Change tomorrow today

Trip Start Feb 24, 2010
Trip End Jun 29, 2010

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Where I stayed
Blue Diamond School

Flag of India  , Bengal,
Saturday, May 29, 2010 just gotta love this hindi song -> :-)
We are preparing it with the best singers from class 7 - 10 to sing next Saturday at the World Environment Day rally. Schools from all over the area are going to meet up to perform to each other.  There is going to be a march and the little kids are going to wear animal masks!


Heya everyone, glad to hear the UK has been getting some sun and pleased many of you are nearing the end of exams.  We were shocked to hear about the train crash just outside of Calcutta.  We are doing a fair bit of travelling by train in 3 weeks time so were initially a bit worried but it does appear to be a very rare occasion here, considering the thousands of trains that run safely every day.  As far as the strike goes it is still not confirmed however if it does go ahead apparently we can get a permission letter from a village elder to let Mr T drive me and Julia to the train station (which is in an area that would not be affected by the strike).
We got some more additions to Blue Diamond this week - our hen gave birth to four chicks! They were so small so had to live in a cardboard box in the kitchen and live off potato curry!  Unfortunately three have died already :-( though the brownie one is still alive so fingers crossed it will survive.

The start of this week was not so good. On Sunday was too cloudy to go paragliding :-(  Then in the afternoon Julia & I got stuck trying to back to Ghayabari. We got off a bus in Siliguri in the sweltering heat, I was then chased down the road by a beggar with baby who was being so persistent even onlookers were shouting at her to leave me alone! We then discovered the last two buses were cancelled!
Its funny cause before coming out here my dad gave me a great book 'A-Z of India, a girl's Survivors guide.' The author explains about this phenomenon I had not as yet experienced. Its one where India smacks you in the face, you just want to scream and leave! I was in a filthy mood and being ripped off by the rickshaw driver didn't help. Julia was amazing & calmed me down, we quickly found a hotel and took advantage of having a shower, TV and being able to go out for dinner :-) Despite my big purple umbrella the monsoon was out in full form so we got soaked! The noise of the rain is so loud, it went on through most of the night.
We had to get up at 5.30am on Monday to make it back in time for our lessons. The first two buses of the day were cancelled so we waited in the run down bus station for hours. A drunk tried to nick our stuff, a man saw and beat him! Cows wondered around eating rubbish which had been swept in by the rain. We had seats on the bus right by the door so got rained on again! I was so pleased to get home, for the first time in ages I put a cardi on it was a little cold, though probably from the rain. Julia was sick as soon as we got back :-( The Thapas gave me some left over chow mein from breakfast, something we only get every couple of weeks so it is especially nice!
I taught class 7 that morning, we played the chatterbox game where you have to think of a word beginning with a given letter in a chosen category. Our theme this week is sports & hobbies. Apparently Elephant Polo is a sport! Then the Principal came in and told the kids to go home.  The school decided to call a holiday in respect of the gorka politician stabbed to death on Friday. It was still raining and we didn't have power so we all had a long afternoon nap - in these situations there isn't much else you can do!

On Wednesday I was on a walk with some of the younger kids in the village and we bumped into the new English teacher. He was so friendly and invited us in for juice - people are like that in the country!  We left our flip flops at the door.  The boarders don't get much time out of school so were fascinated by the contents of his front room.  I felt like an anxious mum supervising four kids playing with his guitar, glass table and computer while answering all the usual questions - what country / why here etc?!

Thursday was a holiday to celebrate the birthday of Buddha. I had to roll the bread into special triangle shapes instead of the usual circles. With Julia away in Sikkim this took 2 hours! I waited an hour for the bus to Siliguri where I was meeting Cassi and read more of 'Chocolat' which I am really enjoying :-) Suprise suprise the bus never came so Prenit brother suggested I got a lift in a truck. It still feels a bit weird getting in vehicles with total strangers!  Though it is the way of life here, it is safe honest!

I met Cas and had an amazing lunch - cheese pakora, chips and ice cream! I cannot begin to express how good this food is when your diet is 90% rice haha. We also got lychees, they are so cheap here :-) We got the bus back to school and straight away our kids loved her! We sat around the boy's room singing Hindi and Nepali songs with Prenit brother playing guitar.

We then took the older kids up the hill to the gompa (buddhist temple). We were greeted by people dancing crazily outside and were given bags full of puffed rice, pieces of cucumber and sweets!  We got holy water and red threads round our necks. We walk past the temple all the time and it is never open so it was lovely to go in :-)

We had a busy day on Friday, we both went to Regal and aside from the helper DiDi we were the only teachers! (One has just had a baby, the other was ill and the other couldn't get any transport!).  It was a bit mad at first but was ok in the end.  I ended up teaching Maths for the first time - the lovely 3 times table. At lunchtime we got the toy train back up to our village.  It broke down so we clung to the back of a tea truck and got a free lift back the rest of the way! In the afternoon we taught class 5 - they loved the pirate song 'When I was one...' We also sunbathed on the school roof, whitewashed a wall, did an evening walk and went to a singing rehearsal.

Today we had a full morning teaching - Cassi had the great idea of getting the kids to work out that they would need / to do if stranded on a desert island!  Tomorrow we are taking the kids down to swim in the river and doing another mural (we have lots of paint so thought it worthwhile to use it up!) - A bumble bee with 'Be the best you can be!' written around it :-)  

I can't believe I have only two and a half weeks of teaching left!!!  We are finishing loads of things - murals, photo displays, photo album present for the Thapas and deciding on the best Lattitude Projects.  Already concerning about packing all our stuff - so want to  travel light but don''t think its going to happen!

Love Kate xxx
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