I woke up late this morning. I’m a bit exhausted by the travel, time change and itinerary of my visit to India. Last night was my longest sleep since I left home. It was time to pack-up and move on – leaving Tanuku, my home for the past week.
Awaiting me downstairs were most of the Staff, Pastors and Ministers of Spirit and Life Ministries. I had a wonderful send-off as they all sang a special “blessing song” to me/for me. I took the time to pray for Pastor Prem and Shanthi. Then I prayed for several other pastors and over Spirit and Life Ministries. We hugged and said our good-byes. Then I was ushered into the waiting vehicle. As I was sitting with the door open, all of the children from the Orphanage came by to shake my hand and tell me bye. It was a sweet and special moment for me.
We headed east toward our destination: the port city of Visakhapatnam on the Bay of Bengal. The vehicle was packed with people. Besides myself and Pastor Prem, there were his assistant, the driver, and then 4 Pastors who had come to attend the Convention. Since we were heading to the east coast, we dropped them off in their towns along the way. It was about a 4 to 5 hour journey and we arrived at around 2:30 in the afternoon. We checked me in to the WelcomHotel Grand Bay. I am very thankful and excited to have a bathtub/shower for the first time since leaving home. I have a nice room overlooking the bay.
After a nice lunch, we went to see the city. We went to a park that is up on top of a hill overlooking the city. We took a Cable Car to get up to the top. Pastor Prem’s assistant hesitated for several moments, before getting into the cable car – he had never been in one before and was a bit apprehensive. Pastor Prem had fun with it, and joked about it to him in Telugu (the language they speak in this part of India).
We drove around the city, did a bit of shopping and then headed back to the hotel to turn-in early. We were supposed to have dinner with one of the Convention Speakers, who pastors in this city, but we will do lunch tomorrow with him instead. I enjoy being out among the people, even in a big city like this one. I stick-out like a sore thumb. However, even in the hustle and bustle of busy downtown commerce, I find friendly people who like to ask me who I am, where I am from, and what I am doing here. Even though many of the people can speak English, usually they do not speak it much, so it takes time to communicate with them. I have discovered that one of the best communication tools is a smile. It eases the tension of trying to communicate cross-culturally. Actually, I wish I were as good with their language as they are with mine.
Speaking of communicating – I asked Pastor Prem about a non-verbal expression that is very prominent here. It is the shaking of the head from side-to-side. It is done quite often and I had not quite figured out what it meant. It seemed to me that it either meant “yes” or “not sure.” Prem laughed and said that it is the former – it means “yes.” In the states, we shake our heads up and down in affirmation. Here, they shake the head from side to side in affirmation. Without knowing this, conversations with people here can be very confusing.
Well, I must be going. But, as promised, I will leave you with a parting shot. Yes, friends, it is what you’ve been waiting for: The Night of the Iguana – the final chapter (otherwise known as “How I spent my first night in Tanuku” or my least favorite, “Strangers in the Night”). Here is the rest of the story… The following afternoon of my lizard encounter, Pastor Prem brought one of his staff (Nidu) to trap the lizard and take him back to where he belonged, I assumed. Pastor Prem then went on to tell me that it is common for lizards to get into the houses. Even snakes get into the houses here. Well, that wasn’t what I was hoping to hear. I like lizards, but snakes are a different story altogether! Anyway, he goes on to say that during the rainy season, the lizards go into the houses to stay dry (Thankfully, it is not the rainy season). So what they do to combat the lizard infestation is to put white eggshells around on the floor. There is something about the big white eggshells that frighten the lizards, so they stay away. After Nidu searched far and wide in my room, there were no signs of my first-night bedfellow. He was long gone. So they suggested, “when that lizard saw you, he must’ve thought that you were the biggest white eggshell he had ever seen – and he is gone for good!”
Until next time…