India – October 20

Written by | October, 2014
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Today is my second-last day in India. I’m eager to see my family again, of course, but it will be with some regret that I bid goodbye to my friends here. Just when the weather is cooling off a bit, and just when I’m beginning to feel like I could adjust to this life, it’s time to leave. Oh well. I’ve certainly gained a mountain of respect for both of our able missionaries, Ed and Matt, and (especially) their intrepid wives, Janice and Vanessa. What wonderful, courageous and dedicated people!

Also, after all this train travel and just in time for me to leave, the missionaries’ new vehicle arrived. It’s a Chevy Travera, a diesel van with high clearance appropriate to the rotten roads out in the country. They had expected it to be delivered at the end of August, but it didn’t show up till today. It’s nice, though. Below (l-r) is the watchman for the apartment block, Ed, Matt, Vanessa, and the driver, Kumar.

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One thing I’ve noticed is that, although many of the same makes of vehicles are available in India as in the U.S., none of the same models are. That is, there are Fords, Chevys, Toyotas, Hyundais, Hondas and Suzukis, but they are all models I’ve never heard of before. Also, every other vehicle (car or truck) on the road in India is made by Tata, a company I’d never heard of before.

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The maiden voyage for the new vehicle was this morning, when it carried Ed, Matt and I out to Martin Luther Bible School. This is the training center for our BELC pastors. Here I taught a 3-hr class on Law and Gospel.

The building, which they recently purchased, isn’t much to look at, though now that it actually belongs to them there are some renovations planned. They are planning to put a second story on the building so that they can move classes from the cramped quarters downstairs to a more open space above.

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I went up on the roof to check out the view and take some pictures. A woman passing in the street below saw me and didn’t seem terribly impressed.

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Here’s the family next door. I didn’t care for their manners:

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There are plenty of pigs roaming around, but the majority of animals wandering the streets are dogs and cows. The cows are everywhere, even on the main highways. I should mention that these highways are exactly like our interstate freeways, with one or two minor exceptions. They have left-hand driving, of course, but that’s the least alarming aspect. There are large trucks passing two abreast in the oncoming lanes of traffic. They have cows wandering around on their four-lane highways. Also goats, dogs, pigs, monkeys and the occasional chicken. There are pedestrians walking right on the roadway.  Once I saw three young men who had parked their motorcycles right in the right-of-way, and were sitting in a triangle on the road playing cards.

I still can’t get over rich smorgasbord of life on display every day here. I think that if I spent all my time walking around Tacoma with my camera, I might find one or two truly interesting images each day. Here in India you can stand on any street corner and get several interesting pictures each minute. While we were waiting for the MLBS students to arrive, I stood on the porch of the sem building and (as unobtrusively as possible) started snapping photos of passersby. It was a  varied and colorful crowd! Here’s a boy toting water for his family’s breakfast.

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This mother was evidently waiting anxiously for someone. Her daughter? (“Now where could that girl have got to?”)

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Five minutes later the daughter arrived from Auntie’s house, carrying breakfast for the family (that’s my theory, anyway).

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Here comes the woman in red from next door, out for a stroll:

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Here’s a smiling young woman just next door to the Bible school, glimpsed through a doorway. I think she’s smiling because the pigs have moved on:

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Many school children wear uniforms here:

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I’m told that the saree is usually reserved for adult and married women. Younger girls often wear the churidaar (above), a kind of long tunic with pants underneath and a scarf (I asked Janice, “What’s that scarf called again?” She said, “A scarf.”) The girls will usually braid their hair and tie it in loops with flowers. I got a churidaar for Janie – I can’t wait to see her in it.

In Tacoma we live near a gravel pit and often see dump trucks full of sand and gravel. Same thing here, only different:

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Here are the assembled students of the MLBS. There were around thirty of them present for the class and, as you can see, the lecture hall is a bit cramped. There were people sitting in the hallway as well. All endured patiently, however, and seemed to be taking in the presentation with great interest, though I suspect that Rev. D. Paul’s translation was quite a bit more eloquent and cohesive than my actual lecture.

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Having had several of these classes in the last three weeks, I must say there’s something awesome and inspiring to me in the fact that these large groups of (primarily young) men are so committed to improving their knowledge of God’s Word and preparing themselves to carry the Gospel of life to as many as they can.

Here is one young man who is preparing himself for the public ministry. As at the CLCI seminary, we wanted to get updated photos of all the men in order to share these with their stateside sponsors. We were successful in getting new photos of nearly all of the orphans and sem students.

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Later we made our way back to Chennai. The driver, Kumar, is adept at keeping the ride smooth and avoiding obstacles when possible. Chennai has had hard rain off and on for four days, so there is widespread flooding in many of the streets (note, of course, the obligatory sidesaddle motorcycle rider, sans helmet.)

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Janice baked a delicious apple pie while we were gone, though where she found all the ingredients I couldn’t begin to guess.

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I wanted to hold my end up, so I made teriyaki kabobs for the entree.

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Janice asked me, “Do you know what a lungi is?” “Is it something you hawk?” I said. “No,” she said, “it’s what Indian men traditionally wear on their lower body.” Apparently it is a large tube of fabric. You step into it, tighten it around yourself and tuck the ends into your waist. You can wear it long, so the bottom is down near your ankles, or you can grab the bottom hem and double it up to your waist and tucked in again to allow for freer movement. This is perhaps the most common garment I saw men wearing in India. They reportedly wear a kind of gym shorts underneath.

Ed and Janice, with their inimitable sense of humor, thought it incumbent upon them to buy me a couple of lungis as a going-away present. Very droll.

I doubt I’ll be wearing this in public any time soon:

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