Monday, April 8, 2013


A catamaran is a sailing vessel with two hulls. The word catamaran, incidentally, comes from the Tamil word kattumaram meaning “tied wood.” Although originally the double-hulled design was met with much skepticism because it was based on geometry rather than physics, the concept is now widely used due to its speed, stability and ability to carry large loads.

Like two pieces of floating wood when we first arrived in India, we tied ourselves together and turned headlong into the open and unknown seas. As our main sail caught the wind, together we picked up speed and stability as we navigated the uncharted waters. Together we learned how to safely cross an Indian street, which eventually lead to learning how to safely jump on and off a moving bus. Together we learned how to tie a saree, which eventually lead to leaning how to walk and act in them. Together we learned how to manage the frequent power cuts and water shortages, which eventually lead to learning how to take a crow bath and do hand laundry in the dark. We shared food, friends, and fellowship. She was there to celebrate with me when my crazy inventions turned out successfully. I was there for her to celebrate her successes in hydrotherapy (and her birthday).
This was early on when we thought we could maintain the condition of our feet with pedicures. It was worth a try, right?

After the 5k run. I knew she was a keeper when she willingly threw her arm around my sweaty self for a photo. 

This would be during the 5 k run. A cheerleader for me not only during the 5k but also during my entire stay in India. 

Classy molassy... 

Soon enough we were finishing one another’s sentences. More times than I can count she would start a sentence and I would look at her in bewilderment because she had just started the sentence that was about to fall from my own lips. I would make a move and she would laugh because I had started to make the move she was a millisecond away from making. We marveled at how strange it was that we were so alike and yet so different. We wondered how it was that two people could be so close to one another after only meeting for three months. We were “tied wood,” tossed to and fro on the waves of Indian culture.
This is her chasing down the goats on our street. 

Learning how to wear a saree together. 

She often humored me in my quest for adventure... even if it meant getting up waaaaay before her alarm normally went off. 

Spunky lil'  one, she is! Always keeping us guessing as to what her next move would be. 

But graceful as well... until she started walking. :) Elegance from the inside out. 

At CMC we were seen as a pair. When she was not with me, someone would inevitably ask where my friend was. We didn’t need names. We were the two unconventional internationals who were always together. In fact, the rehab canteen staff knew us as “England and America.” It was never an effort to be in one another’s company. We could enjoy comfortable silence or blabber incessantly about nothing.
She added a unique bit of drama to my life in India... 

Together we explored many a spice market. This one happens to be in Mysore. 

She never missed an opportunity to educate others. Here she is demonstrating to Sunil how it would feel if someone played with his facial hair... don't ask. She had her reasons. Did I mention that she is fairly unpredictable sometimes? I don't think Sunil saw it coming... 

Together we joined the rehab team for home visits. 

She challenged me. Inspired me. Prayed with me. Gave me good advice. Gave me bad advice. Laughed with me. Talked with me. Walked with me. And daily tripped along life with me. She was the other hull to this catamaran. She is gone now. I am adrift in this land I have grown to love, for a catamaran can sail nowhere without two hulls. As I walk to and from the places we journeyed together, I walk alone. Somehow I manage to get there, but I feel unstable (metaphorically speaking). I know that if she had not been part of God’s plan for my time in India then I would have learned to navigate these cultural seas alone, but I’m thankful that was not His plan. I also know that we are not meant to travel life’s path as “tied wood” forever, but I do notice her absence. Without her, the other hull, I would not have been so strong; I would not have been so speedy; I would not have been able to carry such large loads. I thank my Lord for her and for His perfect timing in placing her in my life.

We were served tea together at one of the saree shops we frequented. 

Together we learned how to drink tender coconuts. However, she is cheating here. You're not supposed to use a straw! 

Together we found friends in the students. Anumeha and us. 

Together we shared the home of this precious woman. Thank you, Mrs. George!

Together we laughed with our patients. 

To my English thangachi: Thank you. Thank you for the strength, speed, and endurance you brought to our adventures in India. Thank you for indulging my senseless craving for adventure. Thank you for loaning me your "pants." Thank you for your constant patience as I wandered off to take photos. Thank you for being incredible woman of God.  Thank you for teaching me English. Thank you for share your life, faith and passions with such reckless abandon. Thank you, Charlie, for willingly fastening your hull to mine.
The catamaran they called England and America.
P.S. I miss you. Can't wait to see you in August!

1 comment:

  1. Tears once again no matter how many times i read this post. Bring on August!!!!!!!! xxx