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Trip Start Apr 28, 2006
Trip End Oct 21, 2006

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

God I havent written in a WHILE! I'm sure nobody even noticed (sniff) but oh well...

Here I am, in Dehradun... Alooone... Have been quite busy the last couple of weeks though - I'm even starting to enjoy being on my own and having my space etc! Its still a bit lonely sometimes though :o(

Recent developments at Raphael are:
- I seem to have become Snow White and am attracting a small zoo of animals in my little flat - as well as the mosquitoes, spiders, evil crickets, huge lizards (which I quite like!) and frogs nesting in the cupboards; I now have a mouse to keep me company! Spent a good part of one evening cowering on top of the table trying to figure out where the squeaking was coming from and catch a glimpse of black tail darting about!
- I've chosen a class to spend the next few weeks with - they're absolutely lovely; well, on and off - they all have their moments of turning into little shits and trying to kill/shag each other! But there are some proper little cuties :o)
- I've started jogging in the mornings - ok I've only been once as yet but after three months of no proper exercise, it half-killed me, I need time to recover! Have also started yoga - on the verandah of Urvashi's (finally worked out her name!) huge house with a private instructor! Dont think I'm the best student - felt rather silly making loud grunting and puffing noises when there were only two of us in front of this guy! Another woman's going to join us though which should help!

Some general observations:
- Have realised I'm working in probably the most culturally traditional setting I could have found - just suited to me then ARGH! :oS One of the teachers was looking at my (long ankle-length and extremely conservative for me!) skirt and informed me that all the other volunteers before have worn trousers or salwar kameez - I politely replied 'oh' - what am I supposed to say to that? I'm not going to start dressing like either a hippy traveller or a traditional Indian woman - I'd love to see their faces if they saw any of the tarty little numbers in my wardrobe at home though haha!
- Some of the teaching methods used are a litle unorthodox - well actually maybe they're very orthodox I dont know! But the punishments in particular... In class one boy pushed over another so he smacked his head hard on the floor, and the teacher - rather than discouraging him from retaliating with physical violence - actively instructed him to give the other boy a good walloping to punish him!! In some ways they're extremely relaxed about things as well - from previous volunteering in England I know how anal they are about you needing strict qualifications to move/handle any disabled child in a special school - here I can do what I like! They even expect me to lift and carry the kids between classes with absolutely no training etc! I dont mind of course, but its quite funny noting the differences!
- Have found myself starting to do all the head-wobbling and random hand signals they do over here - I dont really know what they mean though so am probably telling everyone to 'f' off all the time!!

Anyway enough of that... I had a nice trip to Mussoorie one day. It was 'Rakhi' - a festival in which sisters tie a bracelet around their brother's wrist and the brother promises to always protect her (how sweet) so I had a day off and went to Mussoorie, a nearby hill station, with Urvashi. We went up to Gun Hill, the highest point, in a cable car; but it was so cloudy we couldnt see a thing so we came back down! On the way back we stopped off at Nita Roy's house - she's the... actually I cant remember her job title but she's quite important - Press and PR or something! Anyway her house is ridiculously massive and amazing - just what I want when I'm older please! She's really lovely, and an avid jazz fan, which made me very happy, geek that I am :o) We sat around drinking tea, eating tomato sandwiches and listening to her vast collection of music. Later we even had wine, my god how rebellious! Closest I've been to a social life in a while anyway!

A couple of days later I had more holiday - a whole five days to be precise! A few different festivals - eg Independence Day, Lord Krishna's birthday etc - fell in the same week, which meant I could properly escape from Raphael for a while! I decided to go to Rishikesh, a hill town about an hour or so away, which is famous for its temples and general religiousness! Puru (our guide from the trek all those months ago!) came over from Nepal to meet me, so we had a relaxing time strolling leisurely about Rishikesh and basking in the glorious sunshine :o) I think it definitely did me good to have a little break - hanging out solely with complete nutters is possibly not too good for my own mental health - one evening in Ava Vihar a little girl called Gomal was very upset because her parents were supposed to be taking her home for a while but they cancelled. So I was just giving her a cuddle trying to comfort her, when everyone else sitting around decided to join in! I was surrounded by a group of kids and old people sobbing their hearts out, pulling at my sleeves and wiping their noses on me! Eventually I couldnt take the depression any longer and ran away and left them to it! :oS

Stop rambling woman...

