Saturday, September 8, 2012

............up and showered by 6 am?

Tuesday -
    It is quite sunny out this morning , but very dark clouds are on the horizon. Does this mean rain? Kolkata really needs it! Breakfast was lovely as always - watermelon, mango and cantalope ; the most intense multigrain bread I have ever eaten and my ever present cappucino. Today was especially pleasant because the servers could bring me one ( yesterday the machine was broken and they were so upset and apologized profusely). Such a small thing , but such great joy for all of us! Government school today in the morning; Brian will do his classroom teaching today and then we will be privvy to another cultural presentation. I really do love these!
  Arrived at school and was welcomed with morning ma'am and morning auntie! It makes me smile to see these great kids. As soon as we check in we were headed to the Loretto School on the opposite side of town. Whoo Hoo!! another taxi ride. The inside of the Loretto School is beautiful , with child painted murals everywhere showing flowers and nature. Great way to contrast the stark absence of the same just outside the walls and gate. This is an all girls' school with very deep ties to the U.N.. I noticed the teachers are very dedicated , but experience the same frustrations as we do. THe pride of this school is their Rainbow Programme. These are girls of all ages that have been brought in from the streets and provided with food, shelter, clothing, health care and education. the tradition girls work with these children and the school feels that both gain. The Loretto School is responsible for teacher training as well and they are working hard at providing inquiry training and techniques.
    The taxi ride to and from the Loretto School was probably the hottest thing I have ever experienced in my life!!!!! The sweat was unbelievable and I felt that I had been swimming, I was so drenched. Once back at Soma's school we ate chicken parcels for lunch and then went to the auditorium for a cultural programme featuring the music and songs of Tagore. It is hardto believe that our time here is nearly finished. One more day and then we will be off to Delhi.

A bit more sightseeing this afternoon ; Victoria Memorial and some brief shopping. I think I am getting a cold - sneezing and runny nose. Maybe it is just nerves, since I have to present to the 1science department tomorrow. Topic - Inquiry based teaching! In 1 hour only!

Wednesday - Brillant sunshine; no clouds and extreme heat ( it is only 7 am ).
     I will be giving two turtle seminars today and then teaching about inquiry based learning. I love talking to the students;hate talking to teachers........ not because I hate teachers, but because I feel they should be teaching me!
   It was so hot today that my clothing ( salwar ) felt like it was painted onto my body and when I tried to climb the 5 flights of stairs at school to get to the classroom , I really had a hard time even bending my knees. The critical thinking/inquiry based session consisted of all 10 science teachers and ended up being only 30 minutes because of conflicts that delayed our start.  After lunch I had two turtle sessions and that was an absolute blast! The students were very involved it is was surprisingly interactive. As the day drew to a close, the students and I began to realize that this was the last time I would see some of them; that our time had been too brief. What they didn't realize was how much they have changed my life and my perspective on so much.
    We closed our day with some gift shopping at a craft center that housed crafts from all the states. It was huge and overwhelming ,like most everything the past two weeks

Thursday - up at 6am which is quite late for me. The sky is overcast and the wind is blowing quite hard . Still no umbrella, so someone has a Wildlife umbrella from the US.
    I have packed and exchanged over &40 US in case there is an exit tax. I also need to have rupees to cover my share of Soma's costs. I am sipping the last drops of my last cappucino in Kolkata and it is wonderful as always. Have thanked the staff and written " atta - boys" to those that really helped. Soma arrived and with her our car . We exchanged the costs of our stay and left for the airport and as we were leaving I received my last daily Namaste. We travelled for about 20 minutes and the car started making some noisy sounds that didn't sound too encouraging. It finally stopped and as it did, we were left in the middle of a 5 way intersection!! That wasn't the worst part because we got a push to the road side and we were out of the way - the worst part was the anxiety about making a flight or not ................. happiness about 20 minutes later as the car started and we were on our way again.  The normal airport exchanges, hassles and security and we were on our way to Delhi.

we arrived in Delhi and were the last of the cohort to arrive. A quick supper, some sleep and get ready for sessions in the moring before our 5 hour drive to the Taj Mahal.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Is that Cricket?

Sunday -  
       We are picked up by Soma and off to the cricket training grounds. I am really stoked about this. It is a cloudy day, but really the most rain occurred the first night here and after that it has been ominously dry. We arrive at the training grounds and there are all ages of boys learning and finessing their game. We are taught how to hold the bat and the ball and most importantly  - how to stand and swing. Brian looks pretty natural , although he really is swinging it like a baseball bat. I , on the other hand, am really clumsy. I did mangae to hit 4/10 balls and my trainers were proud! Tea and crackers break our session and Soma laughed at me when I asked to take the little clay cup home with me. She said whe I was done, that I needed to just throw it on the ground and smash it. It is clay , it will return to the earth from whence it came..........

