THE INDIA FILES – 21/12/06

Apologies again for another delayed blog entry…the students have project work at the moment so computer access is harder to get! i think i will now try to write about once a month, hope thats ok.So, I’m really busy still, I have started teaching English classes in an office down the road (it’s the office of the worship leader of my new church), which is going well. At first it was a little daunting teaching 20-30 year olds but they are keen to learn and it makes me busy, which I like! So now my day is very full, a typical day might be;Do my washing, prepare classes, do 1-2 morning classes, then after lunch go to SKCV until 5pm, then go to the office for 6pm and go back to the hostel, straight to the dining room to talk to the girls having their dinner, quickly have my own dinner before teaching the evening class 8-9. we had laura visiting 2 weeks ago, and so met up with another 6 of the girls and had a good chat about all our projects over lovely meal at ‘Southern Spice’ my fave restaurant here (not that we can afford to go very often, but thats good, it makes it a treat!). we hadn’t seen some of them for 3months and a lot has happened in that time – so lots to talk, all about our projects, how we’re finding india, what probelms we’ve been experiencing, funny stories. then yesterday we had a trainign session with laura and went up THE HILL (the ones we’ve been saying we’re guna go up for 3months…) it was great to spend time with all our friends, and amazing to see vijayawada from above! i felt like an ant suddenly seeing the world from a human’s perspective, cos i just see my little close up area of vijayawada where i move about each day and then i saw it differently – its so big!and also beautiful! surrounded by mountains and beside the massive river krishna!lauras visit dissappointingly didnt really get anything sorted, that night i went to the chapel and cried and cried. however, it has made me see that the only person whos guna make things better is me, and that i can. i can be proactive; i dont have to be unhappy for a year. im not entirely unhappy either; i love india, sometimes i feel depressed about the college and my relationship with the sisters. i have to look at it rationally; my biggest problerm is a toilet…it could be a lot worse, ey?! and relationships can be rectified by me, since logically i must be half of the problem. its weird, i pinned everything on lauras visit, and her sorting everything out, and when she came is was very short and didnt change anything, except that it completely turned around my thinking, and not because of anything she said, i just see things differently now!im learning to teach, and its brilliant when you have a class that goes well and it encourages you! it makes you realise that there IS a reason you’re here.I have also been in contact with some NGOs in Vijayawada and hope to start working with some of them, mainly orphanages, homes for street children and NGOs working with child laborers.On Saturday night Katie and I and the girls on the Srikakalum project are getting the overnight train to Hyderabad, where we will celebrate Christmas at our representative, Bharavi’s house. Bharavi is an atheist but he has an oven (something nobody has in India!) so we can make some western food (recipes would be very much appreciated!) and a TV so we can watch some English films. Sadly, Christmas isn’t really celebrated here in India, with it being a Hindu country. I think before I had naively assumed that since Christmas was such a big thing in the UK and America that it was everywhere, even for people who aren’t Christians, and I am now discovering that I love Christmas, even with its commercialization; at least something happens! Here, you could be forgiven for not realizing it was Christmas at all. Still, I got very excited when the Catholic bookshop down the road put up Christmas lights and decorations and bought a mini Christmas tree, some tinsel, a big star and a Christmas CD (sung by an awful Indian children’s choir…but its still Christmassy!) We have got a ‘Christmas Program’ (everything is ‘a program’ in India – a program is some mysterious thing that you know you need to clear ½ a day to a full day for, in the knowledge that you must be there, without really knowing what’s happening and that is usually announced at very little notice…), so I am doing a Christmas Nativity with some of the PG and older UG students. I have taken it from the 4 gospels and have tried to make it as accurate as possible…it’s all a bit rushed – we’ll see!plus i got a christmas parcel from my parents and a few other people that hasnt been opened! this is very exciting as usually my parcels arrive opened, and last time my chocolate had been stolen. i am lucky though, many of the girls have has whole parcels stolen, katie once got a bar of chocolate with a few rows snapped off. i wrote a complaint to the post office, but this wont do anything, sadly. we have to accept that india is a corrupt country in many ways and that perhaps the post office workers need these things more than we do…i also feel thats its stealing and its wrong, and so i shouldnt just let it go without doing something! However, I’m really enjoying India now and feel that I have actual work to do that is benefiting somebody.I’m still finding communication with the sisters very trying, but this is teaching me a lot as well! My words are often twisted, but I am discovering ways to avoid this, and often just not trying to talk about something can be the best option. Communication can also be very frustrating when trying to get things sorted, or starting new things, as announcements are often not made, and the girls (like us a lot of the time!) do not know what’s happening. This is the Indian way though, and is something I have to accept and find ways around, like making the announcement myself. we have also come across barriers with the students too; if something is not directly linked to passing an exam they do not want to do it, due to the Indian attitude that the only thing that counts is written qualifications (hence the multitude of doctors and people still studying, doing their 3rd degree in their 30s…).I have written an article for the school magazine about ‘my experience of India so far, so we’ll se how that goes down. it is honest, it says both the good and the bad…one beautiful thing to add…I’m learning that Indians look after their personal space very well, but communal areas are no-ones buisness, consequently the bathrooms are appauling. i will do a hygiene class with the hostelities. without going into too much detail they use the wash cubicles as toilets (they also dont like the squat loos..interesting…) and we have found everything…i am sure i will find this amusing in years to come!So, we’re off to Hyderabad on Saturday/Sunday and then on to Goa for New Year on the 27th, coming back on the overnight train and starting work the same day, on the 3rd :$… (‘It’ll be fine…’)

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