Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Toileting Troubles in Class 4

The kids here use signals to let you know the reason that they need to leave the classroom:
Thumb to mouth – I need a drink.
Little finger – I need a wee
Little finger strained – I need a wee desperately
Peace sign – I need a number 2
Peace sign strained – I need a number 2 desperately

Before two weeks ago I used to let my children go to the toilet and for a drink when they said they needed to go. I thought that it was unfair to let a child aged 9 to wait to go to the toilet for an hour and a half. And if a child needs a drink they should not be denied access to the water, its bloomin’ hot out here and if I need a drink I can get one so why shouldn’t they.

The troubles only begin when all of the children need to go for the toilet at the same time. You know it’s only an excuse to go out of class together. I have been to school, I know all the tricks! So my only rule was that they were only allowed to go one at a time and they were only allowed to go to the toilet once each lesson. I would write the names of the children that had been to the toilet on the board. By the end of the lesson, the board would be full of names with only a small space to write. It was crazy how many of them seemed to need the toilet in my lesson and it was confusing me as to why they always needed to go.

So I went to the headmistress, this is when she told me that the school rule is that they aren’t allowed out of the lesson for anything. The kids can only use breaks to go for a drink and to the bathroom. She said that the children were taking advantage of the fact that I let them out of the classroom when the other teachers make them sit down and do the work no matter how much they need to go. She told me that I should not let any of the children go to the toilet, and tell them to wait till break.

The next day came around and it was time to teach class 4. We had been doing the work and all of the kids at some point had come up to me to ask me if they could go to the bathroom. Each time I told them no and when they asked why, I explained that they wait until break because the headmistress said so. They soon were quiet and sat down as they knew that I had found out. I was walking around the classroom looking at their pictures (we were drawing pictures of people and labelling the body parts). As I got to Anosha – a little boy in class 4, very sweet, but is a bit away with the fairies, takes ages to do the work and sometimes falls asleep – he stood up and made the little finger symbol to ask to go to the toilet. I told him no firmly as he had already asked twice.

The kids weren't spelling the body parts correctly so I went back to my little blackboard at the front of the classroom. As I turned my back to write, I heard:


So I turned around and sternly said to them, “we know the rules, no going to the toilet during class, wake until breaktime”.


So I got more angry “yes, all of you have to wait, or you can go to the headmistress”

At which point I turned to Anosha, who was in his corner. He likes the corner as he thinks it’s his way of getting out of doing work. And there he was, squatting, trousers around his ankles, PEEING!! It went everywhere, all over his books, and his trousers.

Little Anosha, Class 4
I later told the headmistress. She laughed and when I think about it, it was very funny! Now if they ask more than 3 times I can let them go, but I have to keep a list and give it to the headmistress so she can see who is leaving the lessons.

No one has been doing any peeing lately – which is good news!

Hope you find it as funny as I did!
Love from India
Becca xx

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Holiday blog

So here is my holiday blog, finally finished and only a little bit late. Okay maybe a lot late but I guess I’m slipping into the Indian ways; no sense of time or direction. Our host tried to direct us to the post office. He said:

the post office, hmmmm, very very very far away, I will send a boy with you, you will go by auto or maybe taxi, very very far”.

So in we got into this auto (rickshaw) with one of the boys from the hostel. We ask for the post office. About a minute later we had arrived. The post office is literally around the corner from our house. It was very funny. Ever since that day we have walked to the post office however our host still insists on us taking a boy with us just in case it is too far.

For this blog I am only going to write about our holidays as there is so much to tell about everything we did and all the places that we went to. On the evening of the 14th of October, me, Kyekue and Katie (a volunteer in Tangutur) got our 1st overnight train to Chennai. The train journeys in India are very interesting in India. Our train was 1 hour late – not surprising after all we are in India – so we sat on the station patiently waiting with all our bags. Whilst we were sitting there, two men on the opposite station got out their camera phones and started taking pictures of us. This has got to have been one of the most awkward moments of my life. I mean what do I do? Do I look straight at the camera and smile? Do I wave? Do I look away?

Once on the train we were shoved into our seats and told to sleep. It was already late and everyone else was sleeping. Our beds were split up; Kyekue sleeping with a group of women, me in one of the double bunks with quite a bit of room, and Katie with a group of men, who spent the whole night staring at her because of her blonde and extremely curly hair.

