Posts Tagged ‘ health ’

After School Arts!

Yesterday was the inauguration of my work brainchild! After School Arts went off with a bang! It was beyond exciting for me. We started with the morning session of photography and chess at 7am. I arrived at the school at 6:30, only to find that there were children waiting there already. They were excited; this made me more excited. The gates to the school were closed until almost 7am, but as soon as they were opened, the kids ran in and got to work right away. The chess teacher (and it’s ok now) didn’t show. Some of the kids had their own chess sets that they brought from home. Most of the kids knew how to play and were perfectly content sitting and playing. I put some of the kids who didn’t know with them to watch and learn, the rest I tried to show the moves to. They had a blast. The photography teacher was also really happy with the way things went. The afternoon reflected the same spirit. Every class was a ball of excitement. Some classes had kids from third to eighth standard. Everyone did a great job. The teachers (volunteers!) loved it; the kids loved it. We have drama, chess, photography, flute (Indian flute), dance, katak (a kind of dance – please look it up if you don’t know it, it’s amazing), and next week we’ll add on interior design and a community arts program. All the volunteers are doing this for free. I’m truly impressed. It’s the beginning of a great program (if I do say so myself). Apparently the kids couldn’t stop talking about it the week before when there was sign up going on. I’m just so happy about it. The day was a long, rewarding but very tiring, which probably led to the way I’m feeling now, high spirits but sick body.
I’m sick, but in a different capacity. I feel like this is more of an “Indian” sickness. I woke up burning up with a fever and body aches. I’m not sick; no flu, no cold, no other symptoms, nothing. It’s the strangest feeling. One of the centers was doing a debate; I was in their plans so had to go and then did a casual meet up with one of the teachers to discuss many things about her centers. Both were necessary. I’ve been home achy, working, sleeping, and feeling hot and cold (which I find fascinating that you can feel both at the same time). Sagar and I were supposed to go to Mumbai for the capoeira batizado there tonight. That’s not happening. Hopefully we’ll be able to go for the workshops tomorrow. We’ll see.

Educational Weekend

My friend from New York had a Jew question to ask a not so Jewish Jew. This was for a project for grad school. He messaged me via facebook in his morning and I got the message this evening, wrote back to him, and then we had a conversation about it. Regardless that I’d always like to feel that I’m there for my friends, we both marveled that it is pretty amazing that he could use someone from across the globe to help out. He’ll give me the results of his paper when he gets them. I’m really intrigued.
I used to have these things that I called, “moments.” They were little glimpses in time where I would stop and think, “Oh shit, I live in India.” I’ve been having them a little more often again but I don’t know why. It might because next week marks 2 years. I’ve been thinking of doing a little two year anniversary blog posting, but not yet.

This weekend was filling. There was a huge education conference in Pune; this was the first one ever here, last year it was only in Mumbai. This year it will take place in Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. It just demonstrates the progress, or the attempt to make progress in education in India. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was impressed about the amount of social entrepreneurs here, on the ideas that were being exchanged in informal settings outside of the sessions, and the sessions themselves. There is a lot of really great work being done here and that made me happy. I got to meet some amazing people with whom I really hope to keep in contact; both people who can benefit from my experience and people who I would like to speak to in order to further my goals and ambitions. It was pretty cool.

I also had some unpleasant news and a strange/slightly funny/slightly icky experience yesterday. On the way home from the conference I stopped by to see the kids. I hadn’t seen them since the previous week and Ishwar promised to call me because both him and Chapel were sick with a fever, yet they both came to the park. It was a great park day; we just decided to lie down in the grass and be still. We left early and we got them some medicine and took them home. Ishwar was supposed to call the next day but didn’t. Avinash met me at the entrance of their community and began telling me what happened earlier that day. I proceeded to see Ganesh, whose mother cried in front of me, Chotta Lingapa, whose parents I met for the first time, and the rest of the kids who saw my reaction as I heard the story, understood what I could from it, and tried to explain what I understood back to them. Today we went to see Chapel who was taken to his elder brother’s house about 10 kilometers away.
They were trying to burst crackers (small fireworks). It didn’t go off. They tried several times to light it; they tried to open it and remove the powder and then put it back to light it again. Their last attempt ended up working a few seconds after they lit it when they were looking back to see what happened. Ganesh’s legs are burnt up to the knee, all black. Chota Lingapa is burnt with boils and burns around his hands and legs. Chapel got the worst of it. His face has some kind of third degree burn, his left hand is burnt with a huge scab already over it, parts of his feet are burnt with boils, and there’s a huge boil over his right hand. It hurt to look at his left hand. It was wrapped in a scarf. They all went to the hospital, a free one that’s apparently the best for burns. They got medicine and cream. Chapel doesn’t want to go back though because, as his sister in law said, it’s free and they scream and treat him badly. What do you do for that? It hurt to see their wounds, it hurt to think that I thought they knew better than that. Chapel’s brother and Avinash took us to Chapel’s house today. His bhabi was really great and Manoj and Sagar will take him back to the hospital on Tuesday. It’s just something that happens here, all the time. We’ll do what we can with them. It kind of ties back to this weekend’s conference though. There are great organizations and great people who are trying to change the landscape of India, to make it work for everyone, not just those who it works for now. I wish, as I always say, that I could do more, but it’s not my place to do anymore than I’m doing. I love them, and I think that’s a lot and they know that. They love me back too, which is nice. Enough of that now though…

