Leaving what had become extreme heat in the rest of India, we run to the hills! Darjeeling is not like the rest of India, it is beautiful in a different way. The people are much more relaxed, nothing like the daily harassment of Varanasi touts. For the first few days our surroundings are covered with cloud, but then first clear day comes and the view is breath taking, the enormity of the hills around us leading up to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas made me feel very small. Its 2130 metres up and for the first week we’re getting out of breath just walking up the stairs from our apartment, serious altitude training! The Incessant horn blowing of Indian motorists is still a constant however .
Meanwhile we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Manish from Varanasi, he has been taught by PWB for 7 years at the Asha Deep project. Now it has been made possible for him to come and work with us in Darjeeling, it’s a very exciting prospect for PWB to have a national involved in a project with us and has been several years in discussion. It’s a big step for PWB perhaps an even bigger step for Manish.
After a few days of acclimatisation workshops begin at Edith Wilkins Street Children Trust Foundation. It’s a steep thirty minute walk down from our apartment to the foundation, arriving out of breath and sweaty the kids are delighted to see PWB again, it’s the highlight of their year. We play some games and the kit comes out and off we go, they are a pleasure to work with and keen to learn. Some of the kids have a performance coming up at a meeting of NGOs from Darjeeling area that work with children its just over a week away and they have an act prepared but need some extra polish to make it sparkle!
The day of the show comes round and we all jump on the EWSTF bus to Kalimpong, a mere four hour journey along some scary mountain roads! The journey is great fun, singing Bollywood pop songs and nursing the little ones suffering from travel sickness. We arrive and the sun is beating down on the sandy sports stadium where the event is taking place. The kids are on last and they are feeling the pressure, as their slot gets closer we can sense the tension from them. One last pep talk and they go on, their act is fantastic and the audience agrees. The programme finishes with a speech from the District Magistrate who highlights the EWSTF circus act as his favourite of the day! The kids and staff are delighted and we all jump back on the bus for anther four hours of songs and sickness.