Update #2: Watching India lose to South Africa in the Cricket World Cup with one of our host families was one of the sadder experiences I’ve had in a little while.
Update #3: I am officially running out of adjectives to adequately describe the infinite, equally delicious varieties of Indian food. (Clear proof that language is, indeed, finite in nature!)
Update #4: The title of this blog post remains a mystery to me. (Even after tonight’s 45 minutes of dough-patting-flouring-rolling-flipping-rolling-toasting as I joined the kitchen staff for the making of the unleavened bread for dinner, I did not come CLOSE to the degree of circular perfection that Rekha, my 13-year-old chapati-making companion, somehow achieved with her every move.)
That said, life is still good, and the girls here graciously forgive my chapati-making ineptitude.
These days I’m living and working (working? It doesn’t feel like work.) on the outskirts of Jaipur at the main campus of the NGO Bodh, where about 100 girls ages 12-18 live and have their school – I eat my meals with them – and where there is a coed school for about 50 more kids ages 4-11, who come to Bodh from Jaipur’s slums and nearby villages. I am slowly learning the personal stories of the staff, teachers and students, and am daily blown away. Themes: Resiliency. Dedication. Joy. Selflessness. Stories themselves to come soon.
The place itself is beautiful! I have my own little room. Right now I’m having a stare down with the yellow-green salamander that lives in the curtain box above my windowsill, and am listening to my two birdfriends flutter about in their nest which is in my bathroom fan. It didn’t take me long to discover the quickest route onto the building’s roof, which is where I’ve spent the majority of my mornings so far. The girls live in the building next door, and there is another large classroom building in addition to an office, an amphitheatre, two volleyball courts, a badminton court, a basketball court, a gigantic seesaw that might not meet any American safety standard but which the youngest kids LOVE and a library where books like Consciousness Explained and A Brief History of Everything immediately caught my curiosity. This being the desert of north India in March and all, there is no lack of sunshine to beam life into the flowers that grow all over campus. Some are waist-high or taller, filling the whole place with this jungle-y aura that I find particularly awesome.
A quick bit about my daily activities: I help each day in two English classrooms, one with 6-7 year-olds and another with 8-9 year olds. The first few days were spent trying to convince myself that I wasn’t just a blonde-haired-blue-eyed distraction in the classroom, but since that initial phase of frustration I’ve been loving every minute of my cross-legged observation, question-answering, song-singing and – especially – mud-playing. I also happen to have arrived at a crucial time for Bodh’s staff, who are writing their own line of children’s textbooks. Wow! So a good amount of time so far has been spent with the staff members, debating whether or not the sound of ‘b’ in ‘boy’ is the same sound as that of ‘b’ in ‘bus,’ among other things.
My mind still drifts to homethoughts often, but I do indeed find myself feeling very alive here, particularly at this new Bodhplace, in a variety of scenarios. (No matter that most of said scenarios include drinking caffeine, eating and/or engaging in conversation…all things I did with equal vigor back in the States! Maybe we carry our habits with us wherever we go.)
And with that, I’m off to sleep! More photos and stories are on the horizon, peoplefriends, as is the glory of the sunrise.