My last day in Ahmedabad is over. I say Ahmedabad, not India, because we’re spending the day in New Delhi tomorrow. But I don’t care about that. The best and most important part of my trip is ending and I don’t know how to handle it.
Today was full of reflection and, sadly, goodbyes. But it started out with an impromptu French and Spanish lesson! During the elementary schoolers assembly, a teacher was teaching the children some Spanish. Carlos lived in Costa Rica and is fluent, so they called him down to say a few words. I was up in Sonal’s office when I heard him on the speaker and rushed down. A teacher saw me, told me to go down to the stage, and then I taught them a few things in French! It was one of those things that only happens on exchange. A great memory, for sure!
We started school with our End-of-Stay orientation where we talked about what we’ve learned, what we’ll miss, and how we’re going to spread the word about this program. It was nice to talk about everything, but it also made leaving seem a little too real.
Once we were done with that, we had a brief dance rehearsal in the amphitheater where we performed tonight and then another, longer rehearsal in the dance studio. Because it was our last rehearsal, we were all focused and determined to get it done. In between the two rehearsals, we had coffee that Jinal-ma’am had brought for us. She is honestly one of the best teachers I have ever met. I’m going to miss her so much.
As a treat for our last day, Jinal-ma’am, Sonal, and Nashy-ma’am took us out to lunch. We went to this wonderful South Indian place near the school and had a great time. Everyone was trying every food, the conversation never stopped, and I felt like we were such a family. Also, the food was top-notch.
Because of our performance tonight, we left school early. Once I got home, it was time to pack. Surprisingly, there is still plenty of room in my suitcase! But don’t be fooled, I’m bringing quite a bit of India home with me. Gaurvi kept me company — we listened to music, goofed around, and talked about the most random things. It was wonderful. Once I was done with that, I got into my fancy, traditional Indian garba outfit. It consisted of a long, detailed skirt, a crop-top-like thing, and a dupatta (long scarf). I also wore Indian earrings, a bracelet, a bindi, and a necklace. I was decked out! Then it was time to go to school.
We had to be at school at 6 because the program started at 7. For that hour we messed with our hair and clothes, practiced the song, and figured out where to be when. Around 7:15, it was showtime!
The program started with a welcome address from Sonal, and then Nashy-ma’am led us in a candle procession where we each placed a candle in a beautifully decorated bowl of wet sand. This was followed by lots of talking from various people, as well as an awesome dance performance by some Anand Niketan students! And a hilarious surprise dance from Jimmy and another student. The first thing I had to do was the song. Mandy and Abby were really nervous, but I think it went really well! I had Tanmae film it for me, but I haven’t watched it yet. It felt good though!
After the song, there was more talking and then time for the dance! It was amazing. Everyone’s energy was high, the crowd was cheering, and I couldn’t stop smiling! Even though rehearsals had been less-than-great, the end result was fantastic. When we finished, the crowd chanted “Once more, once more!” If we had listened I think I would have passed out. We went straight from the dance into speaking to the audience.
When it was my turn to tell everyone about my experience, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion. I actually started crying because it finally hit me that I’m getting on a plane tomorrow and flying away. I’m so grateful for all that everyone here has done for me. Indians are the nicest people on the planet. Each and every person we’ve met has gone out of their way to make our stay great. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
The rest of the evening was filled with more talking, and then dinner! It was catered by a place called Flavors and was SO good. However, the best part was sitting at a table with the other Americans and our Indian friends, just laughing and talking. I didn’t leave until almost 11 PM because we were taking pictures, exchanging numbers, and hugging. It was so hard to say goodbye to everyone, but hopefully our paths will cross again! If they don’t…well let’s not think about that.
Then I came home, told Gaurvi about the evening (she has a Bio exam tomorrow so she couldn’t come. More studying!), and sat down to write this, my last blog entry from Ahmedabad. That’s such a weird thing to type. I have to be at the airport by 6:30 tomorrow and I don’t even want to think about how hard that will be. I’m sure you’ll get a post all about it. Until next time, अलविदा!