Day 14 & 15: “Naaah We’ll Walk”

As far as weekends go, we got the best of both worlds; plenty of adventuring, and plenty of napping and recovering. On Saturday we got up at 8 am to go to a community self-defense workshop at the Kalol Anganwadi. The workshop was open to both adolescent boys and girls. The workshop was led by three enthusiastic male trainers from Mumbai. When things got going, the girls and boys in the room split up by gender. The trainers taught people a variety of techniques, including proper pushing form, how to break free from a hold, and some knuckle move that hurts far more than you’d expect. More importantly, according to Urja Shah (the President of the Setco Foundation), the workshop sends a message to the community that assault will not be tolerated. Because the workshop took place in a hub of the community, the workshop was a community event, rather than an event for a collection of individuals. Thus, hopefully, the workshop had an impact beyond self-defense techniques and confidence boosts. In addition, Jon learned a few techniques that he’d rather not have done to him again! We are grateful that we were invited! After arriving back home in Baroda, we promptly passed out to try and recover from the week’s mental strains.

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Sunday morning, we got up at the usual time, but, instead of heading to the factory, we climbed aboard a car bound for Pavagar, the mountain that we drive by everyday on the way to Kalol. At the top of the mountain is a Hindu temple called the Maha Kali Munder. This temple can only be accessed by a flight of over 1,300 stairs… Or a tram. We elected to take the stairs. Two hours, ten bottles of water and Gatorade, 104 degrees Fahrenheit, many wandering donkeys, and a dozen refusals for photos later, we made it to the top of the mountain and paid our respects in the temple on the very top. Mitchell ran the whole way, and Erica and Mike ran part of the way, only to be told (after the fact) that it is slightly offensive for foreigners to run up the steps.  This was unfortunate, and we felt embarrassed, but it was a great workout. Because it was a Sunday, the mountain was very busy; we saw a woman crawling up all of the stairs and a group dancing their way to the top (having learned this exact dance at school the other week, we could have joined in, but chose to just keep walking). The entire way was lined with vendors, which was nice because their tents shaded the path (which, thankfully, didn’t keep Erica from making some serious progress on her Chaco tan). It was particularly interesting to see the booths where one could pose for a photo with a plush tiger and a background of palm trees.

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In addition, there were several men giving tattoos on the way (Erica resisted the urge to invest several hundred rupees in a tattoo from a stand on the side of the mountain. She figured that this is an impulse best left satisfied by a tattoo parlor in Vadodara or the US). On our way back to Vadodara, we visited a mosque and knocked another roadside hotel off our bucket list; lunch was at Hotel Savarottam.

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We arrived back in Vadodara only to pass out yet again (I think Erica may have mastered the four hour nap).

Toodles!

-Erica and Mike

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