The rest of the day was a car / walking tour around Kolakata and some of its museums and temples. We also visited the Marble Palace and Tagore's home. A decison must be made soon however as to the journey to Parash's school. It is outside of twon and on the way to the airport, but we are both concerned that we would get delayed and miss our plane. Lunch was amazing - local Bengali Chelo platter and mango soufle.... chelo platter had rice, tomato, egg, cukes, chicken kabob and goat kabob. It was delicious. We chatted for quite a long time over lunch and finally took the cab home. I went home, my umbrella stayed in the cab.... oh well ; there hasn't been enough rain to need it anyway.

Brian and I had a little time before nightfall , so we headed to the reebok store and stocked up on the Kolkata Night Riders Cricket gear............ I mean we learned to play, saw Eden Gardens ... what do you expect?  worked on lessonplan and went for 6.5 mile ride on stationary bike............ too much good food!

Monday -   
     well, so you know what happens when you lose your umbrella? It rains , of course. The first time in days. Sox are on again, battery charged and all material for my lesson is ready...... we will also be part of a global panel discussion later. My class went so well..... we talked about biodiversity and various other environmental concepts. Played Good Buddy and the kids were having a great time because they do not normally have activities structured as this one was. I learned some different answers that will work when we do this in class at LHS, as well.........My lessons finished, I went to music class where the students sang me songs and I receieved a white flower for my hair that was a blessing from Krishna. I had to teach them " Take Me Out To The Ballgame".
     From there we headed to a street children school that is government funded, only the governemnt isn't getting the money there somehow. No smiles, laughter or food.............. How can you come to school when your parents need you to help beg for food? Lunch of Tikka Chicken and then our global panel discussion. Topics: how globalization has affected India and the youth..........  Children are children everywhere and they just want to fit in............. Several bad thunderstorms today, but still no sustained, consistant rain.


Happy Fourth of July!!!

4 July    We were greeted with firecrackers and noisemakers to celebrate the 4th. What a great surprise. It was extra nice because although today started out great with a full night's sleep; I discovered that I had fallen asleep last night without taking my malaria pill. Well, I was told to take it as soon as I remembered , so I did. Bad choice!!!!!! About an hour after I took it I threw it back up so violently that I don't think I could have stopped if I had tried. So I have felt pretty iffy all day, not quite daring to eat anything out of the norm. Things are packed and ready for my 4:20 Thursday  flight to Kolkata. Before that, we have two schools to visit - Blossom ( an unaided private school ) and a government school. My day is ending with fireworks out my window..........

Thursday 5 July
    Slept very soundly and was awkened to the screech of a raptor. Took a very long and very hot shower and felt much better. Essentially today is a relaxing day before flights , so I think I will watch some baseball. The Red Sox are playing the Yankees and it is really pretty fun to think that I am halfway around the w orld and watching them. But first I had a last breakfast in Bangalore with Catherine , Joy and Shannon. As I sat and waited to leave for the airport, I was getting the nervous excited feeling in my stomach again............. new places and not really sure what to expect, but the excitment of going really was the overwhelming feeling.
     Our Flight was quite different than any of the flights to India. Brian and I left an hour earlier than we needed to because the taxi was available and so they suggested we use it. It took almost an hour to get to the airport ( in the States - 15-20 min drive ) . Dropped off at what we thought were the gates and we were summarily sent back to get our eticket ( this wa all outside the airport). Finally inside, we head to the counter to check our bags and are told they will not open for two hours............ wait some more. Finally - the counter opens and our bags are over .......... head to a different counter to pay 3750 IRN covering the extra weight; back to the counter to get the bags checked ; then security! Males and females do not pass through the same security checkp points, so we split up and went our separate ways. Passed security! Met up with Brian again and we go to the gate and wait!

Time to load the flight and Brian is stopped at the entrance because his carryon is lacking the proper tag from security........... off he goes to retrieve it and makes the flight easily. 2.5 hours later, we are in Kolkata and it is POURING!!!! Welcome to monsoon season we are both thinking. Soma has arranged for a car to pick us up so we travel in style to the Hotel Kenilworth. What a fabulous place - like stepping back into colonial India.......... I started to unpack my bags and get my pjs out and discovered the lock on my suitcase was missing............. no surprise there. One last cappuccino with cinnamon before bed ( too tired and too late to eat much) . Listened to the most wonderful thunderstorm as I snuggled in the bed.........

Friday 6 July
 1st day at Soma's school. She me us this morning and we walked to school - really not far at all and a great way to see everything going on. We were greeted warmly by everyone and chatted with the principal ma'am while the girls gathered for morning prayer and assembly. We were called onto the stage and welcomed with traditional flower bouquets and prayer and bindi. We each gave a very short thank you speech and were off and running. Whe the assembly broke up - it was time for tea!!  WE spent the day giving talks and listening to class presentation. Lunch was amazing - cheese puffs out of flaky pastry with paneer. Soma took us on a small tour of the area and finished our first day off with Bengali sweets - Jamun............
What did I learn? Take toilet paper everywhere!

