Monday, August 11, 2008

We are Home!

In the words of Michael Franti, "Asheville, How you feelin'??!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!!?"
Di and i are back in Asheville and our new number that now works is 828-225-6986. We have been able to see some of your friendly faces but can't wait to see everyone and catch up! We are pretty much doing house stuff so if you swing by we should be there!~ Hope to see you all soon!~

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Close to home!






Hey folks we have toured part of the east coast and are heading home soon! We can't tell you how great it was to see some of our friends and family thus far and can't wait to see a bunch more in SMASHEVILLE! Much love- enjoy the random pictures!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

North Island






Here are some pictures still of Australia! A shot out to Delaware, a cool picture of Di and i biking, a trailer we stayed in and some cool plant life! Enjoy!

So we have made it to the North Island. Some fun facts about NZ. There are only 4 million people here. 3 million live on the north island and of that 3 million 1 million live in Auckland! Wild stuff! Two of those millions are Drake and Erica who we rocked out with for a few days in Wellington aka WINDington because it is freaking windy as anything! I had to get crampons just to stay upright as we walked around the town. No really it was wild. Drake and Erica were amazing hosts and there housemates rocked as well. We celebrated Christmas in July! It was fantasgreat! The Te Papa museum was amazing! a truly beautiful and education place.

We then headed to Tongariro to do the northern circuit hike- famous from Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately, after we had prepared 3 pounds of rice and beans because there is no way to cook while hiking out there a blizzard came through and threw us off the mountain. Their were winds of 200 km/h going on and snowing! About 2 hours into our hike di and i regrouped and decided that this was not the way we wanted to spend our last week on "vacation." So we high tailed it to Auckland and won a cut throat game of Cranium with Anne and her beautiful family!

We are now on Waiheke Island WWOOFing with a splendid family! We have been gardening, cooking, and hanging out with some rather energetic 4 and 5 year olds! It's been fun. We are very excited to come home and see you guys all soon!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pictures






Hey folks here are some picture of Australia-

Pictures of Di and i wine tasting in the hunter valley, some cool rock formations in the Blue Mountains, a puppet shop in Sydney, a cool tree in the sunset and the Cliff Mallee tree. I really like this tree b/c the bark is looking like it is melting off!
Enjoy-

Monday, July 21, 2008

Strazzer US Reunion East Coast Tour Dates

Hey folks New Zealand is great! We rocked out the South Island with the help of James, Biff and both mommie and daddie birken! It was great. We hiked the Kepler Trail a bit in Te Anu, we went cross-country skiing in Wanaka, we went hiking in Queenstown, we eat a "world famous" salad and sausage buffet in Greymouth. Good times!

We are planning out return to the US and it will be a short and sweet tour down the east coast as we make a b-line to Asheville. We would love to see our friends along the way so if you live in any of these areas hopefully we can set something up. Below are our tour dates! Get excited!!!

8/3-5th- NYC- wake up on the 5th and head to NJ
8/5- NJ- wake up on the 6th and head to DE
8/6- DELAWARE- wake up on the 7th and head to DC
8/7-?DC
8/8 or later- Asheville!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

NEW ZEALAND

If you know me well you know how much I love this country. It is interesting to be here in the winter since the last time I came it was sunny summer (during January unfortunatly when most people don't have vacation). It is still sweet now but for a super outdoor enthusiast who likes to hike it is a little bit of a bummer. The cadebury chocolate factory was a good side trip. They have a chocolate fountain that is in an old huge silo that is quite the site and only there for your entertaiining. thank you to all the amazing couchsurfing houses we crashed at. I had my sights set on the Milford trek, proclamed to be the best hike on the planet. There are many avalanche paths though and I don't need that. So we did the kepler hike. We didn't do the top section becuase the snow drifts made you step down into the snow all the way to your hip and doing that for 8 hours does not appeal to me. But it was sure beautiful up there. Mountian ranges covered in snow, last time I was here it wasn't as glourious as this. The forests are covered in moss or ferns, the lake is everywhere and they have huts with tiny wood stoves. really i can not believe wood stoves are made this small. small enough that you have to chop wood down to the side of your foot. we were a little low on food but thankfully our freind farmer neil shared his feast with us. hopefully i will throw a photo up soon. we will be back in the states at the beginning of august and down in asheville by midmonth. i am pretty excited to see you! I get to see my parents in a couple of days here in nz cool!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hunter Valley






