Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bartering... How To

Living overseas you have to learn how to do certain things. One of them is how to barter. Did you know that even in a “fixed price” shop you can usually talk the shop keeper down a little bit? I’ve had a lot of fun learning how to barter since I moved to !nd!a. At first I was a bit shy in this area, and when I would try it, I didn’t start very low so I’d end up only getting 20 rupees off whatever it was I was buying. (That’s when you start hearing things like, “For you, special price, 10 rupees [20 cents] less.”)  But I’ve gotten much better. The best buy I have gotten yet was when Suzy and I went to D3lhi the second time for my passport. We were walking down the street not really even intending to buy anything when these little elephant key chains caught my eye. My sister’s birthday was coming up, so knowing she likes elephants, I asked the guy how much they were. He said they were 250 rupees (about $5). I was utterly shocked! I said “250 rupees for ONE?!?!” He then informed me that it was for the whole package of five. Well, I only wanted one, so I asked how much for just one. “Oh, we cannot sell just one. They come in a package.” I said no thanks and began walking away, fully intending not to buy them. But as I was walking away he said, “Ok, Ok madam. How much?” I looked directly at him and said “30 rupees.” He then said he’d give them to me for 225. “No, 30 rupees is all I will pay.” And I walked away. “Ok, ok madam. How much?” “30 rupees is all I will pay.” “Ok, for you, 200 rupees.” “No sir. I don’t think you understand. I will not pay any more than 30 rupees because I only want one. I don’t want the whole package.” And I walked away again. This happened several times. He’d call me back, ask how much, I’d say 30 rupees, he’d go down with his price a little bit, and I’d walk away only to be called back again. Finally he was down to about 100 rupees when I looked him in the eye and said, “Sir. I only want ONE of these elephants. I don’t want the whole package. And because I only want ONE, I will only pay 30 rupees. I will NOT pay any more than that. If you don’t want to sell them for that price, that’s fine. Your choice, but I will not pay more than 30 rupees.” And I walked away. “Ok, Ok madam. For you, 30 rupees.” I was completely shocked and utterly amazed that I actually got five elephant key chains for only 30 rupees!! HA!!

So, what have I learned from all the bartering that I’ve done? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1.) Do not look overly interested. If you show your excitement for a certain item the price has already doubled what they normally charge a foreigner. 
2.) Befriend the shopkeeper. Comment on how lovely his store is, or about how he has such a great location, or something. Getting on his good side should help you out. Also, if you’ve bought things from him before, be sure to mention it and how satisfied you were with the item you purchased. Also ask him how business has been that day. If he hasn’t had very many customers he will be more likely to agree to a lower price.
3.) Ask for a discount. Before you even offer a counter price, ask them what kind of discount they will give you. Again, this is especially true if you’ve bought from him before. But even if you haven’t, don’t be afraid to ask what discount he will give you. And if you are planning on buying a couple of things from the same shop, ALWAYS mention that you are buying SO MUCH, even if it’s really only two or three things.
4.) Start VERY low. Once he gives you his discounted price keep in mind that this is still probably at LEAST double what it should really cost, if not three or four times that price. A good rule of thumb is to try for a third of the price. He might laugh at you or look completely shocked, but this is his job. He’s been doing this for MANY years. He wants you to think the price you’ve offered is absurd and may indeed be shocked because most foreigners are usually too naive (they haven’t read my bartering tips) to know better and just pay what he quotes, or if they do barter don’t start low enough. So, they end up only getting about a 2% discount and are very happy with the fact that they bartered all on their own and got “such a good price!”   He’s trying to get as much money out of you as he can. Don’t be misled.
5.) Don’t be afraid to walk away. When you show that you are willing to walk away with nothing when you don’t get the price you want, he will know that you mean business. `Most likely he will call you back saying, “Ok, ok. How much?” This is when it can become a bit tricky. You don’t want to raise your price too much too fast. It is usually a good idea to try and stick with or at the very least close to your original price. Have in mind the maximum you are willing to pay for the item noting that the price should be less than half of what he first quoted. If he doesn’t go down with his price much or at all, say no thanks (it is important to remain polite, but firm) and walk away. And he’ll probably call you back again. This processes could repeat itself many times.
6.) Do not convert the price to dollars. Try and think in the local currency. When you convert the price he is quoting to dollars you only end up thinking, “Wow! That’s not such a bad price. It’s a few dollars cheaper than something like this would be at home.” EEERNK [nasally] BAD idea!! This WILL NOT get you a good price and will only prove that foreigners will pay any price, and the next time you come there the price will have doubled again. THINK IN THE LOCAL CURRENCY!!! I cannot emphasize this point  enough. THINK IN THE LOCAL CURRENCY!!!
7.) DO NOT CAVE!!  This is very important! You will hear things like, “How will I feed my family?” and “If it was up to me, but my boss...” or “My cost is this much, (BALONEY!!) how can I give it to you for less than what I paid?” He will pull every trick out that he can to keep the price as high as he can. Your goal is to get a good price. If you listen to any of these tricks, even for a split second, you have a very high chance of caving. REMAIN STRONG. I know you can do it! Show me what you’re made of.
8.) Have fun. If you don’t have fun with this, it will not be a good experience, and even if you get a really good price, it won’t be a good memory for you. Every time you look at what you bought, you will remember the stress of buying it. Plus depending on where you are, many shop keepers enjoy bartering, even if they don’t show it.
9.) Remain upbeat and polite.  This can be a delicate balance, but once you find it, it’s pretty easy to maintain and begin perfecting. The reason it can be difficult is because you have to be firm with the price you want, but in a friendly, carefree way. You’ve already befriended the shopkeeper at this point, now you want to remain friends.
10.) Speak in the local language if possible. Even if it is just a couple of words or you don’t know if you can say them correctly, use them anyway. If you say the words right, you will not only impress the shopkeeper, but you may make him wonder how much more you know. It kind of puts him on his toes in a way. If your pronunciation is bad or even horrible, you can have a good laugh about it together. He’ll also be happy that you care enough about his country to learn some of his language. This will help you become friends with him, too.

