HAPPY HOLI!!

06 March 2015

If there’s one thing I’m learning very quickly in India, it’s how to pee or sleep just about anywhere. I fell asleep pretty quick in my tent but awoke at 1am desperate for the toilet. It was dark and scary outside, so I attempted to wait, but by 1:40 I concluded that I could wait no longer, so crept out into the darkness to do my business. Mid-wee, a stray dog appeared and started sniffing my head!! I politely excused myself and returned to my tent, but I can only assume he was very impressed with my wee, as he followed me back and cried at not being allowed inside the tent. Finally, the clever thing found a compromise, and slept as close to me as possible while still remaining on the other side of the tent, creating a friendly dent for me to sleep next to. He then saw is as his duty to bark at every bird or breeze that happened by. Around 3:30am he disappeared for a moment and I thought finally sleep could come, but he returned shortly after having found a plastic bottle to loudly chew on for the remainder of the night!

As the following day was Holi festival, we had to be awake particularly early in the morning to beat the traffic. So as a result, I looked like this:

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But was back on my camel 5:30 sharp as promised.

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The moment we arrived back in Jaipur, we were greeted by this:

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HAPPY HOLI, EVERYONE!

 

 

Camels and Camping

05 March 2015

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This day has held very many firsts for me!

We took the bus 3 hours from Jaipur to Pushkar, a small holy town effectively consisting of only one street running right the way through with market stalls and a great temple in the centre, and a Holy Lake where the people go to pray.

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We were first taken through an example of prayer, which culminated in a wish for our loved ones, and throwing flowers to the river to seal the wish.

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We then briefly explored the market and temples, but kept it quick as the town was all a hustle and bustle in preparation for tomorrow’s annual Holi Festival, which will take place all over India!

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So we grabbed a quick spot of lunch overlooking the beautiful Holy Lake

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Before heading off on our adventure!

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We took a camel ride, two and a half hours right through Pushkar’s Thar Desert, taking us past beautiful hills and mountains.

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I absolutely loved this! Considering I’ve never so much as rode a horse, it was very new and… bumpy! And my camel was a little naughty, more interested in talking to other camels than walking anywhere, but I loved him all the more for it!

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Finally, we arrived at our destination. Camp! Again, other than a night in mum and dad’s back garden with my sister, something I have never done before! We got there just in time to witness a serene desert sunset

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Before tucking in to some chicken and paneer tikka skewers.

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Mmmmm.

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Since then, we’ve all been relaxing together around the campfire. But now, at 10:00, the time has come to get a reasonably early night, (in a tent that, by the way, is held up by bamboo) as we need to make a sharp start tomorrow at 5:30, in order to be back to the bus in Pushkar and return to Jaipur in good time to beat the Holi Festival traffic.

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Night!

Teaching and Learning

04 March 2015

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Today was our final day of volunteering at the school in the Elephant Village of Jaipur. I have to say, it’s been an exhausting experience, both emotionally and physically. Physically, because the children are all remarkably fast and strong for their age, and seemed very fond of climbing me like a tree! At one point, I had 5 on me including 2 on my head, which might sound very cute and fun, but it was suffocating!

Discipline was lacking in the group and put this alongside an enormous language barrier… It was almost impossible to get them to behave! The two teachers present would smack the naughty children… Perhaps knowing we wouldn’t do this made it easier for them to act out with us?

It was emotionally difficult, because many of these children showed significant athletic or academic potential-3-year-olds that know their entire English alphabet, 8-year-olds that can count to 500 in English, and forget being nice and letting them win a race, you’re lucky if you’ll ever catch them! But in such a poverty stricken area, they will never been given an opportunity for this greatness to grow. The school itself wasn’t so much a school as it was an area to leave children aged 1 to 13 while their parents work, so there wasn’t really any presence of order.

The elephants that were kept there were also an upsetting sight. Painted, and dressed with bells and chains, trained to do tricks for money, and with little to no greenery around to eat, it’s a mystery to me how they survive here. I even saw a man beating one on top of its head!

But the experience was also a lot of fun. With Holi Festival right around the corner, we used this last day to celebrate early with the kids! As you can see, they had a pretty fair aim! But again, let me emphasise… They were VERY fast!!

Each day, after returning from volunteering we’ve had a workshop teaching us different elements of India culture!

The first was Henna, which now more or less covers my right hand and forearm

Today’s was a saari workshop, teaching us the correct way to tie and pin a saari, and what should be worn underneath.

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But the funniest and most memorable of all would be the Bollywood Dance workshop. I’m sorry to say that this revealed I have no future in Bollywood! The instructor was unintentionally hilarious- a stern and serious man who never introduced himself and had very little patience with our inabilities… But a very impressive butt wiggle.

Following this, a friend and I sneaked away to take part in a cooking lesson we had arrange with the kitchen here at the hostel. It was such fun! We learned Masala Tea, Chapattis, Vegetable Spring Roll, and something just simply titles “Vegetable”.

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Highlight so far!