Saturday, December 29, 2012

Asia's Largest Monolith

Madhugiri hill, the largest monolith in Asia and the second largest in the world, attracts many climbers. The prosperous town is famous for its pomegranates as well.

Other India trivia . . .

The language of Karnataka state where we are staying is Kannada. However, most speak English quite well, even though we have to strain our ears to understand.

Vendors pass by the house every morning collecting and/or calling out their wares--papar (collecting old newspapers to resell to make various items, such as gift bags), fruits and vegetables, potted plants and soil.

Chuck played golf here the other day. He wore a long-sleeved shirt since he is very susceptible to sunburn. The manager of the course said, "Your shirt, unacceptable." So he purchased a regular polo shirt at a reasonable price. Back on the course and ready to play, Chuck sees the man approach again. "Shirt, unacceptable." What now! Chuck thought. The man said, "You must tuck in." This coming from a culture of people who seem oblivious to major nuisances like garbage piled on the side of the road.

In my Born for India trilogy, characters Maggie and Gavin contend with these cultural dynamics day in and out and learn to cope. While Gavin does not hike Madhugiri, he does take a Himalayan trek with brother Tim in Restored Hearts. This excursion proves to be a turning point in their healing journey, exposing some long-buried hurts from their past. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Exploring the City

India boasts quite a variety of homes, from the higher caste to the lower caste.

When I pulled my bedroom curtain aside this morning, this is what I saw--a blanket-covered lump sticking out from under a rock truck. One by one, four men crawled out yawning. They've been working all day drilling a bore well in hopes of hitting water for the new home construction. Dirty and noisy!

Strolling Bangalore

The chip shop where they fry up the potatoes in the huge vat located in the front. Delicious!

Stray dogs and garbage go hand-in-hand here.

Open-air markets line the streets, selling everything from mattresses to dish detergent. 

India's coconut "Sonic!" The merchant whacks off the top, then plops a straw into the hole. Or if the customer prefers, the seller chops the coconut in two pieces, then slices off a portion of the outer shell in the shape of a spoon so that the buyer can scoop out the white coconut meat. 

One coconut costs R 18 (18 rupees, equivalent to about 0.30 US).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mr. Lee...zard

Another mosquito deterrent is the common household lizard. So before you consider smacking the little fellow, think about how vital a role he plays. Just last night, Chuck and I saw about a two-inch lizard climbing its way along the wall that borders the stairs. As long as I don't step on one in the middle of the night, he's fine. He can stay. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fighting Mosquitoes

Fighting malaria-carrying mosquitoes in India is quite interesting!

In my novel, Restored Hearts, Constance jokes that in India when a mosquito bites a person it flies away singing, "There's power in the blood!"

Here my husband uses a special electrically-charged wand to zap the mosquitoes.

This helpful plug-in deters mosquitoes during the night. Works great!

We like natural alternatives, so my husband and I take Garlitrin 4000 and Vitamin B1to repel mosquitoes.

Around and About India

Cattle often roam the streets. No one bothers to hurry them along even if they end up in front of your vehicle, since they are considered sacred. You will also see cows, goats, dogs, and pigs rooting through the garbage along the sides of the road. The "rag pickers" also have their shot at the trash. These are people who make their meager living by rummaging through garbage for items they can sell. 

Life in India is quite diverse. Here is another crude home right across the street from an upscale ice cream shop. 

One of many huge ant hills you can see in India.

The Boat Tree
The large orange flowers are housed in a pod shaped like a boat.

Washing dishes is an event. Fill two pans with water boiled on the stove. Add detergent and wash, rinse, and stack. Dishes are washed once a day.

The Innkeeper--No Room

The innkeeper in the Nativity story, Indian style. :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Laundry Time in India

One of my favorite household chores in India is hanging laundry on the roof. A soothing time of contemplation. Washing machines are front loaders and very small, so the Indian housewife washes frequently. 

The alternative for most Indian women is washing clothing in the river and beating them on a rock. Then they hang the items wherever they can--on fences or over bridge railings.

