This diary was written with my Japanese and American friends in mind.
SDA = Seventh-Day Adventist
One Indian Rupee equals about US $.024 or Japanese yen 3.7.
So Rs10 = $.24 or 37jpy.
1-10 Well, here is the day promised about 2 weeks ago for the finish of the re-translation of The Great Controversy. I look at his desk when he's gone and see he's on around chapter 10. Only 31 chapters short of what he promised. He spends most of the day out somewhere. I go out in the evening with the son to the market to buy some fruit. Riding on the back of his bicycle we go thru the rain and mud to find some nice fruit. It's interesting to see edible things i've never seen before. I find out that what i thought were smashed watermelons in front of houses and businesses are really pumpkins. Used in some kind of religious ceremony, i saw a guy with a small fire on one today go out into the busy street and SMASH it. Then he sprinkled some kind of red powder like what they paint on their forehead all over the remains laying all over the road and already getting slipped on by 3-wheelers & bicyclists. Guess this is where that band in America got their goofy name.
2-10 I call the Korean Air office like i was instructed, but of course it's closed. The apples i bot yesterday looked great, tasted good, but were just too acidic for my stomach to handle. These don't get better coming up like the mangos did:( The family is worried about me, but i know how these things usually go - after all the nasty stuff is out of my stomach - everything will be OK. They recommend a doctor but i'm stubborn. Actually, i've learned a few things about how to care for myself and unless it's something i don't have a clue what's going on in my body - i'll just stay away from the doctors and the drugs they usually prescribe.
I think i might have a clue from what he said, and from what the son told me, about why i was the outlet for the attact recently. He told me my work was perfect, and that i was like the Pharisees in Christ day who were exact in everything, but had no heart. His son says that his dad is really troubled about getting things orderly. In his apology, he mentioned how his preaching can be powerful but with no effect if his home life isn't what it should be. He did mention that i had helped him "make a great decision in my life". It seems like that "great decision" was to leave the ministry. OK. I represent what he can't do himself - orderliness.
I'm probably deficient in many areas, but keeping things orderly - just leave it to me. That's why i came here! It probably also explains why he agreed to my suggestions with his head, but without his heart in it, nothing in the area of orderliness ever got done - and those were most of my suggestions! It looks like he's going to try again with the ministry:) I'll be praying for him. It's harder tho now having let things slide when someone was here who could have helped. Now he'll have to try by himself.
The family leaves to go to a baptism about 4 hours away so i sleep until after noon. My stomach is all empty so i eat something like cream of wheat. The Korean Air office says that my ticket has been authorized by the LA office:) I feel a HUGE load lift off me. I'm spreading wings! Just a couple more days! I learn that the van broke down again today. No surprise here (or there either it seems).
4-10 I go to buy a train ticket to Mumbai. There is a special reserve of tickets for foreigners so i go to that desk. The man asks me what class of ticket i want. I don't know as each train is different, but i say "2nd class". When he starts to print the ticket i ask what classes are available. Puts him in a bad mood. I don't want no problems. Just give me any ticket. 309Rupees ($8) for a 28 hour ride over 1,400km. Must be pretty low class.
My sister collects sand so i make my way to what is called the "2nd largest beach in the world". On the bridge there is a man lying among broken glass with the sole of his foot peeled almost off and just hanging by a thread. The skin underneath is pink. Don't know if he's alive or not, but no crows are around so guess he's alright. The beach is just on the other side of the bridge with the black slude river flowing underneath with a dog chewing on a head of something in the grass on the bank. I should've practiced harder to hold my breath when i was a kid. There are a couple of hindu shrines before i reach the --- dump? No, it's the beach under that. UmHuh. Actually, there are some kinda interesting shops lining the path down to the water. Lots of people have stripped down to their underwear and are frolicking in the dark brown water. Of course, i have to remember that this is the "number one culture in the world" that everyone tells me about. They say that because of their "fidelity" and modesty" - hahaha. The beach is huge though - maybe 300 meters wide at points.
It's with a smile that i ride the bus that careens thru the streets cannon-blasting it's horn to either move the smaller traffic out of the way or give them a heart-attack to make them fall out of the way. Everyone seems a little surprised i made it to the beach by myself. The son starts getting on my case for being stingy by walking and riding the buses. I'm not hardly listening.