THESE PICS ABOVE ARE FROM THAILAND. WE WILL SORT IT ALL OUT EVENTUALLY. MAYBE WHEN IT DOES NOT COST 77$ PER HOUR ON THE EMAIL AY? We spent a few days in the Hunter Valley - Wine Country. It was great. We rented some bikes, stayed with an amazing family- The Towers, and went around tasting wines, cheese , and chocolate! It was fantastic to say the least. There were many new wines that we tried b/c they are specific to that region and they were lovely! We eat at Smelly Cheese for lunch twice and hit up a fantastic chocolate factory! not too bad! We made it to about 12 wineries out of 120 and learned a large amount of knowledge about wine. Fun times!

We also got to see a herd of Kangaroo's chillin in the bush and then hop off in line. It was fun to see. they seemed to hop in a line formation with a baby leading the pack and also pulling up the rear.

After that we headed up to Byron Bay and as luck had it we arrived in the middle of Farmers Market day and eat some fantastic foods. A beet, spinach, sweet potato, chick pea layer cake- which we amazingly colored! Good food!

We have done some whale watching b/c the whales migrate up the eastern part of Australia to have their caves. We have seen a bunch slapping the water and breaching as well. Byron Bay is the eastern most part of Australia so we are pretty close to home right now- can you feel the good vibrations coming your way?

Here are some random pictures from Thailand!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Quick Updates!

Hello folks all is well here DOWN UNDER! Yes we have made it to Australia and we just came back from our first hike in the Australian "Bush" and we were able to see our first kangaroo! Hot Darn! We have seen plenty of Kangaroo testicles because apparently it is funny to attach them to random objects such as key chains, bottle openers and t-shirts! Well done Aussies!

DI and i sat for a Vipassana Course. It consisted of 10 days of not talking and 11 hours of meditation AND I AM HAPPY TO REPORT NEITHER OF US RAN AWAY FROM THE COURSE-(This happens quite often).

I will attach more photos soon. We have couch surfed twice thus far and it is great!!! Thanks Kendall and family, Rose and Lisa!!!

We also took a Thai cooking class in Bangkok before we left-thanks Emi- and we have learned that if you dislocate the the legs of this insect that is in the cockroach family it smells very sweet! look for it at your local international markets!

We'll see you all in about 6 weeks!~

Monday, May 26, 2008

Koh Phangan






So we have been living the island life pretty much. A lot of chillin', reading, relaxing, eating, meditating, and so forth. We have been to about 6 of teh 16 beaches on this island and we have even "Beach hopped" because some of them are about a 5 minute hike away. I don't want to brag or anything, but i was on 3 beaches in one day! Oh yeah. Here are some pictures from them.
The first is of Di hiking through the jungle as we went from Haad Tien to Haad Yan beach, then a picture of the twig walkway on the rocks, another great picture from our walk, then a picture of the sky, and a picture of Haad Rim beach as we went on a boat tour of part of the island! It was fantastic!

Pictures from the Haad Rim Beach Party






Here are some pictures from the party. it was real fun. You drink out of Buckets! it consists of an alcoholic drink, a mixer, and a energy drink. It's pretty tasty and funny at the same time.
The pictures are of di drinking from the bucket, a board of designs you can get painted on your body, the fire sign for the party, me dejected because i had to wear di's purse during the party, and some dude passed out towards the end of the night! Enjoy~

Thailand- Largest Beach party EVER!

