Upon my arrival at the Harare International Airport on the 1st of November 2014 , I checked in at 1600 hour for my 1900 hour flight and anxiously awaited to embark on my long awaited journey to Delhi ,India. I stood with my head held high conscious of the fact that I was going to be representing my country, Zimbabwe as a cultural ambassador.
Seated making myself comfortable, despite the little delay in terms of departure at Zimbabwe’s premiere International airport we safely took off and found ourselves in Lusaka in less than an hour and then later on proceeded to Dubai. Bustling my way through the congested UAE airport, I advanced to the next gate and a couple of hours later, I found myself on route to India’s capital, New Delhi. On arrival I went through customs as well as health officials testing for signs and symptoms of the Ebola virus on arriving passengers and left India Gandhi International airport on a verge of exploring the world’s second most populated country’s culture . From the airport the driver took me straight to Delhi railway station where I met up with two other interns Jihad Ali and Melinda Madarasz from Egypt and Hungary respectively and together embarked on another 6 hour train ride to the ancient city, Jaipur popularly known as “Pink City”, where we were going to be working. A couple of hours later we arrived in Jaipur and tucked in at Janpath Guest House, our home for the next three weeks.
The next morning we all gathered downstairs in the dining room for our 1st official briefing from the Ryan School Co-coordinator who was responsible for our welfare ,Arvinder Singh telling us that we would be starting work tomorrow morning .We rested for the rest of the morning and later on that afternoon more people more people poured in from all over India to participate in the string of performances that we were about to start creating.
The next day in the morning ,we left for Ryan School Padmavati one of the two Ryan Schools in Jaipur we were going to be working with . As we got to the school we were introduced to Utkarsh Marwah the creative director of Ryan International Children’s Festival for Performing Arts , the very reason why we all were invited To India . We were given a short briefing on the concept of the festival and cultural exchange workshops and programs straight after we familiarized ourselves with our new working environment ,students and colleagues . During interaction sessions ,I took the opportunity to teach my new Indian students about my country through sharing various facts and statistics about Zimbabwe from the “famous Zimbabwean Bird ” to the story of our independence ,national flower to modern Zimbabwe ,Tourist destinations to traditional dances and cuisine . I also taught the children various traditional games ,from my home country which include Dudu Muduri ,Amina ,Mutserendende and more . Cognizant of the exchange aspect ,the children also taught me a couple of traditional and modern Indian dances which were not too different/similar to the one’s back home ,a clear indication of similarities between Zimbabwean and Indian Cultures .
As they say the ‘essence’ and ‘uniqueness’ of Indian cuisine is mostly on the spiciness of the food ,but I must say it was indeed a challenge embracing this fact after having very tasty Indian meals day and night which resulted in almost all the interns having running tummies due to the unfavourable spicy food we were all not used to . Arrangements were made on preparing special continental meals for us but there wasn’t much difference despite the effort . Interns including mself made alternative arrangements to buy some of the meals ourselves at cheap local restaurants so we could also have the food that we were used to .
Arrangements were made on preparing special continental meals for us but there wasn’t much difference despite the effort . Finding it difficult for my system to digest this exotic cuisine ,international interns including myself made alternative arrangements to buy some of the meals ourselves at cheap local restaurants so we could also have the food that we were used to .
Being one of the most ancient historic cities in all of India ,Jaipur has various temples ,palaces and forts that date back centuries ago. We took the opportunity to sight see all these wonderful places when all the work was done in the afternoon, these places include Hawa Mahal ‘Palace of the wind ` , Ajmer Fort , Nahargarh Fort ,Choki Dhani and lots more . We worked on a choreography entitled Vande Mataran where all the International interns and some of the children took part in dancing to India’s patriotic song called Maa Tujhe Salaam . I was honoured to have worked with India’s world renowned dance choreographer and director of Urshilla Dance Company , Bhavani Mishra who choreographed the dance piece which was the opening act of the repertoire that we had prepared for the concert.
After the concert , I had a free week in New Delhi to sight see some more but because of the cold weather I didn’t do much of that . Instead I was invited to do a couple of exchange workshops with Bhavini Mishra’s Ursuilla Dance Company where we spent the whole week exchanging dance styles from India, Egypt and of course Zimbabwe.
In conclusion I would say it was a very fruitful trip whereby I learnt a lot of Indian cultures and loads more and in the process meeting various people from all over the world that have a zeal for artistic exchange and collaboration for the betterment of Arts and Arts Education throughout the world .
I would like to express my deepest sincere gratitude to The Culture Fund of Zimbabwe for financially assisting me on my Indian cultural exchange quest and CHIPAWO ZIMBABWE Choosing me to take part in the programme .