far away

fatal floods take the lives and homes of citizens in north india. this is the primary news from india this week. i was in a hot room in northampton, drinking sips of water while the himalayas poured and hundreds of people drowned. last night my neighbors danced to a thudding bass. (when I went to brush my teeth, someone lay on the ground, in a stall, quiet and sick in the fluorescent brightness, and I was too shy to ask if she would like some water.) yesterday i felt lighter because the defense of marriage act was largely overturned and a feminist in texas spoke standing for eleven hours in defense of a woman’s right to be in charge of her own body.

when connie, my south india term abroad program director emailed me my host family information yesterday, the reality of my trip to india became a little more real, and i was overjoyed:

 And here is some information about your host family – Mr. Manoharan and Dr. Saroja – in Madurai!

 Mr. Manoharan is 64 years old and is retired from the Air Force. Dr. Saroja is a child specialist running her own clinic. Both are energetic people who you will love to converse with. Mr. Manoharan will give you lots of information! The family lives about 4 km from the SITA Center. They are a Hindu family. They speak Tamil and English. They cook vegetarian meals. You will have a private room. They have a son and a daughter. Both of them are married and settled in Chennai. They visit the family only on holidays.

Every word I analyzed – she is a doctor! She works and he lives at home but he was in the military and has so much to talk to me about, connie says – is the military in India a bastion of conservatism as it is in the U.S.? Is this man, my host father, proud to have a wife who is a doctor and is in a position of such wonderful authority?

I can’t wait for India to become alive and whole in my heart – for the saddest news of fatal flooding to not be all the news i can find – for it to be surrounded by the other news – the triumphs of feminism, the steps forward and backward.

At the end of the bikram yoga class i soldiered through yesterday, the teacher praised us, sing-song:

“take a moment to honor yourself, for the courage you brought to the mat today – for making the decision to come here, and spend 90 minutes outside of your comfort zone, dedicated to changing your body, mind and soul.” I smiled sadly.

I was comfortable already, couldn’t she see? I was sipping water and celebrating some of the what the supreme court accomplished this week, and less than two months from a place that i can only imagine in dreams of rushing water.

photos courtesy of Danish Siddiqui/Reuters via the new york times and arunkgs via flickr.

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