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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Random Thoughts and a start on Happy Anniversary

Saturday, November 26, 2010-Random thoughts…

             Finally, cooler weather, though noontime sun is still hot, need to cover head, etc.
Went to see the campus illumination of a church centenary…on campus of hospital probably older than that…I stayed in quarters in the former nursing superintendent’s home nearby, for a year in the 60’s.  Cannot imagine the life of a woman doctor from U.S. who started the large, lovely hospital and school of nursing that long ago…talk about spunk?!  Sad the the hosp. has fallen into disrepair, though, currently not at all used.
Kingdoms (and institutions) rise and fall…Pay attention to this:  Please pray for the integrity and forgiveness/goodwill that this whole society (world?!) really needs!  Wonder what those early missionaries wrote home about at night....

          Our able cook serves goothi vankayya (poached small eggplants in spicey gravy),
Okra-tomato curry, buttermilk soup (WONderful preparation, like a stroganoff gravy, but made from way-old yogurt.)      Oh gosh, I really must learn to make this one!!  At noon with plain rice, it’s still wonderful with chappatis for supper.

My Telugu skills are growing by leaps and bounds…mainly leaps, and sometimes sideways, to get my English mindset out of the way…haha…but it’s getting better with all the practice, for sure.  I aim to keep singing, reading, and writing back home in the new year...While here, I read some every day for practice.  Even a translation of the story of THE FIVE CHINESE BROTHERS…remember that one??

          My little ‘class’ at Nirmal Hriday is waiting for me today.  Sister Felicitas tells me she saw them waiting for me at 8:30 and shooed them back upstairs. But they crept back down and waited another half hour, were shooed away again, went back up, finally met me at  10:30. These days they are ready and waiting,on a concrete bench w plastic chair for me nearby, under a spreading tree. I am late due to unexpectedly meeting a Dutch lady in town for a week’s visit. She will be interested visit Nirmal Hriday with me next week.  .The ‘class’…has grown from MP and friend, to include a couple of the other inmates who are able…They paid rapt attention to today's book about life cycles of living creatures, presented in a very simple way, with plenty of pictures.  The children listen intently, too spellbound to ask a single question, repeating the names of animals and key vocabulary after me.

Happy Anniversary  (Kugler Hospital Centenary)          Sunday, November 27, 2010

       If there’s one universal truth about India (although, admittedly, a whole lot of things, sometimes in conflict with each other, might be equally true), it is that everybody loves a party.  Life stages, religion, history, politics, education, sports.., you name it, any and everything is an excuse for a party.  Families go into debt to provide unnecessarily lavish weddings.  Schools conduct prize days and students invariably show up in new clothes, bearing candy, if not gifts, for teachers and classmates on their own birthdays. Last year the neighbors celebrated their only daughter’s arrival at puberty on four consecutive days, with a chanting priest, women’s games, two dinners attended by countless guests, and a professional photo shoot.  Politicians are feted and treated  incessantly by fawning and/or hopeful followers.
       So it should come as no surprise that a small church should celebrate its centenary with four days of worship, speeches, music and dinners.  We visit the place at the insistence of a friend who lives near the church and is bursting with pride and joy at the illumination.  Strong lighting brightens the street and campus entrance like day; strings of tiny lights form a canopy from the bird-blessed main driveway, over a crudely improvised roadway of broken brick and crushed stone, for nearly one block’s distance, from the gate to the stage under a large canopy set up next to the church building.  Evidently, as usual, they are expecting a crowd.
          The dark stone building itself is outlined in strings of white and blue lights.  An orchestra with flute, three kinds of drums, keyboard and two vocalists rehearses their special music for the evening on the stage.  The decibel level is deafening…I make a mental note to wear earplugs when we return on the morrow, plug my ears ungraciously but protectively, in the meantime. Through my fingertips, the songs are pleasant, lilting, until the woman vocalist attempts one out of her range of pitch.  I am thankful for my fingertips…We endure for half an hour, chatting with our friend RajaRao, who has walked over to join us in meeting a few old friends who lived near, or worked with my husband in, the adjoining hospital during its heyday.  The mood is relaxed and upbeat.  Important guests are invited to the stage, and the event starts on time (a hospital value!) with an old, familiar Telugu hymn, “Come, good news upon sweet sounding instruments…”
       The crowd continues to arrive on foot, by car, motorcycle, or auto rickshaw, the moderator announcing more important guests as we take leave.  Another friend implores us to claim a place up front; we demur, as very minor figures on the whole scene, and planning to return for worship the next morning, so we ‘namasthe’ and make our way back along the modest road, a bit sorry that we will miss the hari katha/burra katha (chanted story-telling) performances promised, but not likely to start before long after our senior bedtimes...Not to mention a dinner for everyone after that....            ---------------to be continued (getting back to this is proving more challenging than I here is so very full and rich!  If I"ve said it once, then 100 times, 'if my eyes were only cameras...!!')

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