Friday, July 29, 2011

Socrates (day 5)

"True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us."

All of the younger kids were laying down on their bamboo mats ready to go to sleep. "Goodnight!" I said as I turned off the lights. "Goodnight Auntie!" They echoed back. I turned to walk out of the room and I felt a tug on the back of my Salwar, as I turned to see who was tugging on my shirt I looked behind me to find a little boy who's big brown eyes grabbed mine. "Auntie..." he said timidly. "Yea?" I crouched down to get to his level and his hands grasped the back of my neck and he brought his face closer to mine. "You coming back tomorrow?" he whispered in choppy english. His giant brown eyes were embarrassed and sad as he glanced at the floor, "Yes, Im coming back tomorrow," was all it took for him to throw a huge smile on his face and wrap his arms around my neck. Ten seconds. Thats all it took for my life to change.

Every day, all day long, I am changing. The ways I think, the ways that I act, the ways I react. When I had originally planned this 5 month travel, things were simply a plan. India, Indonesia, Thailand. I never even contemplated how much my life would change. In less than a week I am a completely new person and I am eternally grateful for everything that has happened to me. My heart is heavy for the people of India and my love for them is unmeasurable. I am excited every morning when I wake up to see what is in store for me that day! 
The past couple of days have been incredible. Two days ago my group went to the hospital in Chennai with four of the leprosy afflicted patients who had an appointment to go for a checkup. I was assigned a lady named Roni, who spoke not a lick of english. The language barrier is probably the most frustrating thing about being here. I want so badly to communicate with everyone and sometimes, charades just does not cut it! There was one point at the hospital where Roni came storming out into the waiting area yelling at me. Of course I didn't understand a word she said. Until the last word she screamed at me, "Bill!" I was frozen. I was caught off guard and then broke into sheer panic realizing that I had to find the bill that I had given to Kim earlier that Roni needed to have in order to get her test results. I started to scramble around this ginormous hospital searching for Kim and found her on the second level. If I didn't stick out before, I did then. I was the only white person RUNNING around this hospital and the Indian people are not shy to stare. They are so blunt and thats also what I love about them! 
Yesterday was tutoring. Although going back to elementary school math, long division to be exact, is harder for me than it was for the kids I was tutoring, it made me so happy when you tell that little boy or girl that you are helping that they did it right and that they are so smart and have them be so proud of themselves. I am learning how smart these kids really are and even though many of their attention spans are limiting, it is so rewarding to watch someone grow right in front of your eyes. 
Today at construction, there were four of us again. It was so fun how upbeat everyone was. We were doing things that usually a group of ten or eleven would do. While we are building these bathrooms in these colonies there have to be septic tanks, made with huge rings that are lowered into the ground, one by one. Six or seven rings, then a slab on top. We moved seven rings today and about 10 slabs. It is an art, thats for sure. At one point Kim was on the ground pushing the slab with her feet to get it perfectly even on the top ring, and one of the locals didn't think it was perfect yet and he stepped right in front of her and sure enough, bent right on over! HIs butt was right in her face and we all got a good kick out of that because as he kept trying to push his butt went directly up and down in front of her. Super funny moment today.

And during free time I played soccer which made my day even better! It was fun to play again here. We play barefoot on this really bumpy field, generally with no rules. Usually four or five of us volunteers play and ten or so kids from school join. We have to be in our chudidars around the kids, so soccer today was played in long cotton pants and a long shirt. After and hour of that, its takes some serious time to stop sweating! I took some pretty rough falls, baseball slide type falls, so great!  family time tonight was so much more personal.

 I sat and talked with our house mother on the floor for over an hour. When I say talk.. I mean listen to her talk the whole time. I don't think she has many people to talk to so I just let her go on and on. Its fun to hear that people all over the world have some of the same problems that we do. The kids were easy tonight and its obvious they are warming up to us. When we were walking home it starting to rain really hard. Warm, heavy rain. It was so nice just to stop and enjoy being in India for a second. It was a great way to end today, especially because tomorrow gets even better. We go to the beach! and.. Shopping!!
Random lessons learned: 
*Make sure the string to your pants is tied before moving in front of large groups (may result in pants falling down to ankles while telling a story)
*Try to avoid a local burping in your face, its nasty!
*Don't ask whats in the food... just don't.


  1. Hil... you sound amazing and I love every comment and hearing about every experience you are having. All the months of preparation have made it all worth it. Your writing is amazing¡ You write in such descriptive detail that I can almost visualize each moment. I love you, miss you, but wouldn't wish for anything for you but what you are doing now! XOXO MOM

  2. Great post. Very touching. It reminds me of my mission days in Mexico. You will never be the same now as you were before you left.

    Trek Ma & Pa Haertel