THE INDIA FILES – February 07

February has gone incredibly quickly! First, there was my parents visit, from the 5th to the 16th. It was a little strange seeing my parents in this context, but it surprisingly helped me to sort out a lot of things in my head. I have realised at the grand old age of 19, when I feel I should really be growing up, how lucky I am to have my mum…but enough of that! Katie, Hannah, my parents and I went on a trip for a few days to Visakhapatnam, or Visag, a local place about 6 or 7 hours drive from Vijayawada. We went in an air conditioned car and stayed at one of the famous group of ‘Taj’ hotels. The running hot water, showers, comfy beds and TVs were all a bit weird, not to mention the bar and swimming pool! It was interesting to see how the wealthy elite of India live. There were 2 weddings while we were there, one huge one for a very wealthy family (the father owns a shopping mall), which was quite laid back and was mostly about the guests comming to be fed. The 2nd however was a ‘Maruti’ wedding (a different class), this one was very lively and involved lots of dancing and interesting clothes. We went to the beautiful Araku Valley and saw some amazing caves, that were discovered when a cow fell down them. Being a sacred animal, they got the cow out, and now there are lots of little shrines in the caves. The driver wouldnt walk underneeth the bats, another Indian superstition. I wanted my parents to go home having enjoyed India, (hence the a/c car and nice hotel!) but still having seen something of the real India. They said they enjoyed it, so mission accomplished. The hotel they had booked in Vijayawada amazed me; I spent a while playing with the flushing toilet and running hot water! I can’t stress how amazing hot water is to me now. I wonder what I’ll think of that when I’m home?So they left and then mine and Katie’s new mission was to find some more work to do now that the inter students are on study leave. We have got lots to do from the English department, mainly corecting english and editing articles submitted by the students for the college magazine. I have also started teaching at Navajeevan, an NGO that works with street children, orphans and child workers. I teach the staff on saturdays. However, upon discovering that there were around 50 people, of mixed ability Katie has come to my rescue and we are doing the class together! It’s quite a challenge; until now we have mainly been teaching spoken english, but now we need to explain english grammar and things too, something I don’t really understand, I just speak it! Theres a lot of them and now I have a microphone. Indians like their qualifications and theres a great emphasis on being a professional, so as an unqualified english ‘teacher’ standing in front of 50 people all older and more qualified than myself, its a little daunting! However, its a new challenge and I’m excited about that and I have asked people I know for advice, including the lady we met and stayed with in Bangalore, a professional English teacher, and she’s given me some great pointers!SKCV is still going well. The girls are completely used to us and will listen to us and trust us. We have started spliting the group into 2 and taking one half each. We now use the blackboard more in order to teach reading and writing as well as spoken english. I don’t think this would have been possible at the start, the girls were too boistrous and wanted to play games, so this shows progression! Radhika, the manager of the Girls centre left yesterday, which was very sad. The girls cried a lot, but Radhika is very good with them and did lots of counselling so that hopefully they won’t feel that another person has abandoned them. Theres a silver lining to this though, which I hope I will be able to talk about in a few months!The last few days have seen ‘functions’ for the Principal’s retirement and welcomming the Vice Principal into her new role as Principal. Just when we have figured out what our Principal wants and how she works, we have another one! Still, at least we can’t get bored or complaicent!This morning Katie and I started karate lessons with a local teacher. He is really professional and I think I may be in pain tomorrow – it was a good workout! It’s quite interesting too. So now its karate 3 mornings a week before college starts.Katie’s parents come in a week and a half and then on the 15th March we go on our big travels! We’ll come back in June, after a few months that will hopefully help us to understand this country, the culture and people more! There are still things I think I don’t understand, though today is our 6 months-in-India anniversary!I hope you are enjoying all that snow I have been hearing about! I am so jealous! It is getting hotter here. The things people tell us of the summer are a little scary; Indians can’t cope with it!

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