Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"That's a tomato, m'dear"

We finally arrived in India late Saturday morning after a five hour delay in Chicago, a refueling in Frankfurt (meaning that we were not allowed to get off the plane) and missed connection in Bombay. The airline workers in Bombay were very helpful, probably noticing the large blinking sign above our heads that read, "Confused White People. Please Help." Once inside in the airport in Bangalore, we were able to find a phone to call Shalini, Namitha's aunt. However, the line was switched off! Panic struck as I realized that not only was I sick (making frequent trips to the restroom to puke), we were in an airport in the middle of India, and no idea where to go! Thankfully, I had written down the phone number for John Fennessey who was fine with us arriving a few days early and promptly gave us an address and directions to the farm.

The cab ride to Gaia Organic Farm was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Our cab driver spoke only a little English, but was able to understand where we wanted to go and listened to Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus on the radio. Driving in India appears to be a free for all in which the only rules are "find a hole and don't look back." There are lanes painted on the road but no one pays any attention. If mom thought I was a jack rabbit driver, she should take a ride with this guy. He drove until the speedometer literally screamed, "Exceeding speed limit! Reduce your speed!" until he was only a foot away from the huge speed bump and slowed down to about 5 mph. Needless to say, this did not make my stomach feel any better.

We somehow 'safely' managed to reach John's farm. The farm is small, only five acres, consisting of a vegetable garden (tomatos, eggplant, lettuce, beans, millet) and fruit trees (mango, papaya, chickoo and coconut). We were excited to see that there is another WWOOFer on the farm as well! Eva is 20 and from Germany. John employs one full time farm hand (Babu) and a woman (Radha) who cooks lunch each day. Radha and Babu don't speak much English. We were surprised to hear that once you get out of the city (even if it is only a bus ride away) the local people only speak Kannada and Telegu (that's not even Hindi!). Andy and I are getting used to the new diet of rice (a lot of rice) and ragi (a kind of millet, which is supposed to be very good for you) along with all of the curries.

The weather here is nice. Pretty consistent in the high 70s (down to maybe 50 at night) and sunny. It's the dry season, so there hasn't been rain in over a month, which makes our weeding jobs more difficult. I am learning that I don't know as much about plants as I pretend to know. While weeding yesterday, I showed one to John, asking if I could pull it up. He gave a little sigh as he said, "That's a tomato, m'dear." Oops. The work so far has been a little slow, and we are hoping that it will pick up more in the next couple days. Today has been our first adventure into Bangalore, which will have to be another blog post altogether.


  1. I love your graphic description of the trip. It kind of reminds me of Kill Bill 1 (or was it 2?). And I will meditate for the tomato. I hope you are feelling better.

  2. PAIGE, YOUR CALLING JUST MAY BE AS A COMIC WRITER...YOUR DISSERTATION IS A TOTAL HOOT, EVEN YOUR PUKING IS FUNNY (sorry). you are in the right place at the right time...heee, heeee. What can I say, plead your case to John F: "Hey, it's an ADVENTURE...for all of us!"

    News from here: I remember you're not a football fan; however, the Vikings made it another round to the next game this weekend where they will play New Orleans Saints. I'm nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof, and eating alot of gelatin to make my fingernails grow faster by Sunday. I'm going to need all the fingernails I can grow. Love, Grandma Wanda

  3. Ummm...did you ever pretend to know anything about plants? I hope you are feeling better. Miss you. Mom.

  4. If you think Bangalore traffic is bad, wait till you see New Delhi and Calcutta (oops Kolkata)

  5. Not sure what access you have to
    NEWS: The Vikings lost by a field goal in overtime, sending the New Orleans Saints to the SuperBowl to play Indianapolis Colts. I felt sooo badly for 40-yr old QB Brett Favre. He so wanted a SuperBowl game before retiring. Again,...maybe.
    MORE NEWS: University of Michigan students advance to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, in dance skating...Meryl DAVIS&Charlie WHITE, and Evan BATES&Emily SAMUELSON, finished 1st and 3rd respectively in US National Championships competition.

    LOCALLY: an area school is cutting back to a 4-day school week. Don't know of any schools that have done that before. A warm front (32 degrees) came through, with a couple days rain, so our snow is disappearing, but still cannot see the ground.

    Does driving in India produce many accidents?? Reminds me of how Alaska media reports bush PLANE crashes like they report common vehicular accidents in the Lower 48.
    Grandma W

  6. J.D. SALINGER, age 91, died. I think I recall you liked "Catcher...", not sure; but then I don't know many people who share a movie favorite of mine, "Harold and Maude." When you get back to the States, hope you can see another oldie, "Dinner With Andre". Love you, Gr. W.