Thursday, January 20, 2011

Settling In

Yesterday was relatively uneventful – guess I’m already falling into some routine.  I worked finishing up some of the sewing prototypes in the morning, met with Christa to prepare for our meeting with the shopkeeper, Pooncholai, which will happen today.  There was a large group of women from the self help groups in the office for the morning for a presentation about high schools presented by a guest speaker.  They had a very animated discussion and film in the training room next to where we volunteers work and I wish I had understood Tamil as they appeared very interested.  When they broke into smaller groups some of the women came by to talk with me and at one point I showed them some of my photos from home, which was my first opportunity to do so.  Some of the photos of my house included the dog and the cats (two of them) so when it was finished the only question they had was how many cats lived in my home.  I was a bit embarrassed to admit four (and easily could have lied and said two) and they all laughed like we Americans are quite insane.  Since I’ve seen very few cats while here, I doubt housecats are very common.  The office has a cat and he’s pretty friendly and wants love and attention but he’s scraggly and feels like he has bug bites and scabs so it’s not very comfortable to cuddle him.  The only other cats I’ve seen were in a restaurant on the way between Madurai and Tiruchuli which we stopped at when I was first picked up on my way to ODAM – a mother and two kittens who were very entertaining but not particularly interested in the people around them so I’m not sure how tame they were.  With all of the dogs running loose, I can understand not seeing cats on the street – I’m sure there’s no protection for them.
I went out to the KGBV school for the first time by myself yesterday.  I ended up missing the stop on the way because there were so many people blocking the view of that side of the road that I wasn’t sure when to get off.  It wasn’t a big deal, I just got off at the next stop which was “downtown” Narikuddi – which is not as large as Tiruchuli but is a pretty good size.  I ended up walking ten minutes back to the place I should have gotten off the bus so I was a little late but since no one actually understands to expect me, this doesn’t appear to be any problem.  I stayed a bit longer before leaving to catch the bus so spent a full hour with the girls.  This time there were many more (too many) and controlling them was not as easy.  I plan to have one of the young women in the office write up the Tamil explanation for the girls (even if I have to have one of them read it) that says the time is optional and that they can leave if they’d rather have their free time.  I think there’s some expectation on their part that they have to attend and then they’re disruptive and I certainly don’t want them to be forced to be there.  The word I covered that they found amusing was “thirsty” – I think it was the hard th sound – as their use is always the softer-tongue-behind-the-teeth sound.  Those who were involved in the lesson really seemed to enjoy it and if I could work with just them, it would be a great deal more fun for me as well as productive.  My bus ride home was uneventful – I got to the bus stop on my own, got on the right bus, and got off at the correct stop.  I’m almost as competent as the locals (OK, that’s probably quite an exaggeration).  The only problem was that I stood most of the way up and all of the way back as the busses were full and then did the walking – my bad knee really complained about the abuse last night.  Since I’m constantly standing or walking on hard surfaces (no such thing as carpet), my old body isn’t as pampered as usual.  Then I look at some of these old women carrying huge buckets of water on their heads and sitting on the floor all the time and feel there’s no way I have any right to complain.

I need to get back to work since I have only this morning in the office but hope you’ve had a chance to check out the photos I posted.  Rusty has certainly enjoyed them ;-)

One more thing – for those of you who recommended I use Avon Skin-So-Soft to help keep away the mosquitoes, I’d appreciate if you’d email the mosquitoes here and let them know it’s supposed to be a repellant as it isn’t cutting it so far ;-)

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