Chief Holi Guest…

…The second day of school was just as magical as the first. The students could not be prouder. Neither could I. They are taking to school like ducks to water.

–The ending scene of our movie–

–Manisha hard at work on her Hindi–

–Pritesh (aka Golu) and Ajeet working on their handwriting–

–Komal (closest) and Anita (looking at us) with Sister Prasanna in back–

–Pooja and Sonu (aka Abishek) with multiple teachers and sisters to teach them–

Today, we took a break from class to use the playground. You can only imagine the excitement!

The kids’ favorite device is definitely the merry-go-round. Ok, it’s my favorite too. If you haven’t noticed, I’m really just a big kid at heart. You might also be wondering what is on my face.

Although I had been invited to a Holi (pronounced “holy”) party by our neighbor last week, I hadn’t given in much more thought. Only this morning did I find out I was the chief guest! To make a long story short, our neighbor, Meenakshi, owns and runs a women’s polytechnic institute here in Faridabad. A few weeks ago, the other volunteers and I were discussing sending some women from the slum to her school for vocational training. Meenakshi has become one of our biggest local supporters. Through me, she met my host mother and the two are rapidly becoming close friends.

I found out that I was the chief guest about 30 minutes before the event was about to start. I jumped in our family car and rode with Shri, Mumta, and Naisa to the polytechnic school. We were given an honorary Indian welcome. I received a fresh rose, a tilak on my forehead, and a plethora of traditional sweets and soda. We sat down on a couch facing about 50 female students. I received gracious praise for my work here and then was asked to make yet another impromptu speech. Luckily, I have a lot of things to talk about.

Next, we witnessed a full fashion show and a few excellent dancers. Then, as I had feared, I was asked to display my own dancing in front of everyone. By now, awkward moments and expectations no longer surprise me. I looked around to verify what was expected of me and happily gave the crowd what they wanted.

Much to everyone’s amusement, I pulled up many of the ladies to dance with me. One thing Indians love to do is dance. Dancing can seemingly break out whenever, wherever, and for whatever reason.

In traditional celebration, we “played Holi.” Playing Holi consists of placing colored powder (simply called ‘color’) on another person and having them color you back. The celebration ends up turning into a massive cloud of brightly colored talcom powder as everyone throws handfuls of color at one another. It’s a janitor’s worst nightmare.

Holi itself isn’t until Thursday, but Indians love to celebrate, even if it means having to jump the gun a little bit. After my dancing exhibition, we rushed back to the school to meet the students as they arrived. After recess, Sister Pushpa sent me home to shower before I could go back to class.

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