This is what I’ve come up with so far. It is not an exhaustive list, but it will get you started. If you’ve done some good bartering already let me know what it was like. If there is a trick you used, or a tip you think others should know, email me and I’ll add it to the list. I hope you have a great shopping experience next time you travel!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Technical Difficulties.

I’ve got lots to say right now, but not much time to say it. So, I’ll wait with all of that for a future post. But I wanted to let you all know why I no longer have pictures on my website. About two weeks ago Suzy and I went to D3lhi for a couple of days. When we got back I was doing a Mac OS X combined update for my computer but it didn’t install all the way and as a result my computer wouldn’t turn on. I tried a few things, called my brother and tried some things he suggested, but to no avail. However, lucky me, there is an authorized Apple place in D3hra D.n, so last Monday Suzy and I got on a bus again and heading the D.D.(only about one hour down the mountain) But, unlucky me, he was not able to do anything but erase my hard drive and reinstall Mac OS X. So, because I hadn’t gotten an external hard drive yet(stupid professional procrastinator that I am)  I lost EVERYTHING on my computer! Pictures(I can get them back from the Clover’s and Suzy though), music(the nice guy at that worked on my computer gave me his iTunes library though, complete with Michael Jackson, Aqua(Barbie Girl), Hannah Montana, Barbara Streisand, Britney Spears, The Doors, The Eagles, Elton John, Elvis Presley, Grateful Dead, Hillary Duff, Jimi Hendrix, Jonas Brothers, Josie and the Pussycats, and Linkin Park, among MANY others!!) all my knitting patterns and recipes, quasi important documents(many of these I had in emails, so that ended up being ok)  EVERYTHING!!! It was really frustrating. Also included in the loss was my iWeb(the program I use to make this website) which meant that I had to copy and past my website from the web back into iWeb in order to keep what I already had posted. Grrrr. I did the blog part of it first because that was pretty easy. But I got really tired of it so I decided not to do the pictures. So, that I why there are not pictures on here anymore(other that what was on my blog updates). But I’ll try and get some pictures uploaded again soon. And I have a camera of my own now, so I don’t have to kidnap pictures from the Clovers or Suzy anymore. :)

Oh, and needless to say, I bought an external hard drive the day I was in D.D. and have been backing up my computer on a regular biases. I think I’ve also been an inspiration to the Clovers and Suzy because they’ve been backing theirs up more often too. ; )

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Yesterday was my host mom’s birthday. I wanted to do something special for her but I knew she wouldn’t just let me through her a party. So, I planned a surprise party. I talked to Salim(my host dad) about it and felt like I was able to explain pretty well what I had planned and that he understood the gist of it. Then I had Karishma(Sitara’s youngest) help me pick out some cloth to give her for a new suit. The next day we went to pick out bangles to match it. My cover was almost blown though when Sitara and I went there the next day to get bangles to match my Id(Eed, a Musl!m holiday) suit because the lady said something about my being there just the day before. I tried my best to just shrug it off.
On Friday I went to the Clover’s house to bake a cake. This was slightly difficult for me because I was fasting with my host family. (The last Friday of R0z0n is pretty important and everyone fasts. They’d been asking me for awhile if I’d fast with them. Suzy’s family was asking her the same thing, so we both decided to fast with our host families.) When I make a cake my favorite part of making it is eating a bit of the batter. I always leave a bit extra in the bowl to lick out. And I couldn’t do that on Friday. But I made it though. Then after dinner I went to Suzy’s house to frost the cake. I still haven’t been able to make frosting just the right consistency here yet, so my frosting was a bit thin and wouldn’t stay on the sides of the cake. I decided to let it sit overnight and fix it in the morning. When I went to Suzy’s the next day the frosting was in great shape to fix the cake. But I couldn’t decorate it because the two kids of the family Suzy lives with wanted to watch and they didn’t get home from school till the afternoon. So, I had to wait. When they got home(and after the parade) I finished the cake and headed home. We had dinner and I tried to get Sitara to let me wash the dishes after dinner, but she insisted on doing them. But I did the last half of them because she had to go answer the phone. Then at about 7:30 everyone arrived. Suzy came with the cake and ice cream and along with her was Amber and the boys(Stephen wasn’t feeling very well) and some new friends of ours(I had wanted to invite them but I didn’t have their phone number) that had met Salim in the market a bit before and said they were stopping by. Sitara was so surprised with everything, and VERY embarrassed!! But after everyone had left and it was just us again, she told me she had a wonderful time and thanked me for her party.

Parade number two!!

