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Published: October 11th 2010
One of the girls from the street home
The past week has been pretty busy, even though all the students are taking exams. About a week ago, two other American girls came to stay at this convent with me. They're from Washington DC and New York and they've both just graduated from college this past May. It's pretty cool to have people my age to hang out with, considering before I had been hanging out with only children. Last night, we tried to escape the convent to run up the street for ice cream. The convent gate is locked around 7 p.m. Actually, almost all houses here have a wall around them with a gate. This gate is locked, but there is another gate at the top of the stairs, since we live basically in a church basement. We hopped the first gate, but we couldn't figure out how to get out of the second gate. We could have just asked them to open it for us, but I don't think they'd understand why we wanted ice cream so badly. It was more fun to pretend to escape anyway. It made us feel like we were teenagers again.
One of the sisters here is such a character. Her name is Sister Mercy. She's around 60 years old, although she looks like she is 40. She wears her "specs" (glasses) a bit low on her nose, and always looks at us over the top of them, so she always looks serious. She puts salt on everything! Even pineapple and sweet limes. She doesn't say much and always seems to be serious. Sometimes I feel like she disapproves of me, but then she'll surprise me and say something like, "See that girl? You are looking like her. She is looking very beautiful. You too are looking very beautiful." Then she'll turn around and ask, "What is the difference between beautiful and pretty?" She has also dropped comments to me like, "Your mommy is a very good woman" even though she has never met my mom. It's really hard to explain her...she's just a character.
I started yoga last week, after finally finding a teacher. She is a doctor who lives in the neighborhood, Dr. Jothi. She's so nice, she won't even take money from me for the lessons because she is "not teaching for money." Not only is she a doctor and a yoga teacher, but she also owns an orphanage in a village close by. In addition to that, she keeps seven orphans in her house as well as a few widows and some old people without family to care for them. So even if she won't accept money from me for the lessons, I'm going to donate to her orphanage or old age home. I'm slowly getting more and more flexible!
I went to see a Bollywood movie this past weekend! It was called Anjaana Anjaani, which means male stranger, female stranger. It was about two strangers who didn't know they were in love. Some highlights include the guy singing a song to the girl and all of a sudden jumping out in a bunny costume, the guy being forced to dance at a gay strip club in Nevada???, and them renting a boat on the Hudson River in New York, but miraculously the water was crystal clear with nice beaches in the background. All in all, it was really entertaining. The next movie on my list to see is Robot. It's about a robot that falls in love with a human. I'm expecting some robot dances...and I'm excited.
The other main thing that's been taking up my time is photography. I've been asked to photograph all the girls from this home, and the home about 2 kilometers from here. The photos will be used to show benefactors when they sponsor a child. I started photographing the girls at Navegeevena, the other home. It's a street home for about 60 girls. These girls have been found roaming the streets, at the railroad station, been rescued from child labor, etc. There's one girl who had just come to the home about three days before, she had been found at the railroad station. She doesn't speak or understand English or the local language, so they are assuming she was put on a train somewhere else and ended up here. She's about 2 years old. When I was taking her photograph, she was squinting a little so I opened my eyes wider to show her to open hers also. She then opened them as wide as she could and was just staring at me. Then I closed mine a little, and she closed hers completely. Another girl went up to her and physically opened her eyes, so she again had them as open as wide as possible. Then the other girl pushed her mouth into a smile, but it quickly turned into her just showing her teeth. It was so cute, but we couldn't communicate with her to just smile normally. The other girls are pretty great, but they're all starving for attention. It can be pretty overwhelming trying to give some of my attention to 60 different girls.
I've also taken some of the girls from this home out to take their own photographs. It's pretty adorable because they're learning how to hold the camera and take pictures. Some of the pictures come back crooked. They all keep asking to take their self-portraits in front of cars or on motorcycles. They are slowly learning what makes a good photo though.
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