It was quite a change from Chennai There is lots of green and the air is cool. The forest is so large it covers parts of of three states. We drove through it for an hour or so on our ever elusive search for wild elephants. Although we have not yet spotted a wild one we have seen some others that were working for their owners. Then we arrived at the
Today was a "regular" day, which is a good thing. We have been so busy with the children and traveling and shopping that we have not really had much down time. I am not complaining, I am just observing.
This morning, after a breakfast of eggs, noodles and mango, Katie and Sylvie went to the
I also got to meet Arockia Das Christu Raj, a priest who is a friend of Sister Rose's at
Stephen's brother, Stephen, who is also our driver, was trying to buy a new van today so we travelled by an auto rickshaw. This experience brought the road, and traffic, even closer to us. I could have touched a hundred people simply by poking my finger out the side of the windowless carriage. Wisdom prevailed however and I refrained. We got home safely for a lunch of poori, a yummy deep fried bread, spinach and cauliflower curries, jackfruit (an Asian fruit which can grow to 83 pounds and feed a family of at least ten) and mangos. Katie and Sylvie gamely ate the mangos like Indians, by peeling and eating the fruit as we would an apple. It was very messy and entertaining.
After lunch, Marion and I headed to the
After a brief rest at home we headed back to SEAMS to continue our one-on-one tutoring sessions. For the life of me I cannot remember anyone's name, but that does nor seems to bother the children as they enjoy asking me who they are and laughing when I give the wrong answer. The other volunteers are so much better at this than I am. Today I worked with Sneha who sat touching my side as we sounded out our book. Then, as it was almost time to leave, we played tic-tac-toe. I loved seeing the glee on her face as she won her games.
The team has recovered from our weekend out of town, but this is going to be a busy week. There are many extra activities to look forward to. There is a performance at Assisi Illam scheduled, as well as a dinner at Stephen's parents' house. We also hope to catch a classical dance performance and maybe even a Tamil movie.
In addition, we have a busy teaching schedule to keep up with. There are classes in the morning and afternoon, and English conversations in the evenings. We have each settled into our new teaching assignments. Sylvie teaches the 1st and 2nd graders, and I teach the 4th and 5th. We both teach the third grade in the mornings, but the other classes do not get shortchanged, because they get either Marion or Heather in the afternoons. By 5th grade (or 5th Standard as it is called here) the students are able to carry on conversations, and they can read basic books pretty well. Stephen says they do better than average students on English examinations because of their work with Global Volunteers.
In the afternoon while Heather and Marion were teaching, Sylvie and I decided to explore the neighborhood. There are daily power cuts in Chennai, so we left the house during the hour that the power would be switched off (and hence no air conditioning). We bought some much needed chalk and tape for the
Admittedly, we cut our evening session a little short to go shopping in downtown Chennai, but one cannot go to India without visiting the clothing and jewelry shops (especially when you are with a team of women). And looked at in another light we were "learning more about Indian culture," which is one of our team goals after all.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate
the mind on the present moment" –Buddha