Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This is a baby Joe stole. You can tell she isn't happy about the situation.

I'm not sure what this ad is for, since they read left to right here just like in America, but I suspect I would be happier as the man in the 'Before' picture.

These are some kids I don't know.

Anou and Mia, the respective bosses of Project Why and Joe, have some morning conversation at Mata Ji's house before school.

One thing the next generation of Indians lacks is optimism.

Two lazy elephanteirs practice their men's calendar poses during their lunch break. Just one of the strange things you can see from the balcony of our school.

Chandah helps Mia get dressed for a wedding while Anou lounges on Shamika's bed and conversates.

Joe drives it like he stole it. Indian Taxi. Beep beep.

This is like that New York building that is so famous, but it is in Delhi.

Mia marvels at how a cow can get so large when all it eats are bits of tinfoil and burlap sacks off the street.

The dot on Mia's forehead is sandalwood. The dot in her hair is bird poop.

Joe has a very serious conversation with Munna, a child in the special section. Munna acts extremely serious when he talks and uses all sorts of adult gestures and facial expressions, but all he is saying is "Cucumbers, Cabbage, Cucumbers, Cabbage" over and over in Hindi.

Here he has a whole conversation on a cell phone (piece of wood) using the same two words as above. The call started out friendly but it ended in an argument during which Munna angrily hung up the phone and stormed off.

Mia shows off some of the vegetables she diced up for a spicy dish she was preparing. Delicious!

Joe makes Mia take a break from teaching to take photos of him pretending to teach Carin. "Yes, very good, a conjunction is.... like a... ummm... Mia could you come here and help Carin?"

This man is making pan. It is like a chewing tobacco and he mixes in all the different spices you want right there on the spot. The spit from it is red and every surface below waist level is covered in red spit splatters in Delhi.

This is a mosque in Old Delhi. The tower in the background is where I took the next picture from.

While I was taking this picture everyone else in the tower was taking pictures of Mia and I with their camera phones. Not many white people make it here.

There are many different places to buy your meat in Delhi. Some of them are more sanitary than others. See below....

Mmmmmm. Goat heads.

Mia and I were invited into a 'hospital' that was in a Hindu temple complex. Then we got in there and started walking around and noticed it was a BIRD HOSPITAL! For ASIAN BIRDS that were SICK! I wonder what they had? Was it... the FLU!!!! YAHHHHHHH! We got out of there FAST! (and washed our hands.)

...also what were they DOING in this bird hospital anyway? (Pictured at left: A bird hospital mural)

Asian Birds.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wedding Photos

These two broke the rules and cracked some smiles for their photo shoot. However, I heard they had both remained celibate prior to their wedding, so that may give a clue to the twinkle in their eyes.

Ahhhhh, that's more like it. Stone faced and serious. Traditional. It can be hard to keep a straight face when 50 Cent is screaming in your ears about a fully loaded clip.

Mia bumps and grinds with a woman on the dance floor. This is taking place at the same time as, and ten feet away from, the photo above. Mia had to dance with a girl because all the guys were too busy showing off their sweet moves to each other to be bothered with women. (Joe included.)

All the women in their saris before our second wedding. From left to right... Rani, Mata Ji, Kirin, Devi, Coco, Shamika and Mia.

The entry to a wedding is spectacular. It's amazing what a little fabric and some accent lighting can do to really spruce up a filthy alley.

While everyone else enjoys meals and dancing at the wedding the groom makes his way through the dark streets on a white steed. If he wants a few extra bucks he will pick up a passenger and act as a luxury taxi service.

This is Raj. He's a good guy. He co-signed on my motorcycle for me without me even asking. He also found old photos of me on the internet and loaded them into his cell phone. Then he used them to show everyone that he knew me. We look the same height but he is actually standing on a chair in this photo. Raj's brother, Narish, got me my own bottle of Coca Cola at the soda stand because I was an honored guest. Everyone else just got a glass. They are all so friendly here.

Mia and Rani gossip about who will be next to get married. "I hope it's ME!" they each say before making giggle noises and lightly swatting each other.
(It is more likely they were talking about something serious. Something cultural which could be applied both locally and globally.)

The young lady in this picture is hogging down on her 10th ice cream for the night. She just learned that she can get her way if she shrieks at the top of her lungs and drops to the floor like a wet noodle. The baby does that too.

This groom talked on his cell phone for the whole wedding prior to his bride arriving. "Hello, Alicia? Yeah so guess what... I'm getting married tonightWHHAAATTT!!! Yeah... yeah... so I wont be coming over later... yeah... look I gotta go.... gotta make some more calls. Ok, PEACE!"

Here comes he bride. None of that sappy organ music in India. Just the non-stop pounding of massive drums as she is escorted to her throne by all the women in her family.

Mia acts the princess as everyone gets ready to go at Mata Ji's house.

Mata Ji poses in her finest dress and jewels. She then accidentally put on two different shoes. When she noticed at the wedding she took them off and put them in her purse, choosing to go barefoot rather than have someone notice her lack of observational skills.

Joe enjoys a fruity, pink drink. No alcohol is served at the weddings. They keep everyone happy by providing those tiny umbrellas that seem so hard to find nowadays.

Another groom rides in on his horse. It all seems serious until you look just to the side of him....


Look at all the twinkle lights in the trees and the colors on the fresh fruit stand! Beautiful.

MMmmmmmmm. Delicious!

