shops in pune have been closed for a week due to a bandh, or strike, by merchants against a new tax. this made it difficult to purchase prizes for the friday contests in the survivor girl ukulele band project. but thursday afternoon i found a little shop that sells bangles, bindis — those little decorative dots that indian women put between their eyebrows, and mehndi — known back home as henna.
a faded, dusty, and exotic looking old bedcover shielded the little stall from the afternoon sun, and inside the closet-sized shop the walls were lined with colorful bangles. hanging from the pole in the middle were dusty strips of cellophane sleeves that held packets of bindi that caught my eye.
“kitna hai?” i asked, pointing to the bindi.
“five rupees,” said the shopkeeper, who then got up from the floor. “ten rupees, also,” she said, as she opened a plastic box that held the more upscale bindis. these had rhinestones and gold embellishments. ten rupees is about twenty cents in us dollars, so i splurged on a number of the dazzling packets of ten rupee bindis. meanwhile the shopkeeper opened a box filled with miniature bottles of fingernail polish. “ten rupees,” she said. “yes, please!” i thought to myself as i selected a number of the tiny bottles. “and mehndi?” “quick acting or normal?” she said. “normal. i’ll take five, krupya!” (please)
the next day i displayed the bindi and mehndi on the floor for my beginner ukulele class’s tuning contest.
the girls’ enthusiasm rose a few notches. “whoever tunes their ukulele the best will get to choose their prize between the bindis and the mehndi,” i said. “and next week’s contest will include fingernail polish!” as this was being translated, the girls grabbed their ukuleles and their pitch-pipes and scampered off to find a quiet space in which to concentrate. i’ve never seen them so interested in tuning.
unfortunately, for all that solitude, concentration, and effort the beginner class tuning contest was a bit of a fail, in that no one came even close to getting their ukulele in tune. on the otherhand, they were all very attentive during the post-contest tuning workshop where we went around to every ukulele and tuned it as a team. and later in the day i noticed one of the girls practicing her tuning. next week there will be a winner in that class!
meanwhile, in my more advanced beginner class, two of the girls did extremely well with their c scales, so two prizes were awarded in that class.
and later in my kitchen-girl class, the girl who recently burned her face very badly in a pressure cooker accident was able to tune two of the four strings on her ukulele and earned herself a prize. she was wearing blue, but she was tickled pink.
and here’s me with three of my first batch advanced beginners. these girls rock!!