In the evening, after they come back from a wedding party that they seemed hurt that i didn't care to attend, i tell them that my train ticket to Mumbai is for 11:45 tomorrow morning. They are quiet. The son has told me that the dad has remarked "what have i done? shouted at this man..." Maybe this has been something to help polish his character also. He seems surprised at the suddeness of it all. Of course i mentioned 2 weeks ago that the only available flights were on the 7th or 14th. But now i'm quiet too. My heart is rejoicing tho. The son mentions something about me going to the promised land - Japan:) It's my true feeling.
5-10 THE DAY
I get up at 6 as usual and check my email. My brother and a Japanese friend have sent me something. The electricity goes off in the middle before i can send a reply, but the "matteryo" (we're waiting for you) showing in the subject area just makes that smile in my heart and on my face a little wider - somewhere, someone wants me to be there! The son gets mad at me because he hides my socks while i'm trying to pack and i tell him i'm in a hurry so cut it out. Only several days later will i find that my 2 Ben Franklins that he saw in one of my books are missing. Very strange that i lost 2 physical things in India - my airplane ticket and the 2 Bens (does half a head of hair count too?) - and the son was the last one to see both of them....hmmmmmm..... I give all my kitchen stuff along with some money to the mother after paying off the internet telephone bills.
It's 9:25, time to leave. I don't have my airplane ticket in hand yet. First i'll go to the Korean Air office and then head for the train station. The father asks a couple of times if he can take me. No, i've got a little pull-cart for my luggage. I thank them, especially the mother, and get into a 3-wheeler (auto) after being haggled to death. Things go oh so smooth at Korean Air. I've got my ticket in hand and time to spare so i read the Bible and daydream of being gone while the clock rolls in their A/C office. I catch an auto to the train station. I really think the driver is the first one in all of India to not use a meter and yet not ask an outrageous price. I make the train a half hour early.
There are no mixed emotions when the train pulls out as scheduled. I'm glad GLAD GLAD. The people i'll be sharing this 28-hour journey with are a mom and daughter on this side, and a husband & wife & 2 year old on that side. Walking to the toilet i notice that i have the best people in the whole car right with me. I thank God for not testing me any more just now. The man has worked in the Gulf for 6 years and although he converted to Islam, he is pleasant to talk to. People come thru the cars especially at stops begging. I turn the other way. Some little kid comes thru sweeping the floor with 4 or 5 pieces of broken straw. He gets the reward. He's doing something useful. After 4 months it still doesn't feel right to throw the trash out the window, but what to do? The moon is very bright and we go in a straight line for hours with mountains looming in the moonlit distance. I don't sleep very well rolling, but it seems like a crushing weight has been lifted off me. There's noone here to yell at me, to call me "bad" or "stingy", and just no general feeling that the people around me hate my guts.
I awake to much the same scenery as when i went to sleep. I'm pretty sure we're not going in circles tho. Just when i thought i'd seen most everything except a dead person, i see a somewhat busy train station with maybe 40~50 people waiting on the platform. We go by slowly but don't stop. There, on the platform by the big tree, 3 middle-aged looking women are standing up and splashing urine down their legs etc. Other women are moving that direction... There's a toilet but it's probably all stopped up. Still... I guess if guys can do it. The 3 Dog Nite song "Momma told me not to come" goes thru my mind for awhile. Especially the part "i've seen so many things i ain't never seen before. Don't know what it is, don't wanna see no more".
I buy some saffron rice (Rs8) plastic wrapped and rolled up in a newspaper. It tastes good:) I notice the family that lives in the Gulf eats with spoons too! The kids here don't wear diapers. They wear shirts with nothing on the bottom half. The 18month old across from me stands up and looks out the window. Poo, Poo! I've read most of the paper so i give it to them to help clean up. Later in the afternoon, he gives the vinyl seats a good sprinkling. Who knows what happened where i'm sitting/lying.
