Wednesday, July 30, 2003

A Letter from India - July 30, 2003

July 30, 2003

Dear Friends and Family,

As the passenger on the motorcycle I had to close my eyes to the raindrops falling in them. After only a week of monsoon experience (and the end of the monsoon at that) I've come to identify the season not with rain but with intense humidity. The kind of humidity that enters the lungs with every breath persuading the breather that the next inhale may not need to be so deep.

The horn in Dehli is a traffic courtesy, used more than turn signals and certainly more than eye contact between drivers. Verma drove the motorcycle, I clung as the passenger, as we swerved among Delhi's notoriously chaotic traffic. Verma has heard my constant request to use the internet. I've had almost no time on-line since arriving in India. Each of you who have so wonderfully written me with thoughts, prayers and well wishes, thank you so much. I look forward to being able to reply one by one. Soon I hope to get internet access with the laptop I brought from the States. (Thanks, Devin).

Suzette Paterson, a former Rotary Scholar, hooked me up wonderfully well. From her home in San Francisco, she was able to connect me with her friend Rajeev. Rajeev met me at the airport at 11pm on the 22nd. He escorted me to the hotel (not before being stopped by police and accused of kidnapping me!) where I spent my first night. The next day (which happened to be my 27th birthday) Rajeev met me again and brought me to the JNU campus. I saw the gate with the sign above reading "Jawaharlal Nehru University" I felt like the world had just fallen into place. Here was that place I had found on the internet. Here was the other end of the garbled, incoherent, 2am phone calls.

Rajeev introduced me to his friend Verma who had the right connections to get me in an air conditioned room at a guest house on campus. Verma has also personally escorted me all over campus (speaking Hindi all the way) to track down my application and status. I learned that I was not accepted because they understood my 3.7 GPA from Xavier to be on a 9 point scale! One person told me she's never heard of a person getting below a 4.

Later Rajeev invited me to his home for dinner. There I met his mother and sister. We had a wonderful vegetarian Indian meal; and, to my surprise, they brought out a small cake with "Happy Birthday, Molly" written on it. When Rajeev's mother wished me "many happy returns" the reality that I was truly in India overwhelmed me. It's been overwhelming ever since.

As for India... the raindrops are smaller than anywhere I've experienced. But they fall from the sky in such immense quantity that the size of the individual is lost. I close my eyes to each as Verma and I weave through the streets of Delhi.

There are people who live as stone crushers. They sleep in beds or on the ground at the top of the holes they are paid to excavate. Children grow up there, marry there and have their own children at the mouth of the hole they dig. On a day when I was not closing my eyes to the small raindrops and looked from the road through the dirt, I could see to the metal bed in the construction zone with two children in it. I wondered about the lot in life I live. I think of my faith that these children are as valuable as any I have loved. How can it be that one human person can choose to travel to the other side of the world at her wish, and another will dig for her entire life?

I am well. Delhi is overwhelming.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers.

love and peace, molly