Friday, March 26, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tea is a staple in India (and many parts of the world). It serves as an excuse to call people into your home. It is a sweet (and sometimes bitter) way of sharing. An excuse to make a conversation go on longer.
I've never been much of a tea drinker. I've always secretly wanted to be one of those people who can put a very emo/organic/hippie facebook status report about the most recent exotic tea they just drank over a book or song that made them cry. But, it's just not me.
A few days ago a neighbor knocked on our door and said that she and her husband would like to come by this weekend. I ecstatically agreed and knew what I needed to do. I went out that day and purchased my first tea set. A reminder of the promise I heard God give me a few months ago, "You have friendships waiting for you in India." That tea set looked so beautiful to me that day.
Something else I want is to be good at mourning. It may sound crazy, but in the last year I have been so humbled to see the way God draws near during times of pain and sadness. This world is not in it's ideal state, and that should be sad to us. Knowing Christ is not a reason to "be strong and quit crying"; knowing Christ is the reason why we can drink deeply of sadness and loss without fear of being overtaken by them. Those of us who know Christ should be the best mourners; not the ones who avoid it.
Mourning is a staple in most of the world. Some cultures are just plain good at it. Jews sit for days at a time, tear clothes, spread ash on their heads. In Chennai, a group of men carry the body through the streets, making sure to block traffic and force regular life to stop if even for just one second. God praises women who are good at mourning.
This morning, I lost a dear friend. A friend who was one of those women God praises for their skillfull mourning. Is it cliche to say that she was young, beautiful, and left us too soon? Either way, it's true. I felt so sad. I still feel sad. I will feel sad for a long time. I didn't know what to do; I needed some kind of an expression for my aching heart. I made a batch of tea, leaving out the sugar. I sat at my kitchen table, sipping the bitter tea until it was gone. It hurt. A lot. It also felt good.
I'm not sure the purpose of this post. Maybe being so far away from all of the other mourners, I needed to have a forum to share my hurting heart.
Thankfully, I have my husband, my tears, and a cup of tea.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
It's not just shoes either. There are all sorts of jobs of convenience here in India. Courtney and I have both taken in clothes to get tailored. Having clothes that fit just ok was another thing that we just dealt with in the States. But here, it's so easy to take in an article of clothing and for a reasonable price have it tailored.
With a billion people to find jobs for, there are many professions that exist here. Shoe guys, ironers, elevator men, ladies tailors, gents tailors, waste paper collector, house help, watchman, etc. There seems to be a common understanding here that people need jobs. So having a shoe guy is not only a really convenience for us, it also makes sure there is one more job out there for someone to fulfill.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Having both grown up in the Midwest, Neil and I know that we can always rely on the faithful "how's the weather?" conversation filler. What's great, is that it's not just mindless "filler", because it really is a legitimately interesting topic, because the weather is so rarely the same two days in a row. Monday could bring 50 degrees, partly cloudy. Tuesday is 20 degrees, sunny. Wednesday is 31/32 degrees and freezing rain. But, not in Chennai.
I realized before me moved here that we would have to re-learn how to "small talk", but I wasn't totally sure what was and was not going to work. After a couple of friendly "it's hot" comments, I quickly realized that talking about the weather was one area of small talk that didn't survive the plane ride. Imagine if all of your conversation fillers suddenly come back void and you realize that you have NO CLUE how to start, end or fill friendly conversation. That's what happened to me. It was a little unnerving at first, until I realized that the reason weather isn't a great topic to talk about in Chennai is because IT NEVER CHANGES! There are definitely differences in the seasons, but day to day you can absolutely count on the weather being between 30-34 degrees celsius and sunny. Go ahead, google it.
So, now I'm happy that I've lost a conversation filler because I've gained consistency in an area of my life that was NEVER consistent before: the weather. Plus, I've figured out the perfect conversation filler to go in it's place: my language faux-paus.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
There are few things in life that give me (Neil) more pure joy than juice. I love fruit in general, and there is something so wonderful about squeezing out its essence. When we lived in the State, I was always on the lookout for some wonderful new juice mixture (white cranberries AND peaches AND strawberries? Banana AND mango? I must try it...) .
Upon a few days after arriving in India, we went to a grocery store and there was this big banner advertizement which was for a brand of juice called “Saint”, and the ad reads “Juice the Way God Meant it”. Immediately I knew I was among people who spoke my heart language. We got the Mixed Fruit Juice and I feel okay saying that it was heavenly.
While I am dropping brand names, I must add my new favorite drink, Nimbooz, by 7UP. It's similar to a lemonade, but better in ways I can't quite describe. I have often said that if I had an endless amount of money, my one luxury would be wearing a new pair of socks everyday. However, since I don't wear socks in India, I think I will change it to having a Nimbooz everyday.
Not only are there a plethora of delicious juices at the grocery store, there is also a juice shop on nearly every block. While living in our guest house, we found one shop that made delicious juice for a cheap price. These places will make nearly any fruit into a juice and the fruit is just sitting there in the store. On my birthday, we went with Karyn and Ben to the king of juice shops called the Fruit Shop on Greams Road. They had a menu with at least 40 options of juice choices. Unbelievable.
If you are still reading by this point, you must be a juice lover as I am. So, if you want to make a pilgrimage to the center of great juices, look no further than Chennai.