Danny Winters' Not-So-Excellent Adventure, June 98 in India

This diary was written with my Japanese and American friends in mind.
SDA = Seventh-Day Adventist
One Indian Rupee equals about US $.025 or Japanese yen 3.5.
So Rs10 = $.25 or 35jpy.

2-6-98 Flew to Mumbai thru Bangkok. My first impression of Mumbai was that it was a tiny run-down airport that any small city in America (Chattanooga) could put to shame. But here i was in a town of 13 million paying 63% duty on my scanner and printer i'd bot in Japan. A tout hooked me and i went to a hotel and paid 1,000 Rupee ($1=40R). Clean room. Reminded me of motels i stayed at last summer in the SW U.S. Come to think of it, they were run by Indians too!

3-6-98 Rode an auto-rickshaw (3-wheeler) to the train station where the fun began. I can't imagine much more of a contrast between the meticulous orderliness of the Japanese system and the utter chaos of the Indian one (was there a system? hmmm), but 4 Rupee for a 35 min. ride - who's complaining? The train cars were separated for men and women so i got in the men's area and just gawked as they grabbed for something and went off down the tracks with half their bodies hanging outside (no doors). The next train i was fortunate? enough to get to the center of. Who turned on the microwave?! And to think that some people pay to sweat in saunas in Japan!! I almost sprung for a donation to a beggar until she told me she didn't want money; she wanted 100 rupee powdered milk. Met a guy (low 20's) on the bus who was nice. Had a cell-fone. Said he worked in the diamond business.

Joined the homeless on a bench for a nap in one of the few parks around. Lo and behold -found my way back to the hotel. Pretty good fried food (greens, potato ball, samosa type things) from a stall and got full for 10R. The thin sliver of silver on the cake (3.5R) was very sweet - yum!! First mosquito bite in India in my hotel room - 7th floor! Guess (s)he knew it was the freshest blood around.

4-6-98 Made it to Chennai where the person i'm going to stay with picked me up at the airport. The guidebooks were right. This is a little more civilized place than Mumbai. Still - it's NASTY!! I moved in with him, his wife, and 14-year old son. Took my shoes off when i got in the house just like i've been trained in Japan and was immediately accosted by 2 mosquitoes. When i started wandering around the house i realized something and looked at the bottom of my feet - coal black. They don't seem to mind my shoe wearing now too much. I was sooo happy to buy a Earth Mat mosquito repeller:) I thought all my money would disappear on water but then remembered that you CAN boil it. They have become naturalized so it doesn't faze them but when i turn on the faucet in the bathroom, it really smells like cow poop. How would i know? Because i stepped in some while walking along the road to the prospective apt. Nice 2K apt. for 3,000R/month. Sounds like my kind of place.



Sat thru a church service in the Tamil language. Reminded me of Japan when they inserted English words in for emphasis at times. The only difference was the pronunciation - haha. It must be over 40C (104F) again today. I just don't have much energy. Folded some pamphlets that will be used to train lay-evangelists. This home's 92-year old dad is in ICU with a coma. 6 days cost 20,000R. Don't really see the wide gap between the rich and poor here. Even the rich who own maybe 3 houses and a car etc. just own 3 (including car - 4) large pieces of trash. I've never seen such pollution and filth on this scale before. I doubt there's a really clean spot in this whole country. Was told thru a 3rd party that the apt. owner of the place i had agreed to take, backed out - looks like i'll stay with this family.

7-6-98 A little more energy today. Had to go clear to the airport to exchange some money. The Thomas who was Jesus' disciple supposedly came here and was martyred here. Drove past his church. The second largest beach in the world is here. Looks like a trash forest (not quite that bad) met by a brown scum. Discovered that Hindus look down on Christians because we eat unmentionable animals. I'm pretty disgusted with most "Christians" barbaric behavior too. I think I'd keep the cows off the sidewalks and streets tho. Speaking of sidewalks, they seem to be for throwing junk and taking a pee (for quite a few people they seem to be for everything else too). Everyone walks, bicycles, rides scooters, auto-rickshaws, cars, buses in the street. I thot it was American sarcastic humor when i read on the back of one auto-rickshaw "please sound horn". In America that would be like adding "and i'll blow your car up". But here that is actually requested. It makes for a raucous cacophony. It does help because traffic rules are non-existent and many vehicles don't use their lights at nite.

8-6-98 The grandpa died this morning. He was 92.

In the evening i got ill and after arranging to purchase an aircon we came back home and i vomited. Seems like the mango i had for breakfast (I had one the nite before for supper too) didn't sit too well with me. Kinda gross but it was the first time I've experienced where it tasted better coming up than going down!

