Danny Winters' Not-So-Excellent Adventure, August 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 $.024 or Japanese yen 3.3.
So Rs10 = $.24 or 33jpy.

3-8 In Calcutta, where i understand the British used to hose down with rose water every morning, there is one large park surrounded by monuments. In Japan the mothers worry about their kids playing at the playground because the dogs and cats use it as a litter-box. Here it's people. A fine young lad comes up to me after taking a whizz in the grass and puts out his hand - Friend!". He seems hurt when my hand refuses to budge from it's clean-room (pocket). Not being swayed with only being told "no", i finally have to spell out what he should do before i'll proffer my hand. Suddenly he points to his stomach and says "no food for 2 years. 20 Rupees you give me". Trying not to show how tickling his story is, i shoo him away, being careful not to let him get a grip on my hand.

While in the touristy area i fall in with a group of Japanese. It's the loveliest feeling to hear real, live Nihongo. All except for the leader, they somehow all look like little school kids who got lost on their way home - haha. My accounting work was approved today by the project's accountant:)

4-8 I got on the tram in the morning to go buy a ticket to Darjeeling. This trip is going to be my little gift to myself for coming to Calcutta and getting the job done. 4 Japanese are in the line. Each one has the same book "Chikyuu no Arukikata" (like Lonely Planet except the target's budget is a little higher). I assume they are all one group, but it seems the 2 guys are together and each of the 2 girls is on her own. A monster roach who looks like he's on his last legs walks near one of the girls - kyaaaaaaaa! Everyone's awake now. One of the boys tries to be nice to it and shoo it to the edge of the room, but before it can make it, some Muslim guy sends it to squashed-bug heaven :~: I spoke a little with the Japanese, but they weren't very friendly. After seeing their backpacks locked up like a Swiss vault i understood why. Mama told them not to talk to strangers. Why even bother taking a trip anywhere if you don't want to meet anyone??? In contrast, the Bangladeshi sitting next to me strikes up a conversation and goes so far as to invite me to go with him to Delhi!

Peter at the Calcutta mission is my roommate for 9 days. He's a native, but now has Canadian and American citizenship also. He's here for several months trying to do evangelism. I can really learn a lot from him about zeal, mission, commitment, friendliness, and anger also. People here tend to (no, they do) think of him as that rich foreigner who should help them. A woman bursts into his room while he is lying down reading and sobs out a tale to him with her head buried in his chest. The performance is good for 250Rupee from him. A squatter in the mission who hasn't paid rent for 11 years has agreed to cook his food for a salary. Now she says something about needing 1,000 Rupee or her electricity will be turned off. He remains calm. Several days later she says she has some medical problem and must have 1,000 Rupee. He pays the hush money. Good thing i have a mean reputation. After one request here at the mission where i didn't sympathize with the person at all, no one asks anymore:) I've noticed myself getting harder and harder though, which isn't good. Will the real needy please step forward?!

I get the 3rd degree drilling in the 2nd class coach to Darjeeling. "You're from? Your age? Are you married? Why not? You know in India we have a saying that if you're not married you don't have a life." URUSAI! (nosy & noisy) Why does everyone seem to think it's impossible for me to be travelling alone? The man asks me if i have $100,000 in the bank back home. His wife calls me a "rich man". I sleep with one eye open. She asks for Rs10 for tea in the morning. I smile and say "no". No more requests from that corner. A woman sitting nearby looks like a Christian. She even washes her apple before eating it! I strike up a very pleasant conversation with her husband. Their faces are a little different from your average Indian.... Anyway, we are headed to Silliguri. I think there must be a town where all the Sillibois come from too - haha!

6-8 Danny, being the ever consummate budget traveller, has come to Darjeeling in the rainy season. Our Jeep has 12 people inside and one hanging on the back. The girl in the back across from me throws up at 12 minute intervals. The kind of pretty girl sitting next to me is mashing her thigh into mine especially around every left curve. My sensory circuits are being overloaded with conflicting information. I'm told there was a big road wash-out recently, but a temporary bridge has been built. It looks like a movie set with the steep mountain and the teams of people working together like ants. Hey, wait a minute, people in India don't work together. And what is this? Their eyes aren't round either. And so begins Danny's journey to the "unknown" India. About the only reminders are the trash (but in slightly less quantity) and that 3rd eye in the forehead. Looks funny on a Mongoloid face

\     /

Hindus don't seem to smile very much.

I follow a tout who looks like he came out of National Geographic, to the Golden Dragon hotel. The man at the front kissed my money and then offered it to his little Shiva idol. I made a mistake here. A real dive even for Rs175, but if the clouds break i'll be able to view the 3rd highest peak in the world! There isn't hardly a flat spot in the whole town. Just lots of hairpin curves and switchbacks. The Hydrangea are in bloom. Haven't seen them since '96 when i went to Yata-dera in Nara. The huge cedar trees complete the mental transformation to Japan:)

The women in this town have a mysterious look. Their faces are Oriental, but there is that little hint of brown skin. I wonder for a while why they look so much nicer than Indian women. For starters, their hair is not just in the obligatory ponytail or tight bun. There is variety. Their eyes don't look so dead. Many of them show with big smiles their happiness of just being alive. Their appearance and clothes are neat and clean. Probably looking like my friends back in Japan is the deciding factor though:) Later, i notice the men look similar to them also... With an elevation of 2,134m i'm thankful for the extra futon with the suspicious stains on it for a covering at nite.

