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Thursday, February 9, 2017

A visit to a Pushpa school--tbr

January 12, 2017  

On the first Friday of this year's India trip,  we make our first visit to a PUSHPA evening school (only in this case the teacher, Sudha Rani, cannot come later in the day, so the Medikonduru Pushpa community has agreed to send their children for sessions in the early morning. Sudha Rani has been with Pushpa evening school here for six years.  She is a business student, currently studying for her MBA in a town on the other side of Guntur.  Quite a commute, to look after our school as well!

The sky is pink, foggy and polluted as we set out after a snack, at 6:30 in the morning. After a mile or so of narrow neighborhood lanes, we have to drive over, then around and through a tunnel under a highway overpass, much like the I94/Hennepin/Lyndale interchange in Minneapolis. We enjoy a three and then two lane highway both directions for most of the way, with little traffic. Trucks are fueling up at a series of gas stations near town.   Gray dust coats everything as we descend another bridge into the quarrying town of Pericherla, where a pair of gray hills on one side has been chipped in half by stone cutters over the years.

Cotton and chilli fields are interspersed with huge cold storage warehouses.  The scraggly branched cotton fields look harsh and unforgiving. Acres of harvested chillies redden the ground where they are laid out to dry before going to market.  The approach to Medikonduru is over a brand new, low, two-way bridge over a narrow stream. In the past cars have had to wait to cross one direction at a time,lone car at a time.Today's passage is seamless. That we are entering  Medikonduru town proper, is recognizeable by narrowing of the highway, walls of older homes literally sitting on the edge of the road, (nor uncommon in lanes of cities and town, but this is a national highway!).This part of town, where wooden doored walls flanked by narrow ledges,( 'sit-outs'  in lieu of verandahs), line the edge of the road let us know, every year, that we are in Medikonduru.. A few older residents hjunker down  on narrow stoops just outside their gates, with cars passing by a few feet away..

Then the roadside opens up, and we pause at a pair of tall  crude concrete posts with a sign announcing the name of the neighborhood where our community lives.  We turn into the narrow concrete lane which people use freely as though it were part of their yards; children at play step aside, a man calmly rises and moves his chair out of the way, other neighbors sit on their steps and chat. At the foot of a surprising sharp-angled dip, we cross over a murky sullen stream where two women are washing clothes. At the intersection of another narrow concrete lane, which looks impassable for our crv sized vehicle, our driver deftly turns, inching methodically forward and backward as I try not to look fearfully into the open drainage along the compound walls  and drops us off near the government school where Pushpa children are gathering on the verandah. We walk unsteadily up a stony incline; neighbors' are ready and willing to help anchor our steps.  Chairs are brought for us to sit facing the children seated cross-legged on the slate, verandah floor.  It is chilly.  The school is locked.  Two chalkboards are painted on verandah walls.  

The teacher, Sudha Rani, has not arrived yet, but children from four to about ten years old form rows, sorting themselves by class (grade) as they come. Franklin quizzes some of the children to test their knowledge.  They are shy to answer.  But when Sudha Rani arrives they scramble up to exclaim "Good Morning, Teacher!" as children do in classrooms all over India.  She nods; they sit.  A pair of students, groomed and readier than many of the children who've come just as they are, presents us with a pair of paper flowers.  We wonder how they knew to be ready with them; Sudha Rani said they knew we'd come some time this month. This boy and girl are a bit more awake for, and forthcoming, answering, simple introductory questions: What class are you in?  What's your favorite subject? Are you getting good marks (grades)?

Franklin leads a lesson in question words, who, what, when, where, why with painfully elicited responses from the students.  (After two or three attempts in different schools and the teachers' meeting in February, we realize the TOEFL process has to proceed, for all classes, not to mention teachers, at the most basic level.)

On a little rise next to the verandah, a family has set up housekeeping in a blue relief-issue tarp hut. They are just waking up. A toddler walks forth; gradually at least three generations.  The child, about three years old, stares.  Two lambs, one snow white and one coal black, climb up, then tentatively test and step down with cute awkwardness, on broken building stones tumbled between their small yard and us. A man, perhaps the father, dressed in a banyan and lungi, emerges, and appears nonplussed. The adults all go about their business apparently unperturbed they are 'on a stage' for us as much as we might be for them. Only the three year old stares, as three year olds are wont to do..