We arrived in Chennai at 4am, where we had a little bit of trouble with some auto drivers. We wanted to get the bus from the train station to the bus station where we were getting our next bus to Pondicherry. We were trying to find out where it stopped. We had been informed by the tourist information that it was only going to cost us 12 rupees. So we are wandering around trying to find the bus stop, meanwhile we are stopped by loads of auto drivers who offer to take us to the bus station for 200 rupees each. But we were so determined to get that bus to the bus station so we keep searching. We get told to go to the main road. We get to the main road and supposedly the bus picks people up on the other side of the road. This seems so easy until you consider that in the middle of the road are a barrier and a mangy looking dog. So we are standing in the middle of the road trying to discuss how to get around the dog. I suggest that one of us walks towards it to scare it off but not one of us I brave enough to go towards it, so we have to climb over the barrier to avoid the dog. When we finally get to the other side of the road we walk up and down the road, asking in every shop where the bus stops. We ask a group of people who were standing in a random place at the side of the road, and before we knew it a bus had arrived and we were being pushed onto it. This was the bus we had been searching for! In total this confusion cost us a lot of time but most importantly only 12 rupees, not 200 each.
Pondicherry was our next stop and it was very western. Here we met up with Leah and Kirsty who were going to be travelling with us for the rest of our holidays. We had so much continental food. The morning that we arrived we went for breakfast at a small cafe, where we scoffed on cheese on toast, French toast, fruit salads and omelettes. We did the heritage walk which took alongside the beach. The beach in Pondicherry is little to be desired and consists of lots of rocks. However this was our first view of the Bay of Bengal and it was beautiful and was great for some photo opportunities of Indian fishing boats. That night we went out for an Italian, where I had amazing spaghetti bolognaise. That night I got the best shower I’d had since being in India. The next day we went to the botanical gardens where we relaxed around writing postcards, chatting and taking photos. We also visited the temple which was cute. It was a very small temple which had a lot of little and intricately detailed prayer areas.

Left: Part of the botanical gardens, Pondicherry

Above: Fishing in the Bay of Bengal

In the afternoon we got our next bus to Madurai, where we got another bus to a place called Rameswaram. Rameswaram was truly breathtaking. I had many moments over my holiday where my breath was stopped and the view from the beach at Rameswaram has got to be one of my favourites. We took a jeep tour out to the beach. When you stand on the beach you can see the first island of Sri Lanka. It was amazing. However there wasn’t much else to do here so we took another bus back to Madurai.

Photo; Me and Kyekue on Rameswaram beach

At Madurai we had our evening meal at a roof top restaurant looking out over the dark city lit up by the lights of the temple and the autos. The nights really come alive in India. I have even noticed this at home in Ongole. AS soon as the sun sets, everyone comes out and the road light up with traffic. The next morning we went to the temple, which was huge! Unfortunately I have no pictures from inside the temple as you are not allowed to take camera in. It was a huge shame as I saw some amazing things such as the wedding blessing that were going on whilst we were there; filled with colour, flowers and spices.

Madurai in the Day and the night

We then got a bus to Kanyakumari which is at the point of India, the last bit of land before a big bit of ocean and eventually the South Pole. We ate fresh pineapple and mango on the beach. We also went over to the small island to view the temple. It was a short five minute journey by boat but we all had to wear life jackets. They were the most amazing and fashionable items, being bright orange with glow-in-the-dark patches and they were all the same size so they were very big. It was on this small island that we experienced our first of many southern storms. We all got absolutely soaked but unlike all the other people on the island who took shelter. We showed our true British side and ran around in the rain until we were soaked through, then we just casually strolled back to the ferry in the pouring rain.

Above: Me, Katie and Leah in our life-jackets

Left: The statue and the temple on the island

Our next bus was to Kollam. Yes we took lots of buses this holiday. Our aim of the holiday was to see as many places as possible and to do this we agreed that we needed to sleep on the buses, visit the places and then get a bus to the next place. In Kollam we met up with Ruby and Vibeke. Me and Ruby got to visit a Hindu temple when our auto driver decided that he needed to pray. We had powder put on our foreheads and were given treats to eat – they didn’t taste too good but it’s the thought that counts right? We went for a tour on the backwaters, one of those breathtaking moments. I took so many photos and I still can’t choose my favourite. We were shown all the different plants that they grow on the little islands. I learnt how they harvest coconuts from the trees, how the build their boats and how they insulate their houses. We had tea and tapioca chips in someone’s house. He said it was a shop, but it defiantly looked like their house with just a small table with things for sale on it.

 Me and Ruby in the auto after visiting the temple.

My favourite picture taken whilst on the backwaters tour. I might paint it when i get home.