10-6-98 They delivered the aircon this evening! The daughter here just graduated with a 3-year degree in nursing and the hospital where she works at doesn't have a A/C. She said that 7 elderly people in her church died in the recent heat wave there (52C!). So i feel like i'm some kinda luxury freak.

12-6-98 With the cool breezes, (wouldn't you know it, the day they installed the aircon was the first day since i've been here that it didn't go over 40C) i slept great last nite. I spent all morning sweeping cobwebs off the walls and ceilings. Just call me "Spider Lung". I ran out of food so the father here got concerned about me getting clean food at a restaurant so i went to a hotel. I had naan so i felt like i was at an Indian restaurant. After that i bot some flip flops, baskets, and Boiled Peanuts - Yea! Made some just plain red beans with salt (side of tomato, cheese, & chips) that tasted great. But no salt on the potato chips...



Was told in church today that Chennai has 2 seasons - 9 months of summer and 3 months of hot summer. The sermon was by a guy from "It Is Written". Chennai will be the site of a large meeting to be uplinked to satellite in Sep. 2000. I boiled the water today for the 1stt time. I wondered why it tasted so much better than usual. I know my cooking skills are superb (!) but boiling water? The father here said that usually they drink city water but i had boiled well water. His wife doesn't like to use it because it turns the rice "yellow". I can't figure her out at all. She lost, misplaced, had stolen, or something a watch and she was a fit to be tied. She has a maid etc. because she has "no energy". They throw stuff all over the house (almost sat on a banana peel in the living room chair yesterday) and then spend twice as much time looking for stuff than if it was placed in a proper place at the start. I bot a train ticket to Bangalore. Was told that after i go there i won't want to come back here... A 15R ride to the station cost 20R because I'm a foreigner. One driver wanted to charge 50R!

14-6-98 Cancelled our train tickets. At the station saw a huge cow pie just below the last step. There was an abandoned beach sandal stuck right in the middle of it. I can just imagine someone saying "it's not worth it - or is it?" haha. Why can't anyone keep change? If it isn't a 10R note noone seems to know what to do with it. Coins less than 1R are very scarce. They probably get melted down for their metal content. Everyone (including me) in this house has a cold. So why don't i feel cooler?? For lunch i cooked rice with cashew nuts and soya balls - yummy! Then topped it off with some SWEET thing that probably made my cold happy.

15-6-98 A beautiful day spent watching the paint peel on the building next door. If you look up at the waving palm trees and clear, brisk, blue sky with the various birds winging their way, you could imagine you were at a top-class resort somewhere. I didn't spoil the mood by going down to street level today.

16-6 Went to town to get internet access on the back of a motorbike with the father here. It's quite scary to be going about 15~20km and look down to see a car bumper following just centimeters away! (OK, about 30cm or so... still!) No luck following their lame instructions on how to logon to the internet.

17-6 Will start wearing long pants from today. Yesterday just during breakfast, even with spraying all over, i got 5 nasty bites. I added a point to my total today -
Mosquito Indians -   27    (or so)
Squisher Yankees -    2    (exactly)
Thru trying all the illogical methods, i got connected to the internet but couldn't go to any sites. Naruhodo! (that figures) Perfect!
They had a 10-day after death prayer meeting for the grandpa where they were expected to feed everyone who came. Probably about 300+ showed up! It was held outside at nite in a dusty courtyard. The food portions were very large but after finding a hair in mine, and eating everything with fingers, (OK for fun but it goes against 37 years - [36?! - probably my first year i loved to eat with my fingers] of fork and spoon etiquette - [hey! what about 8 years of eating with sticks in Japan???]) and especially after a dance done to the tune of a cockroach (5cm) running up my leg and onto my hand, (why out of 300 people did it choose me!!??) my appetite went to the dogs (not literally - they ate food that hundreds of sloppy fingers let slip thru).

I met a man named Jonathan who is a church member but sleeps on the street. Seems he was basically disowned by his Catholic family after he became Seventh-Day Adventist. He says he makes about 20R/day. I need to help him.

18-6 Was told by the father here how he tried to get Jonathan set up in a fruit stand buying his initial equipment etc. but that after a couple of days, Jonathan stopped showing up for work. Seems he wants something for nothing. I've had a frustrating day trying to get on my new internet account. Got connected but at 3.5K! It times me out before i get to a site. Paid 40R for 1/2 hour at "Friends" internet café. Still have paste on my fingers from sending postcards. Seems the post office can't afford to put glue on their stamps. So instead, they put a big messy bottle of goop on a table that everyone mucks around in. Had family worship where i read from Adventist Home how a home should be clean and orderly...



