Happy birthday, Gandhi-ji!

It’s October 2nd, which is a national holiday here in India because it’s Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. We’ve had a busy week, with more to come because the American pilgrimage starts on Sunday, so it was great to have a day of rest. (“Rest,” I suppose, being relative, because some of us spent a good chunk of the day working on divinity school essays…)

Included in this week’s excitement, both good and bad, and altogether disjointed…:

The builders from Shillong could not produce the proper paperwork (saying they were allowed to move to and work in Meghalaya), and thus had to leave the village. The head mason says he’ll help them retrieve said paperwork, but Nangroi and I think we’ll just stick with the local builders henceforward. We’re in the next stage of foundation building, which is digging out wells between the support pillars and filling them with large stones and cement.

Janis from Charlottesville has arrived! Janis is staying at the Kharang Rural Center — right next door! — and is coming with Jon and I to the site to help out with carrying cement and such. (This week Jon and I also kit shyiup, i.e., carried sand on our backs via conical baskets held up by our foreheads. Needless to say, our heads and shoulders weren’t too pleased with us, though the local builders were pretty amused by our efforts.)

Ebe from Pittsburgh paid a visit to the Kong Barr Secondary School, which Pittsburgh’s First Church sponsors and where Sharmila works! We saw a really nice program with student performances and speeches from the school’s management committee, but unfortunately Ebe had to take an early ride back to Shillong and couldn’t stay for long. We’re hoping that she’ll have more time to chat with students and teachers when the pilgrimage comes to Kharang next week!

A bonus from Ebe’s visit is that she brought a care package from First Church, including a beautiful card from the Campus Ministry group, candy corn (for Halloween) and cranberry sauce (for Thanksgiving), lots of books and magazines (which I believe are mostly courtesy of my friend Benjamin), and other odds and ends like guitar chords and a short-wave radio. So many thanks to Ebe, Devon, UUCC, and everyone at First Church for supporting me and Jon!

Sharmila birthday fun! On Monday night, she invited three of her fellow teachers over for a great dinner, and a number of students came for sweets as well. It was a really fun evening, and I loved the opportunity to get to know Sharmila’s coworkers better. On her birthday proper we had another fun, late night, especially thanks to Khlur who made a surprise morning visit to drop off a delicious cake! She also really liked her birthday gift, a kot jingrwai (hymnbook).

Sharmila, Jon, and I are also all in the midst of planning big travels at the end of October. Sharmila has a few days off, and she’s visiting a friend from the World Bank in Manipur. I was planning to visit my friend Jenn in Kathmandu around the same time, and not to be left out, Jon is coming with me. If any of you have suggestions of what to see and do in Kathmandu or Darjeeling, we’re up for suggestions 🙂

Mei and Pa, the Mukhim parents, have both been in poor health as of late. Mei has been struggling with ankle trouble for over a year now, and Pa is really struggling with a combination of asthma and bronchitis. Both have been out of Kharang for the past week receiving treatment. If you all could keep them in your prayers, it would be greatly appreciated.

To end on a high note, the most exciting news of the week came early in the morning. As you read in my last post, Dari our “house manager” was recently trained as a beautician. Today, one of her instructors got the message to us that she passed her certification exam! We’re all really happy and proud of her (though not possibly as happy as she is; she was ecstatic)!

Now I’m just waiting for Sunday and to see my parents and the rest of the pilgrimage in Shillong. I can’t wait!

~ by cmskhublei on October 2, 2008.

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