The morning came too quickly. Mom awoke around 6:15am. I heard her jumble around, but I didn’t want to wake up so soon. She went downstairs whereas I continued to lounge around in bed for another hour. At 7:15, I went downstairs to find dad picking through leaves – probably sorting them for cooking as they were recently washed. Mom was asleep downstairs in her room, Sidnu busily cooked away in the kitchen, and the children must have been asleep as the house was quiet. I enjoyed the quietness of the morning by sitting in my favourite indoor swing.
Sidnu rises every morning to prepare fresh breakfast for the family as well as fresh lunch for her husband and children. Honestly, I’m not sure if I could be the last to bed and the first to rise in order to prepare fresh meals three times a day to my family- too much work for me right now.
Sidnu prepared breakfast for me: scrambled egg, dosa, and uppama. The food was absolutely delicious as usual. After I had finished about 75% of the meal, Sidnu asked if I wanted to more. When I said no, she insisted on ‘I’ll bring you a dosa’. I attempted to politely decline, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. She brought me another dosa and a scrambled egg, I ate.
A couple of hours into the morning, Arthi arrived. The plan for the day: go tour Sumathi’s friend’s college out in rural Coimbatore- 25 km from the city center. This campus housed three different colleges: Coimbatore Institute of Engineering and Technology, Kovai Kalaimagal College of Arts and Sciences, & another one for business. We met with the head of the college, the principals of the different colleges, toured the campus, and enjoyed the scenery around the place. The college campus was beautiful, surrounded by nature, and green. There were trees all around the campus. As we walked near the classrooms, there were two sets of stairs- one for the girls and another set for the boys. The canteen also separated the girls from the boys. Even during the classes, the boys sat on one side while the girls sat on the other side. For me, it was an eye opening experience as I didn’t have these strict set of rules when I was in college. We entered into one of the women’s hostel (living quarters) area where all of the rooms surrounded around a green area. We entered into a room that had 4 beds (2 bunk beds) with 4 tall dressers, and a large wooden table. If I thought my University of Arizona dorm was small 16 years ago, I was mistaken. I only shared a room with one person, but I had my own desk, my own ‘half’ of the room, and a closet, whereas these girls only had a dresser, shared a common ‘desk’, and bunked with 3 others. The girls (& boys) had a curfew of being inside the girls hostel by 6:30pm every night. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have survived this college. However, I later learned the reason for the curfew: as the college is settled outside of city limits (near Kovai Kutralam), wildlife roams just outside (& sometimes wanders inside college land) the college- elephants and other wild creatures. During the day, the wildlife stay at a reasonable distance, not disturbing the campus.
We were served lunch. For the first time since my time in India, dessert was first. They served mysorepa (good with apples) and cashew buffy (mundhiri). Sidnu informed me that serving the dessert first is the customary way to serve a meal in Indian culture. They proceeded to serve us chapatis, drumstick sambar, rasam, cabbage, chutney, rice, and appalam (tortilla like looking thing tasting delicious and made of rice flour). We ate until our stomachs were full. The server lady continued to approach me with more and more food until I had to politely decline. Since being with this family and eating all the time, I have been told ‘you are a poor eater’ and ‘you need to gain weight’ and ‘why don’t you eat more’. Usually, I don’t receive those kinds of comments.
After lunch, we took a leisurely stroll through campus and arrived back on the front gates. We thanked our tour guide and drove towards home. Arthi, Sidnu, and I chit chatted while we drove. We arrived back at Sidnu’s house where the children were busily playing with friends while mom and dad (grandma and grandpa) cared for the children while we were out playing. Arthi had to go off to work, and I had to get back to the hospital. We said our goodbyes. At 6pm, dad took me via scooter back to AVP.
As I arrived back at AVP, Sarah was trying on her sari. She summoned the help of one of the older lady patients who wore sarees daily. As she exited our room in her new ‘red flowery’ sari, she looked stunning and a beam light up her face with her smile. We all gathered around her and snapped some pictures. Sarah and I returned to the room where Sarah undid the sari and tried to tie it again. She became frustrated because her way didn’t look like the ‘right’ way. It didn’t look absolutely horrible, but it didn’t look like she had been doing it daily for years. I attempted to ease her mind by saying ‘well, it’s your first time’ to which she replied ‘so what’. She became very disheartened she was unable to correctly tie a sari. Therefore, over the next week or two, we may be researching YouTube videos and the expertise from women who regularly tie sarees.
Sarah ate dosa for dinner as we chit chatted. After dinner, Sarah was determined to see the head doctor, Dr, Raveendran, again. She called the outpatient clinic inquiring about his whereabouts and found out he left outpatient clinic to come to inpatient. She decided to stroll the grounds to find him. She succeeded. However, as she encountered Dr. Dinil, Dr. Nagarajan, and Dr. Raveendran, a bird decided to poop on her head. She had a laughing attack as she was the only one who noticed it. Dr. Raveendran reviewed her case, changed her meds, and they departed.
For the first time, I decided to brave the streets at night. The other night after sari shopping, I noticed more street vendors when we returned. Therefore, I wanted to view the ‘night scene’ in Coimbatore. Yes, there were more street vendors, but my bags were already too full. I decided against purchasing more stuff.
I returned to the hospital, walked a little bit with Sarah and her new friend. Then we retired to our rooms for the night and sleep at 11pm.