Shanti Bhavan celebrates Children's Day every year on 14 November, Neru's birthday.
Our day started with a special breakfast of fried puri and spicy sambar. "Oh yes Mr Peter, breakfast was so tasty, so nice and oily!" Oily isn't an adjective that's often used to extol the virtues of a dish but I must admit that I felt the same way. Greasy, salty puri...mmm.
After breakfast we welcomed the children into the school building under a shower of petals and escorted them to their seats. Every child received a little handmade card and a sweet.
The show kicked-off with a telling of 'Peter Pan and the lost children of Shanti Bhavan'. Every teacher and volunteer had their part. I played the boy who never grows up for the first, and almost certainly, the last time.
Peter, Wendy and Michaela set off to find the lost children...
Peter finds his missing shadow and tries it on for size.
The evil Hook, played by the headmistress, Mrs. Law.
Yes, yes, I asked myself the same question. Why is Peter Pan dressed-up as a cabaret Leprechaun? More Blackpool panto than Broadway musical but the kids loved it. Take a look at their faces and you'll get the idea.
Peter Pan was followed by dance numbers, songs and sketches performed by the volunteers, teachers and aunties. Have I mentioned the aunties before? They are the backbone of Shanti Bhavan. Eight big hearted women who keep all 210 children clean, clothed, fed and loved.
All in all we kept the kids entertained for two and a half hours. I had to memorise a few lines of Tamil for a sketches i which i was being treated for dodgy guts by a singing doctor. You had to be there. The finale was a big Bollywood dance number. A couple of volunteers from Artists Striving to End Poverty choreographed a dance to 'Jai Ho', as seen during the closing credits of Slumdog Millionaire. The day was a great success, and most importantly, the children knew that it had all been put together just for them.
It's not all play. Lessons are going well. I'm really helping the kids get to grips with programming; they've come up with some pretty good games.
Less technical, but more fun, I've been teaching a few of the little ones to ride bikes. There are no stabilizers, so you have to hold the handle bars and run along with them 'Promise that you won't let go Mr Peter!' I'm also holding a weekly bicycle mechanics workshop. This week we're fixing punctures.
A beautiful visitor inspects my washing line.