Saturday, September 15, 2012

kickin' it in Kimoi

I know I said in my previous post that I would be writing multiple entries last week to make up for my blogging absence of late.

… did you really believe me?
Silly readers, you should know better by now.
I have a relatively free Saturday at my disposal, which I’ve come to find is a rare and precious resource, so I’m excited to have the chance to recap more of the last month.
Most Saturdays are filled by some planned social, physical, or academic activity.  A few Saturdays ago, for instance, I went on a staff hike.  About 15 of us met at the school’s gate, meandered down to the bazaar, and then just kept walking down, down, down…
Through the mist…


beyond the clouds…

and over the slippery moss-covered pathways…

until we arrived, one chai break and five hours later, at Rajpur, a quaint area just outside of the larger city of Dehradun.  We stopped into a few shops, most notably the Dehradun Guitar Company.  While the men perused musical paraphernalia, we ladies got our style on with a woman from JOYN, an organization that supplies Indian handicrafts to stores in the U.S.  We were given some pretty fantastic free purses.   Afterward, we ate lunch at the Chaaya café, where I ordered some pretty fantastic (not-free) pizza.

I took another hike on the last day of August, a Friday.  Rather than following the regular school schedule, all Woodstock students and staff participated in some sort of “service learning” activity.  I accompanied a group of 10th graders to Kimoi Village.

We played with younger students and helped the older students practice a bit of English, mostly by way of basic games like “Simon Says” and “I Spy.”  Their school day ended at noon, at which time we all met as a group and engaged in an impromptu talent show of sorts!  Some of the village students had prepared songs and dances to share with us, and some brave Woodstockians stepped up and shared some of their own skills, ranging from back handsprings to the infamous Cha-Cha Slide.

 Then we cha-cha’d our way out on out of there.  I was relieved, in a sense, because I was actually beginning to feel a bit claustrophobic.  Think about that for a second…  it wasn’t an elevator, or a bedroom, or even a house that made me feel uncomfortably closed in; it was an entire village.  There was nowhere to go, nothing to do, no detectable roads that connected the village to civilization as I know it.  It boggled my mind.  These people don’t know the sheer joy of smuggling a Wendy’s frosty into the midnight premiere of Sex and the City, rocking to Michael Jackson just a bit too hard on the ride back home and getting pulled over by the cops, and then ordering a triple-cheese pickle pizza to top off the night.

Seriously, how do they survive without such opportunities for entertainment?

Then I saw this sly little girl on the path home:

Touché, Kimoi… touché.

The hike to and from the village was somewhat challenging, but stunningly beautiful.  Some of the students were complaining about the walk—“We had better get hiking points for this!”—which, again, boggled my mind.  I just kept thinking, “Do you know how many people would pay to literally be in your shoes right now?!”  While I love the students here, and while I think they’re very hardworking and polite, it bothers me how extrinsically motivated many of them are.  I can understand why getting good grades and securing admission at prestigious universities is important, and I also understand that they’re under a lot of pressure to succeed, but it seems like this focus eclipses everything else and blinds them to the beauty of their surroundings and the inherent imperfection of life.  Every announcement about a new club, new opportunity, or new weekend activity is annotated with the assurance that their participation will look good on their transcripts.  But certain things are just fun or important in their own right. 

After Service Learning Day, the next special school event that derailed us from the regular schedule was the Interhouse Cross Country meet.  In true Harry Potter fashion, the students and staff of Woodstock are split into three different houses.  I am a proud EAGLE; there are also condors and merlins.  Caw.  While eagles may look the most intimidating, we apparently aren’t the competitive of runners.  We came in last place, performance-wise (what can I say, we’re born to fly), but raked in quite a few participation points.  Teachers were encouraged to run alongside the students, which I did!
^ This is a merlin. ^

Confession time.
Since we’re talking cross country, I feel the need to lift a weight off my chest, to slough a callus of guilt from my soul. 
Once upon a time ago, my sister was an amazing high school cross country runner in high school and, as an elementary/middle-schooler, I would attend many of her races.  My dad and I would cheer and watch her pass at one point in the course, then immediately run to the next location.  At one meet, I was following my dad and, though I swear I looked to see if any runners were coming, I accidentally ran out directly in front of a male runner from another team, who had to physically push me out of his way.  I was so embarrassed that I hid myself in a slide at a playground that was part of the park.  I thought that I was going to get Jaclyn’s team disqualified if I happened to be caught, and I was so paranoid that I thought the random people passing by were part of a special search team commissioned to bring my blatant irresponsibility to justice.  This was a serious source of stress for me during the remainder of that cross country season, as I thought it was possible that the runner would recognize me and publicly exact his revenge.   
Phew.  I feel much better now.  Male runner, if you’re reading, I’m sorry if I added a few seconds to your race time on that fateful fall day.  Please forgive me.
This is something for which I shall never apologize:
Domino's pizza, baby.  No 2 AM delivery, and not really at all the same, but still a reminder of home!


  1. "...this focus eclipses everything else and blinds them to the beauty of their surroundings and the inherent imperfection of life."

    Beautifully stated!
    It sounds like you are enjoying India as must as I am enjoying Turkey. We, too, have a Domino's pizza, but I have yet to try it. Soon though, soon.

  2. I love your voice!!!