Namaste! Apologies for the long delay, readers! I spent two weeks off the grid (one in Tamil Nadu for midpoint retreat, and one in SPAIN with some Ritters and a Lupu). I also spent one week dealing with some bodily invaders. That’s right, it is very likely that for almost my entire time in India (or definitely since January), I have a nice little friend with a sucker attached to my intestinal wall. The next month will probably be dedicated to getting rid of him (I’ve named him Qaddafi. He refuses to leave. Not to belittle what’s going on in Libya. I’m with you, freedom fighters.), so I apologize if my posts are not as exciting as they normally are.
Anyway, I feel like I dedicate an absurd amount of time to my bodily functions. For anyone reading this who was at one point attracted to me… well I guess I ruined that for myself, didn’t I? I guess I’ll start with Tamil Nadu. For one week, all of the fellows gathered in South India for a week of reenergizing, reevaluating, and relaxing during our midpoint retreat. That’s right, I am officially more than halfway done with India! It wasn’t all fun and games, though. As a Midpoint Planning Committee member, I was partly responsible for planning sessions that covered a range of topics, from evaluating impact and dealing with power and privilege to Seth’s aptly named “Fuck India,” a venting session, and Shabbat services. However, in between sessions we took a dip in the pool or the ocean. We stayed in a little cottage that unfortunately smelled like feces, and they purchased box springs without mattresses, but those were important reminders that we were still in India.
Learning kuchipudi, a kind of Indian dance
playing in the water
Chavruta studies with my chavrutim
Watermelon. Necessary cooling technique.
In front of Krishna's butter ball.
My new goat friend.
Midpoint also brought one of my favorite moments in India thus far. South India is totally chill, and we felt surprisingly comfortable at the hotel, wearing bathing suits while Indian women swam in full street clothes. Then one day a company had an outing at our hotel, and the men who got a little drunk got a little too close while we were relaxing on the beach. After a very relaxing week, it was just one of those instances that kind of kills moods, and progress, and I tried to keep my cool, but it’s hard when a man in a Speedo stands over you and attempts to have a conversation, when really you just want to focus on Joseph Campbell. We got them to leave but were still seething a bit, sitting there with towels draped over girly parts, when a Tamil woman who collects garbage along the beach came to say hello. Well she didn’t really say hello, because she doesn’t speak any English, and none of us speak Tamil, so we had an entire conversation in sign language. She pointed at her earrings, nose ring, necklace, and ankle bracelet, and then at me, completely without jewelry. Then two of her friends came over, and they all just sat next to us on the beach, and we stared at each other. They pointed at Katie’s nose ring and started laughing, and then one of them ran to the water and started digging a hole. We thought she was going to go to the bathroom, but she runs back up to the beach with a handful of tiny clams. She kept pointing to her mouth, and I was like, we eat these? So then they grabbed us and brought us down to the water and taught us how to dig for clams, which was super easy, since they were about 5 inches under the sand. We brought them to the kitchen to steam them, and unfortunately they tasted pretty bad, but it was one of the best silent conversations I’ve ever had.
Digging for clams!
Ava and our new friends.
My new creature friends.
Fisherman in Mahaballapuram.
The famous shore temple.
I came back from midpoint totally invigorated and ready to attack my work projects, and survive the Indian summer, which officially started when we stepped off the plane at it was 95 degrees. Apparently when I was in Spain it went up to 108, but now it’s back down to about 93. Not bad. I’m not putting jeans on again, though, because the humidity just creates some uncomfortable situations, but I will save the real complaining for May. Now that I’m back from Spain, though, that energy has dissipated a bit. I’m stuck here wondering why I was so convinced I wanted to be in a place like Indian, instead of Europe, where the food is delicious, and safe, and it smells nice, and the wine and squid are free flowing. But I’m here, and I made a commitment to stay, and I’m sure in the next few weeks I’ll rediscover what made me happy here in the first place. I think it’ll be easy, since this seems to be the homestretch. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be at the point where I want to do everything over again and cross off my bucket list, because I’ll be leaving. Our fellowship ends July 20, less than four months! I’m thinking that by the time May rolls around, I’ll covet every train ride, savor every masala dosa and dance outside in the monsoon, just to connect a bit more. That’s about all for now. I must gather all of my medical documents to meet with my colon guru tomorrow. Also, congrats to India for beating Australia in the Cricket World Cup! I know none of you follow, but this is an historic day for my adopted country.