‘Saappde vaanga’

6th August 2014

IR10B2P1

A collective village meal and a fun sit-down was the perfect way to round off a period of intense surveying and participation with all activities and sessions that we had organised. Since our arrival to the village four weeks ago, we have been invited over for countless cups of chai - traditional Indian black tea - and dinner meals of ragi balls, dosa, chutney and even chicken for the lucky ones. We organised to hold this on Sunday 27th July, a real yummy treat to the food lovers, and a real test to our effective cooperation as a team.

After team time in the morning we began to prepare the food and display our cooking talents busy cutting vegetables and cleaning vessels, we realised that we did not have enough stoves and vessels to use. Some of us were invited to use stoves at the homes of villagers, who kindly also offered to help with the preparations after realising that the UK volunteers had no clue of what they were doing. After collecting some more vessels from our local kindergarten. The rest of us, innovatively, collected a few sticks and dug a hole and built our own fire pit stove behind our accommodation.

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The UK volunteers learnt a short Tamil phrase of 'Saappde vaanga' meaning 'come to eat' that proved very useful; we divided into smaller groups to walk through the streets to gather the people. After collecting teak leaves to use as plates, at around 5 pm our dishes were ready to be served and the villagers were keen to tuck in to the food, with all the tomato rice, vegetable rice, bonnta and pasta to add a hint of western cuisine. It was a live wash session as we all help the children to wash their hands using our tippy tap and soap, and arranged the three bowl system for those that brought their own plates.

Sitting on the floor in the middle of the street enjoying our food we were faced with the village animals returning from their day of grazing. Cows, goats and oxen rushed through our dinner party getting everyone on their feet to ensure that the animals pass through quickly with minimal droppings spread.

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To end the evening on another positive note, we organised a session of fun and games for all like the frog race, egg and spoon, musical chairs and much more; and of course prizes to be won. A successful session of 'tug of war' where the volunteers played against the villagers, expecting to win but were surprisingly completely trashed. For the women we had a smashing Rangoli design contest - coloured powder traditionally used to create amazing designs on the floors on celebratory days and festivals. In total, we conducted 6 games, which proved to be very successful in ensuring full participation and interaction between the whole community, and to get to know our team better.