September 5th, 2011
My host in Amritsar was named Gurprakesh, my friend Shabd’s schoolmate and now teacher of Mir Piri Academy. A native Texan, Gurprakesh is a tall guy by American standards, and he towers over everyone here. I found him to be an infinitely earnest and generous person. He wears the traditional Sikh garb with Nikes; it’s great. He picked me up from the train station and helped me find lodging, treated me to some delicious Punjabi meals, and gave me a tour of his school and the Golden Temple. Gurprakesh grew up in Houston and every year does nine months of teaching in India and then three months of holiday in the States.
Gurprakesh (right) and a fellow teacher
He treated me to some delicious Punjabi meals at his favorite restaurant. Punjabi food is very heavy, with lots of oil in the dahl and flaky chapatti spread with ghee, clarified butter. The eggplant curry was my favorite. The sweet lassi is a specialty, a liquefied fruity yogurt drink. It is creamy delicious heaven, and apparently it’s also good for digestion (Indians are obsessed with good digestion, and with all the fibrous rice and dahl, I can understand).
The Miri Piri Academy is a Sikh residential school with around a hundred students and twenty teachers. About half the students are Sikh, and there are children from America, Germany, Thailand, and nationals as well. I went to a Sunday service where all of the school gathers to chant and meditate together. The school’s sports grounds are really nice. My favorite part was the swimming pool, a recent addition. The teachers told the students that if they wanted a pool they would have to dig it themselves. So they did! The pool is just a square hole with black tarp over it and a water pump to fill and drain it. It was great fun to sit and watch the kids slip, slide and splash. My time there was a very nice oasis from the dusty chaos of Amritsar.