Hi! Happy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down and written an email like this one. It’s not so much that nothing has been happening as it is that so much has been happening, I don’t know where to start or what to tell, and I’m so busy doing it that I don’t have the time or mental energy to write.
Yesterday for the first time I got really frustrated with the administration here. Okay, so personalities and politics are just rampant in this place, and I’ve mentioned this to a couple of people here. Well, let me tell you that in a place as small as Pannai whatever gets said gets passed around. In this case, the Director somehow heard that the word “politics” was in the air regarding administration and he sat me down for a good talking to. He told me that there certainly are not any “politics” involved in the running of M.B.K.G. Pannai. All of the leaders are on the same page about everything, blah, blah, blah. Even now as I am writing, my heart is beating just a little bit faster. I feel like I’m blaspheming. Wry smile. Let me say now that I like and respect the director a lot and he has a lot on his hands running this place and especially right now with the death of Mathan and then some problems with one of the previous employees who has been asked to leave plus lots of personal things on his plate. So he’s a man I respect a great deal and I know that he is doing his level best and that he does do his work here at Pannai with great care and integrity. But boy does he frustrate me sometimes. He’s really hard to talk to. And the idea that there are no politics involved in the running of Pannai is absurd. There are politics involved in organizing a family reunion for goodness sake! And then try adding some money and several hundred people into the mixture and make about 200 of them live together and the political atmosphere just multiplied exponentially.
Wry smile. So those are some frustrations. I also find those frustrations in my interactions with people. Some people are incredibly generous and friendly toward me, and so I’m intrinsically drawn to them. The problem is that in such a small place, this can cause lots of rumors and jealousy. One of the cottage mothers bought me a saari for Christmas. She spent 1/3 – ½ of her monthly stipend to buy a saari for me. I can only begin to fathom that sort of generosity. In any case, it floored me. Anyway, a close friend advised me that the appropriate thing to do was to accept the gift (which WAS the appropriate thing to do) and to also give something to that cottage mother. So I bought a saari for her as well. Not in return, but simply as a thank you. As an opportunity to share with her. It didn’t cost half of my monthly stipend, but anyway it was a way for me to show her how much I appreciate her. Anyway, I’m terrified of the other mothers finding out that I gave her a saari. She asked me not to tell anyone that she gave me a saari. Sigh. Sometimes it makes it hard for me to get close to people because I’m afraid of adding fuel to the fires of rivalry and/or jealousy which are certainly present, and I’m afraid of alienating someone with whom I will have to live and work for the next two years. And it also means I’m somewhat afraid of speaking my mind and debriefing with people, because I’m afraid of it getting misconstrued and taken back to, say the Director, who I definitely DO NOT want to offend.
So that’s my gripe. Wry smile. I feel like I’ve been sending several griping emails to folks. The bottom line continues to be that I am good and my life feels blessedly abundant. Sometimes some of the problems seem overwhelming, but I do still feel very loved here and accepted for the most part. Vellore is as beautiful and interesting as ever. It is getting drier – we haven’t had much rain in a while. I’m planning a weekend trip at the end of January to Pondicherry, which I’m excited about, and I’ve been working in the school library in the afternoons.
Sometimes I find myself missing having people with whom I can just talk to about anything and everything. Between language and cultural differences and religious differences (Christians here tend to be fairly conservative in their beliefs, even those who come from overseas as missionaries), I don’t have anyone quite like that here. But that’s okay. I do have so many people who care deeply about me and about whom I care deeply. There are many people who are incredibly generous to me. Grin. Anyway, I’ve gotten to rambling.
Love and peace to all of you. Thanks for listening.