Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July, Kolkata Style

Two days ago I learned about Jainism, a religion 90% Buddhist, 10% Hindu, based on three concepts: sacrifice, truth, and non-violence. I learned this because I was talking with a guy name Rishabh, whom I asked to hold my chicken egg roll while I grabbed my water bottle.When I took my roll back, he said that was probably the first time he had touched meat.I was perplexed. He explained that in Jainism, non-violence is realllly non-violent, meaning you cannot eat (or touch, I suppose) anything that has been killed, or anything like eggs that is considered to have life in it.

Ahad was super intense on his lessons learning English.  He went over and over the first five letters he’s learned.  I love that he’s trying so hard and really making progress.

 But we also had some fun ;)

Yesterday on Fourth of July, Teresa and I went to meet Rishabh at Mother House so we could go and get fireworks for our American holiday.  Before Rishabh arrived, Sister Mercy Maria came hustling by with a group of volunteers in tow.  Obviously in a hurry, she asked us, “Can you help with orientation today? My usual English speaker is sick!”  I called Rishabh to tell him to meet us at Shishu Bhavan, where we would be doing orientation. We got to orientation and there were about 200 volunteers waiting to be placed in a volunteer home. Rishabh arrived, but we were so busy giving instructions, answering questions, helping file paperwork, that we couldn’t leave to get fireworks.  I told Rishabh I was willing to spend 1000 Rupees and asked if he could go buy the fireworks. He agreed and left.

We finished orientation three hours after it began and headed back to the guest house to grab something to eat before I had to meet Rishabh.  We met up again at around 7pm and waited until Adoration (Catholic prayer hour) was over and all the tourists came out of Mother House.  As always when dealing with groups, there is massive indecision.  Some people wanted to go eat, others wanted to go party, some just wanted to sleep, and yet others, like myself, wanted to light some fireworks. After 20 minutes, everyone dispersed and the group I was with decided we would walk to Sudder Street, grab some food at Blue Sky Cafe, then do fireworks.

We walked to Sudder Street, and Rishabh and Nikhil had to leave for a bit for a birthday party. Myself and three other girls had a light dinner of curds and lassi, more of a snack really, and they all decided they were going their separate ways.  I was now on my own to figure out who to light fireworks with.  My plan was not going so well.

I walked to Ahad’s store where he had just closed up.  He waited with me for Rishabh and Nikhil, but they were taking a while to get back. Ahad started to get mad, telling me he was willing to wait with me because I was by myself, but that he didn’t want to hang out with those guys.  I told him I didn’t want to hang out with those guys by myself because I didn’t really know them. I had planned to be with a group of Americans by this point, but the best laid plans… He kept emphasizing how much I trust people too much.  He said “bye” agitated-like, and walked away.  I knew some of my roommates were at the Spanish Café right next to me, so I walked over there and let out my frustrations of how much tonight was really starting to be a bummer and I spent all this money on fireworks that no one was willing to light with me.  They were being completely goofy and hilarious and cheered me up right away saying they were willing to light fireworks with me. 

Ahad then called me asking where I was now.  I told him I was at Spanish Café with some friends.  He told me he was coming back.

When he arrive just a few minutes later he told me had seen some “bad” guys on the street and didn’t trust them.  Essentially he came back because he was worried about me and wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting into any trouble. “Stay with the group,” he told me, pointing to the ladies at the table.

A few minutes later, Rishabh and Nikhil showed up and we told them we’d be lighting fireworks but were going to sit for a bit.  They said they had to get going since it was getting late.   

We then headed to a park where I had heard some booms coming from earlier, figuring there were others lighting fireworks there.  We entered the park and were greeted enthusiastically by a mob of teenage boys who, once they found out I had fireworks, crowded around until I began passing them out. They took turns lighting them, showing off to the other boys and the foreign girls. 

We went through all my big fireworks then headed back to BMS (the guest house) to light the sparklers with the other roommates who had not joined us. However, for some reason, the sparklers wouldn’t light, so we ended up just taking goofy pictures with unlit sticks.

I ended up spending American Independence Day with a Spaniard, an Italian, a Canadian, an American, and several Indian boys in Kolkata. How awesome.

However, I am getting the feeling more and more that I should not be so trustworthy.  It’s so difficult when I don’t have anyone to travel with, I’m not meeting any local women, and the men that work at the touristy shops are the ones who are easiest to talk to because they are used to talking to tourists in their shops.

This morning (the morning of the 5th) I prayed that God would bring me some female friends.  Just a few minutes ago on Facebook, my friend Jessica (whom I met at church a few weeks ago) messaged me and asked if I would like to hang out with her girlfriend from Kolkata, currently on holiday from her job in Dubai. Thank you Lord for answered prayer.

“God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” – 1 Thessalonians 5: 24

Thank you for your continued prayers, friends.  They sustain me and remind me that God has a plan for me in Kolkata; I just have to pay attention and listen, drawing closer to Him through everything.  

Prayer requests for myself: Please pray for wisdom and discernment, for local girlfriends, for guidance.

Prayer requests for others: Pray for Ahad, that he continues with the same fervor in his English lessons and that God would speak to him, give him visions of His love. For BMS (my guest house) that they would continue to provide a refuge for missionaries and travelers, a safe beautiful place to rest. For the Missionaries of Charity, that God would provide for every need and draw the sisters and brothers closer to Him through everything. 

1 comment:

  1. Trust your friend, Ahad. He knows his people and can help you in that area to keep you aware of where you are and who you are working with. It's a whole other culture and it will take some time to adjust....believe me, it's been over 2 years and I'm still adjusting :) Love you Roo and praying for you.