An Extraordinarily Unordinary Kind of Day
We previously mentioned that we are VERY famous in India. All the time, people just took photos of us! It’s insane! Well… our celebrity status increased tenfold on this particular day. We have been promoted to Queen! Yes all hail her royal highness’s Queen Kathleen and Queen Amy!
So how did we go from lowly ‘A list’ celebrities to royalty in one day? Still not quite sure to be honest but we shall fill you in anyway…
We were about an hour and a half into our 3 hour drive to a school when our translator got the first phone call. He was speaking a combination of Hindi and English. We understood “about 35 kilometres…which street? … then left”. Thought nothing of it. Then 15 minutes later he received another call; the same kind of conversation, except it was now “25 kilometres”. Okay, so the school must be keeping tabs on how far away we are, we thought. Five to ten minutes later; another call. The trend continued for the next hour, giving a running commentary of our ETA. Wow, are we late or something? Maybe there’s something wrong? we both thought, but didn’t think to ask.
Finally pulling up to the school, weary from a long trip, our translator turned to us “Sisters, a surprise for you…” huh? What surprise? We looked out the window to see a long procession of students, lining a 100 metre-long, dusty aisle up to the school building. It hit us like a light-bulb. THAT’S why they wanted to know how far away we were. We stepped out of the car, reluctantly moving toward the parade. A very humble man approached and introduced himself as the school manager. Without a moment to process, a beautiful young student clothed our necks with delicately hand-made flower wreaths. We both looked to each other in retreat, “What in the world is happening?” we said, mumbled through our smiles. We were bombarded by students marching alongside us with loud rhythmic drums, some wearing long white gloves as they clapped in time. We slowly edged our way through the procession while the students watched us in awe. Young girls followed behind us, tossing yellow flower petals over us like rain.
The short 5 minutes we took to walk through the spectacle was clouded in a whirlwind of emotion. We felt like absolute Queens, and for the rest of the day would be treated as such. The school manager we met at the start of the parade ushered us into his office. We could tell from his smile and demeanour that he was very nervous, but honoured to be hosting two young ladies from across the globe. His spiel about the school was a blur. We were distracted by the pain in our cheeks from smiling, and the beautiful kids peering through the office window.
Over the next few hours, our time involved proud entertainment by the students as they performed dances, recited memory verses, read stories and sang for us. We were later told that they practised all week in anticipation for our arrival. The paparazzi was on us at every angle, photographing our every move. The students who weren’t performing at the time would stare at us in amazement, some we’re sure had never seen a white person before.
We were then invited to an interesting lunch with the staff (while they watched us intently as we ate each mouthful). It comprised of a whole baby-prawn curry (shells included!) and spicy rice with pappadums. All consumed with our right hand, of course!
To end the afternoon, we posed for photo after photo in the blazing sun as each class came forward. Some students were too afraid to stand near us and just gave us worried stares. We’re still not exactly sure why that was. Perhaps it was because they had never been near a white person before. Or maybe they were star-struck.
Before we knew it we were back in the car, waving goodbye to an unforgettable memory.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED!? We said simultaneously to each other. Gobsmacked would be the perfect description.
As much as we were still in total shock over the recent events, at the same we time felt very uncomfortable. And even though we felt that it was totally unnecessary – who were we? Just two ordinary girls from Aus. We don’t need this royal treatment! That is where we were wrong. It was absolutely necessary … for them.
This was a school out in the sticks. It is very rare for them to have visitors. As a community, they have very little and continue to live very simple lifestyles. They cannot offer us valuable goods to thank us for their time (not that we expect that from them!), but they can whip up some flower wreaths, put on a show and demonstrate the loving hospitality that only the people of India could.