For those of you just joining the recount of my adventures in India, let me fill you in: I am spending 5 weeks at Ankuri, a nonprofit owned by Rachna that provides women with opportunities to knit products, earn an income, learn leadership skills, and send their children to an after-school English program at the learning center.
A few days ago we went to the village with Tara and Sharanya (Rachna's daughters) to take model shots of them against the beautifully colored houses: pink, blue, green. This is being used on our Facebook page to display the knits that Ankuri creates.
I think the knitters enjoyed seeing their knits put on display but they were too shy to model. While Luna took photos I twirled with a little girl named Tanishka. She is the daughter of one of our knitters, Babita, and was very proud of her new skirt, which she asked for so that she could be more like Asha, who she admires. The moms enjoyed watching, though they often hide their smiles with their hands. I'm never sure what the men think— they tend to just stare stone face. This sometimes reminds me of the mountain goats that populate the area.
After dinner we walked out into a growing gale accompanied by lightning and thunder. At one point the gale somehow blew our door open in the middle of the night and I was attacked by a gust up wind. I leapt out of bed to close it and when I looked outside in a haze at the howling night it seemed like it might be the type of night where giants could be found roaming among the trees— including the one fire monster still burning up the forest. The forest has been on fire for perhaps a week now. It moved from high up on the hill and has slowly been devouring parts of the beautiful forest around us. We were hoping the rain would come with the gale to put it out, but the rain didn't come.
A few days later, we went to a the Mind Rolling Buddhist monastery on Sunday and it was beautiful, but we were hassled about our cameras and shoes and had to pay to store our shoes them while we went inside. The signs requesting reverent silence were blatantly ignored. Unlike European cathedrals which seem to suck away all noises into their unreachable vaults, Mind Rolling Monastery seemed to magnify the sounds of bickering.... both due to the architecture and loud colors. The young monks were often texting on their smartphones or jostling the crowd, like minimum wage workers dressed in costumes. I guess tourism is tourism.
Everything seems to move slowly here. You can't stay up late working because there is no internet or no power; you can't settle down in one spot to work because you will be asked to move by the cleaning ladies; as soon as you settle into one project it is time for a meal and those last at least an hour. In many ways it is challenging to have to slow things down and move at a different pace of life than we are used to in college. It can probably be very awarding and eye opening.