My Life In India
My, what a long post you have.
Hello, I have collected little scraps of thoughts and reflections on this Christmas season in India and have poorly packaged them in this post. I’ve done my best to compile them into a confusing, tangled-spaghetti stream of consciousness, though it still is incomplete and wildly disorganized. I considered scrapping these fragments and creating a new post entirely, but these are little ramblings that I’d like to hold onto for my own sake, my own memories. So, in attempt to make these little nuggets from the past few weeks a bit more presentable, I’ve included the dates from which they are written (or the date about which they are written). Enjoy trying to decipher.
Monday. December 19th.
Good morning! (I say good morning because I have begun this fragment in the morning. Since I suspect it will take me ages to write, I will give you a good afternoon and good evening as well.)
Today, I have taken the morning off in order to rest and recuperate from a very terrible yesterday. Yesterday, I woke up at 7:00 am and spent the rest of the day puking, nauseated and feverish, while ugly-crying my little heart away. (Yes, yesterday was terrible and I am a baby and all types and brands and versions of wimpy, because it wasn’t nearly as horrible as the sickness that I just witnessed my dear friend Brittany experience a few weeks ago. A sickness which she took on like a warrior, by the way.)
Again I say, yesterday was terrible and no fun.
It got worse, however, when my roommate, Delage, started getting sick in the afternoon. (Sorry, Deli!!) Though I am feeling better (still not 100%), I decided to take the morning off. Rest. Load up on Germ-Ex in order to (hopefully) prevent further contraction of whatever illness this is.
In the midst of my sickness, self-pity, and some very seriously ugly ugly-crying (I’m not proud, friends), I have been blessed with true kindness and patience and love by those around me. My roommates, my friends Priya and Prema (SCH nurse/angel and SCH office magic-worker, respectively), and the foster mamas who wished me well even though this is not the first time I’ve missed work due to illness.
I can’t express how very grateful I am for the abundant love extended to me while I was curled up on the floor, cuddling my puke-bucket, acting like a very intolerable whiner.
(See, I told you, good evening.)
This afternoon, I was able to make it to my sessions with Chloe, Charlotte, Brianna, Cedar, Jasmine, and Dinah. It is so funny how completely and totally the happiness of seeing those kiddos contrasts the frustrations of yesterday. The phrase is as true as it is cliché (and I do apologize for the use of such a cliché): it felt like a night and day difference. I may not have felt 100% past my sickness this afternoon, but I felt very, very aware of (and very, very, sincerely grateful for the awareness of) the magnitude of the joy they bring me.
To sum it up: The kids rock, sickness doesn’t. And, very simply, the brilliance of these kids immeasurably outweighs whatever rain-gutter experience I was feeling yesterday.
The day continued, and in preparation for the volunteer and foster-parent Christmas party that is happening on the night of the 20th, I have spent the evening cooking and wrapping up my White Elephant gift in scraps of old Amazon boxes and construction paper. Cooking again was a bit of a challenge: though the water was running this time while cooking my delicious banana concoction, the electricity was not as cooperative. The power has gone out a few times tonight, but in the spirit of Christmas, the current turned on long enough for me to finish making the dessert.
So, all in all, a rather rough weekend is turning into a very merry and bright time of anticipation, even for me—a self-diagnosed Grinch, Scrooge, and any fictional or non-fictional embodiment of those two ant-festivities characters. (Christmas just isn’t my holiday, y’all, but I surely, surely, surely do love Jesus.)
Tuesday. December 20th.
Today was Christmas Party day.
Too much was great about this day, but I will quickly focus on the last several hours of the day.
A list of the good things:
Food. T A C O S O U P. Just like my dear momma makes this time of year.
Fellowship. It never gets old. It never gets old being around these incredible people. Sweet and silly and cool and inspiring and all so different. My fellow volunteer babies, the fosters I look up to; those I work with closely, those I admire from afar. The kingdom of God is a miraculous thing, and it is quite brilliant when I’m able to feel the miracle of Christ dwelling between us, tethering us to His grand story, to each other.
I would be lost without communion with these saints.
The gift exchange, white elephant, dirty Santa, whatever you call it. I was able to get my hands on a set of foot cream. It is hard to describe how necessary this is, how perfect this gift is. Feet just get a little gross over here. I don’t think it’s necessary to elaborate, though I definitely could…also, sorry, I’m gross and am always talking about vomiting, not showering, and the current state of my feet. I could try and paint it as honesty, but really I have the humor of a 12-year-old boy and these are the topics of conversation that I gravitate towards.
Catch phrase. Total domination in competition. The true embarrassment at how my skills in this game have degraded so, so very much.
Late nights, walking home, feeling full of all things wonderful (but mostly food).
Dear, dear Hannah who has gone back home after six months of serving here, serving me and the fellow volunteers. I wouldn’t know how to cross the street in India without Hannah. I wouldn’t know any Telugu without Hannah. I would’ve never tried Pani Puri (the best street food, my humble opinion) without Hannah.
Wednesday. December 21st.
Tonight we picked up a few of our sari blouses from the tailor. I am so thankful for Priya and Prema who, not only endured the experience of taking me (the most indecisive human being in existence) shopping, but also taking me to get my blouse made, all while reassuring me that I won’t look like a total dingus at the Christmas performance tomorrow night.
Thursday. December 22nd.