7-8 No let up to the rain. The only mountain i can see is the one left behind by the people who had their portable stalls in front of my hotel yesterday. The vegetable gyoza (dumplings) with their sauce is sumptious. I even get to use chopsticks for my noodles! I take a Jeep to Kalimpong, about 50km and 2 1/2 hours away. I've heard we have a Seventh-Day Adventist school there and i want to see it. For lunch i order something for Rs42 and get Rs10 back from a 50. WOW! This place is different! Other places i've been to in India tell me i can't purchase what i want or i have to just forgo my change. He gives me directions to a hotel that's quiet, very quiet. I'm the only guest. It's the first time since coming to India that i can hear myself think. The view is spectacular looking out over a valley with other hills in the distance. Of course it's cloudy so the big mountains stay hidden, but this is tremendous. The electricity goes out from around 6-8 so i have a romantic candlelight dinner with a banana, peanut butter, bread, raisins etc. Suddenly the lights come on scaring all 3 of us. I found my shoe and mushed the other two along with my appetite.



Churchtime! There's around 40 in attendance with the majority being 7-14 year olds. A couple of kids look and giggle and even look interested in my Japanese Bible. I gave a short talk on "Where did you come from?" It's something i hear a lot so i want to dish some of it back out:) It was on how we're all brothers and sisters thru Adam & Eve so we should all love each other. I asked if anyone had a fight and how they felt about it. Seems like there was a fight just that morning between 2 brothers. There was a lot of laughter and i hope a couple of boys who remembered the talk. The service was short and interesting. A girl goes to school here who looks a lot like one of my English students - Yukiko chan. I give her my niece's and an other Japanese student's address and some money for stamps. Maybe it'll help broaden her world a little bit. Maybe she'll just spend it on sweets too:)

My stomach is "paining me" as Indians say. They said they boiled the water, but at 1,100m you have to boil it a while to kill everything. I've got a slight fever too. The malaria pamphlets i picked up at Kansai airport get unglued from the bottom of my backpack. Doesn't sound like Dengue. I'll just try to sleep it away tonite.

The principal gives me a ride around on the back of his scooter. We go to the highest point in the town. The inside of clouds all look the same wherever you go. He takes me to a garden. It looks like it was laid out nicely, but it isn't kept up. Several Indians (hill people as opposed to low-landers) have told me that nothing has really been maintained properly since the British left. From the back of the scooter i catch sight of a beautiful woman that makes me the gawker. Maybe she thought i was gawking because she wasn't wearing socks - haha. We go to a Tibetan Buddhist temple that has all the prayer wheels lined along the walls. Supposedly you turn one and your prayer spins up to wherever one time for each turn. I think even my internet connection is more trustworthy! The priest-trainees playing soccer in their maroon colored robes look silly.

After returning to the school, i try to write a postcard, but find it much more interesting to talk to the 8 orphan kids who've gathered around looking at and talking about my Empire State Building pen with King Kong sliding up and down it. The school is keeping these 8 boys and 2 other girls as kind of a mini-orphanage arrangement. I give some super balls away after teaching them "paper, scissors, rock" (jyan ken). They've never seen a ball that's bounced like this before! I go back to the restaurant for supper and order the "special". It's potatos, beans, fried ramen noodles broken up, and milk with coconut and spices inside a puffy muffin-like thing. The hot and sweet of it. I wonder what this is doing to my stomach. I call a couple of Japanese friends while i'm waiting just to rub it in that i'm close to Nepal and they're not. On the way home it starts raining so i take shelter under a store awning. A woman in hippy fashion comes up and talks something. Then she makes the motion for this chewing tobacco junk. I shake "no" so she makes the motion for some other activity. I decide the rain isn't so bad after all and to avoid her, make a bee line back to my room.

9-8 The Christians' "Save a Soul in Every Town" song is going thru my head. A good nite's sleep produced a lot of sweat and a brand new feeling today. I went to the old imposing Scottish church with the broken windows expecting to see a few old people cracking each other's eardrums. Instead, i found a full house! Young people, families, women on left and men on right - all except 2 of the 300 or so look like "hill people". I ask a man if he knows where to get a Nepali Bible. He thinks SDAs don't evangelize so i give him an "Hour with Your Bible" pamphlet. He starts a quest that takes us to a delightful old man's home. When this man gets Rs60, he takes it and buys a Bible to give away or sell for a small amount. I don't know where his income is from, but he says he's distributed by the grace of God hundreds of Bibles. Unfortunately, he doesn't have one today, but he offers me English and Hindi books on selected parts of the Bible. He doesn't ask for money, but i give him the Rs10 he says they cost him. We finally find a Bible. I take it with the other books and give it to the cashier at the restaurant i always go to. He said "you want me to keep this until you come back?". I said "no, it's yours". This Buddhist man seemed astounded that anyone would give him anything.     "God, please water this seed and make it grow and produce fruit for you. May we meet in a place someday where we can fall on each other's necks and cry tears of happiness."

