When I was in US for camp last summer, I heard that Kranti is being kicked out from our home and has to find new home. Since I was still in US, I asked one of the Kranti girls to send me photos. And you cannot imagine my shock when I saw the house! Because it was not a home, but actually it was a factory...a very messy factory. With falling bricks, broken cement….and no kitchen and no toilets! The factory was only 10 feet wide and 70 feet long, and we had two floors in our “home.” This is 1400 square feet for 18 people!!
When I saw the photos, I didn’t want to come home and I was really sad that when I will go back to India I cannot go to our old home. But finally I came to India and I half-heartedly packed my things to shift to the new house. Slowly, we managed to arrange all the things in our new “home.” And the more we thought of it as home and the more time we spent, the more it seemed like home. First, we girls painted all the walls really fun colours like red, blue, yellow, orange, etc. Some workers came to build the kitchen and install toilets. (But first we made friends with our neighbors so we could use their toilet!) But all of this work took a lot of energy and money, and sometimes we had to wait so you, our generous donors, could send money and we could instal one more sink or one more toilet!
Now, we have a long hall (classroom for yoga, English, guests, etc.) downstairs and the back room (10 feet by 12 feet) is where the staff sleep. Upstairs, the back room is the kitchen with a toilet and also the long hall is where we girls sleep. We think it is unfair that the staff have three people for one bathroom and we have 15 people for our bathroom. I guess it is a benefit of being so old and maybe one day I will be old and have my own bathroom too. :-/
My favorite place is our hall. We decorated the place with all things that people donated. Sometimes people donate things we cannot use like the drawers from old cupboards. So we try to be creative and do fun things like in our hall we hang many many drawers on the wall and fill them with books. It’s a great place to spend time, we all love that room. It is especially great for when people come to perform music or something at Kranti. Everyone loves the space and everybody who comes really admires it.
This experience making this factory into home really taught me very much. One of the things was that people make a home. Even when we lived in falling down bricks, we still had fun together. We had very much fun painting too! And most important of all, I learn that people OUTSIDE the home also make the home, like all of you. Thank you so very very much for helping us move to our new home. We did all the work inside, but it can’t be possible without you. And what is most amazing to me is that maybe a few of you people have met us Kranti girls, but the rest of you are just strangers and are still helping us. So all I can say is thank you sooooo much for supporting Kranti!
Krantikaris have been very busy all around the world for the last five months. I've been in Washington DC learning to play drums, Shweta and Kavita have been studying on the Semester at Sea program, some have traveled across India for TedX talks, giving workshops and now we have all joined together for the Lal Batti Express tour across the U.S.!!Five weeks ago, I remember traveling from DC to NYC to meet the Krantikaris at JFK International Airport to begin their theatre tour across the U.S. I was very excited to see them and to hug them as I had not seen all of Kranti for 8 months since I started studying drums at the Levine School of Music in DC. I couldn't sleep at all the night before Kranti arrived! When I went to the airport, I waited almost two hours and was thinking what will my reaction be? Will I cry? Will I be even more emotional? Then when I saw Shweta and Kavita, I went crazy and screamed and ran to hug them. I forgot all my worries and was filled with so much energy when I saw all the girls.I had know idea what the play, Lal Batti Express (meaning Red Light Express, in Hindi) was about and so I was anticipating seeing the play for the first time. At the first practice, I was shocked and a bit confused at what they were doing and we all sat down and talked about what needed changing. The play is about Krantikaris' lives and their experiences and hopes for the future. Seeing the girls perform was absolutely amazing!The girls had such a different reaction to New York City than I did when I arrived. I was shocked at all the buildings and how huge everything was but the other girls weren't - probably because we were altogether and they were exhausted from their travels! The best feeling for me was being back with all of Kranti after so long apart. The play is not all emotional and sadness, there are happy moments too. The audience contributed to the emotional part of the play. After each performance, we throw a ball around the audience and ask them to tell us what they are feeling or thinking and it really brought the audience and all of Kranti closer together.We spent a few days in New York a city then traveled down to DC. We had a few great performances, spent Memorial Day at some monuments