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Aug. 24, 2006

fish marketLast week, I posted an entry from Bryan; this week, it's Bentley's turn to share his thoughts about his trip to India with CLIF BAR's 2080 program:

Cows in the street, barefoot workers, 100-degree heat, hindu temples, stone carvings, international yoga centers, 90 hours of traveling, elephants, brick laying, tossing, mortaring and plumbing, bonding with a team of champions, dodging weaving rickshaws and mopeds in the streets, curry galore, palm-thatched houses, experiencing a culture so different from our own, working hard, and most of all building homes and memories that will last for generations. This is just a glance at the amazing culture, country and experience we were fortunate to have, thanks to CLIF BAR!  

Streets of India

The streets of India are an overwhelming part of the experience that’s so hard to explain—a complete assault on the senses. They’re full of chaos and energy bursting at the seams.

To the left is a street market full of local vegetables, fruits, grains, flowers, and seafood straight from the source. Here, the women filet and gut the days catch. From 60-pound tuna, to 1-inch minnows, blue spiny lobsters to translucent shrimp. The odor of fish is overpowering, the dark hallways buzz with flies and you can hear the villagers bartering for an even lower price.

On the right, when the madness of the streets is too much, you can slip into quiet solitude in one of the few peaceful ashrams. Compared to madness outside, these reflective centers for yoga, meditation and education envelop you with pristine gardens, fresh incense, vibrant flowers and locals calmly seated in meditation, quieting their minds until they are thrust back into the urban maze.

More mortar (& bricks)

the building!I could go on and on about these streets that are so full of life, but there was a reason we came here, and that was to work hard and to build for those in need. Bryan gave a great explanation of our daily tasks which consisted of bricks, bricks, bricks, mortar, and, how about some bricks. Toss in some concrete from time to time and you have yourself a house! But beyond the actions it takes to build these homes, I’ll try to give you a better idea of what the completed house is like.

Each house is made of…. you got it, brick. It’s meant to withstand tsunamis, earthquakes and last for hundreds of years. Each humble abode is 360 sq ft and will house families of between four and six people. There’s running water, a separate closet for an in-floor toilet and stairs that lead up to the tile roof. Many of the families will choose to sleep on the roof where the light breeze can cool them at night, or they can use it to dry their daily catch of fish in the sun. They’re painted a light yellow color with red and pink doors and trim.

180 of these houses are currently being constructed by Habitat at the cost of $3,500/house. To put that in perspective, it’ll cost much less to house over one-thousand villagers in India than it would to build one average house in the bay area!

Friendly villagers

On our first day of building, we met the people who would be living in the homes that we were building. The people are poor, but their smiles are contagious, their intentions kind and their hospitality humbling. We drank coconut juice from the trees and attempted to communicate with universal gestures, with laughter being the best medicine.

kids!The genuine kindness in their eyes is amazing, the kids love to have their pictures taken and then sprint around to see their faces show up on the digital camera. Their simple thatched roof homes and lives as fishermen may seem bleak but they still have many things our culture does not.

At next week’s company meeting, when the CLIF crew is reunited again, we will make sure to light some incense, play some Indian music and share more stories and pictures from the trip.

Until then, Namaste. 
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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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