Monday, February 4, 2013


The mercury is on the rise here. So far it has not been unbearable, but we keep getting warned about the temperatures ahead. I hope I will learn to not complain when the temperature does soar. One of the locals told me that summer temperatures can reach 48 degrees Celsius. (For those keeping score in the land of Fahrenheit that is approximately 120 degrees.) I also plan to get a monthly pass to the local pool. Swimming to cool down may help me keep my sanity. The theory was tested this weekend. It worked, then again maybe it had something to do with the company…

My lovely, and almost-too-spunky-for-her-own-good, roommate made a bet with one of the physiotherapists that Murray would beat Federer in the Australian Open. The bet was this: if Murray won, Neeraj (the physiotherapist) would be subjected to swimming lessons from Charlie; if Federer won, Charlie would have to make an English cake for Neeraj. This particular physiotherapist defines the term “die hard” when it comes to being a Federer fanatical. Rumor has it he didn’t eat the night Federer lost to Murray. I’m not sure if he didn’t eat because Federer lost, or if it was because he was nervous about having Charlie drowned him as a result of the bet. At any rate, this past weekend was the weekend they settled the bet. (Side note: Neeraj, being the risky gambler that he is, bet me that I couldn’t get his roommate, Alok, into the pool for lessons. Lucky for him there was nothing other than the satisfaction of winning resting on that bet.)

As I waited for the boys by the pool, I was thinking about swimming. It had been a while since I had been, and was very much looking forward to it. I could tell by the way they approached me that Neeraj and Alok were not as eager as I. The thought then crossed my mind that we were really just reciprocating their actions. Neeraj and Alok have graciously and selflessly come alongside Charlie and I at various times to help us stay afloat in this pool of Indian culture.
Despite appearances, Neeraj (the one lurking in the shadows) did actually get into the pool for about an hour. On the other hand, Alok, the one Neeraj thought I wouldn't be able to get in the pool, was the last one out.
Our first task was to make sure they were comfortable in the water. They did the same for us. They showed us to the best bakeries and lassi shops, oriented us to the bus system, made sure we safely crossed the streets, had adequate internet access, etc. They made sure we felt comfortable. They made sure we were not afraid to venture out. They haven’t molly-coddled us, but they have diligently checked in on us to see that our time here is pleasant and enjoyable.

Once the level of comfort was up, we began to teach them technique. They did the same for us. In taking us here and there, they explained landmarks and pointed out the tricks so that we would be able to independently repeat the activity. They have done a marvelous job. I was able to make it to and from Chennai on the government bus system alone with confidence. I give them and my ever-present and protecting Savior the credit for my safety and swift, easy travel.

It was a month ago today that I arrived in India. A month ago today I felt like I was drowning. It was a brief episode, but I cannot ignore it. So many new faces, new sounds, new cultural boundaries, new… everything that it was easy to feel overwhelmed. It is largely due to Neeraj and Alok, and other locals like the two of them, that I have been able to stay afloat in this land. I am no longer sinking, but swimming. I thank the Lord that He has place people like them in my life to help me through this amazing experience and make it all the more enjoyable. And thank you, boys, for being good sports about the swimming lessons. 
Nothing completes a summer swim like a pizza dinner. Neeraj was sure to sport his "Roger Federer" shirt to dinner that night. Hard core.
We played hangman while waiting for our food. The theme was "anatomical terms" to level the playing field. 
Any guesses?


  1. There is no LIKE button to like this post..!
    Well I like it něi love it..! :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Nicely written. I should say thank you to all of you for teaching me swimming( partly, still need to learn breath control and left hand stroke). Thank you Charli and Em for the making our entry possible!
    Hope I learn swimming soon.:)

  4. Gastrocnemius?? :) I love reading your's almost as good as going to India!