india, i miss you

I wish I knew where to begin.

India was amazing. I may have had the best week of my life thus far. I touched down at 6am, finished unpacking my bags at 8am and slept till 6pm. The moon, lightning bolts, thunderclouds and stars were too distracting for me to sleep on the plane and I was uncomfortable about coming back.

After the tsunami, families were displaced and moved into government funded squatters, children were orphaned, husbands and wives widowed. From afar, the squatters looked neat with nicely painted walls but as you walk into the village you see and smell bad irrigation and sewage. Running water was not as common as cow dung. There were puddles of mud, feces and urine in front or next to the homes where the children took their toys into and made into bathtubs.

The people here walked around with a toothbrush in their mouths. I felt at home.

We entered the homes of many and listened to their stories. So many were desperate and hungry for goodness and grace to happen, it’s hard to not hold them and cry with them. Although I had a translator with me most of the time, I really sensed a lack of unlikeness. We do not share the same culture and language but we were able to laugh and cry together… pain, loneliness, love and joy are universal experiences that don’t discriminate against race, nationality and religion.

I’ve met some of the most amazing people as well. People who’d walk into an ankle deep sewage puddle to greet a woman on the other side, people who risked everything to follow Jesus, people who are able to love orphans as their own flesh and blood, people who’d pray hard for electricity and people who gave up marriage to serve the underprivileged. What they experience daily I was allowed to experience in a week. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

My mind was constantly being renewed. There were times (and this happened very often) when a prayer was not as powerful as a hug or embrace. When you begin to understand why Jesus touched the leper when He could have simply said a word for the man to be healed. When the skin is unfamiliar to touch, a touch is what it needs. When the hand is empty, another hand needs to fill it. When words are unnecessary.

It’s true that there is no such thing as a godforsaken place, only a church forsaken place. So God was already there and all we did was show up.

Here’s a glimpse of my week.

This was a common flower found by the road and pathways. I asked our guide what kind of flower this was and he said it is used as a female infanticide. It contains a sticky sap that is mixed into the milk for the baby. It’s heartbreaking to see how something so beautiful can be so lethal. As soon as he told me that, we passed a bunch of young boys hanging around a sweatshop.

At the 2nd longest beach in the world. There were lovers under the scorching afternoon sun, wooden carousels and ferris wheels, fishermen and extremely good seafood.



  1. Lor3tta

    Welcome back my dear.. although I dont know if I can call here your home anymore, once you have gone, you leave something behind, just as you bring somethings back. I’m happy for you! :)

  2. thundered cat

    yeah. i know what you mean… i want to go back to india so much.

  3. trixx

    Ive wished very much to go to India as well. Though its a little irony what Ive been distance out from my native land, so called…but its this little ache-ness to view and simply to mesmerised the land around. Any plans to go there later on? Cause if you do…do let me know. :P Great pictures too here!

  4. ant

    wow oh wow. reading this post makes me think about how there is so much more to life than work.the polaroids are a nice way to connect with people.

  5. Anna

    beautiful vignettes in words and pictures.i miss peru like you miss india.

  6. thundered cat

    thines: i’m planning to go again in march 2008. but i will be in bihar instead of chennai. will see how things work out :)ant: thanks. i’m glad life is more than work. so much more than margins, crop marks, pantone, cmyk and kerning.anna: thank you. i’d love to visit peru on day too.

  7. pat

    march 2008? something to begin to consider!

  8. johne nomad

    Bihar will be intense (much more so than Chennai), at least if much time is spent in Patna. Yes, India is to be missed. And there are SO many Indias to miss! Each region is so different. Was most of your time spent simply “being” w/ people? Did you have opportunities for health care, education, etc? Any chance of hooking up in Penang in a few weeks?

  9. thundered cat

    note to pat and self: save, save, save.john: no, bihar will be more for that. we helped the locals plant a church in an unchurched area a little outside chennai.penang! i’d love to but i’m currently swamped with deadlines :( and i’m terribly sorry for not replying your mail sooner. chiang mai — one day!

  10. kwanie

    :) beautiful… rachel… your pictures remind me of my last trip to Calcutta & Jamshedpur (a long time ago)…your pictures speak of the prayer for the 2nd largest population of unreached people groups that need a saviour and a shepherd.

  11. Anonymous

    beyond these pictures, those words captivate.

  12. elianne

    I’ve been in India several times. Your photos bring back good memories ( and smells – not always that nice )

  13. Anonymous

    I love your india photos, they speak and touching.Change my mind to travel India.Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to you Rachel.

  14. Pingback: where the cool kids go « Being

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