Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Could Love This City

As I settled into the cab's backseat, wind rushing across my face as the driver exceeded the speed limit, watching the brightly lit shops and even brighter shoppers still bustling about long after the sun has gone down, a thought ran through my head so quickly I hardly recognized it:

I could love this city...

But the thought had an asterisk, a condition. I could love this city...if... I spoke the language, or understood the culture, or had someone to share it with. I don't know what the condition was, only that it existed.

A prayer two days ago: Jesus! Save me from myself, my own destructive nature, the parts of me that buy the lie of consumerism and elitism, thinking I am so much more than what I am. 

The days are so full lately. 

I spend my mornings at Shanti Dan, painting nails, helping feed the girls during lunch, changing diapers, washing clothes, making Christmas decorations, doing the Macarena, helping girls memorize their lines for the Christmas play. 

I spend my afternoons either at registration helping the new volunteers get orientated, or running errands for the Sisters, or, if I'm lucky, sitting in bed reading my bible.

I spend my evenings at Holy Hour, praying, then dinner, then washing clothes, shower, and bed. 

That is every day except Thursday because Thursday is our day off, unless Sister Beatina sends me around town all day running errands for the Christmas play, as happened this previous Thursday. 

Last Thursday I got up as usual at 6:30, ate breakfast at 7ish, then waited for Ahad to show up for English lessons. He was supposed to be there at 8, but didn't show up until 8:45. I took the extra time and wrote in my journal and meditated. It was nice to have some quiet time in the morning. 

Ahad strolled up still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. We reviewed the letters of the alphabet, as usual, then went over his most recent sentence, "The cat sat on the mat," while playing with a colorful caterpillar that had wandered over; I'm pretty sure it was the same one that had shown up for the previous day's English lesson. 

He left around 10, discouraged by how much he didn't remember, despite my encouragement.  My friend Elena and I then left for Shanti Dan to pick up the Christmas cds we would be taking to a media production guy named Sunil who would put all the songs and our narration onto one cd. We left for Shanti Dan at 10, got their at about 11, then came back on the most annoying bus ride I've had in Kolkata. I held onto the bar above my head as more and more people shoved their way onto the minibus, forcing me into an awkward position between two men's armpits. I bent my head at a strange angle to avoid being elbowed in the face as the bus lurked forward and back, I held my feet as firm as possible, tightening all my muscles, and gripped the bar above my head until my knuckles were white. Sweat poured from every part of my body, but it was impossible to wipe away with one hand holding a bag of cds and the other hanging onto the bar above me for dear life. The sweat dripped into my eyes, down my neck, my back and finally out the bottom of my pants. 

Our stop approached and we jumped off as the bus continued moving, as you sometimes have to do if you want to get off a certain point. 

We walked the 10 minutes back to our house, changed, showered, ate a quick lunch, then grabbed our two friends and headed out to New Market to find Sunil's office. The auto rickshaws were crowded beyond capacity, the taxis were full, and the buses weren't going our way, so we walked the 25 minutes to New Market only to discover we had walked to the wrong theater. I was told to the Hindi Cinema to find this guy, but apparently he said Hind theater which was another 15 minutes walk. So we walked. 

We finally found his place, about an hour late, came inside, and were offered chai before we began recording our voices for the Christmas play. It was quite the process, recording, editing, keeping ourselves awake...

We ended the evening at 7:30pm, catching a taxi and hoping we would make it back to our guest house before they stopped serving dinner at 8pm. We had signed up for dinner and they make you pay, regardless of whether or not you actually eat the food they prepare, so we were anxious not to have wasted 90 rupees (almost $2) on a dinner we wouldn't get to eat. 

We made it back with only a minute to spare. The cooks gave me a big smile as I rushed into the dining area.  I filled my plate and Santodo, one of the cooks, began picking the cucumbers from the vegetable plate and loading them onto my plate. He's gotten to know me so well that he knows I always just pick out the cucumbers.

Then last night we had a volunteer's night at Nirmal Hriday, Kalighat, Mother's home for the destitute and dying. Here are a few photos from that beautiful night.

I will be absent from the internet for a week-ish because I am heading to Shantinaghar, a leprosy center, tomorrow morning to help the Sisters. A few of my friends and I will be spending the week with the Sisters, living with them, eating with them, praying with them, serving with them.

Thank you for your prayers. 

1 comment:

  1. Tarrin,
    God bless you sweetheart. Thanks for the great blog. Please take care.
    Love you,
    Papa and Grandma