My Thanksgiving Blog

Hey everyone,

India is quite different than what I had expected. I have learned a lot about India but also a lot about myself. Its weird that instead of pointing to the horizon to indicate where I am from, its actually more accurate to point straight down. Its also weird that the horizon is no longer a bunch of beautiful, picturesque mountains (probably covered in snow now) but instead misty foggy haze.

Working with the kids has also been way fun. Everyone loves our cameras and are dying to take pictures. One day a little girl ran off with my camera and brought it back an hour later (I didn’t even know it was missing). I was surprised to find 30 new pictures of random people in India. Some were really funny, like the one of the strange old man standing by a wall, not smiling. None of them smile unless you tell them to. Also the girls have taught me a variety of bengali words, from necklace to shoe to “i love you”. I am not quite fluent yet, but I will be in a couple days.

It is really exhausting being excited for 8 hours a day. Especially when you add in the jet lag. A bunch of the boys take pride in their collection of “Sleepy pics” that they have of pretty much every single person in our group napping during the day. Sarah, our leader, by far is the star of them, as she falls asleep everywhere, multiple times a day. The quantity, as well as the quality of her pictures by far merit a whole separate album.

Its really wet and humid in this area of India, which is a major change from Utah. Wet clothes that were washed stay wet for a couple days sometimes. And there are ponds/lakes everywhere. I played soccer for an hour with some local kids outside the Nishta compound just before dark. In the first 5 minutes they had kicked it into a lake on one side. We had to fish it out with a bamboo pole that was laying nearby. By the time I put the bamboo stick back, they had kicked it across the street into another pond.

My diet has also changed drastically. The very first day, the food was pretty spicy. I, being the champion food eater that I am, told my friends that this food was wimpy, and I could eat everything I was given for the whole trip. So far I have been able to clean my plate every day, every meal, but I’m almost at my breaking point.

The food has gotten drastically more bland at the request of us white people because we can’t take the spicy food. It was a welcome change at first, but the 5th day in a row eating curry with no taste, just texture is even worse. It also doesn’t help that some of my friends are telling me about the huge bugs they found in their sandwiches while the rest of my friends are making sure I eat every bite. I never thought I would miss beef so badly. And the sad thing is that there are about 5 cows within sight at any given moment. I have one precious pop tart left. They went way too fast.

The driving is also insane. My favorite part of the day is the ride to and from the school, because it is a pure adrenaline rush. I feel like I’m in a video game. Josh J. and I sometimes take turns commentating the insanity. There are no legal rules of the road, no lines, no (visible) police officers. There is only one rule, the bigger car gets the right of way. Buses hurdle down roads laying on their horn, missing pedestrians and little motos (3 wheel motorcycles) by inches. I don’t know which is more exhilarating; being the bus, or being the moto (I have been both). I probably shouldn’t say this on the blog, because my mom will worry, but our driver got up to 80 kpm (about 50mph) on a residential road, dogging buses and bicycles like crazy. It was the best moment of my life.

I have noticed a lot of soccer fields and also cricket fields. I have been dying to play a real game with the locals, but it seems I probably wont get a chance.

Nice to talk to all of you and share my experiences!

with love,

Thomas Hopkins