Last year, Andy and Pam Stone were able to cross an item off their bucket list by traveling to India. For three weeks, they stayed in India and they were invited to the Jasper County Community Center Wednesday morning, to talk about their experiences on their trip.
For a little over an hour, they talked about their three-week vacation in India. They saw exotic animals and enjoyed a number of cultural activities.
Both said the roads were dirty and very crowded, but they were surprised to see the walkways were clean.
“When you look at the streets, they really looked kind of dirty to us,” Pam said. “Then we started looking closer. (We) noticed that the store was very clean, (and) the sidewalk in front of the store was very clean. They sweep those things so they are clean all the time, but they have no place to put it, so it goes in the street.”
“And they claim, there is garbage pickup,” Andy said jokingly. “If it is, it’s not anything that’s not going on very much.”
While traveling, they noticed how chaotic traffic can be.
“(What was) odd was, nobody stopped for traffic lights, nobody stayed in (their) lane and nobody paid attention to which direction they were going,” Andy said. “They were just using the roads. I think probably the scariest one was at night. It was just as crazy, but dark. You just kind of go, my goodness.”
“It was crazy enough just trying to cross the street,” Pam said.
The sanitation laws are very relaxed compared to those stateside, and the Stone’s experienced it first hand.
“One of the (things) we saw is — our guide said, ‘Look, they brought in milk,” Andy said. “There were these cans of milk, and he said, ‘It’s very very well done. Everybody who comes in to buy milk has their own butter fat tester.’ And I am going, well that’s interesting. What he meant was, if you stick your own finger in the milk and depending on how the milk comes off you’ll say, ‘You must have added much water to that.’ Then the finger goes in each one.”
Andy said he was told by the tour guide, if they drank the milk they would get sick.
They also traveled to a Sikh Temple.
“I didn’t know a lot about it,” Andy said. “It’s a religion. It’s not Hinduism, it’s not Buddhism, it’s Sikhism. (It) has a lot of the same things as Hinduism. If you’re Sikh, you never cut your hair, and so most men wear a turban, with their hair wound up inside it, and a beard.”
“In the Sikh (religion), besides never cutting his hair, he always has a comb with him because he does not cut his hair,” he said. “He always has a dagger, (and) he wears a spacial kind of shirt under his garment.”
One of the things that the Sikh religion specializes in is helping the community.
“We went to this place (Sikh Temple), and they said, ‘One of the things the Sikh are very good at is outreach, and they all had a soup kitchen.’ This was no (ordinary) soup kitchen,”
Andy said he was told they feed up to 25,000 people a day, at no charge.
Being in India, Andy discovered that his facial hair often became a topic of conversation.
“I found out very quickly in India, people seemed to be very impressed with mustaches,” he said. “If you have a mustache that can turn up at the ends, like I can do sometimes, I would get sometimes four or five complements a day. People are just like, ‘I love your mustache.’ Even a server at an airport came up to me and he’s got a big gun you know, with his finger on the trigger, and he comes over and says, ‘I like your mustache.’ So he and I sat there and talked about the mustache.”
They also saw many exotic animals including birds, rhinos and giraffes. Both became sick after and during their trip, but overall they were happy to go and said the people of India were very friendly.
Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.