Trent travels all over Asia for his work. He leaves Sunday evening and returns on Friday evening. He regularly travels to Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India. Some of these places he loves and enjoys (Hong Kong) and some others he doesn’t care to go to much.
As you know, this girl really loves to explore, meet new people, and find adventure. I would LOVE to travel with Trent on his trips, and I finally convinced him to take me with him to India.
Two months in advance I applied for my Visa to enter India, I was so excited!! We were planning to spend nearly a week in Bangalore. The kids had school, and Leny would look after them while we would be gone. Just to get a Visa into India was $350 Sing dollars! Wow!
The only part of this trip that I was not looking forward to was the flight, as only two days prior to our departure the flight from Malaysia went missing. Kuala Lumpur in only a few hours away from Singapore, a little too close for comfort for us ( yes, Trent regularly flies in and out of KL). Most of the hubbies here in Sing travel all the time as well, and the fear from that missing flight rippled throughout the expat community with lightening speed. I was not looking forward to our 5 hour flight across the Indian Ocean, the same path the lost flight was suspected to take.
Thankful for God’s traveling mercies, we landed safely around 1 am in Bangalore, and from that moment when we left the airport, I was completely in love with India.
Trent was working all week, locked up in meetings from morning until late at night. I spent my days exploring this colorful country. My first day there I walked. I walked and walked, and then walked even further. I would wander into local shops, stand on a busy local corner and people watch, grab some fresh fruit or a piece of corn from a stand on the street, just soaking in the bright beautiful colors of these people, their happy chatter, their playfulness.
The next two days I had a private tour arranged with a local gal, Kaveri Singh, who owns and operates Bluefoot Tours. I immediately liked Kaveri, with her warm smile and friendly nature, we immediately became friends. Kaveri took me to the places that tourists don’t normally get to see, the things that only the locals know of.
First up, on our way out, she had the driver pull over, as there was an old lady sitting along the side of the highway that she wanted me to meet. Our driver backed up on this major roadway, which in itself was exciting. We hopped out of the car, and Kaveri spoke to the old lady in her language, while I stood nearby. It turns out the lady is a psychic … actually her parrots are the psychics. But the lady was visibly upset, as one of her parrots was confiscated that morning by the Wildlife Commission. Her other parrot was at home, and next thing I knew, she was in the front seat of the car with us and we were taking her to her home. When I had Kaveri ask how old she was, her response was “60 to 70 years old”, which I though was hysterically funny. I just couldn’t believe that this little old lady, who was obviously high from something that she continued to chew on, would just climb into the car with complete strangers.
Once at her home, I sat on the floor with her, and her parrot was released from it’s cage, and it proceeded to pull out (tarot) cards, which the old lady than read for me. It was fascinating, especially since it was done with three different sets of cards, and I had the exact same reading each time. My fortune was 2/3 good … and 1/3 not so good. The old lady advised that we go to the black magic temple to have a spell done. ??? What!!!
Next up on the agenda was visiting a meditation temple, drinking fresh coconut milk straight from the coconut,
visiting a shop where I chose my own silk and printed it with print blocks and ink (usually done for saris, but I did two table runners),
we had lunch at a local coffee shop, a visit to a snake temple (India used to have 400 lakes, which bred all kinds of diseases, so the lakes were filled in, displacing all the cobras. So in order to keep the cobras happy, there is a temple devoted to them, to honor them and keep them happy).
Kaveri took me into the slums, where she helped to found Janakiram Layout, organization to empower women by teaching them crafts and selling them, ultimately helping them to break out of poverty. The women organize themselves … some babysit all their children, while others collect tetrapak containers from the garbage, clean them, cut them, and then they weave them into beautiful bags and baskets, and then they sell them to make income for their families. I bought two purses, gave one to Leny, who loves it. We both carry our “garbage purses” and get compliments on them everywhere we go.
When we were leaving, Kaveri noticed that there was a pile of their scraps and tetrapak waste that was thrown back out into the garbage. She went right back into the girls and talked to them about it, the cleaning up has to start somewhere, and couldn’t they think of a better way to dispose of their rubbish rather than just toss it out the back?
The day I was there, an expat lady from the Netherlands, living in India, was there teaching the women how to use a sewing machine. If the ladies could learn to do their own sewing, then they wouldn’t have to outsource the final sewing on their purses, and would make more per money.
Next we visited the KR wholesale flower market, where loads and loads of fresh flowers are brought in every morning.
The flowers are then weaved into long garlands, which are then cut and sold. Every single flower is sold by the end of the after noon. I was stunned to learn that this happens every single day!! Thousands and thousands of flowers each day! The Indians use the flowers to decorate the entrance to their homes, temples, their cars, cows, oxen, everything!
Everyone knew Kaveri, as they all wanted to talk to her, as she just had a sweet baby girl two months earlier. Everyone wanted to see pictures of her baby!
We visited a cemetery where we watched a funeral,
visited the black magic temple that was in the cemetery …oh yes I did.
I visited the black magic temple. And it was very creepy. Kaveri told me that the leaders of this temple have to be female. So if a male wants to be part of this, yes, they castrate themselves. Not kidding, they castrate themselves. Kaveri gives me a quick look around, shows me the “tree” .
The story of the tree is that, say, for example, someone at work is getting promoted over you, or your rival in swimming is always faster than you. Then you take something personal from that person, say a tie, or hanky, or goggles, and bring it to the tree, tie it on, and then bad luck will fall on that person. Instead of praying that you will do better or be faster, you instead pray for bad things to happen to your opponent. Yikes.
Then I noticed that there were dogs and goats everywhere. Well, to be fair, there are stray dogs everywhere in India. But here in this black magic temple, the goats and dogs are sacrificed, yup, right here.
Then the head person, she cast a protective spell on me … by lighting a piece of paper, dropping a lime and stomping on it, then throwing a raw egg into the graveyard.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry, and before I knew it, Kaveri had me back in the car and on our way out of the cemetery, before the “zombies” could catch us (the cemetery workers who came to our car window to beg for money)
Tomorrow I will add some of my favorite photos of India! This country and it’s people are so colorful, it’s a photographers dream! To end this blog post on a good note, please click on the following link to learn more about the Janakiram Layout of Bangalore.