May 24, 2008 – visit to Pannai

Dear Mum and Dad,
Thanks so much for your emails and hellos.  First, travel plans, I think it makes sense for me to fly into LA and I’ll check with Ashley if I can stay with her (she looks glowing and happy in the photos you sent me) upon arrival.  That’ll take me full circle with her having seen me off and having welcomed me back.  Smile.  And then it’s done, and I don’t have to think about it anymore.  All the possibilities for you getting jobs on the west coast sound very exciting.  I’m excited to be with you wherever you are.  I’ve been hearing from Grace, and it just keeps feeling more and more right to go and live with her and her folks in San Francisco for a while.  I think it will be wonderful for both of us.  And her life is pretty full, so I think that will also help me fill my life up fast too.  Perhaps when I’m with you and Tod, we can look on craig’s list for jobs as well as for hiking/camping/outdoorsy going youngsters like me.  Smile.
My visit to Pannai was so good.  I was welcomed back with love and surprise but only the surprise of not expecting me then; my return seemed natural – almost as if I hadn’t left (in a good way).  Smile.  I was reminded of many of the good and beautiful things about living at Pannai – the children’s desperate want of love, the affection they show each other, being wanted and loved simply because I am loving and ready to give love as well.  I was also reminded of the strength of people’s faith, something beautiful and generous.  Four people, including a woman that i had met maybe thrice, traveled to Pannai from their homes to come and see me.  I felt blessed.
The boys insisted that they take emily and I out walking in the hills.  It was good.  I was also reminded of the things that are hard – with the care is sometimes cruelty, the cruelty of desperation that finds some pleasure in another’s sorrow or pain.  This is human, but i thikn that many of us are trained through love and discipline to find other outlets for this sort of energy.  The kids desperately need families.  There are so many I just want to take home and love.  Each and everyone deserves this – someone to just hold and love them.
The journey was long – I had forgotten what it means to feel HOT.  Smile.  My Tamil had all but disappeared, but it rapidly reemerged as I was immersed in it once again.  It made me think that I should be a linguist, I am fortunate to have a pretty good ear for languages, how they sound, their rhythms, the melody to them.  I guess this compensates for my lack of an ear for music.  Smile.  Or perhaps the ear is the same, i have just chosen to use it in this way.  I mean right now, I would say that I am conversantly fluent in Nepali, fluent in english and have a solid foundation (which would greatly speed learning) in Zulu, French and Tamil.  Now to learn them.  Well, next on my list, really is Spanish.  And then perhaps Hindi.  Grin.  We’ll see.
Smile. I miss you both.
Let’s see.  My travel companion Emily is a friend of Ashley Hiestand’s, Mandla’s and Sam Mowe’s from Occidental.  She’s volunteering in Kathmandu at a school and came over for a visit.  She’s quite quiet, but I feel like we’ve been having more open conversations and laughter.  It’s taken us a while I think to feel each other out.  She was a lovely travel partner except that she’s gotten some rash from an allergy or from the heat.  I’m hoping she’ll be around for a few more days.  Smile.  I really like her, like I said.
I would love to hear from you.  I know you gave me your number, but just go ahead and call me anytime on my cell phone.  I can’t wait to see you in July.
My current plan is here in Kalimpong for the next 2 weeks (maybe a couple of days in Darjeeling if it works out).  Our final seminar goes from June 8th – June 10th.  And then we get ready and head back to Kathmandu.  I”ll be there for a while and visit Emily where she lives adn works (share experiences and people both ways) and other folks.  Then JOst (one of the students) and I head up to Simi Gaun and travel from there.  We’ll see how the weather is.
I think this is all for now.  Your daughter,
Thandiwe
p.s. I felt so much more grown-up going back and visiting Pannai, like now I know more aobut the adult Thandiwe.  I have become her more.  smile.  It was a lovely feeling as I approach my 24th birthday.
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About Thandiwe

Hopeful cynic, creative, seriously silly, lover of people and places, hypocrite, third-culture kid, queer, life-long learner, white woman, Christ follower, outdoor enthusiast: I am a seeker of justice and truth who has re-found my spiritual home in progressive Christianity. I serve as the Associate Pastor at a small Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation near the mountains of Colorado where I live with my beloved.
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