Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So, my second post in one day.

This afternoon the kids danced again and I took videos. It was quite funny and a lot of fun. When they finished we all went inside, and the kids sat on the floor while I was presented with a large and elaborate paper, bead, string, and incense necklace which is Indian tradition to show their love and thanks. Kumari also presented me with a small Ganesh hanging lamp with little lights on it to remember everyone by. I gave all the children cookies, and after that they all came up to me to say anything that they wanted to say before I left. I was able to keep my composure until this point. A couple kids came up and then it was Ajith Kumar's turn, and he started speaking in Tamil and Kumari translated. Near the end he was crying so hard Kumari could no longer translate. I started crying too; he and I had really developed a close bond, and I could easily take him home in a second. Another thing that really struck me was how little the things they were thanking me for were. They were thanking me for things that I didn't even remember, and it is really sad how such small things that I had overlooked made such an impact on these children. Swetha was too upset to even say anything so I just hugged her for a very long time. She is another one that I will miss more than even I can imagine. Each child, after speaking to me, hugged me and kissed me on the cheek, the sweetest, softest kisses. I am so glad I took this trip, and I am so glad that I have shared a part of my life with each of these kids, and that they have shared a part of their lives with me.


My last day

Hello Family and Friends,

Last night nothing really earth shattering occurred. I went and picked up my new glasses with Pown on what will most likely prove to be my final ride on the motorbike. The glasses look really good, but the prescription seems a tiny bit strong because after wearing them for several hours I had a pounding headache. Later in the night Kumari sat with me while I began to pack all of my things. We made the final arrangements for the car to pick me up, and the fact that my time here is almost up really began to sink in. I slept terribly last night.

This morning I woke up absurdly early around five o’clock. I hung out with the kids as they slowly rolled awake too. Today is another festival day, so none of the kids, except Baboolu, had school. Baboolu has been really good about school the past couple days, but today he really regressed. Kumari didn’t want him to know that everyone else was staying home, so while she was getting him ready, whenever anyone walked by the door she would yell at them for not being ready for school. “Yes, miss” they would say while smirking and then hurried away from the door to play. Kumari thought this was hilarious; I’m pretty sure one of her favorite things to do is trick Baboolu. He was flailing, kicking, and screaming while Kumari placed him on the motorbike with Xavier. He kept clawing at her and fell off the bike a couple times in his tantrum. A neighbor woman came over, positioned him on the bike, and off Xavier went. All the kids smiled and waved goodbye to him as they sped down the road. You could hear his wailing even after they had disappeared from sight.

I packed while Kumari was cleaning in the kitchen and Xavier was resting. The children were all playing, and nothing seemed unusual. All of a sudden there was a huge commotion and Kumari, Xavier, and I all ran outside. The children were carrying a screaming, biting, and convulsing Naveen to the house. Slowly we pieced together what happened. Naveen, just a reminder, is the one who steals and whose father is in jail for brutally murdering his mother. Naveen went onto the terrace, sat in the edge, blindfolded himself, and said he was going to jump off. Maha, his sister, told everyone to be quiet, she didn’t want him to get into more trouble and she thought she could handle it herself. She went onto the terrace and pulled him off the ledge. This made Naveen angry, so he beat his sister unconscious and then tried to run away. He had with him an address to who knows where, and money he had stolen. The children ran after him and caught him and then carried him back. It was at this time that they got our attention. Most of the boys that captured Naveen had bite marks on their arms and hands. Maha returned to consciousness pretty quickly. Naveen sat in the corner of the main room shaking while Kumari, Xavier, and I discussed the situation. Kumari and Xavier seem to think he needs to be sent somewhere else that is more disciplined. They want to send him to jail school, which is even worse than it sounds. There the children are beaten for the smallest misconduct and they are never allowed outside. Kumari and Xavier asked Maha what she thought and she started to cry while saying that she thinks he needs more discipline too. I felt bad for the poor girl who basically was just asked to damn her brother. I feel even worse because Naveen, despite having some bad habits, is really fun, playful, and overall a good kid. Kumari is afraid that he will turn out like his father, but I think that over disciplining Naveen will have a negative effect; it will harden him even more. The uncle is coming tonight to discuss what should be done. I plan on fighting for Naveen; I agree that maybe he should be somewhere that doesn’t give as much freedom to the kids, but jail school should be a last option.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with Kumari in the kitchen learning to make egg curry, one of my favorites. Now I am going to rest, because I am leaving tonight at eleven for Chennai, and then my flight leaves at four fifteen, so I will certainly get no rest later.