In my novel, Chosen Ones, Constance hosts a tea party for Maggie and Yvonne on her roof top. Many Indians deck their roofs with gardens, a lovely sight to behold!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Life in India

Life in India means surrendering what we often take for granted. You can't drink the water or brush your teeth using water from the tap. You can't casually rinse off a piece of fruit or wipe an apple on your shirt. You have to soak veggies and fruits in a special solution to make sure they are sterilized before consumption.

While driving through the city, I saw a Hindu priest leading worshipers into the temple mounted on top by this god. The priest rings a bell upon entering the temple to wake up the gods. 

Mary and Joseph watch over newborn Jesus in the manger. A scene from the Nativity program presented at church.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

More Christmas Program

More Christmas program

Indian Christmas Drama

The church set up an outdoor stage and performed the Nativity story, "Born to Die," written and directed by a member. After only two weeks of practice, wow, they did fantastic! And with the Asian accents and cultural perspective, the play was so authentic.

Here is a clip of pre-play music. I'll add more clips of the drama when I get them uploaded.

My character, Maggie, directs a Christmas program with the children. Here, adults, teens, and children are involved. The program drew in neighboring people who do not go to church, most of whom are Hindu or Muslim. This is the second year the church has tried this outreach project. Snacks are served afterwards.

Indian sharpening a knife

Indian sharpening a knife on the side of the road. This is his business.

Riding in the City

Riding in the city--through the market area.

You may not hear all the noise outside--dogs yapping, machinery, cattle roaming the streets, vendors shouting, and of course the constant horn blowing. One of the first lessons an Indian driver receives is on blowing the horn. I don't think the video shows the "coconut stand," India's version of Sonic." A crude hut on the side of the road houses a huge stack of green coconuts. The merchant uses a machete to cut a hole in the top, then places a straw in. Coconut milk is a great drink for restoring electrolytes to the body.

My character, Gavin, the mission doctor, highly recommends the drink! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On Kitchen Duty in India

On kitchen duty in India. The life of an Indian housewife in her kitchen.
Not sure what's going on with the sound. If you're not able to hear the commentary, here's some info:
The Indian housekeeper uses a small gas range.  Petrol tanks last about 2-3 months, with a reorder time of one week. Delivery comes to the house.

Milk is purchased frozen in bags and must be heated on the stove before used.

The water is not safe to drink. The unit pictured purifies the water for drinking and teeth brushing. 

Most kitchens are equipped with a counter top range, but this one is not. The fan and light is still on the ceiling however. :)

Notice all the neat cubby holes and cabinets for storage.

Out the window you see the walled garden which I detailed in a previous video.

My character, Maggie, learns to cook Indian foods, such as dahl (lentils), curries, curd rice, and other recipes.

The dining room. Notice the sink in the corner. Every Indian home has a sink in the dining room for easy clean-up before eating. Nice touch!

Washing dishes. One pan for suds, another for rinsing. Water is boiled on the gas stove and used to wash since the tap does not have hot water.

Homemade apple butter. You can also make homemade peanut butter by roasting peanuts in the oven, placing them in the blender with a little oil. Homemade humus is good too, made by boiling garbanzos or other beans and whipping in the blender. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gardening in India

Gardening in India
Tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plant, peppers, lettuce, mint, beets, and carrots

Not Exactly Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Browsing the neighborhood this morning. Not exactly Mr. Rogers' neighborhood, but a neighborhood nonetheless. Here are some highlights.

A typical home. Houses are rarely purchased but rather rented for a period of time. Advance rent money is put down not for a few months but for years at a time. 

Another typical home constructed by the "tent people" while they work on construction. Construction goes on all the time. When a project is completed, the family moves on to another area. You can see that they use whatever is handy to dry their laundry. 

In the bathroom video, I mentioned how water supply tanks are located on the roof of the home. Above is an example.


Shower time in India

Shower time in India!

