Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend trip to Santiniketan

This weekend we took a train about 3 hours outside of the city to visit Visva-Bharati University.  It is an open air school founded by Tagore (a Nobel Prize winning poet and the most beloved artistic figure in India).  The concept for the school that he founded was that it would be a place where people from all over the world could come to learn together in the great outdoors.  He published an essay called "My School" which is available online if you are interested in all the details.  My favorite part is "When nature herself sends her message, we ought to acknowledge its compelling invitation.  When the kiss of rain thrilled the heart of the surrounding trees, if we had still behaved with undue propriety and paid all our  attention to mathematics, it would have been positively wrong, impious."

Just in case anyone was worried that our fair skin and odd accents weren't alerting people quickly enough to our outsider status, we announced it with our bus.  What is crazy about this bus (and all private coach buses in India) is that the driver and spotter sit in a little room at the front that is not air-conditioned while the passenger part is.  I don't think that I will ever understand the division of classes here.  In my school, the principal's office is the air-conditioned part of the building.

Although Visva-Bharati started as an all open air campus, there are now quite a few buildings.  Most classes are still held outside though.  I think that this was an administrative building.

A classroom of third graders (I think) learning English.  I was actually extremely jealous of the teachers ability to walk around the class as there is absolutely zero space for that at my school.

Sarah M. wandered away from the group and was instantly surrounded by curious students.  Even though it is a university, they also have nursery - Class XII on the same campus.

A group of 8th grade students working with clay.  This school has a strong fine arts focus.  Until 8th grade, every student has to take dance, music, art, etc.  Then after that they can choose an artistic medium to pursue. 
The awesome playground.  I was so excited to be out of the city for a few days and enjoying green spaces.

The woman in the pale blue sari was an administrator at the school who hosted us for tea and lunch and gave us part of our tour.  Sidhat (red shirt) was a student who acted as our guide throughout the trip.

Some of the girls who stay in the hostel were headed to the dining commons.  We were obsessed with the rainbow parade.

I liked this cow fountain.  Literally every foot there was some amazing ornamentation at the school.  I guess if you are churning out thousands of artists, your school gets to be the prettiest.

There were goats and sheep everywhere on campus.  It was hard to convince Drew that he couldn't take a goat home on the train with us.

Part of the visual arts section of campus.

A pig!!!!!  Loved it.

Many of the trees were adorned with fancies.  I liked these kites the best.  Those of you who love Baltimore, this school had so many features that reminded me of the Visionary, but I think our shiny museum could use some yarn kites like these.

We were attempting to imitate the carving behind us, but we couldn't get our act together.  Typical.

A sculpture studio for the college students.  They were all making Tagore busts.  Long live Tagore.

Our hotel rooms in Santiniketan might be a slight step down from  the Oberoi resort we are becoming accustomed to.  Needless to say, I was happy to return to luxury.

My bathroom for the night.  Needless to say, the showering with buckets was not awesome, but a shower was welcome  anyway after a day in the sweltering heat.  I am going to do a post about bathrooms soon (mostly for the education of Matt Johnson).  

Dan and I found this amazing sign proving our state's superiority, so we obviously took some pics of each other.

Farmland!  I loved being back in the country.

We witnessed many pick up games of cricket and football.  Some people in my group wanted to ask for a chance to play, but they were too shy.  I had no such desire to embarrass myself or engage in sweaty activities.

Caitlin read me some personal ads from the matrimonial section.  I am pretty sure that I didn't qualify to be anybody's bride, but I learned that it is acceptable to require certain degrees, pedigrees, and physical qualities in a potential spouse.  Caitlin had some experience reading the acronyms.  They were a bit more complicated than SWF, so I was impressed by her skill.

Part of the group with Sumanta who is our big brother/program  coordinator here in India.  We love him.  This is outside the Tagore bookstore.  We went here after we toured his museum and 4 houses.  Unfortunately our cameras were unavailable to us during our time in the compound.

The English teachers on the trip + Sarah S. minus John W. = awesomeness.  Of course we would = awesomeness even with John, but I wanted to add some math symbols for Sarah.

Dan and Janet bought some sweet local instruments at this adorable little instrument hut.   Sarah S. and I decided to become their band managers.  We named them Sassy Pants and Magic Hands.   Their first show title is Santiniketan Showbiz: A Tribute to Tagore.  They posed by his portrait (part of his Lord Byron phase - significantly less scary than his Rasputin phase).   We wanted them to walk the train strumming their new strings on the way home to make money to fund a trip for all of us next summer.  They wouldn't do it.  As their managers, we relented and gave into their artistic temperaments. 

Sarah and I decided to romantically split a Limca.  We couldn't even take a sip without dying of laughter. 

Sarah S and Sumanta at a magical little cafe in the middle of the woods.  I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the pavilion   It was straight out of a fairy tale.  I was super happy there especially with my lemon tea with honey.

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