All my love,
I will be home soon,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Patti and the Park


Yesterday evening had its emotional ups and downs. The down part happened after lunch. I was doing some work organizing the files in my room, and got a little bored so I went to see what everyone else was doing. There was a very well dressed woman and a young man in Kumari’s room along with the rest of the family. Kumari introduced the woman as her sister and the man as her nephew, and I thought for sure I had misheard. Kumari’s sister married a wealthy man three times her age when she was sixteen. They moved to Dubai where they had two children, a boy and a girl. The husband died soon after, of old age. Kumari’s sister has been in Dubai living a very wealthy lifestyle ever since, and her son now goes to school in Australia. Her sister hasn’t been in touch in years and they haven’t seen her in at least a decade. When Patti (patti = grandma in Tamil) got sick last year and they thought she was going to die, the sister couldn’t be bothered with it. Kumari, who has nothing, had to take care of all the medical expenses while her sister lived the life in Dubai, one of the wealthiest cities in the world. This is all that I had been told by Kumari about her sister, so I was very surprised to see her standing there in the room. I awkwardly shook hands with her and her son, and feeling the tenseness in the room, I wisely decided to go and check on the kids.

After they had left I returned to the room. Patti was lying on her side crying, and Kumari was quietly eating. The sister had flown all the way from Dubai not to see her family, but to visit the temple. Seeing them had been an afterthought, which Kumari and Patti could tell from the sweets and the sari she had bought them as gifts from the store literally right outside the house; the gifts were still in the store’s plastic bags with the receipts. Patti was the most upset, she had given up so much to educate her daughters, whom she raised alone. Patti kept looking at the 1,000 Rs ($20) that her daughter had given her, and you could tell that this “gift” was killing her inside. New tears kept falling from her sunken eyes, and I wanted to put my arm around her and comfort her, but the social rules are so different here I didn’t know what was acceptable so I just sat with them quietly. Kumari and Xavier kept trying to reassure Patti saying that they were there and that they would care for her, she didn’t need anyone else. An hour later Patti was still lamenting; she whispered miserably “she bought the sari from right there” while pointing down the street. I can’t even begin to imagine her pain.

Kumari was both angry and humiliated by the visit. Angry because everyone, including Patti, was happy without her; she was a distant memory. Coming back made things worse; it may have made her feel better about abandoning the family, but it made her family feel terrible. Kumari was humiliated because of how her sister looked at her. Her sister gave no warning about the visit. Kumari was in the kitchen cooking; her old house dress had a fine mist of oil on it, her arms had batter smeared on them from making idilies, and her hair was caked in a mud of henna to dye any stray gray wisps. Her sister was dressed finely in real silk, a jeweled bindhi on her forehead, and her skin was fair from never being touched by the sun. In her sister’s presence the reality of how poor Kumari is was really drilled in. Kumari had offered her sister and her nephew lunch, and she could see a flash of disgust on her sister’s face before she “graciously” declined. The house, though cleaned everyday, was looking especially messy since it was the final day of a three day weekend for the children. The laundry had piled up in the corner of the room since everyone has been too busy with the kids to do it. When her sister left, Kumari cleaned the room, did the laundry, bathed, and put on her most beautiful sari in what seemed like an attempt to salvage what was left of her pride.

A little bit later Kumari tricked Baboolu into going to the new house with Priya so we could take the rest of the kids to the park. Kumari doesn’t let Baboolu go out with the other kids because he is such a nuisance and makes it difficult for everyone else to have fun. He knew, though, that something was up because the family was speaking in Hindi to plan the park trip, a language they only speak when they don’t want him to understand. When we finally got him away, I revealed to the kids that we were going to the park and they went crazy; they haven’t been on a big outing like this since December. They all got dressed in their nicest clothes for the trip. The three autorickshaws came to pick is up, and we had to fit the kids into the little space like it was a puzzle. On the way to the park I ended up having three kids on my lap. The ride wasn’t too long, and I realized that I am really figuring my way about the town. When I first got here all the roads looked the same, and, with the auto drivers swerving down the road like a child who just got the training wheels taken off their bike, it was hard even to tell what direction we were going in. But, alas, a month later (oh my goodness I’ve been in India for a month…) I have figured out the roads.

