Saturday, August 19, 2006

A day of adventure

ICMIS, the institute where I will be attending classes for the next year, is where I spent a majority of my time yesterday. I met my fellow students; there are 8 of us. It is a small number, but we seem to get along quite well and will no doubt have a good time learning about India together. We officially registered for classes and received our mobile phones. My class schedule is as follows:

9:00 - 10:30: Indian/British Literature
10:45 - 12:15: Hindu Mythology
12:30 - 2:00: Hindi as a foreign Language

9:00 – 10:30: Religions of India
10:45 – 12:15: Indian Civilization

10:45 – 12:15: Hindu Mythology
12:30 - 2:00: Indian/British Literature

9:00 – 10:30: Religions of India
10:45 – 12:15: Indian Civilization
12:30 - 2:00: Hindi as a foreign Language

I am looking forward to starting my classes, they seem like an interesting bunch.

I received, as I stated earlier, my mobile phone yesterday. They don’t use the term “cell” that often as it is referred to as your “mobile”. It is an interesting system they have. Unlike in the states where you join a carrier and have a plan with so many minutes a month, over here when you receive your phone, initially the only people you can call are others with your same service provider, in this case “reliance”. You have to “charge” your phone by going to a phone shop and buying minutes for your phone. And also, unlike the states, it is cheaper to text message (one rupee per text) than to call someone, leading to texting being a preferred means of communicating.

Our tuition includes a ride to and from our homes to the school, and it is roughly a half hour commute from the “heart of the city” to the outskirts of Bangalore, where our school is located. After we were dropped back home yesterday from orientation, Michael (my flat mate) and I decided to walk Tara (another girl attending classes) home. Tara lives in Cook town, and Michael and I in Frazer Town, it is probably 2-3 km to Tara’s flat. As it is monsoon season here, weather can be very unpredictable and it can start pouring rain very unexpectedly. As we were walking it started to rain, Tara and Michael spotted a church across the street and people were entering, we decided to dip into the church A. because it was about to pour, B. because we though it would be interesting to see a Christian service in India, which is majority Hindu. As we were waved into the church and sat down in a pew we waited for the service to begin. As people kept entering, we noticed how immaculate everyone was looking, men in dress pants and shirts, bright yellows and blues, greens and reds. Sari’s so beautiful it made you happy to look at them, and also very aware of how much you stuck out, with just jeans and a t-shirt, and white skin. I couldn’t help but feel as if many different people were staring at us. Three white foreigners with foreign clothing amidst a sea of brown skin and colorful garments.

Eventually the flood of people entering the church slowed down, and the crowd got quiet. At this point we had been in the church for around 20 minutes and had started to wonder why they were having a service on Friday night. One of us in the group made the comment “that would be funny if this was someone’s wedding”, and not a moment after the words finished leaving the lips the wedding march started playing on the organ. As the couple walked down the center aisle, Michael and I exchanged glances and burst out laughing, not knowing what to make of the situation. Here we were at a complete strangers wedding! The service was mostly in a foreign language (which we learned later was Telagu) with a few words of English spoken in between sections.

There was a wedding photographer and a man taking video the whole time. As the man with the video camera was sweeping the crowds we couldn’t help but think of what the couple would think when they saw us in the crowd on their wedding video. And at one point the photographer came to our pew and took a very close up photo of Tara, Michael and I. We sat through the entire service with people catching us in their eyes every so often, giving us strange looks. We just kept laughing the whole time at the awkwardness of the situation!

As the bride and groom left the church after the wedding, the preacher tracked us down and he invited us into his office. He bought us all sprites and we talked for a good half hour about the church, which was the Church of South India. He told us that he thought we may have been colleagues of the man getting married and had thrown in the few words of English so that we could follow what was going on. It was at that moment we realized how easy we must have stuck out, as we were close to the back in a good sized church, yet the preacher had noticed us right away! As we said our goodbyes we exchanged mobile numbers and he invited us to dinner at his house sometime in the future.

We then walked Tara home and hung out at her flat for about an hour. As Michael and I walked back to our apartment, we couldn’t help but realize what a fun time we had had that night.

It is only when you venture out when you get stories that you will tell when you are ninety.



Anonymous mae said...

That is an amazing story which brought us all smiles! What better introduction to Indian Christianity than a wedding? Perhaps the preacher will be open to hearing about the Faith :D

Your schedule sounds deliciously fascinating, I can't wait to hear about all the insights you gain into Indian culture, literature and religion.
The Bollywood Lounge song you gave me was playing in the kitchen yesterday, and i thought of you. All of us at Green Acre miss you, but it's so wonderful that you are having adventures in such a spiritual and exciting land. Email me your address so i can send you a letter.

Shiva says:
Hello, I had fun hearing that story about the church, it was very funny.

Micah says:
Hi Thaddeus. Your beard is ugly and stupid.

Mtalika says: What up!

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Georgia said...

Woah! Yes, that would be a good story to read to your grandchildren from a book you will write sometime.Love, Georgia

12:14 AM  
Anonymous afsaneh said...

hahah! thaddeus..that such a great story. did you ask the preacher why they don't just chew their own gum?
good luck in india...learning and fighting those monsoons

2:42 AM  
Anonymous Anisa said...

I'm sure that there will be more awkward situation for the first few weeks. But the story of the church is so funny, I can't stop laughing!
i can imagine that the couple will start asking their family members about you guys while they show your video to them.
haha, probably the photofrapher was in shock too. Fun time!

4:31 AM  

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