Sunday, March 23, 2014

Camping and Family

The past few weeks at school have been very fun. Since I have adopted the mindset of "have no expectations so you cannot be disappointed," I was not surprised to see that school was put on hold for an entire week while children learned about camping and scouting. I showed up to school last Monday to see children attempting to pitch tents. They were learning about scouting, including cooking their own meals and learning camp songs.

Most of the groups were able to quickly pitch their tents. I was of no help since I have never camped before. I prefer hotels.

Despite being in a desert, Aakash still swept the sand away from his tent to keep it tidy.

Everyone was proud of their tents and excited to set up their own space inside. With five people to a tent, it was pretty cozy.

Here are the kids preparing lunch. I got stuck with cutting the potatoes. It's pretty hard work when you're using a dull "knife" and don't have a cutting board. It made me truly appreciate Deepak, who cooks three meals a day, usually without help, for so many people! I thought this was rough and there were many of us pitching in.  The above picture shows chapati which is like a flat bread. We get this with every meal and its pretty much unlimited - take as much as you want! There is an art form to making it, however; and a few of mine were rejected.

Peeling potatoes. 

The beginning stage of subjee. This is a blend of garlic, ginger, and many spices.  Later we added potatoes, peas, and water.

Cooking the chapati. After it is cooked on both sides, each one is put over an open flame to give it those yummy charred spots. Then some butter is brushed on. 

It took about 2 hours to get lunch finished, but it felt good to eat something everyone worked hard on. After lunch the kids rested and worked on homework outside. Some kids were also practicing their songs for a talent show that was happening around a campfire later that night.  I discovered some stray puppies after lunch and they were so cute! They come by school to eat scraps and are shooed away, but they always find their way back. 

At the end of camping week at school, the Kantrud's came to visit us. Matt's parents and sister arrived Friday afternoon and stayed for a week.  We did some sight seeing in Jaipur and they also went to a tiger sanctuary for two days. We were able to see them earlier in Delhi too where we saw some sights together. They are spending several weeks in India travelling to different places.

Here we are at Humayun's Tomb in Delhi.

This was at a place called Chokhi Dani in Jaipur which Matt and I had been waiting to go to. It is a mock traditional Rajasthani village. We were served a traditional dinner while sitting on the floor. Some dishes were really spicy! There was also elephant and camel rides, henna, a market, and dancing. It was really fun. Unfortunately Carrie wasn't feeling well so she couldn't make it.

Jo and I both got henna. I of course smeared mine after 5 seconds.

Here we are at Monkey Palace. Sadly we didn't see as many monkeys as the first time we went. 

Matt's dad, Steve, was nice enough to pose for a picture with these guys. Indians often want their picture taken with a white person. It's like he's a celebrity! 

It was fun to have visitors in Jaipur, and I hope Matt's family enjoys the rest of their visit in India. They may need a vacation from their vacation! Surviving in India can be hard work.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Holi, Women's Day, and a Bee Invasion!

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon here, and Matt and I are having a relaxing day. Our new tradition is walking to a cafe called On The House on Sunday mornings...many businesses are closed and people stay home with family, so we can get around on foot without too many roadblocks.  Matt gets Eggs Benedict, with BACON even! I had fresh ginger and banana french toast with a cinnamon latte...very tasty, especially for under 8 bucks! They even have real orange juice, which is the only place I've had it. Clearly it's the little things in life we look forward to...
On the walk back I even got some wonderful smelling flowers for about a dollar.

Matt just left to go golfing, so this is the perfect time to update everyone on what we've been up to.
Last week our friends Brandon and Valerie invited us to an early Holi celebration at the American Embassy School where their four kids go. (Brandon is the only other American expat here from Polaris, but they live in Delhi). To sum it up, Holi is the celebration of spring arriving, but it has several other meanings.  Essentially it is a day where people get drunk and throw toxic paint at each, huh? I just read an article about how after last year's Holi, many people reported loss of vision and skin infecton due to the toxins in the paint. Since that does not sound like my idea of fun, we opted for a safe celebration at the embassy school.  Next week when the real Holi comes around, we will likely enjoy the colors from a distance.

Getting their water guns ready!

Paint mayhem!

Valerie and Morgan

The boys were too freezing after rinsing their paint off to smile for this picture.

Matt and I had a blast throwing paint and water at each other. Some of these kids have no shame, and I got several buckets of water dumped over my head. It was great to spend time with Brandon, Valerie, and their wonderful family, and chow down on some chicken hotdogs and Indian sweets afterwards. 

Another celebration I joined in on was International Womens' Day. The woman, Jaimala, who organazises both the school and women artisans, put on a large celebration at the school campus. Women who are part of Anoothi, making crafts, came from Jaipur and Ajmer (about 4 hours away). About 150 women came, and there were several doctors providing medical check ups, a professional karate instructor teaching self defense, and a big lunch and dancing.

I arrived in the morning as large buses of women were just starting to filter in. We enjoyed samosas which are a yummy fried pastry filled with spicy potatoes, peas, and onions. Afterwards everyone gathered for the self defense class.

Apoorv, Ayush, and Dinesh making tea


Sergum and Shama

Pervine - teacher to the youngest class

I will butcher the spelling of these girls names, so I won't try



Self-defense course

Not long after this last picture was taken, all hell broke loose.

I was standing in back taking some photos, when a bee began swarming around Adam's head. (He is a volunteer from Scotland who's still here about another week). He had gotten so annoyed by this bee he decided to retreat back to his room.  After a few minutes there were several bees causing a ruckus. Before I knew it, there were literally thousands of bees headed towards us! Chaos immediately ensued, with people running and screaming, knocking chairs over and headed in all different directions. I saw several people who for whatever reason attracted the bees the most, and they were covered with them yelling and shaking as if they were on fire.  I quickly ran back for my camera bag, which at this point I even considered leaving behind, risking not seeing it again. I started running towards where the car would be, and Ajay had pulled in closer to where I was, yelling for me to get in with several others already taking shelter in there. 

If you ever want to hear grown men scream and yell like little girls, then show them bees! I was in my car with Ajay and three teachers from school, and it was chaos! I had a bee on my shirt and they were more scared than I was. One of them grabbed it with my scarf, and since we couldn't throw it out the window, I had to suffocate it in a bag. Everyone was shouting in Hindi and I had no idea what was going on, all I knew was I wanted to get the heck out of there! I told Ajay we needed to get these teachers somewhere safe, and I wanted to go home NOW! If you look closely at this picture, you can see the bees.

So, to wrap up this ridiculous story, we dropped off the teachers to safety, and I got out of there safely. Jaimala called me shortly after to check on me and tell me only a few were really hurt, and that the party was resuming - that part shocked me!

Apparently a boy who is not a student but came with his mother that day, had thrown something at the hive which caused this whole disaster. I bet he got a real good spanking.

The next thing to teach these women: how to act during an ambush. I will personally fund this one. :)