yoga and petrol

Today Bhakti and I decided to register for Iyengar Yoga. This would take my yoga ventures to a whole new level. Iyengar is supposed to be very rigorous, very amazing. My friend from New York who kind of introduced me to yoga really wants to study this kind of yoga. The registration is open once a year, this week. We figured if we got there a half hour early we’d be ok. It was not ok. The line, or lack there of, was ridiculous. We were told one thing, then another. Finally when we got a number but they weren’t taking up to our number. We didn’t know we had to have proof of residency and a photo. I ran home got my papers, came back to find Bhakti getting pushed around in the crowd for a piece of paper to register us. We got the paper and were told to come back at 4:00. The number didn’t seem to matter to the people waiting to register in line, so we got on line. After almost 3 hours of waiting we were sitting at the desk to register when a man walks up to me and said, foreigners aren’t allowed to register today. I was about to cry. I tried to argue my case but it didn’t really work and now I have to go back again tomorrow. It almost doesn’t seem worth it until you think about the prestige of the place and what an opportunity it is to be able to study yoga there.
Gas is expensive! Because of the Rupee, gas increased by 7 Rupees two days ago. This is completely absurd. Apparently this Thursday there might be a strike, which might affect work significantly – some folks live far away and we have our education convention this week, and it might be almost close to impossible for them to get around without a rickshaw. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. They had to raise the price of gas because the rupee has fallen so low. We’re at a record of 56 rupees per dollar. It’s bad!


I finally started yoga classes after almost a year and a half in India. It’s kind of silly it took me this long to find a class. It wasn’t for lack of effort, well at least a little effort. In February I asked to join Iyengar (not spelled correctly) who is supposed to be one of the best yogis ever. There was a waiting list until June. I gave up shortly after that. Every once in a while I would look at a class here or there, mostly in my neighborhood, and they were all really expensive, and, funnily enough, I think foreigners gave most of them. Who wants to live in India and take a yoga class from a foreigner? I don’t. So while wandering around two weeks ago, I wandered into an institute and registered for their month long yoga class. It’s cheap, so I guess you get what you pay for. It’s not anything at all like any yoga class I’ve taken in the US. It’s a beginner’s class. A lot of it focuses on breathing exercises, which sometimes make me lightheaded. Most of them don’t at all involve flexibility. Some are even a little boring. But, I really want to do this. In almost every class there’s something new, which is good. The only time I can say this was not only not good, but also really, horribly wrong was last Friday, when the class was told to go outside the building and vomit. I’m sure there’s some kind of weird yoga explanation to this, but yea, nothing would or will convince me to self induce vomiting except if I had something that really needed to come up. Besides that, everything seems to be going well. I like to call it older person relaxed yoga. Sometimes your heart rate goes up after doing a movement that involves movement, but there’s always the relax, relax, relax part afterwards. According to the teacher, relax means, ank ke bund, hat piche, legs apart (eyes closed, hands behind). She’s great at mixing Hindi and English. I have no idea what the different movements are called; they all have quite long names. There’s a chant before and after each class. And om is at the beginning and end too. Because of work it’s actually the only month I could have done the beginners class, next month as work starts earlier, hopefully, I can move to the intermediate class which is an hour earlier. It feels good to do something “Indian” after being here for so long.
There are a few regulars who I now recognize while walking in and out of the class. We smile. It’s nice. After, because I go straight to work, I have to change. There’s no real changing area except for the “ladies section where women go for strange massages, mud baths, other kind of chemical baths, and sauna. For a country that seems to be kind of conservative about bodies and women exposing themselves, this place is all out in the open. Women seem quite free in walking around in their bodies. It’s a nice change and reminds me somewhat of when I used to go to the gym in New York and everyone was “free.” Most days the woman who sits at the desk in the front is used to seeing me and I don’t even have to ask where I can go change. Most of the time I get funny looks, but somehow they don’t faze me anymore.