India Reality

Britt and I have both witnessed and observed such a wide variety of culture in India that, sometimes, the heart gets dizzy and outweighs the brain.  This is our last day in Chennai, and we are headed for London.  Maggie, one of my sick, I mean six sisters, would be loving to see the Royal Wedding. I won’t. She will also appreciate, I think, and as a practicing and well respected nurse, the difference between witnessing and observing.

Witnessing and observing are wildly different concepts.  We witness children playing in dirt and feel sorry for them.  We observe the look beyond their eyes and know they are, for some unfathomable reason, happy.

Sadly,here, the adult males don’t take too handsomely to white intruders.   During this stay, I guess I always had children to protect me.  This morning, I was saying my last goodbyes, or high fives to my cricket friends, when they started yelling, “go go go!”  I had my wallet in my pocket and was taking one last picture of my friends when several men approached me with disdain in their eyes.  Fortunately, I am much better at running than cricket.

You witness people participating in sports, their work, everyday life, but you observe their behavior while looking into their eyes.  It’s the first time I’ve been scared in India.  Unfortunately, the adult males, even with smiles and howdy doo’s on their faces don’t care for the white man.  I observed it from the very beginning, and tried to sway their attitude, but it’s hard to do that to a billion people.

Many of the adult males didn’t appreciate my laughter and smiles.  I could understand that and even reserved it when walking the streets.  However, I couldn’t contain it when playing with those children.

All they could do was witness me.  If they looked beyond my eyes, they would stop and say, “okay, this is a mere idiot just having fun in a country he knows nothing about.  Let’s not steal from him or kill him.”

I’m not dead, just still learning,


India: Cricket Alley

While semi communicating in India via e-mail with my brother, Tom, he asked me if I had experienced anything here resembling the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”.  He was referring to the culture, not the television show representing nothing about this culture.  I couldn’t quite respond to Tom with a “yes” even after spending 7 days here.  Ironically, the very next day, Britt and I experienced something similar, yet this experience seemed far more powerful…..since it was reality.

Sarcasm and cynicism is in my blood.  For Gannons, it is sometimes our nourishment.   Without it, we tend to be far too emotional….sort of the “if I weren’t laughing, I’d be crying” scenario.  This is a ridiculous statement because we are all wildly fortunate.  Positively reinforcing this notion is witnessing the living standards here in India.

Within my writing and former blogs, I have commonly amused myself and others as well as offended some by making fun of India’s culture.   My simple writing is meant to entertain.  This particular blog is not meant to degrade any form of human existence, and it has no comedic significance.  Rather, it is an eye opening and closing, heartfelt, perhaps life changing recognition of how wonderful life is, whether you have everything or whether you have nothing.

After 7 days in Bangalore, Britt and I took a flight to Chennai, India, located on the Bay of Bengal.  In Bangalore, recognized as the garden spot of India, when mentioning our next destination of Chennai, people of Bangalore would cringe and say “very hot and stay in hotel”.  Considered one of the hottest and more poverty stricken cities in India, we knew, quite certainly, it may be a tremendously long 5 days.   Needless to say, our adventurous excitement level went from 1 to none.  However, with regard to the first day in Chennai, our expectations, most definitely for me, elevated from a level of none to love.

Flying from Bangalore to Chennai was a meager 40 minutes.  Passing through customs, security and rude humans required an additional three hours of anger, balanced with 4 hours of patience.  Britt and I handled it all beautifully (this will be another blog) and we arrived safely in Chennai.   My wife, Britt, seems to fear nothing when traveling abroad.  Therefore, I fear only some things: her life and mine.

Traveling an hour in a cab, suffering from pinching hot conditions, Britt located our hotel before the cab driver.  Always making me chuckle, my wife is capable of locating geological areas in a foreign country after being there for an hour before taxi drivers, living here for a thousand years, are able to do it in a thousand years.  I refer to it as her BPS. ( Brittney Positioning System )

As everyone knows, after traveling for 5 minutes or 5 days, it’s always a relief to check into the destination’s hotel.  Ours’ was no exception. It is fabulous, save for a few minor details:  North of the hotel is a slum.  West of the hotel is a slum.  South of the hotel is a slum.  And, East of the hotel, also a slum.  This became my paradise one sweltering evening.