Early this week I went down to the internet cafe to print some things off. The family that runs it is Shik and told me that the Shik temple was going to have a parade on Saturday. And that they’d be giving out free food all day. He also told me that if I wanted to help cook the food with the ladies I could. I wasn’t quite sure about that cause I thought I’d be more in the way than any help, but I for sure wanted to make a point of checking out all the festivites on Saturday. 
So yesterday Suzy and I went down but were kind of confused about where to go, so we just kept walking and ended up sitting in a restaurant to talk and hang out. We both went home after a bit as it was getting close to lunch. Then after lunch I went back to Suzy’s because the parade was supposed to start at 2. Soon we heard the bands and knew it was about to start. Sure enough up the hill came the parade. They go up the fill first to the bus stand and then come back down again and continue on to the Library side of Mall Road. It wasn’t quite as exciting as the last parade, but it was still fun.
I was getting ready to go down and decorate Sitara’s birthday cake when Iube(Suzy’s host dad) said that there was going to be more festivities down by Clock Tower. So, Suzy and I headed down. She brought her camera and I borrowed the Clover’s. We got down there long before the parade ever did because we took the lower road to avoid all the crowds. When we got there we saw Salim and Sitara at one of the stores buying things for Id. I asked them if they were going to watch the parade and they said sure. 
We had to wait for at least half an hour before we heard the bands coming. At first I was kinda disappointed because it was all the same as we saw at the top of the hill. But soon that all changed!
The ambulance(which I thought was just trapped in the middle of the parade) came and the started taking things out of it. It started with a guy swinging this long tin whip around. It was crazy!! The tin was about two inches wide and maybe ten feet long!! I thought for sure someone was going to get whipped with it and start gushing blood! Then there were sward fights and stick fights and all kinds of crazy things! It all ended with a little boy laying on the ground with a banana on his tummy, a guy with one on his head, two boys holding one in their mouths, a guy with a coconut on his head and another guy just kneeling on the ground. Then the blindfolded a guy, gave him a sward and spun him around a coulpe times. He then proceded to cut the bananas in half, took his sward and ran it along the one guys nose and then was given a bat and smashed the coconut.
I got almost all of this all on video and thought I got the very last part, but when I looked at Suzy’s camera last night it wasn’t there. But I did post the rest of the videos, so check them out on my  videos page!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Musl!m Pr@yer

So, last night we had some guests over for dinner. My host mom told me that her son had invited two guys over for dinner but I didn’t think much of it. But when they got here I realized that these weren’t just any guys, these were some quasi  important Musl!m people. I still am not sure if they were imams or something though. Anywho. We sat down to dinner and ate our fig, then our bowl of fruit and started in on the appetizers(we always have some type of fried thingers that I consider appetizers) when Arif and the two guests stood up. Sitara went and got three pr@yer mats and began to lay them out in the living room/dinning room floor. She then said her and I would eat dinner on the couch(really more like a bed) since the chairs at the table would be in the way. Once we were seated the guys began their pr@yers. It was really an interesting thing to watch since they said all the pr@yers in Arabic. They would recite a prayer then bend over, stand up, and then kneel on their mats with their heads to the floor. It went on for about 15 minuets or so. When they were done they went back to the table and finished eating.
When they left Sitara told me she felt bad because she was supposed to give them each a new suit(not like a suit and tie, but as in the local dress) but she didn’t know till that afternoon that they were coming and it was not enough time to go and get a suit. She also told me that these guys had been at the mosk since R@mmadon started(last week) pr@ying and reciting the Korh@n. It was really quite interesting.

Later that evening we were looking at some of their pictures and there was a picture of a group of men without their shirts and their backs were all cut and bloody. I asked her about it and she said that there are two different sects of Musl!ms in !nd!a. One of them believe that their prophet had done this and that they need to do it also. So, they have a day dedicated to whipping their backs. At the end of the day they go to a certain area of town where they had been burning wood all day. When they get there they walk on the coals barefoot.

It is amazing to me the dedication that other r3l!g!ons have that we Chr!st!ans lack. And to think that we have the hope that they do not. Why can’t I show this same dedication? Why is it so hard for me? Why do I sometimes read my B!ble simply because I feel I should? Why can’t I always do it because I long to know my S@vior better? These are just a few of the thoughts I’ve had while learning about the family I am living with.

