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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Never a dull Moment

Well, so far I just have to say “What an Adventure!”
I have experienced things in India that I didn’t expect- in his defense, Vatsa did tell me to expect the unexpected in India.  What an understatement.
Let’s see - what have I done so far?
3 day journey to arrive here
Trip to the sacred Ganges
Stayed in bed all day
Attempted to go to “Robber’s Cave” had tea with the police instead
Watched my first Bollywood movie (HouseFull)
Went to Robber’s Cave (the next day)
Took generator for repairs (was able to cash in “good karma” {read=free of charge}for my conversational skills...)
Went shopping/ for errands with Lama T
Watched “Wash Day” for all the animals and kids
Went to Mussoorie and Kempty Falls - got caught in a horrible monsoon like hail storm
Began teaching English each day - games, conversation....
Okay so now for the adventure part - Well, driving in India is always an adventure.  The first night I was here Lama Tenzin told me that India is a “honk culture, it’s a happy honk...” 
That translates to everyone honking pretty much the entire time they are driving and anywhere close to another car. A honk can mean so many things - it means keep going, keep backing up, come on out, don’t come out, stop, move over,yield, I’m faster than you, I’m slower than you, I’m looking at you, I need to get in front of you, I am passing you, you are passing me, watch out - I’m right here, hey- I want to go over there, I’m parking, I’m pulling out, I’m pulling over - If you think I am exaggerating in the least little bit let me assure you that I really am not exaggerating AT ALL. It’s hilarious and I am glad Lama Tenzin framed it for me in a positive light.  It’s amazing how well it works - 4 cars side by side on a two lane road - along with cows, dogs, tractors, donkeys, cows, bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, cows, pedestrians, push carts, tatas (big trucks), buses, vans, rickshaws, and a smaller tata vehicle which I think is called a tuktuk but I could be making that name up....
The next adventure I had was the encounter with the police - CED has a huge truck that Lama Tenzin transports all of the children in  - think about taking 20 kids somewhere - I’ll have to post a picture of this truck.
Anyway, we were heading to Robber’s Cave which is a local swimming spot.  We packed our lunch ( also think about buying lunch out at a restaurant for 20 kids - not happening my friends, not happening...) and got a loaded up in the Tata to head out on our trip.  Lama Tenzin was driving and he passed a big truck that was going pretty slowly up a big hill - at the same time, a car was coming to the end of a street ( he should have honked but he didn’t...) well, we heard a noise which sounded like the back gate bumping but it was really the other car hitting the tail end of the truck.  Lama T stopped when we got to the top of the hill and got out to check the gate, saw it was in place and we headed out, never realizing we had been hit.
Well, these 3 crazy guys that hit us started following us ( and need I say it...honking...) and had Lama T pull over.  We pulled over and the guys accused Lama Tenzin of hitting THEM and then running... mind you, with the very tail end of the truck...anyway, this became a shouting match and we headed to the local police “stand”. this is of course, when it started to rain.
The police there sent us along to the actual building to settle the argument.  We all had to get out of the truck (picture that - the American, the Lama, 20 kids of all ages all piling out in the rain...).  Well, the discussion was rather heated and I was a little intimidated by all of the arguing.  I’ve  got to say that Lama T is really good at standing his ground and not giving in - plus he had really not done anything wrong so that helped. It went on and on and on and on - Indian folks like to argue I think.  The men in the car were asking for money to fix their bumper. They all argued for such a long time - the kids had to stand outside under a little car garage.  It hailed, it poured, they argued more...
Finally the policeman in charge took away Lama Tenzin’s permit to drive and sent the three men on their way telling them to file with insurance.  
Here I am thinking that Lama T won’t be able to drive, what will we do, oh my goodness....
Once the men left the mood changed - Lama T started chatting with all of the police, made a few jokes, I was introduced and then the questions for me started - we were offered tea (good sign), and Lama T was handed his license back.  The female officer apologized for the “acting” but it seems it was necessary in order to placate the other men. After an hour or two at the police station the rain subsided, the children were loaded back up, and we were on our way - no ticket, license in hand.
What a day!

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