I make my way across the deck of the pool. The ground wet with chlorine, my feet firmly pressed back onto it. I fix my goggles, take a few deep breathes and plunge into the cold water. My body absorbs the thermal shock by generating its own heat. A few strokes in and I’m adjusted to the temperature of the water. I just have to keep moving. Every night, I take a shower. The shower is affixed next to the toilet. It’s a faucet. No fancy gimmicks, no pressurized shower head with multiple settings, nor any bathtub. Every night I come into this room, plant my feet firmly onto the tiled ground, and breathe deeply. I turn on the faucet and rush quickly into the gush of cold water. The hot water was broken and has been broken since I arrived. I haven’t told anyone.
Yesterday, I arrived a few minutes early to dinner. It was at the Clarks Amer Hotel, a posh five star hotel with a polished marble entranceway, gates, paved driveways, security guards. I had made it past the two checkpoints, before making it into the hotel. As I wandered around looking for the restaurant Zoey had told me, I saw in the corner of my eye, a small gift shop. Perhaps this was the store where I could finally find some comfortable pajamas for mother. The cashier greeted me. Our conversation entirely Hindi. I end up buying a block printed blanket for 600 rupees and a shirt with block printed dogs for 900 rupees. Zoey and I plan to go to Anokhi so I can find something more suitable for mother. That night, we also managed to get extra chicken and a custom order of no spice biryani made for me. As we were leaving, I bought a chocolate cake for Sneha, my host sister, a cake she would share with everyone and enjoy. Chocolate because she told me she was craving some chocolate yesterday.
Ziimaan. Ziimaan. I kept repeating it in my head as if the word would stick. It was our turn to present the water situation in Tilonia and what people at Barefoot College were doing to mitigate the problems. I was to present after a short skit by my team members. I went up and spoke. Words came together, grammatical agreement came in and it was done. When I was done, people told me good job and seemed so impressed with my Hindi. Perhaps it was because just five weeks ago, I was the most clueless child wandering the streets of India, battling spicy food, and struggling to say even Namaste. I hope to speak more, improve my sentences, and become better at Hindi.
Lost in Translation
She rested her face into her palms. I looked at her, wondering how I could make this all better. My singing teacher suggested that we stop learning basics and learn songs. I was not grasping what she wanted me to do as quickly as she wanted me to. My tone, pitch, and pronunciations were all off. She tells me, ‘Why are you not listening to me?’ , ‘Why do you expect that I can do magic?’. I only wish I could tell her that I was trying my best. I only wish that was understood.