So here’s our comedy movie moment of the week:
Our Capstone team is working in rural East India on water with a local NGO. We have been cooped up on the NGO’s main campus/compound for roughly a week now. We have not even stepped foot beyond the entrance gate, and we are all starting to get a little stir crazy. We have been reading a lot of papers and checking our emails a lot,yet aren’t we working on Capstone in the summer to actually go to the field? But a day anywhere off of the campus would be a blessing.
We were given hope at the beginning of the week of leaving GV for a few hours, on Saturday night. Bus leaves the campus at 4pm to go to Berhampur, and returns by 9:30pm. FOUR HOURS OF FREEDOM! That meant different meals (which was very important for most of us, because the slightly bland Indian meals with rice and daal were starting to become a chore), REAL FOOD (we could buy coconuts, and mangoes! and other joyous things!), walking around in newer areas, and the potential of purchasing some cheap bangles and sandals!
We began the countdown to Berhampur a while ago.
It started with just ideas of eating Chinese food. Then pizza. Then mangoes, and bananas, and coconuts. Then we could go shopping! And so it became a daily game of imagining what this marvelous, elusive Berhampur would bring us. We even planned our trip around our tastings. We talked about trying to get one meal in every hour while in Berhampur, just so that we could revel in the diversity of foods we’d find.
Every meal, every break, we talked about, "Just two more days until Berhampur!"
So last night, we were walking to the mess hall and ran into the founder & Executive Director, Joe. (Very sweet guy, very lovely, and he rides a bike everywhere. He is the leader of this grand pack, in every possible meaning of the term. He’s kind of like a swami or royalty. He is the man of this post’s image.) And we chit chatted for a little while about how our project was going, how the heat was, about the snakes and scorpions on the compound, and so on.
We said goodbye, and the team started jovially trotting again towards the mess hall, with relieved thoughts of Berhampur in our strides. Yet right away, Joe turns around on his bike and says, "Oh, before I forget, you are all invited to my house tomorrow night for supper."
A quick note before I continue: Awkward silences. They seem to be the standard conversational garnish in all of our interactions with Indian locals, particularly with GV staff members. I can’t tell if it’s language barriers, cultural differences, or what, but there it is.
And so, after the whole teams’ hearts stopped while Joe invited us to dinner, and there were no words to use, we experienced yet another awkward silence. Only this time, it was a silence brought on by mixed emotions and internal screaming, not just the standard awkward sincerity that we usually have in our talks.
We all eked out some, "Yeah, sure, great, thank you…" remarks.
Joe looked at us, and with an awkward "Ok…." biked away from us. We panicked after his leaving, worried that our week-long dream of Saturday’s ice cold drinks and different foods had come crashing down. What are we going to do?! All of our talk of Berhampur for nothing?! Both honored at the privilege of dinner with Joe & heartache from the idea that we were still stuck on campus, we brainstormed what was the best way to go about the situation. And so, we decided to eat 3 dinners today (Saturday): 2 in Berhampur, and 1 after coming back at Joe’s house.
A few minutes ago, Joe’s wife came to us and offered dinner tomorrow instead of today, so that we could paint Berhampur red tonight. The news couldn’t have come in any better form.
Well, I didn’t get invited to the Ambassador’s Residence for the Fourth of July. And, I was informed by a fellow American that the American Recreation Association party was not open to the public. Fortunately, my housemates and I had already planned a barbecue. Even though I was in Uganda, I managed to spend the day the way the Founding Fathers intended: eating cheeseburgers and Pringles.
Any memorable stories from the Fourth of July in foreign countries?