Our next stop was a place called Alleppey. Here we began the chilled out part of our holiday. We rented out a house boat for 24 hours where we just sat a relaxed. In the evening we sat a watched a tropical storm over the backwaters of Kerala and the next morning I woke up to see the sunrise over the waters. It was amazing. There isn’t much to write about Alleppey as we didn’t do a lot but it was my favourite part of our holiday because I was so insanely beautiful.

Above: Taking a photo of the other house boats. we were staying on a house boat like the one in the picture except ours had a massive balcony on the front which we sat on a relaxed.

Left: the sunrise that i woke up to a 5am in the morning, it was breathtaking.

Fort Kochi was the final place on our holiday before we started to head home. We spent 4 days here and for most of us this was the place where most of us spent all our holiday spendies. I felt truly pampered when I had a head shoulders and neck massage. I had my eyebrows threaded and did some early morning yoga. I ate French toast, honey and fruit every morning for breakfast and each evening we went to a different restaurant and I scoffed on fluffy rice, puffed up parrotas and spicy, creamy curries. We went to see the Kathakali dance show; a play performed only by men, who use no speech or noise, but only their movements and facial expressions to tell 
the story. The play is performed to music played on traditional Indian instruments and everything is very elaborately decorated, even the actors. They paint their faces with different colours so they look like the gods and they dress in over the top, eccentric dresses, which are so huge that only two of the men can fit on the stage at one time. I’m sure at one point one of them got stuck in a stage door.

Photos of the Kathakali dance show.

On the last day together, as five of us, in Fort Kochi, we had a great day at the beach. It was an absolute nightmare of a journey to get to but it was all worth it in the end. The morning of the ‘BEACH DAY!!!’ we walked to the ferry jetty as the beach is on a separate island and we needed to get a boat over. It took us ages to work out what ferry we needed to get and by the time that we had realised what one we needed we had also realised that the ferry we needed left from the other jetty. GREAT! So now we had to walk back the way we had come. We finally got on the ferry successfully and on the other side we got on a bus that took us to Cherai Beach. When we got to the point where we had to get off, the driver stopped the bus. Me and Katie however did not get off the bus! Despite how clear we made it that we wanted to get off at this stop to the women sitting next to us they would not move. I ended up straddling the lady sitting next to me because she would not get up out of her seat for the five seconds she needed to. I’m not sure but I’m pretty sure that being that close to someone, with your legs either side of them is pretty rude in India. But I had no choice. 

Me and Kirsty in the sea
By the time Me and Katie had negotiated all the oblivious Indians on the bus, the bus had started moving and we were being driven away from Cherai Beach and more importantly our three friends who had managed to escape the bus and were now standing on the side of the busy Indian road, waving at us and laughing, as we struggled to explain that we needed to get off. The bus stopped for us and we emerged unharmed from our ordeal – ok, it’s a bit dramatic I know but I will forever tell this story like that. The first time I told it was to Leah and Kirsty the moment I got off the bus. I was so impassioned and excited about what I had just been through that I failed to see the lamp post heading my direction and walked straight into it. Fail of the day, number 2. The beach was great. Plain white sand. Big rolling waves. And a nice hot sun. Which, incidentally was the reason why I went to that beach white and came back looking like a lobster.

Us on our way home
So that was my holiday. Two weeks of chaos, lots of bus journeys, tonnes of samosas and milk biccys, lots of fun and 5 very tired people, cut down into 2000 words. I’ve got to say though despite all of the amazing things we did, the places we saw and the people we met, the best thing was going back to Ongole to all my kids smiling faces. I really did miss them, even their constant demands, their singing at 5 in the morning and even them peeing in my grade 4 classes. Yes, Anosha peed. But hey!! That’s another story yet to be told!!

All that left to be said is ‘Have a great Christmas!’

All my love from India.
Becca xxx

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Sorry its late guys but here is Septembers :)

