You may remember that in May, Lala and I sponsored a little girl to go to school. Here’s Ritika, age 11:
For 150 dollars, Ritika can study for a year. The tuition includes her uniform, food, and supplies. Today we learned that Ritika’s father died recently from liver disease and that her mother earns 550 dollars a year as a maid. She has three siblings – only one attends school with her. She loves to play yard games and to sing, just like Lala. Ritika celebrates her birthday next month and she’s asking for shoes and books . It takes so little to help her and we hope to keep her in school for as long as she wants to be there.
It took us two hours to get to Ritika’s school, normally a 20 minute drive. It’s monsoon season and the rains are raging. It’s been a particularly wet year (note the flooding in Pakistan) and Delhi is replenishing its compromised water table. We’ve had flooding in our home to remind us that while we may live like kings, water reigns here. Today, I shed my wet shoes and walked barefoot. I would have given up the umbrella as well and romped in the rain with Lala, but I had to sit in the library and write a “character sketch” for a job application and I didn’t want to shiver my way through it. The next rain, though we’ve promised each other we’ll get completely soaked and drink in the joy!
A lot has happened in my 13 days home – most notable: I have suffered the injustices of a bladder infection, Delhi Belly, and now, lice! Add to that the already mentioned jet-lag-from-hell and the usual stuff we women have to endure. Please, someone out there top this list to make me stop whining…
I did manage to drag myself out of my Delhi Belly deathbed to attend a cocktail party at the U.S. Ambassador’s house. I hadn’t been yet and I wanted to snoop around. The occasion celebrated the arrival of a delegation from the Kennedy Center and the upcoming Maximum India productions scheduled at the center in March 2011. Here’s the Ambassador telling us an interesting story about Jacqueline Kennedy:
While visiting India, Kennedy admired the design of the Roosevelt House, the ambassador’s residence in Delhi. Later, she wanted the same architect, Edward Durrell Stone, to design what is now the Kennedy Center. Take a look, you can see the similarities: (we pissed off a few guards by shooting this photo!)
And one last note on this particular event: A dancer performed for the guests and throughout the performance I was obsessed with a little bug on the dance floor. You know that Hindus don’t indiscriminately kill bugs or animals. Well this little buggy was zooming around, this way and that and the dancer was dancing this way and that and unknowingly, after 15 minutes and many close calls – she didn’t step on him!
Here’s to hoping that we avoid the dancing feet of fate…
And finally, a little aside on the man who bought me perfume in the airport: Last Friday, a gold wedding invitation arrived in the mail. It was from my perfume-professor. We were unable to attend, but I did invite him to the house for coffee this week. He couldn’t come because he was returning to the states. It was an anti-climactic ending to a chance encounter… but still, I love that we met, even briefly.
(Rereading this after posting, let me clarify: The invitation was for a family member of the perfume-professor; he was traveling with his wife and sister…. AND he is likely old enough to be my father. )