Weekend and Guest Blog #3
So I lost EVERYTHING I wrote about the weekend and I'm a bit frustrated by this.
A lot of things happened this weekend, but I’m going to keep it short (as I also have Monday’s blog to write!) I’ve really enjoyed not writing on the weekends so I made that decision on Friday, so that I have a few days to be fully immersed in the program, which has worked out quite well these past weeks.
So here’s the skinny.
Saturday we had a full day of touring the tribal schools and hospitals that are all under SVYM’s umbrella. The children at the school were incredibly energetic and loved taking photos, mainly so that they could then look that themselves in the photo after it was taken. A class showed us the dance they’d been working on, and another class performed a happy-singing-tune for us, and we returned the favor by teaching them the traditional Bharatanatyam Namaste that is performed before and after dancing to ask forgiveness to mother-earth for stomping on her.
We also had the opportunity to talk to the young people (about the age of the mysore2016band) who are training to become teachers. Many of these future-teachers came from tribal backgrounds as well, and many of them will go forth to teach younger tribal children, returning the favor.
The goal of these schools isn’t to simply assimilate these children into current-day Indian culture, but to help establish sturdy, proud roots in their histories, and then to grow branches and more branches and more branches and leaves and leaves and flowering tree.
We also visited the outpatient and long-term ayurvedic SVYM hospitals and toured both of their campuses, learning how they combine western and eastern medicines to provide comprehensive and affordable (a stay at the hospital overnight is 10 ru, or about 20 cents USD) health care to people in tribal regions.
All of this happened from 9 am to about 5-6 pm so it was quite the busy day.
Sunday, we spent the day at the bird sanctuary and the Zoo (ooh! And Kevin G. and Chelsea made their way to an wedding across the street and was overwhelmed with food and people (2000 of your closest friends) while we were at the bird sanctuary)!
We heard creaking bamboo trees and ibises and cheetahs and lions and tigers and sloth bears and deer (though we see plenty of those back in AA) and HERDS of giraffes and elephants. Which is something we don’t see back home in US zoos.
Luckily Sunday provided much downtime in between these things so we were able to relax and recharge for our final week in Mysore.
For the second part of this blog, one of our resident voice persons: Cat, will be taking over with her reflection. We originally discussed talking about what goes on during a voice lesson, but after a day of reflection, she decided to share these thoughts with us instead. Thank you Cat!
I write this blog from the roof of the hostel, which is a place, although it is deemed restricted, that many of the group and hostel inhabitants frequent often. I have established a small place for my hammock between, what are in my opinion, the most efficient drying lines in the entire building due to the copious amounts of sun and breeze. Other members of the hostel community come here to do yoga, practice their instruments, meditate with the views of the mountains and city in the distance, and some people even do their laundry.
As I write this note, a small gaggle of girls that can't be much older than I am are washing their gorgeously colored garments by slamming them repeatedly against the concrete in a puddle of water and soap. It's fascinating to observe this activity as a westerner who has never had the pleasure or opportunity to wash my clothes by hand before this experience. The delicate and intricate fabrics that the women wear here hold up astoundingly well despite being abused against the hard surface. Something that I have noticed, is that one side of the roof is for Indian women to wash their clothes, and the other is for men. The tell tale sign of the difference is the beauty of the clothes from one side to the other- women here certainly dress better than their male counterparts, but this extravagance is one of the few luxurious differences that I have noticed during my time here.
The separations between men and women within this culture have not ceased to shock and astound me as our time has worn on at the Vivekanada Institute. Although the separation of washing areas is minor, something we learned from Steve-ji this afternoon on the way back from the bird sanctuary is that something as simple as putting an arm around a man who is not your husband, can be life altering for a woman. This simple action, which in western culture is common, can deem a young girl as 'loose', which in result can ruin her prospects of marriage, alter the course of her career, can stain her family's reputation and will eventually leave her an unmarried, childless, old maid. Facts such as these make me feel strange.
We may have different lifestyles but we are all the same in our hearts