India is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural place. I want to tell you some of the things I learned about this country in my three week visit.
I learned: that everyone can speak Hindi and at least all of the following English phrases:
"What country you from", "You Name", "As you wish", "Welcome to my country", "You are my family", "Just touch", and "How much".
I learned: that no matter what or how much you give a beggar, it is never enough and they ask for more.
I learned: that the over 36 million gods they have in the Hindu religion aren't helping them have better lives here on earth.
I learned: that the Ganges is truly a holy river - people swim and wash in the sewage and feces intoxicated water and no harm comes to them (Pat and Kristin bathed in a clean area of the Ganges and are still alive and healthy).
I learned: the the Himalayas are as beautiful and as high as I imagined.
I learned: that wild monkeys consider me a threat and they will attack if I tease them.
I learned: that camels can run as fast as horses and fart more often than me.
I learned: that elephants (called "maatis" in Hindi) are considered good luck - and you need that when you ride them "bareback" holding on to their ears.
I learned: where the saying "Holy Cow" comes from - also where the expression "Holy Shit" comes from.
I learned: that "yoga" is a tough workout - and after I do it I need to meditate restfully.
I learned: that working 12 - 14 hours a day, seven days a week for about $2.00 a day requires Indian people to have arranged marriages - they have no time or money for dating.
I learned: that if you have no thoughts of improving your life or this world because the better after-life awaits you - then why worry about polluting the air, land and water.
I learned: that these Indians are not "aboriginal Canadians" or "native Americans".
I learned: that these Indians "want to be white faces" - their commercials and ads feature the whitest Indians that can be found and they love having their photos taken with "white faces from the west" particularly young women like Kristin.
I learned: that "use horns" literally means to use their horns every minute of the day and night when they are driving. There is no such thing as using car signals and having silence on the roads. The louder the better.
I learned: that roads are not only for cars and trucks. They are meant to be shared by dogs, cows, pigs, camels, elephants, bicycles, bikerickshaws, autorickshaws, as well as your normal cars and trucks - and don't forget people, of course.
I learned: that it takes about 3 hours to burn a dead body and that the chest of a man and the hips of a woman are the last to burn and that this is the local tourist attraction in Varanassi.
I learned: that your children really do grow up and become responsible adults and that it can be nice to have them in charge for a change.
I learned: (not really) but it was confirmed, that we truly love our children and it is wonderful to be able to share a truly unique holiday with them. Thank you so much Kristin and Cory. You know that we love you.