Sunday, January 10, 2016

Henna and saris and temples: Another great day

I know that I sound like a broken record when I start each post with "Today was a great day."  But - today was, in fact, a truly great day!

I snapped a few photos on the way to the orphanage this morning. We are in Kerala so most men wear dhotis: worn either short or long.

On every corner, there is the Indian equivalent of a 7-Eleven: some groceries, some fruit, some dry goods - all stuffed into a store only slightly bigger than a phone booth.

 The kids were waiting for us this morning... all giddy with excitement.  First thing we did was pull out some of the crafts we brought from America. The kids got to color and paint each other's nails in bright and crazy colors.

Then the henna started ... and by the time it ended... we were all covered in intricate and beautiful designs.  And the girls free-hand drew the patterns (no copying from books). Such talent.

Next up was English class as we introduced the computers and English Language programs to the kids.  There were literally 10 kids crowded around a single computer all yelling out the answers at once. Chaos... but a great kind of chaos.

Then it was time to play dress up.  First the boys got decked out in their long dhotis.

And participated in an Iron Chef cook-off ... India style.  Since it took the girls over an hour to get dressed up, the boys used the time to compete as to who could cook the best Pongel.  Pongel is a traditional South Indian dish that has banana and rice and coconut and is cooked in a clay pot over an open fire. Who knew our boys could actually create such a complicated dish? But, with a little help from a few of the orphan girls, they did. First step: get a fire started.

Second step:  Take this wooden stool that has a serrated knife-like implement nailed to the end of it.  Sit on the stool and use the sharp metal part to grate half of a coconut and collect the coconut shavings on a banana leaf.  Add the grated coconut and bananas to cooked rice and milk. Voila.. Pongel

Iron Chef ended with a taste contest judged by the home's director.  The boys brought in their tray filled with Pongel with extra flair.  

Peter clearly wins the "best presentation" award - with his heart shaped banana leaf cone of Pongel.

But, after a careful taste test, first place for taste went to Rainey ... but only because he feigned complete ignorance of any ability to cook and his team of girls took pity on him and did it all. On the other hand, the three teen boys took on the project 100% but all three put the rice into their pots before the water boiled so their Pongel ended up too chewy and sticky.

Back at ranch... the girls were deep into sari wrapping as well as full hair and make-up (with solid assistance from dozens of the orphans)

The home had even ordered fragrant flower garlands for our hair. So very thoughtful.

The end result was more than worth the prep time  .... beautiful on beautiful

Just as an aside... look at the wall to the right of the girls.  That's the hallway that was not painted on this trip.  In contrast, the girls' bedrooms (which we did paint on this trip)... now have beautiful murals on every open wall, like this wonderful elephant.

But back to the sari ceremony

Even the grown-ups looked great ....

Especially Barbara, our fearless leader

Mother and daughter (Marnie and Madeline) show such family resemblance when dressed in saris

Some great group shots

And some silly group shots

At the end of the day, we walked down the street to a nearby temple and the kids had such fun showing us all of their prayer rituals and traditions.  Our boys had to take off their shirts to enter the temple, and we - the girls - had to be dressed up or wearing saris.

All in all, a very special day.


galavanting gal said...

What a fantastic learning experience and magical sharing of cultures for all. Kudos to you for organizing and seeing it through.
Jackie Glass

Unknown said...

Once again the colours of India are vibrant. The kids lovely and the people if India so welcoming.Piece of my heart lives over there


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