Feeling fulfilled and ready for adventure

I walked out of the little AIIS schoolhouse this afternoon to find Kaloo, the resident dog, basking in the bright 5 o’clock sunlight and waiting to bid me farewell. Every once in awhile he’ll walk with me all the way to the gate of Deccan College, but today he stopped just outside of the schoolhouse garden. I turned around to try to convince him to come with me only to see him standing steadfast and alert, wagging his tail. No company on my walk out to catch a rickshaw today.

As I began my evening stroll my thoughts danced like the sunlight that trickled through the green rustling leaves that remain on the trees. They skittered and scattered like the crunchy dry leaves that lined my path. I felt content. A deep sense of gratitude and love for the experience that I’ve had here in India so far hummed in my head and my heart.

This week is my last week of school before my winter vacation. I’ve been very busy with a slew of different things related to my research, Marathi study, and day to day life. But every day, without fail, I have this ten minute walk from school to be alone with my thoughts, to let my mental to-do list fade to the back of my mind and to breathe in the beauty around me and reflect on what my life currently looks like. The serene Deccan College campus is a perfect backdrop for such aimless thinking.

***

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in India for almost 4 months now. I’m so pleased with how my time here has played out so far. I live in a fantastic city full of history and culture, music and good food, and a great sampling of this year’s Fulbrighters. I’ve gone from staring dumbfoundedly at a sentence like this: माझ्या बहीण्याचं नाव अॉरीय अाहे. to being able to write it and read it and know what it means. The amount of genuine care that my teachers at AIIS have for me is delightfully palpable. Whenever I come to school with an anecdote of how I recently used Marathi, a huge smile spreads across Sujata’s face and she leans across her desk to give me a high five. School has been the perfect balance of practical learning and light-hearted laughing.

I was able to finally meet with my research advisor a few weeks ago. I was connected to her through a good friend so I wasn’t too worried about our personalities clicking. I can tell that she’s an inspiring and intelligent woman and she will be an invaluable asset for me as I forge ahead with my project. Just one meeting left me with an endless list of articles to read and people to contact as well as a brain full of ideas and a heart ready to get out and start my fieldwork.

Next week marks the start of a new leg of my adventure here in India. On Monday I’ll hop on the train and head to Nagpur to finally meet with Ajay and Yogini Dolke and discuss the logistics of my fieldwork. After a few days of planning with them, I will continue north to Delhi to meet up with some dear friends. I’ll spend about a week playing around in Delhi, and then my friend Katie and I will fly over to Nepal to spend Christmas trekking in the Himalayas. So surreal, these adventures that lie behind and ahead of me.

I’m not taking my computer with me so the blog posts are about to get pretty sparse. I promise to take lots of photos and before I throw myself into my busy schedule of research and Marathi study that awaits me in January (I am not going to have a social life at all. Yikes), I will sit down and catch you all up on my latest adventures.

In the mean time, happy holidays everyone. I hope you all get to experience a moment of peaceful gratitude like I did on my walk from school today. Till next time…
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