played an integral role in the process of preparing me for my trip to India. Caitlin had given a year of volunteer work for the Bahá’i faith in India a few years back, and therefore was quite well versed in Indian culture. She gave me tips on food, dress, language, mosquitoes, among many other things. I do not mean to insult her humbleness by devoting a few paragraphs to her, however I feel it quite necessary in order to tell this tale. Among the activities she told me I needed to do during my stay in India was to listen to a certain Mr. Afshin give a talk. “A prolific speaker he is”, she said (the staff at current time is not able to give 100% assurance that Caitlin actually said that, so please disregard the quotations, they are only for effect – ed.) “You must see him speak!” Caitlin then asked me if I would be willing to bring a gift across seas to give to Mr. Afshin, who resides in Bangalore. I let her know that I would be more than wiling, and for the last few months, have had a package in tow for Mr. Afshin & Family. This last Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Afshin, and their son Naim at a talk he gave on the subject of “The nonexistence of evil”.
It was held at a weekly gathering hosted by various Bahá’is known as “Open House”, where people gather and discuss certain topics. It was held on the terrace of a very beautiful house, and as the evening went on, a discussion that was quite enlightening was passed among the some 30 participants. Mr. Afshin is indeed quite a prolific speaker and I felt honored to be able to meet him.
So without Further ado, I give you photographic evidence that Caitlin’s package did indeed make it safely into the hands of Mr. Afshin.
The range of experiences I have had since arriving in India are so many, I thought I would make a quick list of things I have taken note of that differ from the states:
The toilet paper rolls (when they have them) are a bit smaller than the ones in the states.
Traffic morphs around any obstacle it may have, making it safer than in America to stand in the middle of two lanes of speeding vehicles.
IST (India standard time, the time zone we are in) also can stand for “India Stretchable time”
I wake up to the Muslim call to prayer every morning, and hear it often throughout the day.
Even middle-class families can afford to have a maid come to clean and cook everyday.
The bills of India's money (the rupee) decrease in size as they decrease in value.
People of every religion can co-exist peacefully with one another, as there might be a mosque, a cathedral, a temple, and a church all on the same block.
If you are white, people will stare.
The vehicle drivers oftentimes turn off their engines at a red light, I assume to save petrol.
I am refered to as "Boss" by most people I do business with.
Indians are the most hospitable, welcoming people I have ever been around.
Food is not eaten with utensils most of the time, but with your right hand. This is a practice I have gotten quite used to doing.
Haggling is a normal occurrence and most of the time you can get things for cheaper if you are willing to negotiate.
There are piles of trash on some streets.
A slum with people living in tents may be only two kilometers from an upscale neighborhood.
There is no posted speed limit anywhere throughout the city.
There are many more fruits and vegetables on the planet besides the standard fare known to Americans.
You do see cows on the side of the road all over the city.
People will try to take advantage of you, assuming that because you are foreign you have lots of money.
Because you are foreign, people are interested in why you have come to India, and are eager to show you the best that their country has to offer.
Little children seem to stare the most, and are the most curious and have very little inhibitions when it comes to talking to you. They seem to make a game of trying to touch the “white guy” as they will come up to me and want to shake my hand, and when they do they will run off laughing as they catch up with their friends. I carry a small compass on me to help me with my sense of direction, and the children are often fascinated with such a simple object, wanting me to explain to them how it works and why I have it, the same with my mobile phone. I love stopping to talk with a child who has asked me my name, and often find that within minutes I have a large group around me wanting to know “What food is popular in America?” “What sport is popular in America?” and “Why did you come to India?” I was in a neighborhood the other night talking with a group of children for nearly an hour and they asked me upon leaving if I was going to come back. I noted the location of the neighborhood and have every intention of returning to see them again. What beautiful characters children have, I now perhaps understand why ‘Abdu’l-Baha loved them so dearly.
India continues to excite, and having a city full of experiences waiting at my fingertips to be explored is an exhilarating notion to say the least.
I appreciate all of your comments, I love you all and think of you often.