Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saathi- the beginning!

Intro to Saathi:

I have been at Saathi for 2 weeks thus far. The first two weeks are for me to familiarize myself with the multiple facets of the Saathi juggernaut. Saathi’s main focus is to work towards a Just and Equitable world with a specific focus on youth living on the streets.

I have visited ad interacted with the youth at the two main “day centers.” One is KPC where the boys go and other is the APC where the girls go. Both provide physical, social, occupational, and emotional support for the youth during the day. I observed and participated in various activities in each center ranging from story telling, physical activities, theater therapy and counseling.
I have been taken on three outreach trips through the various locations Saathi networks in. The red light district and the Mumbai Central bus terminal were the locations I observed and met some of the youth living on the street and Saathi’s Stake Holders. Stake Holders are individuals who have been on the streets for a while and will refer newer youths to Saathi. I spent an afternoon at Saathi’s Muland Home Placement Center. The Home Placement center houses runaways who are relatively new to the Mumbai area. The Home Placement serves as a location away from the city where the youth can reflect on their decision to run away where meals, counseling, and shelter is provided. I visited vocational center where youth boys were making paper bags out of recycled newspapers. They happily welcomed me to learn the trade. It was fun!I look forward to start planning my projects with the staff and implementing them!

Here are pictures from the Mumbai Marathon and the Kathakali Dance in Kerala. Kathakali dance is native to the Southern part of India. It tells a story of various gods only using music and movement. there is a large emphasis on the facial movements of the dancers. it was great to watch!~

Monday, January 21, 2008


Well actually i just got a sim card because we already had a cell phone which we are borrowing for the time being so MAYBE I DID NOT GET A CELL PHONE!!!!!!!!!!
Anyway here is the number
the country code is +91 and then 98 3343 8908
i want some prank calls!
talk to you guys soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pictures of India

this is the web site for some picture of our first month in India! Check it out!

These are some pictures of the Himalaya's, the sun set at kodaikanal and pictures from the backwater tour in kerala.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Amazing! Rhode Island you got nothing on us!!!!!!!

My mother has done it again and sent me one of the most amazing songs to grace this planet. After the Mantra i received at the Amma's Ashram i think this is the second greatest song in my life right now!

And some more pictures: a penguin as a garbage bin, doesn't this look like delaware, the sun rising and setting from Amma's Ashram, and a picture of Kodaikanal

New Years, Rollin’ Solo in India, and Amma's Ashram

Diane has gone off to her Oneness seminar about 80 km north of Chennai thus leaving Mark all alone in the large country of India! What does he do?!?!?! Well the first thing was get the heck out of Chennai. A decent city, but we didn’t give it much of a chance.

We did spend New Years in Chennai and saw some amazing fireworks. We stood on the top of our hotel and watch fireworks from every angle. It was a bit scary b/c there were some amateur firework displays. The path that some of the fireworks took did not make it past the 6th story of a few of the local hotels. Thus exploding into the side of many buildings. I was a bit concerned but what are fireworks without some danger right?

On New Years Day we went to the beach of Chennai! This beach is straight up HUGE!!!!!! There could be the larges beach ultimate tournament, WITH REGULAR SIZED FIELDS, on this beach. It was mammoth. Of course getting thousands of ultimate players to the beaches of Chennai might be challenging the beach was huge. There was a Shakedown Street of basically “Dollar Stores” on the beach. There were amusement park side, granite small ones, but still in the middle of the beach. It was wild. After being treated like celebrities on the beach. You know how it is, the shaking of hands, the picture taking, the constant gawking. It is tough work being famous! We were off to the state fair.

The state fair is a bit different. Take for example in the Western North Carolina State Fair we dress us pigs and give them names like Dale Swineheart Jr. and race them around tracks. In India the state politicians have large walk through displays of what the different state agencies are doing with the people’s tax month. It was pretty cool.

So like I said, out of Chennai. I headed to Kodaikanal. A beautiful town about 2000 meters up in the mountains of the Western Ghat range. Kodaikanal’s claim to fame is that they have a lot of homemade chocolate and ice cream. I can speak from experience that this stuff is TASTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is also a pastry shop that I straight up harassed this store to tell me when the wheat bread would be fresh. When I finally got the info and a warm loaf it was orgasmic! Also there was a dairy plant with fresh cheese. I missed the whole milking process by an hour b/c I spaced out one day but the cheese coupled with that fresh wheat bread would make a vegan reconsider their ways!
The views up here were fantastic I might add. I took some cool pictures of baby chickens that were smothered in this bright red sauce hanging from wires on street vendors carts. This is the point were vegans jump back on the bandwagon! I will post these pictures soon. It was pretty interesting. So after a few days in Kodaikanal I headed to Kollam for a “Backwater” tour or the southern part of Kerala.

