Preparing you for India

So, now we would like to talk a little about some funny things we have noticed by being here in India one month now. By presenting some situations we have encountered.

1) Watching the cinema, it is socially OK to have your phone on, with phones ringing every other minute. To shout and scream, talk during the movie. When watching a movie in India you hear about half of what they are saying because people can be talk a lot during the movies. They also have sessions during the movie when you can go to the toilette, buy some popcorn and so on. We would love for that to come to Sweden!

2) People are very friendly and welcoming in India, and they really like talking to foreigners. A lot of people will come and talk to you. Asking for your number, email. So be prepared for that :)

3) Then we come to the starring. Indian people stare a lot. As you are a white foreigner you have to get used to having all eyes on you all the time. In bars, restaurants, walking down the street, in the taxi, in shopping malls. Yeah, everywhere!

4) Living with a Indian family. It will be like it is your own family. They will treat you like their daughters or their sons. Really a nice experience.

5) Space. Going to India you have to learn that you will not have your own personal space. People will ”intrude ”your personal space. So you just have to get comfortable with it.

6) Indians are very close to each other. You often see people walking down the streets, holding hands, hugging each other. Guys and girls.

7) Indian eat with their hands. Even though there is a lot of sauce. Hand is their tool for getting food into their mouth.

8) Cows are everywhere! At restaurant entrance, the highway.. Everywhere!

9) After 8 pm, you cannot see any women outside. If you do, they are outside accompanied by their husband.

10) Indian food is delicious! We live on Chicken Tikka, Chicken Masala, Chicken Tandori..

11) We have seen several fights and car accidents. So we do not recommend you to drive by your self since the traffic is pretty tough.

To be continued….
This is of course a generalisation and all Indians are not like this, just some small things that are different to what we normally see at home!

Making a difference

During our visit in India, we have seen a lot of lovely things but there are things breaking your heart as well. When you are walking on the streets there are several people who do not have a home, who maybe have a blanket and thats it, sleeping on the side of the street. Most of the homeless people are women, often with their children. Women in India especially the ones from lower castes are often socially, economically excluded from the society in India. These people often belongs to lower castes being called untouchables, ‘not being human’, Dalit people from this caste cannot enter restaurants, churches, the water supply – public places, sit together with their classmates eating lunch.Lower castes are today 166 million people and tribes consist of 84 million people in India. Every two our it is estimated that a Scheduled caste (Dalit) are assaulted, every day three Dalit women are raped and two Dalit homes are torched and two Dalits are murmured. Tough facts presenting todays situation in India.

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The other day. We where on our way home after drinking some Chai tea around the corner where we live. We saw this cake shop. It really looked delicious so I decided to buy some. Then on our way home, we pass by about 20 women with their children, living on the streets. Just by walking 5 minutes. We where just about to pass the street to walk towards our hotel when I saw this young little girl. Than i started to think how much joy these small cakes could bring her. It will probably taste delicious and i would enjoy eating the cake, however she will probably never be able to eat this, since her daily mission is to get any food into her stomach. I then turned around, walked towards her and opened the boxed. I have never seen so happy eyes shining so bright. She started screaming after her mom and they where all full of joy. This was some joy in all of their troublesome life. Giving some happiness to someone else for a moment. When i was walking away they all where waving their hand all exited and smiling. Happiness I have never seen before.

IMG_4123The day after when we where walking on the street. I saw this young girl again, together with the other homeless women. She was so happy. Still full of joy just by a small act from another person. You can make a difference. Maybe we will not change the little girls life. But we did bring some happiness to the girl and we made a difference. And I do believe in, what comes around goes around. So when you have the chance, do something little that can make a difference in the persons life next to you. It can be smiling to the person on the buss or helping an old lady crossing the street. All the small things matters and it does not cost a fortune to do it!

Toni & Guy

Despite our hard work- some day we could stay in our room 12- 13 hours working but we are still girls and girls like to do shopping. Here in Chennai, there is a very huge shopping center called Escape with hundred of stores and restaurants. A heaven for girls, right?