Passport...part three

I realized today that I never finished this ongoing entry. So, here is the rest of the story.
On July 19th Suzy and I got up early and headed to the bus station. This time we had to travel from Muss00r!e so we had an extra leg to our trip. We took a bus from here is D.D. Once there we had to go to the main ISBT(bus station) and get a bus to D3lhi. The trip there was uneventful, no bus crashes or anything.
    Once we arrived in D3lhi we found the metro and took it to C@naught Place. We had decided that since we were in D3lhi we would go to Papa John’s for dinner. Oh! It was so good!! We’ve tried Pizza Hut and Dominos here too and I think that Papa John’s is the closest to the pizza from the States.
After dinner we walked to the train station to find a hotel in the bazar there. They tried to get us to take an air conditioned room for twice the price of one without, but it really wasn’t that hot and we were only going to be there for one night. We settled in and went to sleep.
The next morning we took an auto to the embassy to pick up my new passport. We were old pros at this by now. While we waited there was an American couple who were filing for new passports. We talked to them a bit and found out that they had been getting on a train for D.D. when her purse was stolen! Both their passport and their money were in it. So, here they were. They ended up being able to get passports that day because they were going to be heading back to the States later that week.
We left there to go to the FRRO to apply for a new visa. When we got there we had to wait in a HUGE line!! We must have waited maybe an hour and a half. But there were all kinds of people who just went in. I was slightly confused, so I went up and checked it out while Suzy stayed in line. But, it was just the people from Afghan who were going in because they had a separate line. So, back to my spot I went.
When it was finally my turn I went to the reception desk gave them my new passport, the documents they gave me at the embassy, copy of my old one and visa, and the police report. The man looked at it, wrote a number on the top of a form, told me to fill it out and go to counter five.
I filled out the form, attached my passport photo and went to counter five. I was really confused at first because counter five was not clearly marked. I tried to ask a few people but they all told me different numbers. So, I stood in one line for a bit when a guy told me I was in the wrong line, this one was for the Afghans. So, to the next counter I went. It ended up being counter five. The lady there looked at my documents and form then told me I needed copies of my new passport. I asked her where I could get them and she just point to the door. I was a little bit flustered and asked her again, “Where can I get copies made?” And again she just pointed to the door while saying I need copies. Grrr.
So, Suzy and I began to weave our way though all the people to the door. On the way out we saw our friends from the embassy. We told them they would probably need to get copies also so they sent their driver to get copies while they waited in line.
We asked one of the guards outside where we could get copies and he gave us directions. Once I’d made my copies(more than I really needed for the FRRO) we went back and I got in line at counter five. She looked at my copies wrote something on one of them and told me to take it to another counter.
I went to that counter and no one was there. So, I tried to talk to the lady at the next desk but she said to wait till this person came back. So I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally the lady at the other desk made a phone call and then asked to see my papers. I gave them to her and she shuffled through them a bit then told me to leave them (with my new passport) in a pile on this other desk and to come back at four. I was a bit uneasy about leaving the passport I had just got that morning, but didn’t really have a choice.
Suzy and I went to lunch and came back at four. I went to the desk I had left all my documents at and asked if my visa was ready. The lady shuffled though the stack till she found my papers, looked at them and said no, it was not ready yet. She wrote something on the paper and told me to go to the reception desk. I walked over there to find on one there and a sign above that said reception was open until two. But I waited anyway. And while I waited our friends showed up. They also were told to come back at four. Finally someone came and looked at my papers. He wrote something on them and sent me to counter five.
To counter five I went. They lady looked at my papers asked me when I was planning on leaving !nd!a and I told her 180 days from May 13th. She wrote on my papers and sent back to the desk where I’d left my papers before. When I got there the lady looked at what counter five had written and said she had not completed it. I told her she was not sure when 180 days from May 13th was, so this lady thought for a bit and just picked a day in November. Ha! Then she sent me back to counter five. At counter five the women finished writing what she had started before, put a stamp in my passport with some numbers and sent me back to the other counter. This lady then proceeded to sign in some areas, and told me to take one stack of papers back to counter five. I took them, gave them to the lady and she shuffled through them and just set them aside. I waited, but she didn’t tell me anything, so finally I asked if there was anything else and she said no. So, Suzy and I headed out the door with my new passport and temporary visa!
We got some dinner and then headed back to D.D. and then to Muss00r!e. I’ll have to wait till we got to N3pal in October/November to get another ten year visa since they do not issue them in !nd!a.
And that is the end of my passport adventures. Sorry this one was so long, but if you did take the time to read it all I give you kuddo points!! And I’m sure you got a good laugh because of all the red tape.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Always moving

It seems that my whole time here in !nd!a has been spent moving every few weeks. And each time I move I think, “Ok. This is where I’ll be for at least a couple months.” But then within just a short time I am packing my things again and moving.
This time I have moved in with a Musl!m family, and just in time for Rammadon too! They are a really fun family and enjoy playing games a lot. :D They have one son who is 19, and two daughters who are 16 and 17. Sitara(the mom) speaks really good english and is able to help me with my H!nd! almost every day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hey Macarena!!

If you were in another country that loved to dance and your new friends asked you to teach them a popular American dance what would be the first one that came to your mind? For Suzy and I it was the Macarana. Twice. The first time was at the hostel. And then this afternoon we went over to Mohammed's house and the girls were asking us to teach them an American dance. “Hey! Macarana.” Aksa, his youngest at six years old caught onto it pretty darn quick. It was a lot of fun. I so enjoy going over to their house!!
Tomorrow I am going to teach Aksa how to make a chocolate cake. That should be a lot of fun! : ) She goes to an English medium school but is only in kindergarten so she doesn’t yet know a lot of English. But, I think we should be able to make a cake well enough.
Tonight I was working with Aksa on her English reading. She always get her b’s and d’s mixed up. (something I am sure each one of us did in kindergarten as well!) I tried to help her remember which was which by showing her that b’s point to the right and d’s to the left. We’ll see if she remembers tomorrow.
Anyway. I guess that’s all (for now) folks!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Knitting Community

Since Suzy and I moved into our new place I have looked out my bedroom window and watched the ladies across the alley knitting. They often go sit on each others balconies while they knit and visit with each other.  I am also a knitter(though not as good as they are. They knit sweaters without any pattern at all!!) and I have been longing to go sit and knit with them. They always seem like they are having so much fun.
Well, today I got my opportunity. Suzy and I were watching Grayson and Deakin while Stephen and Amber went out for their date night. The boys love to go up on our roof(we have a flat roof) and hang out up there. So, while Suzy cooked dinner I took the boys up there. We were looking down at all the hustle and bustle in the ally and the boys got the attention of the ladies knitting. They smiled at the boys for a bit and then motioned to come down with them! : ) We hurried downstairs and I looked at my pattern to see what squares came next in the blanket I am knitting and headed back to the alley. It was a lot of fun. The boys played with the two ladies children while I knitted away. They even called me their friend!! : ) What a great evening it was!! And now I can say that I am part of the knitting community out back. : )                 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Voices from home