Soon after checking into our hotel, I went to the window and, peering out of our third story room, I witnessed two scenes which most of us could only describe from a movie.  Changing my idiotic and offensive perspective on life as we think we know yet don’t know it, I removed the joking and the seemingly witty quips replacing them with silence.  For almost an hour, my observations occurring on this dirt ridden path enveloped me with interest and desired inclusion.

A boy, maybe 8 or 9, along with his sister, probably 6 or 7 were attempting to ride a bicycle for the first time without a father figure or brother to assist.  Britt looked at me and told me with her eyes I was not to interfere with what happens in this area, as told by security.

Six or Seven boys were participating in a Cricket game on the same dirt alley.  Rather than speaking to my wife with pleading eyes, I told her of the backyard wiffleball games Tom, Greg, Aaron, I and whomever wished to play in the neighborhood would participate in countless days when there wasn’t snow on the ground. This cricket scene reminded me of those fabulous days.  Britt still suggested, upon orders of  hotel monarchy, I should remain in the room.  Just then, I saw the young boy trying to ride a bike for the first time take a spill.  He was wearing pink pajamas, and his sister was laughing at him.  It was then when I told Britt, I was going to teach a boy how to ride a bike and show these cricket clowns how to throw a ball and swing a broken fence post.  (They don’t have the money to buy a bat or a real ball)

Getting past security was easy.  They simply said, “You’re on your own”.  Gaining the trust of the children was a little more difficult.  I requested they let me play, and they accepted, trying to hide their smiles.  The children gave me the wooden fence post and chuckled, knowing a cracker like me would embarrass myself.  I did not disappoint.  The India version of “chuck a ball at me” even a juiced up Barry Bonds couldn’t have hit.  I missed it by about five feet.  They laughed hysterically at my insufficiency with the fence post.  Keep in mind, I have only hit a ball zero times when it is supposed to skip off the ground before you take a hack at it.  This is cricket.  Requesting one more chance at making contact with the ball, the children relished the chance of, yet again, demoralizing this paleface from Spokane, Washington.  I hit the next pitch into outer space, or in their terms, beyond where we could retrieve it.  They cheered more for my success than they did for my failure.  That’s when I fell in love with them.

I decided not to try my luck any further with the lumber, but I played catch with them, pitched to them, and we communicated not with words but, rather, high fives, fist pumps, smiles and laughter.   After close to 15 years of teaching, that one hour of sweat, smiles and laughter ranks amongst the top.

Britt could see me playing with them, but she was a bit concerned with my safety.   I returned to the room to receive a lecture from Britt (she never gives me lectures) Instead, the first words out of her mouth were, “I love you”.  That’s when I knew I could convince her to meet these children and take this picture.   The only deal was that she wants to adopt the smiling cute child with the blue and white striped shirt in the front of the picture.  He was hilarious.

Some of the elderly ladies witnessed the fun we were having and wanted to show us their grandchildren.  They were all extremely sweet and adored Brittney’s blond hair.  It’s funny, we learn universal languages and some of the words are tainted with hatred.   All of us in this “slum” didn’t speak one word the other would know.  Yet, there was no poor sportsmanship of any kind.  They were simply pleased to play a game and return to their homes for a humble dinner.

Initially, amongst the laughter, concrete, dirt and fun, watching the children crawl through windows, 8 or 9 at a time, my heart sank.  The only time I have to crawl through a window is if I lock myself out of my own house.  Following this experience, my heart rejoiced hearing the boys and girls laugh while hopping through the windows of those dilapidated shelters waving Britt and me goodbye.

There’s nothing better than seeing a smile on a child’s face or hearing laughter from their belly.  Perhaps, they do have more than us.

