Half way through the project

Trip Start Jan 06, 2006
Trip End Mar 28, 2006

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Friday, January 20, 2006

This morning started with the bus ride to the gypsy school in Pettai. For some reason i decided to sit in what is called the '3 valium' seat which is next to the driver. Luckally we had a different driver so it wasn't that scarey! I really enjoy our 30 minute drive to the school. Not only do i get time to come round a bit (as you all know the morning isn't the best time for me!) but also get to see all the Tamil people wake up. It's quite a busy time on the roads. Tamil Nadu is famous for it's schools, so there are lots of children travelling by bus, bike or on foot to school. The cattle and goat herders are also on the move, which slows the bus down because they are quite often in the road! There are hundreds of Hindu temples in every village and along the roadside which are all cleaned in the morning.
We are half way through the project and it is surprising how much we have accomplished considering we have only worked 5 mornings! In that time we have rendered, sanded, primed, and painted 2 classrooms and the outside. Admitedly, the builders have done loads. They work incredibly hard and usually in barefoot or flip flops! They are polite and courteous which is very refreshing - not like the English builders! Then again they don't speak much English... Next week we're going to start painting murals inside and outside of one classroom.
Earlier this week we visited a sari weaving cooperative, mat weaving village and a pottery. All were local and quite amazing really. ALthough everything is hand made and well done, and beautiful and it's all so cheap. We all bought a sari of course! In the evening we had a crash course in how to wear a sari. It's not as easy as it looks. All the indian women - even the ones who work in the rice fields look so elegant and colourful.
Yesterday afternoon, we visited the Manimathur waterfall expecting to be able to go underneath it. Unfortunately due to lots of rain in the last week, it was too strong so we couldn't. It was very picturesque and hilly as we were in the foothills of the Western Ghats. There was a down side to it though. The waterfall area is also home to hundreds of macaque monkeys. Here they are considered vermin and now i know why! They are very precocious and will try and steal your bag. In fact they freaked me out a bit and i was glad to get back on the bus! They are a nusiance on the campus too. One came into the kitchen the other morning and helped himself to some fruit!
I have also taken one lesson of conversational english which was fun. I was quite nervous to begin with but it eased off. I had 14 girls from the engineering college. Once the ice was broken and they became more confident the questions began to flow! some of them are very funny and quite endearing: How do you eat and hold a knife a fork? Why do foreigners sun-bath (it took me a while to work out what she meant!)? How do we wash our clothes? Did i have an arranged marriage? The girls and boys sit on seperate sides of the classroom and the boy will get suspended if he is seen talking to a girl. The girl gets a warning and has to write a letter of apology. Doesn't seem fair for the boy! Apparently this happens often. I asked them if they were going to have an arranged marriage to which they all said yes and they were quite happy with this. Even the Christians have arranged marriages.
Will write again after the weekend. LOL XXX
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