Hello all we are all good!

we just went to the largest beach party in the world on Koh Phangan Island! The pictures are not working right now but i will post some later. we are all good and we are happy and healthy! talk to you guys soon and see you all soon! 10 weeks left!~

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Annapurna Trek!






o we rocked out the Annapurna Trek in Nepal and crossed through the Thorong-La Pass at 17,768 feet. I actually made it to 17,777 feet because once we got up there i had to wee and the "out door" bathroom was up this little hill behind the tea house. A porter and i were heading to the "out door toilet" at the same time and he was heading left so i headed right. Then he switched directions so i in turn changed mine, then he did this the third time and after ascending 5000 feet I really didn’t want to go to much further up so I took control of the situation and told the porter, “Hey go left and I’ll go right, Thika?” That topped me off at 17,777.

Anyway the trip was great. We started our trek strong after a 5 day fast inspired by giardia and luckily is sprung up for us again about halfway through the trek. But we rested and made it through! Well done us!

Here are a few pictures from the trek. There is one of us, “looking the part, ehh?”

Another one is on these cages that porters wear and they hike and deliver chickens! How cool is that. We also saw some mules doing the same, but the porters out number the mule chicken carriers by a 30 to 1 ratio.

One is the sign at the top of the Thorong-La pass. Feel free to down load it yourself , show it to folks, and tell people you made the trek!

One is of the goat herders and their posse! It was cool, we got to be escorted by mountain goats!

And the final one is of a gorgeous mountain range who’s name escapes me but in was in the beginning of the trek. This mountain is BEAUTIFUL and the picture doesn’t do it justice!

All in all a great trek and you should do it before it “goes commercial.” The only road less section will be from Manang to Muktinath (about a 4 day section).

As a side note you really don’t need a guide if you have a decent map, and know something about the outdoors. We highly recommend going to the Acute Mountain Sickness talk in Manang- Very informative.

Also if you can stay where the porters stay if you get the change. It is a welcome changed from the hotels and you get to sit around the fire and hear their stories. It was a very rewarding experience for us!~


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Overland to Pokhara Nepal!



We took a bus from Sunali Nepal to Pokhara Nepal where we would start our trek. It was supposed to be an 8 hour ride.

I truly feel that the three 18-year old boys who drove the bus pooled their money together to allow one of them to get a drivers license to drive the bus and the other two could collect money and be ticket collectors on the ride. The three musketeers were young, free, had a good job and could travel their county at their leisure and at the expense of tourist and that is exactly what they did! The bus was to leave at 4:30pm and arrive in Pokhara at 5:30 am. We showed up at 4:20pm and they rushed us onto the bus. We get on the bus and some crazy guys wants 200 rupees for putting our bags on the top of the bus. Another Nepalise young man is silently shaking his head now at us. We give him 5 rupees to quiet his banter. The guy shaking his head ended up being a jerk but he was quite helpful then and there.

So they rush us on the bus only to take us to a spot no more than 200 meters on the main road where we load 5 more people on and wait for a good hour. 15 people plus our 3 young hostesses with the mostest! We take off again to a “main” bus stop where 11 more foreigners and locals get one. The best part of this stop came when our friend Easton got off the bus to smoke. Four Chinese punk rockers complete with black fingernails, guitar, and one with a very elaborate mullet! Spiked hair on top, short on the sides, and then long in the back that he proceeded to fix in the reflection of his phone/TV/music player. The guy that took the cake was the fella who sat in Easton’s seat. I told him, “Someone is sitting there.” His reply was a very monotone “Yehh, Me.” That was the extent of my liking for our them. It shows that the foreign teenage punk rockers have the same spunk as their American counterparts.

We head off from the “main” bus station and we travel for about 45 minutes- our longest continuous drive thus far, and we get to another “main” bus station. It is blazing hot on the bus so we alternate getting off and checking out the fruit and food vendors. The guy who told me not to pay the hawker for our luggage kept asking for smokes and was trying to be helpful. Every time I would get off the bus he would follow me and say, “hurry hurry the bus is leaving.” I’d rush back to the bus and get on. I would then seat out as much water as I just put in my body while off the bus. I would see that we were not heading anywhere fast so I would get off the bus again. This scenario played out 3 more times until we finally left. As we left the bus terminal, I say my Nepalise guide yell at the f\young foreign tourist he was sitting next to- “hey let’s make love” but he used a different verb.

