Thursday, July 28, 2011

Closing remarks

India puzzled me.  I can't say I was perfectly happy before my venture over, I'd like to meet the teenage boy that claims he is perfectly happy.  However, I was certain that I was going to be happier than these people.  I was most certainly wrong...

The people in the leper colonies of India, as well as the kids in the orphanage, have no possession, and no social standing.  Those in the colonies do not have full possession of their body, with the loss of fingers, hands, feet, and legs all together. They have no knowledge of how life is outisde the colony.  They are shunned by their own people and carry the label as outcast, taboos.  But with all this lack they manage to gain something that one can only pursue, in hopes of finding.  What they have gained is peace, harmony, happiness and true love.  I molded this observation over in my mind for the longest time.  Nothing seemed to add up.  We're taught from the media and society that "happiness" is found in fame, fortune, possession, and social standing.  I will confess that I was becoming a victim of that illusion.  Now, however, I see that the media and society are mistaken. Oh yes, im going deep people. Brace yourselves.

My thoughts are that happiness is found in simplicity and that there are two types of love.  There is the hollywood-firework-hot-pink-love that seems to be so heavily pursued and engrained as a necessity in the young minds of society.  You see it in all the movies and ridiculous celebrity magazines.  According to the grid, these people should be the happiest people in the world. Their love life and relationships should be true and unshaken. Im not one to judge but it sure doesn't come across that way. For the record, most of these hot numbers on television and in the magazines seem to be the most confussed, messed up, unhappy people on the planet.

Then there are the diseased people in the leper colonies of India, as well as the children of the orphanage, who have not been corrupted by the 21 century press and media. The love they have is unlike anyother.  Their love is pure, raw, and organic.  It could be best described as an "I've-got-your-back-love", a love that is so overlooked and so underrated.  The people of Chennai, India have taken up this love for their living.  I believe it is through this, "I've-got-your-back-love" that they have managed to obtain complete peace, harmony and happiness despite all their civil lacking.  We can only follow their humble example.  

Don't get me wrong, i've met many people in my life such as those in India, who are just has happy and loving.  I was speaking for the world as a whole and mostly for my fellow teens.  All I ask is that we stop trying to synthesize love with needless posseion and social standing. Instead, I ask that we as humanity, try to create genuine "I've-got-your-back-love" through the simple practice of sharing it.  It's a give and take relationship.  A two way street.  Try it.  Love.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Not all those who wander are lost"

I would like to apologize ahead of time for the long post you'll attempt to read and more importantly for my lack of pictures.  I do have them, I just need to upload them.  Bear with me.  Anyways, so as of yesterday we returned from our, as my cousin David puts it,  "journey inception".  A trip, inside a trip, inside THE TRIP.  During that time I encountered people, under went experiences, and witnessed sights that are  incomparable and unsurmountable.  If you ever get tired with the normal life venture on over to New Delih, India.  It'll rock your world and change your ways.  When I say everything is different i mean EVERYTHING.  The sights, the people, the sounds, the smells, the feel...all different.

Our secondary journey began with a 2hr. flight to New Delih from Chennai.  Not too bad.  When we landed we were then told we would be taking a 7hr. bus ride to Agra, a city in New Delhi.  To put things in perspective, that is equivalent to driving to Cali from AZ, if not longer.  I was not in the mood.  But I kept my hopes alive with the Taj Mahal in my sights, telling myself it would be worth it in the end.  I don't mean to boast but...I was right.

The Taj Mahal is a sight that your mind can never fully grasp.  It defiantly earns the title of  wonder of the world.  The problem is that you can't compare or gauge it's greatness to anything because the surroundings consist of rivers and farm land. Flat.  So all that goes through your mind is-whooaa...Ooo...Ahh...(drool from the mouth).  It's history is somewhat ridiculous.  In a nut shell, its a love token from this emperor to his wife. You would think chocolate, flowers and a card would suffice!  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Ladies and Gentlemen...The Taj Mahal.

We call this one the post card pic.

We be cousins for life.

My native brotha David and the Taj.

That grand structure behind me?  Its the front gate.

The Indian gang with our new Indian friend.  I don't recall his name...

Some more Taj...

Dave trying his strength on the door.  So yoked.

We had to wear these dumb "booties". Dave decided to take the native way.  A wise decision.

So these girls from Wales begged--begged on bended knee for us to take a picture with them.  Nothing we're not used to.  We finally caved and said yes.  The blond on the bench was really diggin dave.       Im sure of it.

Once again the Taj Mahal in all its glory.

It was after the Taj that we toured this massive, unconquerable, the withstands-the-sands-of-time-and-countless-enemy-seiges fort entitled...The Brick Fort.  It is still an active military fort that is a mile long and a quarter mile wide.  It's runner up in being a wonder of the world in my book.

It's so big that we couldn't get the whole thing in one shot.  Here's a partial of the front door.

