Monday, March 21, 2011

True Colors - Holi 2011 New Delhi


Preston shortly after arriving at the Holi Party
"My skin is kind of sort of brownish pinkish yellowish white.  My eyes are greyish blueish green, but I'm told they look orange in the night.  My hair is reddish blondish brown, but it's silver when its wet, and all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet."  ~Shel Silverstein
I find the quote by Shel Silverstein to be quite fitting while reflecting back on this years Holi celebration......and it made me think...........Shel Silverstein - Biography


Water, gulal..........looks like fun!
For the past two years, Holi was either celebrated from the safe confines of our car or from the balcony of our apartment that provided a lofty advantage while "playing" with the neighborhood children down below...........however, last year was fun...having invented "Holi Gras"!

Preston and his friends - Holi 2011
This year was totally different...........having been invited to participate with the students of Linda's latest volunteer project.........the students of "Make a Difference", more affectionately known as "MAD".


Children waiting for the teachers to arrive
More on MAD later..............right now, let me tell you about the day, and how exciting and fun it was...........the chance to really "play Holi" in a very controlled environment...........no huge and unpredictable crowds........no "Bhang"........the marijuana induced sweet lassi drink that gets you stoned.............and "organic gulal" .......the bright Holi powder that gets thrown on you.


Linda greeting Krishna, one of her students
I first dropped Preston off at his friends house, and the fun began immediately......he was multi-colored in no time at all.......his friends rushed him with powder and water, doused him well and he was barely recognizable within a matter of minutes.


Sally and Linda gathering all the children for the walk to the Embassy
After a few quick photographs and a group shot, I returned to the house to pick up Linda........and to head to the Roosevelt House, where Sally and Tim Roemer, U.S. Ambassador to India live............


Linda with some of the students
A few short weeks ago, Sally reached out to Linda and some of her other close friends to begin teaching English as a second language to the children of the "juggi"(slum) that exists just across the street from the Embassy and the school where Preston attends High School.


Dressed in some of their nicest clothing - before the fun begins!
Today, Sally invited the 32 children who were tested and hand selected for the program to celebrate Holi with their teachers at the Ambassador's home on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy..........a very special treat indeed.


Let the fun begin - gulal neatly arranged on tables for the kids
It was a very special treat for me as well..............as I was fortunate to be in town instead of traveling for work.........and it was also great to interact with the students that Linda has been teaching..........putting a face to those I had only knew by name until today.


It did not take long! - Ambassador Tim Roemer in a cloud of Holi Colors
Each year, we send Preston out into the streets of Delhi wearing some of the oldest clothing he has knowing that they will not come back in wearable condition...........but not the children of the MAD class.........they were wearing what appeared to be some of their best clothing to attend today's function.............they looked almost too dressed up for what was about to take place.


Linda celebrating Holi 2011
Nevertheless, they were ready to celebrate...........and after the long walk from the juggi to the grounds of the Roosevelt house, it did not take them long to get into action.............waiting for them, neatly arranged on plates were mounds of "gulal"................and without having to let them know when to begin.........the air was filled with color.........and every ones skin and hair was changing color by the second.


Linda and Pinky
While the fun was taking place before my eyes, I was remaining relatively "unscathed" thanks to the fact that the children were well behaved and respected the fact that I had a camera in my hand...............one of the biggest worries that I had..............unfortunately, there was just no escaping the powder that filled the air and settled on the surface of everything..................my camera was soon various shades of green, yellow and red....but it was still functioning fine.


Linda and Ashish Kumar - The "Little Man"
 I didn't remain "colorless" for long...........I believe that it was the Ambassador himself that gave me my first dose of color and it was downhill from there...........so when in India............do like the Indian's..........this was my first year to truly celebrate Holi as it was intended......OK, not authentically like they do in Vrindavan or in Mathura......cities known for this celebration......it was much more "controlled"..........but I think it may be as authentic as it will get for me.


Linda and Sally in living color
Preston is very good friends with the son's of Sally and Tim, and they showed up a bit after the fun began, but participated in the event as well..............he also volunteers as a teacher after school and helps Linda teach her students.


Preston, Ambassador Roemer and Matt
The children had a great time......Holi Colors, traditional Holi snacks............juice and soft drinks and for all of them a chance to celebrate Holi in a very special place.

Preston and Sonu
 About MAD............When the First Lady of the U.S., Michelle Obama, recently visited India, one of the places that she spent some time was at an NGO named "Make a Difference"............an organization started by some students from a similar background that realized how learning to speak English transformed their life.......their education and their ability to make a sustainable income and to work their way out of poverty for them and their family. Sally Roemer was so touched by what she saw in Mumbai, the home of the original MAD program, that she decided that she would start a chapter in Delhi with the help of her friends...........and with the assistance of the campus of the American Embassy School and the students.


Linda and Preston surrounded by the drummers
The children attending the classes are not the only ones benefiting from MAD..........speaking only for our family, Linda and Preston have also been touched by having the ability to know that they are Making a Difference in the lives of ........the children..........Pinky, Vedprakash, Krishna, Neeraj, Ashish Kumar, Sonya, Anju, Kavita, Chanda, Abhishek, Vishnu, Sonu and the others.........

Colorful girl!


While all of them were united in the traditional colors of Holi on the outside............I wonder what the "color" of helping someone looks like.............what does the color of volunteerism look like?, what does the color of "feeling good inside" look like?


Preston playing the drums.........and he wasn't that bad!
I am so grateful that I have been able to play a "supporting role" in the volunteering that Linda and Preston have been doing since coming to India.............I am also envious of them............and wish that my job allowed me the time to contribute to the betterment of someones life while I am in India...........in the meantime, I will have to be content with the small behind the scenes help that I am doing............I think I need to work on my "inside colors".


MAD Class of 2011 - New Delhi Chapter
What about you? Are you Making a Difference and working on your colors inside? What are your True Colors?..........Happy Holi everyone!

For more about MAD.........here is the link               Make A Difference

3 comments:

Every Day is an Adventure said...

Beautifully written and wonderful photos. It is so true that the teacher usually benefits most from the teaching. The MAD participants on both sides seem to be getting an opportunity of a lifetime.

DelhiBound said...

Loved this, Lloyd! Can I just link to YOUR post when it comes time to write about MAD : Holi on the Make A Difference Series on delhibound?

beautifully written!

me said...

miss you all bunches! especially on days like that!