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Showing posts from April, 2012

Din 242: I want to be bashful.

I was disappointed that I didn't have time to meditate during the day yesterday, but at night, the weather gods sent a majestic monsoon downpour which, coupled with open windows, turned my room into a rainforest. I didn't even have to try to meditate then -- it just happened, and I must have fallen asleep very late and very peaceful.


This peace flew away in the morning when Nanaji's computer decided to reject every single download/upgrade I had installed during my time here. Our new meager goal was that I at least re-install Skype before leaving, no matter how long it took. Thankfully, after one nerve-wracking hour, the job was miraculously done. Nanaji was very amused by the histrionics of stressed Ratna, and asked if I wanted to be an actress. Too late for that. :)


We finally said farewell to Nanaji and hopped in the Inova which would convey us to New Delhi. I am especially happy with how much time I got to spend with my grandparents on this trip, and how well I now fee…

Din 241: All's well that ends well.

After I had read my Tolle for this morning, Nani and I went to Mehr's house to see her again before my departure. There, we learned that there was a photo of her in today's newspaper! She won 2nd place at yesterday's "create-a-look" competition at 612 Ivy League, a local children's clothing brand. Click here to read about her fashion skills! For the next few hours, we drankpiƱa coladas, washed our hands with paper soap, and rummaged through Mehr's exciting clip collection!


We then enjoyed her grandmother's sumptuous cooking over a lunch of every Indian dish I can name. I also took a minute to snap a photograph of my own, of this well-rounded fashionista in her natural habitat.


We returned home stuffed and I caught a nap before Deepu came over. She regaled me with amusing stories from her high school days while I shared with her my observations on India from this trip.


As Deepu was about to leave, Bimla Auntie arrived, with her two kids in tow. I chatted…

Din 240: "There's an endearing way to be obnoxious."

Today was the definition of a spa day.


In the morning, I dyed my hair with henna (again) to really seal the auburn deal. I then read The Power of Now and downloaded 37 songs/lectures to be transferred onto Nani's and Nanaji's mp3 players. As I was doing this (and becoming short of breath all the while), Manju Auntie arrived to begin my real spa sesh.

I basically underwent every beauty treatment under the sun, because I will have neither time nor inclination (nor cash!) for them in the States. Auntie commented that girls preparing to be married are usually the ones who do what I did today. After a good four hours with an "endearingly annoying" Ratna, she finally got to go home!

I spent the next few hours rummaging through photo albums from Mama's college days and scanning these pictures to send to my beautiful mother.


After grumbling a greeting to Priya on Skype, I sat for my hour of meditation. We then had dinner and started my packing. This means that I watched…

Din 239: Everything starts looking like what you're looking for.

I was able to eat today! I started my day with a banana (yuck) and some Power of Now before getting the world's best massage from the world's best masseuse.

Nani then haunted the tailor with a grumpy Ratna in tow, nagging him about the final details of my latest dress. I was happy when we got out of there and headed to a stall selling bangles. Turns out sparkles are the cure for stomach infections! I learned that I have not outgrown my childhood craze of chuddiyan, as made evident by the fact that while most people buy these bracelets by the dozen, I asked Nani to get me entire industrial packs full. Greedy granddaughter.


At home, I mustered the strength to model some of the saris stitched for me at Nilibar (to check the fitting) before collapsing for a nap (and attempted meditation session).


After my hours and hours of napping, Nani and I returned to the tailor to pick up my again altered lehnga. Back home, I wrote a dedication on the first page of my grandfather's new c…

Din 238: It's embarrassing that I was embarrassed.

I dragged myself out of bed this morning, stomach bug and all, and started limping up and down the stairs to Gyaan Ghar to leave some last surprises in the classroom for my students before departing.


Sensible Dilip finally told me, "if you're sick, you should probably stop running around," and I tried to have some breakfast before packing my bags and preparing to leave. Dadi and I got in the car around 11:30 and were in Mohali by 1. There, we visited Gurnam Singh Uncle, Dadi's cousin brother and Papa's favorite Mamaji by far. We had a lovely time chatting with him over soft drinks, lunch, and tea, and we could tell we made his day. He certainly made ours! I have promised to bring the rest of the family with me next time, and I will!


