I arrived at Bangalore at some ungodly hour and proceeded to wait the excruitiating six thousand hours for my next flight, attempting to check in every half an hour only to be repeatedly turned away “No mam, you too early, go sit”.
Then there was the white knuckle ride in the taxi from Kochi airport to where I am staying “Mam what religion are you” “Oh no religion actually…” “NO RELIGION?! Then what your passport say?”. The Indian people are absolutely lovely “Mam you have nice nature. I like your ambition” but also painfully honest “Mam, what is wrong with your face? Chicken pox?”
What has remained so prominent is the change in rules and way of life from here to back home. It’s not that there are more or less rules and regulations it’s just entyrely different. It’s perfectly acceptable for vehicles to drive where ever they please on the road, to answer the phone whilst driving and to overtake at points where frankly it would feel safer to eat a lightbulb. In contrast to this though, women should always be covered up and under no circumstances can they smoke in the streets, as it is considered disrespectful for a woman to do so.
Upon arriving at the house the permanent member of staff called Ross who lives with us (a loveable Australian) showed me around. I met two other new comers (including an Australian named Beck, who threatened to kill me if I didn’t mention her in my blog, and who is in her own words ‘awesome’. True story). There is space for sixteen volunteers, four to a bedroom, where we share bunkbeds and extremely basic bathrooms: a toilet and a shower head with no basin which bursts out cold water. Currently there are nine of us living there: three Australians, an American, a Canadian, an Austrian, a Welshman, an Italian and me. Everyone is absolutely lovely, and I am having the most fantastic time with them all, eating together, going out for drinks together, watching movies together, seeing dance shows together, going to the beach together and exploring together.
We get a tuk-tuk to and from work every day, which once you get past the constant beeping ‘to let everyone know you’re there’ and what I can only describe as competitions to see who can drive the fastest and most dangerously, it’s actually hugely enjoyable! You get to see the crowded streets littered with people, stray animals, shops and stalls. You get to smell the delicious spices and revolting piles of burning rubbish and dirty water. Look up and you see a mess of tangled wires providing tempremental electricity for the colourful houses.
The food is wonderful. We are currently in a place called Varkala which is a gorgeous beach town with beautiful food and delicious fruit smoothies. After a hard weeks work we decided to spend a relaxing weekend at the beach and get a straight forward five hour train journey to our destination. We arrived at the station at half past four in time for our five o’clock train. We hopped on what we thought was our train and spent a good two hours dozing and wriggling about on the hard seats, trying not to lose all feeling in our bums. When it came to showing our tickets we were unsympathetically informed that we were on the wrong train going in the wrong direction, and that the next train would take seven hours and leaves at half past nine (it was currently seven thirty). After jumping off and battling between frustration and bursts of hysterical giggles at how ridiculous the situation was, we finally made our way on a sticky, smelly, crowded train and arrived at half past three in the morning. It was all worth it. India is beautiful.
It is SCORCHING hot though! I shower in freezing water about three times a day, and yet I still always seem to smell faintly of an old forgotten P.E kit sitting in a plastic bag in the corner of your bedroom over the summer holiday s. It’s virtually impossible to remain sanitry. I was really pleased with myself for not getting burnt, until yesterday when I went in swimming in the Arabian Sea for a short amount on time… I now have physical evidence that I did so in a halter neck swimming costume. And the mosquitoes! Oh the Mosquitoes! I counted a total of twenty bites in various places on my body, purely for the purpose of this blog, before giving an exasperated sigh and giving up.
In addition to all this wonderful weather and totally different and exciting way of life, I have been enjoying the most fantastic and fulfilling job I have ever done. I work in a school, where I thought I would be a teaching assistant, but in July a group of children from Manipur (which is Northern India) were rescued from a man who was exploiting them for child labour. They were sold by their parents, but luckily someone from the school found them and have given them all a place to live and an opportunity to have a normal childhood by getting an education. The children have been split into age and ability groups and it our job to teach them. I have the youngest, seven and eight, a girl named Nimyoala and a boy named Rinmi. I teach them every day, following no specific cirriculum, but instead teaching them what I think they should know. I am currently trying to teach them the phonetic alphabet so they can learn to read. They are so beautiful, I have completely fallen in love with them. I feel totally absorbed by them, spending the majority of my spare time lesson planning. At the beginning of this week they were really shy and their english was poor, but with some nurture I know they are capable of so much. They are bright children who are desperate for some love and it breaks my heart, but when you get them giggling and playing and repeating things you have taught them it’s the best feeling in the world. I’m not sure how else to describe it.
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