I read a story of 'The Town Musicians of Bremen" to the class, translating as best I can, with Franklin assisting, Sudha Rani quietly prompts and corrects us and the children when we're stuck..  It will take more than one reading, and I promise to come back and re-read it with the children repeating (yes, by rote, as it is, like it or not, the commonly accepted practice in most Indian schools.) after me the next time. (A promise, unf. not kept, this season.  Next December, perhaps?)  I give the book to Sudha Rani to review with the class when she has time..  We need to liven things up.

Given the morning chill, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" is a welcome exercise, for us adults as well as the children.  We review the names of the relevant body parts. Now all the children are quite awake and attentive. (Note to self: Never depart from starting out a visit with lively interaction. Get husband to be on the same page.  Each of us tends to be direct, though in our own individual ways, himself with interviews and direct instruction, myself with stories and songs.)

Sudha Rani shares a sheaf of drawings by the children. She'd provided the paper and colors on her own. We expressed our appreciation for her resourcefulness in stimulating young minds as well as on the individuality and quality of the children's work--flowers, a peacock, a house, national icons... Using a few children's drawings as examples, we do a  Q/A review of the question word WHAT , with their pictures serving as answer cues.

The PUSHPA motto:  "Helping People Help Themselves."

Note to blog readers: More about Sudha Rani at and after The Teachers' Meeting, a visitor's life in India, and THE WEDDING  in other posts after a week or so.  Travelling towards home, starting  tomorrow morning


Monday, February 6, 2017

At Dusk

At Dusk

In a bush nearby
there's a startle of sparrows
vying for space.
On a higher plane
there's a storm of crows.
Darkness descends.

     - Shirley Smith Franklin 2-7-17

Mark Twain, while travelling the world and writing to regain spent wealth, wrote an essay about the crows of India.  To be fair, crows are everywhere, but there's a much greater variety of birds, ranging from the bright green 'chiluka' (parrot) to the sober colored 'guvea' (dove), with an equal variety of calls, tweets, and trills and throbs.  I strain to catch a glimpse of birds other than the  crows and sparrows which are most in evidence, and to characterize their sounds in words, with little success thus far..

If anyone can suggest an audio review of Indian bird names and sounds, please send it to me on FB.
And thanks in advance!




Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sankranthi, a Harvest Festival

On the heels of the new year, just as schools are gearing up for classes and/or midyear exams, along comes the festival of Sankranthi, part harvest, part religious, part zodiac and sun- related.  Wikipedia says it's the only Hindu festival observed according to the solar, i.e. fixed date, calendar.  Occurring every year on January 16th, 17th, and 18th, Sankranthi has a separate name for each day's observance. Although different communities may divide it up differently, they are, approximately: Pongal, when a sweet rice pudding also called pongal, is served to family and neighbors; Makara Sankranthi, and Bhogi. The observances and names vary a bit from state to state. You can find them further described at: http://www.pongalfestival.org/the-harvest-festival.html

Traditional festivities at this time of year bear resemblances to art fairs, sand painting, rodeos, country fairs, midsummer celebrations, and, of course, the ubiquitous emphasis on food specialties associated with the season. At Sankranthi time,a  housewife or helper will elaborate the muggulu, or usually simple, white powder designs arranged on freshly washed ground before a house or gate: For a week or so, you can drive along a virtual 'gallery' of bright colors, floral and geometric designs created fresh every morning, right on the street.

Evening news on TV shows animal rights activists protesting cock fighting (and betting) and bull baiting 'sports' practiced especially in rural areas, at this time.  Though cock fighting, where roosters are set to fight each other, is illegal, it is carried out anyway, even blatantly pictured and reported in news media.  Jalli Kattu, or bull baiting, especially prevalent in South India, consists of contestants vying to ride or tame a bull in order to win a bag of money tied to the animals' horns. Inevitably a bull runs amok, causing panic and sometimes injury amongst the crowd of onlookers.  In Tamilnad, the state south of Andhra, it was temporarily banned this year, but the resultant public outcry ("It's an ancient tradition!" "The bull is not really hurt, it's the contestant that risks everything..." ) and massive demonstrations gained a reprieve for people (not the bulls, sorry) this year.

Here and there someone burns a log at night in the street on Bhogi. Neighbors enjoy a reprieve from mosquitoes for night or two, thanks to the smoke. Meanwhile, streets and shops are thronged with shoppers taking advantage of Sankranthi sales.  An auspicious wedding season will begin and last for a few weeks after Sankranthi.

