I’m really only capable of a short update right now because I am sooo tired…we have been having some very long days. Good, but long. It didn’t really help that I slept for what was probably a total of 5 hours in a 48-hour stretch (my body was still on ‘merica time and I was having anxiety about my suitcase sitting at the bottom of the atlantic). Fortunately, last night I got about 8 hours. Unfortunately, I was more tired during the day today than I have been for the past few days. Figures.
We did find out yesterday that my suitcase had been discovered…somewhere in DC, or
In the meantime, Venita and Preethi took me shopping to get some new clothes. I had been hoping to buy some Indian clothes sometime when we were here, but didn’t know if I would have the opportunity in our jam-packed schedule. But, thanks to my suitcase being lost, an opportunity was created! We went to a mall in Chennai (very tall mall with many stories) and were able to go to the only store (that they knew of) that was open until 10pm (as I said…jam packed schedule. It was late.). They had stuff in there that American teenagers would wear, but Preethi and Venita seemed pleasantly surprised to find that I actually WANTED to buy Indian clothes. So, in the 15-20 minutes that we had until the store closed, they quickly helped me to determine the items that I would need and the styles that would suit me, and I was able to get 3 outfits (2 Indian and one more generic American [khaki capris and a little polo…still not very “me”]) and a bunch of underwear.
So, I’ve been wearing my Indian outfits the past couple of days. They’re fabulous, and sooo comfortable…I feel like I’m wearing pajamas. You will likely see me in these once I’m back in the States.
BUT…I am very much looking forward to getting my suitcase back. It will, of course, be nice to have clothes, but it will be nicer to have my camera-battery charger and own shampoo and stuff to make my hair look a little less crazy (though, in the humidity here, it ain’t bad). Ilene has also been nice enough to let me borrow pretty much anything I need…so I bet she will be glad when I have my stuff back, too.
So our days…our first “working” day involved meeting with staff, doing some interviews, and my fun shopping excursion (which also involved dinner at the mall and driving by the beach…apparently the 2nd longest in the world).
Second day: home visits with some sponsored children and families. Most of the time, this includes an elaborate welcome involving flower garlands and rituals to ban evil spirits and putting stuff on our foreheads. Then, we get to go in their home and meet and talk with the families. This is nice. Ilene and some of our other staff here apologized that I wouldn’t really have the opportunity to do any “touristy” things on this trip, as we’ll be so busy…but I would much rather meet with normal people and see their homes and hang out in back-alley neighborhoods.
We also got to “meet with the children and families” of one subproject: this basically means that they do lots of performances for us (and of course, more flower garlands, etc) and give speeches. I even gave a little bit of a speech. Ha.
Today: More family visits. Many family visits. I got sooo tired in the afternoon/evening, and at about 5 our car stopped, and I woke up to see hundreds of children looking at me and smiling. Following that, there were many dances. And speeches.