In September, I was pretty sure October would be crazy. Now, about a million e-mails behind and knowing I’ll only have spent half of this month in Kharang, I’m absolutely sure this month is madness.
Big news since I last wrote is that my parents were here and it was awesome. Our three big pilgrimage stops were in Puriang, Kharang, and Cherrapunjee (called Sohra by the locals). In Puriang, UUCF’s partner church/school, I learned some interesting things about the village’s history. H.K. Singh, the founder of Unitarianism in India, is actually buried in Puriang. But, Unitarianism in Puriang almost died out (literally) after an epidemic swept through the village in the early 1900’s. One Unitarian man went to church alone for seven years to keep the religion alive! In Kharang, I got to show my parents my room, the Children’s Village (which had made good progress in just our five days away!), and the Kong Barr Secondary School. We had a fabulous feast prepared by the Mukhims, Dari, and a friend of mine here, Birial. The most interesting part of Cherrapunjee was definitely the Nonkalikai waterfall (though seeing Bangladesh from our lunch venue was pretty neat too). It’s one of the largest waterfalls in the world, located in the “wettest place on earth” because Cherrapunjee gets the most rainfall in a month span than any other place in the world. Absolutely beautiful. The story behind Nonkalikai isn’t so pretty, though. The name comes from a woman who committed suicide over the falls after her evil husband killed and cooked her only daughter. Yeesh.
Mom, Dad, and I took a couple of the pilgrimage days off – we were tired and/or sick, and I knew I’d catch Jowai, where the UUNEI is headquartered, eventually – to shop and walk around Shillong. We had a particularly nice afternoon at Ward’s Lake, a really nice park near Police Bazar. We also just spent a lot of time hanging around our room at the Hotel Centre Point and enjoying each other’s company.
Lastly, my parents brought my absentee ballot, and I’ve officially voted in the 2008 election! I’m sure my vote for Mark Warner is going to be crucial in the Virginia polls 🙂
To those who have been making my mom feel badly by saying that I don’t write about my family enough: There’s a whole section on my family at the “About Me” link to the right! Click on the words “About Me”! There’s a rockin’ photo of my nuclear family at the Grand Canyon! Stop teasing my mom! That’s not okay! Sheesh. Needless to add, I was sad to see my parents go, but really glad that they and the rest of the pilgrimage had the opportunity to come out here.
Now that I’m done defending the family honor, onto what’s been up in Kharang since our return.
The first day we came back, we found that the Dienglieng Unitarian Church had sent a big group of volunteers to help us level the foundation ground! They finished all of it in just two days, which is no small feat when the ground is almost entirely clay. Thanks, Dienglieng!
A lemon at the site that we’re making into lemonade: the architect came out to the site and informed us that the builders from Shillong mis-measured the dimensions of the orphanage! It’s two feet too small on two sides! To make up for that space, we’re going to add another room – originally, the Children’s Village was going to have an “L” shape, but now will look more like a “U.” We’ll probably end up with more space than we originally planned anyway, and hopefully we’ll be able to take in the 24 children we’d like!
Additional (no lemons involved) lemonade is that some Unitarian folks out in Britain (the Bowland Trust) have just learned about our project and are interested in helping us out. Hopefully with their help, we can build a blacktop road up to the Children’s Village and install a proper septic system! (Most villages and towns in India don’t have sewage systems at all, and since the AMBCV is on a hill above a rice paddy, it’s important we have a septic tank!)
Additional additional lemonade of life is that I was invited to play soccer with the Kharang girls’ team for Sports’ Day today! I had a really fun time this afternoon, even though we ended up losing in the shoot-out. We’ve actually had easy days this whole time we’ve been back. Dee came to visit with us, so we took some nice walks around Kharang and — at Khlur’s suggestion that the Mukhim house was becoming the American Embassy — Janis put up the U.S. flag at the gate.
Also, the Red Sox had a glorious ALCS comeback. So, overall, I’m in a pretty good place.
Looking ahead, I’m submitting my application to Duke Divinity this weekend (as soon as I write that last essay…), leaving with Jon for Katmandu on Monday to visit my friend Jenn, and spending Diwali in Darjeeling. I’ll have little orphanage news while I’m away, but hopefully I’ll have time to update about our international Orphanage Management Committee meeting and auntie interviews tomorrow!