Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Eclipse?

These fine fellows didn't miss the eclipse

We had the chance, it slipped from our grasp... to witness an historic event. We slept through the eclipse. I blame our sleepy heads, but I blame you to. You, in the western world, have the news at your fingertips. Radio, iPhones, TV & newspapers (okay, India has these too, but we, the Palm six do not). Yes, I do try to go on the CNN website every day or two, but I must have missed it. Then, yesterday, I woke up, checked my email and saw the email from a friend, “Subject: Did you see it?” See what? Michael Jackson? Once I figured out what “it” was, I checked CNN and saw that India was the start of this serious event. Sorry folks, we had the chance to bring you a first hand account of this historic event, but we let you down. We hang our heads low today.

Last Thursday, I was trying to find Jovie. She’s not hands-and-knees crawling, but more like belly crawling. Our front door does not latch properly. She had pushed open the door and I found her outside, eating dirt - what all 11-month-old children are born to do.

Tonight, Ani lost her second tooth. While we were writing a note to the tooth fairy, she put on the note (it was a long note), “If you are an Indian Tooth Fairy, I hope you can read this...”, and “Please leave the tooth, because my sister lost my first tooth down the drain”, and also, “Could you leave me some Rupees?” Cute.

I am quite proud of my kids and the range of food that they’re eating these days. But the spiciness of food here can deter them. Ani eats Indian (with her hands) at school every day, but she eats it only because she has a “firstborn rule-following thing” and she cannot not follow the clean plate rule at school. Anyway, so as Jovie is diving into all sorts of food, I have been giving her Indian 3-4 times a week, and she takes the spice really well. The other day I pushed the spices too much, though, and she started crying - so sorry Jovie. By the way, if you want Jovie’s favorite Dal (lentils) recipe, let me know, I will send it your way.

Jayson and I have a new crush. His name is Susai. He is the driver for Freedom Firm. Let me say this about the word “driver” - In the States, a driver would be for those who make a substantial amount of money. Here it is different. Susai has a wife and two young kids. He drives the aftercare girls to their appointments and activities, runs errands for the office, fixes everything... This whole description of Susai lead me to something that I have been thinking a lot about this week - well, really since we have been here. Susai lives in a 12 x 12 tin house and makes 1/8th of what Jayson makes. (Susai is paid a very fair wage compared to the average driver.) Susai’s willingness to help us out is incredible and he is like a father to the two young children whose mom’s are new to the aftercare program. I am face to face with a very real tension of how many resources (money, housing, food, clothing, etc.) our family uses compares to his. I am not always sure what to do with this. Every country in the world has poverty, but in this season of our life we just interact with it way more. In the States, Ani wondered why we only had one car and other people had two... Now, Ani wonders why we actually have a car and most people do not. In the midst of struggling with this tension, I am also trying to help Ani navigate this as well. If you have thoughts about this tension, I’d welcome your insight.

Next week, I am going to talk a bunch about how my time with Freedom Firm's aftercare has been. I will have lots of fun pictures. But for now, I want to leave you with some photos that I took today, outside... believe it or not, we saw the sun for the first time in a month. I must say that our summer has not been has painful as I thought it would be. The kids have been lost in their imagination - which I am truly grateful for.

A typical day, when the sun is shining


Jada said...

Glad you got some sun. :)

andrew j. ulasich said...

Hey Palms,

the tension you describe of what you have compared to your neighbors was a constant struggle for me in Nepal. I had so much compared to my friends who live in a slum, or even the people who live in the same building. The hardest thing, though, was the disparity in pay between me and my Nepali coworkers in WMF.

The tricky thing is, we value simplicity in WMF, and I was moving down in the economic ladder (compared to where I came from in the US). But for the Nepalis to be payed as much as me would create a disparity between them and their Nepali friends and neighbors. In fact, it already has, and they still make a fraction of what I was making, and most of them were doing more work.

So, what is equality there? How do you level out the disparity? It makes you question what you need - a smoothy or mocha from the tourist part of town? Should I even travel home at Christmas when my coworkers have never left Nepal? There have to be compromises made, acknowledgment of sacrifices on both sides, and open, honest communication between the various parties (or individuals). And steps need to be taken to lessen that disparity, even if it remains in some ways.

The truth is the people with the money have the power. But when Americans with money are working with Indians or Nepalis in India or Nepal, there needs to be, I think, a constant movement towards equality in leadership, influence and power. In many ways, it even requires submission to the Indian people.

At the same time, St. Ignatius taught us to be indifferent people. Not in the way that means we don't care, but to be focused on following the leading of the Holy Spirit. That way you can have money, or not, and still trust God. It's a holy indifference.

I certainly didn't figure it out by the time I left. And I still struggle with it. I think if you're wrestling with it, you're probably in a good place.

A last note, I remember thinking: it's fairly easy to live simply as a single guy, to "rough it," sleep in the slum, eat scary food that probably has parasites. But, it's a lot harder to do that with a family.

Props to you all for struggling with it and trying to find a good way to live. I'll be praying as you continue to wrestle. peace.

andrew j. ulasich said...

yikes. sorry that should have been my own blog post. not a comment :).

H said...

Mila ate lentils today too! Just plain with plain yogurt though, maybe she needs some spice in her scandanavian lifestyle.

Aaron said...

ha ha that first picture is freakin hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Hi Palm Family,
OK, Tarrah if you ever have another contest, I want a pair of those glasses the guys in the first picture were wearing. They're cool! (The glasses and the guys!)
I'm glad you found Jovie. Grandma would never forgive you if you lost her.
I can't relate to what you are feeling about the tension but remember this, you are there helping people and what you have was given because you need the strength.
Aunt Sue

Kara said...

please send the Dal recipe. I'd love to spice up our life a little here! :) LOVE the pic of Sydney!!! Too cute. Hard to believe Jovie is almost 1. Lilly just started crawling - it is a three-legged thing. For some reason, she avoids one knee. Hmm...
Love you guys! Thinking about the tension thing. You leave me wondering.

Natalie Beckwith said...

I have a theory about Jovie and her dirt-eating: this is how she is able to handle the spicy Indian cuisine. The dirt acts like a spice-blocker, and she is left to enjoy the flavors without the pain. The time she cried, she had run out of magic Indian dirt coating on her little tongue. Try it tonight. Make something super-spicy, give her some dirt and see if she's able to eat it--the spicy food--happily and without crying. Sometimes I wonder if I should be the mother of 3 (we had our little boy last Friday: Titus Peter. I assume that's not on

Anonymous said...

i love every word you write,tarrah and your grammar is just fine! i especially love your titles. keep them coming. glenda (home from chicago - the girls new apartment is great - check out pictures on facebook.)