Birthday celebrations, dance performances, beach days, fun fair mornings, but also some lonely homesick moments and not necessarily feeling useful. It’s time to catch up, ladies and gents!
Wednesday, the 4th of October. It was exactly one week ago when I told Kar I simply NEEDED some Western food. Yes, I absolutely adore the Indian chapati’s, chatny’s and dosa’s but there is nothing in the world that could stop my cravings from Italian pasta’s, pizza’s and some good, old French fries. This exact day, a month had passed since we had been here and we decided to celebrate that! The 2 of us ordered food that was large enough for 4 people, including, milkshakes and yes, also the Italian pasta’s, pizza’s and French fries were ordered. We weren’t even sure things like whipped cream and cheese were a thing here, but ‘Oh Man, yes, they def had the good stuff.’ We spent 3 hours moaning over food and decided this was going to be a monthly or even weekly celebration lol.
Thursday, the 5th of October was Chinna’s birthday. Chinna is one of our beloved brothers of the staff and the kids were beyond excited to be celebrating! We spent hours making crafts, colorful posters and wall decorations. The office was transformed into a creative laboratory and the floor was filled with scissors, glue, paper, photos and other paraphernalia . The boys practiced their dances and songs and we came up with a simple choreography on ‘Celebrate good times, come on!’ Kar and I went into town to buy his favorite ‘dark forest’ cake and surprised him with cringy, colorful party hats and 23 candles to celebrate his 27th b’day! (Ssssh, no one is susposed to know, he prefers saying 23 because 27 is ‘too old’, lol). The boys threw hundreds of flowers on him and we got to deal with some awkward, cultural differences, such as pushing cake in the birthday mans mouth. Also, the fact that we, women, are definitely not supposed to hug a man in front of the 100 kids (the moment we did, we heard 100 boys yell, scream and shout…oops) and the fact that it’s apparently rude to dress up pretty in beautiful sari’s because he is the one who is supposed to be in the spotlight. Besides us not knowing all ‘social formalities’ on b’days here in India, I’m sure we made up with it by singing, giving cake and dancing on a big stage in front of everyone.
Friday, the 6th of October was another great day. We were allowed to take the 6th, 7th and 8th graders to the park and beach! This was the second time this year that they were allowed to get out for a couple of hours, so you can imagine their excitement! These kids are all pretty young (age 8 till 13),so as we walked to the bus stop we were basically just making sure the 50 of them were all holding hands and that they wouldn’t be hit or walked over by the cows, rickshaws and the many motor bikes. I have to say the combination of 50 kids and Indian traffic is quite a challenge.. but we managed! We got in the bus, which was quite an experience on its own. We felt like sardines in a can, I mean it wasn’t just crowded, it was JAM-PACKED. Meanwhile, there was loud Tamil music, the bus conductor walked back and forth trying to get everyone to pay, screaming, while he pushed me on someone stranger’s lap. Great. No, but actually, I enjoyed it. An Indian bus, it’s just one of those things you want to experience when you’re in India. After our interesting bus ride, we went to the park, playground and the beach. We screamed while being on the swing set and we all ran hand in hand over the beach, all these little boys are just so much fun!! We got all kids a small, cheap 10 roepie snack and after that, it was time to head back. There’d be a bus at the bus stop every 5 to 10 minutes, but trying to catch a jam-packed bus with 50 kids isn’t easy. So after about an hour, there was finally one which could fit all 50 of us, we got home, tired but content.
Saturday, the 7th of October was the day we could take the 9th and 10th graders out and about! These boys are age 14 till 18, so the experience was very different from the day before. These are the boys that tell you to walk on the inside, because they don’t want you, foreigner girl, to get in trouble with Indian traffic. In the end, they are ‘strong, Tamil boys’ (Yes, that is literally the words of Naveen Raj’…) Ahum, no Naveen, I’m the caregiver here. Oh and you’re only 15 and a lot smaller than me. ‘Pfff, Mascha, give me 3 years and I’ll be 18 and sooo much taller than you.’ Right. We sat in the park and talked. Their English is obviously better than the young ones and it’s definitely fun to be able to communicate better with them. Afterwards, we went to the beach, we ran into the water, got our pants soaked and the boys would make fun of us for having to reject selfies with strange Indian men every 5 minutes… This time it took us about half an hour to be able to catch a bus, to enjoy the Tamil music, the people that were accidently humping you from all sides and the sweat that would drip of your moustache lip, but that’s all part of the adventure. Right?!
Sunday, the 8th of October. A Don Bosco church in the area organized a fun fair event with a ton of volunteers, so we went there with the boys! Imagine a big hall, filled with a ton of games. Games like finishing a puzzle within 30 seconds or throwing the ball from the table in the cup. You’d get a winning card if you’d win a game and you could get some special items with multiple winning cards. At the end of the day, most boys returned home with Jesus postcards, cute water bottles, a pop up pen or a small Maria painting, and they all had contented smiles on their faces.
Now it’s Wednesday the 11th of October. As you can tell, we had some fun, eventful days. However, I don’t want people to necessarily think everything here is perfect, because it’s far from that. The last few weekdays were a little tougher. There wasn’t much to do in the mornings, so we would literally be waiting for the boys to get home from school. Waiting kicked in some homesickness, missing my boyfriend, my sister and some of my best friends. There is just a lot of spare time here in India. Kar and I think and talk and it’s a good thing that we became extremely close, because we both would have had a much harder time here on our own. Trying to arrange ‘stuff’ in India seems almost impossible, which can get a little discouraging to both of us. Father has to think about our proposal, it needs to be discussed, he’ll ask others, he’ll look into it and before you know it… a month has passed. That’s just the India culture and it’s probably something I’m not ever going to get used to. However, besides some struggles, I still absolutely adore India. With all its food, people, smelly cows and the staff and amazing kids here.
Yesterday, we played basketball in the afternoon. (I’m becoming a star player with my height here, our team won, hehe!) Afterwards, Ashwin, Ashardin and Surrende decided we could use a makeover with pink flowers in our hair and bracelets and rings from palm leaves. It’s moments like those that bring a smile to my face and make everything SO SO worth it.