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USS Blog Boy's Deployment Diary--Chapter Five

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(This is the fifth of a continuing series of posts by Southwest Airlines Customer Francisco Delgado, who is serving on the USS Nimitz.  For the previous posts see Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, and Chapter Four.) Chennai, Indiaindia-welcome-sign.JPG You never know how much you take for granted until you travel to another country. Our ship made Naval history liberty-boats.JPGwhen we pulled into Chennai, India. We were the first aircraft carrier to pull into the country, and our mission was to improve relations with India. I will never forget looking out the bus windowbus1.JPG and seeing so many people living in poverty. We saw kids walking around with no shoes and hardly any clothes. We saw people taking baths in the local river. The river itself was filled with trash, and the tap water was undrinkable. We saw people dying on the streets from the heat and the lack of food. At the same time we saw so many people walking around living their daily lives with smiles on their faces. As we got off our bus, there was a group of locals and photographers who wanted a glimpse of us. They treated us like royalty, and they wanted to take pictures of us; they wanted to shake our hands. As we got into our cab (which was pretty much a go-cart) taxi-and-cab-driver.JPGwe were once again bombarded by the locals, but they were very welcoming.  Our hotel was immaculate. We walked in, and all the employees in the hotel were waiting to help us. Many of them told us how much they loved Americans. All of this was overwhelming. I was asking myself, "how much do I take for granted back in my own Country"? I think of the smallest things that we complain about: our food being too cold when we get it; our coffee not being made the way we like it; our flight arriving five minutes late; rush hour traffic; police-sign.JPGhaving to wait more than five minutes in line at a bank, or waiting in line for hours to purchase the new iPhone. These people were happy to get just one meal a day; those who do have money were forced to wait hours in line just to get money out of the bank; their traffic is nonstop; and many of their buses and cabs do not have air conditioning. I pulled out my digital camera, and I showed it to some of the locals. They were confused because many have never heard or seen a digital camera.  Here we had people, who were dirt poor, yet they walked around with smiles on their faces. children.JPGMany of our sailors took time to go out into the city and clean up trash, paint schools, assist with Tsunami relief or simply play with the children.sailor-and-children.JPG I am forever changed by our stop in India, francisco-and-monkeys.JPGand I am certain that we left a lasting mark with the locals. I know that they saw a glimpse of the real America... A country filled with generous and compassionate people.  I hope all those who read this will take the time to think about those who are less fortunate and how fortunate we are to be living in America.
12 Comments
Rebecca14
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Francisco, Thank you for sharing your experience. I could use a good dose of humility each day, and that certainly did it! Rebecca
jim
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I sure enjoy the USS Blog Boy Diaries here at BlogSouthwest.com. Thanks Francisco for your great insights into your world. And thanks for being just one of the hundreds of thousands of men and women wearing a uniform to protect and honor our great country.
Vic_Pascarella
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Hi Fransciso, Thanks for the update. I'm glad you had a good time in India. My son, Michael got a bad case of food poising while he was there with his shipmates. I hope you didn't. I'm on my way there today for two weeks (Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad & Bangalore). I'll be visiting Chennai on my next trip. You can check out some of my pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/gvpiii. Best wishes. Vic
Jenny3
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Hey Francisco! Enjoyed Chapter Five and when you speak of India in such poverty it is amazing and many of us cannot even imagine living in such a way - yet I'm currently reading a great book and many of you, may be interested in a way we as Americans can help others up and out of poverty. The book is written by Phil Smith & Eric Thurman and is titled "A Billion Bootstraps". It is an easy read and makes it seem as if there is something we can actually do to help end poverty! The concept is "barefoot banking" and microcredit. Pick up a copy or request it from your local library - we can make our dollars work in wonderful and amazing ways! Glad to know you and your shipmates were able to lend a hand - show our American spirit and true spirit of giving - we as a nation are "givers" and who better to demonstrate those efforts than our fine men and women of the US Navy! Be safe! How much longer at sea? Hey! I just thought of something! I think we will be in San Diego in 2008....if you are still there....maybe we can have the opportunity to meet and thank you in person! Take care! Thanks for your contributions to the blog! Jenny Frasco
Erin7
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Francisco, As always a great post and gives me a nice little break from my day to read how your doing and what your up to and especially with this lone a time to reflect about what a great country we live in and not to take it for granted. Erin
FriendofBlogBoy
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Francisco, Hey, buddy -- another fascinating chapter from your ongoing adventures! You know how much I enjoy reading these and seeing the pictures, which have much improved since your earlier face-to-face visit with the camel! LOL Keep up the excellent work y'all are doing -- I know it gets frustrating and discouraging at times, but hopefully seeing the responses you get here will help you to remember that there really ARE a lot of people back home who appreciate what you and your shipmates are doing. Besides, look at it this way, you're seeing parts of the world for free that plenty of people pay good money to visit! Your friend and fellow blog boy, Kim 🙂
Joan_Bachand
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Francisco, Just before discovering your blog, I was reading of India's iron ore mines where children as young as five are made to work barefoot on boiling rocks while hand crushing the ore to powder. The adult men get paid first but buy liquor. Women and children are last. After work, the women walk miles to get water for their families. (This from a special commission report of the Indian govt.) Such poverty. It humbles me. Thank you, Francisco and your shipmates, who exemplify the goodness of Americans...and from your pictures and by your actions, put some joy into the lives of others. Joan
jmalone
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Francisco - another great post! Thanks for taking the time to share about your journey as you and the many other men and women continue to serve our country! James MDW FA
Brian_Garza
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Hey Shipmate, Great blog, thanks for letting us get a glimpse of your time in the Navy. I served on the Abe Lincoln but unfortunately didn't get to go to India. I can only imagine what that port of call was like. You make a great point, we are blessed to be Americans and we should all keep that in mind when we are "challenged" with trival problems. Keep up the good work. Cheers, Brian
Francisco_Delga1
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Thanks for your comments. As i write this we are experiencing calm waters, clear skies and well yeah triple digit heat. We are all used to it by now.. Our visit to India had a positive impact on many of us. I think we as a country should make it a goal to rid the world of poverty and help those that are less fortunate. hope all is well back home in the good ole' USA.. See you soon.. USS BLOG BOY
Lisa28
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Sorry if this is off topic but I wanted to make an honorable mention to the staff aboard flight 1752 nonstop from PHL to LAS departing 11:30 on July 5th. They were super friendly and laugh out loud funny! I just thought somebody should know!
Linda16
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Francisco G'day from Australia, Our son is one of your shipmates, he too was overwhelmed by what he saw in India. This is his second Nimitz deployment and he said he had not witnessed anything to prepare him for India. You are so right, we do take our western cultures and all that it affords for granted. But good on you for recognizing that...not you will take that with you and have a better life for it. I am trying to make travel arrangements to come for the Homecoming. Have you heard any SD arrival times as yet? Our sailor said he has not heard at this point. It is hard for us being on the other side of the world. If you or your family could network with us via email, we would so appreciate it. Thanks, Linda and David