It was a week long experience of watching new facets of Anjali unfold. We went to Sri Lanka to attend her cousins wedding last week and I was pretty impressed with the young lady and how she handled herself through the trip.
|The Young Lady and the Sea|
First up she was pretty clear on what to pack and what not. She decided to get her backpack with a set of her school books (she actually worked on them) and some other story books (and a bottle of ink!) and carried it all along. I am sure her bag had more interesting things too. She carefully made a card for her cousin Miskil and her groom Kabir and carried it all the way to Sri Lanka to hand it over to them.
On our stop over at Chennai where we met our old friends Anil and Lalitha, we went out to eat some Chinese food. I found it pretty interesting to watch Anjali specifically call Shobha and tell her to try something that she found tasty. I don't remember ever doing that - as a grown up or as a child. She enjoyed the late night flight etc and keenly watched the proceedings (why does my passport have my fingerprint and not my signature, can I fill my immigration form etc)
|Practicing her dance moves|
The most interesting part was how she came into her own at the wedding. Once we checked into the hotel she quickly got the coordinates of where we were and where the rest were and started going off on her own. I am going to the pool, or to the reception or whatever. I asked her what she would do if she lost her way and she told me how she remembered the way, the room numbers etc. She had a clear plan on what to do if she did lose her way. It looked more likely that I would lose my way than she.
I realised that she was pretty clear of being where the spotlight was. She was constantly with Miskil (the bride) or somewhere close to the action. Now I find it difficult to move from the fringe and was surprised to see her find her space, make friends, hang out in the spotlight without pestering me or Shobha. She probably figured that was better than relying on us. Sometime during the day they wanted everyone to do some dance for the sangeet and she jumped right in and wormed her way up front. At the sangeet she performed on a dance number with the groom and a couple of others on the stage and earned a nice applause. Then she found herself a friend who was close to her age and watched all the dances from up close. Not once in the evening did she come to the fringe where I was nursing my drink.
|Somewhere in the madness she was dancing away|
Some time after the sangeet was over the floor was open and everyone was dancing wildly to some Bollywood songs. Among the hundred odd people grooving on the floor was this little miss holding her own, all by herself and once in a while being indulged by a senior partner whom she outgrooved easily. She got her own food, her own soft drink and I was impressed at how well she was managing by herself.
The next day at the pool side party she jumped into the pool quickly with Sara, her cousin Malay's wife, and played pool volleyball with a bunch of adults. Now she just about kept her head out of the water and was bobbing up and down all the time to keep her nose out (and certainly was not strong enough to stop or throw the ball hard) but she played the game for more than an hour if I remember right and only came out when the rest of the adults did. Then she promptly filled her plate with some goodies and sat munching them with her new friends.
|The wedding on the Negombo beach|
In the evening there was a small flash mob surprise of which we were all supposed to be a part of and Anjali dove right in and did what she does best, dance away. The wedding took place on the beach and madam was all over the place, and only came to us right at the end. By now I was pretty certain that she had more friends on both sides of the party than I, and had learned many more new things about the place, about the hotel and how to get the best deal for herself.
|Sigiriya Rock - From the start point|
The next day, post-wedding, we proceeded to a place called Sigiriya Rock near Dambulla which is a monster rock to climb. I was not sure if we could do it because it was almost vertical at some places and most people were finding it difficult to handle it. But Anjali was determined to go right from the word go and told me as we started climbing that she would climb all the way up. Considering that only 5 of us out of 8 made it all the way up, it was a pretty commendable achievement. She held her nerve on the way down despite the strong breeze and walked down comfortably.
|On top of Sigiriya Rock|
The next day she wanted to go bathing in the sea. Then she wanted to go eat crabs in the Ministry of Crab. Then she wrote a letter to her friend Mansi and got herself a post card and made me buy a stamp and post it. And on and on and on she pushed her limits and tried a ton of new things. I was wondering if the child's zest for learning new things had faded a bit but after seeing her on this trip I realised it was only the environment that was to blame. In a new environment she was all set to try new things. Including eating crab and prawn vadas, for someone who is so finicky about her food, she relished the street food at Galle Face Green. While on food she also gorged on the continental cuisine at the hotel buffet. Not to mention trying out the new pool at the new hotel.
|Eating street food and feeding the crows at Galle Face Green|
She made friends easily with the shopkeepers, the cab drivers and waiters and they all would pat her on her head (which she detests). I cannot remember some of the other things right now but this was enough to impress me one hell of a lot. One confident miss.
|Heading home - Backpack and all|
I loved the way she stuck to the spotlight as if it were her own place, the way she danced till she got tired and did all that she wanted to. I am glad she didn't take after me in those aspects. She looks like she certainly had more fun this way.
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