Last night I called my best friend, Leslie. Wow! It was so good to hear her voice. I was so excited to actually be talking with her that I didn’t know what to say! I think I didn’t realize how much I missed her until I got to talk to her. I miss hanging out with her, goofing off(we did PLENTY of this!!) playing games, drinking coffee(sometimes WAY too much!!) being able to share what is on our hearts with each other, and so many other things. She is the one person who truly understands me, and accepts me for who I am without trying to change anything about me. I miss her so much!
I also got to talk to my little sister the other day. I’ve been able to email her and have gotten a few emails back, but there’s just something about being able to hear her voice and actually have a conversation. I miss her and the boys tons!
I think that’s one of the hardest things about being so far away

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pick of the litter

Since we moved into our house we have had several women stop by. All of them were offering their services for house cleaning and/or cooking. The first one to stop by was a lady who used to work here or something. She knocked on our door one after noon and after about five minutes of her speaking in H!nd! and our trying our best to figure out what she was saying, we finally decided she was offering to clean for us. At one point she walked into our dinning room, then into Suzy’s room and finally mine. All while talking about cleaning(I think). We finally decided to call someone to translate for us. And this is when we figured out she used to work here. We told her to come back later when Kishan(one of the guys who takes care of this place while our landlord is in Delh!) and talk to him. It was quite the adventure.
After this incident we had several more ladies stop by. One of them even had a reference letter from the person she worked for before! But because we are only two people we don’t feel that we need help to clean our house. But, if we wanted I’m sure we could have the pick of the litter!!

Our house has been invaded!!

This morning Suzy went and picked Grayson and Deakin up because we were going to watch them all day today. Stephen and Amber needed a good day to just rest and not worry about taking care of the boys since they have both been sick for the past week. We had a fun time with the boys today, but the most interesting part was when our house was invaded by five other small children.
We have a VERY small porch on our house. More like a hallway with a gate that leads directly to the main street through L@undour. (the part of Mussoor!e we live in) Grayson was picking apart some small daisy type flowers in our living room saying he was going to clean them up, but they pieces were too small for him to clean up, so I told him to go out to the porch and do it. Deakin followed him out there so I went to make sure the gate was latched. While I was out there several small (maybe K-2nd gradeish) saw the boys and stopped to say hi. One of the boys was trying to figure out how to open the gate the whole time. I wasn’t sure I really wanted them on our porch because I thought they might come into the house and I had my computer in the living room at the time. But, he finally figured out how to open the gate. I brought Deakin inside and told Gray to stay on the porch and try not to let the kids inside. Soon we saw several little face looking through the window and not long after that the door opened and the faces were peaking inside our house.
They all decided to let themselves in and proceeded to invade our house. I put my computer under the couch and we did our best to keep them in the living room. One of the girls saw me winding yarn into balls (yarn here just comes in a big loop) and showed me her backpack. It had a giant whole in the bottom and she was asking me if I could fix it for her. I got my needle and thread out and began to fix it. While I was doing this the five(it seemed like WAY more) were turning the TV on and off, fighting (and I mean fighting!!) over the remote, trying to play with Grayson’s toys (which he was not too happy about) and getting into everything! It was pretty hectic. Deakin was not sure what to think about it all. The two boys finally left and when I finished with the backpack we tried to get the girls to head home also. I was pretty sure their parents would be starting to worry about them soon. It took us awhile, but we were finally able to herd them out the door.
I’m still not sure what I think about this invasion. It was kind of fun, but also slightly stressful.
And that concludes the account of how our house was invaded.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Passport...part two

Sunday came and we decided that because of the culture that Suzy and I would go to D3lhi instead of Stephen and I. So, we spent the evening at the Clover’s playing games. We were planning on taking an overnight bus so we left the Clover’s about 10:30 so we could catch the 11:30 AC bus. When we got to the bus station there was a bus getting ready to pull out, but it wasn’t an AC so we decided to wait. Stephen came with us to the station so we found a set of benches and waited. We waited till about 12 when Stephen went and asked someone when the next AC to D3lhi was going to come. He came back to report that there wouldn’t be any more busses(AC or not) till 4:30am! So, we went back home.

Monday night we left the Clover’s at 9:30 to make sure we didn’t miss our bus. When we got to the bus station there were about a dozen busses to D3lhi sitting around! It’s amazing what the difference of an hour can make. But even with all the busses to D3lhi there weren’t any AC busses with seats left. So, we got on one of the cheap ones.

We got as comfortable as we could and tried to get some sleep. Some time around 4:30ish we went over a big bump and Suzy went flying out of her seat and landed in the isle! It was pretty crazy! Then around 5-5:30ish we crashed. Yes, you read that right. Our bus crashed. We never did figure out what happened or what we crashed into though. We hit something in front first, bounced off and hit a bus behind us, bounced again and hit whatever the first thing was. The whole front window was shattered and the bus driver’s arms had all kinds of cuts on them. Part of the back window was shattered too, but not as bad. We all just sat there for a few minutes. Then everyone started gathering their things and getting off the bus, so Suzy and I did the same. There were a couple other busses sitting just down the road and everyone was getting onto these, so again we followed. We had to stand on the bus the rest of the way, but it wasn’t much more than 30 minutes. And that was our adventure to D3lhi.

