Thursday, October 27, 2011

Babies and Broad Strokes

I am listening to the call to prayer as the monsoons rage outside. This is our final weekend of language training and last few days in Colombo together before we scatter across the continent for our respective projects. It is hard for me to believe that almost a month has passed. Times flies, I suppose. The past two weeks we’ve been commuting by train between Colombo and Kandy. In Kandy I’ve been staying with Bryanna’s (the other Fulbright researcher in Kandy) host mom from her time here as an exchange student. The experience living with a Sri Lankan family has been irreplaceable. Every morning we wake up to a slew of boiled beans, coconut curries, spices and tea. An hour or so later Sheshan, a 1 ½ year old boy arrives at the front door yelling one of the four Sinhala words he knows “Balla,” (dog), “thatthi” (granddad), “aya” (brother) and “ali” (elephant). Sheshan is our host mother’s grandson and he spends the day at the house while his mom teaches English at the University. I’ve never had the chance to really be around a kid his age, apart from the occasional babysitting back in high school, so I’ve been relishing in the opportunity. Sitting at the table with him propped up on one knee, a scoop of rice in my hand, whilst attempting to bribe him to eat his food by inventing comical dances and songs related to how fun eating can be, reaffirms my desire to be a mother someday. There are so many lessons to be learned. Annnnd if baby humans was not enough…our host mom decided to adopt a new born Pomeranian the first week we arrived (and if you know me at all, you know that this warrants excessive amounts of joy and squeaking). Playing with Mimi (a perfect name for the puff of fur that is a puppy Pomeranian) while our host mom is busy chopping away jack fruit from the garden is not a bad life at all.

The last week two of the other Fulbright girls, who will be based down south, came up to Kandy with us. It was the first time I’ve had the chance to go from a potential tenet to a sightseeing tourist while being in Kandy. Seeing the city through a different set of eyes was really nice. We went to the Temple of the Tooth, an elaborate temple in the heart of the city where allegedly Buddha’s tooth is located, an elephant orphanage outside of the city, and the largest botanical gardens in Asia—all of which have reaffirmed my love of this country. Sri Lanka is breathtaking.

I continue to be busy meeting people and learning more about the different avenues my research can take. Once we settle into a house (hopefully within the next few days) I look forward to starting to meet with people and learn more about where I’d like to do my work. The other day I had my first meeting with my advisor, an 85 year old Buddhist monk and Pali scholar at the University. We only met for a few minutes, but I ended up talking to several other Buddhist monks who were pursuing their Phds, one whose focus is on the psychological impact of meditation. In the midst of our conversation I was taken aback by a moment of inner celebration, realizing how satisfied it is to finally be doing the kind of work I love. I look forward to the coming days.

I hope everyone back home is well. Once things are a bit less busy I hope to blog on a regular basis, hoping to avoid posts like this one that are littered with a lack of detail and miss so much of the smaller moments I’d love to share. But until then, love to all!

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