We went to all of the mental health “rehab” facilities today that are a part of the Richmond Fellowship Society (the college that has organized our program in Bangalore). We started at Chetana, which is actually the building we’re staying in. As soon as we walked in, this woman, most likely schizophrenic, walked up to Lindsey and said “OHH, you’re SO fair!” Lindsey was looking at her like “wtf, how do you know I’m fair”, but the woman was referring to her skin color. “Fair skin is soo beautiful, we think it’s beautiful here” At this point one of the employees cut in and literally said “please don’t start”.
I actually started playing this really insensitive game while we were doing our visits where I tried to guess who was a patient and who was an employee. It was much harder to tell than you would think. All of the people there seemed a bit off, I guess it goes back to that idea of “compensating” where you have to adjust to survive in your environment; working with crazy people makes you a little crazy. Chetana is just a day care center so patients come to do group activities during the day but we also visited a half way home and a long term home for the mentally ill. When we went to the long term stay home there was a women who had her face painted like a geisha, but she looked like death. She was standing at the gate as we pulled up and made us nervous to even walk into the building. After we went inside the geisha kept tryiing to sell us scarves that she knit, she was really persistent.
When we returned to our dorm we were “surprised” with the gift of having our tour bus to take us to dinner that night. Instant Karma caught up with me for my “guess who’s crazy game” because the van broke down 20 minutes into our trip. I was really disappointed because I had been refering to the bus as “the van that can” but it couldn’t. We waited on the side of the road for at least an hour for a new bus to come. My group spent most of that hour watching what we thought was a hermaphrodite dog (it was really just a female dog with awful hemorrhoids) trying to cross the busy intersection. Afton, of course, started crying about it.
The other thing I need to mention about this story is that our drivers can’t really drive our manual transmission busses. While I’ll give them credit for how difficult it must be to drive on poorly maintained roads in crazy traffic, our drivers shouldn’t be stalling in the middle of the road. That being said, we were on our new bus for about 5 minutes before our driver, for reasons completely incomprehensible to me, put the van in reverse and backed up into the person behind us. While we were looking around trying to figure out if we actually hit someone, our driver backed up, again, into the same truck. I think our van was fine but the windshield of the truck behind us was shattered; it’s still unclear whether it was broken in our collision or if the break had been there previously. Our driver wasn’t phased at all, he kept smiling through the whole ordeal. When the other driver approached his window, he kept smiling and just handing him a wad of cash. The other driver accepted and that was the end of it. That’s how accidents are handled here, I guess.
Anyway, the whole thing was an incredibly frustrating situation. We were only going out because we all needed a beer. When I say “we all”, I mean Lauren, Lindsey and myself. The mall we were taken to (we’re always being taken to malls because we’re American) only had high end bars and a Diesel jeans ad that had some guys face buried in a girl’s ass with a caption that read “you’ll eat better”, so we ditched the group and decided to find a bar on our own. We ended up at some bar called “Le Rock” where they not only played classic rock videos on flat screen TV s, but also had a smoking section. So after an exhausting day of interacting with mentally ill and being stuck on the side of the road, it ended with beer, cigarettes, and Hendrix.
Best day yet.