UmmBo! The Last India 2013 Tour Blog!

                Ummbo! I’m not certain of the correct spelling, is a saying we here in the Himalayas have heard constantly, a saying full of meanings: excitement, amazement, awesomenessness, exactly what the PWB team have set out to bring.  One of my personal favourite UMMBO moments was whilst unicycling and having to jump a speed bump…UMMBO shouts an elderly lady!

Time has sped past and the project at EWSCT has come to an end for 2013 and subsequently the Tour itself. It has been exciting, amazing and awesome here…UMMBO! (I don’t often say Awesome but truly the scenery here, electrical storms, cloud shapes and beauty allow for it!) Working with the children for a month we have got to know some amazing characters, these children have often come from vulnerable backgrounds and it has been a real joy to witness them gain our trust and find themselves. The playground can be a tough space sometimes which is why the work here we have been doing is really useful, encouraging interaction and play with all the children, not just the older boys taking the space with football or cricket.

The last days in Darjeeling have been rainy and full of goodbyes, it is a really special time having spent a month in a place (especially a small town like Darjeeling) it is now full of friendly, recognisable faces…Cake Lady!, Jaworge the Dog, Mr and Mrs Smiley selling Chai and Noodles, the Horse Boys, the Wool Shop people and Glenaries Tea Pots! We have prepared a gift to all the children…it is their very own unique PWB wrist band! A small memento from the team, the children absolutely love exchanging wrist bands, each team member has at least one, and so we have had 100 made for us by Mr Wrist Band Man another smiley face to add to the list. The next thing to prepare for is the Chowrasta Show!

The sun is shining as the team descends on its daily commute down to Edith Wilkins Street Children’s Trust.  A rough plan has been put together and this morning is the test run followed later in the afternoon by the real deal…The Show in Chowrasta, the main square of Darjeeling.  This show is all about the children, we have been waiting the whole month to confirm the date May the 4th be with you! (My personal joke), and suddenly it’s upon us.  The team decide to organise a parade from the centre up to the square, the morning is spent practicing routines…what an array of talents…Group Dance and Song, Hoop, Staff, Unicycling and Juggling, Poi with Flower stick, Unicycle/Ribbon/Plate /Yo-Yo mega routine, Diabolo, Clowning and a Hip-Hop Dance Battle!

Lunch is provided at the centre and then we eagerly prepare for our parade up the hill.  Faces are painted, props handed out and off we go led by Chez chanting at the front…what a noise, what a sight and the weather remains bright!  A 20minute march, followed by a few laps of Chowrasta Square and Darjeeling is well and truly woken up…the CIRCUS is in Town!Image

A few words are spoken as a huge crowd develops and then we start with a group song “I like the Flowers” a Chez special with actions! Anke has prepared a huge group dance to the traditional Nepali song of “GangNam Style” (These children absolutely love it??)Darjeeling doesn’t know what’s hit it…Hooping, Spinning, Throwing, Twirling, Cycling, Catching, Laughing and Crying!  A total spectacle!  I am so proud of the children and the whole team and what can be created when you work hard together!  From the PWB team perspective I’m doubly proud, we just seemed to work so well, each one of us concentrated on their group and created something special, to top it all every single one of us got on the microphone spoke to the crowd and encouraged the children, no mean feat!

Everyone is very happy as we start to wrap up the show, after a mega mad Hip-Hop battle with Si Beat-boxing and the rest of us attempting to hold the children back allowing everyone to have a go.  The Darjeeling weather starts to return to normal and the umbrellas pop up and the crowd heads for shelter.  Perfect timing, we are due to perform our show next but the crowd has gone and our energy is fading…we come to a decision to finish for the day!  The children are the real stars and it has been super to show the town what this amazing charity (EWSCT) is doing to help these children and others like them in the area.

The next few days we return to the centre for relaxed workshops and kit organising/counting.  The wristbands are given out, hands are shaken and cards warmly received, handmade by the children with very touching words for us all!  There is so much to reflect upon from our time with these children, it really has been special, all the team are sad to leave, I’m sure I will be back some day.

So many memories of the whole tour spring to mind: practice on the Beach, waiting for Carlos the Spaniard to arrive (Will he…won’t he?), train journeys, the noise that greeted us for our first workshop in Topsia, Kolkata, Kasba Girls home performing for us, Paul being chased by 20 or so children, Village experience in Fulbari, Varanasi festivals, Asha Deep show, Cycling along the Ganges River bank, Carlos and his deserts, shadow puppets in power cuts, the Himalaya, marching on an anti child labour march, performing and spreading hundreds of smiles!Image

Throughout the tour we have all had innumerable thoughts and feelings, living together, working together, eating together, being ill together, travelling together, performing together, crying together… Unless you have been on a tour like this it is very difficult to explain.  One lasting emotion or feeling that has permeated to all of us on the tour is the feeling of how very lucky we are: Not only lucky to travel to other places, to use our skills, to share our passion for circus, to give something back to those with very little.  Lucky also to share this with such talented and creative people, lucky to have gone to, be invited to, experienced sights that many travellers will never see… But above all this, that we are simply lucky that we have come from safe homes, with loving parents, we haven’t had to work from a young age, we have received an education and we aren’t concerned where our next meal is coming from.  Simple life perspectives gained or enhanced from doing a PWB tour!  Many of us will be heading home with thoughts brimming over…sometimes you have to leave to appreciate what you already have!

Here to finish is a song my Mother gave me for travelling:

One More Step.

One more step along the world I go,

One more step along the world I go,

From the old things to the new,

Keep me travelling along with you.


And it’s from the old I travel to the new.

Keep me travelling along with you.

Round the corners of the World I turn,

More and more about the World I learn,

And the new things that I see

You’ll be looking at along with me.


As I travel through the bad and good

Keep me travelling the way I should.

Where I see no way to go

You’ll be telling me the way, I know.


Give me courage when the World is rough,

Keep me loving though the World is tough,

Leap and sing in all I do,

Keep me travelling along with you.


    Thanks to all who have helped to support, contribute and think of us on this tour!  My travels are still continuing…wish me luck!

Andy PWB India 2013.

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