plus another day in the air, we will land in Mumbai. Half the time I'm wildly excited and half the time I'm reminded of how much I don't know. I have no frame of reference for India except the Mahabharata, which I read in fifth grade and again last year, and friends' photos and stories--and most importantly, the counsel and friendship of Sunita Rao, with whom we will be working. From the Mahabharata comes the thousand eyes story. Indra, the thousand-eyed Hindu rain god, unleashes torrents and thunderstorms to celebrate the birth of his grandson, the great king Parikshita:
"Over Hastinapura and Indraprastha the racing wind tore into the heavy blue clouds and the rain spilled over. Thunders rocked the sky and shook its lace of boiling lightning, but by only looking, Indra kept the winds out of every dwelling and made the waters harmless. Not one flower or leaf was torn or crushed; no crop was spoiled nor any blossom hurt; no creature drowned in a flooded burrow or fell while flying. There were no floods, and the roads were only damp, with no sticky mud. After the storm, all the hay and straw was still dry. In Kurujangala, where a million frail lights and incense sticks burnt outdoors in thanksgiving for your father's birth, in the lashing winds for a day and a night, none of them went out, and no bowl of water beside the houses even overflowed.
The thousand eyes had only blinked."
--The Mahabharata, as told by the sage Vyasa and retold by William Buck
When uncertainty gains the upper hand in my head lately, some part of my brain says "The thousand eyes had only blinked." I don't know how this particular bit of advice was chosen for me, or what it means--three months is only a blink? chill out? what looks scary can be benign if you have the courage to look at it for a minute?--but it is certainly a good story.
May our desire to do good work for a country and a people we do not yet know be enough to warrant us such protection from the gods of that place. May our eyes and hearts be open; may we accept new things, crazy things, with humility and humor. I am sure we will weather our share of storms. I am sure I will wish I had a thousand eyes with which to see everything new and breathtaking and amazing. And to keep an eye on rambunctious schoolchildren.
Thanks to all of you who read this and care about Nathan or me or both of us; I'm glad you're in our lives. I hope we can share our adventures well.