It reminds me of Slumdog Millionaire when Uday decides to give me a tour of where he hung out as a child, in his city called Secunderabad, as we casually watch people walking on the tracks before crossing the railroad ourselves to get to the other side. Although it happens in America as well, now that I have seen a good part of India, I am not shocked about kids hanging out around the railroad tracks in India, as I am in the United States. I realize that India has expanded my mind and I am not sure if it is in a good or bad way yet. Have I already normalized kids living in risky situations and hardships, or have I learned that what I define as "dangerous situations" are not how they are defined here?
We move on and Uday shows me the green water that he and his brothers used to play and swim in along with the cows. He tells me that the only thing that happened from being in the green water was some itchiness. Instead of taking the stairs, we began to climb the steep hill to the Muslim Mosque. Uday tells me that he believes that since he climbed these rocks so much as a child that this is the reason he loves to climb rocks to this day. I take my shoes off and follow this nice lady who does not speak any English into the Mosque and I am surprised by how plain it is inside especially compared to the Hindu temples I have visited. My stay inside the Mosque is short, before joining Uday for more of the tour outside.
Just as I think I am beginning to learn to expect the unexpected in India I am surprised to see a small Hindu Temple just below and on the same property of the Muslim Mosque.
We watch people bang on rocks for a living to break them into smaller pieces to sell them for building roads and foundations for houses and such. It seems like an unbelievable task to do it the old-fashion way, especially in this day of technology.
Wherever Uday and I go we like to get in touch with nature and see where the locals live and since this is Uday's home town it was fitting to get a walking tour and see the sights. My favorite part of walking around his home town was seeing the wild animals. I found the wild pigs particularly cute.
I also enjoy seeing the hens, but I know that the pigs are safe in India from being eaten but the hens will not last long. I continue to feel badly for the dogs with no homes and the cows that seem out of place.
Although we may have passed one grocery store type place in India, for the most part from what I observed is that people go to specific stores for specific things. This also feels old-fashion to me and not very advanced. In the U.S.A. I hate grocery shopping and feel that it takes too much of my time but in India it is even less convenient. One store for chicken, one for rice and one for vegetables. Here there are three next to each other but what about all the other needs. Not a lot of people have refrigerators and the people who have them do not have ones as big as ours in the U.S.A. It appears that many people get their food fresh, cook it and eat it , and do this routine on a daily basis. Many things such as milk are delivered by foot to the home daily.
Here is a common way of transporting food from the store to home is illustrated below.
I have already seen many electrical wires much worse than this one and have shown some of them on previous blogs of the "Journal of the Real India" but this one was special since it illustrates a guy working on the wires with no safety precautions like we have in America. In fact, I think he is standing on some trash in order to reach the wires. If I haven't already said it, "India is like looking at the past and into the future all at the same time". It is ironic to see a country that still lives in many ways in a "3rd word mentality" and at the same time so technologically forward that the most advanced countries call to get technological help from India. I find myself wondering if our world looked like India in Europe during the Industrial Revolution and I wonder if places like America and other countries will look like India in the future, with over population and growing poverty. Time will tell but as for now, I appreciate the opportunity to recycle and live in a cleaner, more convenient, "equal opportunity world" outside of India. A world full of technology and luxury where we hardly see wires hanging, let alone streets decorated by them.
Time continues to go by slowly in India and the non-native (me) is getting restless. After more rest and relaxation we decide to go shopping after we come home from touring the neighborhood. Actually I beg to go shopping as I have not bought any gifts for my mom and we will be leaving tomorrow. Uday kept telling me to not buy anything until we get to Hyderabad and now that we are here he has not felt like taking me to the place to get gifts. Luckily for me Pradeep's wife Aruna, is also interested in going shopping and helped make it happen. No matter what culture one comes from, most girls want to shop!
