This week has been a a little crazier than others. We started Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with an unexpected holiday from school because of a bus strike. While the students were probably jumping with joy – like we did in grade school on snow days – the 11 of us were very upset. With only a week and a half left in Bangalore, every school day is so precious to us! The Bangalore city bus drivers were demanding a 30% increase in wages from the government. Even though the school bus drivers were not members of the group on strike, the principals at the school cancelled school because they were worried about the safety of the children riding buses to school. DPS-North has 6,500 students and many of the students and teachers ride buses, so the school just wanted to be safe rather than sorry.
On Tuesday Sowmya ma’m (our coordinator at DPS-North and “mom in Bangalore” as Sarah and I call her) invited Jill, Sarah, and I to the ISKCON temple in Bangalore with her parents. ISKCON stands for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and there are many ISKCON temples in India and across the world, even some in the USA. ISKCON is a free temple and that also gives a free meal to anyone who walks through the door. Their food is made without any meat, eggs, onions, and garlic because they believe that it is not pure and your body should be pure for Krishna. Any leftover food they have at the end of the day they donate and bus it out to hungry children at low-income government schools. The first thing that struck me when we arrived was how beautiful the temple was, sitting high on the hill, glistening white with lots of decoration. We removed our shoes and entered the temple by stepping on 51 stones while chanting the mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare”. It is said that by chanting the mantra you are addressing and connecting to the god Krishna and his energy. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the temple, but even if we were I don’t believe it would have done it justice. The inside of the temple was breathtaking, especially the high ceilings that were filled with paintings from the episodes of Krishna’s life. I liked hearing Sowmya and her mom explain the stories to us. Her mom is incredibly knowledgeable about Krishna and even went on a 20 day tour visiting all the sacred spots of Krishna’s life! After the temple, Sowmya and her parents took us to lunch at one of the restaurants nearby. The food was so yummy and I was amazed as the restaurant similarly did not use eggs, onions, or garlic in any of their dishes! We left feeling full and happy!
I loved being with Sowmya and her family outside of DPS-North and getting to experience part of their culture with them. It was fun meeting Sowmya’s parents, they were so sweet! As always, I am very thankful for Sowmya’s kindness and for taking us to ISKCON with her family. I don’t know how we will ever be able to thank her for all she does for us! This week went by so fast and it’s very hard to believe we only have 4 days left of school. It doesn’t feel real to me that we are leaving so soon 😦 .