Friday, 21 November 2014

7QT: Excerpts from Old Journal

You'd have thought I would have a detailed journal from the time I was six, but surprisingly, I didn't. I had one or two in my childhood I occasionally wrote in, but I only started keeping a regular journal at the ripe old age of 24, on my computer, when I left my home in 2010 to join an organization based in the US. I wrote often in it over the next two and a half years, as I lived in the US and the Philippines, and visited Mexico. Sad to say, once I had regular access to the Internet I wrote a lot less. Anyway, I'm really enjoying re-reading the random snippets of life that I recorded over that time. These are all from my time in the US, maybe next time it will be about the Philippines.


Americans' reactions to me being Indian:

'K mentioned that he was surprised that I didn't seem to have any accent at all. He’s worked with several Indians with the missionaries of Charity, and said he could recognize Indian accents pretty well now. Well, I told him, there are a variety of Indian accents depending on which part of India you came from. So he asked if my accentlessness was something people from my city had in common or if it was just my family, and I had to admit that it was just my very strange family.

Explaining that I’m not the typical Indian was as hard as I expected it to be. They are surprised that I don’t fit into their expectations of Indians, and I keep trying to tell them that I am pretty different from most Indians...I hope they don’t expect to learn about Indians by observing my life and manners and way of thinking.'


On being thought to be younger than I am- STILL happens!

'Oh you know, most people are really blank when it comes to figuring out how old I am... I was talking to one of the campers (at a youth camp), a 12 year old girl named N.

N: So how old are you?

Me: Very old.

N: No, how old exactly?

Me: I’ll tell you what. Take a good look at me, estimate how old I look, and then add five years to that.

So she looks at me.

N: Eighteen.

Me: Now add five years to that.

N: I already did!

Good grief! She thought I was thirteen!'


Insightful American-Indian comparisons:

'I don’t know if I wrote about this before, but one of the major differences I've found between Americans and Indians is that Americans are encouraged to be way more spontaneous and creative and uninhibited ever since they were little kids. Indians are not. So back home our family was considered creative and I was one of the crazy people... here I’m not.'

'I feel a little intimidated by how much more spontaneous everyone is here. Which in turn makes me way more inhibited than I normally am. I remind myself of so many Indians I knew- who were stiff, unsure of themselves, a little envious of the comfort zones of others. And the thing is, I know I’m not like that. Maybe it’s back to my ‘comparison’ complex. I define myself only in relation to other people. So when people at YA (our youth group) were shy or uncomfortable or quiet, I was loud and funny and outgoing. Now that I’m with funny outgoing spontaneous people, I’m quiet and inhibited and a little lost.'


Even more insight on feeling at home and yet out of place with my new community all wrapped up in a dance analogy (I know, I know, NOT a quick take):

I feel like I was a foreigner in my own country, and now I've finally found my world. Except that I don’t really fit in. Or like I've been speaking a strange language all my life that no one fully understood, and now I've come to a place where everyone speaks the language, except that I've realized I can understand the language really well, but can’t speak it as well as I thought I could.

However I have a strong feeling that I’m going to pick it up gradually, like when I got good at jiving. At first I just watched, for years in fact. I remember sitting at the side at youth group events, everybody else twirling and floating, blurred, but graceful. I would watch so wistfully, but guys rarely asked me to dance. Mostly because it was considered a declaration of interest if a guy asked a girl to dance. So they were scared that they were committing something if they just asked for a dance. So they just didn't. And a few of us girls would just be the wallflowers.

But then gradually I started learning. There were so many awkward attempts. Dancing with other girls, dancing with a few awkward guys who couldn't really dance. I thought it was hopeless. I didn't think I would ever be graceful and jive like the other girls. But then... it happened.... Oh the joy of dancing gracefully. It was like flying. . It was the joy of getting the rhythm, being a part of it, not just observing it from the outside. Being beautiful...

So I’m hoping- and I can see it happening- that I am eventually going to find my groove, move with the rhythm, dance this dance with grace and beauty and joy. It won’t look exactly the same as everyone else, because I’m Indian, and my cultural history is different, and I am different...