Uttam drives into Hyderabad to a place called Charminar. It is full of Muslim women all dressed in black and street vendors as far as the eye can see down the many streets in the whole town. A hustle and bustle atmosphere quickly becomes stressful with Uday trying to bargain to get the best deal. After being here several hours and beginning to lose patience with Uday's "bargaining". He finally gives in, even though he is not completely satisfied that we are getting the best deals and I buy three purses for friends at home, a red and gold lace scarf used at marriage that I know my mom will use as a decoration for her home, two black scarfs, one bangle that Uday talks me into buying for myself since this place is most famous for their bangles and a few thinner bangles for the girls at work. We search everywhere but cannot find the small gold mirrored elephant that I got in Jaipur and accidentally washed and ruined at Uday's parents home. I also purchase this really scary looking gold mask that is suppose to be hung outside the door of your house to keep the evil spirits out and everyone things I am strange for liking it.
After feeling pretty satisfied about my purchases (all but the gold elephant) and Pradeep and Aruna feeling good about what they bought for themselves we take a few more pictures and try to get back in time to go to the nightclub. To make a long story short instead we go out for dinner and get chicken biryani for the second time in Hyderabad and this time we get it to go. We are exhausted from shopping and looking forward to having biryani from where it became famous.
It is truly awesome to see all three brothers get along so well with each other, while they are all so different from each other in personality.
We only have until about 2pm before we will be leaving for the airport and it is captivating to see how the family is responding to saying good-bye. The family seems more emotional than they did in the beginning. It is interesting to note how I am feeling anxious to go back to the comforts of home and see my dogs yet at the same time feeling sad. I never expected to have such a good experience with Uday's family especially with our past history.
I really appreciated getting to know Uday's dad better than I thought, since in the past he told Uday he would disown him if he married me and never spoke with me on the phone. In person I could see how much love he has for his kids and the role he plays in the family as "peace-keeper". I am not sure if everything would have stayed as calm and gone as smoothly had it not been for Uday's dad.
Uday's mom and I had a very difficult past when she came to visit before our wedding and I was very afraid of the same things happening when visiting this time, but with two years of healing and making amends, Uday's mom was very nice and cooked incredible meals. Ironically, she had her own gold elephant and was nice enough to give it to me since I could not find another one to buy. "The elephant in the room that no one was talking about" as the saying goes, was transformed and the old elephant was washed away. This new elephant was a gift and not a curse and I very much appreciated the kind gesture; the amends and the gold elephant itself. I had a pink one when I was a kid that I remembered being fascinated with and somehow it got broken and I have wanted another one ever since. It is so nice to feel more like family after being married to Uday for two years, I finally feel I'm a part of his family.
In addition to missing his family, I know Uday will really miss those mangoes that he had at least one or two a day of when he was at his parents home.
Uday loved these special Indian mangoes so much that he had difficulty sharing and if no one asked, he did not offer.
Even though I did not feel Uday was nice to his dad during the Ramoji Film Studio outing, their love and caring for each other is undeniable and also very cute. I realized just how much Uday and his dad are a lot alike, during this trip.
I loved getting to know my two brother-in-laws... Pradeep, the tall one with the mustache, a truly good human being, who is sensitive, innocent and a lot of fun to go dancing with.
Uttam, Uday's younger brother and I got to spend more time together, and I enjoyed my time with him very much. Uttam is "the thinker" and taught me about how much time there is in India to be able to think. He also taught me how in "India everyone is an actor and how everyone thinks that everyone is acting". Not only is he a deep thinker and in my opinion a great actor, as well, he is more sensitive than he gives himself credit for and I appreciated him being in tune with me and trying to make me feel comfortable even when I was angry and disappointed with Uday. I felt connected to Uttam in a spiritual way and felt like I could listen and talk with him for hours. I know I will miss him and I already do. Even though I did not get to know him for long, I feel comfortable with him as if we have been friends for a long time.
Saying good-bye is hard to do, even more so after getting to know much more about you. We will meet again, we just don't know when, so for now we will keep re-living the good memories until then.
Below is a little clip of how Uday and Uttam chill at home doing their version of a tribal dance called "Theen Maar" (meaning "Three Beats"):
This is my last journal entry of "The Real India" until we visit next time. I leave India feeling like a changed person with the positive and negative experiences in me, I have grown and somehow feel more enriched. I begin my journey home with more gratitude and with more satisfaction that my life is good. As for the well-being of our world, I question this more.