Saturday, 14 November 2009

Maya's Sports Day

Maya giving us a wave

The 1950's-style streamers drill

Maya with Granny Amma and Thatha, sitting out the Red Riding Hood race!

India's first prime minister, Nehru, was born on November 14th and as loved children, 14th November was denoted as 'Children's Day' after his death in 1963. To coincide with this, Maya celebrated her first ever Sports Day with her nursery school today. The event took place in a sportsground in Ulsoor, one of the oldest (and undoubtedly most chaotic) areas of Bangalore. It took a bit of detective work to find the location and I'm quite glad that Granny Amma and Thatha are seasoned travellers and therefore unfazed by stepping over streaming piles of cow turd and walking through building sites that would be cordoned off and the public kept at a 20 metre distance back in the UK.

However, once inside the high-walled sportsground, the sounds of the busy markets and banging and clanging from the roads being torn up greatly lessened. We sat under black-winged kites soaring overhead and a grey, threatening sky and watched as the children lined up in their little white outfits. Maya was so, so excited. In fact, she'd spent the previous two days tearing up and down our small appartment practising her running. I'd never imagined a child could be quite so excited about wearing white shorts, t-shirt and plimsolls. I suppose it was her first ever uniform of sorts, albeit for just a few hours this morning.

After the mandatory speeches from the visiting 'VIP' who tore pompously through the sportsground in his car, stayed to do his podium thing and then tore off again, the children then sang 'We are the world' whilst swaying back and forth and then all let go of their helium balloons into the sky. Unbelievably cheesy, but I must admit we were chuffed to bits to see little Mayita swaying from side to side and proudly holding her balloon as though her life depended on it. At one stage, the string of her balloon became intwined with another little boy's and so the two of them unwittingly had to stand and rock together.

Next came the 'drill' which was extraordinary. The children held coloured streamers in each hand and whilst commands were barked out from the front, their hands went UP! DOWN! TO THE SIDE! Granny Amma commented that is wasn't unlike what she had to do as a schoolchild in the 1950's. Again, Maya loved it and looked immensely proud of herself, bless her little white shorts and cotton socks. As for the races, she was meant to run in a race called 'Little Red Riding hood goes shopping for Grandma' (possibly the longest ever name for a race?) but by this stage, Maya had just about had enough as there had been so much hanging around and pent up nervous excitement and she decided to give it a miss. I think she'd put her heart and soul into the song and the drills and had decided that enough, quite frankly, was enough!

It was brilliant to see Maya in action today with her school friends. She has been going to Kidzone Montessori for three hours every morning and it's become a big part of her existence here in Bangalore, something that we know very little of. This has been her very own Indian experience and it's amazing to think of Maya's transformation with all the tears at the beginning when she went to school, to the excited, happy little lady that now willingly goes each day. Yep, she's done good.

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