Goddamn long-haired hippies…


Thursday 8th May 2008

Ok, so I’m over the age-comment, but only by accident!
I had planned to bore people with that story for several years to come (the cheek of it!), but I arrived back at the orphanage (after being away for only a week mind you!) and Durga, a 12-year old, said “Oh Maya! You’re so fat again!”
That helped me get over the age thing, but reminded me I’m a porker again!
Sadly he’s right – I appear to have put on 4 kilos again, so by the time I’m done holidaying, I’ll probably be right back to the weight I was when I left!
I blame all the wining and dining we did before the fundraiser (and the pressure of not smoking) but it’s probably more to do with the huge lack of exercise etc.

We’ve bought loads of stuff with our fundraising money though – lots of furniture, like shelves and cupboards and a new water storage tank. We also had to go out and buy more cups and spoons and bowls, and we got a new electric rice-cooker to save on gas.

I’m getting all my stuff together now, but as always there’s a million things to do. I have to find some boxes so I can start posting stuff home, and am trying to get my Indian visa, which requires me to get there at silly o’clock to get a number (I was number 41 today and I arrived at 6.40am), then wait until they actually open at 9.30 so I can stand around in a queue for hours, surrounded by new-age morons spouting the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever heard – like “But how do you DEFINE spirituality?” “Wouldn’t you say that religion and sprituality are by definition integrated at a philisophical level?” I got so fed up of listening to people trying to sound far cooler than they actually were (“because, like, we’re all going to India, man, so like, you have to be totally at one with your spiritual side…..”)
Blah blah blah crap crap crap.
I actually had to get out my book and stand there reading in the line to try and block out the extremely high level of bullshit floating around me.

However, hopefully once I’m actually off travelling I won’t bump into so many of those types – God there’s nothing worse that new-age hippies several decades too late, trying to make every little thing into an intense spiritual epiphany – not to mention trying to have “interesting dreadlocks”.
There must have been at least 20 people in my line of sight with dreads – all attempting to be utterly unique by having fat/thin/short/long dreads, or by being even more unique and forgetting the dreads altogether and simply having a filthy mass of matted unbrushed birdnest at the back of their head – or having a bird’s nest at the back and meticulously combed nice hair at the front! All very bizarre, and I’m so glad I’ve never been tempted by that hair-craze – I mean, I must have been one of the very few people who had normal hair – and who also wasn’t wearing any kind of tie-dyed scarf on my head either.
No offense to any of you who have dreadlocks – and actually my friend A has very nice dreadlocks – but honestly – who on earth thinks that having filthy smelly matted hair, twisted into an even filthier rainbow-striped headscarf, will somehow make them more attractive, or cool for that matter? – Especially when everyone else in the room is attempting to be unique by having exactly the same look?
Maybe I really AM getting old?

As for the orphanage, well, I had thought that once the kids started school we’d all have loads of free time to relax and chill out etc, but in the week that I was away, 8 new kids have been brought to us to look after!
Another had come just before our fundraiser, and a tenth kid arrived last night, bringing us up to 35 children!
It’s oddly cyclical, as there were 34 kids when I first arrived, and then it dropped down to 25 and now here we are back at 35 again!

Anyhoo, most of them were brought at different times – two sisters were brought to us by the YCL (Young Communist League), two little boys, both about 3, were brought by a taxi driver who found them on the street, another two boys and a girl were brought by the police, and one girl was brought by her mother, and a new boy arrived last night by a policeman and a reporter.
I couldn’t help but wonder if our fundraiser hadn’t been a little bit too successful and had made us a bit famous, as it seemed incredibly odd that we’d suddenly get 10 new kids in the space of two weeks, all apparently brought in by different and unconnected people, but who knows?
So, even though the other kids are at school we’ve now got 10 kids that need to be watched during the day, and we have no idea if they’ll be with us permanently or if they’ll be placed somewhere else, so there’s no point enrolling them in the school until we know for sure.

They’ve all got sad stories, and poor Aamaa doesn’t quite know what to do – we’re not supposed to have more than 30 kids at one time, but it’s impossible to refuse these kids a home.
Monday was Mother’s Day here, and Aamaa had been planning to go and visit her mother. First she had to wait in for the plumber to come, and then we had some visitors, and then at about 5pm, she was just heading out the door when this reporter and policeman showed up with a 7 year-old boy. Apparently he’d been working in a restaurant kitchen where the reporter ate regularly, and he’d noticed that they beat him a lot, but one day he found that they’d actually tied him up in the kitchen, so he called the police and asked them to help him.
Poor kid (he’s called Kamal) and Aamaa couldn’t say no, but then she really did have to go out, and after she’d left Kamal suddenly said “Ok, I’m going now” and got so upset that we wouldn’t let him leave.
I really hated the idea of him being locked in against his will, but didn’t want him running off either, (one of the new girls had tried to run away last week too) so we eventually persuaded him to stay just until Aamaa came home and could talk to him about it properly – and the other boys were all brilliant, putting their arms around him and showing him the house – they all explained that he was their brother now, and when it turned out he was a Tamang too, (most of the kids are Tamangs) they got really excited and said he was DEFINITELY one of them!
He’s now been handed back to the police, as he was able to describe his uncle’s house and where it is, so they’re going to drive him around and look for his relatives. He may or may not come back to us – we’ll have to wait and see!

Anyhoo, I’ll have to get their stories and pictures to add to our website (for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, have a look at http://www.aishworya.org) but it’s both nice and sad at the same time.

better go – that’s more than enough mindless babble for one day!

hope you’re all well,

tons of love
frankly-quite-square Maya,
who at 5am tomorrow will be back at the Indian Embassy, hoping to get a lower number than 41!
If anyone ATTEMPTS to enter into a spiritual conversation with me at that time in the morning, they will almost certainly be found strangled by their own manky nasty dreadlocked hair.
And I’ll enjoy it too.

xxx

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