...So I will dance a slightly different dance, and yet the same- because we all come from different places, made with different molds and different colours and different flavours, and yet we are all wrapped together by our love for Jesus, and our love for souls, and we are all dancing together in the same direction- towards Heaven. And someday we will all be there, living together in perfect communion with Christ and each other. Someday.


A cooking fiasco and revealing my un-saintliness to my Christian community

'So I offered to cook (for the community) last week, and decided on chole bhatura as my menu. Simple enough, I thought, considering I had ready-made masala, and I've made bhaturas a zillion times. I started off on Wednesday morning by reading the recipe and suddenly realizing that the bhatura dough was supposed to ‘sit’ for six hours before I could use it. I hadn't even bought the ingredients. And here I can’t just pop down to the store to buy my groceries. It’s a Walmart trip that takes a full hour. So I started very late, using baking powder instead of yeast... not because they didn’t have yeast, but because I assumed they didn’t have yeast, and I didn’t bother to ask. The recipe said place dough in warm place to rise. Since the inside of the house was air conditioned, I decided to put it on a table on the porch. Real wise move.

Okay I am going to cut this narrative short since it really is already wearing on my nerves. Basically first I burnt the onions. Some of them. So I changed the pot, remembering Mama’s warnings about the burnt taste spoiling the whole dish. Then I cut open the packet of chole masala... and EMPTIED THE ENTIRE PACKET ON TO THE ONIONS. And mixed it in well. That’s when I stopped and said “Hmm... this looks very wrong.” I had put in more than double of what I needed. I just hadn't bothered to read the small print on the box. Gosh.

 I had a bunch of kids helping out, and with their encouragement and sympathy, and with a little inspiration from Mama Mary, I threw away half the onion with the masala, and added some more raw onions. Then I decided to check on the dough.

“Oh &%$# !” I exploded in front of all the kids ages 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15 and their mother as I charged toward the porch. That stupid crazy dog was on the table, and having pulled off the cling wrap had his head in my dough. I freaked out! What would a dumb dog want with dough?

Thankfully, it hadn't made much headway, so I just threw away the top and quietly used the rest. It hadn't really risen, so the bhaturas didn't puff up well, then I managed to splash hot oil on my foot and the chole curry was so pungent that I added four tomatoes and I still burnt my throat when I tried it... but guess what? It was still edible, and they all enjoyed it. 

Well, the little kids weren’t allowed to eat the curry because it was too pungent, but they enjoyed the bhaturas. Everyone loved the bhaturas, and the older  kids were fascinated by the way they puffed up in the hot oil. The slogan for the bhaturas was “They’re not just edible, they’re INCREDIBLE!”'


A prayer I wrote that I need to remember:

'Lord, let me see people as souls that You want me to love, not as potential attention-givers or ego-feeders. Grant that I may no longer seek to be loved but to love.'


Random observations:

'I know I’m inculturated when... I’m at a Mexican event with the others and I say “You know, we’re the only white people here.” Oh, wait.

I know I've had an overload of Spanish when I look at Juanita's FB account and read ‘Wa-neeta’.

I know I miss hearing British English when... I watch Sabrina and feel a little thrill when I hear Audrey Hepburn say ‘buh-nah-nuh’ instead of the American ‘buh-n-Anna’. (A as in apple)'

More Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum.


  1. I really enjoyed reading the 'chole bhature ' part..

    1. I enjoyed it too... in retrospect :-)

  2. I do face the same issues with my age - i'm 35 and everyone thinks i'm 30! Whenever anyone asks me for my age i add 10yrs to my existing age and say 45! Call me uncle and listen to the plan i have (INTJ way of ensuring our plans are executed). Most of the time girls pop the question and after i have said 45yrs - was she actually trying to get to know me for some reason and i turned her away???

    You too want to look at people as souls?? At times i go the length of considering that i'm already in heaven and everyone around me is a soul. My Christian co-workers have started calling me priest too!

    Somehow i feel that you are my twin! We almost think alike (90%)! I've been going through your blogs and it feels as though i'm talking to myself! Thats shocking enough. I've read all your posts from 2013 and 2014. I'll start with 2015 soon! But wait am i addicted to your blog? (or myself?) I'm confused!

    May i ask you for your email id?