My new friend Arookooma is an elephant who became a lion and he lives inside a Bollywood musical. Life is too good not to sing.
During the last week, we've been camping at Avalanche.
It's this secret spot that took us 2 1/2 hours by car, 10 hours night train, 5 hours steam train, 1 hour crazy bus ride, 1 hour army truck-craziest-ride-of-my-life, and a 2 hour hike to reach. It's away from everything - from the crazy noise and pollution of the Indian cities and towns. It would have been quiet, peaceful and relaxing.
Except that we brought along a gypsy tribe. Mostly kids, 60 of them made the trek with us to reach this amazing camp.
There was no peace. No quiet. No relaxation. On the agenda was kayaking, abseilling, archery, and more....these kids had never done anything like this and the looks on their faces was priceless as they felt themselves 'balance' on water or be held by a rope on a cliff face for the first time.
I can't explain how big this new experience was for them. It was quite cold in Avalance - we were almost 3000 meters up and most of the tribe had never been in cold weather in their lives. Quite a shock to discover 0 degrees for the first time!
The change in the camp over the few days was amazing. The change of atmosphere was tangible, with much tension in this new place changing to a real joy among the tribe by the end, and a tangible peace.
Not just a crazy an experience for them - it's been quite a ride for me as well. My name to the Indians sounds like Kali - the indian goddess of darkness. I should have made up a new name from the beginning but at least they all remembered my name.
I now have excellent thigh muscles from all the squatting. My thighs will be huge by the end of this trip.
I now know that using your clothes for a pillow is not all it's cracked up to be. Especially when your clothes are dirty. Very dirty.
Washing your hair with a tiny bucket is ok. Washing alongside lots of Indian gypsy girls is quite the experience. Please nits, stay away. I like my nit-free hair!
Curry for breakfast lunch and dinner is ok. I'm quite converted. Actually I'm quite converted to Indian food. They had the audacity to give me eggs and toast for breakfast the other morning and I was surprised to find myself disappointed! Ah!
Life IS a musical. Arakooma joined my activity group (the Lions) because he'd lost track of his group (the Elephants). I was treated to his singing morning noon and night, as he found himself attached to me most of the time. At first I tried to lose him. He had way too much energy for me - but he was too sleuthy for me and we became friends.
He loved everything, and one day he asked me if I was happy. I said yes, very happy. I asked him the same. With fists clenched and the biggest smile on his face, he told me he was too much happy. Too much happy. What a wonderful place to be in!
I loved his joy and his singing and dancing made me laugh. He'd skip round trees and throw his arms out while he sang. I think he really thought he was in a musical. His and the gypsies' joy was beautifuly contagious.
Am loving India and am so thankful for the wonderful time in Avalanche. A few more days here in Mamallapurum (with a wedding included) and then we're on to Goa.