I go back to the school and give all the orphan kids super balls ensuring that tomorrow morning will be even noiser than this morning:)

10-8 The principal told me the story of how the entire school property came back into SDA hands. It involved lots of hard work and literal battles with the devil.

The school was built with a nice administration building quite a few years ago by a donation from an Australian. For some reason, the church decided to lease the ad. building to the West Bengal government as a tourist lodge. The school has been sputtering along for the last 36 years with about 50 students enrolled. Many people didn't want to send their kids there because honeymooners would use the tourist lodge and do whatever. After not receiving any of the agreed upon rent for 36 years, the church decided to sell off the whole property for around $1,500. This is where the current principal came onto the scene.

He is a "hills" Indian in contrast to the "plains" Indians. His ethnicity is Mongoloid and he uses Nepali language instead of Bengali. The hill people have a different mentality from normal Indians. They work hard, plan, aren't quite as messy, and a large percentage of them have become Christian. Anyway, he decided not only was he not going to sell, he was going to try to get the Whole place back. A local magistrate wanted to purchase the tourist lodge for himself. He made a pact with the principal that one of them would die within one month.

Now you're probably smiling inwardly, but in India, it looks like Satan works much more openly than in developed countries. The magistrate and his wife were feared as sorcerers because they had, thru their divinations, killed several people. The principal wasn't scared because he knew whose "God" was more powerful, but he was troubled with nightmares for around a week. Many black things would be circling around his head and appear before his eyes in these dreams - crows (can't imagine why, they're always before my eyes in the daytime!), spiders, bats, etc. He couldn't sleep. Living by himself, he had no one to turn to for support. After earnest prayer and intense Bible study, they slowly went away. The magistrate? He, his wife, and 4 children went to have a personal interview with their guru - Sai Baba. He is very famous with my Osaka landlady's daughter believing in him so much that she spent 8 months in India at his headquarters. (For those who don't know, he makes "healing ash" appear from thin air, sports an afro, and claims to be Jesus, Buddha, ad naseum.) A personal interview is an extremely unfortunate event. When the family gathered in front of him, he raised his hand like an American Indian's "How" and the wife keeled over dead.

I'm credulous about these kind of stories, but the principal said one of the children goes to his school and went thru all the mourning ceremonies like shaving his head, wearing white, and avoided salt for 13 days. The husband lost his sorcery power at this time. Now when he crosses paths with the principal in the town, he averts his eyes and walks the other way. It seems like it's no fun playing with the Christians. If the spell doesn't work on the person it's cast, it comes back on the caster. They say it's more fun to play with demons with other Hindus.

God took care of the spirits with no problem. The problem that wasn't easily solved was how to make our lazy, money grubbing SDA brethern wake up to a sense of duty. All the leaders just wanted to sell it off and collect the moolah. The principal made 9 trips to Calcutta, each one costing about 1/3 of a month's wages. Fortunately, God worked out the schedule so that he was supposed to meet the West Bengal Tourism Board Director on the day that British PM John Majors came thru Calcutta. The guards had a hard time believing he really had an appointment that day as no one was seeing any one. But he made it in and caught the Director in a mood. He jollily? agreed to let the principal take over 2 rooms in the lodge as principal's quarters. The Director called Kalimpong and told the manager there something in Bengali and then turned to the principal and said, It's taken care of. The principal knows Indian practices and insisted on some type of written document in English. It wasn't such a jolly Director this time, but to get him out of his face he scratched out a note. Taking the note and using some "hill smarts" he took over the kitchen and the room where the front desk was. Without a kitchen to use, the government quickly capitulated and vacated the premises.

The devils had a little fun at the tourist lodge too. On full moons, no moons, and Good Fridays, they would come and shake the beds, make the phone ring late at nite and then freeze for a few minutes whoever answered. Black things like cats etc. running on the ceilings were seen especially by the children. When the entire property was officially turned back over to them, they held a purification ceremony reading the Bible from room to room and praying to chase the evil spirits away. Since then, there haven't been any signs of the devils, and the telephone can be answered at all hours of the day & nite.