A caste based welfare society takes over a nearby schoolyard and installs painted styrofoam pastoral scenes next to a stage where speakers and an occasional singer hold forth for one evening and night. Though their amplified voices dominate the neighborhood airwaves, a periodic burst of drums overpowers even those. Neighbors and guests come and go.  Outside the gate, a billboard sized sign features a prominent member of the group, and invites one and all to a 'community' meal.

Two groups of costumed (well, one group's costume consists solely of a white lungi covering the lower torso and legs) drummers alternate with each other, processing guests to and from the gate. Robust young men of the white-clothed group stroll, beating vigorously on long, rich toned drums slung at the waist.  The bright blue and yellow clad group of slighter build, circle and bow with a backwards/forwards/sideways step, all the while beating large hand drums which they raise and lower as they play. Conversations crescendo and/or pause until the enthusiastic noise abates.

Feeling like gate-crashers, but welcomed by drummers and a couple bulls brightly caparisoned and bowing near the entrance, we wander into the floodlit venue to see what's up.  There are hundreds of chairs set out, with only a few dozen people seated to hear the speakers and singers.  The nieces and nephews pose with the decorated animals, and donate a few coins to costumed alms-collectors bearing copper alms pots on their heads.

It's late, and we turn toward our apartment, just three doors down the street.  An event host catches up with us at the gate, and implores us to stay and take part in the meal.  No, thank you, we've already had our dinner and an anniversary cake, and it's time (at least for us older folks) to retire; we demur. My husband pauses to chat with the greeter for awhile. They compare names of acquaintances likely to be members of the sponsoring group. We take leave, thanking the greeter again for the invitation.

Soon after reaching our apartments, a fireworks display begins, bursts of color against the night sky.While viewing them from our balcony, I see that a scuffle briefly holds forth just outside the gate of the event, but it is soon calmed down. Cars park along the street for a block or two on either side of the gate; guests continue to arrive and depart until midnight, when the strong lights and the highly amplified sounds fade into the darkness at last.

Sankranthi being generally celebrated as a harvest festival, a more subdued observance is also conducted in Christian churches.  I'll be travelling homeward next week, when the program is scheduled, but remember our neighborhood church's harvest festivals from the past. The sanctuary would be decorated with stalks of grain or sugar cane alongside the pews and offerings of produce at the front.  The church yard would be lined with booths featuring snacks and food items prepared by women's and youth groups, a health and wellness mini-clinic, besides the usual Bible, hymnbook, calendar and literature stall. Special speakers would come in for an additional worship service in the afternoon.

And we all have much for which to be thankful.



Monday, January 30, 2017

Sounding Boards

Though we manage a great deal of jet lag recovery, reconnection with relatives, and two visits to PUSHPA village evening schools, our first and following weeks in India this year are preoccupied with the run-up to the wedding of our niece later this month. Numerous discussions occur within and among the families, and the bride's father and her uncles meet daily, sometimes twice, to debrief and update. Although he disavows being 'in charge,'my husband, as the eldest member of the extended family, is the default reference for innumerable decisions: lighting, catering, menu, extended guest list, venue, groom-bride family get-acquainted visits. In other words, a sounding board. The others are 'point' persons for go-to information.

After we go for a lunch to meet 'the boy's' family in another town about an hour away, things seem to calm down a bit.  The visit is short and sweet:  We all tell teach other our names, prayers are offered, and a wonderful meal is served. On the way and at home, everyone has an idea and/or assignment to pursue, going forward: some shopping, some tailoring, some doing comparisons of vendors.

Meanwhile, we make village visits to touch base with families, staff, students in several evening tutoring schools which we sponsor. Here, too, my husband is the sounding board for teachers and our ngo staff.  He uses their interviews, and more with the children, to gauge the needs and progress of each evening 'school.' But more of that in other posts.

Then, the week before the wedding, things really start to intensify.  Last minute shopping and tailoring orders, and every little thing we think we need to have done suddenly seem to have become urgent business.  The bride, having so far politely deflected all attempts to learn her preferences, begins to show her mettle.  The uncles' suggested, modest floral church decoration idea is set aside in favor of a commercial one coordinated by her sister and brother in law.  This is something she has looked forward to. (It was lovely.)

