Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hyderabad, April 21

We ride cycles, but only in smaller towns (Coimbatore, Kakinada, Rajahmundry, Kollar Gold Fields, Goa, plus us). There are nine companionships in Hyderabad and we are the only one with cycles, and we just ride them in the government quarters part of our area, which is really nice and not busy at all. Also it's like 10 degrees cooler than the rest of Hyderabad because of all the trees. (Look up BHEL, Hyderabad on Google Earth for an idea). My companion refuses to wear his helmet though, says it makes him sweat too much. Oh well.

Last week my front tire got punctured, so while we were waiting at the side-of-the-road bicycle stand for them to be ready I was watching this 10 year old kid repair another cycle. It was pretty cool watching him just bend the tire, pull the inner tube out from between the rubber tire and the metal frame, put it under the container of water (easy way to check where the punctures are, air will bubble up), cut some rubber off of a waste inner tube, and apply the adhesive to put it over the puncture. He so logically and methodically worked through this entire process and a couple more steps and then the cycle worked again! It was pretty cool watching a 10yo kid do that. Punctures seem to be more a way of life for us than an unfortunate exception to the norm, alas.

As per the food. Being a companionship is kind of like being married. Half the places I would want to eat at would give Elder Gervais pretty bad motions or not make him full. We would eat Indian food but no meals (=rice plus daal, sambar, vegetable fry) or tiffins (parotta, masala dosai, iddly, etc), only places that had nonveg curries with roti or naan. Food was very important to him whereas I didn't really care, so he decided that and gave in on other matters.

Life was good this last week, I'm moving ahead on a couple projects that involves lots of different colored gel pens and creating games and more interactive ways of teaching. Basically writing out a lot of different principles with attached scripture references and some questions/problems like "How can I have a stronger relationship with my spouse?" and "How can I avoid temptations that are all around me?". We have people pick one of the questions that apply to them and randomly select some of the principles, and then ask them to apply. How can these principles give you help with your problems? It's taking up a lot of my time but is producing good results, so I like it. Other than that a lot of people I really like visiting are busy or out of station right now. Alas.

That's about all this week, with love,

Hyderabad, April 13

This week has been all right. I miss Elder Gervais a little bit but life goes on. Mostly I just miss the second voice that gives me advice when I don't know what we should do, that talks when I don't know what to say or how to say it, that calls people on the phone or makes me do it when I don't want to. Elder John is a really good guy, friendly, smart, hardworking, but he just doesn't have a lot of experience. Again, life goes on and I'm trying to be the best companion and help Elder John learn as much as I can.

What's new? There's the small things: the summer is making us sweat and our bike tires go flat quickly. My diet has changed - I'm now eating tiffins again (masala dosai, parotta, etc), I love eating them but Elder Gervais put his executive veto on it. Without external motivation, my morning exercises have slackened in intensity. I need to reverse that. We realized we had no idea what to do with the wheat bran that had been sitting in our freezer for 4 months so we threw it out this morning. I burned some brownies last Wednesday, I put in too much butter and when I put in the knife it came out buttery so I left it in the oven. (doh!)

There has been a reallocation of the small tasks. I keep forgetting to put the geyser on in the morning so I get cold showers. I do remember to put the phone on the charger though. We have a padlock for our door; Elder John takes care of locking and unlocking the door and keeping the lock in a predictable place. I usually boil the eggs in the morning (and turn the heat up gradually so they don't crack). I am doing a good job of making sure all the people who we need to call during the day (follow up with things they said they'd do, schedule appointments, etc), which is good.


Hyderabad, March 23

…This conversation brings to mind a conversation President Nichols and I were having about eight or nine months ago. Keep in mind he ended his career owning and managing a 300-person civil engineering firm plus all the time he spent counseling and talking to people in the Church.

We were talking about how Elder B. and I are pretty similar, except I'm way more transparent than he is. We talked about the different elders - from football-coach-personality Elder N., to skinny shy silent Elder H., to guitar-toting, laid-back Elder S., who fits to a T his first name 'Kenny', and how completely different we all were. Then he asked me, would it be fair if I demanded all of them communicate with me in the exact same manner?

Me: No, of course not President Nichols.

Him: Why not?

Me: Well, they can't change who they are just to talk to you.

Him: Then who has to change?

Me: (pause) I guess you do, President.

Him: You're exactly right, Elder Bhagwat. I have to change. If I want to have influence with each elder in Vizag, if I want them to listen to me, I can't possibly communicate with you the same way as I communicate with Elder N. or Elder H. or Elder S. And if you want to be a powerful influence for good in the world, you will have to learn too.


The conversation hit me because I really do want to be a powerful influence for good in the world - in my career, when I raise my family, etc. President Nichols and I have been talking about it again and again.

My dilemma, then, is that I'm most comfortable being around people like myself but if I want to be a powerful influence for good in the world I won't have that option. I certainly don't have it here.

I think it's something I'll have to work out as I go. For now, I'm really happy for the chance I am having now to develop the ability to communicate with people that are very different than me while still remaining myself.