There are two ways to live your life
One is as though nothing is a miracle
The other is as though everything is a miracle
~ Albert Einstein
My time in Anandwan leprosy community is winding down fast - I have 12 hours left as I write this. It's been a fascinating and mostly nice time, mixed with enough hair-pulls and drama, real and imagined, to keep me on my toes. I've been trying hard to figure out a good wheelchair/showerchair system for Jyoti. She begs me not to, then says she wants one, then begs me not to, again, for reasons I can't quite understand. Jealousy is a big factor in the daily life of these women who don't have much else to occupy themselves with. And Jyoti's biggest challenge: she wants everyone to be happy, and she's willing to go without for someone else's benefit. She's still not eating much, she says, because "toilet every day, problem," meaning her elderly caretaker will have to take her to the toilet too often. I told Jyoti you're going to get sick one day and you'll die because you're so thin. Her response: "Good! No problem! I'll be with Bhagwan! (God.)" Me not happy. But it is her choice, after all. Oooof.
After finding a wheelchair that reclines flat and can serve as a bathing chair, I thought I was on to something. But my leaving and not having a local advocate for Jyoti means that we'll have to wait until I come back next time, in November or December. As Jyoti puts it so simply, "It's OK, Father. Next time." And she means it.
So, beautiful Jyoti, until next time. I hope I can manage to not cry very much today when I say goodbye. It won't be easy.
This sweetie's nickname is Chocolate. She came back from the shower yesterday with her hair all wild and in her face. The ladies in the room couldn't stop laughing about this photo. Some threw up their hands and looked away like it was too terrible to behold.
OK, I love all my grandmothers, but lovely Saraswati might just be my favorite. She is one lovable granny.
Just outside Jyoti's room this blind man has been coming most afternoons and singing beautiful songs. I took a long-ish video yesterday that I'll edit and post one day.
Watching the blind man sing.
I walked by the blind and deaf school and saw these three girls doing each other's hair.
Nanibai getting what's left of her feet worked on by Mousie. Mousie had a fall recently and has been in the hospital for a week or two. She only hurt her knee, so it's not too bad.
This is part of my "Contrasty Photos of Old Men Sitting By Themselves" series.
Flowers bloom near one of several lakes at Anandwan.
Who doesn't enjoy having lunch out with their friends?
The sparks are flying in the Anandwan workshop.
One of the ladies in the courtyard where Jyoti lives sets out these candles most nights.
Old school milk delivery. Prasad takes a small pot and pre-paid receipt to find the milkman on his bike, who dispenses the milk from his blue container.
My favorite house in Anandwan. Just bigger than the bed, but enough room for posters of God on the wall. What more do you really need? It reminds me of living in my van.
I followed music one night and found a night of "bhajans" - beautiful and vigorous devotional music. Great stuff.
These BhajanBoyz was rocking the house. Seriously.
Another of the series: CPOOMSBT. Maybe you've heard of it.
Cute kids. They just LOVE have their photos taken.
I love these guys. There are acres and acres of wall space covered with broken tile in Anandwan.
My movie star friend, making a "namaste" greeting as best she can with her crooked fingers.
Two days in a row an old woman died in the old folk's home. Baby and Khausa, Jyoti's caretaker, are on the left. (That's Jyoti's room behind that window on the right, by the way.)
They washed and dressed the body, then carried her to the cart to take her away.
She had plant leaves put in her mouth, and a coin placed on her forehead.
The men are taking her off to be buried. If the family can afford the wood for a cremation, they'll do that, but Baba Amte, Anandwan's founder, was in favor of the simplicity of burial versus chopping down trees for cremation.
Here's Jyoti, watching a sweet video sent by Xulia, who was here last year. If anyone wants to send a postcard or letter to Jyoti, let me know and I'll give you an address. She would LOVE it! Really.
Here I'm showing Saraswati how to draw on my touch-screen laptop. It was pretty funny.
I had the idea of Jyoti doing painting - basically just choosing the colors and filling in patterns. I found this design on the internet and Jyoti really loves making these. She doesn't have enough control of her hands to do much drawing on her own.
Lovely Jyoti, Daugher #1. It's been a little hard for both of us this week, knowing that I'm leaving on Monday.