The principal's wife makes a breakfast to break all fasts. I don't want to think it's just because last nite i gave Rs1,800 to the school. I also don't want to think about the room i slept in being next to the one that was most frequented by the devils before. It's me for morning worship talk. Don't think i've ever talked in front of 200 people before. Rather than scary, it's a head-emptyer experience. What to talk about?.?.?. I finally settle on "What is Success?". I wanted to take a picture of the many "Fooding and Lodging" (does this sound reasonable to anybody else?) signs, but wind up sitting down in the very front seat of the scream-machine (zekkyou) without taking any. With a cough and a sputter we're gone with the black smoke cloud. Passing the school, i notice a large billboard - "Success is ~ tobacco". I wonder if any of the kids will remember my talk when they see that sign. Maybe they'll wonder who is telling the truth!

On the other side of the river is where the fun begins. First we play slalom with boulders that have fallen and man-made lakes that have been created . "Landslide Area" is painted on an imposing granite marker. The paint still looks fresh. WAAAAA! No way we're going over those 3 little boards covering a nice 30m drop hole down to the river! I say a prayer and look over my shoulder to see how the natives are faring. The woman behind me has her hands over her eyes (the 3rd one was still showing) and her lips are moving. Safe. Ensuing "scream" passages with slippery mud, coming cars etc. are a breeze.

Here's a newspaper clipping about one week after i went over that road.

After alighting from the bus i catch my first ever human-powered bicycle rickshaw. Whoever invented shock absorbers for cars should get a Nobel prize for something. These things are kidney jelliers. Paying for the ride was just like a page out of a Japanese friend's diary. Before getting in he said "40" and i said "20". He countered with "30" and i countered with "20". A different rickshaw man came over so this first guy said OK. I wanted to make sure so said "two zero". He nodded up and down. When i got off though he said "30". After 15 seconds of talking we had attracted around 9 people where there were none. Everyone thinks he knows more about everything than you do. This is almost a national trait. It's one of the things that makes this country so trying to the soul. To quit making a short story long, i paid Rs25. Any further discussion and i would've had to charge admission.

The train is around 50 minutes late. While melting on the platform i see the most hilarious sight. On the platform there are many different sellers of junk. The pineapple dealers have baskets full of pineapple (100?) arranged around them and then for some reason some are locked up in cages. One pineapple seller is sleeping surrounded by his pineapples. A cow comes. Tiptoeing like a ballerina she steps nimbly over the seller and heads straight for the pineapple that isn't covered. Ummm. A bite here. A bite there. Yum Yum. "Wonder what that one tastes like?" She takes a bite or two from 4 or 5 before someone shoos her off. She backs up hastily. One hoof lands a glancing blow on the sleeping seller. He jumps up. She swings her head wildly spraying his pants with sweet saliva. And as suddenly as that, this little vignette is over. Monty Python couldn't have done it better. I bet this guy'll be extra popular with the flies today.

Looks like the army's on the move. Up to 1/2 the seats are taken. Whoa man! I'll be good! No more bad thoughts about India! Oh.    He's not aiming at me. I'm still not real comfortable with a machine gun hanging on the window rack and a huge rifle lying down on the seat across from me. We sit uncomfortably 4 to a 3-man bench. The facing bench has 3 people. When the conductor comes he instructs one to go to his seat. I just don't want to understand it. Why can't people just do what they are supposed to?? During the nite the group that was sitting a little ways away comes and takes over. If there is even a hint of a empty place, someone will try to claim it. I make my move for the window seat when someone gets up. Yea!

Banana peels, plastic bottles, everything - litter! I haven't made up my mind yet whether the whole country is a urinal or a dump. I can see trash easier so i'm currently inclined toward the dump view. I'm in the middle of a tobacco and politics war among my seatmates. They turn to me and ask once in a while, but especially one of them who knows everything so much better than i do. He asserts that the cause of India's poverty is the large population. I manage to keep myself from exploding, but with thinking like that, this country will never get ahead. It's a very communist thinking that says "kill everyone so everyone will be equal". People are a country's best resource. I trot out Japan as a shining example. As long as this despicable "caste" system is in place, this country will not make a lot of progress. Freedom i say! Clackety-clack. Clackety-clack. Sweat trickles into my pants. Huh?

Sweat isn't supposed to move horizontally. A bug. Oh. No sweat.    The lights flicker off and on. I go into the toilet and see firsthand what the British guy in Calcutta had said about how he couldn't understand how people could be ___ting and doing calisthenics at the same time to get the walls and ceiling dripping brown and yellow. I don't let my mind linger long on Ozzy Ozburne's "Crazy Train" or AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" songs. I never should've put them in my memory banks in the first place.

11-8 A friend from computer programmer days - Tom Fink, appeared in a dream again last nite playing soccer. This guy is one of the top 5 living people who has had an impact on my life. We would shoot the breeze sometimes as computer programmers for J.C. Penneys. "When you're 50 and sitting in some bar somewhere, what are you going to have to talk about if all your life was spent writing and debugging programs?" was his line. For a newbie college graduate who so desperately wanted a good job, this was revolutionary talk. I don't sit around in bars but maybe i took him a little too literally about the something to talk about bit...

