Teresa was a stunning brunette. Smiled all the time. Sang
throughout a trying work day. Being
around her was like being on the sound track of Sound of Music. (For YouTube facsimile of this, click here.)
Her beauty, however, emanated from more than just white nursing clothes and a beautiful voice.
Maybe some of it grew from watching her work with paraplegics who groveled across floors like human slugs, from cleaning up those who lost bladder control long ago.
It was easy to be attracted to Teresa Vericat, and me... I was attracted.
But she had a boyfriend, so I just plowed ahead doing what I thought might impress her and maybe move him a little bit south of the summit on which she had placed him.
It was my last year of Urban Community-Development work that had started with site 1 in the Worli Chawls slum of Mumbai, India. Rumors were out that our UCD group might not be replaced, a Peace Corps mistake to some of us.
In response, I added Teresa's Cheshire Home for Paraplegics & Incurables as my 4th work site, to which I quickly connected a 5th, the John Connon Cathedral School, which is perhaps Bombay's most prestigious college-prep academy.
Why might a PCV, supposed to be working with the struggling masses, hook up with a most prestigious college-prep school?
My interpretation of our Peace Corps' Urban Community-Development training protocol went something like --- ID the needs, innovate, initiate, involve people, and then get out of the way.
That became the reasoning behind why I included some teaching at the Cathedral School, where long lines of long cars with tinted glass, air-conditioned windows brought students to school and often returned in the afternoon to deliver their hot, tiffin-walla lunches.
These were kids who lived above the masses in Malabar Hills with views of the Arabian Sea, with water pressure 24 hours a day, while my Worli Chawls rat-infested slum site got water for one hour a day.
These were kids who often invited this undernourished PCV to their lavish parties overflowing with food, while many restaurants in the late '60s were closed three days a week by law due to food shortages.
These were kids who should be doing what some PCVs were trying to do.