Overall, we were adjusting, and enjoying, our time in this strange land. Cows did wander the streets freely. Verdant green rice patties which painted the landscape were contrasted by the colorful saris worn by shy, exotic women.
The older half of our kids were having fun with all their new ‘friends’, but the younger half weren’t quite so enthusiastic about them, considering they were accosted each time they made an appearance, with ‘kisses’ (pinches) on the cheeks and unaccustomed invasions of personal space.
The boys loved to run to the kitchen to get baal (warm water buffalo milk with sugar) from the cook, Padmini. Kyah and Parker were attending some classes at the school, just for the experience, and we were all outfitted with uniforms.
The Indian people were reserved but amiable, and admired Greg for his friendly, impartial treatment of all classes (the caste system is still a part of everyday Indian life.) The men liked him as a friend so much that they often wanted to hold his hand (although forbidden between men and women, it was a common form of affection or friendship between people of the same sex).
A favorite past time was our evening walks into the small, local village of Thottanaval where we interacted with the villagers. They were fascinated by my camera and loved for me to take their photos and show them their image on the digital display.
Evening meals were taken on the roof of the student housing, where volunteers and staff gathered to discuss the day’s ‘highs’ and ‘lows’. They were uneventful enough, unless our repast was interrupted by a ‘snake hunt’ that came as a result of a screaming child. (Cobras were common on campus, and quickly dispatched to avoid possible difficulties).
As the spicy food become more unpalatable to my picky palate (and less nutritious, mostly white rice), my waistline began to expand and the heat grew more sweltering everyday, I spent more and more time in the comfort of my air-conditioned ‘cave’ (as my husband nicknamed it), longing for the ‘comforts of home’. My body was craving a big, juicy steak, or fat hamburger.
Where ‘home’ was, I didn’t know. We were nomads.