I tried as much as possible to come to India with few expectations. I wanted to be open and flexible, but I also wanted to be mentally prepared, a tricky balance. Therefore, I tried to limit having expectations to those experiences that might be difficult. Some of the expectations I allowed myself to have are the following:
- it will be hot and uncomfortable
- there will be lots of mosquitoes
- I may get sick
- I will see poverty like I have seen nowhere else
- I will not be able to communicate easily with people
- it will be hot and uncomfortable (yes, I know I've already written that, but I am not a big fan of heat, so I wanted to be extra prepared for that discomfort)
- the electricity will go out frequently in Chatra
Here's how the reality compares:
- It has been hot and I have been uncomfortable. I am not here during the worst heat India has to offer, for which I am very grateful. For the most part, the heat, though not my favorite, has been manageable, as long as there have been fans and plenty of water to drink! Thankfully, both have been available most everywhere. In Calcutta, I did splurge for a room with A/C for two nights (about $25 a night, woo hoo!). I'm glad that I did! It was particularly hot and humid there and most of my days were spent walking and walking through the city.
- The mosquitoes haven't been as bad as I had imagined. Every time I've been with the SCNs, I've had mosquito netting at night (and I am a bit enamored with sleeping under it). I have a great mosquito spray and a really really great itch relief product. In fact, I like both so much that I'll do a little endorsement here. Both are made in Louisville by a company called Divine Creationz. They are natural products and I bought them at Rainbow Blossom. The anti-itch stuff (bite balm) is so good I apply it only once to a bite and the itch is gone...forever!!!! It comes in a little tube like chapstick. Seriously, Louisville folks, if you get bitten a lot, I'd buy this stuff!
- I have not gotten sick once since I've been here. I know there's still plenty of time for it, but so far, so good! The SCNs have been concerned about me getting enough to eat. They were concerned I'd lose weight- I think I've actually gained a little (so much for "being light" in that sense)!! A couple days ago, I started eating less, so that my clothes start to fit like they used to and the sisters in Chatra were concerned that I've gotten tired of Indian food. They started making more "American" food, so I'd eat more. I assured them that I still love Indian food, but just need to be eating a little less overall!
- The poverty I've seen is...like nowhere else. I'll be writing about that in another entry, so I won't say anything more here.
- I can't always talk to people, but I have been able to communicate pretty well. It is amazing how much can be said without speaking the same language! Smiling is a particularly wonderful and oft-used form of communicating!
- The electricty in Chatra is actually off more than it's on. I was told "Electricity is not so good." My interpretation of this statement was that there would be an occasional power outage. Bad interpretation on my part. Not having power more often than having it has probably been the most difficult adjustment...mostly because my expectations were different from the reality. I don't mind not having lights. I do miss the power when I am sleeping at night with no fan. It is also frustrating that I cannot blog often, since I need power for the computer... I am so glad my phone at least has internet access for checking my email and staying in touch with people through Facebook. Doing anything else online from my phone (like blogging) is too difficult. Slowly, however, I am adjusting to the lack of consistent electricity...I simply need to adjust my expectation. I am thankful that a former student recently posted the Serenity Prayer (God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference) on Facebook. This was a good reminder to me that I need to worry less about the electricity situation, since there is nothing I can do to change it.
I am glad I did not allow myself more expectations. The above (except the last) seem to be serving me well...
This week I am in Mokama (where the SCNs began their ministry in India) and the power situation is better (they have some solar energy!) I hope I'll get to write more to you while I am here.
Peace to you all.