Bryan in India

Bryan, a senior engineering student, is traveling to India for a tsunami reconstruction project on the southeast coast. He is working with Engineers Without Borders-USA on building sanitary water facilities for a village of about 35 families for six weeks.

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Just a monkey and a smile…

So, today I woke up on the wrong side cot … metaphorically speaking, of course, because I only exit the cot on one side, since it is the opening of my mosquito net … but that’s not the point.

The reason for the unhappy awakening is probably due to numerous factors stemming from the sore throat, the restless sleep, the stuffing coming out of my pillow, maybe the Malaria drugs, and quite possibly the continuing feeling that there is so much in the world to “fix” with so little time.

Regardless of the aforementioned weights, I was able to rise with the sun, well, a few hours later, and start my day; even if I did get out of my cot on the wrong side.

Today was the first day that Joseph, the man in charge of the local NGO (basically a non-profit) and our continued interpreter did not join us on our travels to the villages. We needed to sample some water in one village and install a “town light” for another. So, off on our travels with our driver, Raul, blasting his favorite Indian pop music, and Amos, our interpreter and friend to Raul, in the front and AnneMarie and I in the back of an SUV to go and “save the world.”

We arrived at the first village, only after the fun rollercoaster ride of an SUV mixed with poor roads, with some problems. The head unit we were given to reinstall was, contrary to the person who said it was fixed, not working. So, after some tries to fix it with the limited tools I had, a Leatherman, we decided to bring it back to the city and fix it.

Ok, so maybe this didn’t help with me not feeling so well, and neither did the sun. But, we kept “trucking” and drove to the next village, again, another ride that should be added to Six Flags arsenal. At the village, we took a sample of the water because there is a good possibility of high levels of nitrate. These high levels of nitrate are mostly due to the hoards of fertilizer dumped on the peanut farms. High nitrate levels can cause blue baby syndrome, which affects the baby’s ability to carry oxygen to the lungs, and it is not good for pregnant women.

Well, we collected the water for tests, and while we were waiting by the car, three little girls walked up and kept saying “Hi.” Actually, if you remember the movie Finding Nemo, with the birds chasing Nemo saying “Mine! Mine!” repeatedly, these girls did the same thing, but with “Hi,” and not as annoying.

So, I pulled out my camera and asked to take a picture, they were all standing there smiling and having fun. Then, I walked toward them to show them their picture I just took and they ran away about 15 feet screaming. It was like there was a huge monster behind me, but it was only visible to children; but, AnneMarie said, “Maybe they thought you were going to kidnap them?” Nonchalantly making this statement, she made me think of what these people really think of “white people.”

But, I was able to show one girl their pictures, and I gave them some packaged crackers, and off they went. Then the girls came back at the same time a group of boys stopped by, and I pulled out my camera again and
starting taking pictures. Seeing the children’s smiles just makes me happy; it gives me the feeling that, even though our world has its ups and downs, there is always going to be the smile of a child.

Then, off we went back to Ongole, with some random villagers who asked for a ride on the way; it made part of the drive kind of cramped, but it is a common gesture to give rides. On the drive back I had my eyes closed most of the time; however, I opened them to see where we were, and on the side of the highway, a group of small gray monkeys were ‘just chillin.’

And, as I have stated before, my trip would be complete once I saw a kid climb a tree for a coconut, and I get to see a monkey, much less five. It made me happy once again, and now I am writing to tell that no matter what side of the bed I wake up on, I got to see a wild monkey…

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