India

If I believed in past lives, I bet one of mine was that of an Indian.  I feel really comfortable in India.  That said, my Indian experience is a really sheltered one.  Especially with the new Indira Gandhi International Airport you would never think you’re in India!!

Then you walk by McDonalds and see a veg tikka burger!!  Only in India, will you find a vegetarian burger at a McDonalds 🙂  Great for me!!  ‘Cept I don’t make a stop at McDonalds.  Hell no, in India I’m going to get my fill on the different rotis and curries.  I actually didn’t feel I did enough of that.  I’m still craving for aloo paranthas.  Anyone who knows where I can get good ones in Singapore?

I was warned about the Dehli Belly but I’m happy to report there was none of that with me 🙂  I think it’s because we didn’t stay long in Delhi.  My husband, on the other hand, probably did :p  He was ok in Delhi but by the time we got to Chandigarh, his tummy wasn’t too happy that it was in India.

It took him all of about 24hours to get over the bug.  All in all just enough time to enjoy the rest of the break in India.  Though the days were warm, the nights were pleasantly cool.  I truly feel rested and recharged but the next time I come back to India, I want it to be the October/November time.

Till then, dhanyavad India!!!

India Retrospective: Part 7 – Rural India

Rural India is truly incredible India.  Once I left the city area, the rural area of India is no different from rural Europe, North America or even Australia.  It didn’t feel like I was in a country with over a billion people and where quite surprisingly, I felt incredibly comfortable.

Sure, electricity has a mind of it’s own … ok, the electrical company is the one at fault for this and I can’t run to a store to get something but there’s something about the simplicity in rural India that was quietly refreshing.  The lack of an insane rush to acquire a designer chair or matching cushion covers made me take a step back in my own rush to acquire in life.  Don’t get me wrong, once I get my own place, I’m pretty sure I want it to reflect who my husband and I are.  Post India though, I’m reminded about what makes a home, sharing a space with love and laughter and a place you want to go to at the end of the day … even if I didn’t have the quirky cushion covers or that floor to ceiling bookshelf I want, I can choose to keep it all simple and still have a happy home.

That said though, I don’t understand Hindi and was only in India for 2 months so I can’t say I truly know how the average Indian in rural India lives, thinks, wants or desires.  Maybe God meant that keep-it-simple takeaway just for me … and that’s what I think my true lesson from India is – there’s much more in this universe that I don’t even know about, let alone understand.  Mine isn’t to fight relentlessly but to keep learning.  In India, a prayer that is core to my family rang even more true and now, post India, I can say I’m slowly beginning to appreciate the essence of it so much more.

Lord grant me
the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change,
the STRENGTH to change the thing I can and
the WISDOM to know the difference.

India Restropective: Part 6 – Development

By now, most of my friends have heard how the ride from Chandigarh to Nawan Nagar was probably the worst car ride I’ve ever been in. Seriously to take nearly two hours to clear about 38km is quite painful and when the roads are as bumpy as the ones in India, it is that much more difficult. Strangely though, by the time I left and was on my last ride out of Nawan Nagar to the Chandigarh airport, I was actually use to it and was even able to enjoy the sights and sounds for the last time 🙂 That said though, if I ever lived there, it would be my life mission to fix that road.

It’s suffice to say, road infrastructure is pretty dismal in India and so it’s understandable when truck drivers, who use the roads all the time, dress their trucks up. What do I mean? They actually paint designs on it, hang ornaments, the whole works that each truck is like a mobile art piece.

They are all decked out like that. There are no regular looking trucks like the ones we have, which at least gave me something interesting to look at from the car. And observing life in India from the car was what I did during the few times I ventured into Chandigarh city. On the way, we would pass a town call Pinjore. It was strange little town to me.

Much like the other things in India, this little town made me feel like I stepped into a time machine and was brought back in time. It showed me the transition as a town develops. How the old has to give way to the new and in between is kinda messy but we all deal. The road was in the process of being widened and strangely as they did it, they simply took down portions of buildings.

Can you see the building that torn down half way in the picture? Well, there were quite a few that were in such a state … and the amazing thing was that people still used them as shops or offices!! I just didn’t get it. Well, only in India, I suppose. The Indians amazed me on several levels. As I was in the car watching life in India pass me by, I wondered how parents could let their children run freely along a road ploughed by trucks going about 60km/hour, how they could wait by the side of the road for the buses when the air is completely filled with dust kicked up by the ongoing traffic, how the women dressed in traditional salwa kameez and saris could do heavy construction work. Life in India sure is different from anything I’m use to. While I could relate at some level, there was a distance that I simply couldn’t close. Then again there are some things people in Singapore do that I can’t understand either :p

India Restropective: Part 5 – Farming

India inspired me at various levels and one was to hopefully have my own little garden some day. Farming is really quite gratifying. There is something to be said about giving to the land and have it give back to you. Like most other Singaporeans my age, we grew up with stories about our grandparents living through the war by eating tapioca they grew in their gardens. We, on the other hand, know dilly do about how to harvest food from the land, let alone preparing the land to start farming.