Today rocked and began like most days: time with Mae and then preschool. In class we only had four preschoolers between Nikki and myself, since Ramana (another teacher) worked one-on-one with baby Eden. In preschool today we played train in order to work on concepts of left and right. Precious. The girls latched on to each other and spent the entire time giggling between sweet chugga-chugga’s and choo-choo’s.
After preschool finished, I had the honor (AND IT REALLY IS AN HONOR) of walking Eden home to Anchor home. This a note to myself that I need to write a post about her. It is impossible not to fall in love with this babe. In this season of life, I am trying to be more cognizant of the infinite beauty God paints into the passing moments of our lives. Example: nothing beats watching Eden lean her head back, smiling in response to the sunshine falling over her face through the shadows of the leaves overhead.
I had the afternoon off. I ate lunch: Po-ta-toes. Mash’em, boil’em, stick’em in a stew. (Yes, I find it is always appropriate to quote Lord of the Rings.) Rachel and Delage and I walked to the tailor again to pick up their outfits for the Christmas celebration tonight.
I napped between our walk and getting into my sari.
Brief explanation of a sari from someone who has only experienced it once in life…aka me, a sari expert. You wear three pieces when you wear a sari. (1) Petticoat: a skirt thingy (see, expert). (2) A blouse: fabric, which is stitched to fit the individual very, very snuggly. (3) The sari itself: yards of fabric that has to be spun around like a beautiful cocoon in attempts to make you look like a butterfly (even though I am just a stinky little caterpillar who rarely showers and trips every few steps in this ensemble.)
My top two favorite moments of wearing a sari were:
(1) I was told that I look Indian. That is the best compliment, ever.
(2) Delage and I walked to the Christmas performance together. We passed two young boys on the street who gawked at her sheer beauty and elegance. “You are so beautiful,” one of the kids said to her. A pause and a half later, his friend said “uh, you, too,” to me. I will take all the pity compliments I can get.
Truly, saris are a feat. I felt very tough, carrying children up and down three flights of stairs in my sari, until it almost came undone. After that experience, I appreciate what the caregivers do everyday wearing saris so, so much more.
Now the best of the best of the day!! SCH’s annual Christmas Celebration. It was spectacular! It was heartwarming and sweet and beautiful to catch a glimpse of the talent and brilliance of some of the kiddos from each home tonight. Courage Purple stole the show, in my very unbiased opinion. I mean, how can anyone expect to outshine Mae, Chloe, and Charlotte singing O Holy Night (or, according to Mae, O Holy, Holy Night)?
People talk about Christmas being a magical time of year, producing feelings of joy and excitement that are difficult to express. I am not those Christmas-loving people, but tonight I am. I am proud of these students. I am maxed out with the fuzzies, feeling extreme gratitude to watch these kiddos. It felt like Christmas.
Friday. December 23rd.
We watched the Grinch for preschool today, the version with Jim Carrey, obviously.
I was able to skype with Melanie and Lydia Kline. I learned that 2:00 to 4:00 am is the time of night when the cats start doing very weird things up on the roof. I was reminded how much I miss these friends. Can’t explain how much.
Saturday. December 24th.
We were blessed to have the day off entirely! I slept in and, after some time, I forced my roommate Rachel to come with me to Heart Cup Coffee for a delicious beverage and nachos.
Nachos were fantastic, though, sadly, I couldn’t finish them the way I once was able to. In the face of this defeat, I am resolved, now more than ever, to conquer the mountainous serving once more. I will return to Heart Cup soon, I will rise to the challenge and emerge victorious.
After returning home, completing some chores, it was time for Rachel, Delage and I to head over to Courage Purple. We headed to a Christmas Eve service with the foster moms, their twelve kiddos, four ayahs, one teacher, and one Kumar (the son of one of the ayahs). The service was not what I was expecting or hoping for. The children looked incredibly cute and so very Christmas. And the adventure of squeezing 24 people (including the driver) into one car was hilarious.
We got back home late, late. I wrapped some presents and went to bed.
Processing that it was, indeed, the Eve of Christmas did not take place.
Sunday. December 25th.
I would like to take a moment and apologize for the slop that my writing has become. I apologize for the next tid bit and the laziness clearly expressed through my bad writing.
(1) Skyped with family while opening the presents they sent me (too, too sweet).
(2) Walked downstairs to see what was for breakfast…decided to make a grilled cheese instead.
(3) Hung out with my roommates.
(4) Ordered and consumed a very, very large amount of pizza.
(6) Practiced my henna designs. I am still no good.
(7) Walked with Delage to the sweets shop. Walked home. Gave Priya, Prema and the security guard sweets.
(8) Skyped my family on their Christmas morning.
(9) Fell asleep in front of our makeshift Christmas tree.
Monday. December 26th.
A very good and beautiful and hard day.
The hard part--being away from my brother and best friend on his birthday.
The beautiful part: walking through Golconda Fort. Too beautiful and fun for words, so here are pictures.
I will conclude this post, now, since it is so much longer than it should be. As always, prayers are appreciated. These incredible days are worthy of an outpouring of thanksgiving. I hope your holiday season has been just as sweet and complete and filled with the best things imaginable as mine has.
I ask that someone, anyone do me a favor: please watch every Christmas episode of The Office for me since I cannot.
As always, I offer an apology for a very untidy post and a very untidy ending.
Much, much, much love, friends. I miss and love you dearly.