My Life In India
Michelle yelled at me.
I haven’t blogged in a long time.
I apologize! So here comes a long one (hopefully) to make up for lost time, my dear, dear blog-readers.
To start things off, here is a fun little update, just to keep everyone up to speed: I am staying in India for at least an additional six months! Wowowowow—I am excited! (I need to generate a list of synonyms for excited. I use that word a lot. But truly, my time here has been such an incredible blessing (again, I need a list of synonyms for blessing, too), that I feel continually excited to be here. I feel continually blessed.)
If you would like to partner with me in this new chapter of my life, you can click on the link below! I am raising $1,930 to stay these additional six months, which will cover my housing, food, water and wifi.
Anyways. Here we go, back to the purpose of the blog.
India. The kiddos. Life.
Today, this blog is beginning on a very good day. It is hard to describe the love-hate relationship (ugh, that cliché pains me, but I can come up with no better descriptor for it) I have with India, Indian culture, my city. Today is a very good day and I am in love with it all. I am in love with the colors. I am in love with the sound of Telugu—the way the language runs over your ears, stringing together melodic pitches and lively intonation in a way that I’ve never before experienced. I am in love with the food. I am in love crossing the street. I am in love with lazily hanging on for dear life while riding through traffic in an overfilled auto.
Have I told you all that I have take up auto driving? I’m sure I’ve shared a picture of an auto before on my blog, but here is another one. My friend and usual auto driver, Ramu, has begun teaching me how to drive his auto. Driving on main thoroughfares at night in an auto is a very exhilarating and equally terrifying experience that I definitely recommend.
Today is a very beautiful day for me. I am feeling like I am emerging from some harder days. Days where I detested India almost entirely, apart from the kids, of course.
Yes, those days, those hard days, the colors are too much. I detest the culture. The food I love sends me into bouts of sickness for days (weeks) on end. I develop inexplicable allergic reactions that leave me feeling like a swarm of bees are living just beneath the surface of my skin. Those days, I am taken to the hospital as my throat is constricting from these allergies and, laughably, I’m told it is an upper respiratory infection. Those days, sexism leaves me feeling degraded and embarrassed. Those days I’m tired. I’m not enough. I’m a brat.
But today, I am reminded how very special my city is.
I talk about it all the time, but what I love most sometimes is the way the air (thick with pollution) catches sunlight and holds it there in a motionless outpouring of dusty gold twinkles. Sometimes this is my favorite part about India: just watching the sun pour into and illuminate the bad things, the pollution, the dirt, what sits heavy in your breathing, and—at the same time, without fail—changing it into something for beauty’s sake. Nothing causes me marvel quite like walking under these strings of sunlight, draping over and tumbling out of the leaves of a tree blooming overhead. Nothing quite like it.
So, in the spirit of the pollution and the sunshine, I want to unpack my gratitude for my life, something I feel I can lose too easily in the routine of everyday. Today, there are a few lovely lifebits* and ramblings I want to share, so let me first focus on an immeasurable blessing in my life: my dear Rachel (legally Rachael) Younce.
*(Lifebit (n): a self-concocted synonym to blessing. You’re welcome, Webster’s dictionary.)
I have been living in India for four months now. Rachel has been part of each single day. Rachel has become my Indian Love Marriage, my rock, the one who I ask to forcefully remind me that it has been too long since I’ve showered.
She is my best friend. She is constant encouragement.
She is the person I ask to sit by me for hours while I crouch over a bucket, feverish, waiting for the vomit to come. She is the person who doesn’t mind sitting next to me while all of this is happening, even as I whine.
Rachel is kindness exemplified.
My list of lifebits continues. (Please excuse this very rough transition.)
I feel gratitude for the jokes I have with my students. Small little laughs that feel like we have ownership over.
With Charlotte: “I. Want. Shmoop.” (Backstory: I dramatically count to three before spinning the preschoolers 180 degrees and plopping them in front of me with a loud “shhmooop!” as we get ready to work on braille.) Though the other preschoolers also enjoy this little pre-braille ritual, Charlotte loves it the most, asks for it the most, and is very expectant of it in nearly all of out interactions. S
Also with Charlotte: Charlotte is a parrot for all the embarrassing tactics I try to use to get her to engage in different materials. The silly voices. The silly sayings. Everything. She is a true and relentless and hilarious comedian.
With Brianna: Once we finish a storybook, there is a very specific way we sing “put the book away.” What’s even better is the way a smile erupts on her face while we sing it.
Also with Brianna: I am in love with the expectant way she flares her nostrils in order to elicit my uncontrolled laughter after I’ve asked her to name three body parts as we play categorization games. (The first body part she will always name is nose, hence the nostril-flaring.)