Around 5:30am our train stops and various salesmen clambor aboard with their wares. A saree salesman is stopped by the guy facing me who was the most vocal during the political discussion last nite. He spreads one out, then another, and another. He's getting quite heated with this guy too. Seems like he lives to hear himself speak. When the train starts to leave 30 minutes later he finally decides on one. What a jerk! Even though our seats are towards the middle of the car, the smell from the toilets is wretched. I resolve to not drink any water until leaving the train. This ride was supposed to be 3:45pm~6:35am, but it winds up being a 4:35pm~8:40am ordeal. Moral of this story? Pay extra and ride in the A/C cars - mainly for the quality of people.

Leaving the train, i take a bus to the ticket office to get back to Chennai. Get off. Walk thru the mess. Man!, this is FILTHY! A guy walking in flip-flops slips in front of me. The cause is the yellow colored fecal matter. GROSSSSSSSS. My stomach turns one revolution. Walk about 20 steps and there is a man with a plate sitting on the ground eating something of very nearly the same color and consistency (dhal over rice). My stomach revs up. I meet a really nice British guy at the ticket office who says he has many trials just to live properly in India, but he just can't tear himself away. That glue hasn't gotten ahold of me yet. ;)

Restricting water intake wasn't such a good idea. I walk under the load of my backpack thru some bazaar being hounded by rip-off artists back to the mission where i take a nap, near dehydration.

12-8 I go looking for a cheaper place to surf the internet and enter a "STD ISD FAX" shop (everywhere in India - a telephone shop) that has "Internet" written at the top of their sign. I ask the 3 guys lounging around if i can use the internet. One replies that it's "broken". I ask him if it will be fixed by tomorrow. He consults laughingly with his friends, turns to me, and replies "6 months". What an impudent jerk! I have more than 1/2 a mind to get some black paint and cross out "Internet" on their lying sign. I enter 2 more shops that say "Internet" on the sign, just to hear that "we don't have that anymore". Finally though, right near the mission i find a place.

While walking around i come across a few booksellers that cater to foreigners. What joy to see 3 Japanese magazines! What disappointment to see they are about crosswords and horse racing only:( The guy in the shop says something almost understandable in Japanese. Come to think about it, his English is about the same. He proudly states "I can speak 9 languages". I want to give him advice about mastering at least 1 of them, but hold my peace, smile, and bargain him down on what i later discover is last week's TIME.

13-8 I head for the project in the country (Sonarpur) only to take the wrong train. Only 2 stations away from what one of the locals proudly called "the busiest train station in Asia" and i'm stuck for 30 minutes in the middle of the day waiting for the next train. A little kid takes a dump in the grass on the platform. Someone shoots a stream of betel-nut juice into the grass. It looks more inviting to walk on than the broken platform pavement, but i now know the dangers lurking at ground level.

It's funny how the sight of one skinny white guy can get 15 skinny Indians up and working. The project's director moves in while the cement floor is literally still not quite hard. I'm impressed with the speed of this project. I'm also impressed that it takes a crew of 17 to work and live here for 2 weeks to bore a thousand foot (310meter) well by hand.

On the 4km walk on the country road back to the leader's home, i'm laughed at much more than usual. I'm in such a good mood that i just keep smiling back at them at first, but then i wonder if something silly, like a big red dot, is stuck on my face. All the stares get me down until i see an Islamic looking gentleman selling something on the sidewalk back in the city. Aah! a nice souvenir thinks i. He wipes his dirty hands on my dirty T-shirt, but it just makes me happier. In my own little, happy, fragrant world i return to the mission.

14-8 The pastor's wife invites me into their home for breakfast where i get a stomach and ear-full. The man who calls himself the Bengali pastor there (there is no Bengali service; only English) is like a yakuza (mafia). He's been told to vacate the mission compound several times, but he warned that he knows police officers who would shut the whole compound down. He's appeared with a stick and physically threatened the pastor. His game is that he clings on to foreigners - tells them sob stories about kids at his "orphanage" or tells them of great evangelistic campaigns he's planning - takes their money - and laughs all the way to the bank.

Then i hear the case about the evangelist in the Georgia-Cumberland conference who baptizes many people at "weekend" series. He's invited to come to Calcutta and do a 2-week series with the expenses being borne by interested parties. He wants to take his wife along. When told there isn't enough money for her, he replies "OK then, you supply a new wife for me every nite that i'm there!" He's used to people saying "Hai, Hai" when told to do something, so when told that this was out of line he blew his stack with a lot of cursing. Of these kind of people, i think it's best to "hand them over to Satan" as Paul puts it.

16-8 A Canadian family that is working with ADRA came last nite. From the Howrah station the taxi fare should be Rs50. They paid Rs600. I thought it was mostly white-skins they raped for money, but after talking to some Indians, your skin color doesn't matter. Just if they can detect that you aren't familiar to that area, they will jack the prices. Looks like a game they play among themselves - see who can devour before being devoured. These kind of thoughts, along with the army of hammer&sickle symbols seen everywhere, makes me think that Indians' thinking is basically communist: everyone should be equal so let's kill everyone. Fortunately, there haven't been any organized pogroms yet (aaaah, "organized", maybe that's why...)

