The Future Picassos of India

India is teeming with art. Creativity is effortlessly encouraged in schools and even in the home I volunteer with. Everyday it confronts me from intricately carved Ganesh statues to kolams or delicate line drawings.

Below are some samples of work done by the children. I plan to stow a stack in my backpack and devote a few hours to some art galleries in Mumbai.

January 31st, 2011|Categories: Savarsai|Tags: , , , , |9 Comments

Republic Day Means Freedom

A fog permeated in my brain. Eyes half shut scanned my Timex. 6 am. Not my usual wake-up call, but instead of groaning bones and muttering complaints I only felt excited.

Today is Republic Day across India. Although Mother India gained independence from nasty Britain in 1947, it wasn’t until January 26, 1950 that a Constitution of India was cemented.

Kavita and I were invited to Savarsai, a nearby village built around a school that 9 of the Child Haven children attend. Since she sits on the board of the school, Republic Day made this an auspicious occasion.

Excited village kids

Like most days in India, I never know what to expect. Today’s events were no different.

I sprang up from bed determined to dress nicer than my usual Keen sandals and wrinkly t-shirt. Still, mornings are coolly crisp here and over an olive green dress and baggy jeans, I covered up in a toque and sweater.

Venturing outside I nearly collided with Sonali.

“Auntie, Republic Day!!”

She skipped by holding a thin red sash, a glow radiating from a very adult face. Sometimes I forget she’s only 10.

The kids were issued new school uniforms the night before and whorled around the matron demanding this and that.

“Didi, dress! Powder! Oil!”

A half hour later, they emerged with polished shoes, starched uniforms, and white powdered faces. Not to mention vibrating with national pride.

Girls decorate their hair with ribbons and garlands

Kavita came out in a sari dotted with delicate flowers; the intricate border weaved with scarlet and buttery gold threading. For a change, I was speechless.

The other kids hopped buses

January 26th, 2011|Categories: Savarsai|Tags: , , |11 Comments

How to Eat Bareback in India

When eating in India, it’s customary to use your right hand. No prized cutlery from wedding of the year will grace your plate; you would be lucky to even receive a rusty spoon. What is the fuss with right versus left? The left hand is considered unclean, used for washing yourself after a toilet trip, cleaning your ears or something of that nature.

Some travelers feel uneasy on proper etiquette, so here’s a step-by-step guide on how to eat Indian style.

1. A basic thali of chapatti, curried vegetable and soup (in small bowl):

2. The first part of the meal involves eating chpatti with your vegetable. Get warmed up by ripping apart the chapati with your right hand and using the pieces to cup some vegetable. Don’t forget to pinch some chutney in your chpatti before grabbing the veg.

3. Pop the scooped vegetable and chapatti in your mouth. Do this until the chapati is gone.

4. Next, get a heaping serving of rice. Pour some of the soup over your rice to wet it.

This is what I call mixing paint. Artists intermingle oil paint on their boards before applying it to the canvas. You do the same with a thali.

5. Take a small handful of rice, move it to a section of your plate, then take some vegetable and move it to the same spot. Now mix them together with a squishing action, what you want to create is a malleable ball. Add soup

January 15th, 2011|Categories: Savarsai|Tags: , |56 Comments

What Does a Volunteer Room Look Like?

If you’re thinking of volunteering overseas or am ghoulishly curious, take a glance at my 3 month residence in India. Besides nightly visits from dinosaur size bugs, rats running across the roof and dangling spiders, everything is peachy!

January 9th, 2011|Categories: Culture, Savarsai|Tags: , , , , |41 Comments