Tuesday, November 6, 2007

To India! Bangalore

We planned our trip to India to start in Bangalore in order to attend the wedding of the niece of the headmaster at my daughters school.

Geetha's family picked us up a the airport along with beggars in obvious need. This was a surprise to me because I though that Bangalore being the technology base of India, would be very wealthy. It may be a wealthier part of India but that did not mean that there weren't still problems of poverty.

We arrived at the house and were shown to our room. This room was made available at the expense of other family members. It was a three bedroom house with two bathrooms, a small yard and a prayer room. Upstairs was a similar apartment inhabited by more family.

The family really took care of use and treated us not just like honorary guests but also like members of their family without the burden of chores.

Right away we went upstairs to join the bride to be and her family for Mehndi (temporary henna tattoo) application. The henna mud-like substance sits on the hand for about an hour until it dries and flakes off. Most common is to put it on the palms and later people put it on both sides of the hand. For practical reasons I chose to put it on the back of my hands only so that I could continue to hold the children while it dried. Geetha's husband Hari wrote his name on his hand. Someone joked that perhaps he should put his wife's name on his hand. Everyone joked in English kindly for our benefit.

In the afternoon we hired a taxi and Roy, the 16 year old boy of the family was our guide. We drove all over Bangalore. One very interesting place was a Hare Krishna temple. We left our shoes in the car and walked through the parking lot to the temple. Once on the grounds there was a very long line with raised square stones. On each stone before moving to the next we chanted:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

Despite my training to be resistant to the Krishna followers having experienced them only at airports I felt calmed by the rhythmic cadence of the chant and began to feel less rather than more irritated by the long slow line. Additionally, it was so loud that protests and screams from the children didn't embarrass me in the usual way.

It was all very beautiful and too long and circuitous for me to remember everything. At the end there was a heavy sell to buy things and donate money. We were all offered a free bowl of seasoned rice to eat.

I was so tired at the end of the first day I was so tired that I went to sleep without dinner shortly after the girls went to sleep.

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