Rach's Ramblings

Thoughts from another world

Until we meet again…

My boys love playing with the timer on my iPad. They set the timer and change the sound to an obscure tone like ‘old car horn’ and then giggle when it goes off.

But there is another timer ticking in these final weeks of term. A timer that leads to farewells.

The nature of life in an international school is that yearly there is a group of people who leave. They go back to their old lives or move on to other cross cultural adventures. When we arrived I heard the names of those who had left- there were hints of them in stories or they were mentioned as previous owners of ‘this lamp’ or ‘that sari’. My house speaks of past inhabitants- stickers on windows, pencilled marks on doors, nails in odd places. Woodstock echoes with the voices of people who have lived, worked and laughed here over the span of 150 years.

This is my second round of farewells. Once again there will be so many goodbyes to be said when the final bell goes for the school year. They loom before me, sitting on the horizon where there is no avoiding them. The inexorable march of time marches loudly and I can’t block my ears. I keep reminding myself that these dear ones are not dying, but merely moving away….but it feels a bit like a death. They will not be part of our life here anymore. I won’t share smiles and tears and adventures with them here again. I know that the tremors of their leaving will shake and hurt and leave cracks, but I also know that as time moves on, the community that is our life will shift and adjust and settle into new patterns and shapes. And it will be ok. There is such beauty in having loved and lived and shared life with these bright stars and I am different and changed from having shared my space with them for a short while.

There is the temptation in this expat life, to keep the relationships shallow so the uprooting is less painful. The national staff who stay year after year must find this very tempting, but they invest in each new batch of staff with energy and love. And so it must be. Shallow is empty and unrewarding. In the depths is where the beauty lies.

As that timer ticks on towards farewells, I don’t want to run from it. I won’t welcome the sound as the timer runs to zero, but at least I know it’s coming and I have no regrets from the time we’ve spent and the love I’ve received and given. And as dear friends leave, there are spaces left vacant that are ready to receive new friends, and so the cycle begins again.

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Moments of joy!

Life here is remarkable. There is nothing to compare it to. Joy is hidden around a corner, in the face of a child or a scooter stacked with an unlikely load of eight chairs and three men. The remarkable is in the everyday. “Joy comes to us in moments- ordinary moments” ( Brene Brown)

And so, I want to document those moments. To capture the wonder that is life here in India.

I flipped through a week of my life and shone a spotlight on a few moments of the everyday.

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The monkeys were up early today, as were the cricket players down below. I could hear the thock of the ball and excited shouts as I lay in bed in the early light. I refused to attack monkeys before showering so I let them get close, hearing the heavy rustling of branches, as I showered. Later, Samuel and I went downstairs together to mount an attack with our glove guns. Brownie, the neighbor’s dog looks up sleepily as we wage war. He is old and deaf and hadn’t heard the monkeys but now he slowly gets up and pretends to be part of the battle.
The weather has finally changed and the sun has a delicious warmth. It is a joy to ride my scooter again now that it is fixed and this weather is perfectly suited to scooter riding. The cool breeze blows through my hair and cools the sweat off my body and I find myself grinning as I ride.
I used to grin as I went up the ‘crazy path’. If I didn’t, I’d find I was far more likely to go off the tiny safe strip in the middle of the path. Smiling and sometimes singing had the strange effect of relaxing me and the pretense of confidence kept me on the track. Now, that road has been finally fixed, after 2 1/2 months of huge road works. It is smoother and safer and not as exciting.

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Much as this may look like Levi, this is actually his best friend, Liam.

It is a big day for Samuel today and I spent the morning trying to brush his hair down and ensure he didn’t get breakfast on his shirt. He is performing in the pep rally for the Win Mumby basketball tournament. I have learnt that basketball is an American thing and they get very excited about it and that the pep rally is the chance to let that excitement out. I am so excited for Samuel and I know he will be so cute! As it happens, I am also performing- a surprise flash mob! Looking forward to singing with a group again- it’s been a long time.
Soon I will scoot up the mountain to a staff meeting at Chhaya cafe where we will pray together and do a devotion and then I will teach them to make pizza. I also need to do a taste test of the carrot and walnut muffins I taught them a while back, just to see they’ve got it right.

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I could see the whole world today from the top of the mountain. The morning rain had cleared the smog from the valley below and all the horizons were visible. Mountains, cities, valleys and rivers, spread out before me and it made the rain worthwhile. As I exclaimed in wonder and praised God for the view, Levi asked me what a view was. I told him it was everything we could see before us and we rode the scooter down the mountain, singing a duet at the top of our lungs.

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I stole this photo from someone but I can’t remember who. Photo credit ?

I wanted more flowers around me. I miss my garden at home- the riot of colors, the daily joy of discovery and beauty. On a whim, I took the pig path home from the bazaar, Levi bumping along in front, standing between my legs. We carefully scooted past the families of pigs, dodging them as they rooted in the garbage built up on the side of the path and hooting them when they blocked our way. Nestled into the side of the cliff above the path is the nursery. This was my first visit and I was surprised at how much they had on offer. I found myself caressing the flowers as I passed and whispering their names tenderly. The manager lady was surprised by my knowledge of the plant names I think. I wanted them all, but chose a petunia in a hanging basket and a beautiful smelling pink carnation. Carrying them back down the steps, I realized that I was going to have some trouble getting them home. The helpful shop assistant tied them on the scooter and positioned them at my feet. Levi climbed onto the back and with my legs sticking out the sides we carefully navigated around the pigs and over the potholes and made it safely home. I have little hope that the flowers will last a week. The monkeys will discover I have fresh flowers and one day I will come home to smashed pots and eaten flowers…but for now I have color and scent and joy.

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We had our last Downton session tonight. The final two episodes of the season, watched on a computer screen with dear friends in the silence that descends when children are in bed. I made the trek up the hill in the evening light, listening as the birds said their good nights. There is one particularly annoying bird that sings in a monotone, and I am always happy when it has finished its last note for the day. My friend’s house is filled with candles and sweet treats and we immerse ourselves in the world of a society in days gone by. I get far too excited and live every moment as it comes on screen. It’s something that Andy always laughs about- how when I watch a movie it is completely real and I am completely there- I think that’s why I have never totally recovered from the movie ‘Arachnophobia!’

 

To finish Brown’s quote, ‘We risk missing out on joy when we get busy chasing down the extraordinary.’ ¬†There is joy all around us, no matter where we live. ¬†What fun to find the joy in the ordinary moments of our days.

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