Happy (belated) Anniversary Day to you all!
This past week has probably been my happiest and most productive in the Khasi Hills for a number of reasons. Let me count the ways:
I have a neat new cell phone that, as I first described to my friend Chris, is the nicest piece of technology I have ever owned. It is great because: 1. I can put American ‘tunes on it; 2. it can access the internet from Kharang; and, 3. my parents can actually call me, and it’s really nice to hear from them. So, if anyone out there thinks I’m “roughing it,” just remember that I I can check GMail from a cell phone whereas Annie Margaret Barr didn’t even have dirt roads to walk on. (Sharmila and I hear about her life here a lot, sort of in a “when I was your age, I had to walk 5 miles to school, uphill!, in the snow!, both ways!” sort of way. It’s amusing as well as awe-inspiring.)
Next, it was anniversary week. Unitarianism had its official founding in Meghalaya in September 18th, 1887, and all the Unitarian churches here have big celebrations including services all week long, tissue paper flower and streamer decorations, a big community feast, prizes for the children, and variety shows. I loved seeing so many Unitarians so excited about a holiday! I really enjoyed every bit of the festivities because it was the most time I’ve gotten to spend with the Kharang village folks, and they’re all really funny, friendly, and welcoming. It was also a treat to visit Nangroi’s home village, near the border of Bangladesh, and take a church service and lunch there.
Sharmila and I helped decorate our local church and participated in the variety show, singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” (Nangroi’s choice out of our song options). We only hope that we haven’t brought shame onto the Mukhim household — there were at least 500 people present, and we were both really nervous! In any event, I’m no stranger to embarrassing public appearances (e.g., performing the Soulja Boy at the MATCH winter assembly), so still overall the anniversary celebrations were great.
We also had a really productive Orphanage Management Committee meeting yesterday. We’ve outlined how and when we’ll select the AMBCV’s “mothers” and the initial group of children. Churches across Meghalaya will give out applications for becoming a mother starting next Sunday!
Going back to having cell phone internet, my mother told me that I should write more actual stories about life here instead of just these drier updates. So, I promise that in the next week I’ll write “Profiles in Awesome: The Hostellers” about the three children — Kyntihun, Wanrilung, and Trei — who stay with us at the house in Kharang while they attend the local schools. I may one day write about the time I went to wash clothes in the nearby stream and came back with a leech on my foot, but I think it’s suffice to say I had a leech stuck on my foot, it was pretty gross and blood-sucking, and I was rescued by Trei who pulled it off of my foot and Mei (the Mukhim matriarch and Kharang midwife) who put lime and newspaper on the wound to help clot it. In other words, gross.
Lastly, I’d like to give an official shout-out to The Meghalayan Guardian, the paper Banjop reports for. Without its office’s internet, there would be about ten photographs on Flickr. Thank you Guardian!