Rain and Rose Water

This week was the first time that walking back from the field, I got absolutely drenched in the rain. I’ve been in heavy rain before, but for some reason, maybe because it had been a while, or because I was in such a beautiful place, I found it especially amazing to be in the rain, that was pouring in from all directions, making it impossible to see very far, and making such a loud noise. Though the monsoons haven’t yet started, I’m so excited for more rain to come. The patty fields are already starting to flood, and I can’t wait to see what it will look like when all of the valleys are covered in hundreds of shining rice patty pools.

Ravi and I were talking about how you can learn a lot about a culture through the language, which has been the case here. For example, there are 3 levels of politeness (ap, tum, tu), which, as compared to English’s one way (you) or Spanish’s two ways (usted, tu), means there are more nuances in terms of ways of showing respect. Another thing is that you can address anyone with a family member type of name appropriate to their age, such as brother or sister, or aunt or uncle. To me, I feel like there is more closeness when using these family terms. Also, there is not a word for cousin specifically, since the words “brother” and “sister” are also used. Also, there are so many different words for God. On the topic of family, when people either introduce themselves or ask questions to someone they are meeting, there are usually an equal amount of questions about their family than about themselves.

Also on the topic of family, something that I have found funny is that talking to people in the field, many times I will say something, and, unexpectedly to me, their response is, “You should find someone to marry here!” For example, there is this rose-water drink here that is soooo good, and that I’ve never had before. We often get it offered to us at people’s houses. One time I was commenting on how good it was, and the lady responds, “You should find someone to marry here!” And I was like, “Why??” and she was like, “Because then you can drink rose-water every day!” I often get asked whether I like it here or not, which is always an absolute yes. I’ve found that anything else I say, which I usually do, either about the mountains, or the food, or anything else, is all fair game for the “why don’t you get married” response as well.

I’ve been doing more interviewing in the field this week, and I can’t explain how happy I feel when I’m in a conversation and I am somehow able to understand the vast majority of what is being said. Since that wasn’t the case at all just a week ago, it seems like magic! Also seems like magic because one given conversation, I’ll understand practically everything, whereas in the next, I will be lost beyond the general subject. So, when the comprehension happens, it feels like such a gift, and I feel helpless to understand why or how it is happening, which I do not mind in the least!

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About lopezmichellle

At Penn, I am majoring in International Relations and minoring in Environmental Science. I'm in the class of 2016. Through CASI, for the summer of 2015 I will be interning at Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development, in Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh.