On July 24, we travelled to Hyderabad, India to visit our friends the Kadwells, who have been living there for the last 10 years and have a business there (Kadwell Consultants). Other friends of ours from Village Baptist Church have joined in the work they are doing there in that time as well. So we also visited the Buhlers and the Spotts. We also got to meet some new people who are working with them through Operation Mobilization India and the Dalit Freedom Network. We mostly hung out with the Kadwells and lived life with them rather than doing a lot of site seeing so we really got a feel for living in India.
We were on the new direct flight to India from Portland, which meant we could check our luggage all the way through to Hyderabad. We still had to change planes in Amdersterdam though. Our flight to Amsterdam went very well. It was on an Airbus 330 with seatback entertainment so we were each able to watch our own movies. We had the four seats in the middle of the plane so were all together – no sharing with strangers or crawling over people. We gave the kids melatonin and got them to sleep for the last half of the flight (which was about their bedtime at home). I did have to have Kaara sleep on my chest for a couple of hours while Noah stretched out in her seat and his so I didn’t really get any sleep on that flight. Unfortunately, Noah was really in the middle of a sleep cycle when we arrived in Amsterdam so while we were waiting for security he was sleeping on the floor (using Silly Lilly as a pillow. Silly Lilly was a puppet on loan to us from Kaara’s preschool teacher who wanted us to take Silly Lilly along). The second plane wasn’t as roomy or comfortable. Our seats were split 3 and 1. Pat sat with the kids in the hopes that I could get some sleep. I managed an hour or two. We arrived safely and were greeted by not only Kevin but Clark and Claire as well. We were sent to bed and slept for several hours, awakening to preparations for Clark’s 7th birthday party that afternoon.
WATER AND POWER
Because the monsoons were late in coming, the Kadwells apartment building was having water rations and all of India was having mandatory power outages during the day. This meant that the power went out pretty much every day at 11:20 am and came on around 2:30 pm, though some days there weren’t outages because of Hindu festivals that were happening those days. The water rationing meant the water in their apartment was only on from 6 am to 7 am and large water bottles (about 20-30) of them had to be filled in that hour. The water in those was used for the rest of the day for cooking, bathing, flushing, cleaning, etc. . It was very much like camping (though thankfully without any wildlife – my least favorite part of camping.)
Because their business’ office was in the same building, they also had to fill bottles for the office to use. Pat helped out filling water down there as the office had water at the same time Kevin was taking Clark to his school bus stop. Normally Kevin has to move several of the large bottles he fills in their apartment down to the office because he’s not home when the office has its water ration and the employees aren’t there yet either. Fortunately, the water rationing ended a few days before we left so Kevin didn’t have to go back to schlepping water bottles.
We got to attend church with all of our friends and found it very similar to home with contemporary worship. We got to see Clark’s name on the announcements for having his birthday the past week. We also had the privilege of hearing Joseph (the head of OM India) present the message. He doesn’t often speak because of his travel schedule. After service, Noah was playing on a log swing and fell off into some mud so that wasn’t so much fun. Fortunately, he was just dirty with some road rash and a little shook up.
Clark and Claire went to school and we went to the Taj for some “drinking chocolate” (i.e. chocolate milk) and donuts while Leah told us more about the work they do in India. God is truly moving in India with the development of the Dalit Education Centers and the community development, vocational training, microfinance projects, and health initiatives around them.
We got to visit one of the Dalit Education Centers that is about an hour or so outside of Hyderabad. Noah got car sick when we arrived so he and I didn’t get to see more than one classroom but it was quite neat to see the kindergarteners and how much English they had learned in just a couple of months of school. They were very concerned for Noah not feeling well and let him lie down on the manager’s desk with fans and got him cold water until he felt well enough for us to leave. He slept on the way back and then did all right. We found out later he was also brushing his teeth with the tap water (not the distilled water in a bottle by the sink) so we think that contributed.
We also got to tour the OM campus and learn about the pastoral training and teacher training they do there. Lots of teams from colleges and churches come there every year to help with the work to break the cycle of poverty for the Dalits (the lowest caste in India – the untouchables).
We can certainly see why all of our friends find their work so rewarding.
We had Chicken 65 for lunch on Monday. It is a delicious Indian dish with Nann (a type of bread). We have the recipe for this and picked up cardamon pods before we left to hopefully try this here. It was good enough that I made a special request to have it again before we left. Yummy. Definitely up there as one of my all time favorite dishes.
The Buhlers fixed us Peanut Butter Chicken the night we had dinner with them. This was lucky accident since we were supposed to have something else that needed to be baked but they had been without power the whole day and so had to switch to something that could be made on the stove, which is gas powered. It was very similar to an absolute favorite of mine that we make at home so I in particular loved it.