We arrived at Chandigarh in the early afternoon, and surprised Nani and Nanaji, who thought I was coming tomorrow! We snuck up to the gate and opened it without a creak, then tiptoed to the front door and were about to enter when the…

Din 237: I was drowning in joie de vivre.

I shuffled out of bed with my newly acquired upset stomach this morning and prepared for an interview with the Times of India. Journalist Nidhi Singhi arrived at Gyaan Ghar soon thereafter and spent an hour with Dadi and me, asking about our concept, our current programs, and our future plans. (I was being served sickie food all the while.) I think the interview went well, and I look forward to seeing the piece when it is published.


As I started to sneak back to my room for a nap, Sodi Auntie and Rajbir Uncle came over to visit! We sat in the lobby and watched the video recording of our 3rd annual Gyaan Ghar Variety Show and Awards Ceremony. It has come out well!


As the recording was ending, students started to trickle in. We finished up the letters to our Newton School pen pals as a photographer from the Times snapped shots.


I was doing my best not to get sick during class, and finally made it back to my room to rest for a few minutes before Sonal and Raina joined me at home to say g…

Din 236: God knows what's up.

We woke at the crack of 6 this morning to prepare for today's pilgrimage. I read my pages in The Power of Now for the day before getting ready and sleepwalking to the car.


We arrived at the Golden Temple in Amritsar around 11, and it took us a full 2 hours to slink through the sweaty, sandwich-like stampede for spirituality.


After we had finally bowed before the holy book, we grabbed some parshaad and ran!

We had lunch at Sonny Taiaji's house, and asked Jassi Masi and Montu to meet us there. These next few hours catching up with family were super fun and full of laughs. I was especially happy to meet my brother and fill him in on this crazy year!


As Dadi rested over a second cup of tea, I hopped in the car to visit Gurdial Singh Uncle and his family. This was truly a treat! Auntie has known Mama since her college days, and felt like she was meeting Ritu today rather than Ratna. They were thrilled that I came, and I am especially happy that I made the trip. I have promised to…

Din 235: Close enough.

This morning, Dadi and I visited Punjab College of Technical Education to seek advice from Harpreet Kang, the principal's wife, on how we can support the students of Gyaan Ghar as they start to think about higher studies. This meeting was very helpful in making us aware of a number of vocational training courses our students would be able to access free of cost, as well as the many ways to finance a college education at a school like PCTE. We also learned that Mrs. Kang's mother, whose name happens to be Mrs. Gill, was a student of Dadaji's!


Soon after reaching home, I met with an applicant for the new teaching position at our learning center. (She also studies at the school where Dadaji used to teach!) After interviewing Gunjan, I invited her to give the class a sample lesson. The students loved her!

For the rest of class, we worked on our responses to letters from The Newton School, started by Flint Hill's own Abraham family! Students were really excited to see the …

Din 234: "You are your own medicine."

Happy Earth Day!


Gyaan Ghar students came over at 10 this morning for a celebration of our planet. We opened with a discussion on why our Earth is important -- which led to follow-up questions on the importance of planting trees, and the negative effects of pollution upon people, animals, and the planet itself.


Next, we addressed the "is one person enough to make a difference?" question and talked about how if each person -- from a young student to the owner of a huge factory -- were to clean up after herself, there would be no issue. But since this is not the case, we often have to help clean up other people's messes as well. I challenged each student to promise, starting now, to leave behind the mentality of "it's not my trash; why should I pick it up?" (which was clearly prevalent at our Awards Ceremony yesterday).


I then explained the "Design Your Own World" project we would be doing, and showed the students examples of such globes from the Ri…

Din 233: My heart can hear you!

Rome's birthday has treated me very well indeed!


The day of the annual Gyaan Ghar Variety Show is often one of my favorite days of the year, and today was no different. Students arrived at 7 in the morning to start rehearsing. We ran through each act again, we finalized outfits, and we practiced entrances and exits.

Children were all over the place -- in the classrooms, in the yard, in the park, all working hard to polish each piece. They had breakfast and lunch at our house, and returned to their homes in the afternoon to get washed, dressed, and rested for the show.

After they left, Ms. Ritu and I started fretting over the order of the acts! Because the Bhangra teacher would not be able to stay late enough for this lively Punjabi dance to be the last act of the show, there was lots of rearranging to do. I composed a chimerical "Master List" for myself, without which I was convinced the show could not go on, along with a cocktail of other documents. Let's not even …