So you can imagine my astonishment when I saw broccoli. sweet peas, cabbage and califlower (Jules, they reminded me of you everyday!!) growing out of the ground. I was even lucky to see them in their various stages of growth. Broccolis start small and grow. Here’s how tiny they can be:-

That’s my husband’s hand next to the baby broccoli. So cute, right? I also learned how when onions and garlic are ready to be harvested the plant on the top starts to die. Nature is pretty cool that way. My favourite thing about growing your own vegetables is COMPOSTING.

That’s when I realise how much of our garbage we throw out daily can be reused. In India, we clear the food waste twice a day in compost but the other kinds of garbage only needed to be cleared every two or three days. Now that I’m home, it hits me even more as I throw parts of veggies that we don’t eat and leftovers, they really take up most of our garbage. I reckon we might solve our garbage problems if we have composting facilities in Singapore. Part of me thinks our humidity may not help our composting situation but if I ever have a little garden, I’ll learn more about composting in Singapore.

Also, do you know you can grow certain flowers next to certain vegetables to encourage certain bugs that will eat the bugs that will eat the veggies. Talk about natural farming 🙂 The flowers make the farm look pretty too.

India Retrospective: Part 3 – Arrival

As soon as I got on the plane, I was so tired from packing and clearing up at work, I fell right asleep. When we arrived in Delhi, I was all ready to take on India and all her inefficiencies but I was pleasantly surprised. In the line to clear immigration, my husband and I met a lovely young couple from Vancouver, Canada where my husband’s from so I think it was more novel for him than me. We were all in line for about 20minutes, which if you ask me, wasn’t bad. The immigration officer was really nice too. I mean I’ve stood in immigration lines in the US for a much longer time and dealt with much ruder immigration officers … tough to tell which is the developed country, huh?

Anyway, our bags were already taken off the carousel and waiting for us to pick them up. I thought that only happens at the Changi International Airport. I was still in denial and waiting for something to go wrong. It was no hassle finding the free transfer to the domestic terminal and waited maybe about 8minutes for the bus. It was still dark as we boarded the bus, since I could see squat, I promptly fell asleep for what felt like a long time. My husband told me it was only about 15minutes.

It was when we got off the bus that it felt like I’ve arrived in India but even then, it was not unlike Little India here on a Sunday. So I navigated through the crowd and cars like a pro … I think even my husband was slightly impressed with me. Again no hassle we cleared security and check-in in about 2ominutes.

Then when we had to go through security at the gates, I realised I was truly in India. My husband I were in line waiting and when it was my turn, the guard pointed to another counter and said, “Woman.” I was slightly confused and saw a couple of women waiting to go into a little room.  In India, women are frisked in privacy 😛

After that, we had about 2hours to waste as we waited for our next flight to Chandigarh.  Delhi’s domestic airport is like a step back into time.  Not unlike a terminal in Penang or Brunei actually.  I was even surprise to find a mobile phone charging station, which worked out well for me as my phone was slowly but surely dying.  Even the toilet was completely decent.  I was starting to think everyone who advised me didn’t go to the same India as I did.  As soon as I finished the thought, I heard the announcement that our flight to Chandigarh will be delayed for 30minutes.  Ah!  India has decided to show me her true colours but the plane arrived in earlier and was only 15minutes late.  Not so bad for my first visit to India, huh?

Ok, here’s the tragic update about my photos.  As you can tell there are no pictures in this post.  As I was downloading the pictures onto my computer, my computer hangs, I was totally calm and restarted the computer only to find all my photos disappeared!!!  They weren’t on my computer and they weren’t on my memory stick 😦  So much for modern technology … …

India Retrospective: Part 2 – Gaining Weight

When I told people I was going to India, everyone told me to take care and that I was going to loose weight. Somehow I had a feeling it wasn’t going to happen. Well, you see I’m a big fan of Indian cuisine and when people around me fall ill from food poisoning, I’m usually the last one standing. So although I was hoping everyone else was right, it turns out my instinct knew me better :p I now know I CAN eat chapatti everyday and yes, I did put on weight. Now I’m just hoping to lose it in time for the Js wedding in June July :p

To be honest though, I didn’t eat Indian Indian, where I was staying turned out to be a little international house. My husband and I shared the last 2 months with the sweetest bunch of people from around the world. There’s someone from Austria, the US, Ecuador, Australia, Canada and of course, India. So even though there was chapatti at every meal, there were salads, noodles and bake goodies 🙂 Probably the best vegan baked goodies I’ve had ever!! My new little friend Laura, from Sacramento, California should seriously consider opening a vegan bakery 😉 She’s like a baking angel.

