15 October 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Kitale 2000

I spend a lot of time with the same people in Kitale...people that are in my photos, in my stories...but there are some people I have forgotten to share about...two people that I have really grown to love during my time in Kenya.

They are the owners of the Kitale 2000 bookshop. I have made photocopies there, purchased school books, helped price and re-stock the back; yet, somehow, I have never learned his name {though he calls me Alistair--an added bonus}, nor taken a photo with them. {I will remedy that problem soon...the photo, not the name, he can call me Alistair forever, if he'd like.}

On Monday, when I came in to the store, Deepa {the owner's wife} said she'd like to take me, Bre and Jordan to see the art she had done in the community center. She said it was done in flour, and would only be left on display until Thursday. She also said she knew that I like art. {I'm not sure how she knew that, but it's very true.}

So, Tuesday, we met her and her daughter {home on holiday from college} in the bookshop and they took us to the community center. As we walked around the room and looked at the unbelievably detailed and richly colored art, Deepa told us about their religion: Jainism.

The pieces were composed entirely of dyed flour, and made in celebration of Diwali. I could not believe how bright the colors were...I probably said, "That blue is beautiful!" about ten times.

The swastika is the "holiest symbol" in Jainism. It symbolizes peace and well-being. {I was glad when Jordan asked about this--he just recently completed a World Religion course--because I, in my ignorance, had never seen the swastika in any non-negative connotations.}

This is her piece. I wish the picture was a little larger so you could see all of the details...

While the mothers made their designs, they gave the children some paper to make art of their own. This kid is my favorite...he made a yellow submarine.
After walking through the prayer room, we were invited for Indian snacks and ice cream at their house {right around the corner from our compound}. She brought out plate after plate of home-made {from scratch} snacks: potato chips, puffed rice, flour swirls {I'm making up these names, clearly}. Jordan was in heaven because it was all completely vegetarian--and a little bit spicy. An hour later, very full, we said goodbye and walked home.

Yesterday, when I saw them again, they invited us to a tree planting ceremony on Tuesday morning. Their community center has purchased 5,000 trees to plant all over Kitale.

I can't wait to have a picture with them...they are totally my friends!

1 comment:

Julie Hibbard said...

Wow! How creative and resourceful they are to use FLOUR as an artform! They are all gorgeous!

I believe the Swastika was originally a 'good luck' type of symbol, as I have antique postcards that have the symbol on it with flowers and well wishes.
I believe the Nazi symbol turned that symbol backwards...you have to look very closely to see the difference.
All the food sounds yummy and I KNOW how much they love to cook for you!
LOVE his name for you, Alistair.
It's almost All Star!