Tuesday, June 18, 2013

India Gate at Night

Tonight I have been relegated to the back room while Sister Stevens teaches the young women in our branch how to make banana bread.  So while she is having a good time baking, I thought it would be a good time to catch up on the blog. 

India Gate (looks suspiously like
the Arc de Triomphe in Paris France)
In April, we had a chance to go to the India Gate at night.  India Gate is a very recognizable monument in the center of the governmental section of New Delhi.  It is dedicated to fallen soldiers of war and has an "eternal flame"  It is blocked off to tourists and there is no place to park, but at night it provides a great "Kodak" moment from across the street in a large park-like area.   Night life in New Delhi is very vibrant.  Shops generally do not open until 11 am or later, but they are open until late at night.  On the way to India Gate, you pass many open street markets with lot foot traffic.  In the park there are lots of street vendors hocking their wares, mostly very cheap items that light up at night - twirling helicopers, spinning tops, devil's horns, etc.  It was perfect weather, the vendors were respectful and we had ice cream - another great India adventure.

Sister Sackley making her best deal with the "devils"

Part of street market on the way to the India Gate

The only free standing mail box I have seen in Delhi

No idea why this is lit.  It was bright
enough to light up the whole street

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day in India

We had a somewhat unusual Father's Day celebration on Saturday.  Because we work in the office, Saturday is our preparation day rather than on Monday for the young missionaries.  Generally we wear our missionary attire, but today after going to the local market to get fresh fruits and vegetables, we stayed in our shirts and jeans to go to lunch at Chili's at the Ambience Mall.  It's a short auto(rickshaw) trip of about 4 km.  For the most part (other than the beef) Chili's here is the same as the States, so it feels like home. 

After lunch, we checked out a new restaurant that we hadn't noticed before right next door.   It has just opened and very typical to India, they gave us a "tour" of the restaurant and then told us the new "Director's Cut" movie theater next door was owned by the same company.  We don't go to the movies much (1 time in the last 6 months) - a combination of lots of reasons including finding one worth going to and then finding it in English.  When we checked what was playing, we were in luck.  They were showing the new Superman movie.  We should have known based on the ticket price that we were some place special.  While against my "cheap" nature, I was too embarrassed to back out after telling them we wanted two tickets, so I paid the price.  We were given assigned seats (I wouldn't expect less based on what we paid).  When we walked in we both agreed that we have never seen any theater like it anywhere (maybe we need to get out more often).  Angela called it "the business class of movie theaters".  From the pictures below, you can see what she means.  We got our own mini bottles of water and Litchi (a fruit that is in season right now for about a month), a blanket, and pillow, a fully automatic recliner and a full service menu.  The movie was good, but not nearly as good as the experience.   Happy Father's Day. 


Friday, June 14, 2013

District Conference

This past weekend we had District Conference.  For those not familiar with our meetings, District or Stake Conference is when all the congregations in a geographic area (they are called branches and wards) meet together to be instructed by our local leaders.  In New Delhi, because of the cost of land and construction, we don't have a building where all the members of the district could attend, so we rented a building for the day.  The building is generally located in the center of the district to minimize travel and cost for the members.  Even with this, most of the time the district hires buses because members are generally too poor to pay for transportation.

Angela with the Mission President's wife and
the daughter of our mission office finance employee
at District Conference
We met in a large auditorium that held about 1500 people.  Our group of 400 seemed small in comparison.  Members are excited to be asked to speak in District Conference (???).  One of the sisters (what we call women members in the church), said it was her lifelong dream to talk in district conference.  So as you would expect, the 4 speakers before the district leaders took an hour and 15 minutes of a 2 hour meeting, leaving little time for the entire district presidency (3 people), and the mission president and his wife.  A new member of the district presidency said he had never spoken in District Conference in the 22 years he had been in the church and was disappointed that he could not speak the 30 minutes he had planned (he was given 10 minutes). 

We also had a choir that sang one number (first I've seen since we've been here).  Angela and I decided to sing with them.  We started 2 weeks before the conference with no music (the song was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version of "Have I Done Any Good in The World Today").  It's a pretty song, but doesn't follow the hymn book.   We thought the other members were singing it wrong because they had no music.  Wrong - most don't read music and were singing the hymnbook version based on memory.  Right before the meeting our pianist (who is very good), hands me a microphone for the men (We had 4 in total, the one on my left cannot read English well and the one on the right is tone-deaf).  I just gave him that look that said "you've got to be kidding".  I took it and when he left, I laid it down on the seat in front of me when we stood.  We didn't need any more "help".  Overall, we did okay for only 3 practices and different people showing up at each practice.  Another memorable experience we will take way with us when we leave India. 
Me with the John family.  There's a lot of
picture taking after District Conference