It was getting pretty dark, which was a bit of a bummer b/c the view was supposed to be real nice. So from 4:30pm-8pm we had actually driven for a maximum of 1.5 hours! Great work guys! At about 9pm the young $ collector walks down the isle and announces that we are stopping for dinner. We pull up on this mountain side road with about 5 shops on either side. The young drivers and loving it. They are eating, flirting with the female waitresses, and bumming smokes from the foreign tourist. We are there for another hour and a half. The young men decide on a whim that it is time to continue on our bumpy voyage. As we struggle with warmth and trying to sleep we clumpity clop up the Himalaya’s. 12am quickly approaches and the young $ collector comes sauntering down the isle informing passengers that it is time to sleep.

We were told it was a continuous trip, but honestly nothing was going to surprise me now. As we try to get comfortable in the seats as the temperature drops, I realize my shorts and t-shirt was not the ideal PJ’s in the Nepal Himalaya’s. I see the isle as an option b/c the metal bones were fingering me through the warn out mustard yellow upholstery. The floor was filthy so I asked the young man if he had any paper to put down. He happily ran off and returned with a roll of paper that looked like it was designed for that exact purpose. He laid the paper down meticulously like he was lining the bottom of a hamster cage. He laid it down in an over lapping pattern as so if I turn during the night’s rest a crack will not appear. He seemed apt at this practice. I lay down, more comfortable, but still cold. People went at their own pace to decide when their personal bed times would commence. As I was waiting for the final conversation to subside and a blanket of freezing slumber to engulf the bus I thought about the different people who had entrusted the combined wisdom of 56 years to lead us on a overnight journey on the sketchy Nepal roads. As the last two travelers ended their final bedtime discussion, not one minutes passed that a man who would haunt the entire bus began to snore. A few people chuckled at the irony of this, but my mind moved on to the dread of a frozen sleepless night. I was thinking, “is anyone going to jar this guy?” After a while I took the position upon myself. After my midnight “anti-snoring” mission was successful I was able to steal away three glorious hours of sleep until the cold was too overbearing. I walked up to the drivers compartment complete with our three heroes fast asleep in their locked in drivers compartment. I knocked on the door and they were kind enough to open and let me in. I asked for a blanket b/c I had seen a few other lucky passengers snuggling up with one. The one young man who was away told me there was not any blankets, left. I sat looking around and sad because I knew no sleep would come over me for the remainder of the night. I saw under his teenage shuttle accomplice a blanket! I asked if I could use it since his friend was not and he happily obliged. I got the blanket, tapped the snorer’s head as I walked back to my paper bed, which had held up surprisingly well for my 3 hours of sleep. I wrapped myself up like a mummy and slept the best I could until the morning stops began on the trip to Pokhara. People walked over me as I tried to convince myself to stay unconscious but I was awake. I got up and tried to share the blanket with Di as we both sat in the seat but warmth and comfortableness on a “paved” road in Nepal is not possible. We arrived at 10am, a solid 8 hour ride turned into 16.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Abdul


I want to introduce you to a client that I have a soft spot for at the NGO i worked at. His name is abdul and he thinks he looks pretty spiffy

and funny in these glasses so we took a picture. He has three fingers on one hand, is missing one arm and one leg. He had an accident on the train while using heroin. He now works for the NGO by doing random tasks, folding newspaper into usable bags, making beautiful lanterns, etc. He tried to teach me how to fold the bags correctly but I could not do it as well with my full appendages and fingers. I have tried to teach him a little bit about drawing because he is super excited about becoming a better artist. We don't speak the same language but this man is my friend and a huge inspiration to me!

