Friday, May 18, 2007

Crossing Seven Seas (#13)

India is a faraway place, and everyone seems to think of it as exotic. I'm amazed myself that until recently, I had not traveled much anywhere aside from India. And going to India was never like traveling to a faraway, exotic place!

Still, I tried to see it through the eyes of the rest of the world this time, learning about the culture like a newbie, being open to everything.

Traveling within India is exciting and frustrating. You have the option of traveling by train or flight or car, depending on how far you intend to travel. Flight is typical - a bus takes you to your plane:

And then you get on the plane and go:

Indian hospitality really blossoms on board. They offer you a choice of limeade and orange juice, and serve beautiful usually authentic Indian food (choice of vegetarian or not) with real napkins tied with a pretty string. The meals are complete with a typical fennel-and-candy after-dinner mint. We read the magazine and chatted and sped on our way.

Out of the window, we saw winding rivers:

And then the curve of the Madras coastline:

Coming closer, everything was green, with buildings nestled among the trees.

In Madras, the city breathes with the sweat of many, slums sitting next to temples next to mansions. Green buses wind through the traffic

among motorcycles, trucks, modern cars and autos

and best of all, the widest beach in the world stretches out from the roads to the water like a man relaxing in the hot sun. This is a view of the city from a modern mall:

If Bombay is the New York City of India, Madras is Boston, both quaint and city-like at once, conservative but open.

I languished in the 40 degrees (104F) in cool cotton clothes, which I left behind for the poor. And that brings me to my first Friday seven since I have been back (I'm hoping the 20+ items I gave away before I left covers the intervening weeks. I'm not including the freebies here!):

- 2 tops
- 1 skirt, torn
- 1 sari
- 1 cloth bag
- 3 pieces of random fabric
That makes 8, for a total of 132.

In India I gave away more stickers and small toys for children in schools. I also gave away 2 sets of Indian clothes in India, left the rest for my mom and sister, and came back with a suitcase full of music books (my one buying weakness, for which I happily broke the Compact).

Eco-tip: Save random boxes from everything - chocolate, tea, soap (if you have the space). They make perfect, scented gift boxes (see macberger's Sophiesaur opening up a soap box with stickers here. Isn't she a cutie?)


kate5kiwis said...

i am loving all this giveaway *sharing the love* that's going on... i got the parcel from you today !!!!!!!!! my three littlest boys all divvied up the airline pack and are feeling so loved !!!!
and the fabric is so bright and cheerful... thanks so much :o)
i love your eco tip too. i have been wrapping my postal stuff in paper from children's mags: happy smiley faces, and re-packaged boxes from hubby's work, but i l-o-v-e the idea of ready-made boxes !!!

rani said...

How sweet - I'm really pleased to hear that all of you got something out of it :)

LOVE LOVE LOVE the bracelet you sent. Will post a pic as soon as I can get new pics off my camera.

The wrapping idea is a great one. I've been sewing together pretty pictures from magazines into big sheets of wrapping paper when I need more.