wrapping up in the village

We’re down to our final days in the village. Once again I find myself suddenly looking around Chavadipudur and Coimbatore and wondering if I’ll ever be back here again. It’s amazing to think how unfamiliar all this seemed just a few years back: the trees full of large, colorful flowers, all my friends in the village, the incredible biriyani in town. Now it seems natural, normal. So far I have never felt that I’ve been somewhere I loved that I wouldn’t visit again someday. This time, though I love it here, I really have to wonder ….

Despite the familiarity, though, I’m still finding chances to do new things. Like visit Kotagiri. Vinu (from Shanti Ashram) was looking for some land up there among the mountains and tea plantations, and I decided to tag along. Minus the camera, which is unfortunate because it was really quite beautiful; the picture above is from the internet—it doesn’t show any of my favorite scenes, and the weather while I was there (damp and cold) made everything seem even more colorful. The plot Vinu had gone to see had an especially good view of the surrounding mountains.

Then yesterday I got to watch Kristi present her research impressions to an audience made up of public health students and many of the mothers she had been interviewing. She did a really good job speaking through her translator to encourage, uplift, inform, and thank those she has been working with for the last couple of months. Ever since I first visited Shanti Ashram in 2003, I’ve wanted Kristi to have the opportunity of meeting and working with this great group of people. And now my wish has come true, and she was every bit the shining star I imagined she’d be. So, though many of you might wonder why you never hear from her, know that she’s been doing amazing work here studying childhood nutrition (and putting in a lot of hours). You should ask her about it when she gets home.

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