We got to the park and I was could not believe how clean and beautiful it was. It had a wonderful view of the mountain that wasn’t obscured by any man made objects. The plants were bright, colorful, and well kept. The playground itself stretched throughout the park, and the different pieces were hidden into little alcoves in the shrubbery, bamboo, and cacti. Nothing was made of plastic; it was all wood, polished cement, and metal. Parts of it even seemed to melt into the natural setting. The play equipment was also a lot of fun. The slides were steeper than I have ever seen before, and the things to climb reached high into the sky. At first I wondered why we don’t have playgrounds like this in the US but then realized that though this was probably the best playground I have ever seen, it was also the most dangerous. In the US the owner would have been sued the moment the gates opened. One thing to climb on was a metal shell that extended two and a half stories overhead. You could climb it on nets, ropes, or steel rings. Hanging from the center was a giant mass of tires, on which probably at least fifteen kids were hanging. There were some were staying in nooks inside the mass, some were standing on top of it, others were hanging on to the sides, and some dangled from the bottom. This giant pendulum of childrem swung from side to side while men ran and pushed it so high that it went straight over their heads. This was probably one of the most dangerous toys in the park; children would fly off it and land head first into the rocky sand, and would be whisked away screaming by their mothers. Dhanalakshmi fell off and got a rock stuck in her forehead. Kumari popped the tiny stone out like a strange pimple, and blood drained from the little hole. We decided to move to a different, safer, part of the playground.

The next place we visited was a maze made out of a very prickly plant (I told you this place was awesome!). The kids had a blast running around in it while Kumari and I sat on the sides and watched. Some kids caught butterflies which were everywhere. They fluttered around our faces and the dead ones crunched beneath our feet. The kids took the powder off the dead butterfly’s wings and placed it on their foreheads for financial luck. At six the park closed and we crammed back into the autos to return home. The rest of the night was quiet. Naveen and Maha came back, and Naveen admitted to stealing the money and also that he had taken and hid Priya’s flash drive. Hopefully he won’t have anymore problems like this.

This morning I woke up early, with only two days left I don’t want to miss a thing. I had breakfast and Kumari and I went to Xerox and print out some things. I finished organizing the office, and I have a couple more things to do. We set up the car to pick me up tomorrow night at 11, my flight leaves at 4 in the morning and it is a three hour drive to Chennai. Hopefully I will get all my work done today so tomorrow can be spent relaxing with Kumari, Xavier, and Patti.

Me and Patti. I was pleased that she was actually the one who wanted this picture taken.

Everyone at the park. I think some of the kids weren't quite ready for this picture...

One of my favorite pictures ever, this is Mukesh with one of the butterflies he caught. They would make wishes on them and then let them go.

Brothers, Prasad and Prithivi.

Kumari leads the way into the park.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm


Last night James randomly left, so Kumari had to do all of the cooking. I spent most of the evening in the kitchen with her, Durga, and Sasheela. She made a typical vegetable curry which consisted mostly of okra, and then she started to make something out of the leaves of the drumstick tree. We have a drumstick tree out front (they really are everywhere) but it hasn’t had any drumsticks since they had to cut it back for the power lines. I had tried the leaves before in a sambar, and they were pretty good though a little bitter. Kumari, even though I had tried some before, seemed convinced that they wouldn’t suit me and that it would give me “loose motion” and only let me have a little bit. She cooked it in oil with some spices, several chilies, and fresh coconut. It was amazing and I kept insisting she give me a normal serving. It was good at the time, but, like usual, Kumari was right and this morning was a little miserable.

After dinner we tried to get some work done on the computer since the power was off all day, but the internet was failing miserably, so we finally decided to make it an early night. When I woke up, James once again was not here, and I found Kumari angrily cooking. She is starting to get incredibly fed up with him just leaving whenever he feels like it. Hopefully they won’t need him for too much longer; he was only hired when Xavier got sick and Kumari had to take over what Xavier typically did. After breakfast I ran a couple errands on foot, and took Venky and Prithivi along with me. Prithivi is the biggest talker ever, and for the first twenty minutes or so I tried very hard to understand everything he was saying, but when he didn’t even stop to take a breath I slowly gave up. Poor Venky couldn’t get a word in even if he wanted to.