goodbye ngo newsletter article and pictures of meditation blessing and mural

I am the lucky girl who got to spend two and a half months volunteering for an NGO through American Jewish World Service. My task was mostly to lead art therapy workshops and random odds and ends of other projects. It is good for counselors to get out of the routine of therapy that they are used to doing. When we put effort forth into a new activity we can gain insight into ourselves, our work, and the feelings/lives of our clients. I trained counselors to ask questions to groups for the purpose of drawing interpretation. These questions could be about whatever topic the group session covered a step from narcotics anonymous, or something that occurred within the Drop in Center that needed to be addressed. The questioned I used at each drop in center was “What will you look like when you are completely clean? Who will be around you? What will you own? Where will you live?” I asked the clients to draw what they saw of themselves in the future. We then discussed these drawings with the group in order for one client to help inspire other clients. In the discussion, the counselors are encouraged to ask questions about the drawing to bring out more thought and emotion from the clients. Doing this, conversations can increase between client and staff. Staff can gain new insight into the feelings and experiences within the client’s life in a new way. The drawings were hung on the wall. On bad days clients can see their drawings of what their life may be if they do not use as represented with their own hand. Journaling is an extremely effective way of expressing oneself and discovering feelings. Many of the clients are illiterate. They never have the opportunity of paper and pen to go deep within themselves and experience their hidden feelings. Drawing is a therapeutic tool for even the illiterate. Most of the addicts draw simple things back in their lives for their goals. They draw pictures with families reunited and a shelter to live under. I have learned how incredibly difficult it is for an addict to take steps towards treatment. When asking a group how many have been clean for a three month stretch I was shocked at how few raised their hands. I have experienced secondhand some of the effects of detox. This makes me so proud of those who again and again try to better themselves go through the pain over and over until they are clean.
I feel gratitude for having this experience because of the people. If I came to India to travel I would not have had the opportunity to meet a staff like this one. I have always done jobs that feel fulfilling to me, all social work based in America. To me it is worth it to do what serves the world even if you don’t make a lot of money. The staff here take this to a higher level then I though possible. Many of the staff are so devoted to this work to make their India and their world a better place. I have seen staff speak through their heart even when angry and even have the capacity to put themselves into client’s shoes. This is an ideal that most of us strive for yet few of us achieve.
I spent about a year working with mentally ill adults in America. The motto was “helping others, help themselves.” The work was very challenging. It is such a beautiful concept to get clients to rise and serve others like themselves. This, I believe is where the most potential for service and recovery is. In practice though, many of the clients were difficult to motivate. At this NGO there are many roles for addicts to fill as they recover as peer educators, outreach workers, or even folding paper bags. Clients are allowed to return again and again if they relapse. It is proven here that someone believes in them no matter what happens in their life. I wonder what it is like to be a junkie and meet a peer educator or outreach worker who is now wearing clean clothes and their head is high. I am so proud of all addicts who now work for this NGO. I am happy to know that helping others help themselves is possible.
I am most grateful to work with the clients. Being a tourist in India you see all kinds of new and unbelievable things from the temples to the slums. There are people everywhere in Mumbai. The most striking are the poor. You can observe their habits for they have no where to hide them as you walk by. Sometimes I smile as I pass, but interactions with street people I see everyday, are very limited due to language. Here, the staff was able to translate for me. I was able to have some communication with clients and learn a little about their lives and give them some care. The nonverbal sharing we did was fulfilling as well, taking a break from their struggles by playing games or processing some of their life in art therapy by drawing pictures.There is so much more that I have gained that I don’t even know yet. I think as I travel on and go back to my home in August the contrast between social work in America and my life here will continue to throw out new observations of life and growth. Who knows what I will leave behind me in India: new friends, a few murals, lots of memories, and hopefully new techniques for working with clients that will bring variety to the work that is done here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Food Dilemma






An NGO comes and delivers food to the young men who come to our “Drop in Center” on a daily basis. There is a different meal each day of the week but the weekly schedule is the same. Monday – Rice and Yellow Dahl, Tuesday – chapatti and Yellow Dahl, Wednesday – Rice and Mung Beans, Thursday- Sweets and Something that I don’t know the title of, You guys get the picture.