I was afraid I was going to miss it b/c my train pulled in at 9:42am and they said you should get there at 10am to get on the boat. I was standing in the doorway of the train as it was pulling into the station and I saw the stairs go past me. I looked ahead and saw no other set of stairs. WHAT WAS HAPPENING! I WAS GETTING FURTHER AN FURTHER AWAY FROM MY EXIT! So like any intelligent young man with a 50 pound back pack on would do, I “stepped” off. Apparently that whole day’s lecture in high school science class about “things in motion staying in motion” didn’t really cross my mind b/c when I hit the pavement I fell on my side. By the way i was the greatest 8th grade science teacher ever! Just ask teh three honor boys i let run wild in our dilapitated science lab. (Needless to say the made gun powder and blew stuff up!) The backpack doubled as my cumbersome turtle shell and I wiggled around a bit until I was able to get up right. A few scratches, but I’m ok. I’m an idiot but ok! PS I did make the boat with plenty of time!

The boat trip was great! There are these large wooded contraptions that looks like birds feet all over the backwaters. They are Chinese fishing thingys. They basically get lowered down and pull up some fish a while later. They littered the landscape. There were also tons of eagles, and boys both young and old asking for :”pen, pen” as we floated by. A beautiful and relaxing trip.

After about 3 hours we made it to Amma’s Ashram. Her real name is Mata Artriyumanuouhjgkljrshgkjshkuhfgushioghfusgiofshfgsahfos but people call her Amma, which means “mother” They also call her the “Hugging Saint” b/c she hugs everyone she meets or who come to see her. She is truly an inspirational lady. She is a spiritual leader but preaches “love” and that “all things are God.” The Ashram is basically an Ashram, but gone Hollywood. I at first though I wouldn’t like it b/c it was too big, but I really have fallen in love with the place. To defend myself I did arrive on Sunday, one of the busiest days there are. On Monday things calmed down a bit and I decided to extend my stay.
Let me describe it a bit. There are 5 huge apartment complexes, the biggest being a 17 story building, with a 13th floor by the way, in the middle of about 1,000,000,000,000 palm trees! There is a huge temple, a large autitorium, a huge kitchen, a hospital, a printing press, a swimming pool, 4 different eating areas, and numerous shops and various other things. It is like a resort but for prayer! It is great. The whole place is run by volunteers and everyone there is asked to do a “Seva” each day. Seva is basically volunteer work or selfless work. I got assigned recycling! Hot darn! By the way when you recycle plastic bottles- TAKE THE TOPS OFF, POUR OUT THE WATER, AND WHILE YOUR AT IT PLEASE CRUSH THE CAN/OR BOTTLE! THANKS~

So Amma is one heck of a rock star. She donates millions of $ to causes all over the world. A Tsunami hit Kerala right by her Ashram and she personally paid for and built everyone who lost their home a new one. She gave free food, medical care and most importantly love to all of the victims. She has also helped to rebuild communities after earthquakes and Tsunamis have destroyed towns in Gujurent and in Tamil Nadu. She even gave money to Katrina relief and just helps everywhere. She has build huge apartment complexes in slums and donates food and medical care constantly. So how does she do all this. Like I said before EVERYONE IS A VOLUNTEER. NO ONE is paid! It is great. In a day and age where Non-profits and NGO’s can be iffy with money she is doing it right. She doesn’t have to pay workers so the majority of the money goes to the people in need. I would recommend donating to her cause if you want to donate some $ and know it is going to a good place.

So I have extended my stay here and am taking a 2 day medication course. It has been great so far! That is about it right now. Have a great day and much love~ we miss you guys~mark

here are some pictures:

like i promised the red baby chickens, the circus!, our minister friend brady who married us, some free range beef, and shot out to Delaware! Go Blue Rocks!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Fun in India!

So India is pretty cool. First off when you go out to eat you can order specific
items or you can get the "meal/thali". I LOVE THE MEAL/THALI!!!!
it is basically all the starch (rice/chapati) and sauces/dahl you can eat with your fingers. The first time we found this out we were eating at this sweet little joint and the waiter kept coming up to me and smiling with this three columned bowl. He didn't speak english but would look at my empty sauce places on my banana leaf (yes you get to eat of banana leaves!!!!!!!!!) i would nod and ask for more and he would refill my sauce spaces. then he would wiggle his head side to side. i got the larges kick out of the side to side head nod! it was great b/c he had this little smirk on his face as well. i have come to realize that this head wiggle is for everything, "when pointing to the bathroom- head wiggle, when just looking around in stores- head wiggle, when getting kicked out of a Hindu only temple- you guessed it the head wiggle!~ i love it

another finer point of traveling in India is the rickshaw drivers get paid if they take you to a store. So when you get into the rickshaw and ask to go somewhere they take you to a store and play dumb or act like they didn't hear you correct. THEN THEY TAKE YOU TO ANOTHER STORE! How can they play this trick twice with the same excuse is what i'm thinking. But anyway on to the story. Diane and i were walking around Dehli and we wanted to go to the metro. a taxi driver pulled up and said 20 rupees to the metro and that was a good deal so we got in. then he went into the whole "behind the sense working of the taxi/store scam"
the driver gets 100 rupees from the store each time he takes a foreigner there. so he wanted us to get in on the deal. if we went to one store we didn't have to pay to go to the metro. if we went to 2 stores he would give us 100 rupees. I was kind of considering it, but di was feeling ill and she wasn't buying it so she said to just take us to the metro. about 2 minutes after we refused his scam he started asking if we showered that day. then he started telling us that we smell and we should go back to our country if we are going to smell up his taxi, and how we were poor and how we really smell. i tried to roll down the window but he just yelled at me. it was real funny!

more to come~