and also visited a few museums while we were there. The next stop was Chicago. Krantikaris felt so at home with the energy and density of the city. There was so much going on and so many people, it felt more like home than New York or DC thus far. In Chicago, we played in the world's third largest museum which was a great experience. Watching the girls in the play is very powerful; they have so much energy and emotions. When I watch them, I feel so proud of them!One of the most amazing parts of each city were the Angels helping make our experience great and making us feel at home. People welcomed us into their homes and cooked Indian food for us, they drove us from place to place, sponsored meals and excursions as well. It had been truly uplifting to be given so much from people who only met us for the first time on this trip.We were stranded in Chicago an extra day due to bad weather so we landed in Salt Lake City a day late which meant one less day at Yellowstone. We saw many bison, learned about the springs and geysers, saw Old Faithful erupt and went river rafting on the Yellowstone River. Some of the girls were really afraid of the water but we all went and supported each other. We screamed and laughed a lot and most of us jumped into the river at slower points - even the Krantikaris most afraid of the water jumped in. It was a really amazing experience!San Francisco was our next stop and we were greeted by a new angel who fed us pizza dinner (we LOVE pizza!!) and we had a few performances - at Facebook and Google and some other places as well. Before this trip, we didn't know there was a physical place where Google and Facebook operated so it was really awesome to get tours there too! We never got a clear photo of the Golden Gate Bridge but we really enjoyed the windy boat ride out there and around Alcatraz!Next stop, our last city, was LA. We were greeted at the airport by another angel who fed us, boarded us, and also let us have some much needed rest too! We loved going to Disneyland - especially Space Mountain, Haunted House and Pirates of the Caribbean. We enjoyed the down time to form new relationships and strengthen old ones.The days have passed so quickly and none of us are thinking about the end of our time together. We are now in Sedona, AZ and will go the Grand Canyon to ride down on mules! It's been an unbelievable five weeks traveling and performing together and it will be so weird splitting apart from all Krantikaris again. Some are staying in the U.S. for different programs - Ashi and Sandhya are going to San Francisco for an English Volunteer program for the next few months. Shraddha, Rani and Sumaiya are all going to a leadership program in DC followed by summer camp in New Hampshire. Pinky is going to Outward Bound in Minneapolis. The rest of us are going back to Mumbai on Sunday.Stay tuned to see what adventures await Kranti in the future!
After taking drumming lessons for four months, practicing hard at one-on-one classes with my teacher, Andrew, and with my band led by my other teacher, Eric, I finally had my first public performance on 26 January, 2015! I played the rock drums to Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and Bonnie Raitt's "Love Letter". I also played the Bongo to "Strong Enough" by Sheryl Crow.
Before my concernt I was so nervous my hands were shaking. I had never performed before an audience before. I felt like I would forget everything I had learnt and just go blank on stage. But, when I finally went on stage, and the guitarist started the song, my hands automatically started playing and I actually had so much fun playing! The links to my videos are below, and you can see that I was actually having fun and just jamming!
The audience clapped so loud and whistled and cheered after my performance. I couldn't believe I had actually gone through all the songs and not made any mistakes. Not only that- I had actually improvised on the spot with the cymbals and done something new I hadn't done before! I don't know what happened- it just came to me naturally and I just played it.
Now, I am looking forward to my next concert at the end of March. However, I have had much fewer classes this time, as many classes got cancelled because of bad weather and snow storms, so I am nervous all over again.
That brings me to the snow- if you see my pictures you will think I loved the snow. It does look beautiful, but I have never been such cold weather before and I really found it difficult on the days the temperature went down to -14 degrees Centigrade. Even when I went trekking with Kranti in the Himalayas I had not felt so cold.
But now, the worst is over. This week I felt like finally Spring is coming. So, to celebrate, I went to Meridian Hill Park for a picnic with my friends and to watch the Drum Circle. Drum Circle was amazing! There were almost 15 people playing different kinds of percussion instruments and the beat was so amazing I wanted to start dancing! I hope one day I have confidence enough to join the group and play with the Drum Circle. I think I will make this my aim before I leave Washington, D.C.
In the next report, look forward to videos from my second concert!