Well the cold weather and fog has really kicked in now. Its just after breakfast on the Saturday morning after New Year and my cold fingers are refusing to move over the keyboard at my desired pace.
Since my last post we have had Christmas and New Year; both where great days and lots of fun. We had been staying in a really flash apartment in South Delhi for the lead up to Christmas but it was good to get back to the ashram to celebrate Christmas day. This was our second Christmas at the ashram and once again an amazing day. On Christmas eve we had a bonfire and dinner with all the ashram staff to say thanks for all their hard work. After dinner we had the music blaring and it was so funny to see some of the more conservative staff members break loose on the dance floor. Ruth instigated a round if limbo which was enjoyed by all.
Christmas day started with a breakfast of Channa Marsala and puri (chickpea curry and fried chapatis). After breakfast we hopped on Skype to check in with the family back in Australia, it was so great to see them. We had one Christmas parcel to open with lots of treats... Tim Tams, chocolate bars...mmmmm and Christmas decorations which we hung on the tree outside our room.
A DJ arrived during the day and set up the biggest and loudest speakers you have ever seen. Us westerners thought the ashram speakers were fine and plenty loud enough, the new ones though could be heard several suburbs away. The DJ seemed to like the Spice Girls, he played wannabe three times.
After lunch we played games and had wheelchair races and generally hung out and had fun together. The ashram kids spent much of the day performing a nativity play in South Delhi and when they got back to the ashram I has the privilege of being Santa (no I did not dress up) and handed out all the new clothes to the kids and staff. I had spent several hours on Christmas Eve with Savita (the teacher) and all the children buying clothes. You would think that it would be the girls who would take ages mulling over which dress to buy but no... it was the fashion conscious teenage boys who took forever and funnily valued my opinion. I suggested Savita buy a pair of jeans to wear to the ashram but she said no as she is too old now to wear jeans (she is about 28); she used to wear them when she was younger. I asked the boys if they thought Savita should wear jeans and they said very seriously that Savita was a good Indian woman and should not wear jeans but it was fine for me to wear them.
After the gift giving the kids performed their Christmas play for everyone at the ashram. They were so great. Jake the NZ guy was in the performance and played a wise man. After he said his one line in Hindi there was huge applause.
The blaring speakers which could be heard for miles around meant that we had about 100 gate crashers show up for Christmas dinner, a lot of them were from our neighbourhood and the nearby slum, many of the kids looked so cold as they did not have shoes or socks. Somehow we managed to feed everyone... we had catered for about 150 but fed about double that. After dinner the music was cranked up and the dancing was in full swing. Their were a couple of teenage boys from the neighbourhood that did a performance, they were so serious about their moves and a friend filmed them on a phone, you should have seen them playing it up for the camera...Marisha you would have been doubled with laughter.
It was a really great day and as nice as it would have been to have a hot Sydney summer with family and friends I would not have wanted to be anywhere else but here.
After Christmas we headed back down to South Delhi to chill out in the very fancy apartment some friends of ours gave us to house sit while they were back in the US for Christmas. The apartment has 4 massive bedrooms, five bathrooms, huge living areas, an amazing kitchen, servants quarters and great views over the pools, golf course and other facilities.
For NYE the NZ volunteers came down to spend a couple of days with us. We all really enjoyed cooking and made delicious soups, pastas and desserts. For New Years we had roast chicken and vegetables followed by chocolate fondue for desert... a real treat.
Buying chickens was an experience... I have been here for a year yet I had not been to the butcher in all that time. So, at the butcher I ask for two chickens with the skin on and also two with the skin off (it seems that they are generally sold with the skin off). They show me the plucked intact chickens and ask if I would like them cleaned... you bet I would! So the chickens are handed to a guy who is sitting on a raised platform. He trims the chickens of all their bits and pieces (except I had to ask him specifically to remove the neck). He then they takes out the innards and with a knife between his toes he expertly cuts and separates them into edible portions and puts them in a separate bag... which I promptly chucked on arriving home. One of the skinless chickens I cut up to make a soup and when I did I found the heart still attached to the chest cavity...so I took the opportunity to give Hunter an impromptu biology lesson.
On another occasion the 'cleaned' chickens were not gutted... I could not face that so Jake had to do the honors... I tell you,I am just about vegetarian. Funnily enough as I write a rickshaw full of live chickens has just arrived at the ashram... tonight's dinner. I have always prided myself on being able to ignore the fact that meat was once alive, but I tell you its becoming harder and harder.
That's all for today... I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year