Spice Diaries – Vol 3, Aug 18

August 19, 2007 1 Comment »

Chandni Chowk Market Old Delhi

Chandni Chowk Market Old Delhi

Finished week 1 – Intermittent Power and Water – But Plenty of Hospitality!

Whoohooo…..it’s the weekend! I’ve worked my butt off this week – mainly stressing out about teaching and banging my head against a wall when it comes to internet usage around here..which I can’t seem to find anywhere with any reliability.

Despite being in a nice air conditioned building with ample facilities to teach – I am having a very hard time teaching. This is mainly due to the amount of work that I have to do to prepare for teaching 2 different classes every day in English and Computers. The bad news is that I can’t even re-use what I’ve done for one class because one class is a beginning class barely learning their A,B,C’s and the other class wants me to teach them advanced grammar and HTML…it’s like teaching kindergarten and high school in the same day..and I’m not a teacher…nor do I know HTML. So – I try to spend my nights searching the internet for lesson plan ideas and tutorials on various topics ranging from coloring the rainbow to good website design. And then the power goes out for a few hours…oh – the unpredictability of India. Yesterday we also ran out of water…we now fill up buckets as a backup just in case we run out again.

a zMy placement has it’s challenges – however – I just keep reminding myself to be thankful that I’m not assigned to Catherine’s position – working with a group of mentally ill patients in the slums. Monday her task is to cut the mental patients’ hair….the direction she was given was that it couldn’t look any worse than it does. All of a sudden my lesson planning looks pretty posh. At least I’m not cutting the lice ridden hair for the mentally ill in the slums of India – that’s pretty much hell.

This weekend I stayed in Delhi to see some of the sites around here as I haven’t had time during the week. This also meant that we could finally venture out and find an establishment that served alcohol. My favorite thing to do here in Delhi is simply ride in a car. I am enthralled by watching the world outside…the crazy world of bikes, people, cars, horns, cows, dogs, poverty, and buses packed 3 times as full as the C train at rush hour in NYC.

The first thing that I have learned is that the people here are extremely friendly. We have been invited to dinner or drinks by various neighbors, and shop keepers. Sure – some might be offered more as a cordial thing to say – but some of the offers are followed up on. One of the other volunteers the other day said – “When we see a foreigner in a grocery store we ignore them. Yet in India, when they see a foreigner in a market, they go straight up to the visitor and start talking to them, helping them, befriending them.” It’s absolutely true. I’ve never been showered with such hospitality before – it’s overwhelming. Plus, it’s so opposite from my experience in Egypt and Morocco – where you were stared at and hassled to no end. Sure – you still have to really have your guard up here in India – as there are many tourists scams to be wary of – but you use your best judgement and we always tell our CCS staff about the various invitations and interactions and they can direct us on who’s being genuine and who isn’t.

So – this weekend has been a good break – but now I’m back to lesson planning and hunting for internet connectivity – trying to get ready for my week ahead!

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