Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I MIss my Vanessa

So today i got my hair cut in India. this has never happened before. I heard a few horror stories from friends about their hair cut so i have been avoiding it. I have been going home enough that each time i would go home Vannessa would cut my hair. Not only is vanessa an amazing hair dresser, she is also a great friend. While i am getting my hair cut we chat and laugh and catch up....its great. I look forward to it every time i go home.
This is vanessa after she cut my hair last time i was home.
my experience this time was a little different. i went to this post salon on park st. I have walked by it 100's of times and never went in but my friends here say there is this guy who is the best. he does runway show in Paris and stuff. so i booked him.

i walked in the saloon and immediately felt so so so uncool and hip. i woke up lat that morning and was kinda grubby and i have my kinda big awkward bag with me. and everywhere there is all dressed up and looking so stylish.

i sit for a long time. and all of the sudden out of the blue i feel a tug on my arm and it my friend Maya!!!! she has been working there for about 2 months cleaning etc.!! it was crazy.

so i waited some more and maya told me to tell them that i here and to tell Ramen (that's his name).

well i guess the receptionist forgot to tell him i was there to get my hair done by him.

finally i get my hair washed by an assistant and then she proceeds to run a brush through my hair...note i have curly hair.

then ramen comes. you can tell he is the boss. the moves through the store and everyone kinda get outs of his way. he is kinda age it think.

i show him a picture of my favorite hair cut vanessa ever gave me and he say "too curly". I say "um okay" but i would like some fun layers. i was a little intimidated at this point.

He then started to cut away. and my hair kept getting drier and drier and he didn't put in any product or anything. but he was cutting great and even used the razor just like Vanessa.

he cut and then he used a blow dryer and literally just blew it scrunching or moose. when i look i the mirror i almost started crying. i had this huge frizzy mane. he tells "you hair isn't as curly as it was in the picture" i am freaked.

but then he did take some moose (sp?) and kinds crunches it up and then blow dries the top straight. so i have this kinda straight bouncy hair-do.

the verdict is still out.

we shall see how it looks washed with some gel in it.

I love getting my hair cut by vanessa in america. i love America's customer service. i love that the guy who cut my hair is like this international famous hairdresser and it cost me about $5 dollars more than a fantastic sams hair cut in the states. i love that my fair feels bouncy and good. i love that i really really need a tan.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Here in Kolkata, the major god that people worship is Kali. Or Kali ma or Kali goddess of time, death and destruction. She is a complicated god. she supposedly saved her "children" by drinking the blood of a demon. this sent her into a wild killing frenzy and her husband took the form of a dead man and she tripped over him and was awakened from her blood lust. is you have ever seen a picture of her she is depicted as having blue skin, wild hair, many arms, her tongue out, and has a chain of heads around her neck. she is rather scary looking.

i am telling you this because i had a weird experience today. we met a new girl named R. she was sold by her husband when she was a teenager into the trade. she had lived there ever since. we noticed all these cuts on her arms. when she answered we were a little shocked by the story. she broke her arm when she was really young. her mom did a puja to Kali (she made some kind of worship) and her arm was healed. at this very young age R make a pledge to Kali. so every year during Kali PUja she cuts her arm open and fill a gold cup with her blood and offers it to Kali. We asked her why she does this. She told us that she is scared that if she doesn't do this she will die. She thinks that by doing this sacrifice her life will stay good. So the root of it is fear. Crazy eh?
So we get to keep going to see her. she wants to leave the trade now. pray for her. she is really sweet. she has one son whom she loves more than anyone in the world.

i love that i just wasted about 20 minutes looking at pictures on line of the screen guild pictures. i love that when i makes list i usually remember things...why i don't make list more i don't' know. i love that tomorrow i get to go to sb. i love that on friday we are going to see bikram gosh...a famous tabla player.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


life has been alight here. actually, it has been cold. the coldest i can ever remember. it started to get cloudy on tuesday and then the sun didn't shine for a couple days and then in rained for two and 1/2 days....and folks, it was cold. i just want to give props to the people of WMF who live in nepal, or bolivia or romania. because, as nice as it was to curl up under the blankets for a couple days...i am ready for sunshine and warmth once again. i didn't take a shower for , i think, three days, because i didn't want to be cold!!!!
so props to the cold weather people. i think of you when i was tempted to complain and instead was just thankful that i knew in a couple days it would be warm again. you all are my heroes.

