the wonderful world of veena.

23 December 2010

christmas carnival.

My brother's friend, Ian, is in India at the moment, and while he was here he wanted to do something for the Boys' Home. Something spectacular, something we hadn't done before, and something they would be sure to remember. In the past we've done Sports Days and field trips, but they have always been for small groups of boys, and Ian wanted to do something that would include everyone. We had done a fun day for them inside the home earlier in the year, but I wanted to do something that would ensure they would at least get outside the same four walls they see every day.

While chatting with Prakash, Deepak and Manav a few weeks ago, we came up with the idea of doing a carnival for the boys. For those of you who don't know, there is a huge field just outside the home where we play in the afternoons, so I thought we could utilize that field and give the boys a chance to run around a bit. Through one of Prakash's contacts we found a vendor who could provide face painters, a magician, cotton candy and popcorn machines, and a bouncy castle, all for a very low rate. Of course, being me, I forgot that all but the face painters required access to electricity, which made the field inaccesible.

No worries, though. We set everything up in the open lot, so the boys still got to come outside, and after a bit of shuffling around to show the staff we were "organized", we got all the boys outside and settled at the stations and got to work. The magician was definitely the biggest hit, as well as the bouncy castle. And overall, despite the last minute changes, all of the boys had a great time, which is ultimately what matters.

That last thing is something I have struggled with in the past while organizing these events. I like to plan these things out, and I have a tendency to get upset over minor details going wrong or getting changed or not working out. And something always goes wrong, or gets changed, or doesn't work out. So it's been a long and winding learning process for me. But I have finally reached the place where I can take a deep breath, re-assess, and come up with a solution. It's one of those things that anyone working in India has to learn, and I finally am there.

The only thing that still gets my blood boiling is dealing with the staff at the Boys' Home. It's taken many years and lots of begging, pleading, and giving in to get to the point where the staff finally recognize the work we are doing and can respect me as being in charge of the project. But as soon as they saw the cotton candy and popcorn machines, they were jumping in there ahead of the children to get their share. I had purposely ordered extra so that they could partake, but my rule is that the boys get served first, which I think is more than fair. So you can imagine how irked I got when I saw the house fathers and probation officers trying to sneak off with the snacks. And even a random bus conductor and driver who had nothing to do with the carnival. One of the staff brought her two sons and took snacks for them, knowing I wouldn't take it back from the kids like I do (and did) from the staff. I know they come from poor backgrounds, and they also don't get to indulge in things like this, but the fact that they know I'll give to them once the boys get theirs and yet they still act this way gets under my skin. One of the probation officers was very sweet when I explained I would give her popcorn once all they boys had eaten, and she gave hers back. But one of the house fathers (who has been a thorn in my side for nearly 2 years) refused to give back his cotton candy, so I took it from him and gave it to one of the boys. I know it was a rash decision - and will probably lead to problems from him in the future - but it was the tipping point for me.

And here I go focusing on negatives again. It really was a great day - we had gorgeous weather, the boys got to go outside and have fun, and most things went according to plan. So I'm going to notch it down as a success in my book. Thank you, Ian, for giving the boys something they won't forget for years to come.

16 December 2010

I can feel the excitement.

Or rather, the excitement I'm sure everyone would be feeling if they new about my new entrance into the blogging world (I know the term is technically "blogosphere", but I feel like a bit of poser using it).

I know this whole blogging thing is old news, and honestly the only reason I've put it off this long is because a) I enjoy stalking other people's blogs more than writing my own, and b) we all know that I have a short attention span and tend to get distracted by every shiny object that comes along my way, so I worry that I won't keep up with it. But here we go anyway.

My main motivation for getting into it now is that it provides a great break from GRE-studying and essay-writing. And it's also good practice for getting back into writing. Having majored in History, I'm no stranger to writing, but it's been 6 years since I graduated, and the only things I've really written since then are Intern Manuals for Peace Child. So I figured this would get me back into writing mode. I experienced a bit of writer's block with these grad school essays, and it was not a pleasant time for me.

So here I am. I'm a bit all over the place today since I don't have anything specific to write about. Mailed my essays and CV today. Spent the day studying for the Math portion of the GRE at Matteo. Late lunch with Prakash. Meeting at Bern's house. Stayed and hung out with Amai and the Peanut for a while. All in all mostly uneventful, but quite productive. I need a few more days like today and then I'll feel ok about having to take this test in less than a month. Yikes.

Crazy day tomorrow: 2 loads (minimum) of washing; dusting and sweeping of my house; basic clean of the bathroom; bed and couch need to be stripped and re-made; bus tickets for Ian and Vikki need to be booked; and house needs to be put in place. And all of that needs to happen before 5, because Prakash's office Christmas party is in the evening. Because, that's right, Christmas is in a week. One week. I'm not sure how that happened, but here it is, and I am yet to watch a Christmas movie. Missed my annual post-Thanksgiving Sunday viewing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation for the first time since it became a tradition 10 years ago. And Charlie Brown, Garfield, and the Grinch are yet to make their appearance this year. Which means that there is still a lot that needs to happen before Ralphie gets his turn on Christmas Eve. Here we go, time-management skills!

So for now I am off to bed. But prepare yourselves for the amazing-ness that is to come.