“Since 2001.”

A serene smile lit her face as she said it.

“You have been manager of Child Haven since then?”

That smile again. “Yes, yes. Only me and 2 girls. When Prakash and I marry 10 children here. They cried at marriage time, asking where I go. We stay in village 1 night.”

“You marred late?”

She laughed gently, how I imagine Buddha might respond to a cosmic joke.

“My father was teacher, then principal. I tell him, want to work, get feet on ground before I marry. He accept my decision.”

“That is unusual, isn’t it?”

Doling out soy milk to the kids

“Not always usual, my father teacher, he say school first. Other village women marry, no work or school.”

“And how did you meet Prakash?”

She clutched at the gathers of her sari, laughing deeper, harder.

“Everyone say we are love marriage, but arrange marriage through friends. First year, come Priya, 5 years later, come Supriya.”

It was my turn to laugh. Even I assumed it was a love match, they were opposites who complemented each other very well.

“Auntie, time for washing [clothes], more chapatti?”

“No, no.. Oh Kavita, you work hard. Wake up 6 am, get Priya ready for school, helping other children, washing, cooking, you are so busy! Bedtime not until 10:30, 11:00!”

This time she grinned, one soaked in confidence, a sense of knowing where she belonged.

“Yes, but I like it.”

What is Colors of the World? When I set out on this adventure, one of my goals was to interact with locals, not just scratch the surface. Join me on these captured moments of cultural interactions. You might find insight. You could discover understanding. Or realize that whittling an hour away with a local teaches you more about a country than any guidebook could.