India – Day 15 – Santosh’s House

Saturday 17th August

Today Raquel has organised for us to go visit Santosh’s house! It’s going to be so good to meet his family, seeing as we’re sponsoring him, I can’t wait!  But first to blog in order, I’m very anal about this.

Again there were lots of latecomers, they make them stand in their own separate lines just outside the assembly hall so as not to disturb everyone else, but there were so many of them they had their own little assembly going on. Saturdays at the school are sports day so after Special Programme with their teachers the whole school goes to the field near the road (the only one that’s not a paddy field) and play different sports until 10am – it’s early home time on Saturdays.  Sadly this morning the fields were flooded due to the monsoon rain overnight so poor things had to do with being in their classrooms improvising with their teachers.  Still, 100 times better they are here than at home, plus they still get their huge lunch here so at least you know they’ve eaten well.

8 out of the 11 hostel boys don’t have school on Saturdays (the other 3 go to a different private school and do have classes) so Raquel does their Special Programme and meditation – we had a free rein today to be with any class so we joined her for the SP. I wanted to see how and what she taught them.  There was the usual meditation (which I am quite enjoying, honestly!) and I really like the way Raquel speaks when she directs it, nice and calm and clear.  I didn’t realise till just now when I looked at my camera that she’d got up and taken pics of us all meditating, cool! She then led the conversation to fear and what people are afraid of.  One of the boys said ghosts so then we ended up talking about superstition (this country is EXTREMELY superstitious, you wouldn’t believe.  They believe in everything) and witch doctors and ghost experiences etc.  It was very interesting and Raquel’s point was don’t believe everything your elders tell you, even though you respect them, you should investigate things yourself and not take every word they say for the truth.  I really like this philosophy – she wasn’t laughing in the face of their parents or grandparents at all but just encouraging the kids to use their own mind and form their own opinions.  I like that.  One of the stories one of the boys told us was about when their mother told them a ghost had possessed her body and that’s why the three chickens that were for the family’s dinner were all eaten.  We were laughing (so were the boys) and trying to explain that maybe she was just very hungry, or maybe the dogs took it, or maybe she gave some to someone else, there were lots of options!  The boys didn’t believe us and I said “hey boys, I could eat three chickens, I eat a lot you know” and Ajay responded saying he will cook me three chickens to eat later. Hehee. Bring it. Well, maybe not these Indian chickens. Bleurgh.

We then popped into Archana’s class with the babies and played word games, drawing pics and letters and numbers on the board and the kids had to shout out the answer.  Well actually they had to put their hand up but it didn’t quite work like that, they were so keen! It was really good as they were in two teams so were the competition got them going even more. We then calmed down and watched groups of them dancing around the room.  One of my favourites Panu made me all tearful because he dragged me to sit with him and then just leant into me staring at my face with his huge huge grin all over his face.  I just grabbed his head and kissed him all over his face, he’s just so gorgeous! He was very confused why I was crying.  I want to take him home!

Then came lunch time so we went outside, washed our hands with all the kiddies and walked up to the roof to eat. I stood with Sajeet and watched the two cooks dish out all the rice and veg to the children.  He asked me, “Are you veg or non-veg?” I said, “Very non-veg, I eat A LOT.”  “Me too, I eat a lot but still I am very skinny.” Understatement Sajeet, you are miniscule! Bless him. We sat down and ate with the teachers today and Chandan, the Principal, said to me Ajay had run to his parents’ house in the village to cook chicken for me.  I got suckered in and was like, aww how nice, cool! But then he said he’s joking and I remembered he was there in the Special Programme this morning when Ajay promised to cook me three chickens.

This afternoon we got to go to Santosh’s house! He’s one the lucky ones who has a brick house, not mud, and electricity and a fan or two.  The first room in the house is for the cow and her calf then we were led through to his bedroom, consisting of a huge wooden frame which was his bed, and a TV and fan.  Raquel, Javi, me and Santosh all sat down and in came his older brother (about 17 years old) his wife (about 16 years old and pregnant), his grandmother, the cook of the house, and a neighbour, a great little kid we recognised from the school.  The grandmother bought in a very sweet rice based food with hot milk – it was delicious but we were stuffed from lunch so was a bit hard to finish but you feel like you have to seeing as they have nothing and are providing you with what food they do have – and also biscuits and little crispy things to snack on.  Oh and Chai tea of course, mm mm.  Again, see Facebook for a cool pic of us all in Santosh’s room.  He was all shy and embarrassed when we were in his house, bless him.  He’s so sweet.  His brother was so so nice too, not working or studying so Raquel told him to come to the school and he will get some from work from her.

When we got back to the school we spent a good few hours with the hostel boys teaching them the time and also playing Hangman. They loved it and hung onto every word.  We stayed with them till it got dark and then let them have dinner, we ate with Raquel in her house and then bed, pronto! Tomorrow is Sunday meaning no school.  Woohoo, we’re going to bed happy thinking we’re not getting up at 5.30am!

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