Feeling Terminal in Roanoke!

Stuck in Roanoke!

After the airlines rerouted us due to a mechanical malfunction in our first aircraft, we waited seven hours to board US Airways, flight 4214. From there, we flew to Philly (four hour layover), then on to London (three hour layover), then on to Dubai, then finally to Bangalore, all told about a 35 hour trip. Whew!

While our brains and bodies are not quite "there," we're improving by the hour. Sleep and a shower help!

More later as we move into Christmas in India. Here's a peek at the tree where we are staying.

And a glimpse of women helping their construction husbands at a site today where we unloaded our luggage to travel to the place where we are staying.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mango Mama: India or Bust!

Two days and counting!

India or Bust!
For a list of over 100 Indian mango recipes, visit the site below. 
From refreshing beverages to tangy relish, pies, smoothies, and chicken curry with mango, you'll discover more than enough recipes to satisfy your Asian palate!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Party Time in India!

Indians enjoy their Christmas parties just like we do!

Do you like to play Dutch Blitz? Well, Indians do, too!

Indians in the south enjoy heavily spiced foods filled with curry and cumin. Rice is a staple. Only the right hand is used for scooping up food, since for many poverty-stricken Indians (not those pictured here), the left hand is used for toileting purposes, since paper products are very limited.

Of course, Christmas decorations are a must for any party!

The Born for India trilogy

Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Story-telling Tour:Day Three

Continuing on with the “12 Days of Christmas story-telling” blog tour with Marilynn Dawson
Day three

In a Land, Far, Far away. . . But Closer than Any of Us Realize. . . the Following Story Continued. . .

The Crown Prince noticed lacerations peeking out from under the tattered sleeve of her dress.  He was about to ask permission to heal them when she caught his gaze and quickly covered them up! 

“My Lady,” He began softly, “If you will let me, I can heal those too. . .”

She opened her mouth to answer just as rocks began to land around them.  The Crown Prince jumped to his feet, observing with one sweep of his eyes that the townsfolk had come out of the city pelting rocks at them!  Sensing the danger, Swift Wind quickly advanced and the Prince swung the young lady onto the horse before climbing on himself.  Quickly he spun the horse around and galloped out of sight.

Now the young lady was quite puzzled as to who this man was.  As they rode along, she tried to put the pieces of her day together.  Was she dreaming?  Could this really be happening?  Why would a complete stranger do all these things for her?

“Maria, you are worth too much to let them kill you back there.”

Startled, she straightened up, “You know my name?  How is it you know my name?”

“I know the names of all my countrymen, Maria.”  Finally a good distance away from town, the Crown Prince spotted a spring in the distance. “Let us head for that spring and relax for a bit.”

Dismounting both himself and the young lady, he walked Swift Wind to the edge of the pool and sat down to rest.  Maria walked to its edge, and after satiating her thirst, turned to the Crown Prince.

“Who are you, and what do you want with me?!”

The Crown Prince smiled as he played with a stick in the grass.  “You honestly don't know who has rescued you. . .”  Maria shook her head.  “Maria, I am the Crown Prince, I gave you that robe when you first accepted my offer of salvation from the dark ones.”

Maria's jaw dropped!  Suddenly she was even more ashamed of her state, and especially of the once beautiful robe that hung stained and torn around her.  Tears began to fall as she replied, “But my Prince, can you not see how I have soiled your robe?  I am not fit for your Kingdom, least of all for your attention to my wounds.”

At this the Crown Prince got up and walked over to her with the kindest, warmest, most disarming eyes she'd ever seen.  “Maria, I died for you, and now I have chosen you as my Bride.  I love you more than any peasant male ever will and I long to make you whole again and present you to my Father.  There is only one thing I ask of you.”

Maria's face fell even more as she wiped a tear from her cheek.

“All I ask is that you surrender to my touch.  Let me see every part of your body that has been harmed and let me heal it.  Let me mend your robe and make it new again.  It may mean some changes in how you look after yourself, perhaps changes in how you interact with fellow peasants on the road or in town, but please. . . Let me do this.  Let me make you whole again.”