Among the other traditional fare we tried was a Dos breakfast (Pat had this at a hotel), a Tamil meal (supposed to be very spicy but I found only one or two parts of it spicy and none of it too spicy), chicken curry (of course) which was very good and pouri – a kind of bread very similar to an elephant ear without the cinnamon and sugar. Though we put cinnamon sugar on it for Noah and he ate it. Curry in India is kind of like chili here – no two recipes are the same. We also had rice with dal, which is kind of broth with herbs and such in it.
And our friends made sure we had plenty of the food we were used to – Subway (very much like here), McDonald’s (no chicken nuggets and no beef so the burgers are made out of chicken, the chicken sandwiches had some kind of mustard in the breading which was good just different), pizza, popcorn chicken, chinese food (yes, chinese food – lemon chicken and garlic shrimp and spring rolls). Leah also treated us to homemade scones and muffins for breakfast, chocolate chip pancakes, a French Toast casserole, and chocolate chip cookies.
We also enjoyed the all you can eat buffet at the Marriott Hotel, including a Cold Stone like ice cream bar and we even found some beef on the buffet as well as pizza. A couple of young ladies come every Sunday to do face painting and make balloon animals for the kids. Our kids loved it. Noah had three balloon animals made. Two of them actually made it home in his backpack.
Kevin and Leah kept Clark and Claire out of school a couple of days so we could all have fun together. They took us to Prasads, which has an IMAX theater, a McDonald’s, an arcade, and shopping. We went to the arcade and played a few games, had some ice cream at a new gelato stand that opened up and went to McDonald’s for lunch. On another day we went to a park with them in the same area as Prasads on the Hussein Sagar Lake.
We went to the Yogi Bear Park on this same lake with the Buhlers on another day. The kids played on the playground, played miniature golf and had a blast on the zip line.
The interesting thing about the parks is that you have to pay to enter them. It’s only a few rupees (ranging anywhere from about 2 cents to 10 cents per person) but it was a little different.
THE FAMOUS PEOPLE
During our visit to India, the Kadwells had to help coordinate a visit from a Hollywood child actress (AnnaSofia Robb) who was learning about the work with the Dalits. She lives in Denver, where the DFN is headquartered and was interested in seeing if her fame might lend some help to the cause. She was visiting with her parents, a friend, Charlton Heston’s grandson and a friend of his. The night we had dinner with the Buhlers, the Kadwells had dinner with this group. Leah was gone for a couple of days, accompanying this group on their visit to the Taj Mahal, which involves flying Dehli and then taking a train to Agra. I did get to meet them very briefly as I needed to go to the tailor to have some Indian clothes made for me and Leah was taking them to the shop for clothes as well. So they picked me up near the apartment and took me to the dress shop. I got to talk to AnnaSophia’s mother in the car and then met AnnaSophia and the rest of her friends at the dress shop, which coincidentally employs the Indian John Stamos. Yes, one of the men working at the dress shops looks just like John Stamos with darker skin. The resemblance was uncanny.
Leah and I apparently joined the list of famous people a couple of weeks after the Keeners arrived home. On one of our shopping trips, Leah and I had been filmed looking at goods by a crew who was filming the visit of a VIP at the store (Lepakshi). Our footage ended up on 3 Telegu language TV stations and we were recognized by some of the workers at OM.
OLYMPICS AND TIME TO GO
The Olympics started the night we were scheduled to leave. The Kadwells had a pizza party with everyone coming over to watch the opening ceremony. We only watched part of it as we wanted to get some sleep before leaving for the airport at 11 pm and catching our early am flight. The monsoons seemed to start in earnest as we were leaving with rain pouring down. We found out when we got home that Kevin wasn’t sure he’d make it home as there was as much as 2 feet of water on the road as he was going home.
The flight back wasn’t as good for me. The kids and Pat slept nearly all of the first flight but I couldn’t get comfortable so got no sleep. The kid behind me on the plane threw up. I was very tired by the time we got to Amsterdam. We had the middle row again with the seatback entertainment system so I knew that would keep Noah occupied. Kaara slept a little more but then about half way through the flight was done and nothing would please her. Since I’d had no sleep, I was less than patient with her. We finally did manage to get her interested in The Jungle Book for the last couple of hours of the flight.
We were greeted with a sign with our name on it when our friend Mark Clements came to pick us up. We had promised Noah a trip to Sonic for dinner but Mom took a nap and when I got up at 6 pm we discovered that both Noah and Kaara, who had gone downstairs to watch TV, had also fallen asleep. We moved them to their beds and went to bed ourselves at 8:30 pm. But then Noah woke up at 11 pm and then Kaara woke up and they were hungry and he still wanted to go to Sonic so we piled into the van and headed to Sonic for dinner at midnight (it’s sweeter at night – that’s their tag line). Beef burgers, chicken nuggets and slushies for everyone!
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in India, which really didn’t seem that foreign to us. Perhaps because we have travelled internationally before, perhaps because the signs are in English and it is spoken readily there, perhaps because we were just living life with our friends, perhaps all of that.