One of the many court yards

Dave lookin fresh as always at the Brick Fort

Once we saw the taj and the fort we took a deep breath of courage and ventured over to the spice market in New Delih.  Its one of those times when you have so many mixed emotions going through your body that you don't know which one to settle on.  I mean the place would make you excited, scared, nervous, gitty,  grossed out, calstrifobic, really words can't describe.  If you've ever seen the movie The Lovely Bones you'll understand what i mean ( shailyn knows ha ha).  It reminded me of how New York City would have been in the stone age.  Extremely dirty and smelly.  You could reach out and touch both sides of some of the ally ways and then there was bikes and dozens of people trying to maneuver their way through.  You'd literally be side-stepping your way through it all.  Total chaos.  The roads going through this market place had no dividers and drivers drove on both sides of the road most of the time taking their half out of the middle.  Naturally you had pedestrians and bike taxis called Rigshas weaving their way through the mess.  It was a sight to behold.  I filled my canteen of near death experiences all in that one afternoon.  All in all...A BLAST!

The electricians handy work here in delih.

One of the narrow alley ways.  So much to buy...

Hmmm.. what to buy...what to buy...

If your ever hungry in the spice market...

This is shot is like a combination of Aladin and the Newsies.  Its a roof top of the spice market

Me and dave in one of the spice lares.  Its a spicy sweat shop in there.  Hot as ****

Spices, spices get your spices!

Here is us with our driver.  He saved and put our lives in peril many times.

We took a lunch break and came across a traveling snake charmer.

Don't let our manliness fool you.  We were struck with fear.

Staring death in the face.  The king cobra.  No big deal.

You guessed it.... monkeys!

Dave with the chimp.  Chimp doing some diggin for bugs.

Elephant ride, no doubt.  We totally tamed that beast.

Once your up there you feel completely helpless.  No matter what anybody does that thing will do whatever it wants.  Despite having no control, we did have the elephant ride of a life time.

Dave is a man among men.  Taking that beat by the tusks.  

Finding my chi at the lotus temple.

That about wraps the journey inception.  I've got a few more post to catch up on.  Thanks for reading. Until then.

P.S. A quick shout out to my friend Shailyn Hamel for following me on my blog.  Thanks sport your the bomb!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Come what may and love it"

     This is India, ergo things don't always go as planed.  It's a go-with-the-flow kind of place that lives by the quote "come what may and love it".  I said in my last post that I was going to be traveling with the medical team to provide medical care to the leprosy afflicted.  That did not exactly go as planned.  We DID go with the medical team to assist the leprosy afflicted but in an indirect way.  By indirect I mean that we transported them to the hospital and accompanied to where ever they needed to go.  At first I thought it was the biggest waste of time.  I mean, I have not the slightest clue of how to navigate my way through an Indian hospital that is so cluttered and crowded that it could be mistaken for a theme park.  So all I was was   this 90 year old leprosy afflicted patients shadow as she navigated the place like a pro.  However, little did I know that I was her saving grace just by making a presence.  Just because I am white I was able to cut this precious lady's wait time in half and get her admittance into the hospital over night care without saying a word.  Its corrupt but effective.  Maybe that was the reason why I received so many stares and dirty glances from the other patients waiting in line silently telling me "be gone white boy, be gone!"  If I am ever going to be sick on this trip it will be because of that hospital.  It was so unsanitary that I could feel my body soaking in all the diseases that permeated the air. Every breath I took was another bullet loaded in to the gun that was going to soon be fire upon my immune system.  Obama is a silly man to be messing with american health care.  I don't mean to get political but it's true.

That was yesterday. Now for today...

     Today my group was scheduled for education.  We taught the youngsters, depending on their age, reading (in english, my tamel is not quite up to par), writing, and math.  For the record, I now have a greater respect for all elementary school teachers ( my dearest mother ).  The proverb "patience is a virtue" is nothing short of doctrine.  For some of the kids it just clicked and they flew through the stuff and for others it was a struggle.  Luckily I only had one struggler.  The rest caught on pretty well.  There is this one boy named Sunjay.  The kid is a genius.  He is only in the third grade and he's bustin out algebra like its easy.  Not that the other kids are even doing algebra in the first place!  The standard addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc, was too easy for him.  He told me, "Nelson Mandela you give me challenge! This to easy!"  So I whipped out some simple algebra problems and gave him a decent explanation of what to do and then I watched in amazement as he did every single one without questions and with complete understanding.  Not only is he good with numbers but he's a reading machine.  He read this book Chicken Licken, which is a spin off Chicken Little, to me without missing a beat.  We have become best buds.  I'd adopt him as my little brother today if I could.

We're packing for the Taj Mahal today and we're leaving tomorrow for the weekend.  Im pumped to see what a seventh wonder of the world is all about!

Don't forget to check out my cousin David Shockey's blog!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page"- St. Augustine

Well, i must say that I am turning a few more pages in my "Book of The World".  Pardon my absence of yesterday.  Internet access can be minimal in theses parts.

