Monday, December 24, 2012

Giving or getting? - Freedom Foundation

A few blogs ago (All Wrapped Up) Ads and I went and joined the OWC wrapping production line and cut, wrapped and stuck. Today we went with another family to give some of the gifts to one of the charities the OWC supports.

The Freedom Foundation Children's Home is home to 21 HIV- positive orphans aged from 7 to 22. We rolled up with the car full of very well wrapped gifts. Some Ads and I could identify as the ones we had wrapped and were not yet falling apart. The kids all got one "requested" parcel.....towel and toiletres but also one "fun" gift - footballs, cricket bats, skipping ropes and badminton rackets and also some games. There were also gifts for the home as a whole - cricket stumps and bales and a baddy net. The childrens' home is a little out of mainstream Bangers. A modest building but with a little open space around it.  The Foundation pays for the kids to attend a local school and they were definately learning some English! Two of the eldest residents were out at work but are still supported by the Foundation, that is their home, family and doctor. We saw the home's daily itinerary which includes wake up call at 6.30am, a couple of time slots for medication during the day, as well as meditation and yoga, chores, school and some play time. The room labelled ICU is a constant reminder of the severity of these kids' plight.

Now these kids firstly parentless, secondly with their health severely compromised, don't on paper have a lot going for them. But does that stop them smiling, playing, dancing, being grateful not grasping, being humble not precious...not in the least.

Yes, some of them are smaller than they should be and their faces perhaps older and wiser as they have already lived lives more demanding and harder than our kids could imagine. But their inner beauty shines forth and we were honored to be able to add a little sparkle into their day.

 Our four kids, Ads, Molly, Jess and Wills enjoyed organizing and handing out the gifts. An amazing experience for them.
 The orphanage kids didn't rip the paper off the parcels as fast as poss to discover their prize. There was no 'mine is bigger than yours' They gently tried to peep under the wrapping to see what was inside as they savored the moment of opening maybe their only presents this Christmas tide.
Then it was our turn to watch as they put on a couple of dance numbers, smiling and enjoying showing off their moves.
 Then when some of the gifts were opened, it was time to show them how to hoop-la  - much fun ensued. 
and how to play Twister (Ads now wants this game!!)
 And to join in a game of cricket. Wills said on the way home the only place he wants to play cricket in the future is at the orphanage as the kids don't mind whose team they are on and no one quibbles when they are out and can he go back next week to play with them......Our kids just joined in as if there was no difference between these kids and themselves, no difference in their lives current or an ideal world maybe there wouldn't be.......

 So did we give or get this morning? I think we all know the answer!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When the politicians come to visit so does the road!!

It maybe getting boring but another road (yes I can use this word for a few yards) blog.

Is it a co-incidence? As we drove out last Sunday we had a few bumpless, shakeless yards of smooth tarmac......outside the party hall where a local politician was due to!!!! No way, especially as since then there has been no more tarmac appearing and more, yet more digging!!

Tarmac on the street and street hoardings advertising the impending visitor!

Lots of cars and TV cameras.

There were also many parked buses, from which poured numerous supporters to cheer - paid or unpaid who knows.......

Corruption, corruption is rife......and we still don't have a proper road, only a few hundred yards or so reprieve on our journey out of the confines of Vista!!

Arts, crafts and crafts and crafts fair!

Friend C and I headed to an annual crafts fair in the city to pick up a few stocking fillers (way more girl friendly than boy!), a few Christmas gifts and a few odds and bobs.

Luckily for me Friend C is a little indecisive on the shopping front so I had plenty of time to shop and click away......

Jewelry in all colors and shapes for necks

 and wrists........
 and keys.....
 and of course hair.........

Sweets and spices galore...

Rows and rows of little stalls to explore.....

After a hard mornings shop we stopped for coffee and snacks with a friend who lives close by, some days life can be tough!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Vista Vibrates..........Talent Show

Adarsh Vista Talent show brought the Vista community together. This was an all day extravaganza. Towers family, I am sad to say, put up a pretty poor contribution. Talent day at the 'hood was sandwiched between Wills Indus Day performance and both boys on the stage at the Church Christmas performance so we didn't have much left to offer save Ads in the treasure hunt and me behind the camera. To save face I have to remind ourselves that in other Vista community events we have been more active!

This is a community of maybe 200 Villas - not huge. But obviously oozing with talent - save Villa 25 (that's us!!)

The day kicked off at some point after 8.00am and save for a two hour break went on until 7.30pm. That is a long time!!!

