Namaste! Thought it was about time I explained what we are up to every day. We start serving breakfast - a cup of sweet tea and rothi bread - at 8am. There is a mad swarm if there are extras left over. Not that because the people are still hungry, but the kids especially are so keen to have more and more, even if it's not needed, because they are so used to having nothing.
In the meantime, the lunch is being prepared. The team of rota'd on veg-choppers can turn up a bit later each day. The two Nepali cooks prepare lentils - daal - and rice (we get through 30 kilos of rice each day). We chop 35 kilos of potatoes, and 40 kilos of vegetables. These are cooked in another enormous pots, with bags full of spices!
Lunch is ready for midday and we usually have an hour and a half off before serving it. Our 'customers' are ready lined up along the benches and we go along with water for washing hands, then the bowls, rice, daal and veg, to crys of 'soup, soup' because the soup is the spicy liquid at the bottom that everyone wants because it's the tasty bit. Then water to wash hands again, and a bit for drinking. We get through 1000 litres of water per day - and this is dependent on having had electricity at the right time in order to power the water pump! Having 24hr power will be such a luxury when back.
We have about 300 people for both breakfast and then again for lunch, probably half of them are children. Many are alcoholics, limb-less, or simply they just find that a free meal helps them out. Some the children have homes, that they have run away from as they are so used to life on the street. They actually get a lot of money when begging (as dean mentioned with the dogs and pigeons, the stupa that we live near is a magnet for this, because giving money shares the merit of the givers...but it also provides the kids with sweet and video game money, so it's quite a tricky circle) and it has really made us think a lot about the problem with giving money to the kids, who look so needy - and obviously are - but they don't spend it on clothes, or food. As one person said, looking clean and healthy is not good for their profession - they wouldn't get much money that way!
Giving at full moon apparently shares double-merit, so monks and beggars turn out in the masses and line up for people to go long the line dropping rupees into their hands, or bowls. Also on occasions the monks of nearby monasteries make an enormous pile of crisps and sweets, which get given to the children after the ceremonial offering. One of our 'customer' kids goes down with a big bag on these nights! And on these days many women sit around the stupa selling food for people to buy in order to give onto this pile. It's an interesting cycle!
I think I've rambled on enough now. Just a bit of insight into the daily goings on. There are so many interesting and funny sights that we see...carcasses for sale - we haven't worked out what they are or what they are for!
Love to all!