Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yann Martel has inspired me

To begin with a quote:

"All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving, it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive."
from Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I am currently reading this book and this struck me when I read it. This, I feel, is how I feel about living in Kolkata. Some madness inspired me to come here, leaving the prospect of another fabulous summer on the beaches of Southern California behind for the hot, humid, congested streets of India. And this same madness is what is helping me to overcome it. Every day is a struggle here, what with constant harassment by countless men on the streets and the intensity of the heat and the less than pleasant living conditions of the Hotel Paragon. Yet you adapt. Amazing, isn't it? The ability to make a place your own is so interesting and amazing. It's hard to explain, but I guess anyone that has ever been in an uncomfortable situation and been able to come out of it feeling more confident in their surroundings can understand what I am talking about. This feels a bit like how I felt when entering college, but less terrifying because I have Hannah with me. However it is that this whole thing works, the important thing is that it does. Thank the Lord in heaven for that one. Some things I know that I will never get used to, like men feeling it is ok to brush your ass with their hand as you walk past them. But I am beginning to understand how to get by here and how to deal with such situations. Like by smacking them. Haha. Anyways, just a little food for thought.

So the Fourth of July is just around the corner and, I must confess, I am terribly sad. This is one of my favorite holidays and I am so so sad to have to miss it this year. Hannah and I have decided to celebrate in the most America way possible. We are going to Domino's pizza and then going to a movie. Haha :)

Volunteering has been getting more and more amazing by the day. I am falling head over heels in love with the kids at Daya Dan and I wish I could take them all home with me when Hannah and I leave. They are all so special in their own way and I just love that about them. I must confess though, I do have a few favorites. One little girl, Pompa, is just about the sweetest little thing I have ever met. She knows English very well and can remember our names. Puja is another girl that my heart just melts for. Sneha and Santu are the sweetest little babies; I could hold them all day. There are a few that I worry about, like Angeli. She is so thin and she barely eats. She has been sick for a while now and she just looks so fragile. I pray that she can start keeping down the food she eats better.

The volunteers are amazing too. Along with the Korean girls, we have made good friends with many Spanish-speaking volunteers (who, fortunately for us, also speak impeccable English). Another girl, Mary, is from South Africa and she speaks English and works at Daya Dan. We also met three Lebanese boys that we had to say goodbye to yesterday. It is so sad to have to say goodbye to the ones that aren't staying for more than a few days or weeks. We are very thankful for the few who are staying as long as we are. The people that we have met are amazing people with such huge hearts for service. And the boys are not bad looking either ;) We have so many invitations to stay in people's homes if we ever visit their countries. It's so cool to be in contact with so much diversity every day.

Anyways, can you believe it's been 2 weeks since I left Seattle? Time is certainly flying! Thank you for keeping up and for reading this! Please keep Hannah and I in your prayers :)

Much love from India,


  1. Elison,
    I definitely said an intention for you and hannah during mass at my camp. I am so glad that you are finding so much beauty in uncomfortableness and sadness. Can't wait to hear more about your beautiful journey!

  2. Martha Martha Martha! I do love you with all my heart. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers. It means so much to me :)

  3. Oh my god.... AHHHHHHHHH This post brings up so much for me. !!!!

    Anyhow, is the Mary from South Africa Mary-Anne? If so, say hi to her for me. And Angeli was one of my special children when I worked at Daya Dan. If Megha, Mongol, or Nisha are still there, please say hello to them for me, too. Nisha may only remember me as JENNJOHN.

    I'm so happy to hear about your adventures, and I can't wait to catch up on Hannah's blog!

    Jenn P