With Chloe: I will ask, “Class with…?” and she replies either:
(a) “Class with Babu (the Telugu word for boy),” or
(b) “Class with Sarabi (the family cat),” or
(c) ‘Class with papu (which is a food),” or
(d) anything and everything before she will finally say “Class with Lydia.”
Also, with Chloe: She requests the song “In the Jungle” by saying, “I want o-we-mo-wep, o-we-mo-wep.”
With Mae: “I want nose,” she will demand as she squeezes my nose shut so that I’ll talk nasally.
Also with Mae: I will say, “Naku nilu cavali.” (I want water.)
Mae replies, “Cavala?” (You want?)
I say, “Cavali.” (I want.)
Then, Mae squeals, covering her ears, laughing loudly and sweetly. I don't understand why she finds this interaction so funny, but I assume it is because my Telugu is remarkably poor.
Also with Mae: “I want upside down.” “I want stand on one foot.” “I want squeeeeeze the feet.”
With Dinah: Monkey kisses from her blue monkey toy. This is a little turn-taking game with play that is tough to explain. It is so fun, so simple, so sweet.
Also with Dinah: I will spin around her as she turns to use me as a leaning post (the girl is not a fan of standing up unsupported), then she will turn to do it again, and I will spin around her again. Over and over and over.
With Jeanette: The way we run together when I walk her home from school. Jeanette is freedom running.
With Stephanie: “I want high-fives,” as I sloppily splatter hundreds of high-fives on her precious little hands that shake with giggles.
With Victoria: The little whiny conversations we have when she thinks it is cold outside. (Because it is NEVER cold outside.)
All of these are so hard to describe—(1) in their general definition (even I can barely understand the scribblings above), (2) in their funniness (because they are actually really funny, really adorable little jokes), (3) in the weight they carry in my heart (these are so very, very dear and important to me). There are more, so many more funny things, but those are even more difficult to express.
The catalog of incredible lifebits goes on, though in the face of my exhaustion (it is currently 11:15 pm), I seem incapable of describing their brilliance sufficiently for you all, today. Please allow a simple list, with a promise that I will try to elaborate as best I can, succinctly, for now. And if I cannot elaborate now, I will try to in the future.
I have gratitude for my puppy.
I have gratitude for moments of unexpected progress with my students.
I have gratitude for my family. For Mom. For Dad. For Sister. For Brother. These are the best friends of my life. The people that take up the most room in my heart.
I feel gratitude for my parents’ constancy despite my ever-shifting emotions and personality.
I have gratitude for how my parents talk me out of coffee-induced anxiety and hysteria. (I regretfully confess that I can’t handle caffeine the way I once could.)
I feel gratitude for the countless other ways they daily demonstrate their love and support for me.
I feel gratitude for the recent conversation my sister and I had in which we were both using opposite definitions of the word sick. I meant sick in the literal sense. She took it as a synonym for cool, dope, excellent, etc., etc. We exchanged several messages to get on the same page.
I have gratitude for the playlist my brother has created to update me on all good music within a very specific genre (a genre I will label as “enjoyable rap that is created post-1999,” since I find very little rap since the golden 90s bearable. Thank you, Change the Rapper, for changing my mind.)
I have gratitude for the new music I’ve found (or returned to) these past four months. Holy cow, am I grateful. Here I include an incomplete list and a gallery of cover art.
I feel gratitude for the unexpected ways my friends check up on me.
I feel gratitude for the view from my window and how it is always changing in pollution and sunshine.
I feel gratitude for those who have generously supported my fundraising. Fundraising is something that stirs up a whirlwind of worry in me. Their kindness quiets these self-created storms. This kindness points me back to remembrance of the lovely ways God orchestrates all good things for those who work according to His Purpose through His body, His church, His hands and feet, the stewards of His Kingdom.
I have gratitude for The Screwtape Letters.
I feel gratitude for Psalm 18. John 15. 2 Samuel 22. Job 37. Philippians 2. For every time Mary Magdalene is mentioned in the Gospels.
I feel gratitude for sleep.
I have gratitude for prayer.
I have gratitude for the promise of incomplete lists, for time to rest and think. I have gratitude for rest and sleep and time to dream up more items to add to this ever-growing list of all the good in my life. For rest and fresh mornings with always the hope for new eyes. New eyes—awakened and squinting in the incomprehensible bright light of His daily-renewed Mercy—always to look out into this life and recognize the 10,000 reasons to brim with thanksgiving.
Thank you for reading.