Even as the performers scheduled for the end of the day danced their well choreographed moves, sang their well learnt classical, traditional or modern pieces or played their well practiced instrumentals...the Vista dwellers were out in force to listen, encourage and support. A great community.

My favorites were the cool gangum style boys:

The traditional india dancers:

And of course the grand finale, the ladies of Vista who finished the event off with a shake and a shimmer! A fest of color, movement and joy!

A mega huge thanks goes to the organizers  who put the whole day together...go Vista!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The perfect orange....PYP Indus Day is here again!!

Sometimes Indus gets it just right and this was one such time.

Wills had been rehearsing for week and weeks - seems the academics were maybe sidelined for a short while - for his role as King Nigus.

The theme for Indus Day was value and beliefs which gave lots of scope to portray the diversity of the school. The opening speeches from the powers that be at Indus were short (yeah!!!) and actually pretty good.

The little preps (3 and 4 year olds) were as cute as cute can be and as the kids got bigger the performances became more polished and confident. Between the performances as the set was swiftly changed there were recorded videos of kids from all grades being asked questions.......what are your beliefs? are values important? is Indus Day important?, is it fair that some get big parts while some are in the choir? etc.etc. The content of the responses and thought behind them was really quite impressive - even from the younger kids. Indus aims to produce all-round kids as well as academic successes and from these cameos they looked like they may be achieving their aim. I haven't asked the cynical question whether the kids were prompted, how much editing etc....., just taking at face value!

The Perfect Orange is a beautiful little story full of morals and values. King Nigus is a pretty meaty role and Wills was really excited. I asked him several times and apparently he was not at all nervous. When he appeared I was blown away....the make-up lady had done such a great job. As this is a private school and, this is India so labor is cheap, the costumes and props are top notch!

As the event took place in the sports complex and there were a couple of hundred parents in attendance, behind the stage was a huge screen onto which the action was projected. Brilliant idea but made the taking of pictures pretty impossible!!
So afterwards I scurried back stage and got a few better ones of Wills and his mates!

Big bro managed to stay and watch little bro's big moments but then disappeared outside to join in a water fight with some other big siblings who weren't finding the whole event so riveting either.

And I must say one thing to some Indus don't need to stand up, come in or go out when people are performing. Those wanting to see there precious little ones take to the big time can't when your head/body is in the way. They only do this once and if you miss it, it is gone.  See what I mean.......


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All Wrapped Up!!

All I want for Christmas is.......................For some of the kids cared for by some of the OWC charities it is as basic as a pair of knickers and some soap. Makes you think.

Some of these kids are HIV positive or victims of all sorts of abuse. The adults again have tragic stories to tell.

For some of the folks, at some of the charities the OWC supports, we found out what they wanted (tho' I think need is the operative word here), shopped and wrapped. Ads (at home to study) and I got in at the wrapping stage. Luckily no advanced wrapping skills required - neither of our strengths involve scissors, tape, bows and ribbons!

I was so pleased Ads could be there (and yes he did also have time to revise his biology for tomorrow's exam) to get a real sense of how lucky he is, the opportunites he has and will have in the future merely by virtue of the accident of birth. And maybe, just maybe the images he has seen in India, both of those living life so close to the edge and those trying to make a difference however small will stay with him in all he does in the future.  He also managed very well to help organize a team of wrapping women and conducted himself like the wonderful young man he is on the way to becoming.  I was very proud of him this morning!!

As well as the basic clothing necessities we did slip in some sports equipment and of course some chocolate. These were the hard things to wrap. It goes without saying I kept well away from this room!!

In all 240 gifts have been prepared and 180 were wrapped, by a crew of OWC members plus Ads, this morning. Hopefully, this Christmas time, these will bring a little ray of sunshine to some of those living lives too hard to even really imagine.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Bazaar - OWC........

Yes, Christmas is just round the corner and even in India there are signs...Not least of which is the OWC annual Christmas bazaar. This is the second big fundraising event of the year, and follows hot on the tail of OWC big gala India Night so a great month for raising funds for our charities but from a treasury angle hard work!!!

Tickets, ticket stubs, receipts, payment vouchers.......and lots 'n' lots of filthy, dirty money........all to be counted and reconciled. As this is a charity and as such awarded favorable tax status, we have to be whiter than white, as transparent as a glass of water, our audit trail as easy to follow as a paved road (well not those in Bangers) and every rupee accounted for. It's attention to detail, big time.
We are not talking high tech here, we are talking.........carbon you remember this?
 My kids had no idea!!! Though I did explain that it does have it's legacy in today's world. The "cc" they see on emails does come from "carbon copy"' - again they had no idea!! Trying not to feel old here!!