Gave Jonathan some milk powder and some peanuts and a bar of soap. Saw other people give him some money. Claimed he can't raise his right arm anymore. Couldn't take sleeping drenched in sweat anymore so i took the cot into the computer room. The family was noisy so i asked if i could close their bedroom door until they went to sleep and then open it so they could get some of the coolness too. The mother misunderstood me and thought i was very angry with them. I didn't find out until Tuesday when i was told that there was a problem. Shades of my one bad experience in Japan when i sensed something wrong with a family who rented me an apt., but they wouldn't acknowledge it until the situation blew up. We talked it out and prayed over it and i said i was sorry while the mother said she misunderstood my English.

21-6 Got up at 4:15 to catch a train. The father here likes to be about an hour early. We sat on dirty, vinyl benches for about 6 hours. Met Bill Dull and sat in on a board meeting for their orphanage cum school at Erode.

22-6 Caught the train to Bangalore at 1:20am and slept actually quite soundly after putting on my long-sleeve shirt. Gave a pamphlet to a computer-programmer who was sitting next to us on the train. Except for filth, Bangalore was VerY pleasant with a high of about 31C. Took a 155km hired car ride to the Seventh-Day Adventist "Southern Asia Division" headquarters. Around that place quite reminded me of Florida except that a cow wandered in thru the entrance gate - haha. Went WAAAAAY back in the sticks (but still a paved road!) to where a small dedicated group is trying to start a medical evangelist school. It was situated so you could look out over a huge valley with tall mountain peaks in the background. It was the first place I've seen in India that i thought looked really beautiful. Bed at nite still seemed to roll a little for me...

23-6 Finally figured out what that awful smell was in the bathroom. It didn't come from anywhere except the bathroom sink, so i thought the water from that one sink came from the river and the rest from the well. To take a shower, i'd wet my washcloth with just a drop of water from the sink, try to rub some soap in it, and go over to the shower (it's all just one floor. The water just goes out the side of the building). The smell was still pretty powerful. When it got a little cooler (<40) it didn't seem to be so bad.
When i was in the supermarket (about the size of a convenience store) i happened to pass by the soap section. Sure enough, the bathroom sink smell was there! The culprit was "Lifebuoy". I've grown kinda fond of the smell (it reminds me of how various fluids and solids produced by cows smell) - (Hey! They did say that some people here like to wash themselves with cow urine. Maybe some marketing genius....) but i opted for sandalwood soap instead (it has just a little cow smell).

24-6 Got on the internet!!!

26-6 First time to eat on a banana leaf. It was a set lunch with about 15 little bowls on a banana leaf cut round to fit the large dish it was on. Chapati and papad(?) came with it as well as all the rice you cared for. Curries, soups, yogurt, dhall, ghee, sambar, and a delightful pudding with a cashew nut in it for dessert. All for less than $1! I think i got my money's worth even though i couldn't eat what was in one because the main ingredient was fire!!

I spent the day on Bill's computer typing in his newsletter for him. He's given a lot of his life to India - starting small Christian schools, orphanages, giving health-training seminars, etc. It's a joy to work with him as he displays a real love for Jesus. He used to run a large vegetarian restaurant (Living Springs) in New York City. Hope i can be a blessing to the world and win souls for Christ like he has.



I can hear my mom now: "You call this a church?!! It sounds more like a dance hall!! Different cultures have different methods of giving praise to God. Little kids sang in a sing-song voice that even without the drums and electone was a body swayer. They tell me I'm supposed to give the sermon in church next Sabbath. The knees are knocking a little already (to the music?!!). I've never given a sermon before. Maybe i can make it "lesson" style. Yeah, instead of teaching English, i'll teach about God. I can handle that. God, give me your Holy Spirit!

29-6 Woke up at 6:15 to get on the internet. All 6 telephone numbers are free! I skip around until one gives me a connection of 28,800bps. I'm surfing now!!! After 5 hours the phone rings. Why should a phone ringing cut me off? Usually doesn't the caller just get a busy signal and i keep on oblivious?? Helped Bill fight with his mail merge program. Finally printed out 300 names and addresses on envelopes. The family here is gone so i can take off as much clothes as i want! I didn't know 38 (100) degrees could feel so cool. hahaha

30-6 Can't get this %#$$@*^)^!! scanner to work! I can't log onto the internet between 8am~11pm because the phones are busy (why, if my phone rings, does it disconnect?) so I get up around 6 and hit the plastics. It makes me feel for a couple of hours like i'm not where i am.

Heard a gross story from Bill. Seems a little kid at one of the schools he helped set up was riding home in a rickshaw. He leaned over to look at something, a rock perhaps. A bus swerved close and took his head for a hood ornament. Maybe that's why the other day in the auto-rickshaw when i had my shoe sticking out about 2cm that someone riding in a vehicle next to me pointed and shouted something. The morale is: If you want to keep it, keep it in.

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Sounds nasty. Is the rest of 1998 similar?
Go to earlysda.com to read original 1858 Great Controversy book