The kids put on a good show

The students put on a show with elaborate costumes and rehearsed dances for their parents, teachers and local residents of our valley.

It was an absolutely fantastic day. If possible, I was even proud.

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Tea time with Subadra

Kaise ho?

The youngest of the students at school and (though I’m not supposed to admit it) probably the cutest. Meet Subadra, a giggly but quiet four-year-old.

She didn’t speak to me until four weeks in, when I helped her say the words egg, nest and nose during an afternoon of English homework. She loved to play peek-a-boo and and hide-and-seek, but she almost always would never speak.

I also tried to teach her the appropriate response to “Kaise ho?” or “How are you?” But she usually just ran away giggling. Unless I pinned her down and forced a “Mai tik hun” (“I am OK.”) out of her, one word at a time.

Absolutely darling.

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Carve me a sword

Master carver

Lopen, the school’s resident monk and artisan, carves swords for a cultural performance. From an old bed plank, I believe.

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Cooking on fumes

Waiting for the refill

In rural Sikkim, we do a lot of waiting for deliveries — food, newspapers, volunteers. Natural gas, our primary cooking fuel, is a particularly important delivery. (More photos below.)

Unfortunately, it only comes once every two or three months. When the truck shows up, villagers line the road for miles.

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Fruit, glorious fruit!

Anurag gets messy

Once or twice a week, we get fruit. The kids love it and it surely helps their diet. Watermelon is a favorite and relatively cheap. Something like Rs. 15 per kilogram.

The kids also routinely break into a song about fruit sung to the tune of “Frère Jacques.”

The first stanza: “Watermelon, watermelon / Papaya, papaya / Orange, apple, mango; orange, apple, mango / Fruits they are; fruits they are.”

More fruity pictures below:

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DDR Sikkim

I want to dance, dance, dance 'til the sun don't shine...

I don’t actually know the lyrics, but when the kids hear the song, it’s like a dance party on crack.

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Someone needs a hug

Sittal (center) and Sushila

Sittal (center) getting some love from Sushila

I’m routinely impressed with the resilience of my students. Few cry. I’d be generalizing, but I can’t say I see their general outgoing spirit in American children of the same ages.

Sometimes, however, they do get a little grumpy. Sittal, a five-year-old who loves it when I pick him up over my head, just needed a pick-me-up.

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Not exactly paint by numbers

My buddy Phurba

Sundays are a day off, which usually means we drum up arts and crafts projects for the boarding school children to stave off boredom.

This particular day, we’re painting our own Buddhist prayer flags. See below.

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Still have a few (million) newspaper readers over here…

Read, please!

India is a few years behind the digital revolution that has crippled U.S. newspapers. The paper is still one of the primary news sources for millions of people too poor and/or not savvy enough to use the Internet. Even TVs remain rare.

That will change inevitably, especially considering the boom in mobile technology here. Too, India’s literacy rates — particularly in the rural sector where most of the country still lives — favor a future involving more multimedia forms of news like streaming audio and cell phone news packages.

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Often, the place smells like feet

Lots of little feet

Shoes in the hall.

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