The Taj Mahal was, as expected, also very World Wonderous. I decided it’s the most beautiful manmade thing I’ve ever seen (most beautiful non-manmade were the Andes mountains & glaciers). It (apparently) looks exactly the same as when it was first built 400 years ago, and the white marble looked so amazing in real life and also reflected in the pool in front of it. All the colorful designs in the walls were made of real gem stones, and are opaque when light is shone on them. Also we watched the sunset over the Taj and the whole thing turned from white to gold as the sun was setting.
The kite festival was awesome! Mara and I flew some kites on the roof of our house with our host brother Tanu (well, he let us hold his kite for like 30 seconds before it got cut down and after that we just watched him fly kites and that was cool too). He had bought 40 kites for the two day festival, so that was pretty crazy. The Kite Festival is basically a game that the whole city plays together, where you try to cut down other kites in order to make yours the highest in the sky. Your neighbors are (usually) your allies so they won’t cut down your kite but other that than it’s kind of a random fight. Kite battles got super intense, and the strings are made with glass shards, so it was easy for kites to be cut down once the strings came in contact. We went to another rooftop in the middle of the city where kites filled the whole sky, and (unsuccessfully) tried to fly our own kites, but it’s really hard to get them up into the air with barely any wind and no space to run to get it to fly. We tried throwing each other’s kites up into the air and over the side of buildings (Mara’s kite hit me in the face and gave me a black eye…) and tugging on the strings, but it’s a super complicated process that takes years to figure out (or maybe we were just really bad at it). The kite battles were also so amazing since the lines you’re fighting with are basically invisible in the air, but people learn to tell where a kite is coming from by its angle and the wind and basically magic. Also after sunset there were tons and tons of lanterns that were sent up from houses all around the city and fireworks all over so that was fun too!
We also had a sari workshop. Two of the translators that work in the schools with us brought some of their own sari’s into the volunteer office where we have seminars every afternoon, and we got dressed up for the afternoon. It’s amazing how complex the act of putting on a sari is and how much effort the everyday outfit requires. Many women that I’ve met and seen in India wear a sari most days, but a lot of women also are now wearing tunics and pajama pants (that’s their actual name) that are also super colorful (I own a pair and they’re blue and they feel like you’re wearing a cloud). Also I dyed my hair with henna and it turned out strawberry blonde-ish for all of four days but it was fun while it lasted.
We have another week of teaching and we’re also working on Media Projects for India. Mara, Kristen and I are interviewing some of the girls living in our house and other women we’ve met in India, and we’re making a video about what it’s like to grow up as a girl in India that we’re calling Girlhood.
It’s kind of surreal that we’re leaving Jaipur in 6 days, but I’m excited to camel trek in the desert!