We decided to visit Escape yesterday after finishing with our interview and go for a hair cut. Two hours interview with a lot of information was so intensive so going to a hair salon was kind of relaxing for us. In Escape shopping mall, we found Toni & Guy- a British haircut brand. We booked time and waited. We asked the receptionist if she has some hair catalogue so we could check what hair style we would have. But she answered to our surprise that they don’t have those types of magazines since the stylist would consult us about what style would match with our faces. We were nervous and wondered what the stylists would do with us. This is an extremely make-over for us. Last time we cut our hair dated back at least six months ago and at that time we were able to decide what style we want to have.

After 45 minutes with hair washing, cutting and blowing. Josefine was so happy with her new look meanwhile I was not hundred percent sure about my new look. However, my hair will grow fast and I hope I will get used to my new look soon 😀

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Backwaters of Kerala

Yesterday we went south of Cochin and to Alappuzha to reach the backwaters. There are several places where you can reach the backwaters but we chosen this places since we could take the local bus for 2 hours from Cochin. Our lovely hostesses took us to the bus station with their scooters so we would find the right bus.

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So to the backwaters of Kerala, it was really amazing. Definitely one of the best places we have been to here in India. It is supposed to be around 900 km long waterways and half the length of Kerala. As you understand, it is very large. We took a small boat so we could go through the small canals of the backwaters. They’re a lot of people living by the backwaters and the trip let us see the daily life of the Indians living by the backwaters. We did see several people washing clothes, dishes, taking a shower, cleaning their hair, everything you can imagine! It was really interesting and fun to see and be a part of. After 3 hours we stopped at a very small restaurant, probably a friend to our boat driver, where we had fresh fried fish. After that we head back to Alappuzha and took the local bus to Cochin. We definitely recommend doing that if you are around.

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True love!

After coming to Kerala, we did not have time to see so much since we just spent time in the house working. We have been working non-stop for two days in a row now.

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Source: google.com

Today, we are treated with cake and a special dinner by our host mother. At first, we did not know the reason to the celebration since my host-parents speak so little English, we guessed that they may be something to do with the church, but we were wrong. Today is our host parents’ 25 th wedding anniversary. We don’t know whether their wedding was based on love or if it was an arranged one (which is quite normal in India at that time). But holding on with each other for 25 years is impressive according to our opinions. As young girls on the way to finding ourselves, we really want to find the love of our life later on, a true love! We like the thoughts of being with someone throughout life, to share the happiest but also the saddest moments.

Emma

We need to mention that we really admire the way our host parents spend quality time together: Everyday after the dinner, they usually sit in the garden and talk until late night or they sit near the beach watching the moon. We know that newly in love couples often do those kind of romantic gestures but still having this habit after 25 years is really impressive. Is that the reason to why they can stay in love after so long time and still being together? Their love is so simple but deep. Seeing them together does give us hope that true love may also will come and stay with us in a very near future:)

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Our own Indian family

Today we had lunch with the landlord of our apartment, the one we are renting here in Colva, Goa. They have treated us very well during this trip and we can definitly recomend to stay at their place (Colva Holiday Homes), search at Airbnb. Great hostess, and today we where invited to their house to eat some homemade Goan dishes. There was fish, curry, (of course), vegetables, prawns and so on. Really good! Then they served us ice creme for desert. Both felt like as if they where our own grandparents. Picking us up with their car, then all the time trying to fill our plats with more food so we really are full. Then wanting to pack some food for our train ride today to Kerala. Always giving good advise and taking care of us. They really are good people ! So if you go to Goa, you should definitely stay here then :)

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Flying high with your dreams!

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The economy of India is the tenth largest in the world by nominal GDP, however, India is still the home of many people living under the poverty line. After coming to India, our view considering poverty has changed remarkably. In Sweden, sometimes people talk about the relative children poverty, meaning children who are living in poverty are the one who do not have enough money spending on leisures, for example: Children who cannot afford for a new computer or who can not hang out on a class-trip. But here in India, we see another form of poverty, the absolute form. People who are living under absolute poverty are the one who can not afford for their basic needs regarding: food, clean water or health care. What we see and observe in India sometimes make us really sad. But despite the hard life in India, we can still somehow find hope and the passion in people and it is really a positive sign.

