As I adjust to many of the little nuances of life in this land, I have become increasingly comfortable here. Not every activity is a challenge for me now, and I have friends to help me out along the way if I have any questions. I am learning to take a place of “not knowing.” I am used to knowing what is going on around me, or at least being able to figure out what is happening. VERY often I find myself thinking “I have no clue what is happening right now. All I hear is LOUD NOISES!” It is a place of dependence and faith. I have learned that my best and most comforting “go-to” option when this happens is straight to prayer.
Sunday was slightly more stressful. I had told some of the people I knew from my last visit to India that I would come into Chennai to meet with them for worship. Now mind you, I have not traveled (other than on foot) by myself anywhere here. I woke at 4:30am to be ready to catch the bus at CMC campus by 5:15am. I had planned to take the #1 or #2 bus to the “New Bus Stand” where I would then ask around until I found the express bus to Chennai. I would meet Gifty (one of my contacts in Chennai) at the bus station in Chennai upon arrival.
All went pretty much as planned. The walk to CMC was dark and thick with smoke from all the little roadside cooking fires. I managed to find the correct bus to Chennai and hung tight for three hours until we arrived at the station. Then came my first major issue. The bus station is HUGH and absolutely teeming with people; massive crowds. I was the needle in a haystack that Gifty was trying to find. It was one time that I was thankful to be the only pair of blue eyes around. At least she could spot me easier that way. She found me after about thirty minutes, and took me to her home for the rest of the afternoon. The afternoon was a little less stressful, as I knew I was in good hands; however I had some concerns about the timing of my return trip as I did not want to walk home alone in the dark.
I had been convinced to stay until after the afternoon tea where my gracious hosts filled a plate with random snacks and poured me a spot of tea. I made hasty work of my afternoon tea, and politely (and quickly) thanked everyone before sliding onto the back of J. John’s (J. John is Gifty’s older brother) motorbike for a ride to the bus station.
Ten minutes later we were at the station and J. John was helping me find the right platform for the buses to Vellore. I described the bus station earlier, right? Teeming with massive crowds of people... Yeah. It was still that way. I’m not sure how many people live in Chennai, but it seemed as if 75% of them were at the bus station. As I approached the busses for Vellore, a young man stepped out of one of the buses and got my attention. It was Alok, a familiar face from Vellore. [For reference, Alok is an occupational therapist in the OPD (out-patient department) of the CMC hospital. My first morning of observation was spent following him around.] I about fell over. There are swarms of people everywhere, and many many buses a day (an hour even) that run from Chennai to Vellore, and yet Alok was on one of the very buses I needed to take to Vellore. By this time it would be dark by the time we made it to Vellore.
Alok was with Dr. Kriti (a Physical Medicine and Rehab doctor) and Manoj (a PT from the rehab institute). The four of us traveled together from Chennai to Vellore. They educated me on many different Indian things, and Manjo even began to teach me how to count in Tamil.
Upon arriving in Vellore, Alok walked Kriti and me to the CMC hospital where he bought dinner and continued to educate me on so many helpful things regarding Vellore. He lives out near CMC college campus, so he accompanied me on yet another bus to Bagayam (this is the major junction/bus stop where the CMC college campus is located). I was so thankful for his presence and was confident I could walk the rest of the way (I have walked the stretch of road from Bagayam Junction to my place before); however, he walked with me to the door of my hotel to make sure I made it safely.
Alok’s actions are a representation of all the other CMC staff I have met thus far. Everyone wants to make sure I am safe. Everyone wants to make sure I am comfortable. Everyone is willing to answer and questions I have, help me acquire things I need, or give me instructions on what I need to do.
As a bonus, Alok has suggested that I attend the IOTA Conference (Indian Occupational Therapy Association) in Kerala next month. I am so excited to have the (potential) opportunity to go to a national OT conference in another country! There are about ten OTs from CMC going, and it seems I will be able to join. I will find out more on that this week.
The events of the day have made me stronger. I have traveled to Chennai alone, proving to myself that with the Lord, I can do all things (well, at least I can manage the crazy bus system). I have learned that sacrificing my comfort to join those with like faith can yield incredible blessings. I have learned that though I may be a needle in a haystack, the Lord knows exactly where this blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl is, and what she needs to make her stronger.
Here are some photos from my day in the Big City.
|A young Sunday school girl paying close attention to the lesson.|
|A young Sunday school boy.|
|Sunday school in Chennai|
|Sing with all his heart.|
|I get this look a lot.|
|A Canadian friend was visiting the Chennai assembly this past weekend. It would nice to have company I could understand.|
|Alok, fellow OT and guide from Chennai to home doorstep.|
|Dr. Kriti, PMR doctor and educator extraordinaire on all things of Indian culture.|