Monday, February 25, 2008

Life Jackets, Vaccines and Bleaching

We arrived home safely from India. There are many cliches I could use as I write this post but am saving them all for a separate post. An entire post of cliches, I think. For now, let's just leave it at it feels really good to be home. There's no place like home. Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I am struggling with my usual roller coaster of emotions. I am so happy to be home yet I feel slightly depressed. I think I am now suffering from reverse culture shock.

I know how busy people are and I have so much to say (some things never change!) so I think the easiest way for me to process my India info is through the use of bullets. The little computer bullets, not the violent gun type of bullets. I will also continue posting pics ~ since I have thousands and that is what you all really enjoy. Pictures tell wonderful stories. I must give credit where credit is due. All of the pictures which are labeled in red where taken by either Skip or myself. The pictures with a 'blue' label were taken by David Squires. David is a friend of Raj's from California who attended the wedding. I had wicked camera envy when I was around David. He had this big professional looking Nikon with all of these fancy attachments. When Skip and David went to the Expo the people thought they were from CNN ~ and they ended up having an incredible adventure because of the camera. David is on a soul searching, back packing adventure for the next few months. He is currently in Northern India and is eventually making his way to Saudi Arabia by June. He originally planned to travel through Pakistan but was denied access due to passport issues. We wish him safe travels.

The best place for me to begin is at the beginning:

  • We flew Emirate Airlines to India. Real food and lots of it, real silverware (including sharp knives), hot towels to clean up with ~ much different than my previous airline experiences. Each passenger had a TV set on the seat in front of them which allowed you to watch dozens of movies, TV shows, or a variety of music selections to listen to as we flew for 14 hours. One of the options to watch on the TV was flight info ~ you could watch a direct camera view of what was in front of us or below us~ I got airsick watching those. For awhile I watched the map view which showed what geographical area we were currently flying over. The first dozen times I checked the map was the same - ocean, ocean and more ocean. I wish I had paid better attention to the safety talk at the beginning about life jackets. I try to look under my seat to make sure I have a life jacket under my seat - what if they forgot to give me one? I do some deep breathing to help me relax. I calm down and settle down as I watch a whole season of Friends. After a few hours I turn back to flight information. I sit up straight in my seat - we are flying over Baghdad, Kuwait and Tehran. I look around me to see if anyone else has a look of sheer panic on their face. Am I on the right plane? Where is that life jacket? I think I am hyperventilating. Where is the oxygen mask? I begin to squirm around. I elbow Skip, who is engrossed in a movie. He just nods at me. I search frantically for the flight attendant. Do they sell Cosmopolitans on this plane? Are we there yet?

  • The grass is always greener ( oops, those cliches just can't help themselves.) Many Americans spend time and globs of money each year on tanning products. There are tanning salons, tanning lotions - the message loud and clear is that dark skin is beautiful and light skin looks sickly. Well, in India people pay money and spend time to bleach their skin. They want light skin and the advertising bombards you when you walk into a pharmacy or salon. 'Fair and Beautiful' cosmetics! Western looking people are on their advertising billboards and even the mannequins have a Western look to them. There is a lesson to be learned here.

  • There are still many cases of polio being reported in India each year which is why we both received polio boosters before our trip. The Indian government is attempting a door to door vaccination campaign to help end this crippling disease. Unfortunately, some Muslims believe that the polio drops are part of a conspiracy to sterilize their children, and are refusing to let them be vaccinated. May the Indian government be successful in their attempt to enlighten people and end this horrible disease.

  • This was one of the hardest customs for me when I was in India ~ they do not say thank you and would prefer that we not say thank you. I am 50 years old and I was raised to say my pleases and thank yous so ... I struggled with this. I hope I offended no one and I truly tried to abide by their customs, most of the time.

At this point I will stop. I do want to thank all of you who responded to my blog and emailed me when I was in India. You will never know how good it felt to know my family and friends back home were thinking of us and sending such kind thoughts our way. I am going to keep on writing on this blog and posting pictures about our adventure. I figure I have enough material to keep me writing until my next adventure arrives. My bags are packed and I am ready to go!

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