From Stephanie

Sitting here in my apartment, on my quiet street in Kansas City, it’s hard to believe that just over a week ago I was in Mumbai, walking down Gulsh’s family’s lane, past the boys playing cricket in the street, beaming as they greeted us: “Hello-How are you-where are you from? Oh—very nice, do you have chocolate?? Okay tomorrow then!” Past the rows of motorized rickshaws and taxis, the open markets, the nariyal (coconut) stands, the corrugated tin dwellings, the temples, the occasional cow, or group of goats, or hand cart…

 Our last shows on the Andaman Islands were as diverse as the first ones. In a show for 800 kids we felt like rock stars! Every time we went near a part of the crowd they would scream and reach out for us. During the toilet paper lazzi the roll got into the hands of one of the boys—he threw it into the air and it got caught in the fan (a happy accident!)—a string of festive pink paper went round and round and the crowd, children and adults alike, went crazy! The show that night was for an orphanage of girls and boys. Our stage was in an outside courtyard, beautiful and lush with plants, on a floor of pressed dung. These children were very shy, but sweet and polite. Throughout the show we had a fourth player—their dog, who kept barking in response to our antics. We barked back!

 We played for a rehabilitation center for mentally and physically challenged children and young adults. One of our hosts told us that when they lost their old shelter, the head of the school moved it to her own home. After our performance they served us tea and we watched them perform for us! They sang and read poetry, told jokes, and did a hilarious comic sketch—the banana peel gag really is universal!

 We traveled on a ferry to a complex of temporary shelters for Tsunami victims called Bamboo Flats. This was the group that was, as Helga put it, the most “hardened” by what had happened to them. They lived in rows of neat, tin shelters–no windows, no ventilation. It was a diverse group; some had come from the Nicobar Islands, some from Thailand. Some were very shy—our host told us that some had probably never seen a Caucasian—others boldly approached us (“Hello-what-is-your-name!?”) and squeezed our hands. There was a chart on the wall that broke down the community’s population: 242 families, 903 people. Pregnant women: 3, nursing mothers: 4, Widows: 28…

 Overall, in this second leg of “Project Muskarahat” Helga, Gulsh and I played 10 shows for over 3500 people. The experience was full of color, laughter, music, screams, ocean waves and speeding cars, some sickness, some sadness, and much, much joy.

 Thank you to all who supported us on this journey. Namaste,

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