Monday, November 29, 2010

17 hours of Togetherness

Our first Slumber party.
18 kids. One small apartment. It was a blast for the kids and a good experience in togetherness for all of us.

Here is what our schedule ended up being:
Saturday, Nov 27th
5pm: Dance practice at Darpana Performing Arts Academy
7pm: Prayer and Snacks at Darpana
745pm: Discussion, question/answer with Madhu and Meghan from MAM film studios
830pm: EKTATVA Classical Dance Show at Natrani Theatre
10pm: All 18 of us, catch two rickshaws (that averages out to 9 of us per rickshaw) to my apartment
1045pm: We’re all eventually settled into the apartment. Then we eat dinner. I had made some vegetable subji prior that afternoon for all of us. So the kids warmed up the subji and warmed up bread and then we sat in a circle and had dinner together.
1130pm: We all went up to Madhu and Meghna’s apartment, one floor above mine, and they shared with us, short inspiring films and we had a good discussion with them.
1230am: Kids began the showering process.
1230am: Random Acts of Kindness: Kids were broken up in groups and assigned a floor in the apartment complex in which they were given three piles of various flowers which they were to use to decorate their respective floors. The goal: to bring a smile to our neighbors’ faces and hearts when they woke up the next morning and came out of their apartment….It worked! J
2am: The Decorations were beautiful and the kids were done showering…The kids continued playing. Not wanting to sleep.
230am: I had to kick two of our kids out of the apartment for ½ hour in order to bring some discipline. It worked. Eventually everyone went to sleep.
Sunday, Nov 28th
8am: Began the waking up process
845am: We all had prayer and breakfast on the rooftop. Most, if not all, the kids had cereal for the first time in their lives.
930am: Robin Bhai and Neela Ben join us at the apartment. Sat down and discussed about Mother Theresa and the Mother Theresa Ashram we were about to walk to.

1030am: We leave, all 20 of us, walking towards the Mother Theresa Ashram (3 km away).

11am: Towards the last 10 minutes of the walk, we all walk to the MT Ashram in silence.

1110am: We arrive at the Ashram, meet Sister Molly and then begin our interactions with the Ashram patients. The kids begin passing out small bags of Parle-G biscuits to all the patients and try interacting with as many of them as possible.
1145am: Robin Bhai, sets his tablas down and begins playing for all the Ashram patients. Then our kids join him in singing some bhajans and songs.
12pm: Its lunchtime for the patients. We leave them with lots of love and smiles.

1215pm: The Shankarbhuvan kids are sent home via rickshaw with Uday Bhai, our Ahmedabad Gift Economy Rickshaw Driver; Bharat walks the community center kids home; and I walk the Ashramshalla kids back to the Ashram.
This was a beautiful experience for us all. Obviously the more time we spend together, the more connected we become. But this was more intimate. When we stay together in this fashion: we eat together, clean together, play together, sleep together, wake together, pray together, fight together, heal together, etc. It has a subtle impact in the way we interact moving forward. I hope for this to be the first of various types of interactions along the EKATVA journey that enable us to gain perspective on ourselves, our interactions with each other and with the world.
Walking to the Mother Theresa Ashram and interacting with the patients there was humbling and powerful. All the patients there are males of various diseases and injuries and all without families. We all sat down together and discussed this prior to going there, so all the kids understood where and why we were going there. It was nice to see the kids feel a sense of empowerment in sharing love with those less fortunate. And it was also nice seeing the patients at the ashram reciprocate with smiles and joy.
Our time together was valuable. The kids enjoyed tremendously, asking for the date of our next slumber party. I responded saying we have lots of work to do, don’t worry about the next slumber party date, focus on dance practice day after tomorrow.  

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