Chile Diary – 8

Today’s post, from my journal, brings in the lady who I mentioned in an earlier chapter; Mauricio’s mother. Her house was badly damaged in the big quake and with tremors rolling in at short intervals daily, it wasn’t safe for her to continue staying in the house. So, she shifted into the company guesthouse too.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mauricio’s Mom

Last night we got to sit down and talk with Mauricio and his mom, the other people who shifted into the guesthouse. Since Mauricio knows English, he played translator and we were able to carry on a conversation with his mother. As it turned out she has a fascination for India and, surprisingly, was 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, the status of women with an 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, folklore, 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. Ranjit 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 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 epicenter in Concepcion. However, it broke the convivial mood and signaled the end of all conversation. 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 for the day 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. Roxanna had gone on a business call to Valparaiso.


Yes, after a short break, I’m back at the keyboard. It’s 7.45 p.m 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 Ranjit 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! They’ll bring dinner 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.



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