Another very busy day! We got up early this morning to go to a couple of villages that were about 1.5-2 hours outside of Bangalore.
In the first village that we went to, we got to go to the school and play with the children, while simultaneously seeing the school house and the surrounding conditions of the village. Surprisingly, I found the school house to be very adequate, though very different from what we as Americans are used to seeing for a school. The children seemed to have many of the resources that they needed, as well as enough teachers around to help out with the learning part. I was very impressed with their language skills at such a young age already (they spoke a little English, and a little of a few other languages). In the United States, we don’t start learning even a second language until the 8th or 9th year of school. It was also nice to see how excited these children were to meet us and show us what they have learned. That is the whole point of school I think- to take the time and want to learn, but to also value your education and be proud of what you have learned. They performed some songs and dances for us, and in return we tried to teach them some dances, like the Hokey Pokey. We also played sharks and minnows with them, and then they taught us some games of their own. It was such a great experience! And the children were fantastic. Once it was time to leave, we headed back to the bus to head to the second village of the day.
At this second village, we got the opportunity to sit in on a women’s self-help group. In the villages, NGOs are trying to set up these self-help groups to urge women to become more independent, and to help the village’s economy. So far, they have been very very successful. We got the chance to listen to the meeting opening procedures, and ask questions of them before they asked questions of us. My first impression was of how shy most of the women seemed to be. Very few of them would make eye contact, and many would look away if you tried. I also found it interesting that these women couldn’t speak English at all, while their children were starting to learn. I think this, more than anything I saw, showed the influence of CSA (a university club focused on volunteer work) in the community, to better the education of the upcoming generations. I find it to be fantastic that the CSA is also taking action to empower women, and educate them better about practical things such as banking and self-esteem. I found it so shocking that many of these women never leave their house, but CSA is helping to change that. After we left the self-help group, we got a tour of two different houses in the village. Both were made of stone- one was fairly large, and one was exceptionally small. We found out that most houses in the villages don’t have bedrooms. Instead, the residents just roll out mats, and sleep on the dirt floor. It was fascinating to see this way of life.
We left the second village, got back on our bus, and headed back to the flat. Unfortunately, the power was out so we couldn’t get anything done that we wanted to. Instead, we just took a long nap! Once we woke up, our adventurous night began.
Yesterday, Keerthi had given us tickets to a cultural dance event held at the governor’s house. An exclusive event, and now we had an opportunity to go! But of course, this is India, and nothing ever goes exactly as planned…
We got an auto, and the driver said he knew where the Glass House was, on the governor’s property. He lied to us, and got very very lost. He ended up asking numerous people where it was, and tried to drop us off at three random places that he assured us were the right ones! I am super gullible and believed him, but luckily Lianne was wearier and knew better. Anyways, we ended up having an hour and a half long rickshaw ride for a trip that should have taken just half an hour, 45 minutes at most. I did feel really guilty though when we finally reached our destination. We had agreed on a set price before we left, like always, and that is what we paid him when we got out of the auto. I felt so bad though, because it wasn’t nearly enough to cover the gas he had wasted. On the one hand, I was upset that he lied about knowing where the destination was, but on the other, I felt super bad that I didn’t just give him the extra dollar anyway. I will know better next time, because of how bad I felt about shorting him this time.
And because he got lost, we were super late to the dance. But they let us in anyway, and it was an outstanding experience! It was pretty much a story of Indian myth and Krishna (one of the Hindu gods). We were there long enough to see the last four dances, and listen to the band play the national anthem. Totally worth going to! Once it was done, Kaylee, Lianne, Jessica and I took an auto back. Kaylee went back to the flat to work on homework, but Jessica, Lianne and I began to walk to the store to get a bottle of wine. We didn’t make it that far! We saw a wedding going on in a building on a side street, and we decided to investigate a little. I am so glad we did! The person at the door invited us inside, and we just sat down and watched for a little bit. But then a man approached us and asked if we would join them for dinner. Since we hadn’t eaten, we said yes! The man ended up taking us downstairs, and we had a feast! It was a traditional Southern Indian meal on a banana leaf, with multiple courses of rice and curry, and with a banana and vanilla ice cream for dessert. It was fantastic! Once we were done eating, the man led us back upstairs, and right onto the stage to take pictures with the bride and groom! It was crazy!! I found out afterwards that it is kind of seen as a status symbol, when foreigners attend your wedding. So we are in a newlywed couple’s wedding photos. So bizarre. We ended up leaving after getting our photos taken with a couple different familial groups. The store was closed by then so we just headed back to the flat!
I did some homework, and blogged, just so I could stay up until midnight and be 21! But then it was bed time after such a long day.