Friday, December 9, 2011

Our very own Mistletoe Moment

Our very own Mistletoe Moment: written for 1000 Fights

Our MM moment happened in Delhi, India. I know what you must be thinking.... We have been to amazing romantic cities like Paris, Rome and Vienna. Countless sunsets were watched over pristine beaches in Spain and Croatia. We've had many adrenaline pumping adventures in South America. Nope, our moment happened in a slum in New Delhi, India.

I have no idea why we decided to volunteer, I think it was my idea but I can't quite pinpoint the actual reason I wanted to do it. It may have been that I wanted to "give back" which really means I wanted to absolve myself of the guilt I had for quitting my job and flitting around the world spending all of my husband's money, or maybe it was really all about making myself feel like a better person. Whichever reason it was, at the end of the program I felt all the terribly cliched things about volunteering: I really did fall in love with the kids, they taught me way more than I taught them.... You know exactly what I'm talking about, you've heard this before....

So it was our first day of our assignment. We were going to teach English to kids in an alleyway on the edge of a large slum in the Okhla Phase 2 district of Delhi. It really was an alleyway, with an awning made of corrugated asbestos pieces. At the end of the alleyway was the "office" which was a little shack made of scrap metal, bricks, and had the same asbestos ceiling. Attached to the ceiling was a wood beam, with a fan tied to it by a piece of rope. The fan blades were attached to a small motor that had a cord, the cord was cut and peeled back to expose the inside wires, the wires were shoved into an open electrical looking thing. It wasn't a socket. It was like a box, and there was a hole, and these wires were shoved into it. The fan was having a seizure as the blades whirled slowly and precariously over our heads. It was the beginning of October so the temperature was around 38C/100F so as much as I was scared that this fan was going to decapitate/electrocute me I was thankful for it's small, pitiful existence. The guy who runs the school was an extremely nice gentleman who asked us all about ourselves, told us about the school and offered us some Chai. When someone who obviously has so little offers you something, you have to accept. I couldn't decline on account that I thought that tea made in a pot on the floor was going to be dirty. What's a little dirt anyways? (I found out, by spending a month in India, a little dirt won't kill you. Actually, a lot of dirt won't kill you either). One of the children turned on the electric burner, also with exposed wires shoved into the same electric-hole-box that the fan was operating out of.

We chatted, I looked warily at the electric burner, smiled, chatted some more. The director became inpatient and rattled off something stern sounding in Hindi. I guess the water wasn't boiling fast enough? Did I mention this was water they got out of a pipe in the alleyway? Yeah. I was having visions of all the hurt that my stomach was going to experience as a result of this tea. I really, really, really wanted to make sure the water was boiled, for like a really, really, really long time to get rid of whatever parasites were in it. then it came out- a gas propane tank. It was covered in dust, dented and a little rusty. There was a broken piece, that looked like the valve, which they were arguing over in Hindi. They pulled out a gas burner for it and started shoving wires in and taking them out and playing with the valve and arguing. I looked at Bill. Bill looked at me. I can't quite explain the look we both fixed onto one another. A look of terror perhaps? Devotion? Love? My thought was literally that if I died, in a huge freak-Chai-gas tank- accident in India at least I would be with my husband. Staring into his beautiful large brown eyes as my body exploded into flames and the pieces of my ash floated up into the somewhat hazy, muddy sky of Delhi. Such a romantic way to go. I never thought it would be like this. I don't know what I thought it would be like, I never think about dying, it scares the shit out of me. We both took a small breath of anticipation as they turned the broken valve one last time and exhaled a very huge sigh of relief as the flame came on and we did not explode.

After a very hurried cup of tea we went out for lunch. Over vegetable samosas in a thing that was kind of like a restaurant, with roaches crawling on the floor, we confessed to each other that we were both thinking the same thing at the same moment back in the office. The look we shared was one of undying love, and the desire to express so at that exact place in time. We did make it through our two weeks of volunteering miraculously unscathed. Thankful for the experience, but more thankful for each other.

It was the best chai I've ever had.

1 comment:

  1. Holy cow you guys! Now that is a Mistletoe Moment!!!