this weekend we were given a day away out of the city paid for by another NGO that we work with here. at this retreat center there is a pool, basketball court, tennis courts, boats, mini golf. we were all set for a day in the sun and like i said above it rained the whole weekend. and it never rains in teh winter here...just a freaky weather kind of thing. this happened to us in September when we tried to leave the city for the rained all day, every day for the two night we were at the beach as well!!!! however, this forces us to rest. yesterday at the retreat center we ready for a couple hours in our bungalow they provided us with and then watch TV for a couple hours and ate good indian food and felt totally relaxed. they even sent a driver to pick us up at our house and take us to the retreat center. it was really really a good day.

i am thinking to much about renewing my contract. i have to know in the next couple months. it makes me sad a little bit to have to make this decision because either way i decide it cost something. wish i didn't have to choose and could just have it all!!!!

i love the book "animal's people" by Indra Sinha i just read....ange, you have to read this book. its an amazing story and beautifully written. i love that the retreat center has a zacuzzi. I love that i think for lent i am going to try to keep my room clean for a whole month. i love that my mom is coming. its still surreal. i love reading the cullum's blog...makes me oh so happy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

dancing in the streets all time idol....Micheal Jackson...he may be really creepy and weird now...but Thriller, Bad, Billie Jean, beat it.... the man can bust a move like no other!!!!
Shakira......dancing idol #2
janet jackson...dancing idol #3....come on folks'...rhythm nation was awesome!!!

so i have joined a dance class. i have dance two days a week from 6:00 - 7:00 pm. my friend avishek and i have joined. sarah and beth are both learning how to play instruments, i decided to learn how to dance. i love love dancing. if a guy ever wants to win me over...just dance with me. however, i am finding that dance class is not really like dancing. its a lot harder. usually when i dance i don't think about the moves or what comes next...i just dance and laugh and have so much fun. and i am still having fun, that is until i have practiced the same step over and over again and can't seem to remember it still. however, that is good for me. it makes me have grace for myself and laugh and have fun anyways.
i am learning hip hop (my favorite) salsa, some bollywood stuff, jazz (my least favorite) and some other types. its such great exercise.
i am by far the oldest and only foreigner in my class. most of the students are girls and are the age of 14-21. but i am making friendship with them and they are getting more used to the crazy white girl in the back who laughs at her mistakes.

so i am enjoying getting my groove on. its fun and frustrating to learn something new. maybe you will one day get to see my moves in person. until then just think of kristin shaking her bootie like shakira o Janet Jackson (her two female dancing idols). and at least know that in my own mind i look like them when i dance.

i love that beth can make me laugh at most anything. i love that sarah was missed when she went to Delhi this weekend. i love that my brother never ceases to surprise me. i love that my step sister sent me a picture of her sonogram. i love that one of my small group girls gave birth to a 10.5 lb baby!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


The Indian Institute of Cebreal Palsy.

i had a "clashing of worlds" kinda day yesterday. I have a friend named Jima and her handicap little girl who is 8 named Sila (names changed). I think i wrote before about how Sila's smile could honestly melt the most evil person's heart.

Jima asked me to get her some help for her daughter. i was eventually referred to the Indian institute of cerebral palsy . They said come in on a Thursday for a free assessment.

So yesterday we went.

i was really dreading it. but i walked in and the institute was clean and organized and people were friendly and asked us "what do you need?" they took her name etc and then ushered us to a room that looked liked it could of been in america.

there about 5 families each sitting on thick physical therapy mats each with a doctor. the doctor was making a plan with the family and showing them excises. so Jima and i sat down with a woman Doctor/Pysical Therapist and she learned exercises to help her daughter. then we got to go see a specialist doctor and he diagnosed Sila with Cerebral Palsy. They told her that her daughter might be able to lift her head and feed herself and that she was really smart.

