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Day 20 and 21: U and V are for Unavailable and Voltage

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Hi all, Sarah here. Day 20 started off with the normal hubbub of breakfast, malaria pill reminders, material gathering, and chai; but instead of going to the office, the plan was to find a wifi source to skype our US team. So we all piled into the car (sans Natalia whose stomach had been acting up) expecting our ever reliant driver Sabirbhai to know where he was going. We soon realized that somewhere in the planning process, it didn’t get communicated that we weren’t going to the office, nor did Sabirbhai expect there to be any wifi cafes open at 9am on a Saturday. Nonetheless, we checked 3 wifi cafes (all closed), a hotel (only has wifi for guests), McDonalds & KFC (also both closed), and finally decided that it was a lost cause & settled on a conference call in the guesthouse instead. It was great to hear some familiar voices on the call. It took much longer than expected to figure out the importance of values we created to help us filter needs statements for potential team projects. So hugeshoutout to all the people in the US we kept up til 2am!

After the call, Kabir, Nisha, and Rachel headed out to a market to do some last-minute gift shopping before Rachel left the country, while Natalia and I stayed back to rest and edit photos, respectively. They were back before we knew it, and from there on, the day was a whirl of showers, last-minute packing, lunch, and good-byes. Nisha was the first to head out to go visit her family in the area for the remainder of the weekend. A short while later, Harishbhai, Kabir, Rachel, and I piled into the car to send Rachel off to the airport back to the US. It was a bittersweet moment, sweetened by the many pictures and selfies taken with and by Harishbhai and Sabirbhai. Back at the guesthouse, Kabir, Natalia, and I settled in for a quiet, but relaxing day of naps, card games, and reading.

And now to Kabir for a typically over-exaggerated version of Day 21.

Solid two paragraphs Sarah…

Namaste, Kabir here. It’s day 2 without Nisha and consequently, without bug spray and sunscreen. Today was our day to saunter around, sleep in, and truly take a day off, so I felt as if I was doing myself an injustice when I woke up at 7 am. Forcing myself to go to bed, I woke up to the beautiful and calming sound of my door smashing open and Harishbhai yelling “Get up” as if the building were on fire. It was wonderful. As I groaned and moaned towards the table, I was greeted by Sarah and, more importantly, some chai. After we were all up, we played some cards, video games, and took a nap.

Around 2:30 we headed to InOrbit, a westernized mall on the outskirts of Baroda. It was finally time to redeem ourselves and accompany Elsa, a Setco worker, to a movie after ditching her twice…we are horrific people (once during winter break, once earlier in the week). But first we had to eat. So I strongly suggested the food court in the mall where they have a wide array of cuisines all around the world. So obviously we chose McDonalds for the third time. We watched 3D Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for about 3 dollars per ticket, and it was high-larious.

Natalia, Sarah, and I came back to the guesthouse and relaxed until dinner and Nisha’s arrival. We chowed down and Nisha walked through the door, which meant work time. We followed our typical routine of collecting in my room, each taking one corner of the bed, and hashing out the details for the remainder of the week. But before we had an inconvenient stint with nature.

While the four of us were at the table devouring some freshly cut mango the balcony door swung open from the intensity of the wind. We sprung into action, grabbing all of our clothes from the clotheslines on the balcony and locking the front door which was also whipped open. Being the curious University of Michigan students that we are, we analyzed the weather, determining that it was a possible dust storm (it was actually just raining, according to Harishbhai, who was outside). We looked through the window and saw breathtaking streaks of lightning that would fill the sky with the bellowing sound of thunder and the eerie whistle of the wind. So there we are, in my room when everything turns off simultaneously. I took this golden opportunity to shine a flashlight and make scary faces. Much of the group voiced that my normal face is far more hideous, so wonderful! I made some shadow puppets on the wall and we went back to work afterwards. Our phones and flashlights were an integral part as the night got darker but we had no out for the unbearably hot room. To ease the situation I turned my flashlight to strobe mode to simulate a rave, but I am fairly confident it made the situation worse.

After an hour of darkness, the electricity came back on and we were able to wrap up our work. Today was another day off and it was much needed. This is our final week here in India and it is filled to the brim with work, but we are looking forward to the relationships we will continue building and the friends we make.

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