Rishikesh... Well its really cool - one of my favourite places in India actually - really relaxed and peaceful and green. We saw loooads of temples - one of them had 17 floors - actually it reminded me of a multi-storey carpark... crossed with a prison... with random elaborate shrines dotted about! Very bizarre! There are two massive suspension bridges, which are quite impressive - they're supposedly pedestrianised but what with hundreds of monkeys swinging about stealing everything in sight, huge oxen plodding along at snailpace, and sneaky motorbikes weaving in and out of everyone - its completely impossible to move anyway! The weather was gloriously hot and sunny, which was luuurrvely; although I think I got sunstroke the first day as I was up most of the night with a raging fever! Oops. At least I could get my shoulders out for some tanning - shoulder exposure is strictly forbidden at Raphael! There were loads and loads of Nepalis working in the (very very backpackery) area we stayed in, so Puru was everyone's best friend! We bumped into a couple we met when we did our trek - a Norwegian guy and a French-Canadian girl - think they were quite confused to see Puru and I in the same place together! We watched a Hindi film - I'd forgotten how long and angst-ridden they are - I was so drained from all the heartache and emotion by the end of it! Good songs though :o)

After two days back at work it was the weekend again! Yay! I went to Mussoorie again on Saturday - it was so lovely just to wander about by myself and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. WELL... lovely that is, until... I was happily strolling along Camels' Back Road (so named because of a hump-shaped rock on it), snapping away contentedly with my little camera and enjoying the peace and serenity; when I noticed a guy who'd just passed me, waiting for me round a corner. He asked for a kiss - I said no and walked past. Then he fended off a monkey which was about to pounce on me for walking too close to its baby! Quite ironic as I would much rather have been attacked by the monkey than him... Anyway he came round in front of me, begging persistently for a kiss and trying to get close to me. Trying to keep the rising panic out of my voice (the road was completely deserted) I looked him straight in the eye and told him there were people just back there and if I screamed very loudly they would hear, then pushed past him again. He ran up behind me and lifted my skirt right up, so I lashed out and sent his bag flying; then he suddenly whipped out his, well you know what, and started coming at me. I turned and legged it as fast as I could. Luckily a car came round the corner so I jumped right in front of it to make it stop. I couldnt really speak for shock - I managed to sob 'There's a man...' before the sweet and very concerned old couple inside bundled me in and gave me a lift back to the main road. I think the old guy wanted to take on the perv (bless) - he was angrily going 'Where is he where is this man' but of course he'd run off and hidden somewhere. Anyway after promising them not to walk along any more quiet roads alone, I had some seriously strong coffee then headed to Nita's house to spend the night (she's the v rich v lovely oldish lady I mentioned before!)

We went for tea with two other ladies at an old colonel's house - I say house, I think mansion is more the word! It was a stunning building, situated in about ten acres of unspoilt greenery (I later found out that his house was only like the annexe building or something, and the main house was nearby - whaaat?!) I was so overawed I barely said a word throughout their (boring and fuddy-duddy!) conversation (although the fact that we were drinking coke and eating crisps did bring me back down to earth a bit - not quite what you'd expect!!!) until they started airing their views on homosexuality.. Then I had to bite my tongue so hard I thought it might fall out of my mouth! You can imagine, being of an older generation, and homosexuality still being quite a new and not yet accepted concept in India, that their views were a little outdated to me! Nita insisted on telling everyone about my earlier experience - not to embarrass me, but because she was genuinely ashamed on behalf of her country that this kind of thing happens to foreign tourists. I liked the term the colonel gave it though - a 'roadside romeo' - that made me chuckle!

In the morning I had a yummy breakfast then chilled out reading books and newspapers on Nita's beautiful verandah; trying to ignore her shouting at her servants :oS Had a lovely relaxing day - then back to my bleak, depressing flat at Raphael! Only five weeks to go! I hope I can still go to Sri Lanka; there's been a worrying number of bombings near Colombo :oS hmm...

Anyway til next time! Am missing you all tons by the way, dont forget me!

Han/Mo xxxx :oP
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franglitter on

Hello there my lovely, glad to hear you're having lots of fun (without me, boohoo...) Sounds like you've been hangin out at some nice posh places, sooo jealous!

What's this about the roadside romeo though?!? Mind yourself out there alone now that I'm not there to protect you with my buffy moves (wishful thinking..) Think you win the award for sleaziest wanker encounter though, eek...

Best be off, got to go and photocopy some vegetable themed worksheets for tomorrow's lessons - it's all go here I tell you!

Loads of love, miss you!

Maz xx x xx x x x

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