The work week here is five and a half days long. Saturday the staff works from 8am to noon. This is their normal. International students are given the option to take “a holiday” on Saturdays, but I decided to work this Saturday. (I am completely in love with what I am doing here, even if I don’t understand the language much and can’t communicate with most of my patients, that going in on Saturday morning is a blessing.) After work, Charlie met me at the hospital for an afternoon of exploration.
One of the second year OT students, Riya, had heard that I was craving a brownie and decided to take me to Sri Shanti Bakery for “the best brownie in India.” While waiting for Charlie to arrive, we met up with Alok and took him along with us (or did he take us?). Please note: I have not had too many Indian desserts that I would like to eat more than once, so I was a little skeptical about the brownie. Oh. My. Word. Most AMAZING brownie ever. It was so rich. And chocolaty. And not too sweet, but just sweet enough. And that warm chocolate syrupy goodness! I hereby declare that is the best way to start lunch, and end any sort of weight loss.
|Riya enjoying her brownie.|
|Riya, Alok, and Charlie too involved in their brownies to really notice me.|
After our real lunch, Charlie and I parted ways with our friends and headed out in the city that lies just beyond the gates of the “safe haven” of the hospital. As Charlie shopped, I snapped. My game was to get as many photos as I could of people without them noticing me. This was easier said than done as two white girls walking down the street in total glee is no way to function incognito. We meandered down the streets, simply soaking in the smells (some were very unfortunate), sights, sounds, and smiles. I had many people stop me and ask me to take pictures of the person standing next to them. I was happy to accommodate their request.
With no map, and no real agenda, we were happy to just experience Vellore. We knew that we were somewhere in Vellore, therefor we were not lost. Sounds logical right? To get back to the CMC campus we could A.) hop the #1 or #2 bus, or B.) hire an auto rickshaw. Easy enough. We are learning our way around this colorful chaos.
I want to try to describe the market, but I am afraid I won’t do it justice. To enter the market you slip through a narrow side passage into a darkened labyrinth of cobbled pathways, where brightly colored goods, and vibrant smells abound. This is a challenging place to photograph as the change in lighting alters camera settings, and you really should watch where you are stepping to avoid falling into a hole that leads to goodness knows where! As we walked through this maze, we would hear a wave of “Excuse me, ma’am’s” and “Hello, sister’s” as we passed by. We met there greetings with “No. Just looking.” as we soon found that a simple point at any object would be enough to cue the shopkeeper to empty his shelves and turn his store upside down to find us EXACTLY what we were looking for, without really even knowing what it was we were in search of.
Charlie and I decided that our outing in the city was far less intimidating than we anticipated. I do believe this is a sign that we will survive just fine here. Yes, life here has its many challenges, but it also comes with many, many blessings.
|This is the street just outside the CMC Hospital Campus. Cross this street is generally a death-defying act.|
|This little angle was hard to get a smile out of...|
|But she finally warmed up to me and I caught it!|
|Charlie and the shopkeeper who sold her an Indian wardrobe.|
|Indian attire airing in the breeze.|
|The goods of a street food vendor.|
|These two hoodlums were doing their homework while perched on the back of a parked motorcycle.|
|More street fruit vendors.|
|One of the many faces I encountered.|
|Laughter was a common reaction I got.|
|This young boy's friend asked me to take his photo.|
|These girls had irresistible dark chocolate eyes.|
|On the #2.|
|This bus rider blew us kisses!|
|Cool kid chillin' out while waiting for his bus.|
|There is a hint of a smile in there.|
|Shy and sweet.|
|The locks... love them.|
|A common street scene.|
|In the market.|
|The colors are so intense, they bring a new vivacity to life here.|
|A beautiful lady watching the chaos pass by her shop.|
|Look, mom. No hands.|
|I loved catching a laugh. My trick was ot have Charlotte take a picture on her phone, then catch their reaction as she showed them their image.|
|I love the character carved into the face of this beautiful woman.|
Sorry there is little order to the photos posted here. They are a smattering of the photos I took while lumbering along the streets of Vellore.