Jima has to go once a month to this institute. They are going to give her a chair so her daughter can sit right. if jima goes every month for the next 6 months to a year she might be eligible to put her daughter in school. i left this place so hopeful for jima and her daughter because i felt like people for the first time were on her side. they believed that good could happen to Sila. They treated Jima with respect even though they could tell by her address what she did for a living. it was one of the most positive experiences i have ever had at an institute here.

then we made the trek home. when we arrived relived and tired, jima had a customer waiting for her. she insited that i stay and wait so we could eat together. she closed the curtain and worked, i sat on the opposite bed with her owner and the customer's friend. They talked about the "free sex" in america and how everyone has sex with everyone and its no big deal. and asked me about my sex life. and i realized that this gift of sex that i have been waiting since i was 13 to give to my husband, something that is so so precious to me and have been protecting to give away to the man i will marry one day, was given away for 100 rupees in 10 minutes, while i sat on the opposite bed so Jima could feed and take care of her little girl with cerebral palsy and feed her two sons.
after that we ate rice and vegtable curry.

what???? like i said, a clashing of worlds. don't have words to put it all together. sometimes i forget where i work and the reality of it all. have to believe the from brokeness God can make a mosaic. (Josh said that)

I love that sarah and beth's article for the cry. i love playing Frisbee. i love playing badminton in the park here in kolkata. i love that beth and i bought i poster and nepali flag for out friends and its jan. and still have given them to our friends yet. i love that this blog post make me uncomfortable and wonder whether i should of posted it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

loving kolkata

life here has been good. the weather is amazing. perfect. sunny, warm, a little chilly at night. youc an wear jeans and not sweat so being outside is where i want to be right now.
on saturday our friends micheal and bapi took us to bandal church about 2 1/2 hours outside the city. it was from 1568 or something. and then we got to go to this old was awesome. you walk in the prayer room and it has all these beautiful glass lamps hanging from the ceiling. it was old and run down but for some reason i really loved it.
and then sunday there was this huge political ralley but i went to the victoria memorial anyways and laid out in the sun and read my bible and it was heavenly.
i think its a combination of the weather and just being out in the city and learning more about it. its like walking around in a museuam sometimes. the houses in our neiborhood along are a hundred or more years least.
and there are still burning ghats and bathing ghats like there was a 1,000 years ago. its just so cool.
and the gatch is great. we recently befriended this lady J who has a young daughter who has a young daughter who is 8 and has some kind of physical and mental handicap. she can walk or talk or sit up...but she can smile. and she is soooo sweet. J's husband died 6 years ago and she was rolling cigarettes to support her daughter and her two sons. any woman would of thrown her child away like everyone would of told her to but she said she couldn't do it. she has only been working the line for 6 months. we have taken her to our friends business and she might start work in Feb!!!! we are also referring her to the indian institue of cerebral palsy to get her daughter admitted in the school.....
sorry this is short but i just talked to my mom on the phone and now i might be late to work!!!

i love that my mom i coming to visit!!! i love the visiting the mosque makes me want to go to morocco. i love that gita calls to remind me to bring things to her. i love that sarah loves fairness and justice.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

what i learned today

The Victoria Memorial

i had such a lovely day off today.
Denise is in town and in addition to bringing most of my Christmas presents, amazing face stuff, fish oil pills, and buying us pizza i got to use her hotel room this morning. i took a hot shower, took a nap and watched a bit o' television.

then i had a coffee at barista with my usual chocolate chip muffin.

then met beth, ben (her brother) and avishek for lunch and then vent to the Victoria memorial. its this beautiful building built around 1o0 years ago as a monument to queen victoria.

Avishek is a history buff and i learned all these amazing amazing things about Kolkata and the culture.

1. Where does the cast system come from?
They believe that there are three main Gods. The first God whose name i can't remember right now created us. They believe that out of different parts of the God's body different types of people were created....from the head....the brahmins. this is the highest cast and are the ones who are the bridge between God and man. Another cast came from the arms...they were the rulers, kings and warriors. Another cast came from stomach...these are the business men and farmers. then the last and lowest class came from the feet.....these do the menial task in society.

all the caste besides the brahmin could support themselves so they needed a way to support themselves so they created rituals that they had to be paid to do. in this way they were able to keep power.

