Around Here, They Call Me Didi

Mar 23, 2014 by


I’ve answered to a lot of names over the years. In high school, my closest friends called me Coll, while my friends from dance called me Mully or Mullet. When I was a lot younger and played hockey, I somehow acquired the nickname of Bert. I’ve had friends call me Leen and Wiener and Cauliflower and Mo and by my internet login name at school: Mulhac. My parents call me Cleen and Cleenster, and one of my closest group of friends now refer to me as Coco. Basically, you can call me whatever you want, and I will answer to it so long as I know what it is.

Around here, they call me Didi.












Few things in travel are ever exactly as we imagine them to be. I had lots of ideas of what I might expect when I showed up in Mumbai, ready to volunteer at a school and work with children. The one clear vision I had was of the beautiful, smiling faces there would be, and this picture I had in my head turned out to be 100% accurate. During my first day at the school, I walked in to find a sea of small children sitting on the floor. I was greeted with a resounding “Good morning, Didi!” and little waving hands. This has been one of the things that gets me out of bed in the morning. There is never a shortage of hands to hold or happy smiles to share. The children are eager to play and chatter and want to touch my skin and hair. The weirdest part of all is that even the honking horns of the rickshaws,Β beep-beep,Β have begun to sound like the traffic is calling me, “Didi!”

Around here, they call me Didi…Β sister.


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  1. Great photos! Those smiling faces must make it worth it. πŸ™‚

    • Colleen

      Whenever things aren’t going well, I just let the kids’ antics entertain me! Almost makes me want to have kids, haha!!! πŸ˜‰

  2. Zhu

    Very cute pics! You seem to be fitting right in with the kids.

    That’s a cute and meaningful nickname!

    • Colleen

      Thank you! I know I will miss hearing Didi everywhere I go when I leave India…

  3. Lauren Mulhall

    beautiful kids – great smiles

  4. Great trip Colleen and sounds as though you’re really connecting with the locals. Well done!

    • Colleen

      Maria, I’m very happy and grateful to be seeing and experiencing this side of India. These are the locals that are pretty representative of India, and it’s an India that not a lot of tourists passing through get to know. This will be a very special memory for me one day. πŸ™‚

  5. You’re there!!!!! How on earth did I miss it? Congrats for following your heart! Love these pics!

    • Colleen

      Hehe, I don’t know how you missed it! πŸ˜€ All good, you’re on the ride now!
      Thank you for your words of encouragement and reminding me to follow my heart. India was the only thing that felt right for me at this moment in my life. xo

  6. Betty

    What a lovely and heart warming post!!

    • Colleen

      Thank you Betty! India can be a pretty heavy place to visit, but there is so much life and vibrancy. I want to show as many sides of the country as I can. These children and the people I see every day really make this experience what it is.

  7. Sam

    This is lovely! I am sadly lacking in nicknames. Today, some of my students decided to call me “Fireman Sam”, which I promptly told them I would not answer to. I’m such a kill-joy, I know!

    • Colleen

      Sam, you just have to roll with it! Accept any and all nicknames that come your way. More often than not, they are terms of endearment and a way for people to show you how much you matter to them! πŸ™‚

  8. What a sweet intro to your volunteering. I love it. πŸ™‚


    • Colleen

      Sally, I hope to have lots more photos of my kiddies here by the end of it. Maybe there will be a part 2 or even 3! Hugs x

  9. Vicki

    Colleen, I have spent the last week reading your blogs, going back to 2012! You have had a remarkable journey thus far and I know there are many more adventures still to come! Your pictures are amazing, as is your writing…I look forward to reading your new posts and hearing about your thoughts and experiences while in India. How could those children not love their Didi!!

    • Colleen

      Hi Vicki, what a treat to hear from you and to find out how thoroughly you’ve read my posts! I definitely live a blessed life, and I mean to take full advantage of that. Life is too short…
      Hope you comment more in the future! πŸ™‚

  10. Emy

    Those pictures are amazing! You all look gorgeous! πŸ™‚
    It’s nice to see you smiling !

    • Colleen

      These kids brighten my day up! I can’t help but smile around them!!

  11. Love the smiles of the children, Colleen πŸ™‚

  12. India makes you glow! πŸ˜€

  13. So, so, so good! It’s true that rarely does travel live up to epic expectations, but the worst is when you feel let down by the people. Obviously not a problem here! Love all these happy, smiling faces (yours included!).

    • Colleen

      These kids are making this trip for me. I feel so blessed.
      But yes, I agree… when the people let you down, it’s SUCH a let down… probably because people are usually the aspect of a trip that most travellers enjoy and remember the most!

  14. You sure don’t get smiles like that in my day job πŸ˜‰ what a wonderful way to spend your day, in the company of these little guys and you’re clearly having an amazing time

    • Colleen

      It’s true… this is a pretty great way to spend my day. That said, these kids can be pretty bratty too! But that is good… kids should be kids (and they are)!

  15. Yew Kwang

    Great photos, the children all look so happy with you around!

  16. I’ve fallen in love with your blog, particularly your Mumbai pieces, and most especially this one. It moved me to tears, happy tears! Thank you for sharing in a most human way, the difficulties and blessings you’ve experienced in India.

    • Colleen

      Oh thank you, that is such a kind thing to say. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about these kidlets. I miss them so. Please say hello again!

      • kidlets…. yes… i suppose they are…. and you’re a momlet as well as a didi lol thank you and love you and please keep inspiring us xox


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