I arrived safely in India after a good flight. Within an hour of arriving at the girls’ home I’d been well fed and had my nails painted red and gold! Nevertheless, there’s something about coming here that takes me a very, very long way out of my comfort zone. It’s nothing to do with the girls’ home – I feel very loved here, and have had more hugs in the past 24 hours than in the previous month!
I find the travelling challenging – mainly, I think, because most of my travel in life so far has been of someone else’s choosing and all I had to do was turn up and do as I was told, and travelling alone is new to me. The flying part of the journey is fine – all I have to do is sit back and leave it to someone else. But I worry about getting through the airport – going to the wrong place or missing a vital announcement.
And then there’s being in the heart of a city. I’m a country girl, I like fields of sheep and vast, open vistas, or the long stretches of coast and the sea, beside which I was born. I find a city like this quite claustrophobic, and as I have absolutely no sense of direction it takes a tiresome amount of time for me to find my way round without needing someone to show me the way everywhere since all the streets seem to me to look alike.
Having said all that, I love the Indian people and their culture, so even while there are aspects of my trip that I struggle with, overall the experience is a very positive one and I am really enjoying myself. I love teaching the girls handicrafts and watching their progress. I love their affectionate attention – nothing is too much trouble. I am enjoying their cooking three times a day and the cups of chai that appear in front of me from time to time. The days outside are beginning to warm up in the sun now, but inside the home is very chilly and I’m glad of the warm clothes I brought. No mosquitoes anywhere in sight this time, I’m pleased to report.
The girls are practising a dance for church tomorrow and – as someone who dances like an elephant with a broken leg – I am in awe of their grace and poise and the way their movements follow the cadences of the music. I am in no doubt that the congregation will be very blessed tomorrow watching the performance they have prepared.
I started out as Didi (big sister) – which is what they called me last time. But then I let slip that my oldest daughter is 34 and at once I graduated from Didi to Aunty! Last night one of the girls decided to practice her English on me by reciting the story of Snow White and the seven dwarfs. It wasn’t quite English, and not quite Hindi, more a kind of Hindglish – at any rate, the results were hilarious; the girls were all in hysterics, and I haven’t laughed so much for a long time. In fact that’s the one thing I remember most from last time here – that this home is characterised by constant laughter. So whether or not the girls benefit from my presence over the next two weeks, one thing I am sure of, they are doing me good!