Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 3..."Time flies when you're having fun.."

Can't believe it's only day 3 here in Kolkata. Yesterday we had a 10 hour tour (cue Gilligans Island theme) that was, to say the least, awesome. First stop was the flower market. It was dirty and crowded; and it was beautiful and fun. As Kira mentioned we keep referring to Kolkata as a city of extreme contradictions. The extreme poverty contrasted not only by the 'beauty' of parts of the city but most certainly the happiness that most of the people here convey naturally. They are friendly and obliging and usually just want our attention. And on that topic.....
By the middle of the day we started calling Chelsea our 'celebrity'. Locals around town would walk right up to her and in whatever way they could make a comment about her hair (which is dark but unlike theirs EXTREMELY tight curls) and then they would want a picture with her! This was endlessly entertaining to me to see my friend getting asked for 'snaps' with people! But then I began to realize that as we were traveling through these places they were not just looking at Chelsea...but at all of us. And then they were asking Kira to take pictures with them...and me...and many others in our front of monuments and landmarks! The fascination with the westerners is flattering, I think, because it simply comes from not being familiar with people that look like us on a regular basis. I had several boys following me around (and through) the Jain temple we visited and then had a girl tell me "you are looking so good!" and then asking to introduce me to her sister..surreal.
Today was by far my favorite (so far, of course)We visited Prayrona's vocational school for young and teenage girls to learn stitching and sewing. We were paired up with a girl (my friend was Puja) and we stitched small hand bags that they themselves embroidered our names with theirs on. They helped us stitch the bags together which for some of us was such a challenge; they make it look effortless! Puja also once told me 'No' when i asked if she wanted me to take over stitching for a moment(I, of course, laughed) After stitching our bags they danced for us and Kira and I sang and taught them a song called Love Grows that we sing with the children at our daycare using sign language and they loved it! They also sang to us You Are My Sunshine, which had Kira and I in tears by "You are my..." It was just a moving moment being with these girls who have so little and yet are very clearly so happy with what they do have. As we left they kissed and hugged us so much I thought my heart would fall out of my chest. To top that off, as we idled in our van before leaving a whole group came and opened our back door kissing and hugging us again! We really felt BETTER than celebrities because of this. They are so happy to have us visit them and spend time with them. Many of us expressed a feeling of sadness and even a resistance to leave the girls because in this little time we began to feel so much for them.
And at only day 3, the fact that I feel so incredibly blessed to be having this BEAUTIFUL experience only makes me anticipate the next 4 days more<3

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