Sunday, December 18, 2011

the holidays yo

So it's been about a month.
And the holiday's are here.

I'm missing my family quite a bit cause, well I'm overseas, and separated from a lot of people I care about.
Last winter I remember running around in the midst of Chicago, freezing my butt off, wrapping little gifts, and saying good bye to everyone before I headed to Christmas in California.
I was living in the ballroom then and Jake and I would DJ Christmas songs over the amp in the living room/ ballroom. I'd spin around in that big wide open space and try to deck out the place with candles and holiday cheer as much as I could.
A year later and I'm here in India, the same song- N'sync Christmas, the one that Jake cracked up at me choosing and then walked out the door to work, is playing here in this little computer room.
Its one of the warmest spots in the village.
The cora (fog in hindi) is so thick right now, like a heavy blanket of midst, and at night time it feels like this surreal dream land and I fell into.

I had to say good bye to this little boy yesterday, along with so many faces I love. I'm leaving the village tomorrow, headed to Delhi first and then off to Thailand to see family.
Every wish I've collected lately seems to do with family, and each time it's like a little squeeze at my heart, a gab at a bruise or a pick at a scab.
Being a wanderer has its pro's and cons.

My good bye here consisted of a sort of dance -band -parade in front of the school.
Neetu drapped a hand stitched orange flower lay around my neck and then all the women said a sort of prayer and smeared this red vermillion paint on my third eye.
I was laughing and smiling the whole time, and then my heart was sort of crying inside.
All these cycles, and people you meet, who amaze you, who you have to say good bye to.

I went to the hotel yesterday and had my last cup of 12 cent (5 ruppee) chai.
I will miss those dearly, and especially my little friend Kajal who lives above the shop.
I wonder where some of these kids got these smiles from, if they know just how incredible they are.

When Kanika, my friend from Delhi, came to visit on my birthday she read a story to the my class 4 kids about a chicken who was always in a hurry, never wanting to help others.
Kabeer, the boy above, raised his hand at the end and said some beautiful truth about how we should help others. One boy Harjot said in Hindi that, the chicken's mother was in such a hurry when she was having the baby that when the chic came out he was also in a hurry for all his life. Cause and effect.
It was so incredible how he recognized how the energy we carry effects other people so greatly, the idea that how you are brought into this world, your circumstances, will have an effect on your nature in life.
When I was born I stayed in the womb for 36 minutes after my twin brother.
I'm not sure what that means, but I know I like my own space and I know I like to be cozy and warm and bundled in my little nests. And solitude finds me often.

" The 12 days of Christmas" is playing and I had to switch it because that songs is just annoying.
Ha. Anyways, it's 6:30, my bones are cold, and I want to go rest in my room.
These last few photos show a few moments from my last days.
The fires I find around school that I huddle into, little Shree's feet on a Rickshaw as we head to the market to get some Christmas presents, and another smile from one of the cheekiest boys at the school.
He teaches me hindi words and then gets crazy excited when I say them, I ask him his wishes and he says to me "you're speaking nonsense, just take the photo." I grab his little cheeks and try to give him a kiss and he runs circles around me.

Happy holiday everyone.
I miss you all.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I just got home. I'm sitting "Indian style" to avoid these mosquitos that won't seem to leave my poor little legs alone. I swear after India my legs will never look the same, small little circles and indents in places where I can't stop scratching.

I rode the bike to Amrita's house today.
She was one of my close friends here who recently had to stop teaching due to family circumstances.
I showed up a little late and she woke from a nap. Ran around a bit and made some chai. I sat asking her how she was and worry seemed to furrow her brow every now and then.
I didn't bring my camera but I managed to draw her on a scrap of newspaper on the bed.r

Some hours passed and she cooked me dinner with her sister in law. I stood in the kitchen and she practiced her english while I watched her make this vegetable curry sort of dish and rice.

After dinner I interviewed her for the wish book.
This is how it went.

Name: Amrita Singh Date: November 21st 2011

Me: Oh, Singh, this means lion, yes?

Amrita: Yes, how did you know?

Me: Uh, I read it somewhere. ( a book recently on different faiths in the east)


1. I wish that there was a day for...
uh for what? anything I want? Just standing at myself, fully independent I want to be. Independent means I just need to earn on myself, not dependent on anybody else. I just don't want to take money from anybody else.

This would be good because...
me? has somewhere..what to say..secret? It happened mentality, I actually had some problems, that's why I want to earn money on myself. That I really don't want to share, it's family problem, yaar,.

Amrita smiled her sweet smile all through these questions. I ended with asking her to describe her perfect place, she said:

I'll say I actually, I've never been out of Dhampur, but the peaceful place is at my Mousi's (Aunt's) house.
She gestures to her aunt whose sharing the blanket with me as we're all sitting on the bed and some Indian sort of crime/drama television series is on.