Maria sank into the grass realizing the weight of the Crown Prince's request.  The thought of being whole appealed to her, but His request meant that she had to let Him into every area of her life!  Her head dropped into her hands as she struggled and fought between receiving healing and becoming vulnerable. 

When she looked up again, Swift Wind was resting on the ground near a tree.  The Crown Prince was standing in front of her with his arms outstretched.  Once again she saw the purest and deepest love she'd ever seen in His eyes.  She stood up, reached out for his hands, lowered her head and nodded.  Her shaking form showed the Prince just how scared she was of the coming period of healing and restoration, but her submission to His hand made Him smile.  He gathered her to Himself and held her close for a while.  

*  *  *


Marilynn grew up in a solid Christian home, coming to Christ at the age of 7. She has been actively involved in Church life since age 10, including activities such as joining her Mom and sister in singing special numbers, choir, teaching Sunday School, leading Sunday School open session, planning Sunday School lessons, and more. Marilynn attended both public and private schools growing up. She attended North Island Community College on Vancouver Island and Trend College in Kelowna, obtaining certificates in receptionist work and Comptia A+ computer repair.

Throughout her life, Marilynn has written poetry and published a few of them in the American Poetry Anthology (two issues). She currently does freelance work for a technical blog in Alberta. She's also written numerous unpublished articles on end-time eschatology and the news, written unpublished short stories, word studies and more. Marilynn lives with her two teenagers, cat and gerbils, in Kelowna BC Canada. Her day job sees her fix computers, program cash registers, and engage in multimedia for her church. In the evenings and on weekends she's a soundtech helping with various events through the year from funerals to workshops to concerts and weddings. Marilynn sings in the choir, holding down the tenor section, and sang on her church's praise teams for several years as an alto or tenor substitute.

Marilynn can be contacted via her author page on Facebook at: or by email

Here's the giveaway link to Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey from which this excerpt was taken

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Indians Like Christmas Programs too!

Take a look at those cute sheep!

And of course, every sheep needs a shepherd!

In Journey to Judah, Maggie hosts a Christmas play for the Oasis Compound.

Gavin, the mission doctor, stands at the back watching, hoping she'll notice him. 
Could he be falling for the new missionary on the block?


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Most agree that it isn't Christmas unless it snows. 

Yet for Indians who live in the southern part of the country, snow is only a fantasy, never a reality. But that doesn't keep them from improvising. 

Check out this Indian party . . .  

Though the weather outside isn't frightful, the fun inside is quite delightful!

Who says an Indian can't enjoy snow?

Styrofoam snow, that is!

But oh, what a mess to clean up! Sticking to everything it touches. 

How about you?
Styrofoam snow or the real stuff?

Is Jesus Relevant for Today?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Like Mary of Old

Like Mary of old my little granddaughter who lives in India cradles her "baby Jesus." At three, she received a doctor kit for Christmas. She and her cousin reenacted the Christmas story over and over again. At one point, Kylie pretended to be Mary. She lay on the couch writhing in pain. Suddenly, she raised up and said to Jesus, "Come out, come out, wherever you are!"

Once He was born, they gave Jesus His first postnatal exam. 

As you can see in the picture above, my granddaughter is sitting on a tiled floor. Indian homes typically boast flooring of marble or a variety of other materials, such as porcelain, tile, marble, stone, or brick, in keeping with one's budget. The cool flooring soothes the bare feet on a hot Indian day.

But not to worry this time of year . . .

December yields mild temps of 80 degrees during the day and 60 at night, only requiring a light sweater. 

Spring time, here we come!


By the way, flooring in India is hard to keep clean. My character Maggie in Journey to Judah complains about all the dirt accumulating on her floors. She has to sweep and mop every day! 

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The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

I flip through the calendar, a gift from my missionary daughter. Family face after family face jump off the pages. Grandkids roasting mar...