We have met some amazing people along the way, all of whom have taught us a little something about humanity.
The most amazing part of this journey has been realizing how small the world really is. In a city called Puducherry, we met a chef and his 12 year old daughter working in their restaurant. The daughter was easy to notice, because she was doing a really good sales job in perfect English at the table next to us. She was telling them about some apartments that were for rent that her father looked after. We turned our heads to observe this little voice that had such good "salesman" technique. After her pitch, she turned her attention on us. She started the conversation by asking us where we were from. Looking at each other, Greg and I were not sure if she would even know our city, so we said the nearest international city that most Indians know, Vancouver. She smiled and told us that her family had lived in Canada for two years after 10 years in Germany. I could hardly believe it. We had not met any Indians who had traveled to Canada, let alone lived there. She continued to chat with us and said that the city she had lived in was Edmonton. We laughed and told her that's where we were actually from, but thought she wouldn't know of it. So we started conversing with this pretty pre-teen about places in Edmonton she knew, where she went to school, and the restaurant that her dad was the head chef at. We asked her the name of it and once again a grin appeared on our faces. How comical that we had to go this far, to meet the chef of "Lit" on 104st and Jasper. We hadn't been there to eat, but we sure had a few glasses of vino there and had also frequented the wine bar across the road, Tzin. As we continued speaking, she introduced us to her father, who was so excited to meet someone from a city that they had just left 3 months ago. The girl told us she was having a hard time adjusting to indian schools, but we thought that her drive and friendliness permeated any negativity and we just knew she'd end up running her dad's restaurant over time. Pictures were taken and promises of emailing them were made before we left on our way.
I don't know why I am always surprised when we meet people half way around the world who have been to our city. By now I should be used to the Universe having a good laugh at the events unfolding. One thing I am learning along the way, is no matter if the journey is down the road to the grocery store... it is important to keep our eyes and ears open to make connections when the time is right. It's in those unplanned moments that life is good.
To be honest, I don't even want to write this part... I only want to relay to you the beautiful, positive and the wondrous. However, this is a story of India that needs to be told. Not because I'm tattling on her, but because it is the whole truth and nothing less.
The country is filled with contradictions and extremes. There is nothing moderate here. The horns blare, the people yell, the power turns off on a whim, and the pollution is beyond my comprehension. In the midst of the madness, there is religious ceremony and the desire to be more connected to India's spirituality. I would like to believe because of the history of the land that people take pride in the earth that supports them and the ground that feeds them. But for the most part, I would be wrong. Unfortunately, there is an air of arrogance, indecisiveness, and ignorance. As we walk down one of the several super busy roads, we are always taken aback, when out of a car pops a plastic bag or a cigarette butt. Do you remember thinking or saying at some point in your life, "if everyone threw trash outside, what would the environment look like?" Well, now we know. It looks like hell. We have been told as a coping mechanism the Indians have learned for centuries to ignore it and it goes away. This method seems to work for some of them, as they cannot see that the environment and the infrastructure of the city is losing the battle.
This is going to be the shortest part of my blog, as I know that I am not really qualified to give an expert opinion on the subject... just my own thoughts and observations. But then again, when has it stopped me from my intelligent ramblings before? Lol.
One of the things that Greg and I noticed while we've been here, is the real difference in color of the faces that we have come across. All Indian but not the same. One would think that brown is brown... but nope not here. There are varying degrees of how brown a person is. In the South, people are very dark, as it is closer to the equator. Makes sense to me... more sun, the darker the persons skin could potentially get. Who cares and why make a deal about it? However, we came across a little boy on the beach in Chennai, who was quite dark skinned and very adorable. He told me he thought I was pretty. I said thank you and told him he was handsome. He looked at me curiously and repeated himself and said, "you are white, so you are beautiful, I am dark and so I am ugly."