The attendance varies at our drop in center so sometimes the food is completely consumed and sometimes we have 20 pounds of left over rice and dahl. What to do with this food. They usually throw it out if no one wants to eat it. As a huge advocate for not wasting food I thought about what could be done and many questions arose.

I walk by 100 of beggar each day. Surely they could use the food. But then also there are 1000’s of working class people who work all day for Rs 300 ($7.50) and wouldn’t they like a free dinner every now and then?

India’s poverty line is based on the amount of money it costs to by 2,400 calories of food in a rural area and 2,100 calories of food in an urban area. The line is set at Rs 300 ($7.50) in rural and Rs 570 ($14) in urban areas a month.

The problem lies in the fact that this line was set on the prices of food in 1976! Needless to say food prices have risen in the past 32 years! India is currently reexamining this issue and will hopefully adjust the poverty line to more accurately depict the cost of food in this day and age.

Back to the dilemma- there 1000’s of working poor. Working all day for about Rs 120 ($3). Surely they deserve the food more than the beggar on the street pulling in Rs 400 ($10) per day? Right? The worker hasn’t given up, he is contributing to society, he is earning a wage, albeit it is extremely low. Where as the beggar is just sitting on the ground and has given up.

I would much rather give it to a person who worked that day and wants a free dinner- let him keep the Rs20 in his pocket for maybe a cold ice cream that he can’t find enough money for in his everyday budget. Or maybe he could save it and use it towards a new pair of sandals because his sandals blew out last week and has been shoeless since. But these people are sometimes hard to find. They are working while I’m trying to give the food out.

A young man and I went up to a man who was sorting trash. We asked if he was hungry and he said yes. We had nothing to put the food is so we kind of stared at each other until we realized this could not happen and went on our way. It was sad.

Then we came to a group of 5 ladies with about 3 small children among them. They were obviously beggars. They had bowls and news paper to put the food in.

So the question I ask is this?

Is it better to waste the food then to give it to a beggar who has given up on the idea of trying to work? What is this young mother teaching their child? We have seen parents encourage their children to come up to us in train and bus stations to beg from the “rich white people.” What type of values and lessons are being instilled in this small helpless 5 year-old?

This is the conclusion I have come up with- I can’t let the food go to waste so I have tried to first find someone who made an honest living that day, if I can’t find someone who fits that description I then give it to beggars. To off set the fact that I feel I am partially responsible and enabling this beggar to stay in his current state I will only give food to a beggar once. This is what I feel is okay to do.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What will get stared at MORE a Good Looking Young India Woman or a White Man?

I get stared at constantly. I truly understand in a way what famous people feel like being hawked by paperatzies and what not. It is a trying lifestyle and you long for your regular life back after a while.

As I was walking to the train station I happened to walk stride for stride with a tall good looking young India women and the questions instantly popped into my head, “Who are the India’s going to gawk at more? Me or Her?”

The answer came shortly because we were fortunate to stroll past a group of 3 young India men around the age of 17-22 I’d say. She walked to the left of them and I purposely walked to the right. I slightly gazed up to see where the trio’s wondering eyes would turn to and yes sir they looked at the young lady! Instant jubilation bubbled up in my heart! I could walk to the station without the glare and glower, even if it was just for one 20 minute part of my commute I was off the hook. Out of the public’s always present eyes! But alas my inner excitement was met with a cruel outer blow of fate! Not 20 feet from our first test of “Staring young men” her sandal blew out, she whispered, “SH#%” (which is by the way India’s favorite English word), and I was back in the spot light again for the remainder of my voyage to the train station and then onto the train where I will be groped and shoved and feel like Gumbi as I ride the train to work.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Train Strain

Getting on the train during rush hour is something I would not wish on anybody in 1 million years. It is tough, crazy, edgy and violent. The problem lies in that rush hour is more like rush 3 hour two times a day from 8-11am and then 4-8pm it is utter chaos!