So here goes for my first blog entry... from way out in India; in a beautiful town called Ongole. I would say little town but nothing in India is considered little. With its giant population of 1.21 billion people even the smallest towns are huge. For someone from a small town called Potton in Bedfordshire every single thing here is completely alien to me:
For a start it is so hot out here. Unless you have been to India you will never be able to understand the power of Indian heat. Words simply cannot describe it. I will say one thing though, if you do ever dare to venture into this country, with such huge diversity and culture, you should cross deodorant of your kit list. Out here there is little point of wearing it; even the best of antiperspirant cannot hold back the sweat when you walk out of your nice air conditioned room into the scorching heat.
The next things that are so hard to get used to are the pollution and the amount of vehicles on the road. We arrived in India on the 12th of September, and from Hyderabad airport, we drove to our hotel in Secunderadbad. As we drove along, we opened the windows of the minibus to look at everything that we were passing and to get a small breeze. This was our first experience of the India I am gradually becoming used to. The strong smell, which I still cannot describe. I think it is a mixture between raw sewage, car fumes, cow excrement and rotting food. The sights of poor next to rich; the people who sit at the side of the busy road, begging for food because they are crippled and cannot work; and the well off man driving past them in his brand new four by four with blacked out windows. The constant sound of horns... I honestly cannot understand what the point in the horns are, as everyone’s are blaring out at the same time, and they become so common to the ear that you start to ignore them.
After a few days rest in Secunderadbad, me and my partner, Kyekue, left for our project in Ongole. We travelled by train with two other project volunteers, 30 other Indian passengers and a banana loving rat. We are working at U.C.L.I schools. The school is a government funded elementary and high school. The children, boys and girls of all ages, are all orphans and live at the hostel next to the school and the main house. I have to point out that though the children are considered orphans, most of them have family. They just come from broken homes, where their families have been abandoned by their fathers and their mothers can no longer afford to keep them. The school is a Christian school and the church and school are both run by Reverend Joseph. Me and Kyekue are currently staying in his house. I have got to say the best thing about India has got to be the people. Every person that we have met has been so welcoming towards us. Most people seem to think that I am American at first. I suppose this is because the area is prone to having American missionaries coming to visit and these are the only white people that the locals see. We have made friends with all of the children at the hostel but especially the older girls. They cook our food for us every day, they have been teaching us the language (Telegu) – there is a different language for every state, they have taught us some Indian dancing, helped us to fix our saris and talked us through what’s going on when we watched Telegu TV.
The food here is amazing! I have never tasted anything like it before in my life ... at the moment I am hooked on rice, dosa (a lentil curry paste which is absolutely gorgeous) and chapattis (a flat bread/pastry thing which is basically oil, flour and water, made into a pizza dough, and then flattened and fried in more oil). The chapattis have got to be the best food here. They go with absolutely anything, so far I’ve had them with curry and rice, strawberry jam (which is expensive but yummy!) and yesterday Kyekue tried them with orange juice and sugar which she claimed was really nice and tasted like lemon and sugar pancakes. The most important thing out here is to try everything. Unlike in England the colour makes no difference to the spiciness of the curry out here, so even if it looks hot it might just be flavoursome and the one that looks mild might blow your socks off. It’s all about dipping into new things and new ways of thinking. The mushroom curry was particularly yummy!
Another way that both me and Kyekue have embraced the culture here is through our dress. We have brought ourselves some Indian clothing – so I am now the proud owner of 1 sari and 2 Punjabis (trousers and a dress). I love them very much. I wear them every day to the school and every day the kids tell me how super my clothes are and how beautiful I look, even though I was wearing the same outfit the day before. The kids here are so funny and sweet, but they are also very demanding for your attention all of the time. They are always shouting ‘miss’ at me, even though they have nothing to tell or show me and when I turn around they just giggle or wave. They are always whining, grabbing my hand and trying to carry my stuff for me. It is very sweet and I know it is just because most of the time they are happy to see me but sometimes it gets annoying. Despite this I think that every one of the children here already has a small place in my heart and when these 12months are over (which will come all too quickly) I will miss these children very much.
As for the teaching the classrooms here are very basic, blank walls with just a black board and chalk for me to write on. The children sit on the floor, the boys on one side, and the girls the other; they will not sit next to each other as it is part of their culture. They are provided with books and one pen each – a pen which most of the children in my grade 4 class have lost so I end up sharing out mine. Most of the children can write English words really well. The problem is that they have no idea what the words that they are writing down are and how to say them as they have only ever copied the words off the board. It is great to introduce fun and games to the lesson, though the kids do get a bit excited. So far ‘corners’ has been a huge hit and the element of competition makes it a lot more fun.
So by the time this gets posted I will have probably just finished my first bit of travelling round the south of India. I will write all about it in my next update don’t worry!
Lastly I want to say to all the amazing people that have helped me get this far already thank you very very very much. Your kindness and support has helped me to do this for these children and to have this amazing experience, and I and all the children at UCLI are very grateful.
I love you all and miss you! Having the best time ever!

Best wishes from India,
Becca xxxx

p.s the kids say hello :)

class 3

class six boys