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And today’s new experience, drinking coconut milk directly from the coconut.

I’ve had coconut milk before, but it’s always been rather sweet and, has always been served in a glass. As coconuts actually grow here, it’s possible to drink the milk directly from one. This was something I definitely had to try. Literally, they just take the coconut, make a small hole in the top of it, insert a straw, and serve. So how did it taste? I really liked it, although I’m not used to it unsweetened. I also realize that I’ve never actually tried coconut. That is to say, I’ve had the milk, and I’ve had things with coconut in it, but not the actual coconut itself. That is a very interesting experience because of the texture. To back up a little, after you finish your coconut milk, they then scoop out the meet of the coconut. It’s very difficult to describe the texture of this But suffice it to say, it is very healthy and it’s very tasty, assuming you still have room for it after drinking about a liter of the milk.

I have some pictures of me drinking the coconut milk, but will have to put them up in another post as I can’t figure out how to insert them using the iPhone.

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Pictures from my tour of Bangalore today

This is my first attempt at creating a photo gallery in WordPress, so I’m not sure how it’ll come out. Assuming it does, the collection below consists of pictures taken earlier today as I toured the city of Bangalore. Sorry that there’s no captions or alt text for any of these, however, they were taken so quickly that I don’t even know what all of them are *adds create alt text for photo gallery to never ending to-do list*. I also have audio of various parts of this tour, but unfortunately, can’t copy it off my recorder (a topic for another blog post). Hope you enjoy, more posts to come shortly.

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Lunch with Gerard, a wonderful cultural experience.

Every day here has been full of new and amazing experiences and today was no different. After taking a tour of Bangalore with my driver, Gerard, I was invited to have lunch with his family at his home.

Gerard lives in a small home not too far from the office where I’m working. His house consists of three rooms in total: a main room, kitchen and bedroom. In these, he lives with his wife, two children and mother. The house is situated under trees that provide it with shade. As such, it’s nice and cool even though the temperature outside is on the warm side. I’m impressed by three things as I enter Gerard’s home.

  1. As just mentioned, it’s nice and cool without depending on air conditioning and pricy electric bills. As I think about my own home and my ever-increasing electric bill just to keep the temperature bearable, I am reminded how thoughtful design can really make a huge difference. 🙂
  2. Space is something Americans take for granted. I can’t imagine living in such close quarters and not going absolutely crazy and my mother doesn’t even live with us (no offense Mom. 🙂
  3. The smell coming from Gerard’s kitchen is absolutely amazing and no matter what will be served, I’m already convinced I’m gonna love it.

Lunch today consists of a shrimp curry, rice, chapati (bread) and fried shark. There’s large amounts of everything and it all tastes amazing. Even though I’m getting incredibly full, I have a hard time stopping the food from constantly appearing on my plate which, as an aside, is a shallow metal bowl. Although I’m given a fork for the rice, I eat my curry with pieces of the bread. My fingers get a bit messy, but I definitely don’t mind. In truth, I see many advantages of eating this way, the least of which is that it’s easier for me to be sure I’m not missing anything on my plate. Nobody really talks during the meal which is probably good as it would have been hard to do anyway.  After we’re finished eating, a bowl of water is brought to the table, so that hands can be easily washed.

After lunch, we talk about a number of topics including US politics, Syria, the Indian school system, etc… I learn a great deal such as the fact that although Hindi is the official language of India, school lessons are taught in English. In addition to the official language, each state or region has its own language. These languages are not similar meaning that fluency in one won’t help with any of the others. In total, there are 25 languages spoken in India and most people are fluent in at least three: English, Hindi and whatever language is spoken in their home area. If you move to another part of the country, you may need to learn a fourth if only to more easily communicate with your new neighbors. I contrast all this with my own children, aged 13 and 10 who haven’t even begun learning a second language.

As we get ready to leave, we find that the road is entirely blocked by a construction truck. The driver is on break somewhere, so we simply wait for him to return. When he does, he drives off in his truck accidentally taking down a power line on his way. A neighbor moves the downed power line out of the road and we leave Gerard’s peaceful neighborhood and return to the chaos that is traffic in India.

World culture has always been a major interest of mine and so I’m very grateful to have had today’s experience. I can get wonderful food at my hotel, but much of the experience is westernized due to the numbers of American and European guests that stay there. I’m not sure if he’ll ever read this blog, but in the event he does, Gerard, a very big thanks to you and your family for a wonderful afternoon.

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A very clever way to save energy

We waste so much energy in the US that it always intrigues me to see how people are saving it elsewhere. My hotel has this interesting energy-saving feature that I found extremely clever, so I thought I’d write it down.

Behind my door is a little holder thing for my keycard. If the keycard is removed from this holder, the lights and power switch off. In this way, you can’t leave the room and forget to turn off lights; they turn off automatically when you remove the card. Unfortunately, the power connected to my iPhone charger also turned off, so I guess it’s not possible to let something charge while away unless I’m missing a switch somewhere. Anyway, I thought this to be a very clever idea and wonder how much american hotels could save if they implemented something similar?

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My very first impressions of India

Now that I’m here and have gotten caught up on sleep, I thought I’d take a moment and write down my very first impressions of India. The very first thing I noticed upon entering the airport is that unlike American airports, the one in Bangalore is not refrigerated to the point where you might wish you had worn a winter jacket even in the middle of August. Indeed, the temperature inside the airport was warmer than the outside temperature.

People are super friendly even though I’m blind. I say it this way because I am always concerned with how people will deal with the blindness thing and I’ve seen reactions ranging from absolute terror to, well, what i”m finding here which is more along the lines of what help do you need and how can I provide it.

The other thing I noticed, especially when leaving the airport is the smell of diesel. Excepting trucks, I don’t think we have many vehicles that run on diesel anymore and in contrast, this seems to be what many, if not most of their cars run on. Long as we’re on the subject of cars, I learned that most are manual shift, automatics are hard to come by.

I was very lucky to have been met by some of the people with whom I’ll be working. I felt this was incredibly nice given that I arrived after midnight. I’d love to say we’d do the same for people visiting us for work, but I think there’s a cut-off time and it falls way before midnight. Can we say dedication much?

The first resturant I passed was a subway. I just can’t imagine flying half way around the world, surviving immigration and saying, “oh thank god, there’s a subway.” I wasn’t very hungry having been fead almost to death on the plane, but … and maybe it’s just me but I’d want Indian food, not subway.

I have a driver who is assigned to, well, drive me around during my stay here. When I met him, he suggested that I ride in the passenger seat. I started walking around the car and heard this sudden exclamation, “no no! I’ll drive! I’ll drive!” I then realized that India, they drive on the opposite side of the road and as such, the passenger seat is in the front left of the car, not the front right. Should he ever read this, my sincere apologies for giving you a panic attack right off the bat. 🙂

People at my hotel have been absolutely beyond friendly even going so far as to just occasionally drop by to see if there’s anything I need, or anywhere I want to go.

I slept very well last night and don’t feel tired today which is really a good thing since I slept for longer than expected on my second flight. I’m hopeful that I won’t have any trouble adjusting to the time difference especially as my internal clock is screwed up as it is.

I’ll write/record more later, but certainly, if there’s anything anyone is curious about, please comment here, or drop me an Email: steve@sawczyn.com or tweet me: SteveofMaine. Although I’m less than a day into it, I can already tell this is going to be an awesome experience.

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First flight went well

The first flight went well, now on the second one. Got lots to eat and even got some sleep, almost unheard of for me on flights. Will post more soon.