Thursday, June 26, 2008

A typical Indian day

June 25, 2008-(Wednesday)- Palumpur, India
I had a good night’s sleep last night. I think I’m finally really adjusted to the time. I got up pretty early, around 5am. It gets light here very early in the morning, and I can’t sleep after it gets light out. I went downstairs and sat on the porch for a little while and played with the dog whose name is “mee too”, which means sweet in Hindi. He is just a puppy and belongs to the people who own the hotel. He reminds me of Midas, who I hope is doing well. I then went upstairs to get ready for “work”. While some of the rooms do have western type showers, mine does not. Instead they have a large bucket which you fill with water and a smaller one which you use to rinse your body. There is also a little stool which is used to sit on while ‘bathing’. Although this is different than what I’m used to, and takes a bit more time, it conserves water and is actually more relaxing because I can sit and take my time. Then it was time to get dressed. While I bought one outfit in Delhi, I have been borrowing from others because my clothes will not be ready until Sunday. I think that these clothes are much more comfortable overall, but so hot! If only we could wear shorts under the Courta (long shirt), instead of long pants called Salwa. Then there is the Dupata, which is a type of scarf. While very pretty, I find it so cumbersome and it keeps falling off and trailing on the floor. I think this is partially because the one I bought in Delhi is so large/long. I will buy shorter ones to match my outfits on Sunday when I pick them up. I really like the clothes and fabric here. Everything is so colorful.
After getting ready, I ran down to breakfast. Instant coffee, (God help me!) cereal, tea, eggs, and an assortment of fruit. And I mean fruit !!!! -- Bananas, mangos, plums, peaches, etc. I am taking advantage of the mangos while we are here. I eat two each morning, but you need to know that they are much smaller than the ones we get at home, these are the size of apples, and of course there is still the large pit in the center, so it’s not really that much food. I also usually just eat cereal, unless they have scrambled eggs.
At 7:45, it’s off to school. That morning Gee-Two, one of the program managers went to the school with us to help iron out any misunderstandings and to help us understand what was expected of us. After several hours of conversation, we thought we had a workable schedule. During the ride in I overheard a couple of the girls volunteering at the school with me mention that the teachers didn’t like them and were rude to them. They also said that they thought that the teachers were laughing at them. When we first get there in the morning there is an opening prayer ceremony. During the ceremony, I noticed the teachers standing in a circle talking and the volunteers in another circle. I realized that perhaps due to their age, perhaps due to their lack of social skills, the girls had not approached the teachers at all. I immediately went over to the teachers and introduced myself and talked to them about the school and their teaching methods. I also asked them to help me with teaching the children as I know little Hindi. After that, as far as I was concerned, the day went smoothly. The teachers know much more English than I originally thought and were very friendly with me once I made the effort. I even am going to try to have tea with some of them in the near future. I think there is so much I could learn from them about Indian culture. I think the other girls are having trouble because they are so young, and because their attitude is all wrong. I would say something to them, but I don’t want to get caught up in the “them vs us” mentality.
The work day, 8-11:30, went by very fast. Teaching subjects in a language where the students don’t understand what you are saying is mentally draining. I thought I would be teaching English, but they also have me teaching Science, and I was even placed in an Art class once! Despite the fact that their text books are in English, the kids don’t understand as much as one would expect. For instance, in the 3rd grade English class, the children can read the words out loud, but they do not know what they are reading.
After work, I went for a walk into town with a couple of the other girls as I needed to get some more clothing made. I went back to the same fabric store and got some more material and then went to the seamstress. This time the shop wasn’t so crowded and she took time to talk with me and I also was introduced to the owner. The owner was an older woman, 60, and she asked a lot of questions and talked about her life and children. It was so nice to go somewhere and feel welcome when I was 8000 miles from home.
Once I got back to the house, it was time for our Hindi lesson. I am so glad that they are taking the time to help us. The CSS staff is really great. If things continue to go this well, I will definitely go on another volunteer trip with them next year.
During our off time, I worked on my blog, checked email, and straightened up the room. When I checked my email I was happy to see a note from Rachael. She really misses me and I am worried about not being there for her. I uploaded some pictures for her and hopefully she will be alright for the next few weeks without me. I am planning on calling her soon. After dinner I worked on lesson plans for the next day. Then, about 10pm, it was off to bed.

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