Monday, April 8, 2013

TO MY FITCH HOSTEL THANGACHIS: YOUR DAY

Every year the residents of Fitch Hostel host what they call “Hostel Day.” There are a number of hostels on the CMC college campus, but the Fitch Hostel residents have a special place in my heart. They are the young ladies of CMC who are studying to become physios and occupational therapists. Over the past three months I have had the pleasure, nay, the honor of working alongside many of the beautiful women of Fitch Hostel.

At first meeting, most of these young women are quiet and shy. They speak only when spoken to, and deliver their comments in soft, gentle voices with sweet smiles. That is… until you get to know them. If given the opportunity to sneak behind their dignified outer shells, you find laughter bubbling up from a source deep within their beautiful hearts. Behind their sweet smiles you will find mischievous grins and thoughts to match. Each and every one of these women are strong, brilliant, and have inspired me to new heights. They have humbled me time and time again.

I have learned how to tie a saree from them. I have wandered around remote villages with them. We have shared dinners and dreams. We have share music and movies. We have shared life. They have taught me how to find pleasure in the simple things in life, and through their quiet actions have reminded me to be eternally grateful for the things in life I often take for granted.

They never ceased to amaze me with their brilliance and creativity. I have seen them perform dances and plays they have choreographed and directed themselves. Where they find the time to do everything is beyond me. They amaze me.

The Hostel Day event was a perfect example of the talent and grace for this group of ladies. Let me give you a little background information on the hostel before I describe the event. The Fitch Hostel is an all-women’s hostel located adjacent to the Modale International Students hostel. Unlike the men’s hostel, the Fitch hostel has a nightly curfew. The only people allowed into Fitch Hostel are its registered residents and female visitors (if accompanied by a resident). Each room is a double occupancy and is equipped with two modest beds, a wall of closet space, and a small built-in desk. Simple.

Hostel Day began when I received my invitation. I was the honored guest of Hephzy, a too-mischievous-for-her-own-good physiotherapy student. Upon opening my invitation I knew that this was not just a little party. This was a real event. I had been told to purchase a new saree for the event, and found this a lovely excuse to go shopping. When the much anticipated evening finally arrived, Charlie and I donned our sarees and set out for the Chapel Lawn where awards were being presented and where entertainment was provided. The girls did a fantastic job of orchestrating the entertainment: skits, songs, etc.
 
Impressive Invitations
The ornate backdrop, handmade by the Fitch ladies.
A beautiful a cappella quartet. 

Speeches and awards ceremony 
To the most outstanding Fitch Hostel woman.... You deserved it, my friend! Beautiful, inside and out.
A traditional Tamil song performed by some of the Fitch ladies
At the conclusion of the entertainment portion, the guests were directed to Scudder Hall, just adjacent to Fitch Hostel, for a wonderful dinner. Some of the women had a surprise performance for those that arrived early to dinner: an incredibly clever, self-choreographed flash mob. Despite a power cut halfway through, they ladies did an outstanding job. After dinner was served and dessert was consumed, guests were invited to tour Fitch Hostel. This was a big deal, as only residents and their female guests are allowed into the building at any other time of the year. That night the doors were opened to everyone. It only after entering the opened doors that the magnitude of work and effort put forth by the girls really hit me. The women of Fitch Hostel had decorated their home with paintings, sculptures, festive lights, and life-size dioramas. Each individual room was festooned with ambient lighting, artwork, and soft music. The residents of every room giddily greeted each visitor with smiles, biscuits, and beverages. The women were tired from all their hard work, but you would never know it. They hosted the evening with genuine strength, dignity and elegance. Fitch Hostel was the epicenter of entertainment on campus that evening, and the women of Fitch Hostel made it happen.
 
Fitch Hostel in all its Hostel Day glory
To my Fitch Hostel thangachis: Thank you for everything you endured to provide such a wonderful experience on that night. Thank you for welcoming me into your Fitch family, even if for only a brief moment in time. Thank you for humbling me, for inspiring me, for challenging me, for laughing with me, for strengthening me. And most of all, thank you for being such amazing examples of strong, gracious, brilliant, fun and caring women. You have all blessed my Indian experience in a way I could never have imagined. God bless.

** For my readers who do not speak any Tamil, “thangachis” means “little sisters.”

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