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Orna's Crazy Adventure

India update number 2!

INDIA | Monday, 17 October 2011 | Views [427]

So by now I have done one week's volunteering with the slum school and seen some of the other orphanage projects. I've come to realise that this Aim Abroad agency is operating in what is probably a very Indian way - there are some men that seem to be profiting from some of the projects and are running these projects as a business rather than as a social justice mission, while there are others that really seem to have their heads in the right space... It's always very difficult to get clear answers about this agency runs - it seems there are many things going on here! Anyway, for me it has been an insight into these slum schools that I wouldn't have got as a regular tourist.

The days start off with walking to the school from the house and having giggling kids left right and centre run up to you and shake your hand and say "hello!", "But is your name?" (what is your name). It's like some kind of crazy red carpet walk. And all the adults are just sitting or standing and staring at you! (After the kids grabbing your hand it is definately a hand sanitizer affair afterwards - their hands are absoluetely grubby!!)

When we arrive at the school, the kids are all sitting there and they all call out hello and some run up to give you a high five. It's very cute. It's also nice getting to recognise the kids and without wanting to I have definately developed my favourites! (This you can probably see my photos - there are some that reapear numerous times!!) Though it's pretty exhausting cause it's so hot and sometimes it's hard to think of things to do with the kids! We do things like sing nursery rhymes (I've figured out by now that one rhyme that I was sure was Hindi is actually English) and sing the ABC etc. I'm actually pretty over it by now!

The one thing though that has been INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING me has been some of the volunteers who I'm staying with and going to the slum school with. I just don't really click with them cause so many things about their conversation and behaviour irritate me. E.g. there is this one 23 year old american girl who is so sickly sweet and NICE that I want to puke!! EVERYTHING is "how wonderrrrful!!", "oh you're so kind to offer" and just other over the top kind of stuff that REALLY gets to me!!!!!!!!!!!! So this hasn't been the greatest...

But, this weekend has been my first venturing out into Delhi Delhi on my own!! My first weekend trip! 2 of the other volunteers were going to Jaipur and they offered that I come with them but I couldn't think of anything worse!

Anyway, the family I am staying with organised a driver to take me into Delhi and take me to four places (Red Fort; biggest Mosque in India; a tomb and the Lotus Temple) and then to my hotel. Going to these places was good and surprisingly I actually found Delhi less full on than I imagined! There is actually more dust around where I am staying in Faridabad cause there are mostly unpaved roads - in Delhi the roads are paved so there's not as much dust. I also didn't see all the street cows like I do in Faridabad, and the traffic wasn;t worse than where I am now so I was relieved!! Actually being in Vietnam first was good practice for the crazy traffic - I just accompanied someone else that was walking across. I have also now bought some Punjabi outfits (long tops with pants) so that I blend in more and am less likely to be harassed. I was even mistaken for an Indian today by my auto rickshaw driver!!

On my way back from Delhi I caught the metro and was so proud of myself for working it out all by myself! I mostly found my way to the women's only carriages (even though for some reason there were also men there) and now I am back at the family's home and have a real sense of acomplishment! I love that feeling!

Oh, and the glasses episode!!! Well, you wouldn't believe but after 2 or 3 days, the glasses still weren't better so I got my correct script emailed to me from my optometrist in Newtown. I showed this to the glasses guy in Faridabad and he says - oh - he's given me the correct prescription it's just the lens quality - if you change the lens quality it will all be better. So I say ok, and 2 days later I get my second pair of glasses. And what do you know - they are the same!! So he says to wear them continuously over the weekend and they will be fine.

Meanwhile, they are not getting better and today I passed an optometrist in Delhi and decided to check with them about their opinion of whether there was something wrong with my glasses. So, instantly they analyse that the script they have given me is incorrect - incorrect centration distance and incorrect axis - almost 10 degrees out!! And so I decide to try getting lenses with these new people and litterally 1 hr later I have new glasses that totally work!!! Amazing!!! So much for having the right script and "you just need to wear them for a few days and it will be fine" business. So FINALLY I can see the world inside without feeling trippy!! I will be going back to the original guy and asking for my money back for the lenses! Not very happy!! I tell you, these Indians will tell you anything so as not to lose face - there is always some excuse! And the funny thing is is that I thought it would be better having Shri with me to communicate in Hindi, and after all I did it fine all on my own! No Hindi required! The only thing Shri could do better than me was bargain but really, when it comes to glasses, I am not worried about bargaining when they are so cheap here! These lenses cost me $30 for one pair.

Anyway, so thats the glasses saga out of the way. Next issue is that I just saw a rat running in my room!!!!! Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!! And I chased it out of my room! Yucky!! I still have to go out again to turn off the internet later which is not a tempting thought...

So right now I am the only volunteer here cause the some have moved on and the others are in Jaipur. I thought I was going to the Women's Empowerment project this week but Shri just told me that it is a holiday soon and many women won't be there (I have a feeling there is some other agenda at play) and he told me to just continue at the slum school. So...I guess tomorrow I am going to the slum school again!

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