Talking to the pastor's wife, i get an idea on how Indians feel towards foreigners. A pastor's monthly salary is only around Rs5,000 ($125). But a volunteer can come from overseas and be paid a "stipend" of Rs6,000! Two ministerial students studied together at Spicer College - one was Kenyan and one was Indian. Both are being paid to pastor in India from funds in India. But one makes Rs60,000 while the other makes Rs3,000. It's no wonder Indians develop these symptoms:

  1. They get jealous of or hate foreigners.
  2. They try to beg/scam foreigners as much as possible.
  3. They don't feel like working.

A man who is trying to do evangelism in Calcutta, especially Net'98, is discouraged. I read him a portion from "Colporteur Ministry": "Around people who are working for Christ from pure motives, God will send angels to give strength, protect, and encourage". It looks like many church members don't want him to succeed and upset the "status quo" (arisama). These words lifted his spirits. The Spirit Of Prophecy has that kind of power.

I take the cheap way (Rs1.40 tram) to Howrah station and walk across the bridge. The strong breeze feels good. The updraft from the man-size holes in the sidewalk down to the swift-moving muddy flow below doesn't. I didn't know about the new schedule (shin daiya-), but thanks to a 20 minute delay i make my train back to Chennai.

17-8 The class of people who ride the A/C cars is very different. It's quiet, peaceful, no smoke, and miracle of miracles - no loud arguments for the entire 27 hour journey. A friend of the guy sitting below me comes in from the "other" cars. He talks about how much noise and smoke are over "there". I pray every day when i travel, for the Lord to put me in contact with someone who i need to lead to Him. The "Save a Soul In Every Town" tune goes thru my head often too. In the morning a new guy gets in the bunk below me. His demeanor is different. He talks politely, he offers something to the opposite bunk mate. My ears can't believe themselves so i decide to do some checking with my visual apparatus. WHAT?! He's reading the Bible! We have an excellent talk for a couple of hours. He's the head of a Christian college here in Madras and invited me to church some day. I plan to take him up on it. When i mentioned how wonderful God's law was though, he gave me kind of a sideways funny glance. Who knows, maybe he's been thinking about it and my comment spurred something. Then again, maybe he just thought i was some "Law" crackpot. Back in the mess that is Chennai ~ oooooooooh. It's like i'm in a time warp. Basically nothing has happened on any projects since i've been gone. A friend of someone gave some money to reprint a book so everything was dropped to attend to that....

19-8 With a new CD driver we can use all the CDs so the scanner finally gets installed! We spent around 6 weeks and who knows how many calls and service techs who came to look at the CD drive. While i was in Calcutta, they said they were sure that my CD was bad. HA! When i told them that i used my CD in Calcutta with no problems they reluctantly took another look at it. The techs seem to be trained pretty well but it's like noone wants to admit that there is a problem they are responsible for, and noone is really interested much in working.



Meet a nice guy from El Salvador at church today. He's studying computer related stuff here with about 30 other El Salvadorians. He's the only SDA in the group. Some Indian member wants to talk to me about how i'm missing out because i don't try to become "Indianized". (Please, if it involves putting food in your mouth with bare fingers and wiping it off at the other end of the digestive tract with the same fingers - I'm NOT interested.)

25-8 The father here has been asked by Global Missions to come up with 10 tracts on God's power. The plan is to print 100 tacts in Hindi for the equivalent of US$1.00. Our own SDA publishing house basically doesn't print anything anymore it sounds like. After hearing the power the workers have in India like burning down their place of employment if their demands aren't met etc. i marvel that any business makes a go of it. There's a real "cut off your nose to spite your face" problem here.
Whenever we talk about getting some kind of publishing work actually done, the phrase "dirt cheap" inevitably arises. To myself, i declare the term "dirt cheap" shall not be used in my presence again! Death to "dirt cheap"! Dirt cheap only buys dirt. I want a good quality product at a fair price. DO IT RIGHT!

We catch the nite bus to go on a 7 1/2 hour journey to Division headquarters for the Global Missions meeting tomorrow. I've heard from Bill how he dreads bus rides. No peeing for 4 hours at a streeeeeeeeeeeetch. Major accident remains seen on the road about every hour. Crazy passing. Poor maintenance. I decide to be foolish and check our bus' tyres. #1 & 2 are OK. I'm feeling a little sheepish for even looking. The 3rd one i come to has big chunks of rubber peeled off its sides. Not good. Inspecting closer, i see big chunks of rubber missing from the tread area. Where is that company that had the big billboard in Calcutta advertising the "best retreads in Asia"? I call on my guardian angel to put in some overtime for me:)