We want to schedule one of the prenuptial events on a certain day. Though it inconveniences the host, our bride-to-be defers to her mother and aunts' new found rule that once these events begin, she must not leave the house again before the wedding: she wants her freedom for as long as possible! The event is postponed for a day.   She goes along to the jeweler to choose a set of his and her wedding rings.

We go shopping together for a dressy dress.  My idea is to make her  a present of something light and lighthearted. like her personality. She would have only a heavier ensemble because  "uncle said he liked (i.e. was impressed by) it."  Well, hmm, she will be living in Minnesota, hm, the dress will probably be practical there.  After alteration: She is smaller than the women's 'small' clothing size.

A saree is a more traditional gift for the bride, and, accordingly, our bride-to-be receives several. Not to be left without part of the ensemble, she promptly has each 'blouse piece' (which comes attached to a new saree), as well as the new dress, sent out to a tailor who keeps her measurements for reference. In all of this and the events to come, her best friend takes the part of a true bride's maid: being at her side, advising, errand running, accompanying, debriefing, just 'being there.'

Being a sounding board. A key role in a society where consent and consensus trump independence, and crucial to navigating neo-independently through the intricacies of multiple hierarchies. If you think this sentence is a bit difficult to untangle, well, welcome to India.  Daily life in the context of constant social complexities can certainly sharpen the mind...perhaps that is one reason that techies flourish here. And a reason to remind you that, even in the socio/political turmoil back home, yes, you can...



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wedding Plans and Preparations

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Our housekeeping has been set in motion, faithful Raghava and Pushpa at the ready, full and half time, respectively.  It's deceptively easy to slip into our daily routine, with them doing things we usually do for ourselves in the 'states: meal prep and cooking, serving tea (frequently throughout the day and when a visitor  drops in, which also takes place frequently), garbage and recycling, cleaning, laundry, transportation, and errands we don't even have to do at home, like taking washed and line-dried clothes to the iron g man, heating and filling a bucket of water for a bath, swabbing the floor daily with a disinfectant.

Sounds luxurious, right?  But it's common enough in middle class and/or joint families in India. Life can be hectic here too, but seems less so when there are at least pockets of leisure, with common tasks out of the way. More time is available for other things we have to do; we are able to make two village visits, the first week. (More in other blog posts to come.)

By the end of our first week of this year's winter stay in India, we have exchanged visits with five Gummadi siblings who are from the 'states, or live in town.  A sixth will arrive from the states next week. Lots of chattering and the opportunity to visit with a niece, still at home for the Christmas holidays with her fiancee' from the UK. But the focus soon turns toward the upcoming marriage of another niece. 'The girl,' as the bride is referred to here in India, lives in the U.S. but wants to have a 'traditional' wedding in the church she attended as a little girl.

The planning and preparation for our niece's wedding are elaborate, and need to be thoroughly vetted by various family members.  The stairs and elevator ("Please shut the door!" has toned down a bit since last year, but the mysterious voice inside the elevator still exhorts us, day and night, to be sure to leave the elevator available.) are busy as family members interact among the three apartments where most of the us are staying this year. The five Gummadi uncles in charge of the basic arrangements take to it with enthusiasm, conferring and shopping and vetting vendors and preferred procedures morning, noon and night.  Shopping is especially good because this is the season of a major winter festival (more of that in the next blog); stores are brimming with fresh stock and potential sales.

So what goes into this Indian wedding? The bride's and the groom's families each have their own idea. The groom's family comes from their town an hour away just to say hello.  Tea.  The bride's extended family goes to visit the groom's family. Lunch, along with a couple dozen of their relatives and friends. Protocols are fine tuned. What pre-nuptial rituals will be observed? Whose opinion or preference will prevail defaults to uncles and the couple's parents. When and where will the marriage occur? The couple being Christian, may ignore horoscope considerations, but family trees and customs are compared. The availability of church and reception venue are verified. Where will the bride and groom spend their first night?  The next several days before going on a short trip? Who will provide what? Each side prepares a list of don't miss items the other side should provide. Lists are exchanged. The bride professes no opinion on all of the above.  So far. Presumably, the groom, still at work in another state, does not weigh in, at least that we know .

Each side of the family designs and delivers (in most cases, by hand) a wedding invitation to family and friends on their side of the family. One of the men delivers our invitation to 'the boys' side.' They reciprocate.