Saturday 7 July    We spent this morning with Soma's husband at the campus of Calcutta University . This campus houses all the sciences. Tea and biscuits with the professors and checked out examples of lab books/notebooks. We were lucky enough to get an insider's tour of his cutting edge cancer research. Very Cool stuff! After touring the university, we crossed the courtyard and toured the home of Rammuhun Roy. I am having so many names thrown at me , I must admit, my brain is on overload! The remainder of the day we spent with the girls and Soma at the Peace Fair......... a festival to celebrate the concept of world peace and how to accomplish such an enormous task..... I did meditation and they were rather proud of me.  Must sleep as much as possible because tomorrow we are off to the cricket training grounds!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

our walking tour continued..........

We finished our tour and headed back for lunch. totally delicious, I shall be a small elephant when it is time to leave. The afternoons were spent in sessions........... I will admit to getting a wee  bit sleepy after the great walk, lunch and only 4 hours sleep. We did get a bit of shopping in this evening - I was pretty happy with my tunic for 690IR ( $13.00 US ) After shopping we headed to the restaurant in a Tak-Tak was a blast until our cabbie got pulled over for speeding and tried to claim it was our fault..................  the policeman was not buyng it and the cabbie basically drove us for free since his fine ( to be paid on the spot ) was the same as our cab fare.

Finally catching up.............

Hello again my dear blog,
     I am jumping bcak in time and reliving my India experience through the rewriting of my blog. If we start at the beginning, we will be on

30 June Saturday
           My nervousness has been relieved to a certain extent as my bag weighed in at about 41 pounds, under the limit. I do feel that I have disappointed Nicole since my bag is so far underweight. For me, I look at it as packing skills which will allow me greater treasure space on the way home! I am at the gate and feel rather alone as I am the only one here except a rather nervous looking old woman.  Iwish I had access to my camera as the airport is always a great place to take random " people" shots!  Nick is on his way to the Chicken Coop fried chicken place and I sort of wish I was too.... pretty hungry. I am hearing on the radio that my flight has a two hour delay. That is not unusual for Charlotte. Guess I will see what happens. It is now 6:15 ( 2 hours after my flight departure time ) and I am on my way on a direct flight to Frankfurt instead of flying through Newark - I'll take that.

1July ( Sunday )  We are 1 hour from Frankfurt after flying all night and since it is 6am here I should be hungry. I am not , just sleepy since the plane was cold and it was hard to stretch out much. Coffee will be most welcome and I am looking forward to a real European latte so I can compare. Currently watching NCIS and finding the comfort of a familiar show and the sun si streamimg through my window which at least makes me think I am getting some warmth. There really is no perspective of time - it feels like one big blur. I was amused as people that were traveling with TGC found the McDonalds in the airport........... I haven't bought too much here at the airport because I do not have Euros and the exchange rate is rather high. It is raining now and very ominous, brooding clouds....makes people watching easier because it is no fun to look at the clouds. Amazed that people here do not seem as germophobic as Americans. Large numbers of people waking barefoot everywhere, including the bathrooms..........  Supper on the plane was our first taste of Indian food! So So good!!! Loving the spinach and paneer already. Drinking tons of water to stay hydrated on the plane, but whoo - that creates its own problems. Aririved in Bangalore about 12:30 am and the baggage claim wait began. As we all know, mine were the absolute last ones off  the plane and were wet and muddy.......... hmmmm that is really odd.

2 July ( Monday ) Our first day at the Royal Orchid in Bangalore. Great xample of  the duplicity of India; regal hotel surrounded by guarded gates and outside that construction and urban blight. Bangalore does not strike me as the typical littered Indian city, but we will see. Monday's sessions have been educational and informative on the education system we will encounter during our stay and then more on the two sides of India. traditional versus the new young western thought. Dinner tonight will be a traditional meal and tomorrow we will explore the city on a walking tour.

3 July ( Tuesday ) Today started WAY too early! I was up at 4:30 and am listening to the city begin to wake up. Honking has started in earnest , so the work day has officially begun. Toured around Bangalore - fabulous! Our guide gave us a brief history lesson and then we started our tour. First impression - the gardens are beautiful and the dog we adopted along the way looked like it needed a friend. Our first experience with a street vendor was a woman who made personalized , individual juice that were meant to address specific concerns. mine was made with Brahmi and carrot..... eye and brain enhancers. it was really, really , really green. It was very good also. Did I mention it was very green? We toured around the " British" section of the city , but soon left it for the more village model. Along the way we hit up the vegetable and meat markets. It was crowded and bustling, each person having a very distinct purpose and destination in mind. I was treated to a samosa and a huge piece of jaggery. Both were delicious and I wish more of the cohort members had been adventurous to try some. Next stop - a Hindi temple for a special ceremony arranged for us. We removed our shoes and chose our flowers for tribute ( mine were Jasmine with small orange blossoms) Barefoot and beflowered, we headed into the 1000 year old temple for what awaited us. We gave our flower gifts to the God and recieved our gift in return. As we proceeded around the interior square of the temple, we stopped and paid homage and received our blessing. At the shrine to Lakshmi , the priest blessed all of us and then spoke to Maya and I , giving us a rose and another blessing. She told me that what he told me was that he was blessing me, because he sensed in me an old, understanding soul.......... Maya said Lakshmi was giving us back the gift for luck.