Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Coffee In The Morning, Parathas At Night

It was my last day at the LAFTI headquarters and I really did not feel as though anything about today was going to be different. So, after a small amount of contemplation as to how the day might become different or the same, I decided on a very simple plan. I would go off on my own during the afternoon, but would do everything exactly the same as I had all the days leading up to this one with regards to two specific things, coffee and parathas.

After I washed my face and put on of my five churidars, I made my way out to the open area where someone was already awaiting with a small cup of coffee. I guess he just knew that I wanted to keep things extra ordinary this fine Tuesday morning. After coffee and a few minutes of enjoyable scenery, I decided to go on an adventure. For maybe the last two or three weeks I had been staying at the office, I had come across the same two baby goats, water buffalo, and cow at nearly the same time every evening when walking to the store across the street. Today, I decided I would go a little early. Since I still didn't know that much about the immediate area surrounding Vinoba Ashram, I thought maybe these four furry creatures would. As I began walking in the same direction as I would to the store, there they were. To make a not-very-long story short, I ended up following these four animals to a nearby watering pond which they all seemed to gather and drink from several times a day. The two kids finished first and then made their way back to their house. Because they were obviously the cutest of the bunch and I was not at all interested in actually drinking from a dirty, smelly, mosquito-filled body of water, these two adorable baby goat siblings were the ones I continued to follow. After thanking them for leading me back to the main path and doing a short photo shoot to express my gratitude, I made my way back to the offices before anyone had an opportunity to notice I was gone.

After taking the normal Indian "afternoon rest", after eating the normal Indian "afternoon meal", my favorite part of the day was just hours away. Nearly every night that Valayrmathi has stayed with me at the office, I have given one of the "night duty" men a hundred rupees for him to go fetch my favorite evening snack, parathas for me and all other people staying at the office that night. Although I can't say that this Indian flat bread is anything next to nutritious, it is one of the only other foods (besides idlis which are normally not served at night) that has flavor and yet no spice. Anyways, parathas served not only as one of my few survival foods, but also as an ice breaker. The first time I had this meal was the first time I introduced myself to those working the night shift, and it was a easy way for us to get to know and understand one another.

So, even if I went off into the crazy land of water holes and baby goats a few hours before, coffee in the morning and parathas at night are two activities on which I place great value. I do not do so because of the smell of the coffee or the saltiness of the bread, but because both actions, over my time here working and living at LAFTI, have served as a means of non-verbal,social communication.

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