You may be wondering why I chose that clever title. Here are my reasons why:
Firstly, I wanted a catchy title to entice my audience.
Secondly, because my friend Evie inspired me to use a unique title for each blog post I compose.
Thirdly, because India has been something of a romance with its many (sorry for the use of a cliché) high, low, and routine moments. Also, like any good catch, it is so hard to understand!
Lastly, you'll find out the real reason near then end of my blog.
Anyways, I feel truly blessed that I have been able to enrich my Jewish role and identity in India, where Jews comprise less than less than one one-thousandth of one percent of India's total population.
That being said, I do begin with a somber note. This morning prior to our first class of the week, our cohort was informed that one of the boys we taught, Shrawan, passed away Friday night. He was only 11 years old. Shrawan was a kind and intelligent boy, who very much enjoyed drawing. For one of our first activities he drew a picture of a doctor, in which he stated that he wanted to become a doctor some day. Needless to say, the class began with dampened enthusiasm. But we still had a job to do, and Monday's lesson was a beneficial lesson on geography and modes of transportation. (I.e. taxis, airplanes, trains, legs) This week's theme for our lessons is geography. We plan to end the week on Friday with a lesson on the Solar System.
Last week's lesson as previously stated, was on anatomy. For one of the activities during the week, the students had to place a sticky note with the name of a body part onto the corresponding part of a human volunteer. I was that human volunteer. Fortunately, most of the students were able to locate parts like the nose, ears, eyes, and legs. Unfortunately, masking tape and a lot of sweat do not seem to stick so well together. I was only covered in sticky notes for a few brief moments.
This past Wednesday, Isaiah, Leigh, and I journeyed to Thane (pronounced Tah-nee) for our opportunity to teach the Torah and Hebrew class offered at the synagogue there. We also learned about the stringency of the security there, as it took Leigh being interrogated for 15 minutes, and a few phone calls being made before we were allowed to enter. It seems that Jewish institutions here are still very paranoid, and rightly so after the 2008 terror attacks. A highlight of the Hebrew class included the class members and teachers each sharing their favorite food and its caloric value in Hebrew. One of the older ladies was kind enough to prepare her favorite food, which was like sweet beer bread in the form of a muffin. It probably had about 200 calories. I said that right then I really, really wanted a Shawarma, with spice, salad, hummus, and tahini.
Today, five days later, my wish was granted. As I was en route to the Starbucks by the Taj Hotel to compose my blog, I truly had a taste of Israel. Actually two, as I had two Shawarmas in fresh, warm Pita bread with chicken, spice, hummus, pickled vegetables, and a yogurty sauce. Funnily enough, I learned that two of the gentleman eating in the Lebanese restaurant where I ate, were from Jerusalem. I'm guessing I consumed about 800 calories at lunch. It was pure, romantic bliss in every bite. It certainly beat the taste of soap, which I experienced after consuming a fifteen-cent mango lassi on the street.
This past weekend was again another taste of Israel, or at least thankfully, a place far from Mumbai. *I have to say that Mumbai has usually been a very pleasant experience, but it is also great to get away from its overwhelming pollution. * Our cohort journeyed to Goa on Thursday night for a long weekend, where we all stayed in a lovely villa a few minutes walk from the Indian Ocean. (Goa is a state south of Mumbai known for its beaches and touristy atmosphere) Thus for the cohort, and myself, Goa was a much needed vacation from Mumbai. When we had finally arrived to our villa early Friday morning, we immediately headed to the beach where I ran into the water like a kid realizing he can first run, and trip over an ocean's waves. I forgot that I was even in India at that moment. Saturday night took us to a place, which seemed like Brazil, in all its glory. The man singing to the patrons there played two of my favorite songs, both of which are in Portuguese. The songs were Che che che reche (a party ballad) and Ai Se Eu Te Pego (Ah when I get my hands on you—a love ballad), which is extremely catchy. I'll give you the link for you to enjoy while you finish reading my blog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lONZoqEQ5m0&feature=kp
Also at the restaurant, we celebrated my birthday. Although it is actually April 5th, Louisa thought it would be funny if Isaiah, who plays the guitar, went up to the microphone to sing happy birthday to me. I really enjoyed this, but not as much when Isaiah started singing "Gesher Tzar Meod" and our whole cohort started belting out the lyrics in Hebrew, English, and Hindi. I can say that probably no one else at the restaurant had heard that song before.
So this week is back to work, and no more vacation until our cohort hopefully travels to Agra to see the Taj Mahal in three weeks. Tomorrow, I will help teach the Torah class at the local JCC, and Wednesday I'll again help teach the Torah and Hebrew class in Thane, where I hope we can enter in less than 15 minutes. I also hope that I can wear a shirt outide for longer than three minutes before sweating through it.
Alvida from the land of smog and love,