So yes, unlike most other people, I came home from India chubbier than usual. Also, I had to don the traditional Salwa Kameez (that’s what we call a Punjabi suit in Singapore) when I was there. It’s loose fitting and completely covers everything so that just meant I couldn’t tell how much weight I was putting on :p

That’s me in Chandigarh. Now everyone can understand why I can’t tell how much weight I was slowly but surely putting on :p

So when I came home, it was reality check time!! I now have on a pair of shorts that was distinctly loose before I left and it’s now distinctly fitting. Since I’m not the dieting sort … I get grumpy when I’m hungry :p I have to get back to my running routine, which reminds me, where are my new running sneakers?

India Retrospective: Part 1 – Departure

I have to say I’m really quite blessed. I’ve learnt quite a bit from this experience and the most important one was before I even left the country. When it comes to family and friends, I have to say I’ve been blessed with the very best 🙂

The month before I left, I was rushing to clear work and pack up my entire house, which I had called home for the last 6 years. So needless to say, I was a tad worried when my husband and I arrived at T2 of Changi International Airport with about 42% done. We came really close to postponing the trip. Thanks to my sister who jumped in and offered to help move the rest … and a bigger thanks to my parents who actually did it all for me :p My Mummy even unpacked for me and my husband.  So we managed to get on our plane and enjoy our mission without a worry.

And my friends who on their own made me realise why I’m friends with them to begin with 🙂 Thanks for all your see-you-in-2-months lunches, dinners, suppers, coffees and even the sweet sweet send off at the airport!! It’s time for catch up now 🙂

Everyone’s been asking me what have I gain from being in India and serving for 2 months.  As cliche as this sounds, I gained a whole lot more than I gave.  I wish I could put it in words but when I try, it seems not to do the whole experience justice.  I just know at some subtle intangible subconscious level I’ve been moved, and in a very good way 🙂  So like I said I’ve got the best for family and friends, now I’m back and much more appreciative of them 🙂  Life sure has it’s up and downs … right now, I’m definitely enjoying an up 🙂

Home Sweet Home

I’m back home in Singapore.  Hello everyone!!  India was truly quite a treat 🙂  I can’t believe how glad I am to have had the opportunity to do it.  Got to keep this short though, I’m unpacking from India and trying to settle back in before Monday :p  Yes, I do go back to work on Monday.  I’ll update in the days to come.

For now, I’ll leave you with an Indian sunset.  Here’s the view from my room in Nawan Nagar at about 6:40pm (IST).

Although I’m missing India right now, it is good, so very good to be home 🙂

Update #2 From India

Here’s another quick update from India 🙂 

Since arriving in Nawan Nagar, I’ve had to hand wash my clothes, there isn’t a washing machine where I am and even if there was one, it wouldn’t be that useful since electricity drops in and out all the time … I don’t think a machine could ever finish its cycle.

Anyway, here’s what I’m realising, my washing machine probably doesn’t clean as well as my own two hands can.  Yep, with your own two hands, you can really get the dirt out and get to spots I can’t imagine my machine would even think off.  I’ve also developed a fondness for washing socks 🙂  They’re soft, small and really a treat to see them get so clean after a wash, as they get quite dirty because of all the dust.

However, despite how much I’m enjoying the my hand washing sessions, when I come home to Singapore, I’m going to give my washing machine a hug :p  Only because, I don’t think after a day at work, I want to spend an hour and a half washing something like 8 articles of clothing :p  Yes, I do take that long to hand wash.  I never said I was an efficient handwasher of clothes, I’m a thorough one though 🙂

Till my next trip to town, hope all is as well as I am in Nawan Nagar, India.

Namaste From Nawan Nagar

Am in town today so dropping by an internet cafe where the connection is faster and better to make a quick update post.  No pictures coz there isn’t anything I can connect my camera to the computer :p

India’s been good so far. The village I’m in is really conservative so I’m in a Punjabi suit all the time, got to keep my head covered and all 🙂 Most of the villagers don’t even look me in the face!!  That’s how conservative they are.  I haven’t met another Chinese since I arrived either so needless to say, I stick out.  Really gives you a different perspective. The villagers don’t speak any English at all soI spent most of the time with the other foreigners. So much so I don’t feel like I’m in India at all :p

I’m surviving India though.  I’m loving the food, learning to sleep without a heater, yes, it’s totally possible and basically enjoying myself thoroughly 🙂

Till my next update, take care y’all!!!