When we got back someone was holding a meeting in our main room and all the kids were playing quietly outside. It is some kind of get rich quick scheme that Kumari’s distant relative is involved in, and Kumari let them meet here. Thankfully Kumari and Xavier aren’t involved. The meeting set up camp right in front of my door, so I’ve been trying hard not to come in and out because they immediately stop what they are doing to stare; so for now I am kind of trapped in here. Hopefully it won’t last much longer.

The rest of this morning should be pretty quiet, but this evening after lunch we are taking the children to some park that is pretty far away. We have to take an auto there, which costs money, so the kids never go unless they have a visitor. I’m saving up my energy for what is sure to be an exhausting outing. I’m glad, though, that this is how I will be spending my last full day with the kids, since Monday and Tuesday they have school.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Glasses and Such...

Hello Family and Friends,

Yesterday afternoon was uneventful, just hanging out with the kids since everyone was home. Later I took a much needed bath. I don’t know why, maybe because they are so dry otherwise, but even washing my hands quickly makes the tips of my fingers turn white and prune up. After bathing, the latch in the bathroom was stuck and after pushing on it hard it finally slid open. My soft, pruned thumb was sliced open by the latch and immediately started bleeding. I tried to hide it while I left the bathroom, but Prince saw the blood coming down my hand and started freaking out getting Kumari’s attention, who also freaked out. It bled hard for several minutes, and when it finally slowed down it revealed the tiniest, shallowest cut I have ever seen in my life. I embarrassedly slapped a band-aide on the bloodiest paper cut ever.

A little before seven, Kumari, Priya, and I left for the optometrist. I was just tagging along because any trip outside always offers a new experience. When we got there Priya started looking at frames, and I asked how much they were. She was looking at 300 Rs. frames, the equivalent of a little more than six dollars. At that point I knew I would not be able to help myself, and started looking at the “specs” myself. I found two that I liked, one grandpa type pair that were big and tanish plastic, and another pair that were silver with no frame on the bottom half. This pair will be my professional pair, and I figured they would make my mom happy since a year later she is still getting used to my Ray-Bans. I had to get my eyes examined, which I was able to get done for free since the place was owned by a family friend. The exam was very archaic and different from other eye checkups I have had. First the doctor was able to look at my glasses and tell what my current prescription is. I was pretty impressed, I know my prescription from my contacts, and he was dead on. He then strapped strange things to my face and slowly discovered that my left eye had gotten .5 worse, while my right had stayed the same. The exam went fine and I was able to understand him pretty well, except for one part. He had just been shining a light in my eye for what seemed like forever, and then he strapped a large interchangeable pair of glasses on me with my new prescription in them. He wanted to make sure it was okay and asked me to read the smallest line on the screen. I could see fine, but the image of the light was burned into my eye and blocked anything that I was looking straight at. I tried explaining and I could tell I was making him a little angry. Just read the bottom line, he kept repeating, his voice getting louder and louder while I continued to try and explain. The light, I pleaded. Yes, he said, I am finished with the light, now you read the bottom line. I looked at Priya for help, but she just shrugged her shoulders. I sighed and told the doctor that I could see the bottom line very clearly, and in the end, that was that. For the lenses and the frames and the eye exam, the total was $32, for two pairs of glasses!

We returned home and the children had already eaten dinner. Sangeetha, the one who sometimes has episodes, had urinated during dinner while just sitting there and Kumari asked her if she had been taking her medicine. Sangeetha finally admitted that she had lost the key to her box. Kumari was very angry, she had put several people in charge of making sure Sangeetha was taking her medicine all of whom had been assuring her that she was, and when she finally broke the box open she could tell that Sangeetha hadn’t taken it in a while. I ate dinner with the family and then went to bed fairly late.

This morning I woke up sweating like you wouldn’t believe; the power had gone out and the fan was off. It is the third Saturday of the month, so the power was turned off all day, until just now (seven o’clock). I ate breakfast and then got to work taking the portraits of each child. I have been making a conscious effort today to take more pictures, I really haven’t taken that many so far. Whenever I pull out my camera it distracts the kids, and I always feel strange taking pictures out in public, because it causes me to draw even more attention to myself.

