Thursday, January 20, 2011

Full Moon at the Orphanage

I'm getting behind on my posts. I'm only writing about 1/10th of what actually goes on here and I'm still behind on my posts. I'm so tired and I've gotta be up at 3.30am tomorrow for led Primary. URGHHHHHHHHHH!

Hope you had a good moon day. The full moon is looking BEAUTIFUL here.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon, a group of yoga students go down to one of the orphanages to play with the kids. I haven't been able to join them since I've had Sanskrit and Pradipika classes at the same time these trips are organized. Since there were no classes on the moon day, I took the opportunity to finally head over there with the group.

There are about 35 orphans here, and yesterday we took them to the park about a 10-minute walk away from the orphanage. It was really cute seeing them all line up and reach out to hold us adults' hands while we walked.

When we got to the park, they all literally went ape-shit. Y'know how cats have that magic-hour in the day where they have to expend all this energy and they start darting around the house like they're on speed? Yup, that's how the kids were yesterday! It was so lovely watching them grab basketballs, footballs, frisbees and start running around the park, screaming their heads off!

The majority of them spoke Kannada, with very little English. I held the hands of 2 little girls, probably around 8 or 9 years old. They were wearing matching Tinkerbell tshirts and told me they were best friends. "Sisters" they said. :)

When we got to the park, I wasn't really sure what the heck to do with them. I mean... I don't have children and I'm not exactly the best with kids (I think I try to have "adult conversations" with kids and they look at me like: WTF?!) On top of this, these kids don't speak much English! HAHAHA!

So I took out my little camera and just did what I do best (OK, I don't do this best, but I enjoy snapping away, as you might already know)... I started taking photos of what was going on. Chris' jacket kept getting passed around and the little boys were playing dress up with it.

And then guess what happened? ...I discovered who else LUUUUUURRRRRRRRVES taking photos more than me. HAHAHA! All of these kids started running up to me and grabbing my camera to take pictures. I think they just like pressing buttons, for the most part, coz they'd take the camera, look at the screen and make like they were pressing the button... And sometimes a shot would get snapped, but for the most part, no pictures were taken! It was so adorable! (Some of them had pretty snotty, dirty fingers, but eh... what you gonna do right, they're just kids. My anal behaviour was magically suspended.)

These shots were all taken by various kids. They kept wanting to take photos of me, but I was like "No! No! Take photos of your friends!" So... Please bear in mind I'm totally not being vain and cam-whoring - I couldn't get out of these shots most times. It's so cute how some of the shots are random and yet others are actually quite well-framed and focused!

Then I cam-whored with some of them. In an attempt to try and get my camera back before it got passed around yet again! Self-portraits:

One little boy ran up to me, and he was so absolutely gorgeous with those big, sparkly eyes Indian kids all seem to have. But this poor boy was covered in SNOT-GALORE!! Remember the scene from Dumb & Dumber when Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels were riding the mini-moped scooter to Aspen on the highway and freezing their butts off? And they had the major crusty dried-up snot dribbling all the way down and around their faces? Yup, that was this kid. EWWW! No way this Anal-Aunty-Jaime was having any of THAT!!!

So I dug in my bag for a tissue, and the moment I unzipped my bag to look around inside, him and some of his friends just automatically put out their hands, like they were begging or expecting something from me. That kinda broke my heart a little bit. I mean... I have no idea what these kids' backgrounds are - the sign on the orphanage said most of these kids were rescued from child labour... And these boys couldn't have been more than 4 years' old and the automatic reflex action was to put their hands out, to ask for a hand out. It was kind of sad to see such broken innocence, and at the same time made me realize - how lucky are we to have been born into our First World situations, never having to think about where the next meal comes from?

The moment the tissue came out and I wiped his nose, he broke out into a big grin. I made him blow into the tissue too while I was holding it against his nose, which he seemed to get a big kick out of. When I was done, another little boy wanted that gross, snotty little tissue from out of my hand! ARGHHH!

3 is not a crowd, especially when you're on a slide!

When we were done at the park about an hour later, we all trooped back to the orphanage, all the kids had to wash their hands and we all sat down in a circle inside before chanting part of the Shantimantra. They all knew the chant by heart, and it was SUPER CUTE seeing them all sat cross-legged, eyes closed, hands in Namaste and shouting out at the top of their lungs (as kids do when they sing): OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!

On the way back to Gokulam, I was chatting about the experience with 2 of my friends on the rickshaw ride back. One of them is an NRI, or Non-Resident Indian. Basically a local Indian who's not currently living in India; an expat Indian. He remarked that before making the trip to the orphanage (it was his second time that day), he was like most middle-class Indians who just figured that the situation with the number of orphans/ street kids in India is just too big to tackle. Since there's no way to change the situation, "there's nothing that I can do".

But then he's now realized that even if there's nothing ONE person can do to change the situation on a socio-economic level, there IS still something one can do - a simple thing like hanging out with the kids for 1 hour in a day can already play a small part in brightening their day.

As we were leaving, some little boys turned to me and asked "You coming Friday?" (how freaking cute?!) so yes, I reckon even something small like playing with them in the park can go a long way. I'm pretty gutted I can't go tomorrow coz of classes. I'm gonna ask Lakshmish when our Sanskrit and HYP classes will finish coz I'd love to go back and get involved in other activities with these kids!

If you're in Mysore and interested in hanging out with these kids, meet at the coconut stand at 4.15pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dewa or Zee are your girls to look out for; they organize these trips. Rickshaws will be sorted out to get there and back (at your own expense), or if you have a scooter you can go in convoy with the rest of the gang.

9.46pm. I am soooooo dead for led Primary tomorrow! HAHAHA!



  1. Sooo sweeet!! Digital cameras are great tools for engaging kids that speak a foreign language....the same thing happened to us with a bunch of kids on the streets of Istanbul and we ended up with lots of random images, lol. Seeing their enthusiasm was rewarding in itself.

  2. Beautiful Jaime. The words and the pics.

  3. Maybe you can print out some of those photos and either give them to the kids, or to the people at the orphanage to stick up on the walls ... ?! Don't know if that'd work, but might be nice!

  4. with kids we call that time in the evening 'the witching hour'. terrible craziness is there!

  5. Hey Danielle: Good to know cam-whoring is a global phenomenon! Haha! It was a good ice-breaker with these children too.

    5'2": Thanks, they're just beautiful children.

    Susie: That's a GREAT IDEA!! I'll go look into where I can print up some photos. :)

    Tova: Ugh. Witching hour just says it all. Within half an hour, a bunch of us were sat by the side and the guys who've been there regularly looked at us and laughed "ALL of you are tired?!" Kids are a complete handful!

  6. Hi Jaime, thanks for writing about Ashadayaka Seva Trust Orphange. Your pics and descriptions were great! Yes, please join us again soon. :-)

  7. ROBERTO! Hope you liked your candid camera shots. :) My Sanskrit classes are over, so I'll be joining you guys tomorrow. I hear they're getting their teeth cleaned? ...Sounds like a fun afternoon!

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