All the "colonial" names forced on india have been changed so i'm confused when it says on my ticket that this train is going to "Mumbai CST". The man across from me assures me that it's Victoria station. I get off 2 stops before so i can catch a bus to the airport. I'm immediately surrounded by taxi touts. They tell me the bus drivers are on strike today so i have to take a taxi. I don't believe anyone so i ask a policeman nearby who affirms this. Well, i'll try to take the train. Taxi touts don't give up easily tho. This one waits in line with me to ask what train to catch. He butts in first and asks the question at the counter. I ask the question too. They say to go up and cross over to Western Railways. Before i can clear the window, the taxi man grabs my arm and says the Rs400 he quoted me at first is now Rs250. I get a mean look and tell him to let go. He does and as i start to walk, he grabs my arm again. I yell at him that if he touches me again i'll go to the police. He follows me to the stairs and i get scared that he'll try to steal from me because i'm vulnerable going up the stairs with all my luggage. But just like he appeared, he disappears. I breathe a thankful prayer and make it to the Western Rail platform after wondering if i was going to faint under my load. It's right in the sunshine with the temp over 30C in the shade. I'm just the shell of what i was when i came to India full of life & energy. I ask some guys about how to get to the airport and they say i'm at the right platform. I'm at the edge. The train comes and people warn me to pull back. I see people jumping off before the thing is stops. People shoving their way out. People behind me shoving to get in. My head tells my feet to just step out of the way and wait for the next one. It's around 3:30 tho and the trains heading to the suburbs will just keep getting more and more packed until around 7 so i want to catch one quickly. The next one is empty enough for someone to motion me to a seat - he doesn't put his hand out for any money either:) I give the man sitting next to me part of the Great Controversy in Marathi language.
I still have a few rupees left over so i buy souvenirs for friends in Japan. All the hottest and some sweet things. I buy almost Rs200 worth and have a friendly chat with the shop owner. At the end, i ask for botled water and he sells it for Rs15. I notice later that he's ripped me off Rs3. I smile that this is the last rip-off i'll have in this grabby-grubby country, but i'm hurt that someone can smile and talk to you nicely, all the while scheming how to rip you off:(
I cover the distance to the airport by train and auto (rickshaw) for Rs45 instead of the Rs400 i was originally quoted for taxi fare. Actually, it might have been worth my energy to pay the extra $9, but after having ridden 28 hours for Rs309, i didn't want to pay so much for a 30minute ride. My plane isn't until 1:10am and it's around 4:30 now, so i have a lot of time to kill in the bathroom washing my hair and letting it dry. Anyway, i'm at the portals of heaven with a knot in my stomach - are they going to go thru all my stuff and ask questions about like why my underwear is clean etc. etc.?? But after they put my bag thru the largest X-ray machine i've ever seen, and put a band around it like they do a bale of paper at a printing company, i get my ticket and breeze thru the demmagration procedures. I spend more than i ever have in India on any one meal - Rs160. It's almost the same amount of money that i'm taking out of india - Rs163.55. I guess $4 won't break the bank even for a country like india. An international airport? - why, there haven't been any flights since i arrived at 4:30 and it's pushing 8pm now. I look on the board and see about 8 flights scheduled between 8:30pm and 2am. Seems a little strange that all the flights are in the middle of the nite. Maybe they want your last view of India to be of the pretty lights instead of what's hidden by the darkness.
There are vinyl lounge chairs that i look at longingly. Surely there's a catch here. Like after you sit down someone will rush up with their hands cupped out to you. But it looks safe enough so i take one. Aaaaah. A very large white man lounges down in the chair next to me. He used to work for McCormick (a spice company), retired, married a Filipino, and came to india at the request of the Jain Co. Jain is the world's largest producer of potatoes, onions, and tomato sauce. They wanted his expertise to get their flaking - dry onion process up to ISO 9000 certification. He rolled his eyes. He said if they do everything he said they might get it in 5 years. He also said that they invited him here as a consultant and then, instead of listening to him, explained to him why they do it their way and why his way wouldn't work "in India". Parts of his story rang a bell with me. He said that when it was time to pay that they were way short. The man paying called in someone else who gave him a $20 bill. This man shook his head so they dished out another $20. This man got mad and told them to stop playing games so they coughed up the $1,500 that they had tried to stiff him - laughing as they did so. He said what i've seen, that it's just some kinda silly game they play. He said that Palawan islands in the Philipines are very nice. Being a mayor or something there, he makes sure that the island stays free of garbage. He says the weather and ocean are the big drawing cards with several of his American friends buying property and building retirement homes there. He says you don't need a aircon or a heater as it's "just right" year-round.
The time comes. I find my seat. How fortunate! It looks like a Japanese girl has sitten down next to me:) I'm going to a different world!