Yesterday we arrived at the Rising Star Outreach head quarters.  India is wild.  We had about a 2hr bus ride from the hotel to the campus and let me say that was a 2hr bus ride I will never forget.  I said on my last post that the taxi ride form the airport to the hotel was crazy, and don't get me wrong it was. But that was at night with minimal traffic. This ride was in broad day light on a monday morning.  It puts L.A traffic to shame.  I'll say no more.  Luckily we truly did have the best driver in Chennai.  He could out maneuver Dale Earnheart Jr. driving his bus blindfolded from what I've witnessed.  The poverty here is real.  It is something that words can't describe and needs to be witnessed first hand.  However they are the happiest people i've ever come across.  We would wave from the bus and watch the huge smiles light up on their faces.  We don't have that in America, at least from what have seen.

The place we are staying in is primitive acording to american standards. Here? It's a five star resort.  We have about six guys to a room with a single chair and a single desk.  There is bucket showers with the water source being this well on campus.  We have to close our mouths to avoid parasites and of the sort. The toilets are from the stone age.  No seats.  Pure squat.  However we have A.C!!  So we have power surges and we lose it every so often but thats besides the point.  The point is we've got it and when it runs it runs beautifully.

Yesterday we went to one of the lepresy colonies to build bathrooms.  Luckily the weather was overcast although humid as ever.  The work entailed transporting 500 bricks and about a truck full of sand to the site of where the bathrooms were to be built.  We were needed for the transportation.  The grunt work.  These people weren't gonna let a bunch of americans construct their outhouses.  I can't say that I blame them.  One of our guys from our group tried to assist in the brick laying.  He had laid about a foot and a half of brick when on of the natives came by to inspect this white man's work.  He was apparently not satisfied cause he knocked the whole thing down.  Its their way of the highway.  And their way seems to work just fine.

When we're not building bathrooms we are playing with the kids.  These kids are something else.  They have bottomless energy and great ingenuity.  Since resources here are not exactly abundant the children take matters in to their own hands.  They taught me this game which is a cross between horse shoes and marbles.  I'll do my best to spell it out for you.  You take the marble and throw it at the back of this plastic bench.  It bounces off and lands somewhere in the sand.  The next person does the same except he is trying to get his marble within a hands length of the first persons marble.  If the second persons can put his thumb on his marble and his pinky on the other kids marble then that kids out of the game.  You win when your the last man standing.  I explained it terribly but it was an ingenious idea.

Today we are and the mobile medical squad.  We will be traveling to the leper colonies and treating the people over there.  I will recount the experience later tonight if the internet allows.

Thanks for reading,

P.S make sure you check out my cousin David Shockey's blog.  Its beautiful, refined, and much more worth your time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Intro: The adventure begins...

So it was only a matter of weeks ago that I decided to join my cousin David Shockey(follow his blog too) on his world travels.  Our adventure will take us to Chennai, India where we will be wittnessing a seventh wonder of the world (Taj Mahal), teaching english, providing medical care to lepresy colonies and micro-managing business. Our journey will continue in Paris, France.  There Dave and I will run the streets seeing all that the city has to offer: the Eiffel Tower, the Louve, Palace of Versailles, the whole sha bang.  Follow us on our blogs as we retell our experinces to all of you at home (mom) biting your nails at our expense!

"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home" - James Michener

Well james, I couldn't agree with you more.  It is true, if you don't fully imbrace the culture that surrounds you then what was the point in sumerging yourself in it in the first place?  Well me and my good friend David, who also happens to be my cousin, have succesfully completed the 37 hour flight and arrived in Chennai, India and oh the many experiences did we gain along the way.

So I met dave in chicago, we embraced like men, reminised a bit about our prior family travels and then headed on our way to Frankfurt Germany.  Before boarding, security had what they called "random bag checks" which is ironic becuase everyone knows its not random and they just pick the most suspicious, grizzly, most-likely-to-be-a-terriorist sort of people.  So dave, the sleek, smooth talkin gentleman that he is, nonchalantly walks by and security dosen't bat an eye.  Then I walk by, give them what I thought was an innocent smile and they pull me aside.  That happened a total of three times in three different countries.

When we arrive in Germany and get to our gate to receive our boarding passes david pulls off a stunt that I would say is even remarkable for a man such as him self.  He'll say it's luck.  But I tell you its pure talent.  I honestly don't know what he said to the mean german lady at the front desk but he some how managed to sweet talk her into letting him ride first class.  Where was I you might ask?  I what was in coach. And to make matters even better i had a four year old indian boy sitting behind jabbering in hindi and kicking the back of my seat the entire time.  It was a beautiful flight.  I learned a great deal about human patience and surprisingly managed to sneek in a few hours of sleep while David dreamed away on a goarged belly in first class.

Our adventure truly began when our taxi driver arrived to take us from the hotel to the air port.  His name was Domingo.  The man is a father of two boys. He has a good heart.  He has good intensions. He is also the worst driver to ever get behind the wheel.  Here are his statistics:
-staled the car entering the freeway
-ran 4 red lights
-nearly killed a pedestrian (he only missed him because he drifted left while texting)
-cut off a dozen cars
-received enough honks to satisfy New York City
-got us to the hotel in one piece

Well its three o clock so i'm gonna crash.

Night everyone