Today marks the first day of the new school year. All the children have made their way to school with fresh uniform, new books and probably a few nerves for what the next year might hold for them. Lots of our children will be starting secondary school and some will be starting school for the very first time full stop!
The month of May went too quickly. Despite the hot hot heat we had lots of fun and experienced a jam packed programme of activities and excursions.
Starting with our trip to Munnar in Kerala: in the first week of the holidays we fled the heat of Tamil Nadu to stay in Munnar, the tea growing capital of south India. We visited tea plantations and took exciting bus trips through rolling hills and across mountains. Our blog on our trip can be read here, with some photos too.
Upon returning to Tamil Nadu we took up a busy programme. Starting each day with yoga led by Alyce, we rose from bed early and exercised together with an hour of yoga poses. By far the favourite pose was our lion’s breath pose, where you can make really loud noises by breathing deeply through your nose and exhaling strongly, sticking your tongue out – we enjoyed being silly in this one!
After breakfast and our morning chores we’d settle down for an hour of English lessons. Sometimes we’d learn new vocab together and other times we would read in smaller groups. We got to know some English classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty and of course… The Jungle Book!
The boys and girls loved our visits to the outdoor swimming pool. There may have been a few sore tummies following the many, many belly-flops into the water but we had a lot of fun and it was wonderful to see some of the weaker swimmers try their best at learning.
One Saturday we all hopped on a bus to Chennai to visit our friend Pavithra, a skilled traditional Indian dancer. She welcomed us to her studio for a full day of yoga, games and dance. We learnt some of the traditional steps of bharatanatyam and some of the children were naturals! When we left, her family were so kind to give us gifts and we took lots of selfies to remember our time there. We hope to see Pavithra again soon!
Our evenings would inevitably involve a playlist of our favourite tamil songs and sometimes Alyce and Henry would give an airing of some non-Indian tunes. A favourite of the whole group was Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley and even though there may have been some confusion over the lyrics, we all made do and sang our own version very loudly. Where there was music there was dancing and we can confirm we have a talented troupe of Tamil Nadu’s next Kollywood stars!
A highlight of the holidays was a visit from Kovalam Skate Club, who came from Kerala to teach us how to skateboard. They very kindly donated us skateboards, helmets and skate shoes too! Since then we have been putting our new skills into practice and tearing up the concrete in the yard! Kovalam Skate Club is an initiative from SISP India, a charity set up to help poor children from the families of fishermen in the seaside town of Kovalam, near Trivandrum. You can read more about their work here. Our heartfelt thanks for their generosity.