23 June, 2011

Whirlwind - Day 1, Part 1: Kudugal the Village

I’m working on summarizing our whirlwind school tour, so this is the first issue of my (Tony’s) as-complete-as-i-can-remember-since-i-didn't-write-anything-at-the-time account of our experience in Kudugal, Gollahalli, Angondanahalli, and Mysore on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I’ll try to minimize redundancy between this and Kat and Pras’s posts, but if I repeat something I'm sure you won't mind, and don't forget to read our other posts to get the full story.

We arrived in Kudugal the day before the wedding, Sunday. We met and congratulated the groom, set to marry a girl from Kolar Gold Field. On that day we found our way into the center of the village, which on our approach had seemed almost empty but harbored a closely assembled crowd celebrating the impending event. Among them were other members of Pras’s family visiting from Bangalore, and extended family living in the village.

As we approached the town, the first thing we noticed was the school. It is made up of three small buildings, each a single room, and a small temple in their center. The outer walls of the two classrooms and the kitchen were all painted with educational material: historical leaders of India, the English alphabet, shapes, punctuation, outer space, biological diagrams, and many terms in Kannada which I couldn’t read.

We first drove past the empty school, went right at the first fork in the main road, and stopped at the second. Looking back at the satellite image of Kudugal I now have a new understanding and appreciation of the village, like it’s become real. We were warmly greeted by family and ushered down a small stone alley into a room covered from the sun by a large tapestry and containing two long dining tables. The groom was busy preparing for his wedding in a small stone room adorned with incense, flowers, gods, and offerings to his passed ancestors.

After introductions, they were quick to join us in their feast with what I’m sure was the Kannada for “Eat, please, eat.” We ate and the food was fantastic.

Then the monkeys came.

Apparently it was nothing special but I was pretty pumped. They had smelled the food and looked at us from a nearby perch, assessing the situation. At first they were shooed away but after I started taking pictures (in development) everyone humored me and even tossed them some lentil chips so I could get a better shot.

We said hi to a few more people around the village before briefly wandering around and then heading out to meet with some Sisters running programs in the neighboring villages.

Updates on those visits are upcoming, stay tuned!

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