Checking in as week two at Aravind starts! Between Christina and my post, you will be an expert on Aravind. Get ready to learn the inside scoop of work and play in Madurai!
The first week was spent acclimating to Aravind and particularly, the intense, humid heat that can even overwhelm the best efforts of AC. We’ve actually been very fortunate to be living at Inspiration, Aravind’s comfortable guest house with AC rooms, fairly reliable internet and tasty food cooked 6 days a week. After a long day at work, it’s a great relief to just lounge around our rooms waiting for dinner to roll around. Although Inspiration is more than we can ask for, we actually spend little time there outside sleeping and eating. We normally work 6 days a week, roughly from 9 or 9:30 to 5-6. It’s quiet inspirational to see such dedication from the Aravind staff from the top administrators down to the ‘sisters’ (nurses) who all work 6 to 7 days a week and seem to be a whirl of perpetual motion.
But what is life like outside of Aravind? To understand, one must first realize that Sindhu, Christina and I are always together. I mean always. Unless we’re using the bathroom or sleeping, we stay in visual contact with each other as if we’re overprotective parents. Each has a nickname (which will not be shared), finish each other’s sentences and can read each other thoughts. Okay, we’re not really that bad, but do spend the vast majority of the day together. All of which can lead to some awkward moments. I’ve gotten a few leery looks or puzzled expressions from our neighbors as I carry covers, pillows, laundry into their shared double. Although I have perfectly rational reasons for all trips their AC is freezing and company makes laundry less of a chore we provide a little intrigue for Inspiration’s third-floor residents.
So everything was going great for the CASI-created terror, WuNandhaWare, until Sindhu rudely dropped a bomb she was leaving us Saturday night to visit her grandma. Now, constant reader, who does she think she is? After the rise of WuNandhaWare to wreak havoc throughout Southeastern India, we were going to lose our name’s middle syllables, tricycle’s third wheel and last musketeer. How would WuNandhaWare
Survive as Samtina? Would we refuse to leave Inspiration’s protective walls? Who would be our Tamil spokesperson? We were devastated.
But there was only one solution western comfort food! Cheese, coffee and more cheese.
Samtina first hit up Puppy’s Bakery, as adorable and as wonderful as the name implies. Christina ordered mutton lasagna while I ordered the equivalent of “creamy tomatoes and spicy chicken” pasta. Oh man, it almost permanently replaced Sindhu. Now I have few complaints about Inspiration’s cooking and normally must stop myself from overeating, but there is nothing like a little cheese to temporarily replace a third of you. Afterwards, we walked across the street to Café Coffee Day or CCD as the younger crowd calls India’s Starbucks. We then preceded to spend the next hour drinking our refreshing coffee-ice cream concoctions, jamming out to American music (could have went without hearing “Call Me Maybe” for a few more weeks) and making fools of ourselves in front of CCD’s staff.
Once we calmed down, we headed to the city’s Gandhi museum, which housed a compact exhibit of the Indian independence movement, Gandhi’s life and a rather unflattering portrayal of the British. We learned that in Madurai, Gandhi took to wearing his iconic loin cloth and the museum housed the one he was assassinated in. On the lighter side, Samtina were asked for the second time in India if we’re married and the inquirers were visibly disappointed to find out that we aren’t. I then proceeded to hold her bags and scarf outside the bathroom.
We then headed back home to refresh before our fancy dinner at Domino’s. Sindhu partially redeemed herself by arriving for dinner, making WuNandhaWare whole again. Domino’s was everything we had hoped and dreamed it to be SO much better than in America. The employees even had a morale-boosting cheer, banging and screaming twice during dinner about how Domino’s is number one. I couldn’t agree more strongly. I won’t tell you the ridiculous amount of food we ordered, just that it was more than two and less than four pies, accompanied with garlic breadsticks and dessert.
Overall, it was a wonderful end to our first week here! However, I’m certainly glad to be back in the routine and to enter week 2 as WuNandhaWare once again.