TOMS Shoe Drop at The Desire Society. April 14, 2012. Hyderabad, India.
Over the weekend my friends and I participated in a TOMS shoe drop at The Desire Society! It is really important for the kids at the orphanage to have sturdy protective footwear because they are more prone to infection especially when walking outside of the orphanage on unpaved and littered roads. Since most kids in India aren’t used to wearing closed-toe shoes, their feet are often significantly wider than the proportions of a TOMS shoe. While the shoes will stretch with wear, it was definitely challenging trying to find the right size especially when most of the kids only speak Telugu!
Study in India Program Cultural Show. April 10, 2012. University of Hyderabad, India.
Every semester the international students put on a “cultural show” to perform the traditional Indian dance and music that they have been learning throughout the semester and to share performance pieces from home as well. Here are a few pictures of the Kuchipudi dancers, Kathak dancers, a poetry reading, and a Bollywood skit. I also participated in the show by singing a couple songs with my friend Jordan. She sang a Dixie Chicks’ song and we sang an acoustic version of “We Found Love” by Rihanna. It went really well, but I hope those pictures never surface!
Tea Plantations, Backwaters, Kochin. April, 2012. Kerala, India.
Brahmotsavam Celebration. January, 2012. Hyderabad, India. (Meant to post this a while ago)
While India is technically a secular democracy, the bonds of the caste system are still very much enforced by the large Hindu populations in India. My yoga instructor, Yashoda, is trained in the ancient tradition of temple dancing, as prescribed by her caste. Generations of women in her family were of a select few who were considered talented and beautiful enough to dance praises in Hindu temples. Somewhere along the line, the dancers of her caste were shunned from the temples as Islamic leaders came into power in India and some dancers are said to have fallen into prostitution as a way to stay out of poverty. Ever since then, Yashoda’s caste has been stigmatized as the “caste of prostitutes” and are looked down upon even though none are or were actually prostitutes. Even more tragically, the ancient art of temple dancing has all but died out and Yashoda is one of the only dancers in India who has the knowledge of the temple rituals. Several generations separate Yashoda from her temple dancing ancestors, and she struggled against the stigma of her caste to revive the dance form. Now the craft is gaining momentum again, and while temple dancing may never be incorporated back into modern Hinduism, Yashoda’s talent is highly sought after as a display of living history.
Life at the beach. March 27-31, 2012. Goa, India.
I was out of town for the last few days of March, so we’ll consider this set of photos the last of my photo-a-day in March series.
Lice check. March 26, 2012. University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.
I have lice. There—I said it. It’s hard to admit because it is embarrassing and gross, but NO! I will not show weakness in the face of these nasty little bastards. I’m convinced lice feed off of weakness (and cleanliness) so I will not give in. My head has been itching for a month and naive little Me didn’t think lice was a possibility until one crawled out the other day while I was washing my hair in the shower. I had never had lice before now so I didn’t know what to look for. My friend did a lice check and sure enough there they were, feeding on the smorgasbord of my scalp. After I realized I had lice, we did a lice check on my roommate just in case, but it looks like she is in the clear. While I could have picked up lice anywhere, I’m fairly certain I got it from one of the children at the orphanage where I’ve been volunteering. I suppose I’m being punished for trying to help some orphans! Sorry, God!
Midnight Rave at Sukoon 2012. March 25, 2012. University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India. PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Mohr
Last night we went to the last big event of the Sukoon Festival on campus—the dance party! Thousands of people swarmed an outdoor amphitheater for a dance party that went well past 3am. So many people were kicking up dry dust from the field that from a distance all you could see was a huge cloud of dust with some flashing lights. In the middle of the crowd it was hard to breathe and I could feel the grit in my mouth. Other students who had been to Sukoon in previous years were smart and brought scarves and bandanas to tie over their mouths. Despite all of the dust, the dance party was still a blast and we got to hear more authentic Hindi pop music instead of the Western music that is widely played in the clubs.
Here’s a video that some students made for Sukoon 2012. The whole video is pretty cool, but skip to the end to see the massive dance party from Saturday night. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iI1JKqdGnc
Women Changing India by Magnum Photos. March 24, 2012. Hyderabad, India.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a Magnum Photos exhibition at an art gallery in Banjara Hills. The exhibit, Women Changing India, was a collection of portraits and multimedia stories about female movers and shakers in India. Filmmakers, hospital and bank CEOs, human rights activists, and artists were seen in their work environments and at home, and were captioned with personal statements about their vision for women in India. While I was slightly disappointed with the impact of the photography, the multimedia stories, like the women reflected in them, were powerful.
Ugadi celebration at the migrant worker school. March 23, 2012. University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.
Today I spent the morning helping out at a school for children of migrant workers who work on the University of Hyderabad campus and live less than a quarter of a mile from my dorm in modest tin huts. Among the many challenges that these children face, access to clean water tops the list and many are clearly dehydrated while the temperature in Hyderabad is steadily rising to 100+ degrees every day. Whether it’s my young neighbors here in India or your neighbors back at home who may also lack access to clean water because of toxic coal waste or chemicals from hydrofracking, remember that clean water is a basic human right for people in all corners of the earth. Happy World Water Day and Happy Ugadi (Telugu New Year) — celebrate accordingly!!
Bengali students perform at Sukoon 2012. March 22, 2012. University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.
Sukoon is an annual Spring festival held at the University of Hyderabad to showcase student talents and enjoy the cool nights as we head into the hottest months of the year. The festival includes both live and DJ-ed music, dance performances, food and craft stalls, carnival and camel rides, and the highly anticipated outdoor dance party on the last night of Sukoon.