Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ratio of Time

Living in India requires creativity and patience.

Everything takes time. Shopping. Going to school. Communication. Getting a group of people inside the same room. Arranging a social visit. Preparation… for anything.

If you want something you have to make it. There are no craft shops, so arts and crafts class comes from whatever I can dig out of piles of things randomly discarded by foreigners here and there. The teachers make all of the posters, flash cards, and illustrations for their students by hand. I don’t have a printer so paper and pen have become my companions.

Illustrations for telling a story: 3-4 hours
Hearts to glue on a coloring page: 1 ½ hours
Beginner piano music for a child: 4 hours traveling downtown and back from a bookshop that didn’t carry what I needed plus 1 hour copying songs by hand from what I could find online
ABC flashcards: 5 hours

Very little is wasted. Paper scraps become confetti for pasting. Pencil shavings bloom into flower petals. Fabric scraps are blackboard erasers, tailoring lesson handkerchiefs, or quilted bags. Toilet paper rolls are converted into vases. Thin layers of Styrofoam-like paper from packaging turns into rose petals. There is potential everywhere.

It also leaves me busy because I always underestimate the amount of time it will take to finish preparing for my next music lesson, kid’s club, or craft project. Sometimes I am tired or frustrated. While I am kneeling on the floor coloring with crayons, I wonder whether four hours of drawing is worth the ten minutes of telling the story in the slum. But then I remind myself that no servant is greater than his master. This is why I came—to serve—whatever that looked like. Well, some days it looks like crayons and pencil shavings and hours on a bus. Father, may I complete each task with joy.

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