India Adventure #7

Turbans, Camels and Bollywood dancing

Dec 26

This morning some of us started the day with yoga, some of us went on a nature hike, and some of us stayed in bed and slept. After another fantastic breakfast, we went to our first activity. We were told we would be walking to a temple so we should wear closed-toe shoes. We started walking through the village and after about five minutes, as we rounded a corner, we were faced with a row of camels awaiting our arrival.

We got onto the camels, two people per camel. I haven’t ridden a camel since probably 1993. Now I remember why. I was sharing a camel with Teva, which was frankly a bit terrifying. We were so high up, I was a bit worried that Teva might slide off so I was working hard to protect him from falling. This was a bit difficult when we were going uphill and when we were going downhill. Aubrey was shocked no one fell off, especially on down hills, where the lean was great and it was very difficult to hold on. One friend Leslie pointed out that the car rides were pretty terrifying, but she preferred the car to the camel ride. The kids of course all had a blast. After about thirty minutes walking through the village, we disembarked and changed back to the familiar cars for a short drive to the “Catfish Temple.” One of our guides, Ricky, was on a rogue camel and ended up having to walk the rest of the way. This is a Hindu temple on a lake with many catfish. People come from far and wide to feed the catfish as an offering to the gods. It is illegal to catch or eat any of the catfish in the lake as they are considered holy. Our group went through nine large bags of catfish food, which is expired Indian snacks. The temple itself was small, but housed three different shrines.

The rest of the morning was spent experiencing the local art scene. First we practiced tie-dye with Yunus Chacha, who has generations of tie-dying in his family. We learned about the natural dying process with beetroot powder, turmeric and indigo and natural fixatives. He showed us how he created a unique turban over three metres long. After the presentation, we made our own tie-dye kerchiefs.

Next, we made our own wood block printing creation, then lined up for optional henna designs on our bodies. Lastly, we were taught a Bollywood dance by a professional choreographer, Ashok, which was lots of fun, but none of us are giving up our day jobs anytime soon. We have video evidence of our mediocrity.

After a late lunch, we drove to a different village to visit their school and were invited for tea to spend time with some of the local women, where we could learn about the issues they face in the village. It was extremely interesting seeing the solar panels on the school to provide energy for the first computer lab in the region (albeit still missing a teacher). There are very strong women who are leaders in the community, and with recent programs, all of the boys and girls are now attending school at least through middle school, which is a huge accomplishment. For many women, they hope education will lead to better options for life outside of the village for their children. It seems quality of life is best improved here starting with formal education of the children and informing the adults of improvement made simply for agriculture and economic improvements.

We had a wonderful dinner and then had a singalong. I finally got to use my guitalele. (It is a ukelele in size, tuned differently, but with six strings like a guitar.) Some of the adults hung around singing and chatting with our facilitators before we had to go home and collapse. 

These are long posts as we had busy days. As usual, we had a big day coming up.

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