Sunday, July 29, 2012
“I’m not sure I could pee on Kacy-ji’s face if she was stung by a jellyfish” – one of my students (note the honorific)
I love my students. They make me laugh, they keep me in check, they teach me, they support me, and they do all of these things for each other as well. Sometimes I think of our group as a sports team or as a band. I wonder what we would be called. I was sick in bed for almost the whole of last week – with a viral fever. There is nothing like being alone all day, day after day, and being bedridden to make one feel sorry for one’s self. There was plenty of time to make long mental lists of all of things to be grateful for and to look forward to. I missed home (Sage), and for the first time all year (and perhaps quite a bit longer) I missed my physical home: Point Reyes. Of course I have missed friends and family during that time, but suddenly I longed to go there. Here in the middle Himalayas, I felt very lucky to have so many caring people around me. One morning there was an anonymous note on my door that said, “feel better, Kacy-ji.” In addition to the wonderful people already here, my good friend Purvi came for a visit and a guest lecture. I had not seen her since I was last in Gujarat in May 2009. Over the years since then, as many of you know, I have wondered why of all the places in the world, I ended up in Gujarat. I haven’t wanted to go back. For a long time I have only been able to remember the challenges and discomforts. But here was another sign of how things have changed for me over the past year of being abroad. Spending time with Purvi (realizing that I still understand Gujarati!), with my dear friend Keith, and with my lovely students as they experience it all (rural India) for the first time, is definitely changing my relationship with India. I want to come back, and I think I’m even ready to return to Gujarat. Of course, I have no idea of the when or how of it. But being ready and interested is certainly a big step. Tonight we celebrated Deepa’s birthday by singing and dancing, eating and sitting around the fire. As I went into my cabin at the end of the night a couple of students walked by and said, “god, it keeps getting better”. Several of the students joke about taking a road trip to Middlebury to sit in on my classes and to meet Sage (who they can tell is absolutely amazing because of the way I talk about her). As the end of the program grows near, I am beginning to brainstorm about how I will get to come back to see my friends, to be in this incredible place again, to go back to Gujarat, and to finally fulfill some promises from my dissertation research. My dream is for the next job I get after Middlebury to be one that allows me to set up my own study abroad program with Keith in the Himalayas!