survivor girl ukulele band

bringing restoration and hope to survivors of human trafficking through the healing power of music and love

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

the kindness of strangers

ok, so the highly rated guesthouse conveniently near to the airport that i had planned to go to upon my 12:35 am arrival in bangalore was completely booked by the time i tried to make a reservation. i was in the shuttle on my way to the minneapolis airport at the time, or about 30 hours out from arrival in india, but this was far more planning than i had done for my arrival in new delhi in 1999 when i pretty much got shanghaied. so i figured i was way ahead of the game.

and the good thing about leaving my reservation to the last minute and not getting a reservation at that conveniently near guesthouse was that the airport that the guesthouse was conveniently near is no longer an airport. and the new bangalore airport is nowhere conveniently near the highly rated guesthouse at which i had planned to stay. so that all worked out great.

my problem then became where to go instead.

and here’s where the kindness of strangers comes in.

the guy sitting next to me on the plane from paris to bangalore said the obligatory hello, buckled in, looked through the air france magazine from cover to cover, and then promptly took a nap. and i’m like, you know, it isn’t every day one flies from paris to bangalore, so you could perhaps say something more than hello.

but not a word. i thought he might be quite a grump.

after he awoke from his nap, however, he came to life and we started talking.

he was an indian computer engineer heading back home from a recent business trip to milwaukee. his name was anil, and we had such a nice conversation that by the time we landed he offered to meet me in baggage claim and let me use his cell phone to contact my friend ravi, who had said earlier in the day that of course i should stay at his house.

but anil did way more than let me use his cell phone to call ravi.

anil hung out in immigration — where i told a very small little white lie about where i was staying — because at that point i had no idea what ravi’s address was. and then he waited nearby as another airport official questioned me about what was in my bags. and then he watched over my baggage cart as i went to change some money. and then we found a place to sit down and he used his laptop to connect my iphone to the airport wi-fi so i could post a safe arrival notice on facebook. and then he bought us each a coffee and paneer wrap at coffee day at 2:30 am because we were both starving. and then he shared his taxi with me and helped me find ravi’s house, which i alone with the taxi driver in the middle of the night would never ever have been able to do in a hundred million years. and then he gave me his phone number and address and said if ever needed anything, he would do his best to help.

so on those days when i’ve been overcharged, glared at, or groped, i will try to remember my flight friend anil — and the huge credit balance on the india account.

you’re going with me!

back in 1999 when I first learned about the trafficking of young girls from nepal into india, it bothered me, but i thought, i’m just me. who am i to do anything about it?

but when i started taking steps to return to india, i soon realized that it’s not just me doing this. it’s we! i’m not going it alone, because you are all part of this now.

among the first to join were the faithful women of my bethany adult bible fellowship class, who made a splash on my birthday and are always there for me.

then the fabulous tracy newman and the reinforcements volunteered to do a benefit concert for me! this was huge. huge. i first heard tracy two years ago at brad colerick’s mid-week, soul-soothing, spirit-lifting hootenanny in south pasadena (wineandsong.com). it’s every wednesday night, and it’s free, and it’s wonderful! and if you’ve never heard tracy newman and the reinforcements, “like” the band on facebook, find out where they’re playing next, and do yourself a favor and go!

before long chauncey bowers, ed tree, lisa turner, and the aforementioned brad colerick were on board for the benefit. my best so cal pal sharon printed flyers and promoted tirelessly, suzanne and keri coordinated, tracy and alexia promoted, leslie and nilo cooked a magical spaghetti dinner for the crew, john and amber brought dessert, judy and janice jumped onto clean-up detail, lois welcomed, brendan did amazing sound, church peeps brought cookies, dave hosted the delightful coffee and cookie break, and sharon and geoff managed the welcome and bank table.

all this combined with two hours of wonderful music made for a smashingly successful event that brought together my church family, my music family, my twin sister, my landlord, and many people i’d never met before, but who wanted to support my work. we raised $2700 at the event, and more money came in before and after from people who couldn’t attend. and it’s not just financial support, but awareness of the issue, readers for my blog, words of encouragement, lots of hugs, and much needed prayer support.

so for all of you who came and went and gave and helped and played and listened and hugged and read and prayed — thank you thank you thank you for joining me!!

so what are we doing first? we’re heading to bangalore, where we have friends, to set up base camp. we’ll need a cell phone with an internet plan and an indian bank account, so we don’t get charged fees right and left for transferring money or using the atm. and then we’ll need to resume our study of hindi. we want to get beyond the beginner stage in the next six months. soon we’ll be volunteering with organizations in the far reaches of india. so learn to love the suitcase. and then let’s communicate often! — on facebook, via emails, and on this blog.

next blog post: the kindness of strangers, or it’s day three — why don’t i have a cell phone or a bank account yet?, or how i didn’t get to the christmas play on time, or something like that!!

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