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2nd Post from India

February 26th, 2010 · No Comments

Well, I made it through 1 week. I am resigned to the fact that I will have to go it alone with the kids next week and the week after. Christina has gotten our Global Volunteer leader to adhere to his promise of construction work. Even I will get to do a little.

We decided that if we were going to see anything of India at all we would have to be proactive. So we made a schedule for the week. Tonight we didn’t have anything planned, so I am writing this post.

Tuesday we went to go see this phenomenal Hindu Indian traditional dance at the student dance center. It’s called Bharata Natyam Dance. (For more details, see this description in Wikipedia.) The dances take 6 years to learn. Yes, you read that right – 6 years. One of the dances lasted for 20 full minutes and every step and facial movement had to be perfect. It’s such a difficult dance mostly because of the facial expressions that have to be precisely timed to the dance steps. Each eye movement has its own name.

The music included a live band and singer. At the end of the dance, the dancer graduated and received her certificate that she could perform the dance at a temple. The dances lasted for a total of an hour and a half. You’d think I would get tired of sitting still for this long for a dance. Nope. I was entranced.

While India is poor, we do enjoy many luxuries here. For instance, the house has our own private cook who cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner, unless we go out for a meal. When we go anywhere, we have our own private driver. The cost of a 45 minute each way drive into downtown Chennai to see the dance, plus waiting for us outside, plus taking us to the downtown temple and wating for us? 600 rupees, which is about $12.

We are chauffeured to all the schools as well, but it’s not a limousine, or even a car, it’s an autorigshaw, which is basically a 3 wheeled motor cycle with a cab over the top of it. Each side is open. We go through the crazy traffic in this little vehicle, surrounded by other autorigshaws, motorcycles, buses and cars.

Today I got an oil massage, and it was an extremely bizarre experience. We drove to the hospital, and the massage lady met us there. I was lead to a room where patients were recovering from treatment, most of them had IV’s in them. The massage therapist took my blood pressure.

Then I was led to a room that had what looked like an operating table, no sheet, no cushions. I was told to put on the equivalent of a loin cloth. The massuse poured hot oil on me and then 2 ladies rubbed me down, front and back, and I mean front and back. I got a facial and then was put in a box with steam that only had a hole for my head for about 15 minutes. It was slightly claustrophobic. I felt like one of those ladies who was about to be sawed in two by a magician.

We then went up to St. Thomas mount, where St. Thomas was buried. The church gets all the best real estate. We could see the whole city of Chennai. The road on the way up there was overrun with goats.

Though Christina does not like working with the kids, I am kinda of enjoying getting to know them. I am mentoring two boys who are studying to go to college and want to learn English. The older boy will be graduating from the 12th grade next year and wants to be an engineer. He is very determined and he will probably make it. I am also helping two older girls who want to go to college. The oldest girl knows HTML – so we may be having html classes at the dormitory as it has internet access.

College tuition is cheap by our standards; a good school costs $2K a year. Still, with the average income of $120 a month, this is out of reach for most Indians.

I like teaching at the Grace Schools. The kids are rambunctious but I like them as a whole. The third grade is the biggest class. It’s tough to keep 10 eight year old’s attention. The 4th graders are a smaller class, but their English is much better. The 5 grader’s English is the best but they can be the most difficult to control. I like all of the kids at Grace Schools. Next week I will be teaching them as well as spending time at SEEMS. I will also be teaching Shiba and Stephen to do HTML.

I wore my first salwar kameerz today and everyone loved it, especially me. I will wear my other one when we do the “Golden Triangle of Temples” on Sunday. I’ll tell you more later….

Tags: India · On The Road

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