A letter from Michelle Becka, MNW Primary Trainer in Training
Greetings Beautiful People,
Here I am in Chennai, India, thinking of all of you and hoping you are well. Due to the molasses like connection speed of the internet here, I find that email is the best way for me to communicate. Sending photos is what I would like to do, because we all know that one picture is worth a thousand words. However, one picture is also worth a seemingly unattainable amount of data in order to transmit, thus I shall attempt to use my words. (For those of you on the Facebook, I can post photos more easily there. So friend me if you are interested in seeing a few images!)
As most of you know, I am spending about 10 months in India, studying at the Navadisha Montessori Foundation as a part of my becoming an AMI Montessori Primary Trainer. The people I have met who work at The Navadisha Montessori Foundation (The AMI Training Centre here in Chennai) have been so full of kindness, making me feel very welcome, and very well fed. The food is delicious, so many people are vegetarian, it appears to be the norm here. I am living in an apartment with all the modern conveniences, my air conditioner is my favourite appliance by far! I have plenty of clean water to drink, a washing machine, and a climate that allows clothes to dry on the line in about 5 seconds flat.
Oh, the climate. It is certainly hot and tropical here. I step outside and immediately am drenched in sweat, although all of the Indian people seem to be perfectly dry. Last night there was an amazing thunder and lightening storm, the likes of which I have not seen since the last time I was in the midwest. Many palm tress and tropical flowers, sun rise and sunset exactly twelve hours apart, from what I can tell. I am looking forward to a time where I can see the moon and stars, so far it has been too overcast for viewing the night sky.
I always find that the smell of a person or a place is what immediately grabs my attention, the first thing that I notice and absorb. For a long time now, I have dreamed of a technology that would transmit smells in a photo, so that the viewer could really immerse themselves in a particular time and place. I so wish I could capture the smells of this place, the good and the bad. Sometimes stinky, particularly due to the standing water releasing heat around 3:00 a.m. And perfectly lovely, especially the strands of jasmine flowers that one can buy to hang on one’s hair, thus infusing one’s personal airspace with a truly delightful scent. So far, these strands of flowers worn in the hair are my favourite thing, (along with the bidet, everyone should have a bidet, absolutely superb way for hygiene in the bathroom!).
There are so many people, the flow of humanity like a river of life, the traffic streaming by with no regard to anything but forward motion. Walking on the street (sidewalks are apparently non-existent), along with the auto rickshaws, the vans, the trucks, the bicyclists, the cows, the dogs, the mopeds and motorcycles…and so on, is an act of complete surrender. A surrender to trust in the Universe that all of the vehicles approaching from behind you will move around you and not hit you. There are no lanes, no lining up in an orderly fashion, the vehicles and people simply all occupy the available space, leaving mere millimetres in between each other. It seriously took me about three days to muster up the courage to cross the street. My strategy is to attach myself to a cluster of pedestrians who are also attempting to cross, and then at some unspoken but mutually agreed upon signal, we all begin to take tiny baby steps into the flow of traffic. The traffic does not stop, it simply swerves around you. Be still my beating heart💕.
I have not yet been able to travel beyond my immediate neighbourhood due to the immigration people being uncertain as to whether or not they will let me stay here in India. Apparently there is some issue with the fact that Navadisha is a non-profit, and thus not a government registered school, a detail which is causing the visa folks quite a bit of consternation. I have been to the office twice now, and am currently waiting for them to call me, at which point i must return and hear their decision. Attempting to remain hopeful and equanimous, as always!!!
There are so many wonderful things already, especially the butterflies, and the kindness of the people. Everywhere there are gorgeous temples, and really beautiful people wearing such colourful and elegant clothing. Here is an interesting fact: ladies are not allowed in the liquor stores!!! As some of you know, I do like to sip whisky upon an evening, but when I attempted to purchase a bottle and was told my gender wasn’t allowed in, I laughed so hard. It seemed ridiculous and preposterous: there I was with cold, hard rupees in hand, yet admittance was denied. I finally worked it out with the shop keeper, he would purchase it for me, and I do believe he charged quite a bit for that service. But at least I emerged victorious, whisky bottle in hand.
I am missing my Portland community! Shouts out to all ya’ll, please send me an email when you get a chance and let me know how your life is going. If you prefer to not hear any updates from me, I won’t be offended if you say so! Much love and many blessings, talk to you all soon.
Love and Light,
PS. I am noticing that since I changed my location on my computer from USA to Chennai, autocorrect is making changes in the British English manner. Fascinating!!
Michelle Becka graduated from MNW in 1997 with a primary diploma, and also has a M.Ed. from Loyola. After 17 years as a Primary Guide, she is absolutely thrilled to be pursuing the Training of Trainers Programme at MNW. Michelle loves practicing yoga, riding her bike, reading great books, and learning new things.