Doing The Needful - A Little Catch Up
What a month!
I know I've been rather neglectful of this little space recently; a combination of being either unable-to-move-ill or run-off-my-feet busy. The past few weeks have been chaotic, memorable and despite everything negative I might be about to mention - absolutely brilliant.
I'll start with Diwali. Diwali is the festival of lights - one of the major festivals that I'd kind of been looking forward to since October started. In the weeks leading up to the festival the streets of Hyderabad were all lit up with fairy lights and flowers which was really pretty, we had plans made to go and visit Bharavi and Sugathi with Emma and Jenny and we were all pretty excited.
I'd like to be able to say that Diwali was beautiful but I ended up celebrating with my head in the loo and a visit to the doctor. Food poisoning, coupled with a bug that was going around my students had me crippled. Everybody knows there is only one thing worse than being incredibly ill, and that is being ill so far from home, from home comforts, from routines you would normally abide by that you would rather not be there at all. I wanted to be at home. I did not want the curry they were trying to give me for breakfast or even the tea. I had little bits of fruit and I did feel a little better with medicine, but honestly, that week was just the worst. I've never been quite that sick before and it was horrible.
|credit to Alex for such wonderful photography xD|
I have so much gratitude to Nagur and Pandy for taking us to the hospital in Sun City, as we'd no doubt have gotten totally lost without them. They were also kind enough to collect all my medicine and buy me some bananas, but the biggest thanks actually goes to them for shielding me from the man who was hitting us with a bunch peacock feathers through the auto window. Not joking, that was a thing that actually happened, because you know, hit someone with a bunch of feathers and they'll totally give you money!
I did however get the one beautiful thing I've been pestering everyone about all month for- TOAST! It sounds ridiculous, but when breakfast is normally chilli-powder and a side of dosa (that's how much chilli powder there is eughhh) or something equally as spicy, you'd be wishing for something like plain old toast too.
So, despite the kitchen not having a toaster, or the man in the hostel canteen not even knowing what 'toast' was before this (I'd asked and he'd looked at me like I said I wanted the moon), after finding out I was ill, rallied round and somehow managed to make stacks of cooked bread upon my request. I didn't feel like eating anything else, so it was really lovely. They even brought it up to me in bed! Even though I might never get over the embarrassment of the warden, Vijay, Rajesh (our hosts at the hostel) and a crowd of random onlookers seeing my in my pajamas first thing in the morning, I could have wept tears of happiness at that moment. That night, he was just so proud he now knew how to make it that he got a little over-excited and toasted a whole loaf for my dinner. So I'm still utterly thankful for that, the little blessing in my food poisoning adventure.
|this moment may well go down in history as the happiest I have ever been|
Clearly, the toast was a bit of a miracle cure, as I was soon perfectly well again, just in time for Alex to catch the bug and take ill too. Sharing is caring, right?
Although we weren't able to celebrate Diwali, we did have our own little festival in the hostel at the start of November which was super cool. It just so happened that Bonfire Night coincided with Traditional Day, a annual day of celebration in LV Prasad. It's organised by the third year students and started off the night before, when we found ourselves in a random classroom at BLSO, where the floor was hidden under huge piles of yellow and orange marigolds. Everyone was making marigold garlands and we learnt how to thread the flowers onto the wire, and after getting the hang of it we found ourselves really enjoying it, so much so that we stayed up with everyone until 1AM making them. Then the hostel warden realised we were still up and we had to go to bed. Before we left, we found out celebrations were actually kicking off with a five-thirty-am bonfire, and although initially reluctant (we're not the greatest early risers) after realising it would be bonfire night back home, we set our alarms for 5am and decided we should just embrace it. We have the rest of our life to sleep in, after all!
