Monday, 20 July 2009

Karkidaka Vavu Bali and SISP

Genesis Duke album coverIt's mid-morning and I'm currently educating the neighbours, and their neighbours, with high volume Genesis. Perhaps this is how the temple priests feel about their "bloody awful racket!"

Today's a holiday at SISP, in recognition of Belgian Independence Day (the founders are Belgians) and "Karkidaka Vavu Bali". Apparently six medical teams and ambulances have been deployed around Trivandrum in readiness for ... what? The newspaper doesn't say but I guess it'll be alcohol induced mayhem! Vavu Bali or Vavubali Tharpanam is an important ritual observed by Hindus in Kerala in the month of Karkidakam (mid July to mid August). People offer 'bali' to the departed souls of ancestors on the day, which just happens to be today. I've been invited to have lunch with the neighbours so I plan to offer bali to my ancestors.

At SISP yesterday I had to do a drawing lesson with B-Group. They're aged 13 up to 19 and I have two such lessons with them each week. The constant dilemma of what to do with them... I decided I'd get them to make some cardboard folders for their artworks, but first perhaps they could make them from newspaper, and then again, perhaps they should first draw a diagram of what I expect them to make. I had a free period just prior to the lesson which I spent drawing up a technical drawing on the board. So, all they had to do was copy it at a 1/3 scale onto A4 paper. Easy! Or so I thought... they had no idea what a scale diagram was! Surely one of the older ones would know ... but no, not a clue. I was exasperated with them, but especially with myself for assuming they'd know what I was on about without checking first. Oh well, I foresee several lessons coming from this so I won't have to think too hard about what to give them in the next few weeks. And it'll give me time to find the cardboard for the folders. Clouds and silver linings!

(SISP website)

banana leaf mealPostscript Well, that was very weird. I've just had lunch next door as invited, and I'm back 35 minutes later! This Karkidaka Vavu Bali business was a real non-event! I went in, sat on the only chair at the only (low) table, and my meal (Keralan Thali) was already served on a banana leaf. The two kids and their father sat on the floor. Mother and Grandmother had apparently already eaten. Meanwhile the TV was on and loud, tuned and retuned to cartoons. Half way through, the father went out for a cigarette. Then a woman turned up, sat down and ate something then left again 5 minutes later. She barely said a word to the family and certainly nothing to me - in fact she completely ignored me, stared straight ahead and watched the TV! No, thinking about it, I'd actually say she actively avoided looking at me!! The kids barely said a word and just sat glued to the TV while the two women kind of hovered in the background. When they did say anything it was amongst themselves and not to me, even though I tried to converse with them! The Mother has quite reasonable English too, when she bothers to use it. Well, after they suggested I wash my hands, I was left with the feeling that they had better things to do (like watch more TV) so I said I'd be off and watched for a reaction - not a thing! It was as if the ritual was to have a visitor, any visitor, and give them food. The fact that nothing was said was of no consequence. Very, very odd. And even at only 35mins, I'm left wondering whether I overstayed my welcome.

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