Okay, mom, I know you’re left-handed, but using your left hand is considered rude in India, so please try not to use your left hand maybe. Oh, and dad, the mass starts at 6.30 everyday, so that’s gonna be an early wakeup call hehe. Oh, and mom, you should probably cover your shoulders, knees and chest, wear anything that’s baggy enough not to show any female curves.’ A gave em a short guideline book on how to live on a Christian project in Pondy, altho I was sure they’d be absolutely fine. I was excited to get back to Pondy, excited to see my beloved boys again, excited to have a ton of fun with the staff again and mostly, excited to show my parents around.
It was Friday morning, right after the mass when our driver Joe drove through the bright blue gates of the Don Bosco Boys Home. The first thing I saw was Moorthy’s big smile, Sunil Joshua’s waving hands and Ashardin who was jumping up and down. The boys gave my parents a welcome song, ‘Welcome to our houseee, welcome to our familyyyyy.’ Seeing the 11 year old Dinesh Kumar scream the lyrics out loud, while the 18th year old Sharoukan was hiding embarrassed in the back singing the song on a whisper volume was hilarious. Hearing my father singing a song to all 100 of them was even more hilarous. 😉
The first day was mainly showing my parents around on the project, in the neighborhood and in the main building. We played games with the boys, worked on our fundraising project and went to visit the highlights of the city with mom and dad. The boys enjoyed my mom’s yoga/work-out class and loved my dad for joining the volleyball team…
The next day was a tourist day, so my parents would see a tiny bit more of India than just our project. We went to Mahabalipuram, a place filled with ancient temples from 800 A.C. The temples looked absolutely stunning, but the heat made it almost unbearable to walk around. We were all wearing baggy, loose elephant trousers but if I’d be wearing my shorts I’d call it the typical ‘sticking thighs on plastic chairs season’. I haven’t really seen much of India as a tourist yet, so seeing the temples was fun. Seeing my parents being absolutely out of words (yes, even my talkative mom) by all the craziness and beauty of India was amazing. After the temples, we went back and simply walked around in our neighborhood again. It’s something so simple, but to them, it was just as impressive as seeing the ancient temples.
The only way to truly understand what it’s like is by walking there, but I’ll try my best to explain what a 300 meter trip to the cake shop next to our project looks like. We walked through a narrow street, saw an old, hairy man, he was only wearing a skirt and was spitting out his toothpaste on the street. The street was once paved but the amount of bumps and holes on the road in combination with the red sand spread out everywhere made it seem like an old dusty farm road instead of a road in the middle of busy Pondy. I saw a dog left from me, looked him right into his eye, one only, he appeared to be missing one. He had a swollen lymph on his back and looked sick. We continued when a man passed us on his bike, he had about 50 plastic chairs stacked on the back of his bike. Even me, with my Dutch roots, who used to bike to school 1.5 hour a day with a heavy schoolbag on the back of my bike was impressed. I heard loud Tamil music from somewhere, but the even louder honks would sometimes suppress the sound. A young kid was running half naked across the street, he was wearing a white, dirty shirt. His mother, her face covered in yellow paint, she must be Hindu, was calling him. My mom watched it all happening while I told her to look out for the cow that seemed to be running into her, its horns were painted in the 3 national colors of India. All I wonder is who would take the time to paint a random cows horns who lives on the streets of Pondy. I smelled the spicy Samosas from the shop next to ‘my usual cakeshop’, right before the stronger smell of the cow shit got in my nostrils. Mom and dad were taking a ton of photos, I smiled, watching them being stunned and surprised by everything that was going on in just one small, narrow street was enjoyable. I wasn’t taking any photos, honestly, it’s not that I’m never surprised anymore by the things that are going on. I tried taking photos of everything that surprised me here in India, my camera roll was out of storage within the first 36 hours… So that didn’t work.
We had a dinner out with the entire staff on Saturday night, mom and dad got to know the always laughing Felix, Christu raj and Chinna and saw the amount of daily fun we have with our staff. Sunday was the last day in which we were mainly enjoying all the time we’ve had left with the kids. They danced and sang for my parents, we played sports and talked for hours. The conversations with all of them is my fav thing in the world. The silly ones I have with the smaller ones, and the deeper ones I have with the older boys. Seeing their English improve by just talking to me is amazing, Ashoks English has improved SO much and even Sundar raj and Moorthy are crazy motivated to improve their English. They begged me for a private English class in exchange for a Tamil class. They told me my Tamil was horrible and the basic sentences and numbers was simply not enough for living here for 4 months. I guess they got a point there hehe. Writing this brings a smile on my face. Oh, I wish you could just all meet them, you’d love all 100 of them.
The 3 days in India flew by, we spend the rest of our spare time working on our fundraising sponsor project. Which is something I want to give you an update on! We were looking into tables and benches for a while now (more information in this blogpost and this blogpost), however plywood is insanely expensive here in India. With insanely expensive, I mean about 3 times as much as in The Netherlands. This meant we had to raise a lot more money, I reached out to the local newspaper for which we wrote an article, we spammed our Facebook and Instagram accounts, friends spammed their accounts, we reached out to companies, my dad made a deal with his sports club, my mom made a deal with coworkers etc. It was quite some work, but we managed to raise thousands more!!! Enough for 10 tables and 20 benches at least. We talked with the carpenter master, looked into measurements, decided the color of the top layer etc. The project is officially off start! The wood is ordered, 10 of our carpenter boys will sustainably build them and the finish line is on December 15th, a week before we celebrate our early Christmas dinner! Exciting news!
Sunday evening was our bittersweet goodbye again. I truly love living on the project so so much, it gives me so much happiness and 3 days was simply not enough. However I was excited to travel in North India, excited to meet new people, excited to get a new tattoo and excited to finally see the Taj Mahal! We said our goodbyes to our boys, see ya all in 10 days, take care loves. Next up: saying goodbye to mama & papa. I asked them what their favorite thing was from the past few days, they loved Sri Lanka, a paradise holiday for a week. India was the most memorable, once in a lifetime opportunity. They loved seeing us interacting with the boys and the staff and were happy to see how much we loved living on the project. We gave ’em hugs and kisses and wished them safe travels. Only 1.5 months till I’ll see them again in Amsterdam! Kar and I got on our flight to New Delhi which is where we are right now. Get ready for another blog on the crazy adventures in North India.
Much love and happiness from Masch.