This is part two of Pauline’s six week trip to India in September 2013, if you missed part one check it out here! Here Pauline reflects on her first week at her project; meeting her host family, exploring the village and starting in school.
End of week one and highlights so far:
We are staying in a lovely house and our host family were very warm and friendly and spoke okay English. Sheri, our host, was one of the teachers at the school and had a wife, Tessi and two young boys. I had my own bedroom and shared the bathroom with Kerry (volunteer partner). It had a proper loo and even though the shower was a tap and bucket with cold water, it more than did the job. The weather is fantastic, very hot and very humid.Everything sweats. Your hands, back, bottom and as soon as you’ve had a shower, you feel like you need another one.
The school is poor. VERY poor. No electricity or lights in the classrooms, 1 blackboard, 1 indoor tap in the ‘office’ and outside toilets. We had a fantastic welcome from the kids. Very touching and made me feel quite emotional.
The teachers seem very happy we are there and are keen to improve their English. All they want to do is talk, some more than others. I am glad I took my pocket sized English/Malayalam dictionary.. Amazon £5. I left it there after, it was very handy when we got stuck!
The first few lessons were a bit ‘hit and miss’ and the kids were rather naughty as they were very excited!. We had to set boundaries…. and fast!
There were thousands of coconut trees…everywhere. The village’s were breathtakingly poor. We took a walk along the beach road, and later, the beach, and we were the main attraction. It was rather uncomfortable, everyone was looking at us but it was good we did it. These were our kids and it was good to see where they lived. The beach was a ‘working and living’ beach. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
The 2004 tsunami hit further down the coast and fortunately only one of the teachers’ homes here was mildly affected. The fishermen work 12 hours a day every day and the wives sell the fish at the market. We shared our bus rides to and from school with some of them. They have large extended families living in small houses, but the welcome we had was truly humbling. If we turn up at tea time, out comes the tea and snacks. The many churches here are huge and rich, the schools, achingly poor.
The food at home so far is good and we are getting used to eating with our hands and having curries washed down with hot, boiled water for every meal!!.
Most houses seem to have a telly but the children in our house seem to have the monopoly on what channels we watch, so its usually cartoons!! We are very short on national and international news . Our host family gets the Hindu times in English every day, but the translations into English was rather ‘ literal’ and not very reader friendly.
The kids in the house are 5 and 2 and totally scrumptious but the younger one can be a bit of a monkey!!. We have taught him to say ‘high five’ and he knows the ‘aunty Pauline lives near ‘dundon’ ( he cant do London).
So, end of week one and we are back in Kovalam. We just tipped up at the hotel, did a deal on the rooms ( 3 for the price of 2)…bartering is fun! And we headed for the pool. We found the best place for breakfast, it is the ‘German Bakery’. I have just had a plate of fresh made waffle with fresh pineapple and fresh coconut. It’s like paradise on a plate. Oh, and a new way to serve cucumber… mix with lemonade, try it, it is yummy and in the absence of beer, it is the next best thing (almost! We spend the weekend sunbathing, body surfing, reading, not eating curry and chilling.
Check back tomorrow to see how Pauline’s second week on project went!