Monday, May 16

Nuns, Scorpions and Tupperware

Approaching our final days in Setrawa, Jen and I ventured out to the surrounding areas on our run-until-the-heat-makes-us-walk time in the morning. We have discovered manicured fields almost void of crops and cool orchards hiding in the shade of dunes. We spotted a herd of deer, piles of peacocks, and one morning nomadic Jain nuns: six woman clad head-cover to bare feet in loose white fabric. Coming off a sand path from nowhere, each carried a small white broom and a large tin pot, also wrapped in white cloth. They were accompanied by two female youths in pastel selwar suits. The entire company were wearing medical masks giving the impression that they were sedately escaping a tuberculosis epidemic.

Their soothing presence turned me inside out in introspection for the rest of the morning. But events of the day spun me around and I was turned right side out. First, I witnessed the most exciting variation on a Tupperware party. Brought by a door-to-door pedler, unwrapped from an enormous bundle, were over 50 brilliant saris piled in two towers on the floor of my home. The poor peddler was surrounded by Setrawa's most aggressive women, one of which, my mum, chased another around the room in pursuit of the best sari. My eye is not distinguished enough to determine what sets one sari apart, but it had the women screaming. After that excitement I had to remove the infected fingernail of Rakhi, my 13 year old sister and later carry Sonu, my 10 year old sister, to the hospital. 

A short walk from our house is a roadside hospital. The building is modest but surrounded by lush plants and large enough for several simultaneous operations. However, like all of Setrawa, it was void of furniture and looked functionless with rows of doors locked up. We cut through the eerily empty unlit halls to a small house on the other side. There were several women, each bundled up with their respective small child, already waiting in the shade of a tree. 

Sonu had stepped on a large scorpion, so we were instructed to skip the queue, but then told to wait under a different tree, and finally to wait under the first tree with the maternal packages. The doctor was unavailable until afterlunch break. Meanwhile a middle aged man, using just his hands, moved the energy around Sonus foot by vigorously rushing his hand in the air above her injury. He finished by dropping her foot with a gentle thud to the sandy ground. I don't know what school of teaching this is, but I'm a convert, because the screaming Sonu was more soothed than when the doctor eventually swelled her foot with xylocane injections and an anti venom. All this cost 30 rupees (less than a Canadian dollar).

Each day here holds many unexpected and raw human experiences which I am grateful to sample. I have moved my whole self into a village family and truly existed here. I have attached myself to these people. Now, I leave behind nuns, scorpions, and violent sari shoppers. My prayers and my love will stay with the boxes of sweets and photos I gave, and I hope that as my memories fade with the photos, I retain the gift of a new perspective.


  1. AnonymousMay 16, 2011

    Hi Amelia, you brave wonderful adventurous girl!
    I just caught up on the rest of your blog reports and will print the whole thing on the computer downstairs because this is the best and most interesting way to see and learn about a foreign country-through the eyes and fine descriptions of a writer-girl living right there! So you are finally coming home again. Will we see you this July when we come to Surrey? Wow! Just can't get over you! Love, Aunt Roelie and (Uncle D. who also was amaze.d)

  2. AnonymousMay 17, 2011

    It sounds like you are just blending in over there. Can't wait to hear about the next spot your going to. That ocean is going to be very inviting!

    Chris W.

    PS: thinking of you and Jen.

  3. AnonymousMay 19, 2011

    Amelia, this is incredible. How are you doing with the scorpions? I can't imagine.
    Love Mom