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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Recorded of a Sunday morning, Guntur, India, November 21, 2010

This morning Franklin and I walked to church (3 blocks) because the driver wanted the day off. The loudspeaker was so loud, that too inside a concrete building, that my ears tingled. I like it better when we sit outside! (They have a shamiana outside one wing regularly.) I've developed a ruse of pressing a finger into one ear while appearing to be resting my head on my hand, changing sides periodically to give the other ear a break as well.

We sat in the wing that's mostly occupied by families and couples, opposite another one which is mostly used by women and children, both wing off the main section where women and men sit on different sides of the aisle. People filtered in (and a few out!) throughout the service. A few rows ahead of us, a dad came in following two young teen boys, and very intentionally plopped himself on the pew between them ...There wasn't going to be any nonsense there!...LOL...families!! A little girl and boy in front of us drew on paper, dropped pens behind the pew, the girl slipping around her mother and past us to retrieve them, twice, until Franklin picked it up and handed it back the third time; she tried to fold a handkerchief on the pew...toward the end of the 50 minute (!) sermon, the boy grabbed her, she grabbed his hair,and their father set them straight...ignoring them thereafter,
while she sat back and tried to chew sequins off the edge of her mom's saree...

(Obviously) I couldn't really follow the sermon today...It was too loud, and wide ranging, and lost me after the opening anecdote. Pastor seemed to keep repeating something about oil and cd's, which, my husband told me later, was not really the case. I think I got more from looking out the open window, where a bush pushed a bright red, hydrangea-like 'manmatha baarnamulu' (cupid's arrows) flower against the decorative metal grating, and a large group of people, maybe fifty, sat on plastic patio-type chairs under the shade of a tree nearer the gate.

A young mother with an infant in her arms sat between
an active toddler, who sat next to (evidently) the dad, and a grandmother. The poor mom must have been so tired; she sat the whole time, rubbing her eyes and (surreptitously, under her saree) her breasts, and looked like she was first sleeping, then crying into the baby's receiving blanket, with which she wiped her eyes now and then. The toddler got down from his chair and patted her arm, then went to his grandmother, who gave him her purse which he was hardly able to lug over to his chair. Except for this, the father and the grandmother were passively involved only in the service. I wanted to go and say something empathetic, a blessing, to the mother after the service, but by the time we came out they were gone.

We walked over to the nearby hotel for our usual after-church coffee, but Raja Rao did not show up (he had called earlier, but gone to a different church...he usually joins us) and, although the coffee shop is named '24-7' it was not time yet, so we walked out into the intense mid-day sun and scrunched under the vendor's umbrella with another thirsty family, standing while we ordered and each drank the refreshing, restorative water of a 'special Kerala' (large, yellowish) coconut through a thin straw, thrust into the heavy, freshly machete-slashed fruit. My gosh, they were HUGE; there was about a pint and a half of liquid in mine! Not an exciting taste-thrill, but especially good for beating the heat and sustaining health. Like the touch of the toddler, sustaining love of life.

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