We want to share the story of Rahis Ali, 19 years old from Mumbai. We met Rahis Ali when he tried to sell Goa’s maps to us. We kindly explained to him that we are not in the need of a map since we have our iPhones and google Map. Rahis had no idea what google map is, but he tried to make us change our minds. We asked him why he goes around and tries to sell map because it is hard to find customers nowadays since most of tourists coming to Goa have smartphones which can connected to Internet and Google map. Rahis did not have any answer to our question. We asked him where he is from, he said he is from Mumbai and we also asked him why he came to Goa and his answer is it is because he wants to learn English: ”You don’t find so many foreigners in Mumbai, but here you can always practice a lot of English. I want to be better in English so later on I can find a better job. I won’t need to sell map anymore” said Rahis with a big smile on his face.

Everyday, Rahis takes the bus from Madgao, the central station to Colva Beach to sell map to foreign tourists. But it depends on if he has any money for bus trips, if his business was bad he would walk instead in order to save money. And the distance from Madgao to Colva Beach is about more than 15 km. Rahis’s working time varies, but it is around 10-12 hours a day. If he got lucky, he could sell 3- 4 maps a day but it can also be that he could not sell any map at all, despite the fact that he walked all day in the sun. Today, when I saw him in the afternoon in front of my apartment. He gladly said Hi to me. I asked him where he is going. He said he is going back home and will take a rest. His business was bad today and he said now he doesn’t have any money for neither lunch or dinner. I emptied my pocket and found 30 Rs to him, the money is just enough for bus trips. Before he left, I asked him if he now has any intention to switch the brand and sell something else. After a short confusion, He shook his head and looked at me, tired but serious. ”I know that this is a hard job, and people don’t like to do it. But it is my chance to learn english. I will not give up. I dream about being big in the future” 

We separated, as we might can never see each other again. Rahis’ answer bring me back to three ago when I met my friend Nita’s father in China. My friend’s father is a very success business man. But according to Nita, her father had worked from the bottom up. ”My father started with selling travel bags in the train station, he has worked so hard to be the man he is today, he had a dream and the dream has always being a compass guided him through hardships in life”.

 We really hope that the same thing will happen to Rahis. His answer really impressed us, and so did his smile and strong will. We learned a lesson from him: ”Never give up, doesn’t matter how hard life is, a better day will come soon”.

Rahis

Rahis to the right with his friend, both are from Mumbai

Caste system in India

Today was the first day that we really noticed that the Indian cast system still exist by experiencing it by our self. My shoe had broken so i went around the shops in Palolem to ask if someone could help me fix it. The first one just said no, then I went to another shop. The next one ask me if i though she was a ”shoe fixer”, i just asked if she had any glue so i could walk home with the shoes. But then she told me that it was an offence asking her to fix my shoes since it is only the low castes in India that have that kind of jobs. She would not even fix her own shoes. I apologised and it was ok. She also told us that she could not even tell other people that she sells shoes in her shop, because they would think lower of her then. At that time we really experienced the strong presence of the Indian caste system.

In the end i got myself a new pair of shoes because no ”shoe fixer” existed in that area so she told me no one would help me with my problem. Got my new pair of slippers and the problem for my sake was fixed but the existence of the caste system will probably exist for a long time Im afraid.
IMG_3870Palolem beach

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IMG_3866On our way to Palolem beach from Colva

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Kerala

We bought train tickets the other day to go to Kerala, which will be the next stop on our route. Kerala is famous for its backwaters where you in different ways can travel through the beautiful green area. Besides that they have one of the best Wildlife Sanctuary in south of India, called Periyar. Where they hav 900-1000 elephants, 35-40 tigers, sambar, wild boar, languor, bison and so on. We are thinking about tanking a 1 night 2 days tour in the park where you stay one night in a tent sleeping in the wildlife sanctuary. It costs 4000 rupees which is about (500 sek), 68 dollars. Not a lot comparing to a lot of other places where you can do these sorts of things.
Besides that we are going to just enjoy Kerala from 15th to 20th when we are planning to go to Chennai (Madras).

Now we are heading out to see Palolem, which is supposed to be the most beautiful place here in Goa. Finally we will get some beach time, well deserved after handing in the first chapters!

Panaji, sunset

Tea

 

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