Gina writes:

Just as we thought we had figured out some of the nuances of India, we experienced a string of unexpected events.

On Saturday evening at the internet cafe, we were having a great conversation on Skype with Corey's family. All of a sudden, we could hardly hear anything, as there was what sounded like a man on a megaphone just outside the internet cafe. We successfully ignored the commotion for about 15 minutes, but then were too bothered to continue, so had to cut the conversation short (Sorry Lindy! Happy birthday!).

Sunday was our free day for the week, which we spent as planned, learning to cook some Indian foods with our neighbor, Binu.

Binu, with the fried potato appetizer

We woke up Monday and got ready for work. Each morning at 9:15, we pack up everything except for our laptops and hang out until our ride to work comes, anytime between 9:15 and 9:45. We've learned to be patient as we wait for our ride and just fill the time with things that can be stopped at a moment's notice. When 10:30 rolled around, though, we started to wonder what was going on. A phone call from a co-worker a few minutes later clarified things: a mandatory labor strike in Koraput meant no one was working for the day. We started dancing around the room singing, "Snow day! Snow day!"

The details of the strike were (and still are) unclear to us, something about a forced economic shutdown to push the government to provide more jobs. In any case, we decided to use our free day to get some errands done in the sunlight for once. We also wanted to spend some time at the internet cafe, since we had been expecting to get online at work. As we walked into town, we passed shop after shop after shop that was closed and eventually realized that the strike included ALL laborers, even the tiny shops selling street food or candy/tobacco. This meant that the internet cafe was closed, too. Our last resort for internet is Corey's cellphone, but he didn't have enough money in his account, and the reloading point was, of course, closed. So no internet, no vegetables, no errands completed.

We took the opportunity to walk around some parts of Koraput that we haven't been. We discovered a children's park will lots of greenery and play equipment. And we tried to get into the "malaria tank," which is actually a big reservoir in the middle of Koraput with a gorgeous running track around it. It was built as an anti-malaria tank, but the name was shortened to "malaria tank!" The gate was locked, presumably because of the strike.

We returned home empty-handed, then spent the rest of the day relaxing, watching movies and playing games on our computers.

Tuesday was another free day, though we knew about it in advance. It was Republic Day, one of India's big national holidays. I had plans to travel to a nearby town to visit with some SOVA friends and Corey had plans to hike in the hills of Koraput with some SOVA friends (it was a men-only activity, I wasn't invited!). However, the strike was continuing for another day, so the buses weren't operating and travel in general was discourages, so plans for both of us were cancelled.

I decided to make bread in my little oven and was really excited when it actually rose like expected (last time it didn't). My excitement was cut short, however, when the power went out in the middle of baking and stayed out for 3 hours! I baked it a second time later in the day and it's still pretty good, though!

Our friend Hilary had been in Vishakapatnam getting some sorely needed rest and a hot shower and found that her train to Koraput had been cancelled because of the strike! Yet another unexpected event!

Siba from SOVA came over in the evening and cooked dinner with us, a delicious egg curry and potato fry. That went pretty much as planned.

Three days off work is nice, but lack of certainty about plans and lack of things to do in the house mean that we are glad to be back at work today!

(Sorry for the general feeling of complaint in this entry, but a true picture of our life in India isn't complete if we always skip over the frustrations and difficulties. Happy entries coming soon!)