Odanadi – Day 1 (December 12, 2010)
To say I was super jet-lagged would be an understatement. After reaching Hootagally Village and taking a warm bath, Pareesha and Ode took me to Odanadi. We walked on to the main road, stopped by a mini-supermarket, crossed the busy road and then took the side road to the center. The main gates were locked when we got there, so Pareesha and Ode shouted for Rashmi the security ward to come and open the gate. Small boys and girls started running out one by one – sister! Sister! They shouted as they climbed all over them. They looked at me tentatively and asked – “new sister?” “What your name?” “How long you stay sister?”
I took out my camera and started taking some photos and they loved it. They all posed and asked for individual and group shots. One energetic young girl Teju particularly liked posing and kept asking for more and more, until Pareesha said “sako sako!” (enough in Kannada).
I got a tour of the center, met one of the house mothers Uma and some of the other younger and older children. A group of them sat transfixed in the TV room watching a Rajnikant blockbuster, while others played freely in the yard. Jatti (a calm boxer) and Lizzie (the lazy golden lab) also befriended me and Lizzie particularly fawned for attention and even posed for the camera with Pareesha!
One young girl – Kaveri – Stole my heart. I said hi I’m a new sister and she just ran to me and hugged my leg (she could only reach so high!). It just melted me. That was my orientation to Odanadi.
Odanadi – Day 2 (December 13, 2010)
Day 2 started a little slower for me. I slept ok, but my body ached from so much travel when I woke up. Late morning Pareesha and I made our way over to the center with supplies in hand. The first task was to check and sort through the clothes etc we had couriered from the US. It was strange to see the bags we had packed in the US sitting there in the house mother’s office – but we opened them and started separating things out. Most items were there except for (sadly) 6 stuffed toys – but we spent a few hours along with the house mother, accounts manager and teacher making sure every child would get something by wrapping an item each like a gift. We will distribute these to all the children tomorrow as early Christmas presents. We’re so happy each child will get something.
After taking a late lunch/snack/errand break we returned to find some children busy coloring the Dora the Explorer book we had brought from the US. We joined in and spent some time in the library. A few more boys were there also and I got to meet a few other girls. We were looking forward to working with the older girls who are part of the US7, but they got delayed and were busy all day taking care of logistics related to the SU trip. Otherwise they are in college until 5 or 5:30pm so it’s not as easy to find time with them. While waiting for them we sat in the courtyard and chatted with whoever was around and played with Jatti and Lizzie. Some girls started doing some gardening, while another came up to me and wanted me to help her with her Hindi! I obliged and we had fun trying out various phrases and she teaching me a few key Kannada words also. Appu stood out to me – a mini Rajnikant in the making with beautiful eyes. A little mischievous but ever so sweet!
It soon became dark and Stanly dropped us back to Parashur’s house. We try to leave every night by dusk so walking home is still safe and then most children occupy themselves with other activities and playing and catching up with the school-returned children.