There are four types of carts

Men’s Second class- about Rs 110 for a monthly pass- 3 bucks

Men’s First class- about Rs 800 for a monthly pass- 20 bucks

Women’s Second Class-same price as above but can be as catty as the men’s.

Women’s First class – same prices but usually pretty empty

There are usually a set of 3 bogies that are for women only. Why is there a women’s only car? Is it because chivalry in running rampant in India, or is it because if a man is in a packed bogie with a women he gets to feel her up?

The train is the life line of the city something like 6 million people ride the train DAILY! Mumbai is huge and there really isn’t any other choice! Buses or driving take about 3 times a long to get somewhere. The train is a huge blessing but it also is a curse to some.

There are two video’s here. The first is a second class bogie on a “light day”

The second is a first class bogie on a “heavy day”

Doing this twice a day six days a week does not seem good for the soul.

video

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My India Life































Here you can see pictures of where we live. Our living room, mosquito netted bed, kitchen, view out of the window, and our bathroom. In India they do not have a separate tub to shower in, which makes it difficult not to track water all over the bathroom and house. And what follows is my typical walk to the train everyday.
India. A place where an overabundance of every stimulation surrounds you. Where cheap plastic shiny crap is loved. Where the clothes designs have six patterns. Where women's hair is waist long and like black silk. Where when you earn a smile from a native, it starts in their hearts and ends through their eyes. Where men's waists are sized 12 inches and their excess beltage wraps around their backs. Where the guest is god. Tea is served at least 3 times per day. Someone makes it for you, brings it to you, and cleans your cup.
I put on my shoes by the door and slide the latch open. I am grateful some punk kid hasn't locked me in again. I step out on to the white tile landing and look out of the cage enclosed staircase window as I go down the stairs. The air is unusually less humid and smoggy in the early morning hours. I pass the flat with the incense going, devotional flower chains, and ghee oil lamps burning and smile at their intention. I pass my friends door with her assualitive Jesus picture, still sleeping...Lucky. I walk out through the elevator gate, while I look at the black paint hand print on the next building/abandoned house not three feet away. I smile at it. The ally has a chicken drinking from a cement dish with a cat lurking nearby waiting for his turn. A dog runs away from me, it's tail between his legs. "It's ok baby." I say. Down to the street that is already woken up. Rickshaws almost flatten me to the poop encrusted brick road, as women with six year old little boys in oliver twist overalls, white sloppy socks, and black shoes hurry by. The vegetable vendors are setting up, the cows are in the middle of the road as usual munching on imported grass. A rickshaw puffs out diesel smoke right by my face. The man driving it dressed in a kacki cotton suit turns around to stare at me as he drives past. The morning pooja is going on with Hindi music blasting, bells ringing, and incense burning. I see the red retro, puke green inside 220 bus nearing. "Why spend the 4 rupees when you can walk?" I am on my way. There is a scraggly puppy with patchy hair that waggles up. I pass my favorite bum. He is sitting on someones wall where he sleeps. There is a water bottle there partly filled i know with cheap mumbai alcohol. His wool blanket is draped over his head and he stares out looking so deep and philosophical it is beautiful. "one day I will bring him food and eat it with him, " I think. I pas the diamond stores, so many, the banks, and the saree shops. There is a deep fry samosa shop where I see the newly made samosas arranged on a stainless steel silver plate on the floor. "So fresh, that's the best place to get em." I pass the crowded ghetto sidewalk tea stall. Made from stolen sidewalk bricks in the shape of puzzle pieces and one piece of wood laying across. The owner shuffles the men out of my way. I smile at him. The park across the street is round and completely fenced in with only one entrance. It is only open in the morning and the evenings. There's a school with motivational sayings written on a chalk board that change daily. I pass the strange church made completely of bells. Each one purchased with the wish for a child or some other goal. Pantless beggar children get washed by their moms as their too thin fathers slumber on the sidewalk covered in a blanket. I fight my way through the crowd and rickshaws dodging to miss a stray mans hand, covering my purse to avoid its opening. "I'll make the 8:28 again." I go running up the stairs to the platform que for the women's bogie.