And I’m totally in love with John. I don’t think I can admire him any more than I do without being obscene and stalkerish. He is a rock star. This trip would not have happened without him, for one thing. When people asked what I was doing in India I would say first visiting John which may or may not have embarrassed him, I have no idea. But truthfully I have always wanted to visit but would probably not have ever apart from someone living here and able to plan out and hold my hand every step. Not literally. Though I’m sure he would have if I actually needed someone to.
Anyway, in the short time he has been here, he has really done a great job not just with the language but also striving to understand the nuances of communication in the context he is in. It’s a beautiful thing to watch him interact with people he meets, from children to colleagues to random strangers on buses. He is respectful, gentle, kind, unassuming and yet confident, though he would not necessarily say that last thing. People are instantly curious about him. He would attribute it to his language skills and that locals pick up on his Americanization. But I also feel that people respond to his charm and genuineness. There is almost an intensity to his attention to each person he speaks with and you can tell people truly appreciate him talking to them.
This was evident in nearly every conversation he had, but was most clearly attested to on our bus ride from Ahmednagar to Aurangabad… or was it Jamkhed to Ahmednagar? I think that was the part of the trip… I have to admit it’s a bit of a blur now. Anyway, he sat with a man who turned out to be the same age and is now his facebook friend. Because that happened. He is a teacher and seemed eager to know more about John and what he was doing in India. Um, ditto for everyone else John talked to. The people just seemed fascinated by him which made me believe that either they don’t see a whole lot of Indian people from America come to the country… which is kind of sad… or that those who do come don’t engage in conversation, maybe because they don’t learn the language to the extent it takes to have such a conversation.
Whatever the case may be, it was so fun to watch JP talk to people, whether strangers or the people at CRHP. Fulbright was dead on choosing him as an ambassador of goodwill from America and it did my heart good to see him truly flourish and engage in the people around him. And his confidence will hopefully continue to grow in the coming months as his project wraps up. And who knows what his future holds… He and his wife and kids may be back sooner than you can say “always keep copies of your visa in your wallet.” in Marathi and Hindi. Backwards.