Archives For Indian culture

Learning from Traveling

November 15, 2019 — Leave a comment

It would be very difficult for me to itemize all of the different and surprising things I have seen and learned during my travels to Asia, but I am thankful for all to which I have been exposed. Some things were a little more expected and less of a surprise than others, but always interesting to see. Would you like to see some of the sights from a trip to India?

The photo above was taken in a small city in eastern India. I have no idea how this young lady could keep the sack on her head balanced as she wove through the traffic, but I was impressed — and I knew I didn’t want to do that myself! This sight became very common as I spent more time in India, and I have never seen anyone drop the load off their heads prematurely. 

Many times I saw a water buffalo or an ox pulling wooden carts in India, but I was not sure about what these animals were. They had the bodies of a cow, but I am not sure about their horns. I haven’t seen this combination before.

Being from the Atlanta area, you know I am a Coke guy when it comes to my cola preference. In India, Coke is called Thums Up, and I can’t say that it taste exactly like what we have in the States, but it is very close. Now, if I could just find some that were cold when it is 100 degrees and 100% humidity!

I was never truly into academia, but I can say that I do enjoy learning by traveling. There are many things you can learn through traveling that simply are not in books . . . but books are a great way to learn also. 

How about you? Do you have your next trip planned? This week I booked a trip, and I can’t wait to share with you about it! 

The Community Cup

July 15, 2019 — Leave a comment

If you ever think you have traveled enough in your life so that nothing in a new culture will surprise you, don’t be shocked when it does happen. At least that was the case for me! 

During my first trip to India, I was very surprised to learn of something they do in their culture that was unexpected, and caught me by surprise. Would you like to know what it was?

In the photo above, you can see a normal looking street-side restaurant in eastern India. The people would place their orders and wait for their food to be prepared in an outdoor kitchen. Once the patron had been served their order, they would eat their food standing around the restaurant amid the hustle and bustle of a busy street — but did you notice something in the foreground of the photograph?

In India, it is common for a restaurant to have a cooler setup with water in it and one glass for everyone to use! Now that alone may shock you, but there is a little more to it, and it isn’t as bad as germaphobic people may think. There are cultural norms for using the community cup, and the rules are very simple. Would you like to know about them?

The community cup is there for everyone to use; but when using the cup, it can never touch your lips! It is very interesting to watch people holding the community cup well above their mouths as they have their heads tilted and never spilling a drop. Honestly, I am relatively sure I would pour water all over my face and probably my shirt as well until I had some practice, but I never saw anyone using the cup ending up looking like they had a quick shower with their clothes on!

I found this little nugget of culture both interesting and entertaining. So, are you ready to drink from the community cup? 

During a recent trip to India, I had the honor of meeting 20 widows in a lovely, but very rural, area called Gumma. These ladies were all 60 years of age or older, live in this rural area, do not receive the assistance needed from their families, and have various health issues. Would you like to see them?

On this day, our partner, A Good Shepherd Ministry, had arranged for the ladies to meet us and share their life stories. I heard stories of health concerns, abandonment, and even physical abuse from family members; but the most common theme, I am sorry to say, was hopelessness. 

In the local culture, a widow should live with her oldest son, and he should provide for her. Unfortunately, in this area there are very few opportunities for consistent employment, so most of the men are day laborers to provide what they can for their families. Having another person in their home puts an additional and unwanted burden on the sons of these widows. These ladies can’t live with their daughters, because once the daughters are married, they are considered to have left their family and joined the husband’s family. 

Another interesting cultural issue is how elderly widows are perceived. It is considered bad luck to look on the face of one of these elderly widows, so the widows aren’t even invited to a family birthday party!

On this day, we gave the ladies a big meal, new clothes, and a small amount of pocket money. We also shared with them that A Good Shepherd Ministry and Global Partners in Life have a vision of  building a facility that will house 20 of them with a kitchen where 3 meals a day will be prepared, a dining area, rooms for 4 ladies with a bathroom, meeting rooms, counseling, and hopefully some medical attention.

In the future, you will hear much more about this project! Thanks to the people that contribute to Global Partners in Life so we could provide food, clothing, and encouragement for these poor elderly widows!