Renu's Week

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Report of 13 Mar '05

Ok, aol continues to freak out.

We are post-sleepover. 4 teenage boys, pizza, ice cream, movies, parents in bed by 11 PM. A soccer match this morning where Abacus won the championship, which we could not watch, as we had several folks over for brunch. Abacus winning a sport is big news as historically the teams have performed poorly. We watched the semis yesterday, b'cos we knew we could not watch the finals today and both boys and girls played well. A real tribute to the coaching staff.

The match was at the American International School, which very unfortunately is a reviled institution here. The annual fee per kid is $14,000 in a country where the average *annual* income is $500. The buildings are big, centrally a/c'd and all visitors have to park their vehicles outside the fortress-like walls. We have only been there for tournaments, and have observed their coaches correcting the refs, their staff yelling at visitors, had their Indian employees be snotty to visitors, etc. - sort of along the lines of employees at ritzy stores who can't afford the merchandise themselves being snotty to middle class customers. Scott hates the place. The teams also tend to trash-talk a lot, including use of the F word; Abacus kids state, tho', that the kids there are not bad. The teachers from overseas get 100% fee waiver for their kids, and Indian teachers get 65% off. A bit skewed to me, but most importantly, they don't appear to want to portray the best of American culture which I have seen and revelled in: the honesty, sense of humor, being super kind to all regardless of caste, the openness and friendliness, the generosity, the easy acceptance of others. The woman in charge of the girls' team was wearing an adult version of their uniform: a white skirt w/ pink flowers, a pink t-shirt w/ "Pink Mafia" written on it and two ponytails w/ bright pink ribbons; assuredly she would have been called "cute" by her ilk, but it sure stuck out in an environment where everyone is urged to act their age.

The Banyan is lovely. One of the founders, Vandana, is in the U.S. accompanying her husband to a trade show. She is great to talk to, and can be reached at if you wish to speak to her. One of our pts w/ TB meningitis died last week. She was en route to the hospital and died. I remember her sitting in her bed and yelling to me, "Hey you there writing ... " You know, just the fact that these women are in safe environs, clothed, well-fed, is proof positive that the Banyan works. No one consciously worships Vandana and Vaishnavi, the other founder, and that is the way they want it. They eschew the limelight. We had another pt 10 days ago, who could only moan when I examined her. We are taught during training that a urine infection and pneumonia can manifest initially as mental changes, and this lady, whom we had to admit to hospital, does have a urine infn (let's hear it for training!). She returned last week after treatment, able to state her name, interact w/ us and eat ; unfortunately, she has also been found to have TB and is HIV positive. I looked at her as she ate hungrily, and hoped that the circumstances under which she contracted HIV were non-violent.

Udavum Karangal was a mess last week - late pick-up, no patients, no nurse on hand, no files. I mentioned it to the founder and he said he would take steps to avert this in future. The other employees seemed to mind my directness, but the founder did not, I felt. He is worshipped by many and I suppose I should also have been a tad obsequious, but I did not feel the need.

The tutoring was conducted by a friend last week as I was in PTA meetings. Both boys got decent reports from their teachers, to the relief of my older son who has discovered an audience for his American humor and his histrionics. I enjoy his jokes and his acting, too, but this is an intensely academically competitive country and I feel the child needs to balance those traits w/ some acad preparations. I taught sex ed at their school last week and appreciated the experience of opening young eyes to this arena. When I mentioned homosexuality, a young woman rolled her eyes, she thought invisibly, but the entire 9th grade has 13 kids and there was simply no option of invisibility here. We are to meet again, separately for each gender, and there will then be the opp for questions.

Naren's friend, R, lost his mother when he was 9 or 10 - 5 years ago; he was also here last night. The father is going through various struggles and is not looking to remarry, but mentions needing a female presence for R and that he likes our family. I do nothing special for R other than greet him at school and crack a joke or 2, but I suppose that means something to him - puzzles me. The father states that his family is estranged and that is a sad situation. I cannot imagine circumstances where my family and I would not want to see each other, and feel bad for this man.

I'd better wrap, otherwise this will become the next Ramayana (a most lengthy Indian epic).

"A man likes his wife to be just clever enough to comprehend his cleverness and just stupid enough to admire it." - Israel Zangwill

Until next week -


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