(I have a lot of work to do in the next few days, but I just had to post.)
On Saturday I cycled to the beach with some friends (this time I went the right way), and it was wonderful. So refreshing to float in the warm and gentle waves. Every day I watch the sun rise in the east, but today I watched the sun’s column of golden sparkle fade into the West. We watched tourists take surfing lessons and cheered them on when they caught a wave.
On Sunday Leonie and I went to the market to buy vegetables and other knicknack necessities. We took a long nap after lunch and then tried our hand at making a rangoli. We practiced a bit on Shelter’s inner terrace, then decided we were ready to graduate to the threshold on the street. Our initial few lines looked like the thin body of a papillon, so we decided to go with it. Little did we know that our amateur art project would create quite the scene.
Cars slowed, people pulled over to talk to us and take photos. One man said he had never seen foreigners do rangoli before. A family on a motorcycle pulled over and the mother showed us the proper technique of rolling the fine powder between your thumb and index finger to get perfect, thin lines. Another Tamilian woman stopped and wordlessly explained that one has to mix the colored powder with the white for easier spreadability. Previously we had just been winging it, not really knowing how to do it but not caring either. But then we started to really get the hang of it!
Children stopped to watch us color the butterfly with rich streaks of violet, green and deep orange. One man stopped to watch for at least half an hour, so enthralled that he wanted to join in and help. Not one to prevent any kind of creative expression, I let him sprinkle some green on the wings and antennae. His toothless grin at being included exuded pure, contagious joy. He ran off and brought back some bricks to protect our creation from meandering motorists.
Our rangoli creation was a bigger success than I could have imagined. After numerous warnings and reservations from others, we discovered drawing in colored powder was really not so mysteriously difficult after all. It was amazing to see how one step across the cultural gap by two people could touch so many others. This is what community building actually is, I thought. A little powder and some courage made all the difference.