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Rainy days....

I have spent the last two days sitting on the patio watching the pouring rain. The rain here is unlike that in the States. It is a beautiful tropical storm that comes and goes throughout the day. It forms a mist over a little patch of the village and pours then moves on. There is no blowing dust, thunder, or lightning like there is in the States. This has unfortunately prevented me from being able to go and meet with the widows or venture into town to meet with another bank chairman. When it rains the roads become even more treacherous because you have to drive down the middle to stay out of the mud on the sides. As a result it is a lot of swerving around oncoming traffic. Despite this...It has given me some personal reflection time as well as time to relax. I love the feeling that time is something fluid here...days flow into one another. Things are flexible and running late is ok.

Today a woman who used to run the orphanage came to visit. She is an American girl who married an Indian man who used to be the registrar here and they brought their new baby. The five month old baby boy was so amazed to see someone white like his mother he could not stop staring. The woman and I went upstairs to show the Mercy Home boys the baby. They all took turns taking pictures of each other and the new baby with my camera. They kept saying \"Auntie one more photo\" over and over. This is more English than they have ever used with me...up until now I have only ever gotten Hi and Cheeeeeese like I taught them when we took photos. I had no idea they spoke so much English until this lady came because she speaks English with them.... I will be using it with them from now on. Her husband used to be the registrar at the school here and he used to fine the boys of the Bible School if they did not speak English...I had no idea those students spoke that much English either. I think that they are intimidated to speak with me sometimes but I will definitely be trying to now that I know they can. I learned today that many of the orphans do very well in school but a few was explained to me that just as in America there is a \"no child left behind\" mentality here that just keeps pushing these children through the system. After we talked and took photos the children headed off to Saturday classes and I was able to spend some time finding out how this American girl felt about India. It was very clear that she loved it here but was looking forward to returning to America. We talked about how long the trip is and American customs that are not the same here...such as you can throw your trash out the window or on the ground and that men often do not give up their seats to women. These things are just expected in the U.S. but are not commonplace here. I have come to believe that it is not a disrespectful thing it is just a cultural difference.

I have experienced many cultural differences since I have arrived here...some I have discussed such as bodily functions and dress. I think the most difficult cultural difference to understand is how the caste system still plays a part in India. The caste system was originally a Hindu concept but is very ingrained in the Indian culture. It is still unclear to me whether the people who wash my clothes and serve my food are doing so because they are of a lower caste or because they are of a lower socio-economic class (It was very hard to get used to people doing everything for you...I felt bad and wanted to say that I was capable of doing that for myself but that is how it works here). There are laborers here just as there are in the U.S. who are uneducated and work jobs that do not require extensive education...I wonder if they are relegated to this lifestyle because of their caste or because they were raised poor and it has just trickled down over generations. If anyone can shed some light on this please let me know...

India tip of the day: Do not touch centipedes they make you itch.

South and Central Asia
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