Messages From Carrie
September 17th, 2009
Went for a walk this early morning with my friend Adele. Adele has been living and teaching visual at the American Embassy School here in Delhi for 8 years. India is more of an evening culture (similar to Europe). It was an interesting to walk in the area of her apartment when the city was just waking up.
Right now it seems like my impression of India are coming more in snapshots and images. I imagine there will be more complete reflections later. But for now it's all images. In India there is no separation of pretty and ugly, rich and poor, privilege and destitute. Adele lives in a very nice neighbor hood in the city, but on a nearby corner there is a woman sleeping in a trash receptacle. Adele says she's seen this woman living there for months.
There really are cows wandering around the streets. They are somewhat cared for in that people put out food for them and they are milked. But they wander pretty freely.
There are ribbons and sacred cloths tied around trees. This is done in honor of the spirit of the tree. Next to the beautiful decorated tree is a pile of rubble and broken sidewalk.
The main road is already busy. There is some construction on the road and the workers live in shelters of corrugated tin all the side of the street.
A man on a bicycle calls as he rides. He buys any trash or item that is still usable but cast off. Recycling.
There is a beautiful garden and a vine of lush pink flowers growing around the entrance to a home.
I met a woman today who works in public health, focusing especially on the health of women and children. India is rising economically, but this has not really translating yet into better public health. There are many complex reasons for this, but encouraging that there are many people trying to move public health forward. She spoke of encouraging families not to marry their girls too young. Encouraging pregnant women to eat (the folk wisdom advises pregnant women to not eat instead of eat more). It was heartbreaking and fascinating how traditional wisdom helps in some cases, and hurts in other cases (like in pregnancy). There is a beautiful tradition of dipping newborns into the waters of a sacred river to bless them. But a particular river maybe extremely toxic and a struggling underweight baby have less of a chance to survive. It is beautiful and tragic.
These first days in India I'm teaching at the American Embassy School. This school is totally incredible. The student population is made up kids from all over the world. Many have lived more places in the world at the age of 14 than I can imagine. So they are so very interesting with a unique worldview. The stated goal of this school is to foster responsible global citizens and develop passionate learners. Ok, how cool is that? The teachers are amazing and fascinating. Any person that would choose to live and work as a teacher in India has a story to tell. I keep asking folks "ok if this is nosey just say so . . .but why are you here?" Every story is interesting, unique and often inspiring. Later this week I'll begin my work with the American Center and head to Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Trivandrum. My week here at the school has been definitely an interesting way to acclimate.
Tomorrow His Holiness The Karmapa is visiting the school for Peace and Justice Week! How amazing that this very important religious figure will be addressing the community here.