26-8 It was a bumpy, jerky, jolty nite. I might have dozed off 10 minutes or so. We're unceremoniously dumped at a bus station in Hosur around 5:30am. Just when the sun's coming up, we walk into the SDA Southern Asia Division headquarters (they take pains to not use abbreviations for their own organization!). It looks like heaven to me - flowering trees, green grass, no garbage, aaaah. We get a room where i promptly fall asleep after turning on the handy dandy mosquito repeller. Lunch is by invitation of the division president at his family's home. A REAL salad!! Yum-yum. Cole-slaw made with mayonaisse from the U.S. Oh boy! For the baked potatos - margarine (why in the world is this stuff popular? Still tastes like plastic to me). We have a good discussion about what is, should be, can be, printed here in India. We go to a Global Mission meeting that his wife is chairing. The plan is to create 100 tracts for $1. Some of the tracts will be small but some are up to 10 pages. These will be in Hindi and designed to give to people you know already. The sad state of affairs is that basically no doctrinal literature is being printed in this country:( DA TA DA! That's what i'm supposed to be helping doing.... I decide to stay another nite by myself there. Holed up with an Almanac of Facts, i study about India and the various languages used here.

27-8 Off to Jeeva Jyothi, a self-supporting (read: donation supported) training school for medical missionary workers about 30km away. I find a "hotel" ("hotels" are "restaurants") and eat a passable meal on a banana leaf (see pic). Some guy starts talking to me and asks if i'll help him with a letter. Sure! So i find myself sitting thru about 45 minutes of reading about how this guy wants info from Yale University and to get in the Guiness Book of World Records for something i'm not clear about but looks like it's sexually related. His no-logic letters give me a new appreciation for western culture. I believe he's THE SOUL though, that God wanted me to meet today, so i patiently talk to him about his letter and then, he blurts out "I want to believe in God but can't. I'll give him One more chance". Now he's got a Steps to Christ and a prayer offered in his behalf once a day. If this wasn't incredible enough, the owner of the restaurant said my lunch was "no charge"! The feeling is like i'm on air! My jaw must've scraped the floor because he asks if i got enough. I'm thinking "well, now that you've mentioned it", but instead i shake my head in that wagging side-to-side motion with a big smile indicating "yes":) First time ever in India that any business has offered Anything free!

I catch the bus that comes once every couple of hours and make my flying jump off with my parachute, i mean backpack. Everyone is busy planting rice. I see a small rock hill nearby and after about 20 minutes, make it to the top where a sweeping panorama awaits me. Large rocky hills reminding me kinda of a broken-up Stone Mountain in Atlanta, a flat valley with a towering range on the other side reminds me a little of the Sequatchie Valley. Does everything remind you of something familiar when you get older? Almost nothing in India has reminded me of anything i've ever experienced anywhere, so something even remotely familiar triggers that particular memory bank in my head. A rock cradles me for a 1/2 hour or so. I gaze up into the sky remembering doing the same thing near a castle at Assizi Italy. While gazing blankly into the sky there, i suddenly noticed that waaay up, it was filled with sailplanes. I squint once here just for the memories. A buzzard circles.

After i come down, the leader of the project who's lived here over a year says "i've never had time to climb that hill". He's hit one of my buttons and gets a little spiel about how we all have the same amount of time and what he really means to say is that he has other things with a higher priority to do. He hadn't thought of it that way. The leader graciously puts me up in his family's living room. No water or electrical current flows here. The people are much more highly educated and on fire for God, but while being better than average, their house is still a dump. Why would anyone cut 1/4 of a mango for chutney and leave the rest on the table without a cover is a mystery to me. When i wake up, i tiptoe past the new gnat colony that's taken up residence on you-know-what. They're worried about how i'll handle a squat toilet and bucket bath. Hey! I lived like that for 8 years in Japan! If you clean the floor and give me a futon, i'll feel really at home:) Ah so ka! Maybe that was the training ground for this. Ut-oh. Bad thoughts. What's this the training ground for....? I'm glad for the cot as i hear mice playing during the nite.

28-8 I go farther afield in my hiking. It's a little scary being all alone in the rocky hills. At the same time, exhilirating. No sound. No trash. No people. Just nature, angels, and me. The kids and i help get the things on the bookshelves all in order. For evening worship i talk about creation. I use the little felt set and give the pieces to the kids to put on when we get to the appropriate days. The kids' mom tells me later that my talk was one of the few that her littlest one hadn't gone to sleep in the middle of:)



The talk is very interesting about the Marian visions and how that possibly fits in with the King of the North in Daniel who "worshiped a god his fathers didn't know". It looks like a push is on in the Catholic church to elevate Mary to "god" status. This theory doesn't seem to fit in with the rest about honoring the god of forces and exalting himself above all that is called god though. Good solid food for thought.

