Monday, May 2


There are two Indians permanently employed at the Setrawa Empowerment Centre. The first is the principal, Mool Singh who arrives at Sambhali to the sound of his pop theme song which he blasts from his cell phone. He is a beautifully personal young man with a regretful teenstash. Like all Indian men I have met he takes every suggestion as a personal attack. When he feels threatened he compensates by assuring himself of his qualities by unpredictably demonstrating the power of his position and his favor with the children. 

On one occasion he had me ask, with a show of hands, which students felt he was a good teacher. Of course, with him translating there was unanimous agreement that he was superb. However, I would not disagree. At about 20 years of age he has already made a legacy for himself. The school was his baby and now is his teenager. The students come because of him and he pours his heart into everyone of them. Mool Singh, in the honorable spirit of the Sambhali Trust, meets each participant where they are at and helps them where they most need help.

Usha Sharma, different from Mool Singh in most c ways, shares with him a ferocious competitiveness. This competitiveness is a driving force for much of the recreational time and leaves me doubled over in laughter. Contrastingly they both have me cringing with horror when they repeatedly try to repair the fan and jump and hiss as they are shocked. This a common pastime in India as they rarely have proper plugs and just stuff wires into their outlets. 

Usha is an unwed 20 year old of the highest caste, Brahmin, and is the definition of an Indian lady. She carries herself with dignity and commands respect with her smile and alternately her scolding look of death. Although a strict teacher, she has a soft spot for small children. She feigns shyness around performing, but she is a skillful dancer and beautician. Her recent work includes Jen's and my eyebrows. 

Her weakness is chocolate, but otherwise she's stubbornly determined to be the perfect host; accepting few gifts and rejecting offers to help with household tasks. She lives with her brother and parents and suffers from their often oppressive tyranny, but finds liberation in daily life through shouting matches with Mool Singh and small disobedience, such as wearing black when her father is away.

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