We got to the embassy ok and got everything taken care of there. My passport will be ready to be picked up in about two weeks. We got some lunch and headed back to the bus station where we got a deluxe AC bus back to D.D.

To be continued...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Passport...part one

I would like to take a moment to advise anyone who is traveling abroad to not loose your passport. Let me explain.

Last Wednesday the Clover’s, Suzy and I went to the bazaar to buy what we needed to set up house in Muss00rie. We had made a few purchases when we got to the metal works store. This was where we were going to buy the bulk of what we needed. The shop keeper began to show us some of the things on our list. We picked out two of almost everything since next month we will be living in two different flats. We were there for at least an hour trying to get him to show us the “simple” products. Finally we felt we had what we needed and he began to tally up our purchases. I went to get my wallet out of my purse when I realized that it was unzipped. I got a sinking feeling in my gut. I reached in knowing my wallet was gone. I had just gone to the bank that morning and had close to $300 in rupees along with my passport in my wallet. We looked all around the shop but it was really gone. Stolen.

We finished up at the shop and went back to the Clover’s. The man they are staying with is a retired police officer so he was able to help us with what we needed to do. He called the police station and had someone come to the house. I called my bank and had my card shut off while Suzy did some research about the embassy.

The next day Stephen and I went down to the police station to turn in the report and get it certified. We were planning on heading to D3lhi to get my passport taken care of. But when we called we found out that the embassy would be close on Friday for a three day weekend. “Oh, yeah. Saturday is the 4th of July.”  So, we postponed the trip and instead had a picnic of BBQ chicken, potato salad, fruit salad, brownies and ice cream for the 4th.

To be continued...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Home sweet home

We have found a home! It’s been awhile since I didn’t have to live out of my suitcase or live in just a small room. After a week of house hunting Suzy and I found a REALLY GREAT house!! It is a two bedroom house with a living room, kitchen, dinning room and bathroom. We also have a flat roof and are able to hang our cloths on the cloths line up there to dry. And to top it all off there are no leaks or mold! What a joy it is to unpack everything and set up house.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

House Hunting...again

So, for almost the past month the Clover’s, Suzy and I have been living in a two bedroom house together. When we came to Muss00rie to look for places to live we could only find the one. So, we thought that for a month it’d be ok. And in the beginning it worked out good because there was SO much work that needed done on this house. It hadn’t been lived in for two years and was REALLY dirty!! We are talking mold covered walls. So, we all worked together to get it livable.

But, we were getting to the point that we really need our own spaces. So, Suzy and I have been house hunting all week and we finally found a place!! It’s a two bedroom house with a kitchen, dinning room, living room and one bathroom. It also has a flat roof where I can sit and play my guitar or have a small garden in pots. 

I am really looking forward to moving in on the first of August . I can’t wait to have my own space and be able to decorate it and make it my own.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Our Friend Sundar

So, we’ve moved into our new place here in Muss00rie. While it has a lot of potential, it also needs A LOT of work! In this blog I wanted to write about some of the misunderstandings we’ve had with Sundar, the maintenance man at our apartment complex.

When we got here we realized that we didn’t really have a shower. The pipes were sticking out of the wall for the shower head and the handles, but they were all capped. So, Stephen went over and asked Sundar to come look at it, which to put new pipes in that run from the handles to the shower head. What he was really saying was that when he got new handles we could turn the water on to get the right temperature.

This morning he came over and was asking about some keys. We thought he was asking us for two keys, but couldn’t figure out what keys he wanted. The keys to lock our door? We only have two to begin with. We have two different locks. Maybe one of each of those? We were so confused. But no more. Stephen found out that Sundar had lost his keys and came over to ask us if he’d lost them here!

And I am sure this is only the beginning of our misunderstandings with Sundar because of language. We still have many more things to repair so we will be seeing much more of him around here!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A 40 passenger bus with 80 passangers

Our adventures began yesterday morning while we were heading to the bus station. Suzy and I took a #1 vikram(local transportation) to the end of the route. Usually when we get off the #1 we have to walk to the end of the street to get a #5, however we thought we were very lucky because there was a #5 right where we got off the #1! So, we jumped on and off we went. We rode the vikram for a long time...longer than it should take. But still we didn’t see the bus station. It crossed my mind once or twice that maybe we got on the wrong one, but I was so sure it was a #5. Finally the driver pulled to a stop and said, “Madam. You get off now.” So, we paid the gentleman and as we walked away Suzy said it was a #3! So, we took a #3 back the other way till we saw some #5’s, jumped off there and got on the #5 to the bus station.

Our second adventure of the day happened about 20 minuets later when the bus pulled up. A HUGE stampede ran for the bus. So, we ran with them. Four adults and two children. Suzy and Grayson got on, then Stephen, myself and finally Amber was able to squeeze her way on. Suzy got a seat because she had Gray with her. And Stephen was able to get one for Amber because she had Deakin. Stephen and I were left to stand. Even though there was a husband, wife and 8 year old boy who were taking up three entire seats and would not move even an inch. At this point I was just like yeah, whatever. Shortly before we pull out, the man sees an old woman and offers her the seat(no, he did not know her). I knew I shouldn’t get upset because an old woman should not have to stand. But I did. And when it came time to pay for our tickets I had to let go of my hand holds so I could pay. When this happened the bus went around a corner and I leaned back towards the old woman who began to hit me! I just shrugged it off that time. But, when she continued to do this throughout the trip every time we went around a corner and I had to lean her way I began to get upset. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I looked at her and said, “I am sorry. I can not help it. I am standing. You are sitting. If you’d scoot over a bit I wouldn’t lean on you!!” I felt bad for getting so mad at an old woman, but because I was standing, my feet hurt, my hands hurt and I was car sick I was beyond the point of what I could handle. I was so glad when we got to Muss00rie!!

