? Yep.
- Election Season is in full swing here in this district. You think that political commercials and mailings are annoying in the US? You should try this. There are government checkpoints EVERYWHERE where you must stop your cars and let the police see inside every bag to ensure that there aren’t large amount of rupees with you because they are worried about people bribing votes. There are fireworks from early in the morning until late at night. One of the candidates gave a speech outside our apartment building last night. The road was closed from 4 PM to at least 8. People everywhere, no vehicles allowed down the road…and so on. Once the speech started, we heard it loud and clear via loudspeakers that were used to blare music while speeches weren’t being given. Extra power outages with no rhyme or reason have also been occuring, in addition to random parades.
- Speaking of power outages, this is a big thing to get used to. So far at least twice a day the power just goes out. Sometimes for a couple of minutes, sometimes for close to 20. No rhyme or reason, though most of the times it has gone out has been while we are trying to cook a meal. No power means no oven, no fans, no AC, no internet, no electricity, no nothing. It gets SUPER hot inside the house quite fast and there is not much that can be done. In Ongole, a little man sits inside a room and waits for the government to call him and say “shut off the power.” then waits for a call to turn it back on. Basically they do it because they can. During the week you can call in the morning and find out what the scheduled times for the power to be out that day are, but this past week it has been really spur of the moment, likely due to elections.
- The heat seems like a no brainer, but it is VERY difficult to get used to. In Kansas, temperatures over 100 suck but aren’t that big of a deal because there is always a bit of wind, often clouds, and it’s fairly dry. Plus we all have AC, ice, and things to cool us down everywhere we go. In India, the humidity is like 600%. Add that to 108, 109, 110 degree temperatures, no clouds, and no wind and you come up with an average Indian day in May. I told my brother last night that Courtney and I’s bedroom is cooler than the dining room is cooler than hell is cooler than the kitchen in the apartment is cooler than outside. And I would say that is pretty accurate. ;) We are constantly draining our 1 liter water bottles before we know it in an attempt to stay hydrated. I have been going through at least 5 a day, no joke. There are some releases – such as limited ice at the apartment for water (thank goodness I bought a double walled insulated Camelbak. It’s making a HUGE difference in keeping my water cooler at least a little longer!), AC in the bedroom, and the delicious mango smoothies Paige made with dinner the other night! :) But seriously, please be in prayer for cooler temperatures. The next four days at camp will be MISERABLE if it doesn’t cool down some.
- The squatty potty.
Ah yes, the toilet extraordinaire. This little guy resides in the bathroom in our bedroom. It’s really not as bad as one would think. See that bucket and faucet? To flush, you fill that bucket, throw it down the hole as hard as you can, and wa-la: power flush. Definitely something to get used to, but really not alllll that awful. Sean and Paige have a western toilet in their bathroom that I have used a couple of times, but overall this is what I use most! My thighs will be great by the time I get home. ;)
That’s about all I can think of for now. India is great, and once camp starts the next few weeks will fly. I’m so glad I’m getting this experience but will be glad to get home in a few weeks!