What breaks the routine

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January 21st 2018
Published: January 21st 2018
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Now that I described a typical day at Child Haven in Gujarat, here are some random events that change the routine...
Yesterday, I was sitting in the sun with one of the staff members, as we were waiting for the kids to come back from school. All of a sudden, Nita grabbed the sleeve of my shirt and pulled it up as high as she could towards my shoulder. Without only a few very basic words to communicate, I was once again silently trying to figure out what she wanted... Then she looked at another staff member and said "my room". So, still not understanding what this was about, I followed her to her room, and there she got her nicest sari out of her trunk and "told" me to try it on. All she wanted was a picture of me in her sari!
But this was just the beginning: We laughed almost to tears when we realized that I absolutely could not fit in her choli, the short blouse that they wear with a sari. Even if I am not (yet) super fat (despite their efforts), my shoulders and back are definitely broader than the typical Indian woman. Luckily, I had a choli that I could fit it, and that I could wear with her beautiful sari.
When the kids saw me, they got all excited, but then asked me, with worried faces, where I was going... I said nowhere, this was really just for fun. And fun it was. One of the girls immediately worked on my hairstyle: they really love big puffy hair, which I really don't like, but since it makes them so happy, I obliged... But what I really liked was walking in the hallway with that beautiful sari: all the little embroidered mirrors were reflecting the afternoon sun, it was awesome!
Another highlight of the week was the surprise visit of 2 people that I had met when I cycled in South Africa last March. Gatu and Rene are part of the Warmshowers network and they had kindly offered me to stay at their home near Cape Town as I was starting my trip. Gatu's family is from Gujarat and he is on a motorbike trip with Rene and they made a detour to come and see me at Child Haven. I was so excited to see them here! Even if I only spent a few hours with them in my life, it felt like they were old friends, and it was quite a big deal for the kids too who talked about the motorbikes for a long time afterwards. It was however impossible to explain how I met Gatu and Rene... The concept of traveling in a foreign country alone on a bike for fun and staying with total strangers required more than the few words that we have in common and was a bit of a cultural stretch as well. For the kids, they are just "my best friends".
Here is the last story for today. About a week after I arrived here, I was given a kettle that a volunteer had left behind. At first I didn't really get excited about it, as I don't have anything here to make tea, but then I realized that this could be used to make my bucket shower more enjoyable... I only needed to boil a full kettle, pour the water in my cold water bucket and the result was pleasantly warm water to bathe, which was such a treat especially when washing my hair. Well, this week, my Made in China kettle quit working. That is when I realized how much I cherished that little bit of comfort. I thought about getting a new one, but then figured I could live without it. Well, today, while "unexcitedly" planning to wash my hair with cold water, and knowing the girls have hot water to bathe in the morning, I asked if I could get access to hot water and realized that yes, indeed, there is a hot water tap that works in the morning that I can access when the girls are done! So once everybody is gone, I can fill up my bucket and wash my hair with hot water! It's just one example of a very small thing that we normally take for granted that becomes so nice when you realize you may not always have access to it! It's not about suffering, it's about realizing how muh happiness is in very simple things.
On this it is time for me to go cut some veggies with the cooks while we drink chai... Another simple pleasure!

Additional photos below
Photos: 8, Displayed: 8


Gatu and ReneGatu and Rene
Gatu and Rene

...and me with my puffy Indian hairstyle
Nita's beautiful sariNita's beautiful sari
Nita's beautiful sari

See what I mean by different frames?
The big puffThe big puff
The big puff

Oh, the girls love that kind of hairstyle!

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