I host an American type shower for the women of our side of the family to share the gift of memories and blessings on behalf of my Attamma (mother-in-law), the bride's grandmother, who was a remarkable woman, but no longer with us.  (MAJOR boo-boo.  I forget to invite Attamma's younger sister. I am ashamed of myself, but am counting on the sister to be more gracious than I. There will be other events)   We send the men off, and have a hilarious time playing shower games, then open our hearts to share fond memories of a Godly, and generous woman. Tea follows.

The same day happens to be the wedding anniversary of one of the uncles and aunties, as our generation is/ are known, so a cake is duly fetched from a bakery for an impromptu, obligatory 'cake-cutting.' For reasons of her own, Auntie disavows the celebration this year, so the joint family members all troop into her room to sing 'Happy Anniversary,' and share a cake and prayer anyway. Auntie is nonplussed.  Uncle is good sport about it all.

A sister-in law reminds her siblings to have a group photo, since one can never know when the seven will meet together again.  The siblings oblige.  Nieces and the sole nephew clamor and clamber over each other and the sofa opposite,  each seeking to take the best group photo. I lend extra led lighting to brighten the visage of  dark faces.  Hilarity crescendos, and the Anniversary Uncle suggests that we take it to the Sankranthi program being noisily conducted in the school grounds, a few doors down the street. There, costumed drummers play lively rhythms, welcoming and accompanying guests into the venue.

Wedding banns are announced in church on the first of two Sundays preceding the wedding. Then comes a lull of five days while conferring, shopping, and planning continue. Flower vendors are sampled. Decorators and designs are chosen for the reception venue: how to please and yet conserve. Dispense with carpeting over the grounds lest it wrinkle unsafely. Flower pillars to do double duty in church and at the reception. Caterers are interviewed; one is chosen and the menu agreed upon. Bargaining throughout, with an eye on the budget.  Everything seems to be more expensive than expected. But on one point, all the uncles and family are agreed: the meal has to be excellent.

A week before the wedding a niece and husband who live in the 'States host a rooftop barbecue for all of our side of the family. Strings of lights including several IKEA fixtures, (real) potted palms, and a boombox provide atmosphere, along with the evening breeze. (It was 90 degrees f, earlier today.) Dinner is served up from a buffet created upon the rooftop utility room stairs.

As we are getting ready to go up for the barbecue, the groom drops in to meet family who have not met him previously.  He seems open and down to earth. He and the bride-to-be have a brief opportunity to talk face to face for less than an hour.  Total time they've met in person thus far, a couple of hours. ("Introduced" by family contacts, betrothed in the presence of a few elders from both sides, they've been face-timing and phoning only for several months.) They go downstairs to wait for his car. After he leaves; we tease her for coming late to the barbecue. Her dad appears relieved that she has re-appeared.  "He's gone, for now anyway.  Good." We laugh. And the party continues with photo opps and Qubani ka meetha, a festive dessert of apricot sauce on ice cream, traditional in Hyderabad, the former state capital.

Later one of the uncles perceives an element of disrespect in that 'the boy' appeared. unannounced, however briefly, at 'the girl's' side's party before the marriage. I am taken aback. Was it disrespectful? With so much variation in expectation from country to country, family to family, and sub-culture to subculture, religion to religion, not to mention person to person, that I wonder whether it is ever possible to arrive at a common acceptability of manners. Times are changing, have changed since 'our day.' Our elders are gone.

Without them, we are new elders, brainstorming and comparing notes as we make our way through new times in old territories. A brief encounter at a party thrown by his age group peers (most of whom live in the U.S.) seems innocuous enough to me.  But I am the foreigner, the outsider, here; what do I know? 'The boy' lives and works in a more progressive Indian city.  'The girl' lives in America, but, being a dutiful Indian daughter, wants to have it 'the traditional way.'  But nothing is as it was, and, for sure, the Indian experience never turns out quite as one expects.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

He packed me a potato!

December 31

The old year ends hurriedly, distributing perishables from the frig, packing last minute items, tidying up, finishing laundry, snatching a few hours of shut-eye before the airport van is to pick us up at 4:30. Yes, that's a.m. My darling husband, knowing potato is my favorite vegetable, boils the last one whole. (Our anxiety over differing luggage allowances on domestic and international flights dissipates when our bags are checked in all the way from MSP curbside to Rajiv Gandhi Airport, Hyderabad.) Cold boiled potato tastes great while we await our flight, beyond slowly opening restaurants, at the end of the concourse. (Do you know potatoes are a good source of potassium, vitamins C, B6, iron and magnesium?  My argument in favor of a penchant for potato chips.)

