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Published: January 10th 2013
It is about six in the morning. I wanted to finish some lesson plans and write this before the day began. I have been quite busy and already feel about bit behind. I expected the school building to be empty for the next half hour (the students start their day at 6:30), but some of the older students are already studying.
I am sitting in the dark to conserve electricity, which is limited. The school is largely powered by solar power; but as that does not fully support all the needs, they are still reliant on the electrical infrastructure, which is extremely expensive and unreliable. I am happy that I have found it so easy to adjust to brushing my teeth, finding clothes, and grading papers by flashlight. The easy with which I can live without constantly flipping the light switch makes me guilty for the amount of energy I use in the States. However, if I weren’t at the school and were living on my own I think I would find lack of electricity much harder. Because the electricity is constantly turning off, it isn’t possible to keep perishable food in the volunteer’s refrigerator.
Last night I was finally hit by jet lag. I think that for the last two days I have been so busy and excited to be here that I didn’t feel tired. I was fighting to stay awake in our volunteer meeting last night, which was embarrassing and frustrating. I so grateful for them—they are a time for volunteers to talk about problems, brainstorm, etc—but I didn’t feel like my brain was up to the conversation. After a night of sleep, I feel better.
The nights gets quite cool. I sleep with just a sheet, but at times think I’d be comfortable with a light blanket. Through my window pours India music (I think the security guards play it after the rest of campus has gone to bed). I hear birds singing and the thwack of palms slapping together in the wind. If it weren’t for these sounds, I might forget I am in India as I drift in that place between wake and sleep. I had prepared myself for everything to be different. Here at the school I have been struck by what we share—a beautiful thought to be struck by. But, I think that I if I get a chance to travel into the nearby villages I will be hit over the head with the differences.
This contrast between the familiar and the new is indicative of India, I think. The place is a contradiction in so many ways. When I arrived at the airport, I was surprised by who western it felt. It looked much like the Paris airport I’d just left. It was not even hot enough to make me fully understand that I had come so far. But as we drove (on the left side of the road). Indian music played over the radio. My driver had a miniature figuring of “Monkey God,” he told me, on his dashboard. We made our way out of Bangalore, onto a winding, two-way highway that passed through towns and villages of varying size. We passed big houses with gates in front, tiny mud huts, stray dogs, shops with brightly painted gates pulled down in front for the night. And lots of shrines. Every village had multiple shrines, some beautiful and elaborate, some small and plan. But all lit. Bright lights, in a place where electricity is so unreliable, shined on the deities. The car ride was stunning and immersive; the two hours zipped by as I tried to take note of everything I saw, all that was familiar and new.
When I arrived at the school, it was pretty much, “Here’s your room. See you in the morning.” At first this surprised me. I felt a bit at sea, fumbling around in my dark room, trying not to wake my roommate. But as there was not electricity at the time and as it was three in the morning, any other conversation or introductions would have been silly.
My room and roommate are both lovely. The room is comfortable and clean. The roommate, a Russian woman about my age named Masha, is warm, fun-loving, and thoughtful. I feel lucky to be in such a nice room with such an nice person.
Oh, my… I just realize that my battery is about to die. I can’t plug it in during the school day as it drains the solar power. So I will have to sign off with many typos presumably as I have not even read over what I am about to post. There is so much more I want to write. So much more that has happened in just two days. I guess I will have to wait until tonight.
P.S. I have yet to see a mosquito.
I am thankful for…
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