India Day 11 – Favorite Number 1, Check

Tuesday 13th August, 2013. This is the day I found one of my favorites of the kids here. Manosh. But I´ll start at the beginning.

So I woke up with a cold (aw the kids are so generous, you know) this morning so was sneezing and sounded like a bunged up man, but hey. We went down at 7am for assembly and grinned at all the kiddies singing and sharing news and go through the morning routine, but this day was different as the family came to visit. They arrived and all the kids sang them the welcome song we´d received the day before (me and Javi are humming it already) and the two sponsored kids came out to give garlands of flowers to the family; a gorgeous tall boy named Karan, about 7/8 (no one knows their real age here, it´s all done on guessing and height) and a little shy girl whose name I can´t remember. It was all very sweet.

We then went off according to our schedule, which meant Special Programme today was with Chandan, an extremely smart teacher of about 27 years old, and just a great man with the kids. This was Class One, who are about 7 years old, and he was asking them about their motivations and future ambitions for today and the far future. We had kids wanting to be policemen, military men, most of them wanted the be teachers and one said lawyer… AND he explained what a lawyer did so he fully knew what he was talking about, I was very impressed. Then we had English with Shiv, Class 3&4, which was cool because we did a little lesson on the time. The kids loved it and did learn from us, which is always nice – they loved coming up to the board to draw the clock hands for a time we told them. Some of these kids are extremely smart, considering they literally live in their mud huts and when they´re not in the school here they´re running around on the streets or working in the paddy fields. They´re all so adorable, seriously. Then we went to the class they call BBC – which is the kids watching educational DVDs and cartoons – namely Big Muzzy (anyone else remember that?) I sat on the floor with all the kids and literally had three tiny hands in one of mine and Manosh my beautiful boy in front keeping his hands on my legs while staring at the tv, and another little boy, Panu, on my other side, absent mindedly playing with my other hand. This was all just so cute as these kids don’t get much if any affection or love or cuddles at home. Their parents and siblings are too busy working or cooking or if they do revive any attention it’s likely to be orders or punishment for something. One of the little girls on my left was rubbing my arm really hard and for ages I thought she was just doing it for no reason but later when I looked there was blue pen is somehow got there so she was trying to get it off, bless her. We got a lot of photos sitting with the kids all over us… We do try not to distract then from their lesson but the teachers love it too hehee.

We didn’t eat with the teachers today during their break at 10 – this is the kids lunch (and the teachers) as the whole village and town awakens at five am when the sun comes up so by 10 they’re starving. Plus this meal is the best food they get each day so it’s vital. Anyway so we didn’t eat with them today to save out stomachs a little from the spices and just had tea and biscuits with Raquel.

After lunch break we had rhymes class with Urmilla, the shouty lady (she’s so so lovely just toooooo loud) where we sang If You’re Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands – was the first interactive song I thought of on the spot! Oh and of course Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Next was the movement class, but Ana and her father and Raquel were in there helping the kids to write numbers – it was funny because the teacher spelt 40 fourty so of course all the kids copied and we were all correcting them but this only confused them chaise obviously teacher spelt it different to us. After helping them with this we then had to go to Class One with Chandan again for Arts and Crafts, where Shipra, the assistant teacher, was helping them paint flags. Karan, remember the intelligent little boy sponsored by Ana, was getting Javi to help him with mistakes in his maths book and we were really confused as he knew all the corrections…. Turns out it was the boy next to him whose book it actually was and he was fixing it all for him! Once he’d finished that he got out this little black book from his school bag and proceeded to show me all these little drawings and doodles on each page. He gave me a blank page and wanted me to draw something. Weirdly the first thing that came to my head was a clown so I quickly drew a clowns head and instructed him to colour it in. By the time class finished a little while later another boy who I’d told was a good artist came up to me and on the back I his work was a really good copy of my clown – he was all cute and shy about it and I didn’t even realize he’d seen my little drawing in Karan’s book – so sweet these kids. You give them one smile and they will give you a million back.

Then comes home time, 1pm, and we stood by the gate and had every single kid shout bye sir bye madam at us. Loved it! Sure we’ll be hearing these little gorgeous voices saying bye sir bye madam in our sleep by the end of the ten days. They also shout it when they’re walking on the road to and from the school as they can see us up on the terrace outside Raquel’s house. We then had lunch with her, gazpacho, veg, potatoes and these bindi things – a green vegetable, think we call them lady fingers or something like that? But they’re extremely tasty and good for you and the cheapest vegetable to buy here apparently. Yum yum.

Around 3.30pm we decided to go into town ourselves and walked up the track to the road. Before we even stepped into the tarmac an auto rickshaw stopped and waited for us – Javi was literally hanging out the thing, I think he had half a buttock on the seat, and he actually cringed every time a huge lorry or bus or another speeding beeping auto rickshaw came past, it was a laugh. So the town of Bodhgaya is sooooo nice and relaxed and no white people and the children all day hello to you and some of the adults smile if they’re brave enough. We went trough various markets and shops to buy bread, basmati rice, loo roll, biscuits, water and some fresh milk, mm. We then asked some policemen to point us in the right direction for an ATM and after we started following his directions we realised two of them were actually escorting us, walking a few steps behind and on the other side of the road. Every time we stopped to look at a shop or peek through a temple gate they grunted and pointed us on – was funny, ok ok we’re going! The first four ATMs we came across all had the shutter half down and the guards outside said no no closed, open later. Pah. They literally just do what they want here. I laughed each time but Javi was less than amused. The fifth was open and the guard was smiley and opened the door for us so all ended well. Back on the road we spontaneously decided to buy a little white marble Buddha and couple of bits from a stall, and that’s when the family of sponsors appeared! We went with them as they were meeting Raquel outside the main temple, where we took her house keys and the two of us headed home. In the rickshaw was an Indian tour guide from Gaya, 12km away here our train came in, who chat chat chatted all the way home.

When we jumped out at the top of the track the policeman who was on duty guarding the homeopathic college decided to be extremely chatty and wouldn’t let us go! Fair enough, he was the guy who shone the giant torch for us last night in the mud, but we weren’t sure if he was trying to hit on me or if he wanted to come into the school for English lessons. But eventually we got away from chatterbox and reached home. Little doggy Tara is still very nervous of us, even though she licked my hand earlier, so is still barky and growly, but hey ho, silly thing. Oh right outside the school gate was a group of little kids dressed in dirty tags and mud all over them and who ran up to me but Manosh, my little man! I picked him up and whirled him round and kissed his little face – I just can’t resist!

Oh tomorrow we are invited to have dinner in Principal Chandan’s house- our first time into the village – we’re both very much looking forward to it.

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