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A 16th Birthday to Remember

So today was absolutely fantastic. Other than the fact that it was my 16th birthday, I couldn’t have wished for a better day. After breakfast, we all got started and helped paint a couple of the walls of Vatsalya’s school building. Some of us painted a white wall and others a yellow wall. No matter how careful we all were about not getting paint on our clothes it happened one way or another. After 40 minutes of painting we all went back to the room and got ready to go out. We had a full day ahead of us and we were all ready to get started! 

We all piled into the bus and headed off to our first stop, Amer fort. On our bus ride up we got our to exchange money, but as we were, elephants started passing us. People were riding elephants up and down the streets and we couldn’t stop looking. They were beautiful! We parked and started the hike up. It was about a 15-20 minute walk up the stairs and it was not easy. With both the heat and people asking if we wanted to buy things, it was definitely one of the harder walks that I have had to do. After we got to the top, we got our tickets and walked in, of course stopping to take a group picture. The fort was beautiful! It sat on the top of the hill overlooking the town below along with a small lake that sat below it. We all made our way to the side of the cliff under some amazing archways and took some pictures.  Don’t worry parents, you will get to see them all. Once we had finished with our small photo shoot we made our way through the rest of the fort. There  was a beautiful garden along with what I thought was like India’s version of the hall of mirrors. It was a very intricate set of archways, walls, and ceilings. It was made of glass and mirrors that reflected every ray of light that hit it. We made our way through the rest of the fort and out the back. 

By the time we had made it out we had all reached the state of hangry and were in need of food. But it was not time for food yet. We walked down the hill and to the Anoki museum. This was a museum of block printing, the amazing and very difficult art of both carving blocks of tike wood into perfect designs but also using the blocks and printing a design on fabric. We watched a demonstration done by a man that had had 40 years of experience under his belt in the art of carving the stamping blocks used for printing. He carved a perfect flower in a matter of minutes and passed it around. Once we were done with the museum we walked to the next building over to wait for the rickshaws that were going to take us back to the bus, and now that we had waited for so long we couldn’t wait for food anymore. We all sat around a table and ate a total of I think 8 bags of different chips.  Once we had stuffed ourselves with chips we got into the rickshaws and made our way back to the bus. 

After about a 30-40 minute bus ride it was time for lunch and a little shopping, and oh yes, some of us bought gifts. I know I did. Anyway, we went to a small coffee shop before we went shopping and had lunch. I know that I have missed some American food and I have been here for only a couple days, so you can only imagine what the other girls did when we got fries. Everyone was so happy and excited to have a familiar food. After lunch and a little tea we headed out into the market to look for either gifts or stuff for ourselves, and after a while we were all back on the bus headed to our next stop. 

The 45 minute bus ride went fast and was filled with beautiful sights like temples and palaces. We soon got to my favorite part of the day, Chokhi Dhani, and little did I know, I had a surprise coming my way. Anyway, we got in and headed straight for the camels. We all got partners and I got partnered with Emma D., who said she was scared and asked if we could go last in line. Of course I said yes but when we came back from our ride I had a cake waiting for me. They all sang happy birthday and I cut the first piece of cake. After we had washed the camel off our hands and ate the cake, we split up and headed off to the markets. We spent the next hour before dinner shopping for gifts and tasting the food.  After we had our free time we met up and had our dinner, which most of us had trouble with, myself included. Everything we were given had a spicy kick to it but being the person I am of course I tried everything on my plate at least once. This meant that the people next to me kept asking me to try the new foods first to see if they were spicy, but by the time we had gotten all of our food my mouth and lips were on fire. By the time that dessert came around, the tingling had stopped and most of us were able to enjoy our dessert. After we had gotten all ready we hopped back on the bus and are now heading back to Vatsalya. I can’t wait to see what we do tomorrow but I also am in desperate need of a good night’s rest. 


Ava Thompson 21