Monday, July 01, 2019

Don’t Step on the Turtle

“Don’t step on the Turtle”

Monday, July 1, 2019 Schedule 
Sleep-in breakfast
Alandi village and Temple
Tulapur - temple where three rivers meet
Ishwari - organization that helps women earn income

July 1st already. We leave in three days, and there is still so much to do! We reminded our girls that if they want laundry done, it has to be done today or tomorrow. We are momming them when we can with little reminders. Sunblock! Do you have your pills? 

Today was a full day out! We had a nice sleep in breakfast, and I enjoyed being a bit lazier this morning. Since people were slow getting up, the WiFi was better. Once we are all up, it slows way down. 

The buses arrived to take us on a three stop tour of two temples and one of Sangam’s community partners. We piled into the buses, and thankfully it was cool enough with the windows open, since this old bus didn’t have AC. In the front seat, I could watch the driver weave in and out of slow cars as we made our way through town. Animals and drivers competed for toad space. Today there were horses and more dogs than usual. A few cows grazing on the side of the road but not stalling traffic. 

The Alandi village lies along the river, and it is a lively village with people visiting the temple, selling sacred wares, and washing clothes in the river. Life was happening all around us. As we walked up the market streets to the temple, a message was passed along: “don’t step on the turtle!” We all expected to see a real turtle on the walkway, but it was one built into the path that led to the temple. Somebody asked later on what the turtle symbolizes: roughly, its hard shell is a place where you can leave your heavy burdens before you go into the temple. 

To enter the temple, we took off our shoes as usual and entered the inner courtyard where a bunch of buildings held different rooms. We walked into the main temple and quietly filed past the altar, bowing with a “namaste.” There were flowers and candles, and incense burned. Once we were back in the courtyard, I took lots of shots of the pretty buildings and architectural details. 

We then made our way back through the market street to the river. We all took photos along the little boardwalk. Kids and adults kept trying to sell us stuff, including a forehead blessing. At the river, everyone wanted to take photos with us, and I saw a few girls say yes. The girls are so much more open to being approached than us older women. One of our girls had her butt grabbed when she was taking a photo with someone, which was a crappy experience for her to have. When we tried to take a group photo, all these men came up to take out photos or to take a selfie with us in the background. I took a great weird photo of all of them looking at us. 

We then went back to the buses and went to Tulapur temple. This was in a more secluded location where three rivers meet. It was a small little temple and much quieter. There was only one little stall there for people to buy things, which made it a bit easier for our girls to look. I watched a woman beautifully arrange her vegetables to sell on a blanket, and I asked her if I could take her photo. 

We then went to our third stop, Ishwari. This organization was started to give women a chance to get out of their homes and make money. They do education courses, sewing classes, and many other opportunities for women. They made us all a delicious lunch of spring rolls, corn soup, rice, Dahl, spiced vegetables, and chapati. It was so so good. They then cleared the table and laid out all the items they made that were for sale. We decimated the table, which I’m sure made them happy. I got quite a few Christmas presents from that visit to Ishwari. 

We got back just in time for the afternoon chai tea break. I then took my first dip in the pool before dinner. Luckily the rain held off. I was also able to check in with Todd before dinner to wish him luck on the first day of his new job. 

After dinner, we had indoor campfire night. Flowers and candles made a small circle in the center of the hall. The girls had signed up to sing/lead different songs, and they really got into it. 

Soon it was bed time, and we were all making our way back to our rooms. Only three more sleeps before we leave. Tomorrow we start with yoga, spend the day at another community partner, and I get a massage (Kenya had hers today, and Ashley and I have ours tomorrow). 

The Essence of India is wonderful!

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