Wednesday, 26 November 2008


Monday morning Jess and I brainstorm again on ideas for the children, like scavenger hunts and spelling exercises. At the school, I have a little less energy compared with other days. I start off the lesson with spelling, where I would say a sentence and they would write it down. I'm getting frustrated though because the girls would just copy off each other, and not receive the benefit of learning to write a word themselves. When the other half of my girls come in, they just copy the sentences which completely defeated the purpose of the exercises- but they don't understand that. School ends again with the Hokey-Pokey, which the big girls don't like! Jess and I have a little energy left on this hot hot day but are invited into the home of Lakshmi.
It is very humbling- Lakshmi's family has this tiny room with one I'm not really sure where her family of 5 all sleep- but Lakshmi's beautiful mother serves us delicious fresh mango. We make friendly conversation with her family- Priya translates.
When we return, the street kids are already there and are nasty little brats today. Jess and I have little patience for them so we just send them home. I found out all my money was taken out of my account with some check problem, which chased me allllll the over to India. The new volunteers arrive today - Hannah and Amanda are staying here while Delphine and Natalie will be staying at Karm Marg.
Hannah and Amanda are coming with me to the school today :) In the morning, we sort out things from all the loads of stuff that Amanda and I brought to India. Amanda is so incredibly giving- even though she's broke after paying to come here, she still spent over $200 on kids' supplies and set aside more money to buy things for the kids- for example, Wednesday night we looked for CD player to buy for the school. I want to be more like this, giving and generous for all other people, and think less about myself. I learn later that Amanda is only 20, soon to be 21, which blows my mind! All week, I've considered her and Hannah to be my elders, my big older sisters to learn from. I was truly shocked when these two amazing girls I figured were around twenty-three/ twenty-four were actually the same age as me! They are both incredible people, and were wonderful at the school. God, we just had the BEST day. Hannah took the little girls (and one 3-yr adorable boy named Anju) and everytime I look over at her, she is beaming and looks so happy with the little ones. They do some coloring but are learning at the same time, and play games like Ring Around the Rosy, and are always enchanted by Hannah's "aura" hehe. She is truly lovely. Amanda is fabulous as well, I couldn't have been more pleased of how great they are at the school. She takes half the big girls and I take the others. Someone gives her a roll-up plastic "blackboard" which is great. I first have the girls reading books with each other; I go around and I help them with the hard ones. But soon Priya, in a ten minute long sentence, explains that they can read the words but have no idea what they meant all together in a phrase. So I change my gameplan and we did something great- one person reads the page, then Priya translates into Hindi.
On a big piece of posterboard that Amanda brought, I write down vocabulary words, like "curious," "yard" and "celebrate", and then Priya would translate them to Hindi. It was great to feel like I was finally getting through to them. Our chosen book that we all read together was a classic: Curious George.
We stop for lunch where we are served a double lunch because both Lakshmi and Karmini's mothers bring us dosa and idli with spicy coconut sauce- a south Indian specialty. After lunch, we just play games like "What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf?" and a long game of Simon Says. It's cute because none of the little kids understand the rules and just copy everything we are doing. Karmini is our winner. We also get out the jump ropes, which start arguments among the children. Amanda and I just sit arond the fan, surrounded by girls talking and laughing in Hindi. We start singing all our favorite pop songs and we show each other our dances moves. They all love Amanda because she can dance anywhere, without even music. Love her! After we let out school, Lalita invites us into her home next door for some food. Her mother is very sweet and warm, although she doesn't speak a word of English. Lalita's English is decent- she can convey her thoughts to me. Her father, whose hands are scarred from leprosy, speaks a few words as well. They show us their family album of their first daughter's wedding; they are all beaming with pride. Their family is South Indian, so the wedding had a more tropical, exotic feel, with the bride wearing a colorful garland of flowers. There are also pictures of Karmini dressed up for her birthday- she is stunning. She has a fushia-colored sari, and jewels in her hairline and a pink bindi; with her dark skin, her white straight teeth contrast beautifully. They also have a little brother named Rajat, who looks identical to Lalita. The two of them are adorable with their bright smiles and dimples!
Bandhu comes to pick us up and we are all glowing with happiness about how well today went. When we get home, we head up to the roof for cigs and deep conversation about the individual purposes of our trip here and how it affects daily our lives back at home. We talk for over an hour up there- the state of the world, my frustration with the US government and just government in general, optimism, and money- whether it's in the right hands or not. I take a lot away from the conversation, esp from what Amanda says about not feeling guilty if you can't do everything, can't help everybody. When she tells me she was going to buy a CD player and I said I felt guilty I couldn't chip in, she reminds me that if you feel guilty about not being able to do it, what's the point? It defeats the purpose. Do what you can within your means. She told me a story of how she spent her last $20 on the Make-A-Wish foundation and couldn't eat for the next 3 days- why? Because that was still within her means. She does other inspiring things, like volunteers with HIV patients and has a "swearing jar": for everytime she swears, she puts in $ that goes to stop-child trafficking. It's all very inspirational to me, to see someone my own age, with no advantages over me, doing these amazing things- small acts of kindness that make a big difference.

The streetkids come round 4pm and we color outside together. The little boy who had snuck up on the roof the day before (and who invited the rest of the neighborhood boys to terrorize us, and bang down our gate) was there. But only to play. Soon, our patience is spent and we send all the kids home with cookies. We shut the big gate in their faces, as they smile, wave and scream "Bye Didi!!!" That Kavita girl is evil, but I want to get through to her....
So we just lounge around on the roof after, talking and reflecting. We head to the Sector 10 market with Reena and the housekeeper Mogli- I feel like she is giving me dirty looks all night! The marker is sheeeer chaos and too much to handle, but Amanda is perfectly calm the whole time. She loves it; the crowds, the traffic, the staring. I hate it! We brainstorm more ideas to do with the kids tomorrow. All night, it was vodka and Coke with Bandhu. Hana and I stay up until 1am talking- she's telling me about her adventures in Thailand, from the 1 hour trek up 2,000 steps to a temple, to having geckos fighting in her beach hut. I'm intrigued and want to find out more about Thailand....

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