The Raven's Class

It is the morning of our first day in India and we are visiting the classroom that will serve as the forum for discussion. A large white rectangular air conditioner bubbles in the corner, churning up drops of cold water that leak onto the crumbling plastic floor tile.  The eggy stench of rotting trash creeps through the window, corrupting the purified air. On the back wall a large mirror mocks our world in exact replication. A crow caws just outside the window as it peers into our room, latching onto the thick metals bars that protect our temporary sanctuary from the bustling city of Mumbai.  As the class continues, faded green inscriptions consume the eggshell whiteboard with words like "connect" and "share." Students scrawl notes in faux leather bound notebooks. Mustached men begin dutifully walking in the room, placing tin foil trays of green and red stews over dancing blue flame. Slowly the room is enveloped in the musky scent of spiced nourishment.  The first lesson becomes the first meal as we trade our pens for spoons and commence lunch. --Hirsh