Friday, September 5, 2003

A Letter from India - Sept. 5, 2003

Sept. 5, 2003

Dear Family and Friends,

September is here. It's cooler than it was a week ago. I wake to find I haven't kicked the sheet off myself in my sleep. The ceiling fan in my hostel room (a room about the size of a king size bed) still spins at the frantic rate I'd set it the night before. A moving ceiling fan means the electric is still on, which means most likely we'll have water for showers this morning. We fill buckets of water in the evening in preparation for there not being water in the morning. Each week, it seems, a new breed of insect hatches in the hostel's open air halls and then finds themselves drowned in our buckets of water.

With lack of electricity a regular phenomenom, I was surprised at the interest in the day long power outage in the USA. I think there was more shock, interest and willingness to converse (at least in my pocket of Delhi) about the power outage in the States than the bombs that terrorized Mumbai. Over 900 miles separate Delhi from Mumbai (Bombay), so we were fairly unaffected.

I've enrolled at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Classes are going well. The professors are excellent, educated at Cambridge or Harvard, and have traveled a great deal. They care about their students, offering their home and cell numbers to the class. Interestingly, professors and their families live on campus.

More importantly, there is another kind of education that I could not learn at home. Nepali friends tell me about civil uprisings in their home country. Dinner with a Thai and chai (a beverage) with Iranians give me that opportunity to glimpse a bit of their perspective on the world (and, boy, do Iranians have a different perspective!). My neighbor plays the sitar in her small hotel room. I go to movies in Hindi and bowl with a Sikh.

I also learn the limits: how one lives with such poverty all around. The university and this internet cafe are within walking distance on a not so hot day. Between is a village of poverty set on a small hilltop. Earlier today my auto-rickshaw driver drove past a man alone in the street having a seizure. We just passed. I wondered, in the hype US Christian phrase, what would Jesus do? He wouldn't have passed. A child in the market begs for food. I learned quickly that if I give one child an apple, a dozen more want the same. I cannot say they should be in school or find a job because those opportunities - those privileges - are not afforded them.

I know I'm blessed to have each of you supporting me. Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers you're sending my way. Also thanks for the e-mails you've been sending. You continue to be in my prayers.

Will write again soon!

love and peace, molly