Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

02 Nov 2010, 11:06 a.m.

After A Rainy Night

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2010 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Finally changed my NewsBruiser timezone to Indian time so you can know that I'm writing this holed up in my room at 10:20 in the morning, drapes still drawn, Riven soundtrack keeping out my mom's conversation but not the construction outside. (Staying with NewsBruiser is arguably my contribution to keeping the self-hosted blogosphere from becoming a WordPress monoculture. Also, Leonard wrote it and it's Python.)

the festival poster, with photos of my father

I feel somewhat justified in staying in my cave because I spent five very enjoyable but full days hosting my pal Beth, and then nearly a full day at yesterday's Kannada fest (habba or hubba). The first week of November, here in Karnataka, is a week to celebrate the indigenous language. I went with my mom to this festival because they were, among other things, honoring my late father, a big proponent of Kannada. Have I mentioned I don't speak Kannada? Awkward.

a collage of photos of my dad, a computer lab, festival paraphernalia, and an attendee

They held the staged ceremony portion in a school in Bennur, a school my family's adopted. Pretty strange to see my and my sister's name on a plaque outside a schoolroom, to see hundreds of schoolkids seeing for the first time the strange bespectacled short-haired American woman after whom a bit of their daily landscape is named.

During these occasions I just go with the flow, doing what I'm told ("Take off your shoes here." "Take this banana and feed it to the cow." "Hand each of these kids one of these envelopes."), knowing that I'm the least qualified person there to stage-manage. The annoyance emerges only when multiple people don't think that way, and give me contradictory directions. I can follow consistent, mindless, and sometimes arbitrary directions very well; as evidence, I present my series of public school diplomas and the honors I achieved in same. Your hoops, I jump through them. Just don't move the hoops while I'm preparing to leap.

bright festive decor

A Karnatakan state legislator gave one of the many, many, many speeches. He spoke without notes, which meant his notes didn't get wet in the rain. Did I mention that the stage ceremony was outdoors and took place in mild-to-moderate rainfall? I thought of President William Henry Harrison, and feared the mic might short out. The legislator proclaimed the virtues of Kannada, pointing out that, unlike English, it's spelled the way it sounds. The different vowel sounds correspond to different letters! He specifically made reference to the absurd pronunciation of the English word "colonel." Fair point.

people still waited to see speeches and skits in the rain and after the sun set

Around six-thirty, I was sitting next to Mom in those plastic chairs on that outdoor stage as rain fell, cameras dormant and hundreds of people sitting in the audience or milling around. I was waiting to help her by passing out rewards to kids who had gotten 124/125 or better on a Kannada test. We weren't quite properly lit; I could tell, because we weren't completely blinded. The sun had just set. I could see the tracks the rain made in the air as it passed by the spotlights. And though I was irritated at all the delays and ritual and pushy self-appointed stage managers, I saw those silver streaks against the white light and the deep blue sky, and I thought of how beautiful it was, and calmed down some.


02 Nov 2010, 17:02 p.m.