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Archive for November, 2009

I’m actually home in Vermont  now. I arrived two nights ago and am still waking at 3 am for the day…. Time zones are  so interesting. Flying from one place to another, one is trapped into a time and space warp. We create community in so many ways. It takes about 26 hours for me to get home…. from 85 degree weather to 40 degree. It’s cold- but not as cold as it could be. Even though I find myself snuggling in my warm sweaters, intensely, I’m still cold.  My body is out of practice with the cold. (more…)

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This post will be brief, as tonight  I am very tired and need to go to sleep soon.

Creatin gPersonal Journals and Collage

The training is going well as the participants are very engaged. We average 3-4 exercises a day, interspersed with discussions and conversations. Of course, we also talk over lunch, and at odd moments throughout the day. Today we discussed the Expressive Therapies Continuum as a frame for holding what we actually are doing and thinking about. We also managed to work in a piece on looking at drawings from a developmental perspective. Today went pretty well! Other exercises included joint scribbling (which had people laughing!), and an activity I created  (an exercise that integrated a stimulus picture, movement, art, and journaling.) I was proud of myself for that one!  As part of the sharing I had them witness each other; I’ve been teaching different ways to share. (more…)

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Today was the first day of the last workshop for this trip: Expressive Therapies. There is such excitement in the group and community for this work!  It is palatable. Yesterday, I was interviewed  for the Deaccan Chennai Newspaper, one of a few good English speaking papers. I was reading the paper this morning and was excited to see that I was in it!! I showed the staff here at the hotel, who are curious about why I am here. I was finally able to show them what I do. They were excited for me as well, which was sweet. Eric, Magdalene’s husband, bought 30 copies for us, so I will definitely be able to bring it home and show it off! (more…)

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Bull waiting across from my hotel

Bull Waiting Across from My hotel

I have spent the last two days teaching Playback. The workshop went very well. We had 16 participants the first day and 15 the second. One woman didn’t really know what she was coming to and thought it had to do with International Children’s Day. I didn’t realize this until after lunch, as she did not say anything to me or the group while we were doing the sociometry exercises. (more…)

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Fluid Sculpture

Fluid Sculpture

I want to share a bit more about the trip to Karur:

First, about the  train: I went out of Chennai on Tuesday night, accompanied by Subashini, one of the counselors that work for the Centre for Counseling. We took a night train 350 kilometers to Karur,  a very small village where I led a Playback workshop with an existing street theatre/folk dance troupe. We bunked in 6-8 bed squares in which men and women slept in the same area. Going to Karur I was on the top bunk and had my bag in bed with me. I decided that after that night I would trust, and coming home I put the bag under the seats. I am surprised that all the blankets I’ve used in India are wool…. And I’m terribly allergenic to wool. Fortunately my allergy meds are working… otherwise it would be challenging. Surprisingly I use blankets at night.  Because of all the rain, the humidity has been quite high and the A/C helps moderate this. (more…)

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India: Karur Workshop

Friday:

Village children

Village Children

Am back from Karur. We arrived in Chennai at 5:45 this morning, having taken the  night train. I have now truly done India. The trains are interesting. We had “first class” seats,  that is, the  A/C so better than in second class which has open windows and no fans. I was pretty uncomfortable fist night, and better the second. One sleeps next to whomever (well, there were 3 ft separating us…) so…. the first night I slept with a gaggle of women. The second night Subashini and I were the only women. This felt okay – not scary, as the men were respectful and kind. So I slept. (more…)

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fishing village, chennai

Fishing Village, Chennnai

Eric’s  project with the fishing village is very interesting, and sad. Eric’s project involves having the villagers tell their stories about their way of life in order to help them make sense of what they have as a village. He says the government has little interest in helping to maintain the village as the people contribute little to the economy. Also, as the people go out in their boats (rafts and small junkets) at one in the morning and stay out til 5, the government wants no responsibility for their whereabouts or safety. Also sad are the strange and mysterious fires that occur, that burn down whole sections of the village and leave people homeless. I find this an important project as he wants to help them maintain their way of life. (more…)

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Standing at the beach with Magdalene, my trip coordinator

Monday,

Here is a picture of Magdelene, my trip coordinator, and me standing on the beach. The Bay of Bengal is in the background.

