Day 9: I am Grateful For… (India Edition)

I made one of these lists when I was in Mexico, but I also came to the same realizations about halfway through tour in India. It was about this day when I started to get over the “honeymoon” phase of traveling and sunk into culture shock. Though I was enjoying what we were doing, I just couldn’t help but get easily frustrated with the things that were different from what I was used to.

Our morning was spent sleeping in, and writing in my journal until 10:30. It was then we all met downstairs to haul our equipment and costumes to the theater. Lucky for us, the theater was only a block away. Once we arrived at the Ravindra Bharati Theater, we put together our show. This includes setting up lighting in the wings, putting together our tramp, unrolling mattresses, unpacking costumes, taping the floor, and setting up the projector screen. There was so much to be done. I am grateful that in my past experiences with performing that the only thing I had to do was get to the theater.

We took a break after setting up to go back to the hotel for lunch. Though the buffet there was delicious, it was full of over the top spicy, cooked and stewed items. Dancing with that spice in your stomach is not very fun. At this point I was feeling very grateful for my ability to make my own meals with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Then we got back to the theater and ran through our pieces. This was necessary because the stage was so full of dips and cracks that we had to practice to avoid injuring ourselves on them. The stage was also quite slick so we had to either wet our feet down off stage or spray them with hairspray. I’m grateful for marley and the beautiful wood floors I’m used to at BYU.

Of course when you dance, you need water. When you are in some foreign countries you don’t drink water unless it comes from a bottle (and even then it is risky because sometimes it is a used bottle that has been refilled and resold). I appreciate that I have a home where I can drink straight from the tap.

That night we were treated to Pizza Hut. Usually I wouldn’t eat there in the states but here, after eating curry and rice for the past week, it was a most welcome change. American candy bars also appeared and were so delicious to eat. I’m grateful for leaders that planned ahead to bring us a little comfort food from home.

In the theater where we performing, there were accommodations that we were not quite accustomed to. For instance, the ladies toilet was basically a hole in the ground with ridges on the side for foot placement. The squatter, is what we called it (and we found out it is meant for women with sarees). the gent’s bathroom had four urinals with tubes coming down the bottom, all collecting in a puddle in the corner of the room. Unsanitary? Yes. Smelly? Double yes. I have definitely taken toilets that are clean and we can sit on for granted.

This side of the world also has a different standard of cleanliness than what I am used to. The dressing rooms were pretty filthy, covered in make up, grime, dust, and other slimy looking things on the wall that we didn’t dare explore more. It also had the smell of waste and grime. Unfortunately, since we are modern dancers, we dance barefoot. By the end of the night, my feet were black and covered in all kinds of unthinkables. I’m grateful for the sanitary, sterile states way of cleaning and not feeling like I have to wear shoes all the time.

The show began well but soon turned into the most eventful of the trip. At least half of the dancers were sick in some way, whether by the “Bombay blast” or rejection of food from the other end. Thank goodness for toilets. Thank goodness for some of the leadership who took time to fix the toilet that stopped working in the middle of the show.

The show ended well despite the eventful show happening backstage. We were greeted my many members of the church who came. They were so complimentary on the performance and said they couldn’t wait for us to come again. I am so grateful I had a chance to meet them and for what an amazing support system the LDS church has.

We packed up everything we had unloaded earlier and then had to wait for our truck to arrive so we could take everything back to the hotel. It took forever in coming. (I am grateful I have a car to drive myself around.) Meanwhile, a group of us played the game Never Have I Ever while laying energyless on the ground. We laughed at almost everything because of our exhausted state. Finally it showed up and we made our way to the hotel. I wanted to fall right into bed but I had to first wash the days clothes in my sink. Oh how grateful I am for the efficiency and easiness of doing laundry in machines.

Though they may not have been specifically addressed during the day through the trip I have thought about how grateful I am for each of these things: great people on tour who make even the most tiresome moments enjoyable, the dry and not humid wearer of Utah, a healthy body that can handle a little sickness, an amazing and supportive family, and finally, experiences that I will remember forever.

*Photos (except the squatter) from the amazing Mark Philbrick.

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