2. How did the british take over India?
They took over the indian empire from the monguls. they defeated the french in the 100 years war and that made them able to have free reign to invade. They then, through using a deceitful man from the Mongol army, over took Bengal (that is the state i live in). Bengal was the richest state and by over taking Bengal they then were able to over take the entire country.

and there is so much more but it makes me a little sad the way humans treat each other and its a matter of power. i guess its what you do with that power that matters.
i still see some of the effects of kolkata's history today....but that is about 5 blog entries long and i don't want to be to much of a dork.

i love the office. i love that avishek is an amazing teacher and a good friend. i love that i am studying HIV and women's nutrition. i love that my mom is going to get the Victoria memorial tour from me...and i will have stuff to say. i love that in my life time our country hasn't known civil war or war on our own country. i love that Jesus call us to forgiveness so we can receive love and break the cycle of oppression and corruption in this world.

Friday, January 4, 2008

What 40 bucks can do in India

the view of the plumber out our bathroom window breaking the pipe. the view from below.......just bamboo and ropes folks!!!!
the workers taking down the ropes.

we had a clogged toilet. it started with our western toilet and then moved over to our squattie. it was gross, smelly, and inconvenient. so i called my friend avishek and he helped us get a plumber. the first day they came to check out the "jam". ( i want to note here that we didn't go look for a plumber until 5:00 on Wednesday. the workers are not allowed to start a new project involving toilets or phoo after 12:00 in the afternoon due to superstitions...interesting)

at one point this dude reached his hand in and down the toilet to see if he could feel what was jamming the toilet. he couldn't find so they had to take the toilet off....literally off the floor and uncement it. it was then they found that there was a jam where the two bathroom pipes joined. bad news. they have to do that work from the outside....we live on the 5th floor.

but never fail.......they have bamboo here.

the next day we arranged to rent bamboo poles. and they proceeded to build a structure on the back side of our flat.....5 stories up...its an amazing process.

i asked the men if they got scared. they replied, "this is our work. we are experts".

there is no no no way i would ever be able to do what they do. i have the utmost respect for them.

so they built this big bamboo thing. cracked open the pipe with hammers and took all the "jam" and put it into plastic bags. you can imagine the smell.

they found out the pipe was jammed with sticks from a broom and some plastic. where all that stuff came from....i don't know.

but as we speak the final touches on taking down the impressive bamboo structure is happening. we can use the squattie toilet freely. tomorrow the western one will be ready.

yippee for working toilets. yipee that they can build 5 story structure for 40 dollars!!!

i love that i have had the same orange with every meal for the past three days but have failed to eat it because i have been eating my christmas chocolate instead. i love that i am taking a dance class here and learned some sweet hip-hop moves. i loved that nobody laughed at me in dance class. i love this passive, community centered, crazy, non-fixed price, bamboo using country i live in. i love that without avishek's help thsi would of never happened.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

the best present ever!!!!!

i want to announce my most favorite christmas present ever.......
my mom is coming to kolkata!!!!! my mom is coming to kolkata!!!! my mom is coming to kolkata!!! my aunt susie is coming ot kolkata!!!
we are goign to the taj mahal together!!!! we are goign to nepal and going on a trek together!!! isn't that amazing!!! amazing.
i will be going around the city and all of the sudden it will hit me how amazing it mom is comign to kolkata. i am going to get to see my mom in kolkata and take her to the gatch and to SB and show her around and she will get to see the Taj and the hymalayas....its just so freaking cool.

a good year so far

i had one of the best new year's ever. brook came down from nepal. and we had all our english friends come over. There were around 15 of us (perfect). We played pictionary Brits vs. americans and we lost. we sang the star spangled banner at the top of our lungs off our veranda. we danced and danced and danced. it was soooo fun. we found that British boys are superior in some ways to our American boy in the fact that they love to dance. like....they just dance. they don't try to be funny they just dance. it was quite refreshing and so good.
and then we played charades until 4 am!!!! yes 4 am!!!!
then everyone came over the next day at around 1 and we ate french toast, and watched movies on the big screen until late that night. it was heavenly. and perfect. i feel like i was away on holiday. am so much loving our friends here.
but today was back to work. brook went back to nepal. i did work. life is good.

i love my picture sarah got me from Christmas "the lord will fight for you. you need only be still". i love that my dad misses me. i love the feeling looking at stars gives you. i love that even though i am far away from my friends and family i really do try to keep them close to my heart here. i love that my British friends didn't know what sororities, fraternities and my UF pajama pants were. it was very foreign to them.