Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Smiles of India

I'm not sure if the word "can't" is found in the Tamil language. One of the things I am most struck by is how they get things done here. I've watched 5 year olds clean up rice on the floor of the entire dining hall, 100 kids systematically and peacefully share the same water cup, older siblings get their younger siblings to school on the back of their bike, people walk everywhere, shower with buckets, find fun with nothing purchased from a store, entertain themselves, study on a dirt floor, eat with their hands and manage to look beautifully put together with clean clothes and braided hair even though they have next to nothing.

I love this picture because it shows determination, not excuses. I hope to be like these women someday.

While we've been here we've learned a few more words that are not in the Tamil language.

Here's our dinner conversation a few nights ago.
Mariyam: Why do you and your husband and daughter say the word sweetheart? What is that?
Aaron: Well, Mariyam, it's a term of endearment.
Tara: Oh yes Aaron, for sure she knows what that means if she doesn't even know what sweetheart means! What Aaron means is that you are a good person.
Mariyam: Why would you say my heart? That is ridiculous.
Tara: Do you know what ridiculous means?
Mariyam: I am learning.

In the dental clinic it's been a riot. If we could have out-takes of all the tripping and falling off chairs that have been happening it would crack you up. But it's the language we are having the most fun/challenge with.

Tara to housemother Anitha who speaks very little English (she has been my dental assistant this week): You are awesome Anitha!
Anitha gives horrified look.
Tara: Do you know what awesome means?
Anitha: Noooooo.
Tara: It means great. Super! Do you understand?
Anitha: (puzzled look) Noooo.
Tara: (thumbs up sign). You do a good job.
Anitha: Oh, oh. u-sum?
Tara: aaawweeesssoooommme. I like you.
Anitha: Oh ok!
After lunch we had to go through the whole thing again after I asked her if she remembered what awesome meant. I can't fault her because then she tried to teach us an equivalent word in tamil and I can't remember it either.

In pediatric dentistry we use very special words for things like...

Suction - "straw, Mr. Thirsty or a tooth vacuum". These kids have never heard of a vacuum, wouldn't understand why we would give this little sucker thing the name of a man, and most haven't used a straw.

Fluoride varnish - "tooth vitamins". Yep, most don't know what a vitamin is but those who do insist they are called vit (like fit) amins and laugh when we call them vite (like fight) amins.

Even the words open, close, bite, wiggly, clean, plaque, swish, rinse, swallow...they're killin us. We are using the strangest hand motions and alternative words to try to communicate.

I had a conversation with a boy who was extremely worried about a baby tooth that was loose. He said he wanted Aaron to take it out. I tried to explain that all baby teeth fall out when they are ready because the permanent teeth push them out and it's better to wait and just wiggle it himself and let it happen in time. Round and round we went about this tooth and he looked so puzzled at everything I was saying until I got to the part where I finally told him if Aaron pulled it out he would cause PAIN and he didn't want that. Just as I said that the other 2 kids in the dental chairs beside him looked over and Aaron shook his head and said I'd never be allowed to work in his office with a vocabulary like that! But as soon as I said the word pain, we were finally communicating! It's the one word he got and the one that made him finally agree to wiggling it out himself.

Musa dropped his toy car in the spit bucket, Nicky's chair broke right when the whiniest girl was laying in it, I about blew up the place when I forgot to turn the pressure off a pump before unscrewing it, we used a Cabela's lawn chair with the kids laying backwards for a 3rd chair, the wheel fell off the doctors chair, Aaron's back is in complete spasms, the power seems to go out at the exact time he is trying to cure a tooth or some other critical procedure and the very reserved and proper Indian girls assisting in the clinic today worked up the courage to ask him to take a picture with them. It was a funny day. With all that going on we were able to clean 77 kids teeth, do some other procedures and now have a beautiful master list and a plan for the remaining work to be done before we close up shop on Friday. We may not be the most graceful, and we sure aren't great communicators but we're making some serious dental change here.

I love the sand the ends up at the bottom of the chair from the kids bare feet.

After clinic was over today it was playtime. 

Tara with the birthday girl Monica (they get to give out candy on their bday and she saved some just for us)

The next 3 shots are the "village kids" that go to Rising Star. They live close enough to return home each night. Some ride bikes and some get picked up by a rickshaw. While they wait for their ride home, we like to stop and play with them if we have time. They are adorable!

Faith getting a henna tattoo from Monica

The girls made things for our hair out of leaves

More spikes today

"Your husband is like Captain America" 

Snack time is each day around 4:00. Two kids from each hostel are in charge of carrying the pail of milk and the container of soaked peanuts (they are really good!) to the rest of the kids.

After play time it's prayer time. The boys sit on one side and the girls sit on the other side and there is some kind of spiritual lesson that lasts about 40 minutes and ends with a prayer. Everyone kneels and is so respectful and reverent - it really is an awesome sight.

As wonderful as prayer time is, some kids have the darndest time staying awake! They are in a rigorous school all day and they play harder than any kids I've ever seen. So they sit down and someone starts reading scriptures to them and it just becomes too much on the heavy eyelids. The punishment is that you have to go splash cold water on your face and then stand for the rest of the time. You can see some kids along the left side standing in this shot. I happened to be in a perfect position to video tape Musa falling asleep today. Poor little guy. Good for the school for holding these kids to a high standard, but it really is dang funny to watch! Here's a clip:

And the most beautiful thing I saw today is not a really great photo because I had to hide while I took it. It's the school goat going for his daily walk. 

1 comment:

  1. Some of the things that a smile signifies:
    Happiness, love, warmth, kindness, sharing, peace, feeling loved, safety/security, belonging and more. All of these are present in your beautiful pictures. Thank you! XO