I never taught the boy and his sister how to ride a bicycle.  However, they remained cheerleaders on the side dirt.  Speaking of teaching, I learned far more from all of them than they could possibly learn from me.

Disconnected in India

Gannon’s Blog, 2 thousand and something:

Decided to take a walk and get water and a sandwich.

Elevator was out of commission.

Chose to take the fire exit.

Alarm went off….not kidding.

Ran away from security who didn’t recognize me.

Happy ending:  Found water

This just gets better each day.

How are you?

(The power goes off 8 or 9 times a day here in India, therefore I am commonly disconnected from any network system . For those of you who are following this site, I am doing my best to keep it updated, but this hotel restricts me from certain days of usage)

Still alive,

Ben and Britt

Indiana Prose

My nephew, Pat, remarked upon my India blog imagining me as Indiana Jones.  Interestingly, it’s a keen observation, aside from a few details.  Instead of wearing a fedora, I adorn myself with an Adidas cap.  Rather than utilizing boots, I run from cars and motorcycles with cheap fabric tennis shoes.  I don’t have a whip, just a leather belt to keep my pants up, and if necessary, use it to fend off the monkeys which smile at me just prior to attacking.

Doctor Jones and I do have one thing in common.  We are both heroes.  Indiana discovered the Ark of the Covenant, Crystal Skulls,  sacred stones, Christ’s Chalice and Jewish Directors.  Although not accomplishing any of those tasks, my heroic capacity supersedes Indiana on one level.  I never witnessed him, NOT ONCE, cross a street in India.  If you recall the 80’s video game Frogger, my wife and I are living it on an hourly basis.  Dodging cars, rickshaws, buses, motor bikes and Hare Krishnas while holding my wife’s hand detonates everything Indiana Jones did for fictional society.

Keep us in your prayers.

Benmeat Josniffafish Gannonjob (That’s my new Indian name)

India Part 2 : Electric Boogaloo

The greatest thing about being in India is not being able to watch the Seattle Mariners lose.  The second item I love about India is that they find it pretentious when Americans tip them.  Therefore, if you witnessed my previous blog, I am the most pretentious human staying in India.

My wife, Britt, and I strolled about the streets last night tripping amongst the rubble.  We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly for several reasons.  Each person seems to be extremely nice, the weather is far more attractive than Seattle, and we were not hit by a car or motorcycle.  Far more dangerous is yours truly.  I must learn, much like driving on the left side of the road, that it is appropriate and courteous to walk on the left side of anything.  I’ve bumped into more Indians than Custer.

I have no idea what time it is or what day it is.  Most of the people who read my drivel are probably asleep.  I’m now off to find some monkeys even though I’ve been told they are wonderfully dangerous.  If I don’t leave an additional India blog, you may assume I am in a hospital in Hong Kong as they do not have terrific health care here.


India Part I: City of Boiled Beans

Greetings and palpitations from Bangalore, India. This literally means “city of boiled beans”.  I am not joking about that one.  After 23 hours on a plane, (I had the Jimmy Leg for at least 20 of those hours), Britt and I are in our 5 star hotel which is the equivalent to a Fife Econo Lodge. Perhaps the range has elevated to 20 stars in this fifth world country.

We’ve been here 14 hours and I already despise curry.  My shoes, socks, shirt, pants, pillow, and Britt’s hair are all infested with the smell of curry.  I’d rather be in Russia where people don’t smile.  It honestly reminds me of the Bronx Ghetto area, with the exception that people who steal from you maintain a bright smile on their faces.  I was told not to wear my wedding ring because I may get my finger chopped off.  If any of you are willing to visit during this two week stay, I would be wildly grateful.

Honestly, I feel very sorry for these people.  I have been tipping 100 Rupees to each employee in the hotel (that means two dollars to you and me).

I hope all of you are well and I can eat a cow in two weeks with one of you.


P.S.  They claim English to be their second language.  I don’t understand one word.