I am writing from an internet cafe.  After much walking, I met  a wonderful young woman who helped me find it. This involved turning around and going in the opposite direction, then traveling on an open mini bus. After mangling my euros and ruppess in a rather embarrassing  manner, I managed to get on the bus and we rode to the internet cafe. The streets here in Chennai are noisy. I find I miss the bells of the rickshaws that I heard in Bangladesh, as they balanced the constant honking that goes on. I’m not sure what happened to rickshaws here, or even whether  rickshaws were ever such a big deal here. (more…)

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From Chennai

Chennai, India, Sunday, November 8

I am not in the hotel I anticipated, and am frustrated around communication issues. I tried to call home last night, but the onesuite.com access number is missing important local area code numbers. Michael could not call me, either.  So since I’m in a hotel with no internet (even the front desk is lacking internet),  I am unable to organize this aspect of my trip. Frustrating too,  since I promised a blog and now it is not easily forthcoming.

My hosts are taking great care of me. Their two year old is sweet. In India children are considered gifts of God and essentially allowed to run amok. So in a restaurant she was screaming (joyfully) and running around; no one batted an eyelash!

Had dinner at a local luxury hotel (NOT where I am staying!!). Wonderful buffet! Lots to choose from. Very elegant.

Has rained and rained.  So much! Often times torrential. Much flooding in the part of the city where we are. They had to use sandbags to keep the hotel from being flooded.

No rickshaws here- Maybe all of India- seems it has been deemed inhumane. Curious. Yet, the caste system seems alive and well, although it is not a spoken of much spoken as it is painful for people.

Had to change rooms last night as the room I was in was not very pleasant and the air conditioner made a huge racket. Room I’m in now is much more pleasant and has a balcony I can stand on. This room even has hot water if you wait long enough.

I am very safe and well cared for. I am going to Karur on Tuesday with someone who I met yesterday (One of Magdalene’s counselors) who seems very sweet.

Sun is coming out!!! I opened windows to let some outside in. A bit humid but not too bad. I think I am going to a storytelling workshop one of my hosts is leading and then maybe a little tour. This will be nice, given the rain we couldn’t get out much yesterday.

Jen

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So tomorrow I leave for India. Not an insignificant experience. By the end I will have traveled about 36 or so hours to get there. Although a long flight I enjoy the weirdness of crossing many timezones and  being in another world. One day, in the cool air of Vermont and the next, in sandals and Shalwaar Kameez trying to stay cool enough…

It is always interesting to me how time manages to fly- It didn’t seem so long ago that Magdalene and I were hatching this idea, of my coming to teach back in April and here it is November already.I come bearing gifts of  art supplies, books and articles to share. It is very interesting to me though in my travels to Bangladesh, in how many ways I feel enriched and gifted. And in general, I feel this about doing my work. It is a joy to be able to be present for a persons story and to receive it, transform it with improv and spoken word and give that back. I am definitely doing the work I love.

I start by doing a series of short workshops about Playback Theatre. Two will be for University students (in different universities)one organized by Cryil who studied at the Centre for Playback. and a third away from Chennai, in Karur, a 400 kilometre train ride into a more rural area. That will be a 2 day workshop working with Christi, who  also came to the States to train in Playback. She is working to create a Woman’s Movement and uses theatre as a method of collaborating and understanding of the needs of women.  Then, I come back to Chennai, and do a  a 5 day training in using the arts as therapy. In between a day here and a day there to rest and see the sights and buy more art supplies!!!I do wonder what I will find in the stalls.

So while I am away, I will write and let people know alittle of what is going on. My husband Micheal has lovingly agreed to help update the blog. I will say that although I go alone, these trips are made possible by many! And I am very grateful to all who have helped me to be able to go.  So with that I will go now. Peace and Blessings, Namaste!

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