Then, on the way back to D.D. we were again in a PACKED bus! But this time we got seats. There were many who did not. Suzy and I sat together with Deakin while Amber, Stephen and Grayson sat together. Many times I felt like I was going to toss my cookies, but I pr@yed and J3sus took it away. But there was one guy who did upchuck! First he sat down on the floor(he had been standing) which is no small feat on a bus packed that tight! He sat there for awhile, but pretty soon there was a good amount of commotion as his friend tried to get him to a window. He made it and pretty soon they were telling me to close my window. I felt bad for the guy. I really think there is a good reason they shouldn’t pack those busses so tight!

House Hunting

The reason we went to Muss00rie was to look for a place to live. We were not planning on spending the night, but because Monday was so unsuccessful we thought it wise. Yesterday the first place we looked at was ok. It had two rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. But when we asked how much it was the guy said 18 lek, which is about $4000. We didn’t understand at first, but then it became clear that they were for sale, not for rent! HA!! As “tourists” can we even own any property?
Today we saw four places, but looked around and walked around, and asked around all day!! And by all day I mean from about 10amish to 5:30ish. We finally decided on the first rental we saw. Well, sort of. We don’t know for sure how much it will be yet, but we will in a could days. It’s a cute little place. It has a dinning room/living room and a kitchen down stairs and upstairs there are two bed rooms and a bathroom. All of us are going to live here for the first month until we can find a second place, at which point either Suzy and I or the Clovers will move.
It was a long, tiring task, but we didn’t really have much of a choice. It was fun at times though too. We did a little bit of cloth shopping and we made several contacts too. So, all in all it was a good trip.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The hated dupatta

So, our first week here we had suits made. We got to pick out our own cloth and then took it to the tailors to get it stitched. A suit is made up of baggy pants, a long shirt (about down to the knees) and a shawl type thing called a dupata. Now, this dupata is very important, because without it you are not properly clothed. However, it has become my WORST enemy! The dupata is worn draped over the shoulders so that the ends hang down your back. But it doesn’t stay there. It falls off your shoulders all the time. The wind catches it and blows it over your head. When riding in public transportation people sit on it so that when you go to get off it stays there. It hangs down and gets in your food when you are eating. I could go on for a while, but I think you get the picture.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Everything looks like chicken

Suzy and I have been living at the PG for a little over two weeks now and I have decided that everything looks like chicken. Because the family who runs this PG are H!ndu everything they make is pure veg. At first I thought this would be ok. I didn’t eat a lot of meat at home, so I didn’t think it wouldn’t be too hard to adjust to. But it’s been harder than I thought for two reasons. One, everything taste pretty much the same. And two, when ever we have something with “dumplings” or chunks of veggies it looks like it has chicken in it and it gets my hopes up for a split second and then I remember, “Oh. Yeah. It’s pure veg.” : (

Friday, June 5, 2009

Degrees of hotness

I have decided that in the summer here it doesn’t ever cool off. There are just different degrees of hotness. During the day is is WAY SUPER HOT and at night it’s just hot. I am looking forward to the monsoon. But I’m sure that after a week of rain, I’ll be ready for that to be over too.

Suzy and I have had two lessons in H!nd! so far. The “Mam” who runs our PG is teaching us. We spend about an hour or two in H!nd! lessons and then we spend half an hour or so helping her improve her English. It’s a lot of fun. We have been focussing on learning how to write the letters and knowing the sounds. It’s a lot of work, but I think I am understanding it pretty well. I definitely need to practice a lot though. We are taking about five days off since we are going north for a few days, and I am hoping I will be able to take an hour or two each day to practice.

It’s been a lot of fun to get to know the girls here at the PG. We’ve had dinner with some of them almost every night and then we hang out for awhile after that. They love to hear me play my guitar even though I’m  not very good. They also like to try and play it. It’s so much fun getting to know them. I’m kind of sad we are probably only going to be here for one month.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Missing you and the times we had...

I was thinking this morning about life, and how at one point I spent a lot of time with certain people and then our lives went in different directions. We still talk and occasionally hang out, (well, now that I’m in !nd!a, not so much hanging out...) but our lives are more separate. So, in this entry I want to remember a few great times I had with friends.

I think back about two years ago. A core group of us from Camp would hang out almost every weekend. Kyle, Ben, Becca, Kelsey, and I. Sometimes we would pick up Alex and Zach and they would go “Fizz” with us at Village Inn. Or we would pick up the Lake Village kids and do something fun with them. Take them to a parade, horse back riding or have a birthday party in the trailer court for one of them. That was a really fun summer. I miss you guys!!

In August of 2005 I met the Biernackis at LifeLight. Leslie and I stayed up until 2am talking about nothing and everything. That was the beginning of our friendship. Together we helped run the coffee house at Camp, did LVKC, worked at Camps, lived together, worked together, pulled all kinds of pranks together, read and fought over who gets to read the newest Ted Dekker book together(by the way Les, I’ve got Bone Man’s Daughters, the latest...but I’m not sure when I’m going to read for a hard day maybe), laughed and cried together, cooked together...the list could go on and on! I love and miss you TONS Leslie, JP, Echo and Jonah!!

