Teachers on Tour!

Hiya guys,

Sorry I have been a tad loco from this blog recently, I have spent the past wee while travelling to visit other vols. Firstly we headed to Hyderabad to stay with our overseas rep, Bharavi, and his family. You would think this would be a relatively easy mode of transport but unfortunately Caitlin is a bit of a newbie on the aeroplane front. It took us 3 return trips unloading all our electricals and back and forth between security and the check in desk before we successfully arrived! We stayed in Hyderabad for a few days before finding out we were going to a small town called Tangutur near Ongole to stay with another volunteer, Katie for the rest of the time until our project term began.

After an…exciting…overnight train journey we arrived in Tangutur and were immediately taken for breakfast and food was practically shovelled down our necks! In Tangutur we slept in the volunteers room, sharing single beds and trying to stay under a mozzie net was kinda fun, and taught in the Government run school there every day. Seven classes a day and LOTS of boisterous children who wouldn’t behave unless you beat them, which obviously we would not do! The violence problem there was insane, way way way worse than here. We had such a wonderful time visiting Ongole and we were soo soo soo happy to have spent time with Katie (another vol) as in Anaikatty we are SO far away from everyone else.

Whilst we were there the festivities following Ganesha’s birthday were occurring. And let’s just say India knows how to party! Every night for 7 days there was a procession of a massive Ganesha with people dancing and music being played and lots and lots of scary firecrackers. Surprisingly the men dominate the festivals, and needless to say at some of these processions (it tended to be the later ones) they had had a bit too much to drink! However, one day some girl dragged us along as we were walking into town and she told us to wait whilst she tied luminous orange ribbon around our wrists. Next thing we know they were setting off fire crackers (which are similar to flares) and suddenly all this purple powder appeared. And I mean LOTS of purple powder appeared! We were covered head to toe in it, it was hilarious!! Later that evening as the procession passed our house, it started to rain. And India rains like it parties! So once again we were dragged out by the ladies who were dancing to attempt to join in. Now I’m sure you guys have all seen my pathetic excuse for a dance at some point in your life…and these Indians couldn’t seem to teach me anything better! It was so hilarious and lovely to be welcomed by such a friendly community.

Yesterday morning we arrived back in Vidya Vanam safe and sound.

Update 2-Hot and Spicy

2 of our staff are from up North, where they eat so much more salt and spices. So often with our meals, they are provided with a few chillies and a dish of salt and some limes (Which they call lemons). So the other night at dinner, I dared Sarah (The American vol) to eat one of their chillies whole. She agreed as long as I did it too, so we each put a teeny green chilli in our mouths. At first it was totally fine and Sarah and I were like ‘yeah this isn’t hot at all, it’s totally fine!’ and then suddenly it hit me. I thought my throat was on fire, my eyes were weeping, I was sweating BUCKETS and could not stop hiccupping. To make matters worse it was absolutely hilarious and everyone was laughing at me-including Sarah who was also gulping down water in order to ease her throat. This made me laugh even more so then my throat was on fire, my eyes were weeping, I was sweating buckets, hiccupping and could NOT STOP LAUGHING! It took about ten minutes and lots of curd (cool yoghurty stuff which you put on your curry and it also helps to fight bad stuff in your food and make your tummy less sore) and water and giggling until finally, my throat felt a little bit back to normal. It was still painful for the rest of the night though.

Something else about this area which is really bizarre and tricky to deal with is that most of the kids get beaten at home and a few of the females definitely do as well. There’s also a few staff members who threaten to beat the children if they misbehave as well. It’s crazy because our school has a no violence policy and is one of the much more esteemed schools than anywhere in the surrounding area. If this is the kinda thing that happens with our kids, then what goes on around the rest of the country? What’s more is that there is a huge alcohol problem with the men in the village and this is clear when we go on walks after school.

Heading to Hyderabad this evening, all we’re sure of is that when we arrive there, there will be a taxi with a driver holding our names. Fingers crossed we get there safely- I still need to buy my sari!

1st Week Here-By Nuala

Hello everyone, great to see Dad has been keeping you informed.

India is crazy, a complete explosion of the senses. It is exactly what you see on the TV, but it is in fact real. I am constantly covered in dust and dirt and there is creepy crawlies everywhere. Cockroaches roam about our room at night as they  come in through the ventilation gap and there is lizards which share our showers (cold water and a jug) with us. We have unpacked and I have stuck millions of photos on the walls.

The food has been amazing, nothing like curry in the UK. We eat with our fingers, but only our right hand as the left hand is toilet hand. Tonight for dinner we had Chappati, Aubergine and veg curry, Onion Pakora and curd. The American vol Sarah, who is here for most of the year also, has advised us that eating bread instead of rice will stop us gaining a bloated rice tummy. The rice here is very bland anyways and I much prefer the bread.

The school and village are amazing. So surreal. The families in the village are all of the lowest caste, which is split into tribal and non tribal untouchables, apart from a teeny minority who are still so low they are called the ‘backward’ class. It is bizarre how important caste and religion and money are, it is even embedded in the minds of the youngest children. They constantly ask how much things we wear are and love to touch you.

The staff here are wonderful, they have some really innovative opinions, especially for India. The two main ladies who work here and have started the school are Brahmins, the highest caste, and they try to disintegrate the idea of caste, they have also both had love marriages, which is almost unheard of. When we are walking in the city we get called ‘Madam, Madam’ as we are white, western and seen to be really wealthy. It is frustrating, as the Indians we are with get completely ignored. Being given special treatment is not so enjoyable when you know it is only due to the colour of your skin.

There have been a few issues with our project initially. It is a new project so there has been lots of misunderstandings, but it is nobody’s fault. So we shall be heading back to Hyderabad briefly. This is not a problem though.

Overall I’m loving my time here and I know I’ll have a fantastic year, I cannot believe everything that I see and hear. This country is crazy and I am sure I will continue to enjoy myself.

Hope you are all well.