India Day 12 – Dinner At The Principal’s

Wednesday 14th August – Ugh this morning my cold was really bad and I almost stayed in bed but I would have felt far too bad and ridiculous when all these little kids work and come to school with way more than a poxy cold, so I started the day. We had two kid late for assembly today and when that happens, they have to stand just outside the hall (it’s all open walls anyway so it’s just to make a point they’re too late to join the queue for their class). They also get fined so they have to bring it in tomorrow – a very good way in my opinion to try to get the parents to understand the importance of schooling for their children. There was one little boy who turned up totally filthy so he was sent home. His mum came back with him and demanded he was clean – it took the Principal and Raquel to persuade her no he was too dirty to be in school and it wasn’t acceptable. She left through the gate, smacking and pushing the poor boy as she went. So not the point lady! Was hard to see that.

First class was with nursery with Sajeet. Now tomorrow is Independence Day for India all over the country there’ll be celebratory parties and festivals and prayers and national anthems, etc. All the students are preparing dances and songs for the fiesta here in the school so this morning, there were lots of practices going on throughout the classrooms. Now in nursery class, we call this the dancing class, there are two particular boys who are fantastic dancers. Indians in general love music and dance but the men I think more so than the girls, well they seem to have more a freestyle thing going on which is so entertaining! All the kids in nursery love dancing but there are these two lads – oh my God me and Sajeet were absolutely crying with laughter at them. Their little hips and shoulders have a life of their own and they just don’t stop until the music does. My cheeks hurt a lot from laughing.

Next was with Shiv’s class of Class 3 & 4 students, and I went round the Class 3 kids testing them in pre taught vocab from a story and then poem recital. They were all very good at spelling the vocab words I gave them, I was impressed when a tiny little kid (must have been about 8 but here you literally guess their age as no one knows, including their parents) correctly spelt zoological. One of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen is in this class and she was unsurprisingly excellent at spelling. The girl next to her however had no idea and when it got to the poem recital all the kids were trying to tell me basically, no no she doesn’t know it, don’t ask her. I went to Shiv and asked if she was alright and he replied she’s slow. I thought ok but she comes to school to learn, not get skipped over, otherwise what’s the point in her being here. So I went back to her and helped we read the short poem a few times out loud – the beautiful one was also helping her, was so sweet. Then she pretty much recited it back to me, and was very pleased with herself!

Then off to Class One with Chandan for English Conversation. We decided to let him lead and see what he did with the kids. He asked them lots of questions about what they want to be, how they’ll reach that goal, topics like that, and then also basics like asking about colours of objects and then finally he got out a glove and was talking about our journey here. While the kids all crowded round the globe he asked me where I live and where I’m from, which obviously caused confusion and he asked how can I live in Spain if I’m from England, what about my parents, what do they think etc. Oh NB: everyone here in India believes we’re married because otherwise it prompts too many confused questions as they cannot understand relationships outside marriage. So it was quite funny with Chandan not quite getting that I move to Spain and now live with my ‘husband’ there. Hehee.

I had lunch with Raquel today at 10 and Javi are upstairs with the teachers – this also caused great confusion as the teachers could not understand why we were eating in separate places! I had a bit of a sensitive belly and also wanted to spent time with my cousin, plus when Indians eat they don’t talk, it’s not a social time. We had some of the rice we bought in town and my God, it was delicious. It was 75rupees a kilo, that’s about 85centimos/80p which is apparently one of the most expensive but it was so tasty! I could just eat a plain of the stuff with no seasoning or anything, so yummy.

After lunch back down with Sajeet’s class again and we sat with about 20 kids siting all over us, watching the rest of the class act out role plays showing respect, helping others, those kind of themes. The kids loved it, especially the play about a blind lady trying to cross the road and two kids are teasing her and pretending to help, then a nice person comes along and helps her. They had a whale of a time acting out their little parts, and they loved laughing at Sajeet showing them how to act their characters. Again we tried not to distract the kids with the camera – I just want to capture everything I can with these childrens’ faces, they’re so gorgeous.

We then went to Pre Nursery A with the lovely Archana for the movement class – we took over this one and played ball game with teams – it was lovely to see the kids enjoy it. Then they taught us the Boogie Woogie dance, consisting of dancing around in a circle holding hands and doing random moves Internet singing. A favorite it seems! Then off to Pre Nursery B for rhymes and more dancing and a train game which was funny. In this class there’s a beautiful little boy with Downs Syndrome, and he was so adorable, copying out movements all the time and with a big grin on his face. Sweetest thing.

At the end if the day the sponsor family gave all the kids sweets and balloons as they left and everyone was so happy. Such a great atmosphere in this school. I had to have a little siesta then as the day was exhausting for some reason, probably because I’ve been ill, plus I really wanted to go to Chandan the Principal’s house for dinner later so needed to rest.

I woke up just in time and Chandan and the family, who were coming to, were waiting for us downstairs to go. It was getting dark and we couldn’t obviously walk through the village alone and without knowing where we were going, hence he came to escort us. We walked through mud and animal poo and past chickens and cows and goats and dogs, with people of all ages watching and staring at us as we passed. People here in this small village of mud huts don’t have much confidence to smile back at us but if you hold it long enough they do. Then you just smile at very one and eventually they all do, it’s really touching, that tiny little gesture. So we get to Chandan’s house and he’s lucky enough to live in a three stores brick building. It’s all cement and that’s about it but they have electricity and a fan and he leads us to a room an sits down and his pretty wife proceeds to serve us fried vegetables (delicious), crisps, biscuits and lemonade. Lovely! Then this solidified squishy milk stuff as dessert which was hard to eat but we did it haha. We then got led up to the roof where we could see the school and the women of the house (three families/generations live here) bought us chai tea which I am loving here. Little Carmen, a brilliant little girl from the school and the niece of Chandan and daughter of Shiv, was there and we got some cute pics with her. After about an hour we got escorted home and we spent the rest of the evening watching the hostel boys practice their dances for tomorrow, chatting with them, and sitting on the terrace with Raquel. Those eleven hostel boys are all so wonderful, i love them all so much already! And Tara the dog has totally accepted us now, like something flicked in her brain, and she’s all licky and cute and attention seeking. Much better. We just had a practice run with Raquel putting my saree on me, now we’re all off to sleep for a big day tomorrow – off to a little class Raquel has going on in a tiny village to celebrate Independence Day there, then back to our school for theirs!

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