Hello friends and family of the BCS group in India,
The group is at the airport in Mumbai waiting for their flight to depart to Newark. The flight is on time and scheduled to arrive at 8:52AM on Sunday, March 17. On their last day in Mumbai they had time to catch one last sunset and see at show at the National Center for Performing Arts. We will update this blog if the flight itinerary changes, but everything is running smoothly as of now!
Thank you for your continued trust and support,
As our group woke up on our last morning in Heranjal, we tried to give back to our homestay families who welcomed us into their homes with open arms. Some of us sang American songs, while others made scrambled eggs with onions and masala. We spent a good portion of the morning getting ready to leave the village, and once we finished our last south-Indian meal of the trip, we said our goodbyes to our families. It was a sad moment as our families had taken excellent care of us, and been like actual families.
We then got on the rickshaw and stopped at the school to bid adieu to the school kids. The kids rushed us as soon as we stepped into the schoolyard and after receiving countless daps, smiles, and high-fives, we were invited inside one of the classrooms. There was an unofficial farewell ceremony with exchanges of roses, hugs, applause, and mysore paku (think of the most flaky and fudgy cookie ever…now multiply that by 10!). It was moving to see how in such short time we were able to make these genuine connections, and it made it even sadder to leave. As part of our tradition, the final rickshaw ride out to the village limits was spent in silent reflection and observation. Our time in Harenjal had officially come to an end.
The garden across the street was opened special for us to provide a private space to host our closing ceremony, bringing us full circle to our fist meeting as a group eleven days ago. After reviewing our agenda from the last week and a half, we shared specific, we looked back at the goals we set and saw how each goal had been met successfully. In the end, we passed around a Tulsi plant (basil) and each shared something that we wanted to take with us and something we wanted to leave. Some mentioned wanting to hold onto the power of investigating the world or recognizing impact of actions, while others wanted to leave behind wasteful behaviors or judgments that subconsciously dictate behaviors and experiences. Then, as a group, we the watered and planted the Tulsi.
Hello friends and family of the BCS program in India,
The group is headed back to Mumbai on an overnight train and won't have service until tomorrow during the day in India. Everyone is happy and healthy and looking forward to enjoying their last few days in India! Please don't hesitate to reach out to our office at 303-679-3412 with any questions or concerns.
Thank you for your continued trust and support,
After breakfast at our homestays, the group met at Krishna’s house at 9am for our final Yakshagana practice. We split up into 3 groups and determined the order for the performance later that night.
We all met up at the local school at 4 pm, to get ready for the performance. It was such a special surprise to arrive and see the school space transform into a community celebration. A team had been working through the day to erect a beautiful tent, set up the stage with lights and sound, and there was even a banner hanging at the road to officially announce the event.
The traditional dance, costumes, and makeup first became part of Karnataka culture in 1556 and the stories they tell are mainly based on the Hindu Epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The makeup was the first step and took upwards of a half an hour. It was an interesting and unique experience with intricate detail and some surprising forms of applying the makeup, for example slapping our faces with a peach colored plant-based paint to blend the colors smoothly. The makeup artist then strategically started drawing designs on our faces in red, white, and black paint, including lots of work around the eyes, getting lips painted, and a few lucky folks had mustaches added as the final touch.
After makeup was completed it was time for costumes. We got into costumes with consisted of more layers and ornate decorative armor or jewels than we could count. Yes…lot’s of layers made them very hot! After a prayer and performance by the younger boys from Heranjal, it was time to hit the stage.
(Desi, Ms. Clapps, Shreya, Aniesha, and Natalie)
There were other performances between Groups 1, 2, and 3, but eventually all groups went onstage over the course of the evening. No show would be complete without a few wardrobe malfunctions; part of Aylin’s costume fell off as she was dancing but she gracefully improvised and got it fixed and Kai’s pants were falling off.
(Aylín, Aidan, Autumn, Johnny, and Carlos)
(Kai, June, Domenic, and Mr. Budd)
Shreya also performed a classical South Indian dance with two other girls from the village, and also concluded the festivities with a solo dance, the Natesa Kautuvam.
The night ended at Krishna’s house to have omelet sandwiches, share stories, laugh, and relax…the performance that seemed near impossible for some had been accomplished. It was an all around amazing day and we are so thankful for the experience of being able to do a traditional Yakshagana dance in front of the community to which we are so grateful for taking us in.
Today was the most relaxing day of our stay in Heranjal. We kicked off the day with our daily 9 am dance practice for our Yakshagana performance tomorrow. Although we were all very nervous to perform in front of the entire village, we definitely felt more ready to showcase the different skills that we have been learning about the dance over the past few days.
At 11:30 am, we went to go visit the Shri Murudeshwara Temple, a 90-minute party bus ride away. The temple was beautiful, with the second-largest statue of Lord Shiva in the world. At the very top of the temple, there were various sculptures of different stories about Shiva’s life, including many stories of his son, Ganesh. Then, we visited the main part of the temple, and soon after left to go to lunch.
At lunch, we had a wonderful Indian-Chinese cuisine with noodles, paneer fried rice, and gobi (cauliflower) manchurian. About an hour later, we boarded the bus again to head off to a beach slightly south of the Shiva temple.
At the beach, we swam, built sand castles, collected seashells, ate many delicious Indian snacks, and even played a cricket match! Others participated in stranger activities like making Shreya a mermaid tail with sand. As the sun started to set, we got out of the water and got together as a group to journal, take pictures, and share our experiences with one another.
