Blogs » Comments
28 TH September, 2009
(2) My Third Week in India
Week three in India has been quite busy!
Towards the beginning of the week, I spent two days in Delhi. Part of the time was spent exploring with fellow volunteers. There is a German volunteer, Anna, living with me in Greater Noida, two German volunteers at orphanages in Noida, and a few German volunteers working at slum schools in Delhi. So it turns out that being able to speak German is quite useful in India. In addition to visiting Lodi Garden and eating Italian food (it really hit the spot...and I opted for a meatless dish so I can still say that I'm trying out being vegetarian though technically I don't have a choice at the orphanage) we visited Lajpat Nagar Central Market. I had a whole list of craft supplies to search for (friendship bracelet string, balloons, chalk...). Finding most of the things on the list was quite a scavenger hunt which proved to be a great way of getting to know the market. I am also slowly becoming better at bargaining for everything from bananas to rickshaw rides.
The second part of my Delhi visit was spent with Ruchika and her family. Ruchika is getting married to the son of someone I know in California. After meeting her just once, Ruchika invited me to spend the night at her home. This friendliness and hospitality seems to be pretty typical of many of the Indian people I have met. They all offer to help me with absolutely anything. Anyways, I had a fun time wedding shopping with Ruchika. We went to this completely nondescript shop that was packed from floor to ceiling with thousands of bangles. We took our shoes off, sat on the floor, and Ruchika and her mother showed the shopkeeper their fancy sarees. As if he were making a flower arrangement, the shopkeeper put together sets of different bangles to match each saree. It was fascinating to watch. I am definitely looking forward to the wedding at the end of October. It should be quite the cultural experience. With Ruchika, I also got really cool henna, or mahendi as it is known here, done on my hand. Ruchika's mom is a great cook and I stuffed myself with pakora dipped in mint chutney before leaving.
My little soccer team has been working very hard this week. We had our first game against a team from a local school. The girls looked like a real team wearing their uniforms (that a previous volunteer brought) for the first time. The match was conducted very officially with both teams lining up at the half before the game. This was the first time that the girls had ever played an actual game on a full sized field with 11 players. Needless to say, given positions ended up meaning almost nothing. The girls all played super hard and mostly had a great time (there were some tears from girls who didn't get to start the game. I never realized how hard coaching was...I feel like thanking all my previous coaches for putting up with me). Unfortunately, the final score was a dissapointing 4-0 loss. But the team seems to have maintained its dignity by concluding that the match up was pretty unfair since the other team was mostly boys. The girls have already started asking when the next game will be scheduled. And two more girls have decided to join the team.
Yesterday, we celebrated Kanchak. It marks the end of a 9 day fast (I really do not know what you can and cannot eat during the fast but the modified food was tasty) and is a celebration of children. Honestly, I am still a bit unclear about the exact meaning of the holiday. Basically, adults worship children on this day. To celebrate, the older women conducted a ceremony in which they washed the feet of the younger girls. Next, they tied protective red strings around the girls wrists and put red marks on their foreheads. Finally, the girls were fed a special breakfast and given small handkerchiefs. I am enjoying learning about and being a part of new traditions.
Have a great week!