Pip counts as British, American, and Australian.
And thus, I have had a Kharang roommate from every major English-speaking country in the world. More about that later.
I’ve been running to and from Shillong the past few days, which is to say that life has gone back to usual. My first few days in Shillong were fun, even though, as I wrote, I missed all things inauguration.
On Thursday, I went on a work outing with Bahun (the older Mukhim sister) to Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in India! I gotta say, it was pretty clean: lots of trash bins, everything swept up, and not even one betel-nut-juice stain on the ground. They’ve also recently built a cool lookout walk, which is basically a bamboo walkway into the trees and up to the sky. If it hadn’t been cloudy, we would have gotten to see Bangladesh, but as it was, we still had a nice bird’s eye view of Mawlynnong.
On Friday, I went for a long shopping spree with Ms. MD, which mostly ended in failure (like when we went shopping for jeans), but was still a nice morning. I was looking for a salwar suit with rainbow pants, and only one shopkeeper said she’d have such a piece coming in; all others just didn’t have what I was looking for. I was happily surprised when I went back to that one shop a couple of days ago, and indeed, the suit I wanted was there! My joy over having ridiculous rainbow-striped pants is unbounded.
I made it out to Kharang via the bus with Dari. As usual, I felt too big to be sitting there, and further as usual, the bus took 5 hours when it ought to have taken about 3. Alas. We did get “home” eventually, and I got to see Kyntihun, Trei, Wanrilung, Mei, Pa, and my kitten for the first time in five weeks. While my room needed some major cleanup after being unoccupied for so long, it was great to be back and to see everyone in good health and spirits.
I also got lucky coming back when I did because the daughter and littlest sister of my friend Birialna – who will also be the “helper” at the orphanage – had their baptism this Sunday. There was an all-day party, and relatives came from all over Meghalaya for the naming ceremony. I mostly ran around with Birialna’s small brothers and sisters while she, her parents, and her older sisters played host. The service itself was very beautiful and near identical to the flower communion we do in the States. In the evening, Nangroi gave the sermon at the home service at Birialna’s house. Even though I don’t know Khasi, I can tell that Nangroi is a great minister, so I love hearing him speak. All in all, Sunday was a great day!
Sunday also brought Pip, my newest roommate here in Kharang. She’s from Britain (though also has citizenship in the States and Australia) and has been in India for a month and a half with Unitarians from Meghalaya. She attended a self-help group training in Mysore (sponsored by the Bowland Trust), and then came up on the train from Bangalore to Meghalaya, where she’s been hosted by all of the friends she made during the training. She’s also had the opportunity to take the Art of Living course out here, which I envy her for! I’ve given her the full tour of the orphanage and Kharang, and while we were in Shillong, she showed me all of the awesome dresses she’s had made out of sari fabrics. We also got to spend an evening over at Karuna’s, which was relaxing and full of delicious food. Overall, it’s been really nice to have someone here again who’s taking in Indian and Khasi culture for the first time, and we’ve had so much to talk about and share.
The only thing Pip and I didn’t get to do was attend Republic Day celebrations, because apparently the “militants” put a ban on all traffic in Shillong. Instead, we watched bits of the parade in Delhi on TV. So it goes. We were also scared on our walk today by a big Brahma bull who kept seeing us, staring us down, shifting to be right in our way, and then running just up the path where we’d see him again five minutes later. He finally ran off into a field, which was a big relief to us. I’m sure the latest village gossip will be about how the two foreigners were afraid of just a cow, ha ha ha.
I’m really excited that tomorrow we’re having many volunteers from Wahmawlein (Nangroi’s home village) coming to help at the site. We have a truly enormous septic tank hole dug and most of the important rooms have been plastered, but there’s so much more to do before the kids move in. The volunteers will mostly be helping with dirt-moving (from all the holes we’ve dug, there are just piles everywhere!), painting our bamboo ceiling mats with sealant, and cleaning up the window grills (which are currently covered in drips of cement). Our workers will continue with the septic tank and the outdoor bathrooms & kitchen. This Sunday, I’ll also be going to the S.O.S. Village in Shillong with Khlur or Nangroi to visit with the staff.
I also have generally rotten news to report, but will do so later this weekend. (I also think I need to make some sort of life-in-the-Khasi-Hills family tree, because I’m even starting to confuse myself.) For now, only happy sunshiney times for a happy sunshiney day.