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'Meet the Travelers' program kicks off at Sunnyside library

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Joyce Heffron, who has had two visits to India, shares her traveling experiences with those who attended Tuesday night's "Meet the Travelers" program at the Sunnyside Library.

Sunnyside's Joyce Heffron and Holly Adiele met with a group of community members at last night's "Meet the Travelers" program held at the Sunnyside Library.

An informal group discussion took place as Heffron and Adiele shared their travel experiences. The pair have both traveled to India and provided a number of photographs for those attending the event.

Heffron said she has traveled to India on two separate occasions. "The first trip to India was when I retired. I wanted to see the tigers," she shared.

She said her second trip was planned for the purpose of experiencing the culture in India.

On the first expedition, Heffron and her husband traveled with a tour group. They experienced up close views of India's tigers on the backs of elephants.

During the second trip, Heffron and her husband hired a guide for the purpose of visiting tribal areas of the country.

"The cost of the second trip was comparable to the price of traveling with a tour group," she stated, saying the guide was a local to the area she visited.

"Having the guide allowed us opportunities to visit homes, temples and schools within the villages we visited," said Heffron.

She said she and her husband felt the people within the tribes were friendly "...probably because our guide was well-known."

Heffron said many of the homes were made with a stick frame with hay and mud walls.

She also noted that the schools were very small, consisting of one room. "There weren't desks and the children used small chalkboards to write," she noted, saying the children in India's schools learn three languages in school.

Adiele explained the children learn Hindi, English and the language used within the state in which they reside. "Each state has its own language," she said.

Heffron said she and her husband visited the open markets within the villages, and were impressed with the colors used by the people of India.

"The colors are just magnificent," she said.

Adiele explained that the restroom facilities are vastly different from American toilets.

She said the toilets (Asian toilets) consist of a hole in the floor.

"Even in the fancy hotels, a water bucket and ladle are provided for those who are unaccustomed to toilet paper...which the water is probably preferable to the toilet paper because the toilet paper is very rough," said Adiele.

Another of the experiences the two women shared regarding the culture was the discovery of the importance of marriage within the country.

"They are very romantic about marriage," said Adiele.

Heffron agreed, stating that commercials and television in India highly market the idea of marriage.

Adiele said the bridal attire is highlighted in the marketing of marriage.

The duo also shared the fact that once a marriage takes place, the couple lives with the husband's parents.

"The wife, who may have an outside job, serves the in-laws and the mother-in-law is the boss of the home," said Adiele.

She noted that dowries are illegal in India, however there is still a great importance placed upon them.

"Fertility is also vastly important," said Adiele.

She said she visited a shrine within a Hindu temple, known as the Naga shrine. At the shrine, women hang dolls and place offerings for a "good child."

The discussion took place with many questions being asked of the women, who shared their experiences and offered many insights to those who attended the event.

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