New Project, New House, Diwali and Farewells

One of the things I’m looking forward to the most when I come back from vacation is a singing project I’ve recently become a part of. A Hindustani classical artist in the area, along with some other singers and musicians, is composing a CD of music set to English translations of poems written by a person associated with the Karmapa’s temple in Sidhbari. I am singing the melody on at least two of the tracks and helping, where I can, to compose the tune and to give bits of advice on whether the composition sounds Western enough or not. My friend Taylor is also helping out by singing, playing guitar and playing drums. I’m so excited that I can use my voice again in a way that is culturally satisfying to me!

I also have a new house, which I am thrilled about! Some awesome features it includes: space to entertain guests (and a place for one other person to sleep), a working shower head, a lovely landlady named Didi, it’s a 20 minute walk to work (uphill), and a cute neighborhood dog named Ginger. I’ve really been settling in nicely there and getting to know the expats in the community I’m living in. In January, when I get back from my extended vacation, Ginger will be living with me for two whole months! With the addition of a dog and my new space heater (it gets COLD here in the winter), it will feel even more like home.

Some holidays I missed telling you about: For Diwali (a festival involving worship of Laxmi (goddess of luck and good fortune), I ate lots of good food, sat in on a pooja (prayer) ceremony welcoming Laxmi into the house, went to many Nepali neighbors houses for singing, dancing and more food, and set off fireworks with my immediate neighbors and some fellow volunteers. For Thanksgiving, I helped my landlady’s daughter, Maya, make garlic bread, and at Thanksgiving dinner (chicken and bacon casserole, salad, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce made from dried cranberries, gravy, green beans, and pecan and pumpkin pie) with Didi, Maya, my co-worker Vasu, her mother, two Australian nuns of the Chinese Buddhist ordination, and an Englishwoman named Jo. We talked about feminism and what solutions we saw to the world’s problems and ate far too much food.

Over the past two weeks, I said goodbye to nine volunteers who had become my close friends here: seven of them were from Canada, one was from Switzerland, and one was from Scotland. It was really hard saying goodbye to them, and I’ve realized that a lot of people will come and go over the course of my fellowship. At the same time, I am so lucky to have known these women and I now have friends in three countries I never had friends in before! Eva, a volunteer from Germany, and Anshi, a volunteer from Chandigarh (India) will be working with me until at least the end of February, so I’m in good “foreign” company.Though it’s always hard to say goodbye, I look forward to new volunteers coming and going, so we can build friendships and communities together, even if the latter are only temporary.

Next post: A very Rajasthani vacation from October!

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5 thoughts on “New Project, New House, Diwali and Farewells

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I am touched by the beauty and spirituality of your community that is woven into your daily life. Your friends and colleagues look so nice, too. That CD sounds awesome, what a wonderful use of your voice… I’m happy for you Christina!

  2. Christina I’m so happy to be reading this! I’m finally at home now, sitting watching my newly decorated Christmas tree and procrastinating unpacking my bag. I’m glad to be home but it’s definitely a tough transition. Nothing makes sense here! The cars should be swerving and there should be people everywhere- it’s so orderly in Toronto!

    I hope you’re enjoying your holidays! I can’t wait to hear about them and to reconnect when you’re back in Sidhbari.

    xo lots of love, Merry Christmas
    Clarke

  3. Sounds like you’re doing amazingly Christina! So glad to be able to see some of the people and places that populate your life, and with any luck, hopefully I can make use of that spare bedroom and come visit you sometime in the next two years. There’s a very good chance I’ll be in Asia this summer, and with flights the way they are, I’ll have no qualms about shipping out to Himachel Pradesh. Miss you and hope you’re having so much fun in Taigu!

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