Posted by: Anna | March 14, 2011

Hello!

Children in India provide the most surprising encounters. I have mentioned previously that they are dressed elaborately and adorably, with anklets, earrings, sequins, ruffles, and brightly colored ensembles worthy of a suburban dance recital. Their school uniforms are enchanting as well – incredibly neat, pressed outfits made in the same shapes as traditional Indian clothing, but in plaids. The little girls have their hair perfectly combed and braided, often in pigtails. The little boys have perfectly tidy hair as well. They look so clean they practically shine. Plus, they have giant backpacks, which get loaded into all sorts of hilarious “school buses” – tuk tuks with twenty school children and backpacks, tiny buses, etc.

I want to share a couple of quick anecdotes of some of the encounters we have had with children. Walking home from dinner one night, carrying a Limca (lime soda), a little boy accompanied by two other little ones ran right up in front of us and yelled, “Hello!” This happens fifty times a day – we say hello back. Sometimes they smile and run away, sometimes they keep chatting with us. This one was a little imp – he immediately tried to steal my Limca…I held it up over my head. Unfortunately that’s not all that high, even to a seven-year-old boy. He leaped up for it, still yelling, “Hello” and smiling from ear to ear. We did a little keep-away dance, and he laughed and ran off.

We were out walking one morning, and a little boy, maybe eight years old, ran up and said, “Hello!” I said “Hello” back. He said, “What’s your name?” I smiled and said, “Anna”. He smiled, and then he proved to be a little imp too. He reached out and groped my boob for about one second, then ran off like lightning, laughing hysterically, followed by four other little boys. I was shocked. Tommy, oblivious as usual, didn’t even see it. And then we both started laughing once we were out of eyesight of the kids. I suspect his friends dared him to do that.

Another morning, heading out to see the Fort, we started walking in the direction of the Fort. However, Jodhpur is a labyrinth, impossible to find your way easily. There are no street signs and we do not have a map that works at all. So, we mostly set off in the general direction of where we want to go, get lost, ask for directions, get lost, ask for directions, over and over until we arrive. It takes a while, but it’s the only way. Thankfully, walking the streets is an interesting adventure all by itself, so it’s no big deal. Anyway, we head off to the Fort. We come to a fork in the road and stop to debate the options. As we choose a direction, a little girl, maybe seven years old, rides by on a bicycle and yells, “Hello!” We say “Hello” back. She stops to tell us we are going the wrong way. We try to explain that she can’t know we are going the wrong way because she doesn’t know where we are trying to go. She holds her ground – wrong way.

She follows us, sometimes riding, sometimes walking with her bicycle. We stop because we reach another fork in the road, and Tommy stops to ask directions of an adult. She tries to explain to me to go to the left, then straight, but definitely not to the right. Then we start talking; she is showing off her English skills. She points to her finger and says, “This is a finger”. “This is my nose” “This is my ear” And so on. It was really cute. I start quizzing her – “What is this?” (pointing at my dress). She answers, “Dress.” We keep doing this, then she tries again to explain directions on where to go. Finally, I realize – she IS telling me how to get to the fort, showing me the shortcut way, not the long way on the road. Tommy walks over, with exactly the same information. We are getting ready to head out, and she doesn’t want us to go. She asks us to take her picture – one of me and her together, then one of her and Tommy together. We do, and show them to her. She is pleased, and speeds away on her bicycle.

Since there are no parks and no backyards, in the evenings the streets are full of playing children, running and yelling among the cows and rickshaws. I don’t know why they are so friendly to us and so enthusiastic at greeting us with “Hello!!” or sometimes, “Namaste” but it really is cute. I was expecting to have children begging (guess I’ve seen too much Slumdog Millionaire), and that does happen occasionally, but much more often, they just want to talk to us, shake our hands, give us high fives, and know our names. I think it’s really fun.

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Responses

  1. So sweet how the little girl is holding your face. I may or may not have teared up just one little droplet. Glad you guys are having so much fun. We’ve been thinking about y’all.

  2. Such a sweet picture! Anna, I think the “India-look” is darling on you! XOXO


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