It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

When it rains in Ahmedabad, it RAINS in Ahmedabad. All day long, rain has been pounding the city streets and filling them with water. Luckily, we didn’t have anything planned after school, so nothing had to be cancelled! The rain actually resulted in what I think will end up being one of my favorite Indian memories. Have you notice I like finding silver linings? But more on that later.

This morning, Sonal’s phone did not stop ringing from the time I woke up to when we arrived at school. Because the school has open-air walkways that can flood when it rains, sometimes they have to have “rain days”. Like snow days. For rain. I think we should implement this policy in Oregon. Sonal is the vice principal of the primary school, so countless parents were calling her to see if school was on today! I don’t know how she managed to be polite to all of them. I would have gone crazy!

The rainy streets of Ahmedabad
The rainy streets of Ahmedabad

When we got to school, rain was clearly the hot topic of conversation. Everyone we met asked me what I thought of it! I told them that I much prefer it over 100+ degree temperatures. Instead of going to a class this morning, I waited in Sonal’s office. It was fascinating to watch her work. There were constantly teachers coming to ask questions, hand in attendance sheets, make plans — it never stopped! One very unique thing about her office is that there aren’t actual walls. It’s completely open to the hallway, which is open-air, so it’s basically open to the whole school! She explained to me that because she deals with small children, it’s better for everything to be out in the open rather than for the adults to disappear into mysterious rooms. That mindset is one of my favorite things about the school.

Our first class of the day, once again, was art. Today we were doing tie-dye or “tie and dye” as they call it here. Apparently this technique for dying fabric originated in India and then spread worldwide. Somewhere in there it also became the standard uniform for Eugene, Oregon. Rather than use rubber bands like we do in the U.S, we used thread to create patterns. We only did the tie part today, so I’ll let you know how the dying turns out! Fingers crossed. During the class we had two minutes of silence for a former president of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, who passed away yesterday. In the normal classes there was also a short speech that was read. I found it a very touching way to honor someone who had been such a leader for the country.

Blurry and dysfunctional, but our smiles should say it all :)
Blurry and dysfunctional, but our smiles should say it all :)

We were scheduled to attend an English class after art, but there was a special assembly called for Grades 9 and 11 because of the rain. The director of the school spoke beautifully about the importance of coming to school no matter what and about the beauty and benefits rain brings. I won’t try to replicate it here because I don’t remember enough to do it justice. Then something amazing happened. She told us that we were all going to load into buses and drive around to see Ahmedabad in the rain! All of Grades 9 and 11! Can you imagine? We did have to write a poem when we got back, but no one cared — we were all too excited! We headed out to the buses and piled in. The Americans and our student mentors were given our own bus and we had the best time. We sang songs (or at least tried to), talked about random things, laughed at everything, and screamed when the wind shifted and water blew in the open windows. I didn’t stop smiling the whole time. In fact, when we first got on, I couldn’t stop laughing! I just couldn’t believe that the school director had actually required that two entire grades spend over an hour driving around to look at rain. I love India!

When we returned, soaking wet but thoroughly happy, we went to Hindi class. Our student-teachers returned today to teach us the names of some Indian foods they had brought. It was fun to have them back, and of course we got to try the food at the end. As always, a fantastic time!

Hindi was followed by dance. Jimmy wasn’t there today, instead a member of his dance crew came to continue teaching us the dance we’ll present at the end. It was such a workout! This particular style of dance involves lots of jumping and big movements — so much fun!

After dance was lunch. Today I have to agree with the Indians — lunch was less than great. But I had filled up on food in Hindi class, so it didn’t matter! As we were finishing Jinal told us that, if possible, the school would like us to write a few lines about our experience there for a report. I told her they should just read my blog! I was joking, of course, and I’m actually really excited to have a chance to tell the school how much I’ve loved my time there. They’ve been so accommodating and wonderful.

Our voice teacher playing the harmonium
Our voice teacher playing the harmonium

Our last activity of the day was another vocal music class. We continued working on the song from yesterday by adding some new sections. I’ve got quite a bit of practicing ahead of me! The style of song we’re singing is typically done with a lot of improvisation, so the teacher has trouble remembering what she’s taught us. This makes it hard for us to remember what we’ve learned! We ended up creating a final version though and I have it recorded on my phone. It’s gorgeous music, even if we’re just singing the names of the notes rather than actual words. I don’t think we have time to learn lyrics in Hindi!

Tonight the school director is taking us all to dinner so we didn’t have anything planned for this afternoon. I decided to write this before I go because I won’t get back until late and I don’t want to be exhausted in the morning. It will be the first topic I cover in tomorrow’s post instead! Right now it’s just started raining again. I’m sitting on my bed with the window open, listening the sounds of the street below as a cool breeze floats by. It’s not a bad place to be. Until next time, अलविदा!


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