“Magic Bus, Magic Bus!!”

I woke up with that Friday Feeling, the one that always catches you by surprise after a long week and gives you that extra push to roll out of bed because finally – finally – it’s almost the weekend. Breakfast was a slow start; the early birds in our group weren’t occupying their usual tables and the only noises that morning were coming from our cooks in the kitchen, even the dogs who like to attack us on sight were calmer than usual. Which meant my handful of slobber was downgraded to a head-butt in the knee. I decided to eat my breakfast, some spongy idli with sambar and coconut chutney, by the pool before the days activities began.

Once everyone made it outside – and faking awake – Sarah broke down our schedules for the day. After splitting into our teams the morning would be spent on defining our overriding design direction based on the feedback we received from the previous days presentations and visits. The second half of the morning would be spent on prepping for whatever activities or survey questions we would need for our afternoon visit to Zuarinagar. For my group this meant we had to finalize the pilot session with Magic Bus and the kids from the community. Most of our questions and games were already decided on but we were concerned with the possibility of kids not engaging enough with what we had planned – whatever insights we brought back from this pilot session would decide our design direction for the rest of the program. Which meant the weekend vibes would have to wait for just a bit longer. We spent the rest of our time fine-tuning questions and making our activities more interactive to break the ice as quickly as we could in the short amount of time we had for the session. After a quick dip in the pool to cool off and a bite to eat we all headed out for the community visit.


We pulled up to our regular parking space and as soon as we stepped off our blue bus there was a group of children yelling out “Magic Bus! Magic Bus!” and waving us along to follow them to their playground across the road. We were expecting ten kids – there were at least four times that. It turned out we didn’t need to do much prepping at all. The kids started to hold our hands and ask us what games we were going to play and began to tell us how much they already knew about waste management. One of the younger girls was even swinging around a pair of nail clippers tied to a string. They were ready. The first half hour – true to Indian timing – was spent trying to find a spot to begin. We bounced from place to place until we found a small mandir to use as our home base. The next two hours was loud, erratic and went as smoothly as trying to control forty amped up kids in a small room goes. We managed to get the answers we needed but not expecting the kids to exhaust us as much as they did, combined with it being Friday…we unanimously (and non-verbally) decided to analyze our findings after the weekend. Besides – it was Bollywood Night!

Raksha – our tried and tested dancing instructor for the past two Design Abroad programs – attempted to teach us a dance to a song from a Bollywood movie we watched earlier in the week. Despite Raksha’s best efforts we only made it about a minute into the song and an hour of trying to get there.