|making marigold chains with Shazia and Gorgi <3|
So, a grand total of four hours of sleep later, Alex and I found ourselves up and about, watching everyone put the final decorations in place for traditional day. There was rangoli designs, designs with flower petals, and lots of other little touches. At 6am everyone who was awake crowded around the bonfire in the wooded area of the hostel garden, hanging around while the boys got the bonfire going. Then we all had to find a stick to represent something we wanted to burn. It was supposed to be like a bad habit, or a resolution you had, but since it was bonfire night Alex & I burned Guy Fawkes. A long day of dancing, a silent play about the treatment of women, kite flying and other competitions followed. Emma and Jenny came to visit for a few hours and then at night we had dinner on the roof, with banana leaves as plates. It was really lovely and when we collapsed into bed, well past midnight, we had no regrets about having gotten up so early. It was a super fun day. I'll add some more photos at the end.
Then, soon enough we were both back teaching, but even though we were fit and healthy again we came back to discover our nurses had caught chickenpox! For the past few weeks we've had a couple of nurses each week coming down with a fever and then be off with chickenpox. So with more than half a class down, we spent a while recapping things we've already taught them. There is a YouTube channel called scratch garden that makes educational videos and I can there has never been a class this excited about punctuation. There's a line in the video where the comma says "I like cookies, cupcakes, and cucumbers" and they loved it so much it's now been declared our class motto. Every so often I'll be writing something on the board and I'll just hear them quoting the video to each other which is really funny because they'll put the accent on too.
We also started to teach them some ceilidh dancing after class which was disastrously hilarious. Lots of crashing, bumping into each other and cries of "mam, why do you call this dancing?!"
|Alex and Afsana's faces pretty much sum up how ceilidh dancing went!|
We're now also teaching the HR department and patient care counsellors as well as our ONAs and VTs/DOTs, which is fun. From HR we learn lots of Indianisms, including our new favourite: "do the needful." It means to do what needs done, and we found out about it after I said "needful isn't a word" and four phones appeared desperate to prove me wrong! Patient Care and HR come in different batches every day, so although it's two classes, it's about 60 extra students! Lots of new names to try and remember (I am so bad with names as it is, so I rely on Alex to remember most of them.) It's actually really nice though, as we are constantly getting to know more and more about the hospital, the staff, what they do and where they work. Now wherever we go in the hospital we always know someone who wants to say hello. Suddenly this place, which seemed so huge and daunting during our first month here, now feels rather small as it's filled with familiar faces.
The second week of November we had a little bit of a crisis in India. The Prime Minister, Modi, announced on the Tuesday night (about 6pm) that from midnight all 1000 and 500 rupee notes would be withdrawn from circulation and cease to be legal tender. Banks and ATMs were shut all day on the Wednesday and queues were down the street when they reopened on the Thursday. So having just spent all my change in McDonalds on Tuesday lunchtime, I was left without any spendable cash for a couple of days until we managed to change our money on the Friday. Even then I still had no money as our 1000 rupee notes were exchanged for the newly introduced 2000 rupee notes! This is because it used to be quite hard to spend 1000 notes (everyone always wants change), it is now even harder trying to break the 2000 notes. Thankfully it's all starting to calm down a bit now, although there's still a limit on how much you can take out at the ATM, so we're putting off taking out money until we have too. Most days there's a sign outside by lunchtime declaring the ATM out of money anyway, so it's a bit of a pain.
