In the morning, we left from Udayan to Ajmer and made it to the new HIV prevention center of Vatsalya, smack in the alley way of a main street in the city. Out in the main room, posters of cartoon condoms and HIV testing scenarios covered the walls. There was a little counselor room attached to it.
Instantly upon arriving, we were swept into the center’s celebration of India’s National Republic Day. Out on the rooftop, a long table had been set out with miniature Indian flags. There were a line of chairs covered in white cloths for the VIP guests. The Program Manager of the HIV awareness program insisted that I be introduced as a VIP speaker. Though I kindly turned him down the first few times, others insisted as well. Next thing you know, I was fully partaking in the event, no longer an observer. I conveyed my gratitude and honor for being invited to introduce Anchal’s new products. The women who were huddled together, seated out with their children, waved their flags in the air.
Once the event wrapped up, Santosh, Nita Shatan, Santosh T., Basanti, Anita, Soni, Kamala, Mina, Shanunkla, Natfisa, Koyel, Sunita, and Lakshmi stayed behind to start workshopping!
Dumgar-das spread out two blankets, and poured out the saris. Vandana spread out the prototypes of the scarves, and began explaining the guidelines. They listened carefully, asking questions here and there.
As they worked peacefully in teams, we set out some new color combinations, and started preparing the materials for tomorrow’s workshops.
At the end, the artisans trailed off and placed their hands together in “Namaste” as they passed me by the shoes. One said something in Hindi and they all laughed. I nodded and laughed too though I don’t know Hindi, and then one gestured “see you later?” with her hands, and I nodded and said “tomorrow.” She understood though she doesn’t know English.