Then she drew her wish;

and she told me

" Everyone needs to fight to get fully independent, everyone fights for this in India..."
she looked over what I had written and added,

"for the mainly, mainly for the girls."

I thanked her and told her how much I missed her at school. It was getting late and she pleaded that I stayed over but I knew I needed to get home.
The road was dark and there are no street lights, but the ride home was short and I knew it.
My path was lit solely by the cars or motorcycles that would pass until I reached t
he beginning of the mill again.
As I bumped along on the road I sung Disney tunes in my head to try to forget the stories of one of the other teachers villages where girls had been taken recently in the corn fields.
I sung to myself and passed the field and knew of course I'd be fine.

I reached home and now here I am. Another Indian wish and day blowing me away.
Things I have to share.

Again here's the link to this project if you want to help as it continues:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

the field of Infinitive

it's Novemember.
Happy Novemember everyone.
I just finished a chai during teacher's break while sitting and discussing art with Jyotirmoy.
We finished making a storyboard for this puppet show animation we're going to do with one of our classes. I love working with another mind, they always help remind me to "slooowww down."
Some artists want intsant gratification- sometimes this is very much me. Wanting a result befoe the process, getting so caught up and excited by the idea, the vision in my head and wanting it brought to life right THEN AND THERE.
He told me, "fail twice, succeed third time".
So instead of making these quick drawings to cut out I took a breathe and told myself to give it time.
One time I found a five dollar bill that said,
"Give it time girl, the fine feels divine."

So some things that have been happening.......

first of all, I've turned into a Punjabi dancing Indian. :) and I love it.

We had a Punjabi Dance routine for Children's Day and my friends did not hesitate to deck me out and help me fit in. It was awesome, hilarious and wonderful. A blurry dream, and the kids seemed to have loved it. I got the A-ok sign from one of my little fourth graders named Chavi.

We had a holiday not too long ago and we took the day to drive (or off road rather) to the Jim Corbett forest and Sita Matha Mandir. Which I think translate's to mother Sita's temple. Sita was Ram's wife who he left in this forest/temple when she was pregnant. ( he had thought she had commited adultery, so this place was sort of a shrine to her tragic story.)
The forest is where she went into the earth before death and is now a part of it.
-I think this is the jist of it, although don't quote me!

Anyways it was incredible and bathing in these fountains was this invigorating, extremely laughable experience.

The day's are moving quickly or rather everything is moving the same and more information is being thrown at me. "The Age of Information", that's what Jyoti called our current time period. More future plans coming into focus like the outline of land appearing while being on a ship. Its exciting and nerve racking. I love everything I'm involved with here and it's crazy to think in a less than a month this environment I've grown into will change again.

I feel like I should talk about this project I've been working on because it's important to me and I care about it. And I'm generally very guarded about my emotions and things I care about or am working on. But this project isn't really about just me, (like most my personal work), it's about sharing these things I'm seeing and finding and documenting.
The beautiful lives I encounter.
I'm continuing my Wish Book that I've been working on for some time. It's always just been a way for me to get a little piece of someone, their thoughts and a drawing on paper.

Collecting them and sharing them with others along my travels.
I want to actually get this project more concrete and share with many.
So I'm traveling a little further, - Thailand and China and then back to the U.S. I have a few friends at schools there
I 'd like to show people from all over, different schools, different places, different streets, different bars, different worlds.
You get the idea.

So here's the site if you want to help out or know more:

Jyoti showed me some of his portfolio the other night, as we sat talking he said,

" We are very lucky we are in this field of art;
it is the field of infinitive."


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

dance, dance. danse.

my body is almost too tired to type.

ringing in my ears from the blaring speakers at a birthday party and my feet tingling from dancing and twirling tiny girls around in circles.
I think I'm mastering a few Indian dance moves, or maybe not, but hey when dancing feels good, it feels good.

i'm just going to upload my favorite photos from the past few days and explain a bit about them.

this is one of my favorite guards. sometimes he pinches my cheeks like I'm 5, then he says "Cooookkiieee" and gives me some almonds.
I can't help but smile.

yesterday was another Puja (prayer holiday) for the Sun God.
It was also a full moon.
I had been feeling funky the day before.
So it was great way to rejuvenate and cleanse.
I felt really grateful to be a part of it, so much hindi I didn't understand, but cleansing and prayer is universal .
My favorite part was when we'd all throw this bark/tea/dirt like material into this fire and the flames would burst up.
Everyone would say "Swaha!" in unison and a handful of fingers would toss these things in. It was like an offering and I'm pretty sure it meant "burn!"
Whatever it meant, the warmth created felt so purifying and it felt nice to watch these things all come together.

i just got back from this beautiful birthday party.
i can't believe the way people treat you here, like gods.
I can't say it enough, how fortunate I am.
I made some new friends, between the ages of 6 to 9 and we danced like our lives depended on it. Towards the end I was thankful to leave because some of the girls would get a bit pushy with each other when they wanted me to twirl them around or be their partner. Haha.
Was a bit awkward, but I'd smile and spin and they'd snap out of it and everyone would dance together again.