Last weekend we went to Secunderabad Market with Emma and Jenny which was lots of fun! We had to get three buses to their project from ours, as it was a Sunday and the LVPEI bus wasn't running. We managed to get on all the right ones and were pretty proud of ourselves. We had a nice day shopping- getting new punjabis for teaching in, scarves, bangles, and a kettle for our room! We've become pretty epic at bargaining these days, having so much practice with the auto-drivers in front of LVPEI, so we got some good deals. After we were finished at the market we went to visit Devnar School for the Blind, Emma and Jenny's project. We met a bunch of their kids and had a really nice afternoon, singing Toy Story songs with the little kids and laughing at the boys playing cricket. My favourite thing about watching them is that there's one boy who can see a little, so they make him wear a blindfold if he's playing! Then after snacks, we went for the bus back to the hostel. As it happened though, we saw the bus that should have been going straight to Kali-Mandir, the bus stop at our project, but when we asked the conductor, he said that it wasn't going there. So we got off and a well-meaning woman said "Oh I'm going to Kali-Madir; it's this bus" and so we got on with her. Then about twenty minutes, Alex & I were beginning to get a bit uneasy. We always get the bus from LVPEI at 7:30, so we are used to seeing the city at night, and nothing looked familiar to us. So we turned round to the woman to double check we were definitely on the right bus, and she said "what kalimandir are you going to?" It turns out there's two, and the one we were heading for was on the opposite end of Hyderabad! So after talking to the conductor and checking google maps we were told to get off at the next stop, cross the road and get a certain bus. So we crossed the road, and couldn't see the busstop, which worried us even more. So we asked some more people where it was and eventually made it to the bus stop which was about ten minutes walk back in the direction we'd come and waited for the bus. Eventually we made it to Mehidipatnam and then Kalimandir, but that was not our best public transport experience. Such a contrast to our stress-free journey there!
Another November highlight included finding the resident bathroom lizard (who we've named Lizzie) in even more bizare and wonderful places; including under the toilet seat, hugging my mouthwash, making a nest with my t-shirt and trying to jump in the bin. The thing is a wee rascal and drives us up the wall, but it's funny watching her. She also eats all the moths which is rather handy, although I would appreciate not having to check under the seat for her every time I need the toilet!
We went to Ocean Park with the rehabilitation department at LVPEI, and around 300 very excited children. It meant another 5am start, as we had to get the 6:15am shuttle to the hospital then we all left at 8:45 from LVPEI to go to Ocean Park. From singing and dancing down the bus on the journey there, to playing lots of games before even going in the water, we had such a brilliant day. Although it was a little strange having to go in the water fully clothed, and even stranger seeing lots of little school children going in in their uniform, it was so much fun. I was guiding a group of the Devnar boys around, and while we had fun in the wave pool, they soon realised there were water slides they wanted to go on. Initially, the man in charge of the water slides said they couldn't go on because they were blind, but somehow the boys managed to convince him to let them go on the double ring, on the condition that I went with them. So we went up the stairs, and joined the queue. That's when my fear of heights kicked in, and I realised that this slide was the steepest, scariest thing I'd ever seen! The boys were totally fearless as they couldn't see how steep it was, and as we got to the front of the queue, the man in charge insisted I went in the front ring. So, completely terrified but having come too far to turn back, in I climbed. It actually turned out to be really fun, and it was totally worth my initial fear seeing how much the boys loved it, but I swear I've never been so scared.
We did have a really amazing day though, even though Alex was a daftie and forgot to bring any spare clothes, and also forgot her wallet was in her pocket and soaked all her money.
|Alex and her rupees drying off!|
|health and safety at it's finest :P|
|rangoli in progress|
|the 3rd year's silent play about the treatment of women.|
|Teja stole my camera and took photos of everything!|
|Shazia (Queen) and Pandy|
|with Carticks and Rajesh|
|the boys fixing up the kites|
|we made a surprisingly good team and it only came down once!|
|Our DEHM (I-CARE) Boys // amazing kite flying team selfie|
|had dinner on a banana leaf!|
|when you get food that isn't dahl! :D plus the added bonus of lemon rice and POORI|
|Sunny and Shazia|
|Paneer butter masala - my absolute favourite! (and it came with puri!)|
|We've now got mugs and spoons but we had to make do on our first night with the kettle! xD #adulting|
The photo at the very top of this post, is of the first Christmas tree we saw in India! It was outside Walden, the bookstore next to LV Prasad, and even though it's a wee bit squnity, and we were laughed at by the security men for taking selfies with it, you could say we're now pretty excited about Christmas. We've got some decorations for our room, and are starting to plan for a possible holiday in January. All very exciting stuff!