These kids were all smiles until the camera came out. More importantly, look at the JUMPING CASTLE directly behind us! It's right between the buffet and the thrones! These people know how to throw a party.
(Also important is the shirt on the young boy in yellow. It said, "It's all about CASH in the BANK!" in big silver letters all over it. Come on man, it's a wedding.)

Another wedding well done.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Indian Weddings

(By Joe)

(Some of you may have read part of this in an email, but I assure you it has now been enhanced with less redundancy, better descriptions, better grammar, better phrasing and less redundancy.)

We have now been to a number of weddings here in India. It was just wedding season so for 3 weeks in a row we were at a different wedding every Sunday. Mia got dolled up in very fancy saris for each one. The family we are staying with loaned her the finest silks, jewels and stick-on dots to make sure she was the prettiest girl at the ball. She was a picture of elegance. Truly stunning. I, however, attended each wedding in my same faded, button up black shirt, jeans, brown belt and black sneakers that have been my dress outfit for the past 8 months. It also makes up my daily school outfit here. (Or it did until I got a bunch of custom tailored clothes made cuz I'm a baller.)

Walking into a wedding is not unlike walking into a circus tent with prisms held over your eyes. Red and white striped fabric hangs everywhere and is embellished with rainbow fabrics and flowers of every description. The reception starts before the couple is even arrives and everything takes place in the same room or outdoor courtyard. A dance floor and DJ stand that rivals the hottest night club setup pounds Hindi top 40 hits into the very bones of of the wedding attendees. Laser lights and disco balls create a euro club ambiance that might seem tacky were it not for the 100's of Indians in jewels, suits and saris gyrating, shaking it and getting generally sweaty on the dance floor. The first few hours are reserved for the guests to snack, dance and socialize. Then, around 10:00, the groom comes into range. He rides atop a white horse behind a full marching band, and is escorted through the darkened city streets by men carrying huge, electronic candelabras. His best men dance in and out of the procession, whooping and hollering, pumping fists, playing air guitars, and pelvic-thrusting against anything and anyone that gets in their way.

When the groom arrives at the main gate to the wedding he dismounts, and is escorted in to sit on a raised throne high above the crowds. He remains stern and serious trough the whole ordeal. It is considered very inappropriate for him to so much as crack a smile. After another hour or so, his wife to be is led in by her female friends and family. They walk slowly and she looks as though she is going to cry. I'm told this is also tradition but the effect is similar to watching a woman being led to the gallows. Young men dance around her, pounding huge drums as she is slowly shuffled to her her own throne beside the groom's. I don't really know what happens after that because it is about that time that we usually have to go home and go to bed.

At these weddings Mia and I end up being treated as celebrities. Everyone wants their photo taken with us, including the bride and groom. Those who don't want to actually talk to us simply walk up and blatantly take photos of us with their camera phones without asking. Now I know how it feels to be all these Asians you see photos of on our blog. The host at one wedding kept coming up and shaking our hands and saying, "Good? Wedding good?"
"Yes," we would say, "Very good. It's beautiful!"
Then he would stand there looking very flustered, clearly having so much more to say, but not having the English words to say them in. "All good?"
"Yes. Very good."
The conversation was repeated many times.

The celebrity status became a problem at one of the weddings as I have already related to a few of you. Everyone kept coming up to us to shake our hands, invite us to dance and to get to know who were were. Then at one point in the night a drunk gentleman approached me and started shaking my hand and saying how excited he was to meet me. He began speaking in Hindi and I asked the people I was with to translate. To my surprise they pulled me away from him and told me not to talk to him because he was drunk. Later in the night the man came up to me again and started talking and I began chatting with him. He popped a cigarette in his mouth an offered one to me. I accepted it. He lit it for me and I started smoking, aping him perfectly to facilitate bonding. (This was great for me because in Malaysia I had a middle aged Indian friend and we would hang out and smoke while we talked away the hours. It was like old times.) The man was very friendly.

Then the friends we arrived with came back and started pulling him away again and Drunky stared yelling at them. I assume he was saying something along the lines of, "Why does everyone ELSE get to talk to the white guy and I keep getting shut down!" Someone punched someone and the next thing I knew there was a huge fistfight. He just wanted to talk to me and they wouldn't let him. Everyone in the wedding was rushing around screaming and punching. People who only seconds before had been sipping tea from dainty cups and nibbling h'ourderves were now emitting high pitched, guttural howls through clenched teeth. Their faces angled toward the ceiling, their eyes rolled back in their heads with rage. Their hands clawing and tearing at my new friends face, clothes and hair. I scanned the room for Mia. We made eye contact and I gave her the same look I gave my sister once when I noticed she had just witnessed me cause a large car accident.

Seconds later we were being shuttled out the door by the people we came with. They were yelling at me over what sounded like a stamped of an assortment of world's noisier animals, "That's why you don't talk to a person who drinks! Also, you don't smoke!" However, it seemed to me that the man was not trying to cause any problems. He just didn't like that everyone else got to shake my hand and talk to me and he didn't. I feel the moral may be, "That's why it's better to make quick small talk with the drunk guy and then move on to the next guest," which was my plan. Anyway, our friends said not to feel bad because in India 90 percent of the weddings blow up into fights and then everyone just returns to partying. I said that in America 90 percent of people at a wedding reception are drunk, so it isn't as big a deal to talk to someone who has been drinking. Learning a new culture takes time.