Arriving in India

August 20, 2014 12:50 AM (India Time)

Beth:
“There’s no going back now!” I thought as the wheels of the massive 777 lifted off the ground. We were finally on our way to India; the time had come! I settled into my seat and put in some earphones-ready for the long haul.

15 hours later we stepped out of the Delhi airport into the hot, muggy, night. A familiar face with a CHAO YANG sign (all in Caps) greeted us; he was the same man who picked the team up the previous year. The man led us toward our transportation where I joined Matt and Chao in a small car.

Soon we were off- winding through the city streets toward Hotel Namaskar. Upon arrival, we found the other half of the team already there. What a surprise! The others beat us despite the fact that our car left 15 min earlier. I guess our driver was slow.

Anyway, now that everybody had arrived safe and sound, we checked into our rooms; Girls in one, boys in another. Both rooms were simply furnished with walls coated in pink paint (just a shade away from matching the Pepto Bismol I carried in my bag)- a great place to call home for a few nights. I joined the girls and together we spent the rest of the night talking about plans for tomorrow while leafing through Chao’s edition of Lonely Planet-India.

It was nice to pick Chao’s brain and ask her questions about the area. Gina and I are still adjusting to this different world. In fact, we have already made some newbie mistakes: Gina tipped her cab driver 1000 rupees (normal tip is 50 to 100). “We are his favorite customers now!” we joked. However, in all seriousness, who came blame us? Between the time zone, squat toilets, and exchange rate, we have a lot to take in.  Hopefully Chao’s advice and information will help us avoid more mishaps.

Soon Gina drifted into sleep and was followed by Chao a short while later. That brings my entry to now. I am awake writing this entry while I wait for the last official member of the crew, Wendy, to arrive from the airport. A green gecko about the length of my hand has decided to join the party. He’s crawling on the wall soaking up the heat from the light bulb. Well I hear a knock on the door. Great timing! That must be Wendy!

Goodbye for now,
Beth Hotchkiss

Max:
We land in Dehli at 8:45. Or maybe it’s New Dehli, I still haven’t gotten a straight answer. As we walked outside, I stood agape at the fact that I was actually in a different country. It’s hot and muggy outside, and the air tastes like a stale shower next to a factory. Everything smells faintly of fireworks and smoke, and I have a unique tingling sensation in my mouth and throat.

There are wild dogs everywhere – sitting down, leisurely strolling across the roads. There’s one breed I recognize – a St. Bernard lopes along in the moist heat. His owner strolls next to him.

Our driver raced us through the city streets, narrowly avoiding cars in tight squeezes. The smoke and water vapors condenses in my throat and sets up camp permanently – feeling like it’s suffocating me slowly. But everyone else who lives here isn’t asphyxiating, so I’ll probably survive too.

We pass by a housing complex on our left – 4 story buildings that are dark and concrete. The smell has changed slightly, to one of animal waste, which would normally be a welcome reprieve from the smokey scents, but it simply reinforces the feeling that i’m choking on something I can’t see.

At a stoplight an elderly woman makes eye contact and I want to look at everything but I decide to look away. A young boy comes over to my window and starts talking. He signals to his head and mouth, over and over. I don’t understand him, but he’s cute. He holds onto the door as the car moves, his tiny hands gently touch my elbow.

The driver takes off like a greyhound when the light turns, then asks me, “Is this your first time in India?”, which I’m sure was completely transparent from my dropped jaw and eyes that swept the scene wildly, taking in a world of information. I say “Yes!” anyway though.

I saw a cow grazing thoughtfully on the side of the road – entombed in anonymity, as are most cows.

I’m in the heart of millions of peoples’ homes, all living drastically different from anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a lot to take in, it’s amazing.

Heading Out,
Maxfield Morris

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Gathering the Team

 

August 17, 2014

Max: We sit cramped in the backseat of Michelle’s metallic brown Honda Civic, cruising down the 101. Michelle placed Will in charge of DJ’ing, despite his protests that his phone was dying. Marvin Gaye’s sultry voice came over the speakers, we all munched on some slightly melted kit-kats hardly able to imagine the adventure that soon awaits us.

Gabby and Beth were licking ice cream cones, waiting for us in a McDonald’s parking lot in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. With cold, creamy jealousy in our hearts, Chao, Will, and I piled into the car. It was a struggle getting the car started – Will hopped out and opened and closed the trunk three times before Gabby realized her foot was on the wrong pedal. It’s a bit confusing, but believe me when I say it was a very funny situation.

Beth: With Orion above us and the bustling lights of LA nightlife below, the five of us sat in Gabby’s backyard enjoying a pre-trip pow wow. We all shared summer stories while Max sat on the steps wishing that he had packed his EWB shirt (sadly he forgot his shirt at home). Luckily his wish upon a star came true- Will had a second EWB shirt he could borrow!

Tomorrow evening we’ll meet up with the remaining team members, spend nearly an entire day in the air, then land in Delhi: officially marking the start of our EWB 2014 Implementation trip! We have to be at the airport by 7AM tomorrow so we will call it a night for now. Stay tuned for more to come!

Your official bloggers,
Beth & Max