It feels odd to miss worshipping in our own church for the fourth time in a month, this first Sunday in the New Year.  Illness, snow, and ice consumed three Sundays in December, and today, the flight. We simply thank God for blessings of travel, reunion, service, family, friends. I hate to think of being half a world away from our children, but even they are supportive of our going forth.  Wonders of modern communication: additional blessings, not so readily accessible even a couple of years ago. We can hardly wait for the next face time.

We travel to India via Orlando, where there is a seven hour delay; The airline serves sandwich lunches to us passengers as we wait at our gate under a glass rotunda, once again, at the remote end of an expansive concourse; and Dubai, where there is a ten hour delay: Immigration and security formalities in Dubai appear to be negligible.  Perhaps the Emiratis have found a way to conduct surveillance without appearing to do so. It certainly makes for a relaxed airport experience. Emirates staff in Orlando, on the flight, and here seem tirelessly cheerful, prompt, and specific about telling and listening to details and requests.

Two amiable young men waste no time taking us on a mile long wheel chair journey past endless seating and service areas, soaring silver striped columns, indoor palms and fountains... to a counter where our two seats, mistakenly listed on two different flights, are re-booked, and we are to await a bus. His flight, the earlier one, is already missed, and we are happy to be assigned seats, though not together, on a later flight. A few hours' rest in a pleasant hotel room and a leisurely supper at generous buffet refresh us for the shorter flight to Hyderabad, where the morning arrival 'formalities' are similarly seamless. What a contrast to the not-so-long-ago 'old days.')

Faithful Raghava, our driver, cook, and 'right hand,' meets us at the airport with the car, and we set out for Guntur right away. We stop for lunch at a large and bustling roadside restaurant mall with everything from served, sit down meals and a Subway counter (you heard right!) to ice cream and pastry shops. The four to five lane highway is only interrupted as we drive through the city just before Guntur, where urban clearing of ample lane space proceeds by fits and starts. But Raghava knows bypasses, and traffic is light, so our progress through town takes half the time it took last year..

Continuing on our way to Guntur, close by now, we chuckle ruefully as we pass a small parcel of land we'd bought years ago. We'd thought to build a small house in a housing development, planned for the area. Alas, highway widening precluded said development. Our government-appropriated space is now a turn lane near a twelve port toll gate!  Finally, we arrive home at mid-afternoon on Tuesday, the third. A half day 'lost' in the international time difference between India and the U.S.

Once a quiet lane of modest three to four room bungalows, our street is now blacktopped, and home to four and five story apartment buildings. Ours has ten apartments, half of them occupied by Fr. and his four brothers. Two brothers' families live there year round; they and two sisters' families meet to greet and debrief, feed and exchange curries with us off and on; the pace will quicken when another two brothers and some of their children also arrive from the states a week later.  One of the girls is getting married, and the topic of weddings is constantly on our agenda.

Sleep, blessed sleep, takes over for much of the rest of the week.  'Managed to stay awake for the quickening stream of family visits and/or meals, though. Occasionally a potato curry, even.  And chips! And of course, tea,'chai' style, two or three times a day.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Thirty and I'm Glad

May 30, but not published until June 4:  NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Thirty and I'm Glad

I'm glad I stuck it out to the thirtieth day of the April challenge, for several reasons:
...The participant's poem quoted is a ghazal, a particular poem form I try periodically to understand and create, the featured foreign poet is a Mexican woman--timely because we just happened upon the biographical movie, FRIDA, another creative Mexican woman, last night,
...because the challenge is to try my hand at a translation, the example being the bilingual blog of a gardener who writes in both English and German, a language I studied briefly in college and into which (language) I dip for mental floss on occasion.
...all interesting and fun to me.
...Oh, and I learn from the gardener's blog that the NaPoWriMo creator is named Marlene who, in her own introduction today, gives her email address for feedback; needless to say, I have some!  But, for now, just,  Good morning, and thank you, Marlene!

I understand Hugo Wolf's German translation-from-the-Italian poem, Auch Kleine Dinge, is in the public domain.  If this is not true, someone please tell me and I will remove it from this blog and the net. The translation from the German into English is my own.  I did my best not even to look at an
English version before I did my own.  My aim was to craft the sense of the thought into a new and fresh poem.  Hopefully I did so along the lines of intent of the original, which I have yet to see!

(poem pending further revision...)