So, I had this dream last week. I was dreaming that I was driving our new van/car/can with so much authority and grace that it dazzled even the locals. Now, let me remind you that the last time I drove a stick shift was in high school in a parking lot, and at that time I failed miserably. So, the thought of driving a stick, in India, with everything opposite, including the side of the road I’m driving on, and the only child of mine that is in a car seat is Jovie, gives me a good case of the hives. Needless to say, yesterday morning when Jayson took me out for driving lessons, I was not excited. But I got behind the wheel of the van/car/can and had a flashback to the dream of mine, and I was off like the Indy 500. The only moment that I got a bit nervous is when Jayson told me to practice starting uphill. The moment I started pulling over to practice, this monkey came swinging out in front of us and I nearly wet myself. I really don’t want to get into my feelings toward monkeys in this particular post, but...let’s just say I didn’t invite him in to join us.
We had a fabulous weekend at our first Freedom Firm retreat. The retreat really was Jayson’s first project that he has been in charge of, and let me say this, I was so proud of him. Everyone really had great words for him in regards to making it a restful, meaningful and community-building retreat. Those words are a beautiful gift. The kids (12 total, including ours) basically spent most of their time playing star wars, swinging on a tire swing and playing in a huge pile of sand. Their were two particular memorable events at the retreat. One was Freedom Firm’s first ever graduation service - for two of the girls in the aftercare program. These girls will now live in the YMCA for a while, with the FF staff helping them figure out life on their own. The rehabilitation that FF devotes so much time, energy and love into is really beautiful.
The other event that meant a lot to me personally was a long chat with some of the Indian social workers. I have many, many questions about India, so I dove in with questions about why they think the population is so high, why the caste system is so engrained, why there are so many languages and then smaller questions about produce and places our family must see during our time here. I truly enjoyed that conversation around the bonfire - and now have a million more questions. Oh, and by the way, the entire time that I was having such deep, meaningful and stimulating conversations, I had a huge glob of marshmallow in my hair... I have such dignity. (P.S. Marshmallows are such a disappointment here - the only similarity they have to those in the States is that they are white and round.)
Okay, here is a funny thing about wall paint here... it’s water-based. So whenever you get a ding on the wall that you need to wipe off, you wipe off the paint too. Isn’t that ridiculous? I have no idea what our walls are going to look like after any sort of time here, because after just 6 weeks being here I have wiped off our walls peanut butter, chocolate, mud, spaghetti sauce and pencil... what in the world.
Yesterday, I was invited over for tea by one of my fellow jazzercise junkies. We were walking home together and she invited me up and I was thrilled. We talked about everything from cooking to her arranged marriage to what caste she is in and where in India she is from. She said I will go far here because I ask so many questions.... who me? She also said that she will teach me how to cook Indian, saying “her people” are known for fish and their use of coconut...mmm.
I need your help on something... I’ve been asked to facilitate a sort of weight loss class here in Ooty. They have nothing like it here (in a town of 200,000) and there has been an expressed need. I also think that it would allow me to get to know more of the locals and just be a part of the larger community. So, here I go - But I need a name for it. This is where you come in. I will accept any and all ideas and will decide by the next blog entry what name is the big winner - because I start a week from this Friday! (A little motivator for you all, the winner will receive a can, no wait, an envelope, of cooked beans from my best friend “the pressure cooker.”)
I will leave you with this... water-based wall paint - why?