The Tiger Has Landed!

Raj the Tiger

Raj the Tiger

Two Creative projects here in Udaipur are finished or on the trembling verge of completion. The first, is my Tiger Puppet. The newest arrival to my puppet menagerie. I’m not quite satisfied with how the eyes look, and it still needs teeth, but you can get a sense of where it’s going.

We haven’t actually utilized the puppets yet, but in a few weeks we’ll begin teaching English in a regular school in desperate need for more teachers. We’ll take a group of 3rd/4th graders and then the puppets will be wonderful teaching tools. I’m looking forward to that! I have with me the horse, dog, cat, and hair-mop home-made puppets; and I also brought two store bought ones: a darling pill-bug (honestly its the cutest puppet of all!), and the camel (which I can’t wait to take with me to the camel fair). I also made a frog one while here with fabric I brought with me.
Schoolroom Mural

Tiger in the mural

The second is my MURAL! It was finished this afternoon. I’m especially proud of the animals I painted, as I’m not really known for that sort of painting. But I feel satisfied that I pulled it off, thanks to good reference photos. The wall was already red, so I decided to let a little of that color pop through what I painted, so that it added some zest. You’ll have to wait till further along in the blog to see the finished photos, as I have too much to write, and don’t have that photo just yet.

Occasionally, the principal would have his wife make Chai, and he’d proudly and generously bring it on a little tray for me. Very sweet. He has been pressing me to paint a very cutsy, charicature elephant (sort of like Disney’s Dumbo) in another location. And, I have just as emphatically responded, “Ravi, ask Ravi to do it!” That’s because Ravi has been watching me do this thing, patiently in the back of the room, because these two fellows don’t want to ever leave us alone on a job, even though I’m only two buildings from the house! But he’s been itching to help out and he’d be perfect for painting something like that. Me, I have no “yes” for just copying something like that. What can I say??? Sorry, Dude, I’m an Artist, and don’t you forget it!”
Okay, so I have an attitude about it. Oops, my ego is showing…

Karen told me a funny story about seeing billboards in Ahmedebad (where I attended a semester or two in college many years ago). It proudly declared, “Come learn English at Uranus School!” Geez, folks, if you really speak English you’d never name your school that now would you?!

I also find it amusing how often I’ve seen the sign, “PLEASE BLOW HORN”, on the back of trucks. Okay, well, if you haven’t experienced the wild traffic-life of India, you wouldn’t know that they all want to know where you are, and, well, how on earth are they going to know you’re behind them wanting to pass, if you don’t lay it on thick as you overtake them – now would they?

There’s just nothing to compare with this particular brand of traffic experience. Paris can’t compare. Rome can’t compare. This is something more akin to a scene out of Star Wars, because it’s packed with so many species occupying the same place in the space/time continuum. It is wondrous how they “get” flow! There are near misses constantly. I see mothers sitting side-saddle on the back of motor scooters with an infant in her arms numerous times a day. The cows and dogs and goats just seem to meander through it all and I feel the wind of the scooters moving past me within inches. Fortunately, no one can drive very fast!

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But the thing I like about all of it is that you actually get to see and feel others much more here. I mean everyone isn’t walled off behind a window-screened car, whizzing by at 25-60 miles an hour. You look in people’s eyes much more. You see them spit, hear them belch, talk, and laugh. There’s an availability and inclusion here that has its own magnificence. Not just because its crowded, but because there’s less separation between everyone. Although I’m not used to how close things stream by me, the vehicles are going by at about the speed of a bike (or slower in the denser sections of the city). It’s not relaxing by any means, but it’s fun for me – at least until I get tired, and then it’s overwhelming. Just yesterday I watched with admiration two women sidling side by side right with traffic in the middle of the traffic circle, and the vehicles all just flowed right around them like they were rocks in the stream.

I’ve taken some videos, but don’t think I can add them here. A few nights ago we went to a performance that features regional dances and a brief puppet-show. The dances were lovely. One was particularly interesting because the women were seated and played on little cymbal-bells that they held in they held by a string which they would fling back and forth over their shoulders and then strike the other that was held in the other hand, but there was another set of bells that were also attached to their right shins and they would do rather intricate routines with them. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of that to include. The one I took is too blurry.

I’ve included a photo of me that Karen took, when we went to what they call the Monsoon Palace, which is up on the top of a local mountain and gains a view of the two local lakes, all of Udaipur, and a 360 degree view. You can see me in my local attire, and a bit of one lake in the distance. This was where the royal family would live during the monsoon season.
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And here are better photos of the two brothers who have founded the STEP program. You can find their website: www.stepvounteer.com
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This is Gaurav, the younger and taller of the two. A Very conscientious and thoughtful gentleman. He’s the one who I communicated with prior to coming. He’s completely dedicated and wonderful.
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And this is Ravi – a bit of a rascal, but also very committed to the work they do. He’s the more playful, funny one, who often tells tall tales and talks tongue in cheek.

They are actually a great team and their skill-sets, being different seem to be a winning combination.

Here’s a photo of the Disabled School (not all the kids are disabled, but about 25% of them are). The small group standing up are performing a song we taught them. I’m accompanying them on guitar as they sing. There were more performing that aren’t in this shot.
Disabled School Performance

And this is the lovely 81 yr old Senior Teacher at this school. She is great with the kids and such an inspiration. I am inspired by her energy and love of the kids.
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And finally, me with a few of the day care kids who I love and will miss as we transition into a primary school to teach English where there are not enough teachers, and an urgent need. Karen hopes to continue to visit the Day Care once a week, as neither of us can bear leaving them completely at this point.
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Sunday is a big Holy Day here – Divali. It’s a BIG DEAL here. I will take photos and describe (very briefly) some of what goes on to celebrate it in my next posting.

All for now. Phir Milenge (See You Later)
N.

6 replies
  1. cynthia
    cynthia says:

    i am so excited to get to experience Divali through you! I love the idea of it, but don’t have enough true understanding of it to put it into practice in my own life. Glad you are there, you look like a queen, and so happy in the photos. And I love the tiger, my power animal!

    • templeofbliss@gmail.com
      templeofbliss@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Cynthia! Honestly, all I know about Diwali is that it is considered the Festival of Lights, and they’ll shoot of fireworks and light tiny oil lamps and put them around on their rooftops. Also, this is an auspicious time, so everyone touches up the paint on their stoops (if they have one), repairs things, buy things, and there is rather an energy-gain created by their enthusiasm. Not unlike Christmas, as I can also feel the build-up of tension too.

      Love,
      N.

  2. Lanett
    Lanett says:

    Hi Nancy…

    It’s so great to hear some of the details of your life and experiences there. I really enjoy reading and seeing the pictures. Thanks for taking the time to put it together to share!

    Love ~ Lanett

    • templeofbliss@gmail.com
      templeofbliss@gmail.com says:

      You’re so welcome. It’s fun to do this blog, though it’s a hassle getting the photos right now, as my i-phone won’t link with my e-mail until I re-boot it, and that’s been delayed. So, i’m dependent upon the others for photos right now. Argh..But hopefully this will be resolved soon.

      All the best, Lanett,
      Nancy

  3. Maria
    Maria says:

    Ture vicarious traveling through you ! Thank you so much. LOVE the mural- WOW! And the love bugs hanging on you…precious…and yeah the traffic in that part of the world…I have never been able to get used to it! sending big bindles of love and hugs.

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