In 2003 I was going to collage at Gr@ce U. I met an old friend there and we got to know each other again. Julie and I hung out a little bit that fall semester, but more the spring semester. But that summer(2004) we worked (and goofed off A LOT) in house keeping together. When we got off work we would go see movies at the dollar theater because they were only 50 cents before 6. We moved to Sioux City and lived at WIT for a semester, and then got an apartment. We had dreams of starting a catering business. We did scrap booking together. We got really good deals when we went shopping. We would go to kind of expensive restaurants and eat for really cheep. Jew, I miss all the good times we had. I love you!

These are just a few of the good times I remember having with just a few good friends. I want you to know that even though I am on the other side of the world I still think of you often and I love and miss you all immensely! I ask Dad to bl3ss you often and I can’t wait to see you in two years!

Friday, May 29, 2009

What is room service?

   Monday we went up to Muss00r!e to see what it was like and if it would be a good possibility for a base. I think we decided that it was too touristy and it wouldn’t work for our needs. But it was still a good trip.
    When we got there on Monday we found a hotel, had dinner and then crashed.
    Tuesday we went on the cable car up to Gun Hill, a big hill where you can get some really good views of the area. For lunch we had grilled corn. However, it wasn’t sweet corn, it was field corn, so it was a bit chewy. Later Suzy and I walked up to clock tower, which is a good steep walk. Once we got there we kept walking. We found out later that Suzy thought we were going back to the hotel and I thought she wanted to keep walking up to Laund00r. So, we kept walking, walking, and walking...until we walked around a corner and saw the leather shop! We went there and picked out the sandals we wanted and then headed back down the hill.
    Wednesday morning we ordered “room service” for breakfast. Amber ordered cornflakes and milk for Grayson and got a bowl of cornflakes that tasted like corn, and a glass of HOT milk. When she called they hung up on her when they couldn’t understand what she was saying so she’d have to call back. I ordered a hot chocolate(it was ok, but not the best) and french toast. They brought Suzy’s toast with butter and my hot chocolate, but no french toast. So, I showed the guy on the menu that I wanted french toast. A little bit later he came back with my “french toast,” er, I mean fries. At that point I was just like whatever, and ate my fries. We had lunch with some friends of ours that are staying up there and then took a taxi up to Land00r to walk around. After awhile we decided it was time to head home and began the LONG trek down the mountain. On the way down we stopped to pick up our sandals, and while in the leather shop it began to rain...and then hail. So, we stayed there for awhile. When it stopped we finished the trek home and grabbed some veggie burgers(the burger part is a really yummy potato cake thinger).
    Thursday morning we tried again for room service. Amber, after a couple of calls and being hung up on, was able to order three corn flakes with cold milk. However, when it came they only got the milk. But she was able to get them to bring her three bowls of corn flakes. However, when Suzy and I tried to order three toasts and one corn flakes it didn’t come. We waited for an hour and it still wasn’t there, so we called again. They said “Oh” and hung up. We waited another half hour and called again. They hung up. But a couple minutes later someone came to Amber’s door saying, “You called?” She was just about to send them away when we said, “Wait! We called them” and went and told him what we wanted. Our breakfast finally came.
    Friday morning we decided to not even mess with “room service”. We went out to eat for breakfast, and then got a buss back to D.D.
    And that was our trip.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rainbows, snow and worship

I woke up early this morning to get some things done before I left, and still ended up running late. I was in a big hurry, dropped some things, couldn't find my keys...I thought, "I hope this isn't how my whole day is going to go!" On the way home though it got much better. I was driving home about 9am and saw a beautiful rainbow! In January in Iowa!! It was beautiful. Then as I was turning down our road I looked out at the fields and realized how beautiful the snow on the ground and the frost/ice was on the trees. I just smiled at how God shows me his amazing love for me. Then, as I was driving through down town this evening I looked up at the sunset and again was amazed at God's beauty. Oh, and my cd player kept skipping with every cd I put in, until I put a Matt Redman cd that I've had forever, but don't think I've ever once listened to! It played through the songs without skipping once. And the songs were just was I was feeling. So, today was a day of receiving Jesus' love for me and worshiping him for who he is. I don't want today to end.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I thought I should get this blog up and going before I sent out my news letter. I've been wanting to send them out for awhile, but I was waiting on my prayer cards so I could send them at the same time. Now they are all here, so this week I will be getting them on the way to your very own mail box!!

The past few weeks have been pretty busy. I'm still in the process of fund raising. It's a bigger task than I thought it would be, but I've had a couple encouraging meetings with people. I just need to keep India and what Dad has called me to always in mind and not let our enemy discourage me.

Today I went to the prayer service of my great, great Aunt Sara. She went to be with Dad on Thursday after 106 years in this world. When my Grandpa passed away in October she really went down hill. About one week after he died, she went from living on her own (yes, she still lived in her own apartment at 106 years old!!) and going to visit the "old people", as she would call them, to being in the nursing home. Often in the past few years she would say that she thought Dad forgot about her here. But I know that's not true. I know Dad kept her here because she was an amazing woman and touched many people's lives. She will be greatly missed, but I know that she is where she longed to be for so long.

Well, I guess that's all for my first post on here. Have a wonderful day!