What’s the best way to make a rabbit disappear? Hire a magician to magic it away of course! That’s exactly what we did last week at Punyawardanaramaya Children’s Home in Kindelpitiya! But first came lunch… The volunteers rocked up early morning to assist a professional chef in the kitchen. We all honed our pineapple and papaya cutting skills and prepared mixed fried rice, chop suey, dhal, chicken curry and a fresh salad. The smell was intoxicating – in a good way! We threw in a couple of matches of cricket and Tony proved he was good with the bat! Yuma exhausted us all with more than two games of volleyball with the older ones and then the waiting game began. The other children were due back from school by about 2pm for the feast that awaited them. After the stampede of boys cleaned up all the plates of food, a local Houdini gave a magic show for everyone’s enjoyment. And as if that wasn’t enough, one of Charley’s friends (a bit of a Steve Irwin type) taught some Boy Scout skills to the kids. We might be able to use some of those animal handling or wrangling tips during next month’s outreach… a trip to Dehiwala zoo!
I’m writing this from India… The power has already been out for two hours this morning so hopefully this blog post won’t be caught in limbo between the electrical wires and cyber space.
India is a sheer delight, a sugary Bombay sweet. Reminiscent of Sri Lanka in some ways and so different in others, this country is like a shot of sensory hyperactivity – straight into the arm. It’s overwhelming in every way, brilliantly coloured saris sweep up the dust, the dust coats my lungs, butchers hack at a chicken carcass in their shop front while I traverse Madurai in a yellow cab… Well, India’s version… a bright yellow rickshaw.
Gaudy sculptured Hindu temples cut the skyline while old beggars sit on the ground. The smell of jasmine is omnipresent as the women flick their heads. Hair adorned with flowers, faces filled with gold and bells on their feet, it seems peculilar that these women attract less attention than I do in this place. It’s not a threatening attention at all, it’s just a curiosity. For instance, arriving in Chennai airport and sitting on a chair, a tiny wrinkled Tamil lady clambered onto the adjacent chair, crossed her legs and started a very involved conversation with me in Tamil. I wobbled my head a few times and smiled. She seemed satisfied with my response, the old dear.
This country stirs curiosity, it provokes a large line of questioning, a long string of comparisons. Chicken, goat, cow… Is that cow eating biryani from a giant bowl in the middle of the road? Yes. Why are those children throwing grapes and papadums in the swimming pool and why is no one doing anything about it? Dunno. Why is a woman carrying a stack of eight bricks on her head while wearing a gorgeous magenta sari? Because she was born to do it.
I have spent a week here checking out our Projects Abroad placements and I have been very impressed with the enthusiasm of volunteers and staff alike. I'm desperate to come back here, take a couple of months and explore this country of sheer and utter wonderment!