The day of the bazaar dawned clear and sunny, unlike last year's grey drizzle. Treasury being a floats-out and money-in job, involves an early start and late finish. Very true for the bazaar. Purander and I arrived in the dewey to St Marks. Set up had begun the day before but all was still relatively peaceful and calm.
The OWC volunteers descended like an army of red ants, donned their uniform volunteer shirts and.....
the day was underway.

It's reminiscent of a church fete English style - including the bake sale. I got in early and bought a Christmas cake and Christmas cup cakes for the boys who stayed home. Goes without out saying the latter did not last long.

Vendor's sold everything from plants to bags, jewelry to christmas wrap and cards.

We had nearly 1800  paying adults through the gates and who knows how many kids. Santa (we had three of the best) smiled and chatted to numerous little ones optimistic about their Christmas night swag, despite a wardrobe malfunction (split his pants).

Purander was put to work to help with traffic control and proudly wore (and has worn since) his OWC red tee-shirt. I swiftly consigned mine to the donate pile but apparently Purander's wife thinks he looks hot in his, so I think I'll be seeing lots more of it!! Anyway he did a great job although seemed as exhausted as I was at the end of the day! 

The different schools had slots to take to the stage, the littlest wavering and cute and the bigger kids competent and professional.

The OWC has it's moments, as all organizations seem to, when things get a tad political, the personalities don't gel so well and the karma gets out of whack. But the Bazaar was a fest of goodwill, eager and smiling volunteers,  happy vendors, enthusiastic shoppers, and the best organizers on the planet.......all the money raised in this spirit will surely go to the good!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

There is no road....Basavanagar Road and BEML Road have disappeared.......

This is not due to rain or any act of God but multiple uncoordinated acts of man. I know I have whined about the roads leading into and out of Vista before but that was when we had roads!!!! The two aforementioned used to be roads are our two routes out of Vista. We are on a corner where they used to meet, now where they both come to a rocky, dirty, potholed end.

Definition of a road is "a wide way leading from one place to another, esp. one that vehicles can use" No, the dug up mess out side our security gates definitely does not qualify.

Someone posted on Facebook:

Now that is more like it!!

Apparently elections are approaching so we will soon have roads again - current guys want to stay in power so need votes!

I never thought my vote could be 'bought' - but if I had one here I would be tempted!!!!

This is what I am ranting about..........

The dug up channel down one entire side of what was the road has been unchanged since Saturday night and there are no street lights!! Traffic has to go single file and this is chaotic, slow and it isn't even rush hour!! Tho' some two and even three wheelers take up the challenge and take their vehicles off road.

 View from side window - glad I am not driving.....we are right on the lip of the open crater....

Even more happy I am not driving........can the bus make it past us without scratching our car ...only just and that is after we fold the side mirrors in!! Good job Parunder seems to know the width of the car to the inch.

 Oh no...another crater. Note no-one is at work in/on/by the trench - just using it as a bike park!
 One solitary tractor - unmanned and immobile!!
Hopefully soon I will be posting pics of smooth, asphalt roads ...but in the meantime - tis a lesson in patience. Bumptity bump!

Christmas is coming..........

Last year we went home for Christmas. The year before we were here in Bangers but confused newbies in a sea of boxes. This year, for a variety of reasons, we are staying in Bangalore. Yes, Christmas will be a tad strange, a long way from family and friends. Santa has yet to figure out how to make those who have been relatively good this year happy, and as for sending Christmas cards avoiding the unreliable India post....... still got to figure that one out.

But, just maybe, we'll have a happy "small" family Christmas here. "Small" being the operative word!! Starting with the tree!

According to Wills, however heavy you are, however small the tree, you still need to be picked up to put the star on the top. Thats just the way it is!!

And the wreath on our front door - you got it....tiny! Being both challenged by locating the necessary ingredients and by oven size, at the bake sale at the OWC I grabbed the closest thing to a Christmas cake I could looks like one, smells like one but we have not yet sampled.....but it is, you guessed it, on the small side!!

But the one thing that is bigger than last year, and maybe the most important of all is our new nativity set, behind which is the most lovely story. ProVision is a charity in Bangalore that amongst other things refurbishes wheel chairs for the poor. It is one of the charities that the OWC helps support. The brother of one of their 'saves' makes these beautiful nativity sets, the profits of which go to the charity. I love everything about this set but especially the wise men - if you can see in this tiny picture one is Indian, one African and one Chinese, which reflects the diversity of the world, 
this city and our little family!!

So I'm thinking maybe our Christmas won't be so "little" after all!!

As we roll into December, we wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas season, wherever, however, and of course.......whatever size!!