My son Brook has arrived in India. He flew 5.5 hrs from Seattle to NYC then 15 hrs to Bombay and 30 min to Pune where he'll work for a month. After spending the weekend there, he started work at 5 am after an exciting car ride which I’ll let him describe:
A car and driver picked me up at 4:30 am and we proceeded on Mr. Toad's wild ride accompanied by the blasting of some very cool electronic ethnic pop on the car stereo. It was difficult, but I restrained myself from screaming like a little girl as we narrowly avoided mowing down bicycles and pedestrians. We also failed to smash. Drivers in the US do not drive. I would call it a stately procession in comparison to the heart stopping thrill of riding in the front seat of car driven by a local Indian… I'm utterly terrified of leaving my hotel because pedestrians do not have the right of way here. I mean, I'm noticeable, but most of the vehicles still out mass me. Add some speed and metal housing and my flesh is in harm's way.
Having been in a taxi in several cities in Europe, I would say this experience sounds like Paris or Rome but much more intense. Then he goes on to describe the life style of the people in India:
The outdoors photos are from taxi ride (see small taxis above) from the airport in Bombay to my hotel there… The food has yet to kill me or even cause me any inconvenience. I'm working my way towards spicy in little wussy white guy steps… It's like Mexico in that people live in abject poverty in shanties on the street made of corrugated aluminum or mud, or cinder blocks. Clothing is more or less optional. The music is bizarre and yet somehow moving.
So he is having quite the cultural shock experience that I remember having when we lived in Brazil in 1971. More descriptions from Brook:
They do this weird little head roll in conversation. It's not a digital response, like a head shake "no" for an American. It's analog, like it has many variants and it can mean different things. People here within a single sentence move from English to Hindi and back again, sometimes even throwing in a word or two from one of several thousand dialects. Watching television is interesting for this reason. I have the feeling that after a month of this, I will have no trouble following it.
Needless to say our family prayers are with him as he has this great adventure. Thanks Brook for the photos and descriptions. Would love to publish more, take care. I love you, Mom