Soon, we got back on the bus to go back to the village for our night dance practice. The gates were closed, so we had to break into the school to practice on the performance stage. The skies were dark and we did not have a speaker for the music, and so it was a relatively quick practice. We were all exhausted, and the day ended with a quick party bus ride back home.
Written by Shreya and Autumn
Last night we watched a Yakshagana performance; although we couldn’t understand the dialogue, we still enjoyed watching the dancing…and we had the extra special opportunity to go backstage and say hello to our dance teacher, Sheenanna. We made it back to our homestays late into the night because a traditional performance goes from sundown until sunup.
The next morning, we had a 7AM start! Everyone was tired as we trekked to the dairy cooperative to deliver our families’ milk from their cows. It is a women run program designed to collectively bring together the communities “extra” milk and all the profits are deposited into the women’s personal bank accounts. This particular dairy cooperative has been around for 5 years and is part of the National Dairy Plan. On our way back we also were able to try cashew fruit...you can kind of tell from the photo how that taste-test went.
At 11am we had an informative learning session about inequalities in the world. Then we had lunch with our homestay families.
Written by June and Johnny
We started our day with breakfast cooked by our homestay families and it was delicious as per usual. At 9am, the group began our daily rehearsal/practice of the Yakshagana dance that we will be performing on March 14th. This was our third day of practice, and we finally started to get the hang of some difficult sections of the dance. After an intense dance session, we headed towards the peanut fields to harvest the town’s main crop.
After the swim, we watched and helped Krishna cook neerulli bhajiya (onion pakoda), a delicious fried snack. Following lunch with our homestays and a break, we headed back over to Krishna’s house to do various identity exploration activities. One in particular, we created fantastical creatures (blindfolded) related to the India program with a buddy. Some of the names of the creatures were Bish, Harenjalus Shoveleus, and Pablo Peacocko.
Written by Desi and Kai
Today is our seventh day in India, and we are nearly halfway through the program. Over the course of the past few days, we have grown closer to our fellow Berkeley Carroll students as well as many Heranjal community members. We have had the opportunity to play games, eat delicious food, and chat with our homestay families. The people of Heranjal have been so welcoming to us and we want to reciprocate their generosity beyond sharing our culture, stories and love.
As our family and friends, we would love for you to join us in our fundraising efforts to make donation by clicking the links. Our goal is to raise $2,500 over the course of the next few weeks and we are well on our way after the successful used book sale during parent teacher conferences. Per the accompaniment model, the people of Heranjal will decide how they want to best utilize the money. In the past, Heranjal has used the money to hire an array of teachers including music, dance, and computer teachers for the local elementary school. Please donate!
The India Spring Intensive group:
(Domenic, Aidan, Johnny, Natalie, Aylin, Kai, Aniesha, Autumn, June, Desi, and Shreya)
We started off our day early in our homestays with a delicious breakfast made by our families. Once we finished, we set off to Krishna’s house for our next attempt at learning the Yakshagana—it was difficult to say the least. After a solid hour and a half of intense cardio (i.e. stomping), we got a much-deserved break…until we started another walk to the Cobra Temple (and on the way we walked by the coconut tree from the first BC visit 5 years ago for a quick group photo).
There, Carlos led us in prayer. Little did we know that this “prayer” was intended to distract us from the children hiding behind us with colorful Holi powder. Before we knew it, we were covered in the chalky substance: Dominic had pink teeth and Natalie had a green, yellow and pink face. Then we returned to Krishna’s house for a dance party.
Written by Jane and Aidan
After meeting our host families we met back at Krishna’s house and had our first dance practice! We are learning Yakshagana. It is very detailed and complicated but the group persevered and we are learning quickly. Then we had our nightly meeting to reflect on the day and the group is currently waiting to return to the homestay families.
Written by Johnny and Natalie
Today we went to Dharavi, the largest slum in India. We learned that instead of having all the negative stereotypes that come along with the term slum, Dharavi is a community of different businesses, some of which include recycling plastic, making pottery, and other small businesses. The communities are divided up by religion. As we walked through a predominantly Muslim community we saw hundreds of people getting ready for prayer. We then went through the Hindu sector and we saw that many of the doors were decorated with Hindu gods like Shiva. As we walked through the slum we were greeted with smiling faces. Children were so excited to see us and even stopped to say hi and sometimes followed us.
Written by Aylin and Domenic
A crow stole Mr. Budd's breakfast. Some of us woke up as early as 5 am to watch the sunrise on our first official day. We then left to go visit the Gate of India, a historical monument, near one of the most expensive hotels in India, the Taj Mahal Hotel.
Afterwards, we went to the Banganga Tank, an ancient water tank, where we watched the experiences of those who use the water to remove their sins. Later in the day, the group visited Gandhi's house, now a museum. The museum consists of various representations on Gandhi's life, including sculpted figurines reenacting historical events, physical copies of letters sent to different political parties around the world and a library dedicated to his life's story.
We then went to a busy Mumbai marketplace where we learned about mythological aspects of Hindu culture, like the goddess Saraswati Devi, and the history behind the use of the conch shell. To end the day, we fed grass to sacred cows, calves, and a bull.
Written by Shreya and Aniesha
A long day/night of travel, depending on how you want to look at it, and we made it to Mumbai. After a quick meet and greet with Krishna and Carlos we loaded the bus for a ride to our hotel through the energized (and traffic filled) streets.
We took time to play a few games in the garden next to our hotel, aptly named The Garden Hotel, and created norms and goals for our group. Additionally we talked about some hopes and fears for the program and did an activity that helped up recognize the importance of being in the "Stretch Zone," where most learning takes place.
And what better way to cap off the night than dinner at a special roof top restaurant!