Kumari went to the market and when she returned we spent an hour or so sorting the large bags of random vegetables. When we finished it was time for lunch, and after lunch the children all rested. When they got up we played the coin-number game, which has always been my favorite. The game, though, has slowly involved more and more cheating by all parties. At first certain rules were secretly overlooked, and then openly overlooked. Today it was at its worse, people were trading coins openly (your coins are supposed to stay your coins) and the littler ones would look over your shoulder to see what you needed, and then search through the pile and secretly trade you for the coin that you needed. In the end, though, with everyone cheating, it was actually just as fun.

I sat with Kumari, who was cooking, until the power came on, and then I came to type this up. That has been my day.

Me, Subala, and Gokila. Gokila is gorgeous, in case you couldn't tell.

Sorting through just one bag of vegetables. It is crazy to think how much food is needed for thirty children, plus the payment boys, plus the family, plus James and Sasheela.

Ranjeeth, Santhosh (one of two...), me, Prasad, and Kasthuri, all out on the back walkway / porch thingy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lots of Errands


Yesterday afternoon we ran some errands; it turned out the optometrist didn’t come in until 7, so we weren’t able to get Priya’s glasses. We got other things that we did need, though, so the auto ride wasn’t a waste. On the main street there was a white family looking lost and confused as ever. It looked as if the sky opened up and they were just dropped in the middle of India. I knew enough Tamil to tell that everyone around them was making fun of them. They spoke only German, which no one here knows; people here only speak Tamil and maybe a little English or Hindi. They were all inappropriately dressed; the woman had their shoulders showing and everyone was wearing shorts, two things you would never see here otherwise. I, honestly, was a little embarrassed to be associated with the group. Thankfully, though, I don’t think I stand out as much as I used to. My shirts all look grungy from being dried in the dusty wind, I’ve gotten tanner, my glasses, surprisingly, are very similar to the ones worn by most adults, and my lungis have gotten soft from wear. Everyone here brushes coconut oil into their hair, and with the amount I sweat and the infrequency of my bathing, my hair also has taken on a slightly greased look. Another thing that has helped me fit in a little better is that I am skinny. Two of the women in this family were larger. They certainly weren’t even close to the largest people I have seen, and in the west their weight would have gone without a second thought. Here, though, that is all people could notice. Even Kumari started laughing and commenting on how big they were. When she calmed down she turned to me and very seriously asked me if it was safe for them to be on a plane. “Did they have to be separated onto different planes to distribute the weight?” she asked me very sincerely. Then it was my turn to laugh.

Once we finished our errands we went straight to pick Baboolu up from school. We had to wait a while outside the gate, where, amongst all the parents, it certainly felt like I didn’t belong. The school was very large and clean and nice, and like everything else here, it was very open to the outdoors. There were fluorescent bulbs strapped to the trees. Fluorescent lights were one of the first thing I noticed here when I got off the plane. They are everywhere along the roads and in houses, and they are always bare. They stick out of the ground in front of every hut like glowing poles. I don’t know how it works, but it looks as if every hut is allotted one fluorescent bulb to be placed out front. The bulbs hang from trees, they are strapped on to random objects; they are everywhere. Outside my window there is one precariously hanging from the top of the electric pole. The one on the front porch hangs by two wires wrapped directly onto the glass.

After fifteen or so minutes of waiting we finally were let into the school. When Baboolu saw me he got really excited and ran to hold my hand. I met his teacher who seemed very nice. We walked back to the auto and I got several strange looks inquiring who this strange white man with a little Indian boy in hand was.

We got home and rested. The rest of the children got home fairly soon after. Naveen did not come home, and apparently Maha ended up leaving the school as well to look for him on her own. We called their grandfather, who seemed fairly convinced that they would either end up back at WIDE or at his house. This morning they still haven’t returned. The night was otherwise very quiet.

This morning I got up and was not really feeling all that well. Kumari, not knowing how I was feeling, made a special different kind of chutney to have with dosais. The chutney was fantastic, and I was upset that I wasn’t able to eat more of it. After an hour or so I felt a lot better, which was good because today is a festival day so the kids don’t have school. I took Ajith Kumar and Mukesh with me to the bank, which was a much farther walk than I thought it would be. The whole way I was harassed by auto drivers who I guess just assumed that as a westerner I am not capable of walking anywhere. They also all seemed to assume that I needed to go to the ashram. “Ramanashram, Ramanashram?” they would yell at me. Some drivers would even cut me off by stopping their autorickshaws right in my path in an effort to force a ride on me. When we got back I almost immediately left with Kumari and Durga to get office supplies. We walked to a shop that was fairly close, but everything was expensive, so we took an even farther walk to a main road to get an auto. We picked up what we needed and came home for lunch. Now I have the files and things needed to create and organize an office for Kumari, so I am going to get to work.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Naveen Trouble, and the Doctor