Here we all fed him a bite of cake. Part of the ritual. He seemed a bit hesitant and so did I, but I smiled, and again was happy to take part. We had sweets before dinner, which was an unusual treat.

Earlier today I taught my first photo/animation class. This was hectic but good. 4th grade energy and a ton of creativity. Hugs as I walked in the classroom and all these little voices speaking at once.
Then a colorful lunch followed. My cooking experiments are growing and I'm learning less is more. Parsley is a very strong thing, one only needs a little. I learned this the hard way, mais bonne, todo va bien.

ok i need to get some sleep.
Two classes of soccer maƱana.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WHOA. life.

"oh my gooe-ness."
To quote a clown me and my old roomie, Sam, met on the street once.
I tracked him down in the dry cleaners and the second he saw Sam with her crazy magical dread locks it seemed like he was finding a long lost relative and ran at her and hugged her and wanted a photo. Me, her and Vince all stared at each other, smiled, and went with it.

Well anyways "oohh my gooe-ness" is how I feel about the nonstop pace and things that have been happening and passing and flowing and going on here in India.

I've been here less than a month but I swear its been nearly a year.

I'm not even sure how to recap the last few weeks, or where to start.
Internet is patchy and now its like trying to organize and share and show the magic is similiar to trying to fit together this really bright beautiful puzzle. You get stuck on each piece and forget you're even trying to piece something together.

Lets with the founders day event.
This was like a 3 day wedding of costumes and make-ups and dance and samosas and dinners. And so on. I've never felt so beautiful, I think every women needs to wear a Sari, it's like glowing. That's the only way i can describe it. The second night this one boy gives me this smile and hand gesture like "A plus". I felt like Cinderella with my little worn out sandals hidden underneath the gemmed trim of the bottom of my dress.

So as soon as this ended Me and Nisha Mam, Rajesh, Tara Chand, Neetu and their son Sarthak headed out to this Holistic Health camp. Crazy, beautiful, cool names huh?
Most of the talks were in Hindi but Rajesh translated a lot for me and I learned some great ways to lower blood pressure.
1) stroke a cow for 15 minutes everyday for 15 days.
2)take dried cows dung and sprinkle it with urine and put it under the sole of your foot for an hour each day for 15 days.
I loved the way this doctor talked, the peace in his eyes and the soft lull of his voice. In the beginning he starts with, "I have some truths to speak and you can choose whether or not you want to accept these truths." Such a great way to put anything you want to share that may seem , well, I guess extreme.
He also said high blood pressure is due to restlessness of the mind, and all diseases start with what were eating and the medicines we take that we don't need that leave rudiments in our body and start them.

The trip started with a nap on these beds underneath these tall trees, the sun was peaking in from the branches and I felt like I fell into some nice movie. Its moments like these where you're like, what was I even worrying about the other day? Man, grateful, grateful.
I drew Nisha while she napped and then we had this amazing lunch, all organic, that they had grown and cooked there.

We slept outside at some new friends house we had just made and i fell asleep under the stars and awoke to some crazy vivid dreams. A vulpture who had trapped me in his beak, seemed to foreshadow the illness I am getting over. It felt needed, some times your body has to get some things out, and getting better feels so worth getting sick. It's crazy how easily we can take health for granted.

The next day we poured water down one of our nostrils while it came out the other and then sucked water up our nose while it dripped out of our mouth. Haha, it actually felt really good! I was laughing most the time, thinking, "what the heck am I doing?" But it cleared a lot of stuff out.

These moments just continue one to the next, where I can't even react to what's happening it's just happening and I'm just flowing a long with it.

We returned and had two days of classes. Everything is still moving pretty fast but we started break today which meant I got to ctach up on laundry, go to the market and find this little tiny store where people write on typewriters. I think it's a sort of school. I've been itching to get over there and write on one, I love the way typewriters feel and sound, and I started reading this book, Shantaram, and it's gotten me all inspired to start bits and pieces of my book.
One scooter ride later, one letter to a girl in New York, and a few paces down an alley filled with festival noises and I found myself sitting, writing very awkwardly on one.
Eventually I got the hang of it, although the letters are a bit uneven, it looks like I was typing in a car, or during a small continuous earthquake, but no matter, the shaky look has it's charm- wonky, like many things in my life.

Tomorrow we leave for the Ganges River and Rikekesh. It's the first time I'll be really leaving the village since I got here.
Eeek! I've gotten so comfortable, but I'll be with two others and I know better than to have any expectations. Nothing is ever as it seems.
In the best way possible.