Vipassana for Kids

            Today we took the kids to the Vipassana center. We only took three of them, Chapel, Ishwar, and Prakash. Ganesh wasn’t allowed to come because he does too much maasti and we weren’t sure how he would react. It was a little sad to pick them up while the three were all dressed in nicer jeans and t-shirts and Ganesh was in his normal shorts, knowing he wasn’t invited. He didn’t try to come. We hopped into Arjun’s car, which we borrowed because Manoj’s is getting serviced (it really needed it, it doesn’t have shocks – one of many things that need fixing up). They jumped in the car, Ishwar asking if he could sit in the front. I got to sit with the other two in the back.

            We were one of the first to arrive and I was nervous that there wouldn’t be anyone else. The place quickly filled up with kids; it looked like they were from all backgrounds. We took a little walk around the grounds with them after we signed them up, Ishwar grabbing my hand, not in a scared way, just endearing. When we got back to the sign in desk, children were filling up the area and they were finally swept away by other kids after a woman told them to go make friends. After a few minutes of pushing they got up and by the time they were 20 feet away from us, Prakash had his arm around some other kids shoulders and Chapel was walking next to the boy’s older brother. The “parents” had to watch a little video on Vipassana. The main woman directing everyone asked if everyone spoke Marathi, looked at me, I said no, and she asked about Hindi. For what it was worth, I said yes. We watched the video, and then another one after that. After some folks were interested in speaking to us to figure out what organization we were from – asked some of the usual questions. One man came up to the car as we were leaving to ask what we do. He said the boys spoke really well and were very well behaved. We left them to go home. I think I must have asked Manoj a million times if they were going to be ok. There was nothing for us to do, so we went home.

            It’s funny. We take the kids out all the time. The first time we took them in our car we didn’t even know their parents. We made sure that we met them after that. Prakash’s dad called while they were there asking what time they’d come back and where they had gone. We don’t have any written permission from the parents, we don’t have anyone’s phone number except for Prakash’s dad who I’m not sure if we’ve ever met. We don’t know if it’s because I’m a foreigner taking them, or if they just like and trust us. This would never be possible in the US. I love that it’s a little more relaxed out here. No one questions us why we’re doing this. We do it because we love them, that’s all. I guess it goes back that here there’s more possibilities that you can just do something nice without any alternative motives. I’m not saying that you can’t do that in the US, but here, people don’t question you as much; no one here has asked what we’re getting from them. They take it as it is, and that’s nice.

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