Thursday, February 24, 2011

Volunteer In India: Rishikesh

After spending a week in Punjab, which is predominantly Sikh, I am now in a place where cows are, once again, holy (Hindu). They are everywhere, so in a way this place reminds me of Udaipur. Hills and cows. Nice! (The hills are the beginning of the Himalaya's.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Volunteer In India: Rishikesh, Yoga Class at Mother Miracle School

The Mother Miracle school in Rishikesh is very happy to have a volunteer from Canada, Rob, teaching the kids yoga. He has been doing yoga for 2 years, but had never taught it. The kids LOVE it. It was so much fun to see how he went thru everything with them...downward dog moves were accompanied by barking. Cobra moves were accompanied by hissing...and lots of laughter!

Volunteer In India: Rishikesh, Mother Miracle school

The kids at Mother Miracle school are putting on a play. I was there just in time for a rehearsal...very good show! I think someone told me that over 100 kids were participating. A professional puppeteer was with them for a month, volunteering, and this show was the culmination of all of the planning, sewing, and practicing.

The school has a whole room full of computers. I was so impressed. They were practicing their typing skills...remember the line about lazy dogs and jumping foxes? It includes every letter of the alphabet, I think, and I remember typing it over and over in my high school typing class. That's what these kids were doing. Amazing!
The school's inner courtyard is just beautiful. Raised walkways, gardens, even a nice, fat yellow lab to play with!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Volunteer In India: Patiala School, Day 3

Today I taught the kids how to do a magic trick...a few months ago, a friend taught me a trick with a chain and a circular piece of metal. He said you never knew when it might come in handy...and he was right! At recess today, I was sitting on the steps, feeling a bit shy and unsure of what to do. I have learned how to sign the alphabet, but actual words are it's hard for me to "talk" to the kids. A few of them came to sit by me, and I quietly pulled out the chain and circle, and did my magic trick with it. These kids were absolutely entranced by the trick, and when they got it to work (once) everyone cheered. It was great! At the end of recess, I had every single one of them sitting around me, absolutely rapt with attention. They had to be dragged back to class by their teachers. :)
The kid in the middle is so cute. Alan and I both love him to bits, and it's hard to figure out...he's either beating the other kids up, or acting like an angel with a big grin on his face. Neither of us have ever actually seen him sign.
The art students are really proud of their work. Today, I was approached by several of the students, and they patiently spelled out a word for me...which I misinterpreted twice as "prawing". I sat there, mystified, until they finally gave up and simply dragged me into the room where the DRAWING was being done. Ohhhhh!! I get it. Drawing. Sure, I'll photograph your drawings!
During one class, I offered to "teach" the students some photography. I put the camera on "P", set it to multiple auto-focus points, and handed it over. They thought I made an interesting subject.
Alan was a bit emotional today. I took this photo after he fled from the English class...
In the sewing class, even the boys have to participate.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Volunteer In India: The Picnic

Alan and I were taken out into some serious farmland today for a picnic. When we left, it was sunny and warm, I was in sandals, a short sleeved shirt, and 3/4 length pants. As we sat around in a circle of plastic chairs, the skies clouded over. Then suddenly, everything was freezing cold and very windy, almost what you'd expect for a tornado! Everything got picked up and brought inside. After sitting inside for a while, Alan and I were told that our hosts wanted us to go for a tractor ride. My fingers might have been numb, but I had to bring the camera along, if only to prove it happened. The whole day was a bit surreal.

They had the servants go out and cut down several sections of sugar cane, which we were then told to peel with our teeth and chew on the stalk. A lot juicier than I would have expected, and not necessarily an easy thing to eat. It made for a lot of laughs, though, all of these seasoned Indians gnawing on their cane, while Alan and I tentatively nibbled on ours.

India: Hindu/Sikh wedding Feb 18

The wedding the other day was covered by a team of 2 photographers and 2 videographers with 4 assistants...8 in all. I decided to amuse myself, and once again lugged all of the heavy gear to a wedding with me when I really didn't have to.

Having significantly underestimated the temperatures for the evening, I effectively froze at this wedding...which translates into: I spent more time sitting inside thawing out than I did watching any of the actual festivities. As such, the gallery is a wee bit limited as far as imagery. It's ok. I am sure the "team" had it covered.
This is Leon...he is the one that invited me to this wedding. I came to Patiala to photograph for him at the school for blind and deaf children (see previous posts). He coordinated my shooting to coincide with this wedding, so that I could go.

Flanked by their team of image makers, the couple is looking at me, as if to say "Sure, we'll smile at you, but...who the heck ARE you?"
At the Sikh ceremony earlier in the day.

The formal shots were up on a stage set up with rugs, furniture, and vast amounts of artificial lighting. There was a combination of admiration and resentment going on in my head about it all. There's no doubt that with such a setup, they can't possibly NOT get the formals right. With lighting like that, who can go wrong?