Cycles of Gratitude

The last two days have been filled with orientation and touring of the ashram’s facilities, all of which have been fascinating. It has only been two days and I feel that I have learned and experienced so much already. I will give overviews of the ashram’s exciting initiatives in the near future, so stay posted and I’ll keep postin’.

I’ve been posting in the society’s office building. Here’s a view from the balcony of my new office. It’s hard to feel like you’re at work when you’re at the beach all day. This is the ocean promenade where the residents come watch the sunrise, or take an evening stroll in their best dressed. You can see the giant statue of Gandhi under the white columned memorial structure, and the fishing pier far in the distance.

July 14th was Bastille Day, and since Pondicherry used to be a French protectorate, a fireworks display was set off along the promenade in celebration of the French Revolution’s day of Independence.

In spite of our orientation events, we are getting a bit of time to explore around town. Today we rented bicycles from the local shop for 40 rupees a day (about one dollar).  Here bicycles are called “cycles;” “bikes” are motorbikes.

I don’t drive, so my bicycle is my trusty steed. I love to bike; it is freedom. I was given a bright purple bike that has “my best friend forever” painted on the side. How cool is that? Keri decided to not bike today, as she is sill nursing her 34 mosquito bites, some of which have swelled up. It’s not a fun time, but she’s a trooper. (I’ve gotten several bites, but nothing too dramatic.)

Dan and I went on a wonderful late morning ride through the neighborhoods. We biked past the train station, the Indira Gandhi sports complex, and the myriad of sherbert colored houses. We saw some water buffalo relaxing in a small trash-infused pond, as happy as can be.

Dan asking some children how to say water buffalo in Tamil.

“Cow, cow!” they said. 

We then rode down a deserted road and happened upon the bay where all the local fishing boats are kept docked on the shore, the fishermen hanging out in the shade or mending their hand nets. At sunrise the fishermen go out on their boats both large and small to try their luck. During the day the women sell the catch in small stands on the side of the road. Dan and I both love seafood, but we’d probably have to be feeling extra adventuresome to try their wares.

sunrise over the Bay of Bengal, with the fishermen in the distance

I woke up early from the jet-lag and walked the block to the oceanside. My bleary eyes were rewarded with this spectacular sunrise. I sat and wrote a few thank you cards to some important people in my life, especially my parents.

Me and the folks

I have been meaning to write a letter to them for awhile now, thanking them for everything they have given me: a passion for travel and developing into a global citizen, my college education, supporting my run for ASUO President, and their help in sending me off to India. As I wrote, the flow of gratitude overwhelmed me, and before I knew it tears were rolling down my face, as regularly as the waves crashing on the rocks at my feet. It could have been the sleep deprivation, but this morning I rediscovered the power of gratitude. For me, it is the gateway to finding and expressing joy in my life. I can intellectually know that I am happy (and I have never been more so), but to feel it bubbling it up inside so that it overflows and you want to– no, you are compelled to pass your joy onto others, that is something else. This last year has been a time of exciting growth and challenge, but now I am ready to observe, learn, appreciate, and love.

I have decided to start regularly writing postcards of gratitude to the people in my life who have believed in me, giving me opportunities to succeed and figure out a little bit more of what I am capable.

Yesterday Keri and I bought stamps and cards at the local post office, and the guesthouse mailed them for us today. 🙂 They said mail takes about 15 days to go to and from the US. We’ll see if that’s accurate.