Thursday, April 1, 2010

Adventures of Toady Tapper and Peter Panic

Feeling creatively lackluster, I headed downstairs knowing well that my inspiration usually resides in two pint sized troublemakers...with gallon sized pot bellies and equally large appetites for tomfoolery. Today the menu was mud pie cuisine and a combo platter of pinching and wrestling. Oh, and tying Mallory's hair in knots. 

So naturally, my imagination was stirred.

Most adventures start with a roadmap and a fever for thrill. Ours started with Sarah's insatiable curiosity in monkey's. I warned her of their devilishly cute disguise....and their total ignorance of jungle law. I read The Jungle Book. I know what's up. 

And so we trekked to the outdoor court with foolish hopes of finding a gang of the harry harassers. And we found not a gang.....but a GRIP of monkeys. (Mom and Dad, thats street lang for A TON) Ancient Al, Half-baked Harold, Scarface and Benjamin Button....thus named for specific visual reasons. I have great faith in your imaginations. 

After Sarah snapped a few pics, Half-baked Harold gave me the shady brow and before I could say, "time to go," he was in full fledged pursuit. Sarah ran screaming like a sissy girl, and I, in attempt to save us from total annihilation, turned and gave an extremely menacing roar. I am pretty sure Harold's confusion outweighed his fear as he stopped dead in his tracks....and decided maybe a crazy woman wouldn't taste as good. 

Later that day, Sister Sahayam called a car to take us sightseeing. At the second or third sight, we arrived alongside a massive group of field trippin' school kids. As with most of the sights that day, the monkey's seemed to be dispatched in platoon's for tourist sabotage. I came prepared with a beefy stick. As usual, we became the tourist attraction because of our skin, non-black hair and funny accents. After spending 20 minutes at the caves and rock walls, we started back on the path with all of the kids in our wake. Sarah and I looked as though we were leading a mass exodus out of the blowing in the jungle breeze, wooden clubs in hand and a company of uniformed children in tow. Luckily, no monkey attacks disrupted the seeming slow motion parade. (and plus, Hindu's consider monkey's holy animals, so beating them would be a considerable mistake)

The next day I said goodbye to the Presentation Sista's and i'll say it now....goodbye's aren't fun. Then Sarah and I headed out for Cochin, a city on the opposite coast of Southern India. We hopped on a government bus with no windows or doors that took us down the mountains of Kodai to Madurai. In Madurai, we rickshawed to the train station for our overnight trip to Cochin. We arrived in Cochin without any snags...until we realized that Sarah's bag was nowhere to be found. Thankfully, she had her wallet with her, however, her camera and cell phone were in the missing bag. We arrived at the guest house at 6 in the morning and had been asleep for nearly an hour when i get a call from Sarah's cell phone. A nice man named Raj on the other end explained that the bag had been found... and he was appalled when I told him we thought the bag had been stolen. "Stolen?!? In India?!?" Now the problem lay in the 70km distance between us and the found bag.  Raj worked in the air conditioned coach and told us the train would be passing through the Cochin station at 9am on its return journey to Madurai. He gave us the train information and told us to board the train and search for he would be asleep after working the night shift. Fool proof.

At 9am we waited to board said train to find said Raj and recover the said items. The train arrived and we hopped on yelling...RAJ!!! RAJ!!!!! After a minute or two of senseless hollering and Indians looking quizically, Raj appeared in an overhead compartment...with a perilous case of bedhead. He returned the cell phone and explained that the bag and the camera were in the possession of the night train conductor who would be passing through on the 11o'clock train. So needless to say, we became well acquainted with the lost item recovery plan...and the Cochin train station. 

We spent the day gallavanting around Cochin... bargaining with street vendors and generally falling in love with Kerala. At one of the street markets, a rickshaw driver named Babu approached us offering a day of sightseeing for 50 rupees...which is roughly one US dollar. After saying, "please step into my air conditioned ferari" I knew he was the man for the job. The false advertisement was to be expected, however, Babu's rickshaw was nothing short of tricked out. Complete with tassles, lights and a bangin sound system. Pimp my ride, India edition. With Michael Jackson and Nelly Furtado blasting in Babu's rickshaw, we successfully maneuvered and bargained our way through true Pat Moran style. 

The next day we took a boat tour of the Kerala backwaters. Our tour guide, Joy, was quite a character with a mix-n-match approach to the english vocabulary. We walked through a spice village, receiving the education of a lifetime on fruits, spices and the infamous Kerala coconut. One fruit in particular, the mancove, produced a rather humorous conversation. Joy explained that "after eating one mancove seed, your life is ruined." Slow on the uptake, I thought, "Oh, maybe your husband or wife leaves you....or you just contract a general unlucky-ness." After seeing the confused look on all the faces, Joy had another thing to add. "You know who LOVES this fruit?!?!" Blank faces. "People who LOVE to KILL THEMSELVES!!" I bust out laughing. Couldn't help myself. 

The next morning, Sarah and I decided we wanted to wake up early, walk to the beach and see the sunrise. Around 5:45 am, we headed out for our 5 min walk, cutting corners through a little playground. As soon as we set foot on the sand, a pack of 10 dogs encircled us... ears up, teeth bared. Sarah squeeled. (Perhaps now you understand my logic in nicknaming her Peter Panic. haha oh Sarah) I flailed my feet in their faces and tried to make my voice as deep as possible. All of the sudden, out of nowhere, a smaller dog appeared and stood inbetween Sarah and I...growling fiercly at the circle of dogs. Sarah and I made a break as our lil protector made sure no dogs followed. As we walked on the beach, our furry defender walked alongside us. It's a good feeling, being protected.

After two weeks in Kodaikanal,  and a week-ish of travel, I now find myself back at Prema Vasam for my last days in India. And I am totally spent.

I heard once that great love is what is of most expense to yourself. That has been echoing in my head now for days. What is of greatest expense to me? And have I spent it? I thought by now I would have acquired some new earthshattering levels of faith and wisdom. God is probably having a good chuckle at that one....saying, "That wasn't the point Mal." I leave in a week and I am now more confused and more full than ever. 

For the past two days I have passed more time sleeping in the room than playing with the kids. Headaches, exhaustion and overwhelming heat are my main excuses. However, I have this immense fear that I will beat myself up later when I am back in Denver. Wishing like hell that I spent every waking second with these kids. Cause the world seems to stop when I have Amal and Santos in my arms. And just the thought of saying goodbye is like tearing out my insides. So perhaps I did give something of great expense after guts. 

Figuratively speaking of course.

And so I have run out of things to say...and the energy to say them. Maybe i will have more of both in the Frankfurt airport come April 6th. So these are my final thoughts, at least for now.

Much love,