A VERY belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone. I though seeing as its not every year that you spend Christmas and new year in India I should fill you in on what I have been up to.
When we first got to India Christmas felt like it was so far away, but now we are already in January and I know the next 8 months will fly by, which is quite a scary thought.
I almost dreaded the thought of Christmas before I left, for me Christmas is all about spending time with family and the idea of not doing that was really hard. But unlike at home where Christmas is everywhere from November, here, Christmas is only a weekend holiday.
Our school celebrated Christmas on Saturday the 23rd of December, the last day of school before the holiday. Due to some school politics which I won’t go into, the school had only organised sweets to be given out to teachers. This annoyed Kalyani, Catherine and I so we went around the teachers and asked them if they would chip in to buy enough sweets for all of the kids, and lucky enough did! So with a Santa costume one of my pupils borrowed from a nearby church Catherine dressed up (in a felt Santa suit in 30 degree heat!) and we went to all of the classrooms and gave sweets out to everyone. It was so much fun and really put us into the Christmassy spirt, even if we were very judged by the older kids and scared a few of our nursery students!
On Christmas eve, all of the volunteers around us came to Andhra school. We spent the day at our close friend Kalyani home eating, chatting about our different experiences and dancing with some of the neighbourhood kids who always seem to be at Kalyani’s! It was really nice to show them our little part of India. In the evening the Tangatur girls went home, and Katie and Luana stayed at ours so we could have a sleepover and spend the whole of Christmas together.
Christmas day was definitely a very different Christmas to anything I had experienced instead of waking up and seeing my family, we all got up and put on our fancy sari’s (and helped Catherine as unfortunately she was ill throughout Christmas). We went to church with Kalyani and even say joy to the world! It was a good day, difficult at times (because it is hard being away from your family at big times like this) and nothing compared to what I am used to but it was in its own way wonderful.
Thank you for everyone who sent me cards and boxes – I have already eaten half of the snacks! But it was so special to be able to open things from home.
Right, so new year. New year and the days leading up were honestly some of my best days here, I had such an amazing time and made memories I will cherish.
On the 30th of December all of the class teachers were given coloured chalk to decorate their boards, so Catherine and I headed to separate classrooms to do this. I did get a little competitive at the start, but later realised that no other class had let the kids draw what they wanted on the board, so I let go of winning my imaginary competition and got every child to draw at least one picture and colour in some of the board. So whilst it may not have looked the most put together, my class definitely had the most fun doing it (maybe we did win after-all 😉 )
On the 31st Kalyani took us to a different church to our usual one, this one was bigger and for the first time I had the struggle of covering my head with a sari. But the more shocking first was the people we saw who felt the holy spirit within them, people were screaming, shouting, and crying. It was quite a new experience for me and to be honest I don’t fully know how to process or understand it yet. We then ate blessed food cooked for us by the church sisters (Indian nuns), before rushing back to school to run art club for the hostel kids. The crowns really seemed to be a hit and after the boys invited us to play cricket and kabaddi! It was so much fun and I can’t wait to play again 😊. We finished the year dancing with the hostel girls, smearing cake on each other’s faces, and hand feeding EVERONE.
New year’s day was also spent with Kalyani (strong theme here!) in her fancy saris. We spent the first half of the day with our classes eating cake. Afterwards we headed to Kalyani’s where we played games with the neighbourhood kids (we even played the card board box game), they taught us some dances. And now they call us “Acca” which means sister so that is so cute and I really feel at home here.
I hope everyone else had a great time celebrating, and have an amazing 2018!