*Day 44: The Wrath of Phenyl

Trip Start May 20, 2008
Trip End Aug 19, 2008

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Soooo , the orphanage bathroom... I'm trying to think of apt words to describe the smell emanating from this place. Fermented - not necessarily human - poop + mold + pee + more mold + more poop, all sauteed in a pan with garlic and curry pretty much covers it. Oh and some mud thrown in for good measure. Friday was the day HT & I taught the kids & managers how to properly sanitize and cleanse a bathroom. Doing this required five things: a bucket, a brush, gloves, phenyl (the local nuclear powered industrial cleaning solution), and most importantly, a live demonstration. Following a grocery store run to pick up these ingredients, the two of us disembarked for the orphanage. Ten minutes passed, fifteen, twenty... no bus in sight and neither of us were in the walking mood. Rescue came in the form of the school van (Fridays are half days), carrying the five VSN orphans part of the way to OCRC. We hitched a ride with them, during which a boy whose name I still don't know gave us a nonstop lesson in Nepali history, likely the same lesson he received at school that day. It was fascinating to learn about and amusing to listen to; he has yet to figure out how tonal inflections work in the English language resulting in his schpiel sounding like that of a twelve year old robot. We were let out about forty minutes from OCRC and walked with the kids the rest of the way. They do this walk twice a day, and have occasionally walked the entire distance during transport lockdowns if they have to make it to an exam. "Uphill both ways in the snow" indeed. HT walked alongside History Roboboy  while I kept little Krishna company. Krishna has the funniest waddle-walk, absentmindedly drifting far ahead of the rest of the gang while dangling his arms around like bigfoot. A Nepali girl, college aged, was on the road only a little ways ahead, stopping at one point to ask me what time it was. A conversation ensued during which she strongly implied that she wanted me to walk her the rest of the way to her house ("You must turn left? I must walk straight. It is very bad for girl to walk alone.") Thinking I had to remain with the group of kiddies, I stupidly did not take her up on the offer and deserve punishment for doing so. Hrmf.

Fifteen minutes later, we were at OCRC. Show time. HT, Nepali-Dave, and I gathered the oldest dozen children together and began the day's health class. HT did most of the teaching while Dave translated, and I took on the role of the goofy cool teacher's assistant. I've noticed he seems to keep the kids at something of an emotional distance, perhaps part of his training as a teacher. It works for what he does, he's the only adult at the orphanage capable of keeping everyone in line and commanding their attention. I've made emotional, personal connections with a bunch of the kids, but "control of the classroom" was needless to say not a strong feature of my occasional English lessons here. And Dave, oh Dave... the loopy, too deep for his own good, one and only. Dave is Dave, that's the best way I can put his kid-corralling abilities or lack thereof. If any of my HS kin are reading this, remember Doug? Dave is the Nepali Doug. In any case  I'm happy with the "cool assistant" role I've slipped into, the personal connections are what I came here for anyway. HT is good at what he does, and I'd like to think I'm good at what I do. Together we balance each other out and make quite the team.

After introducing the foreign, inconceivable idea of "germs" to these preteens, we walked everyone to the outhouses. Opening the phenyl bottle required some Herculean strength, but a managed to do it and wow... that is some evil stuff. I pity the ebola & AIDS that got slaughtered by it afterward. In accordance with the very vague recipe, I poured two parts water and one part phenyl into our bucket, gathered the children and Dave (who didn't know how to clean a bathroom either) around, and engaged battle mode. I furiously scrubbed the squat toilet again and again, with great success, then leaned back against the wall. "No! Dirty!" Rajim shouted. I turned around and saw a brown, rust-like stain on the stucco I was leaning against. I shrugged it off and told him it was no big deal. "No! It is..." =:o Turns out one of the 8 year olds hasn't been properly potty trained and regularly wipes his no-need-to-elaborate onto the wall, for who knows what reason. HT demanded to know who it was and Rajim pointed to the perpetrator. Everyones' heads turned to this young but old enough that he shouldn't be doing such stuff boy, who giggled and wisely fled the scene; we hunted him down and gave him a good scolding. Rajim bravely volunteered to clean the remaining outhouse and did a fairly good job, though we had to keep reminding him to resoak the brush with cleaning fluid & I had to keep offering to take over, for fear of his health. HT took the interior toilet while I scrubbed the sink area, and within an hour the once festering cesspool was (more or less) sparkling. That phenyl stuff didn't smell a whole lot better than the poopy -peepy though.

By four-ish, it was time for HT to head out. He did so, and with rightfully grateful fanfare, while I remained to spend the night. Dave was much more relaxed this time around, last time he was concerned about my comfort to an annoying and hindering extent, while this time he kind of just let me do my thing. It was a welcome change. I helped the children with some homework, badly lost a game of Chess, won many Connect Four games (something I've always been good at), gave Punima a piggyback ride, helped Sumit color, and had a long conversation with Girl Whose Name I Still Don't Know, who for the purposes of this blog I will call Ulga Brezhnev Stalin. Ulga showed me her chest of everything she has in the world, which isn't much, but included pictures of her sister who'd been adopted to a Spanish family. Ulga misses her sister dearly, but is apparently joining her in Spain in some amount of time that I couldn't understand. I've asked Dave about the adoption situation, and he said that while it's good for the adopted child, it in most cases traumatizes the orphaned sibling. They grow up in wholly different societies, with the adopted child forgetting his/her knowledge of Nepali and losing the ability to communicate with the depressed brother or sister. It's a major problem affecting Nepali orphans, though thankfully this particular girl was lucky. This was btw the same girl who put the tikka on my head when I left after the first sleepover. She's one of my favorites.

Ten was bedtime, and I settled into the musty but strangely cozy store room with Dave. We had a long, deep chat about a whole bunch of deep stuff that I don't completely remember, though life aims and dreams were definitely one of the subjects. Sleep followed soon after. I should note that of all the western comforts Nepal lacks and I miss, mattresses have surprisingly not been one of them. My sleep has been just as good on their dinky cushions as it is back home in CA. I could do without the roosters though.

---Quote of the Week---
Street Merchant: "Looking is free!"

---Vital Signs---
Hygiene = Serviceable
Yetis Slaughtered = 89
Bus Roof Rides = 2, 4 at time of writing
Unidentified Inflammation of Upper Lip = Ladina was baffled, but theorized it's an allergic reaction to something. It's healing now so whatever.
Nepal Days Left
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