After church, in the afternoon, i go with 3 of the students and walk about 2km to the nearest little village. They've had a little program for them on sabbath afternoons for the last 4 or 5 weeks. Around 35 kids gather inside and some girls repeat the memory verse which is about honoring your father and mother. Some boys try but can't make it to the end. Then they sing with the gusto of rock-stars "God is so Good". Which will crack first, the concrete walls or my eardrums?? - haha. The student that started this all first went to the village and offered to tutor the children in the school subjects for free. But with a catch. To apply what they learned in their school subjects, they'd have to come to a little meeting on Saturdays. Lots of kids came and went and many looked in thru the windows. Some mischievious kids would come to the door, make a big noise, and run away. I started playing a little game with them and finally at the end, became "friends" (at least in my own mind). I showed how to make a blade of grass "squawk". They got a real kick out of that. I gave a little talk about giving and how God gave us His Son. Then i gave some of the ones who said their memory verses - super balls from Japan! They'd never seen anything that bounced That high before! I hope i didn't give the wrong impression that white-skins give away stuff to everybody. The students (guys in their high teens) are dyiiiiiing for me to take their picture. Why is it such a big thing when they'll probably never see it?

30-8 The brand new nursery school here has a teacher with a masters degree, and only 5 kids! I ask what the problem is and the leader says 2kms from the nearest villages is too far for little kids to walk. Christian schools have a good reputation in India and he says that over 30 Hindu families have committed to sending their kids. If they just had a little van to go around and pick them up... A used one can be had for around $4,000.

I catch the bus at 11:30. Country-bus passengers are a little different. They're still 2-legged, but have feathers. It huddles quite nicely near it's owner's (devourer's?) legs. Oh, what's this? Spurty-glop. All in the aisle. At the next stop a barefoot, elderly man doesn't notice it. After a couple of more stops, a man puts his woven shopping bag down on it and sits. By the last stop it just looks like the rest of the floor.

After a bus change where the toilet "boy" asked for 1Rupee and then grinned sheepishly when i said "no, only 50 paise!" (1/2rupee) it's welcome back to the scam world. I'm glad for my smallness when i have to take a seat over the wheel. Now i know what Bill means when he says you see accident remains every hour. 2 trucks carrying rocks are stopped in the middle of the road. Noone is around. Uuuuh. Rocks from the first one fell and crashed thru the windshield of the second one. The ticket man asks for (demands) a pen. I think it's a strange request, but comply reluctantly. He fondles it and then i ask for it back. He comes back around an hour later and wants it again. I grin and say no. I guess he thinks i'm full of pens. Maybe some goofy foreigner gave Him a super-ball when he was little so he thinks we're all loaded... I have to change buses again and lots of people are trying to get on. I push, but not being a pusher, i'm outpushed. But what's this? The guy with the turban who got to the seat just before me is waving me to it and standing up. What a Nice guy! He has a soft spot in his heart for bewildered foreigners. Maybe some goofy foreigner gave him a super-ball..... Huh? A cupped hand in my direction? I get it! This guy makes money by shoving other people out of the way and then reserving seats for them on the bus! How ingenious! What a waste of energy and life. He wags his head approvingly when i hand him a 1Rupee coin.

The guy sitting next to me is THE SOUL for today. Just when i thought maybe God didn't have anything special for me to today - here he is! We have an excellent talk and i give him a Steps to Christ in Tamil. He says he doesn't know Tamil. He came from a neighboring state where Malayalam is used and his education is all in English. I express surprise that he has been able to work for 3 years in Madras without Tamil knowledge, but he assures me he can speak it well. He says he'll give the book to his sister. After chatting a little more, it hits me that he's doing the classic Indian spiel - just say whatever you think the other person wants to hear. He gets out and a 50ish guy with a 10-12ish boy move in next to me. The fruitcake asks me some question and then pinches my leg - hard! Lots of people like to grab my arm etc. Can i buy a sterile bubble to live in?

With the ride nearly over we suddenly stop in the rain. Soon there is a BIG commotion up front. We nicked a car. All except for a few Muslim women, a sleeping boy, and i, get out and had a jolly good time listening to and joining in on the arguments which repeated themselves when the police came. It's only an hour and a half delay. I'm let out around 11:10pm. What's usually a Rs20 ride home is going for Rs50 at this time of nite. I get stubborn and insist on Rs20. I walk. It's eerie. All around mostly on the sidewalks are people sprawled out and either still or sort of moaning. Looks like some B-grade movie showing the aftermath of a bombing or gas attack. There's a small group at the curb. Keep a close guard but edge closer to see. OOOHHHH! Half of his neck is covered in blood! And he's not moving. Should i get my antiseptic ointment and large bandage out? 5 seconds later i turn away, deciding that the people around him can take care of him. Soon an auto-rickshaw comes by and the man says Rs20. I get in and give him Rs1 tip when i get home. Should've given him 1 more (tips aren't usually given here). Troubled thoughts about the "bad" Samaritan flood my mind keeping me awake half the nite.

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Kinda scary stuff. Maybe I want to read more about 1998?
Go to earlysda.com to read original 1858 Great Controversy book