Last night we got to actually sit and talk with Mauricio and his mom, the other people who have shifted into the guesthouse. Since Mauricio knows English he played translator and we were able to carry on a conversation with his mom. As it turned out she has a fascination for India and surprisingly was quite well-informed about our country. She had a lot of questions about our customs, various religions, attire, indigenous spices used in our food, Hinduism, the river Ganga, status of women with emphasis on the girl-child and even about historical monuments (especially the Taj Mahal) and political figures like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Answering her queries was very interesting for me as it took me back to my teaching days. I surprised myself with my ability to recall, with accuracy, many historical facts, folk lore, customs of various communities, religious ceremonies etc. There was a lot of exchange of information as she told us quite a bit about Germany, where she had lived for some years and also about Moroccan customs she had learned about from a close friend who was a Moroccan. We had a lot to laugh about too and were generally enjoying ourselves when it happened.
I was the first to feel the swaying of the building. Seeing the panic on my face Mauricio sprang up and took my hand, Tintin had already taken my other hand. This prevented me from jumping up and running. It was a tremor. This was different. It carried on slowly for about 30 seconds in a slow swaying motion. Not again I thought. We sat it out. With four other people around me it wasn't so scary. We thought it had been a small one but as it turned out it was a 6.9 rocker, with its epicentre in Concepcion. That signalled the end of all conversation and we retired for the night.
I woke up late and felt tired. I barely had time to drink my tea when Gabriel arrived to take me to his house, and I had to rush without my breakfast. I wrote a bit, talked a bit to Roxanna. We were able to understand each other quite well through signs and a few words we understood. I rested in the early evening, as I watched the latter half of Martian Child starring Russell Crowe. Roxana had gone on a business call to Valparaiso.
After the short break I'm back at the keyboard. It’s 7.45 pm and I’m here trying to capture the moment. But I’m unable to find the spark. I feel drained. The evening signals a wan picture for me. It’s back to the guesthouse and I’ll sit alone while Tintin and Manu see to things at the apartment. The laptop would have gone with them, not that it matters so much as there’s no internet in the guesthouse. Dinner will come with them at about 10.30 or so.
Under the circumstances I’m holding on pretty well, considering the food timings going awry, lack of sleep, complete disruption of my daily routine and suppressed longings for home, family- conversations and my own bed and bathroom. Kudos girl, you’re doing great. It doesn’t matter what the others think or don’t think...Just keep the faith.