Hello Everyone,

Yesterday evening was pretty normal. We rested after picking Baboolu up from school. He is feeling a lot better about school now. Xavier had a talk with him about how since he is sick Baboolu is going to have to take care of him, and he can only do this if he is educated. Plus, the teacher praised him a lot yesterday, so he was feeling better about himself. We woke as the children started coming back from school. Naveen had a new toy with him, along with forty rupees. Priya had fifty rupees that just went missing, and Naveen’s story about how he got the money continued to change. He has a history of stealing; when he lived with his grandfather he would always steal. Kumari was very upset that he was taking from them when they already give everything the have to the kids. To make matters worse, Xavier was feeling better today and visited the schools; he used to talk to the teachers almost every day. It turns out that since Xavier has been too sick to do his regular checkups, Naveen has not attended school. Xavier came home to let us know that Naveen was not at school and hasn’t gone for the past couple weeks, right when Naveen’s grandfather called. Naveen went to his grandfather’s house and said that the school was asking for fifty rupees, the grandfather gave it to him and Naveen left. The school is not asking for any money. Kumari doesn’t know what to do, and I guess I will have to wait and see how this afternoon goes when Naveen comes home.

The other news that we got last night had to do with the wealthier orphanage in Tiru; high school aged children from that orphanage were picking up Chella by his neck and choking him. To add insult to injury, the teenagers then mocked all of our kids for coming from such a poor orphanage. Though this situation is maddening no matter what, the fact that they were beating up Chella, the youngest child at WIDE, of all the children really made me angry. In addition, one of their teachers is the director of this other orphanage and he called up Sathiya to question her about the white man that had come to visit WIDE. He wanted to know what I was doing and where I was staying. When he heard that I was staying with the children he laughed and poked fun at WIDE and Kumari for apparently not knowing how to treat a foreigner. I would just like to say that I have been treated better than I could have ever imagined, and that I am truly enjoying staying in the same home as the kids; I like being where all the action is. Kumari and everyone else have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable, and I am forever grateful.

After listening to the children’s stories we all bathed and got ready to go to the hospital. Xavier felt well enough to shave and comb his hair, and this is the first time I have really seen him cleaned up. At seven we got an auto and made our way to the hospital. We were appointment number eight, and it turned out we had missed our spot, so we had to wait several hours. It wasn’t too bad, though, because I enjoy people watching. The security guard at the hospital was rolling cotton onto sticks to make swabs, and several times I watched him sneeze or cough right into the cotton. People here don’t cover their mouths when they cough; instead they bang the top of their heads. The next time I have a cold I want to try this to see what, if any, effect banging your head has while coughing. There was a very sick woman who couldn’t even sit upright there with her sister; a very young fair skinned bride with her rough husband; a man that had something sticking out of his knee and blood flowing from his forehead; and an old woman who couldn’t take her eyes off of me and was there even longer than us. Everyone was very crammed together and all I could envision were all the strange and dangerous disease inducing microbes floating through the air towards me.

When we finally were seen, the doctor did the typical checkup and asked the typical questions, and then wrote out the prescription for another ten days. When he finished Kumari told him that I had some questions, which led to a little bit of awkwardness. At first I was a little nervous, but I soon got into the flow of the questions that I wanted answered. Over time I realized that I was actually making him nervous; he is not used to being questioned about any of his decisions. He started to warm up to me a little and then we discussed the final cost for the one year treatment. He was going over what different things cost, and he said that his fee is 75 Rs. per visit, but sometimes he waives the fee, depending on his mood. He thought his joke about charging based on his mood was hilarious and he burst out laughing, and his laughter was really contagious. When we finally left we weren’t charged anything, other than for the medications, so I’m guessing he was in a good mood.

We got home around 11 and I finally ate dinner, and quickly went to sleep. This morning I woke up very earlier, and was with the children for a couple hours before they had to leave for school. I then ate breakfast and got some work done, and am now about to go with Priya to get new glasses. Hers broke a month ago, and just now they have gathered enough money to get a new pair. School has been difficult for her since she hasn’t been able to see the board.

I hope all is well at home; I will be back in less than a week!