i didn't even get enough ground speed to fall asleep. by the time i started to get drowsy, it was 5:30 in the morning already, time to wake up.
i quickly got dressed and stumbled into the early darkness. the streets were mostly empty. i saw the boston globe van stopping to deliver the newspaper. i phoned renata's mother with their morning wake-up call. when i got to the station there was nobody at the token booth, so i just walked right in without paying and down the escalator. the platform was empty except for a man sleeping on one of the benches. i caught the red line to park street, then rode the green one stop north to government center to take the blue line to logan airport. a lot of people there seemed like they were going to the airport as well (why else would they be up this early on a sunday?). there was something wrong with the blue line because even though i could hear ghost trains coming into the station, i waited 25 minutes before an actual train showed up. once we got to the airport stop, it was another 5 minute shuttle bus ride to terminal C, and then i had to find the united ticket counter.
i got there late (7:10) but everyone was still getting ready. there was renata with her parents, the other teacher traveling with her, and her american foreign exchange students along with their parents. before yesterday i figured all of renata's friends would be at the airport to send her off, so i was surprised when she said that wasn't the case: besides myself, her friend peter was there as well. of the departing group, renata was the only one who'd been to china before. renata said good bye to us and led the kids away to check-in their baggage. her parents were reminiscing on how perhaps renata caught the china bug as a child because they used to rent a lot of art house chinese films ("everything with gong li in it," her father told us). renata's dad was also admiring how in-charge she looked with her armful of documents. before the group went inside the gated terminal there was one final round of good byes as well as photo taking. i couldn't stop smiling, seeing these parents with their kids, it brought back a lot of fond memories. and it's really interesting to see the things these kids were bringing: one boy brought his skateboard and his electric guitar (the guitar had to stay behind, cost too much to ship it as additional luggage). we waited until they were through the security checkpoint before leaving the airport.
i got a ride home with peter who drove to the airport. we took the shuttle bus to terminal E (where he parked), went around the airport twice before we figured out where to get off. we also had a hard time figuring out where the manned exits were (versus the automated prepaid exits). we went into the ted williams tunnel and then the mass turnpike back to cambridge. i found out peter had done some traveling in thailand and vietnam, and we stopped briefly at his place so he could grab some vietnam travel info for me before i got a ride home.
i took a shower and then an hour long nap before my next adventure.
i went to kendall square to met up with eliza and jerica for the sunday matinee of born into brothels (exclusive one week only engagement), about camera-wielding children documenting their lives inside the red light district of calcutta, india. i went in first to get seats (it seemed like the movie du jour) before eliza and jerica showed up. eliza wore a distractingly pleasant honeysuckle-scented perfume which i could smell during the movie. from my bag i retrieved a can of contraband soda. after several trailers, the movie started.
because these young photographers are born into brothels, they have access to places normally off limits. the film shows the resiliency of children, how even under the harshest conditions, they manage to survive and find beauty in their world through the eye of the camera lens. despite that resiliency however, they're caught up in the gravity of their surroundings, and few if any manage to escape. with a family who don't care for them (the typical story is mom's a prostitute while dad is a drugged-out pimp) and a society that looks down on them, they seem fated to end up like their parents. for some, prostitution is the family business: grandmothers, mothers, and daughters all participate in this service industry. the girls have it worse, as they mature, it's only a matter of time before they're put "to the line" and some unfortunate ones don't even make it that far before they lose their innocence. along comes a woman who arrives in calcutta to document the brothels, but end up being a crusader for these kids, arming them with automatic cameras so they can "defend" themselves by shooting their lives, and using the photos to garner international attention to their plight and to raise money to take them out of the slums and into boarding schools where they'll be safe. each child has his/her personality with their own shooting style. my personal favorite is avijit, a little boy ("he doesn't like to be called fat") who seems to be a burgeoning diva in the making. the ending of the film is sobering, a mixture of happy and sad. if you want to take an intimate peek into a world few outsiders have ever seen, viewed through the eyes of children, try to catch this documentary before it leaves the theatre.
the three of us went to the starbucks (formerly seattle's best) in kendall square after the movie to get something warm to drink. i went with my usual poison, venti chai latte. eliza disclaimed that she and jerica were out late partying last night so they didn't have their best face on. jerica showed me the homemade lip balm she'd made. we spent the time further talking about the documentary we just saw before heading to the T in our separate directions. observation: when i see fuzzy pink boots on the subway, i have no choice but to take a photo.
back at home i took another shower before i moisturized the hell out of my body: my skin's been so dry and itchy that it was starting to hurt (because i scratched at it, natch). it wasn't until 5pm that i realized i hadn't eaten the entire day (and a long day it was, 12 hours since i've been awake). i heated up some chinese dumplings for dinner. afterwards, lounging on the couch watching inside the actor's studio with clint eastwood, i fell asleep, only to wake up hours later. i turned up the heat and retreated to my bedroom to work on the weblog.