Hello Beautiful People,
I hope you all are experiencing happiness, and that all is well in your lives. I have been in India now for a little over two months, and I feel much more settled than when I last wrote to you. Why? Firstly, Apu, the great and terrible secret ruler of the Immigration department here in Chennai, who asked me when I first arrived “WHO ARE YOU, AND WHY DO YOU SEEK ME?" has finally bestowed upon me the status of Registered Foreigner! I am now officially legal and registered, and can thus leave the country whenever I desire. Which is a decidedly comfortable bit of knowledge, don’t you think?
Secondly, it its clear to me that I feel more at ease now because I don’t even jump a little bit when cars/bicyclists/motorcycles, etc rush by me, blaring their horns as I attempt to maneuver through the streets. SO much that was at first jarring and astounding now seems, if not familiar, than at least not remark-able. For example, as I strolled home yesterday with my two colleagues from the Montessori Training Centre, we all stopped to let two slow moving cows cross in front of us. One was pure black, the other tan with lovely tall horns. We chatted as we waited for the cows to pass, and then continued along the road once the way was clear. After a few steps, I just chuckled to myself thinking…how funny that it is so normal now to be this close to the beautiful, bodacious bovines.
Life at Navadisha, the Montessori Training Centre where I work, is lovely and inspiring. I am helping to teach 46 women and men on the art of being a Primary Montessori Guide. I am learning an incredible amount, and feel my heart opening ever wider in admiration and love for the power and beauty that is the human condition. One of my favorite aspects of growth has been experiencing the nature of Hinduism, as a religion and as a way of life. The celebrations are nonstop: fireworks, drumming, parades, and food! “Ain’t no party like a Hindu party, cuz a Hindu party don’t stop”. Temple prayers are offered on a daily basis by some, while other Hindus practice in their home, or not at all. Temples practically outnumber the amount of stars in the galaxy, each one merely a stone throws away from the next.
Last week I saw a wonderful display that really epitomizes Hinduism for me. I couldn’t snap a photo because I was in a car, but I shall attempt to describe it to you. Imagine very, very tall poles, as tall as the electric cable poles on your street. Three poles placed together, with a large glass rectangular prism display case on top of each. Inside the middle one, Lord Ganesha, remover of obstacles. On his left, The Lord Jesus Christ. And on his right, The Blessed Virgin Mary. All three together, happy as can be.
Recently, I went to the Ganesh Temple in my neighborhood to celebrate the Elephant God’s birthday. Ganesh Chaturthi festival is celebrated by Hindus all over the world, marking the auspicious day, when Lord Ganesha was born. In this part of India, everyone is welcome at the Temple, regardless of your faith. I have read that this is not the case everywhere in India, so I am happy to be in a location in which all are welcome. However, one of the more unnerving and uncomfortable aspects of living here is that, when I go to a Temple, or even a store for that matter, people stare. At me. Like I am a celebrity. They ask “Madame, one selfie photo, please”, and follow me around like I am the Queen of Something Admirable. I have had men and women alike profess love to me and tell me I am beautiful, and have even had a marriage proposal!!! And while I am a certain type of personality that does love being a performer, and having people pay attention to me, it is a bit much when it is happening in regular life. I mean, if I am standing on a stage, that is one thing. But to be looking for bath towels at a little shop and have giggling teen age girls following me around and telling me they love me? WEIRD!!!
There are many, many things for which I am grateful. My air conditioner. My work. My clean water and delicious food. My colleagues and friends here.
There are many, many things I am missing. My beloved Dan. My peeps in P-town, and other parts of Oregon and of the USA. My family in Ohio, Florida, and elsewhere. The changing of the seasons, especially the cozy autumn crispy air, the smell of the forest, the descent of Persephone, the Halloween spirits all around, and the abundance of the bounty of the Pacific Northwest.
Please do write to me and say hello. Sending BIG LOVE and many hugs and kisses to you all.