Week two. And hi from India! It’s hot a still hot and humid and the monsoon is laughingly called a ‘receding’ one. However, it does not look like going away any time soon!! Things are going well here though. I think I have finally cracked the ‘what to do with 25 five year old’s who do not speak a word of English’… the ‘wheels on the bus’ again, and again, and again!! (I am up to about 6 verses now)! I tried the hokey cokey with the 7 year old’s, they didn’t like my singing…very upset! ‘Five fat elephants jumping on the bed’ goes down well though and the year 4’s love bingo, Chinese whispers, days of the week and the rainbow song !!
The weather brings some interesting ‘visitors’; a 3 inch cockroach (I named him Colin, caught him under a glass then electrocuted him with the electric bug bat,) and a rather large dragon fly who was relentless in the light last night.
Second weekend and we ventured further afield with the help of our own taxi driver who we hired to stay with us for the duration at reasonable cost. We went to a palace, saw the sunrise at the most southerly point in India, went to some waterfalls, a dam, saw a couple of lions, some deer, crocodiles and elephants, went on a boat and ate some more curry!! Have to say though, we were pleased to get back in one piece after a weekend of hooting and crazy driving (no seatbelts either).
Every morning at 5.30 we wake to the (very loud) hymns and mass from the local Catholic church broadcast live from VERY LARGE speakers to anyone who wants (or cant avoid) to listen. The evenings are taken up mainly with chatting around the dinner table which is lovely. We cover all subjects you can possibly think of. Family, religion, tax, politics, space travel, the state of the driving, comparing education systems and the weather!!!! All sorts, they are so keen to improve their English. Now I am not a particularly religious person but Tessi (host mother) said to us that she is hoping to get a certain government job but to get it her English has to be much better, so she prayed to God, then we arrived!!
The people have been very welcoming and friendly, even if they do look at us like we have just landed from Mars (I suppose that some will never have to opportunity even to go to Mumbai so we may has well have come from Mars!!). When we visited the zoo last week we felt like we should have been behind the bars on show!!
There is an issue with the blu-tak!! The kids pinch it, I think it is because a) they have never seen it before and b) they have so little.
You get used to them saying “ teacher, no pencil, no pencil.!!.”, when you know very well they do have a pencil!!
They do respect us but play up, a lot. That is until we either take them out of the classroom to sit them in the heads office or one of the other teachers comes in, yells at them and waves the cane about. And yes they use it. I had to leave the room at this point. I was not happy at the use of the cane. The teachers realised I was upset but they couldn’t understand what the problem was and were amazed when we told them that in the UK the teachers are not allowed to cane the children . You very quickly learn to use other methods of discipline so as to avoid the threat of the cane.
The children at school call us “teacher, teacher, teacher” all the time!! They are so keen to get our attention. The kids at home call us aunty. Aunty Kerri and Aunty Pauline. Its very sweet. The kids wear uniform which is supplied by the government, as is lunch. Wednesday is non uniform day as they only get one uniform so on Wednesday they wash it! Some come to school with no shoes on.
I am the oldest one here on the project, the other 3 girls are all my daughters age (22) and are very sweet. They are staying for 12 weeks and huge respect to them for that. I feel protective to them, a bit like a surrogate mum, which is lovely and Sheri said he thought to do this volunteering you should be older anyway!! (I think he was just being kind!). I suppose one has had a few more ‘life experiences’ so more able to deal with what this life chucks at you and more to talk about I guess.
I think people of more mature years should so do this! We have much to offer.
So, what have I learnt from this experience?
It has been hard work. It has made me cry with laughter, cry with frustration and sometimes just cry. I’ve been, annoyed and scared (the driving!). It has been hilariously funny, unbelievable sad, humbling, very hot, very humid, very sweaty and very wet. The food, mostly fabulous, sometimes dodgy. The toilets, ever a challenge, the internet cafes, hot,intermittent and unpredictable. The electricity, there one minute gone the next. The rubbish, everywhere. Recycling, non-existent. I’ve learned so much about all sorts of stuff, some about other people, a lot about myself. Proves the point you are never too old to learn something new and it really has been ‘learn something new every day’.
I am sad to leave my new friends, Katherine, Olivia, Lara, Kerri, Sherri Tessi, Christian, Carmel, Jessi, Diana, Jaslet, Binu and Leelammer. But so pleased I have them in my life now.
One day I will be back.