Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thursday October 20, 2011

"How lucky are we, to have known someone who were so hard to say goodbye to" - Anonymous

Last day in our program.

Garza and I started our day looking forward and grieving the goodbyes to come. Both of us prepared ourselves to say farewell to our students at Grace school and the beloved children at SEAM. We were greeted at breakfast, by our team leader, Raja, Sheeba his cheerful wife, our dear and fellow third volunteer, Jean, and little Mr. Roshan.

We finished our spiced Indian breakfast and readied ourselves to spend our final morning at Grace. Stephen was waiting outside of our guesthouse in the small Tata, which had been our transport for almost twenty days. We arrived at the school and the uniformed students were waiting for their foreign teachers to give out their last lesson and wisdom sharing. Instead of having the usual class, we decided to have some healthy fun. Playing Simon says, I spy, guess the drawing and handing out harmless chocolates to all of our pupils. We received countless goodbye letters, which only brightened our day and exponentially increased the difficulty to say farewell. Garza and I were going back after lunch so we told them we weren't parting ways just yet. We came back home, and enjoyed our last lunch at Porur, where Jean told us about her great and havocky morning with the toddlers at Assisi Illam.

Back at Grace school, Garza and I thanked all of the teachers, gifts and addresses were exchanged, as well as handshakes and hugs of goodbye. As we were walking out, the whole school alumni trapped us in a warm and tight hug, and even thought it wasn’t hard to step outside of the school it was hard to leave their embrace. Their happiness and gratefulness was a mirror on us, as we shared their feelings of gratitude and knowing that we learnt as much form them as they had learnt from us.

The team re-gathered, and the Mexicans started to show the symptoms of a hard goodbye, finding so difficult to detach to something so close, which grew on us on three so short weeks.

We took a deep breath before leaving to the South East Asia Mission, were we knew saying goodbye to our new little brothers was going to be heartbreaking. The evening started off, with the playful games that had come up in previous visits, kabdi, the derivation of cricket, SEAM karate against the two young and enduring volunteers, tossing the little ones in mid air, and so many more. The bell rung and the children lined up in front of us in their usual formation. The farewell ceremony was moving from the beginning, where they sang a couple of sad toned songs, followed by some energetic dancing where we were invited to join and tried to imitate their Indian dancing. Both parties sat down, and two of the youngest members of our now called family, handed Garza and me a thank you letter with all of their names and some touching words. The end had come, so after a few tears, long hugs and words to remember we parted from SEAM, looking back over our shoulder to all of those faces who had marked our life. Even though we were sad to depart, we were proud to do so with a smile on our faces.

The last supper.

Our team, but what we can very trustfully call our friends, went for one last dinner with all of its present members together. Jean wore her beautiful Indian dress, which gleamed white and contrasted with its black shapes, we really didn't expect such a fancy goodbye. We shared our thoughts, emotions and feelings before our departure and thank yous went both ways. A pair so lucky to be a part of this team.

I believe there is an equation that fits our meandering experience, where attachment will equal how difficult it will be to say goodbye and let go. All of those strong feelings which became a part of each one of us are exposed when it's time to depart and say goodbye to those you grew so fond of. Today it was that time, and even though sadness was deep within us, we became part of something greater than ourselves. With our spirit held high over giving those in need a part of ourselves that will make a difference, small or great, but a difference nevertheless.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday, the middle of the week, but in terms of our tenures here at Global Volunteers we are all on the short side.  “G” and Carlos are flying on to other parts of India on Friday; I’m flying on to Kochi on Saturday.

At the day care center this week, when no one was crying, I looked at the little ones as individuals – seeing their different personalities mirrored in the way they play (alone or with one other or in a group); noting their outfits (some of the girls dressed in sequins and puffy skirts and the boys in matching shirts and pants but others with smudges of dirt here and there; some strong willed and able to fight their own battles while others need help (the little girl I have nicknamed “Tsunami” is one who doesn’t need help).  With all of them thrown into a single room, they are a fascinating mix.
The students at Grace, I sense, come from more similar backgrounds.  Their uniforms also give them the appearance, at least, of a similarity.  There is one student that stands out, however – a challenged girl.  She is an older student in age but the youngest of all in mental capabilities.  Yet, at times she yearns to be included - at others, she is content to explore in a way she understands.  Surrounding her are very capable and enthusiastic students. 

The kids at SEAM follow yet another pattern.  Living as orphans or half-orphans in an institution set up for their well being, they are a big family – playing together, eating together, doing homework together.  There is little space for an introvert, but I know to search in a quiet corner for Sweetie.  She prefers to listen to music on the radio to watching TV; prefers to read to playing games.  She works studiously at reading to me, apologizing when she makes a silly mistake. 

Yes, there is always one that catches a special place in our hearts but there are many we will remember for their enthusiasm, their energy, their motivation.  I have dreams for all of them.

Here at the guesthouse we have our own mix, and “G” and Carlos who are in their third week here have witnessed changes in the team weekly.  We are a family too, sharing time together at meals and as we go to our assignments together but also finding our refuges.
One of the most pleasant surprises for me has been to learn something about our neighboring country, Mexico, from the fellows.  And, I feel so fortunate to have Raja and his family help me to understand their country.  Our three countries so different in our histories yet, in this global world, there are threads binding us together. When I leave Saturday, I will do so with a tremendous amount of awareness about India that will help me to understand the wider picture of this country over my travels in the next three weeks.     

Monday October 17, 2011

"happiness is only real when shared" - Alexander Supertramp

The team woke up to the first day of their last week at the Chennai program. G and Jean were going to their respective duties, Garza and the former went to
Assisi Illam. I was exhausted after the weekend in the jungle and 28 hours on the road with Stephen, so I missed breakfast and the morning activities. I slept in and was fully recovered by lunch. Grace school was inactive for the day as elections were taking place. Garza and Jean had a good morning playing with the day care children as well as the orphans, who didn't go to school, at the children's home.

During lunch, I told them about my adventures and they filled me in on what went on during the weekend at Porur.
After lunch, we all left for SEAM, where we started off with our individual and fond students. They practiced their reading, learnt some vocabulary, and Garza shared his knowledge in maths with multiplications. Some time after, G and myself started a game with the children, where it was two mexicans against all, but we stood our ground. It was a laughter full time, but we were more than tired when it was time to go back home.

We had a lovely dinner and fell like logs on our pillows, as tiredness closed our heavy feeling eyes. Everyone slept and rested before another day of our last week began so cheerfully.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Our team is undergoing a shift today with Carlos on a big game hunt – sorry, a wildlife safari – and Charlotte on her way out – out of this volunteer stint with Global Volunteers, that is.  Carlos is expected back on the job Monday; Charlotte, in the morning, will be off on an extended adventure in India.

With Carlos out of the picture today and Steven as well, Raja and I go to Assisi in an autorickshaw.  I use this opportunity to get photo shoots of Cennai traffic as I want to show my friends in D.C. that our beltway is nothing compared to this traffic. 

The Assisi kids miss Carlos’ physicality, and I am not as strong as he.  Nevertheless, I try a few calisthenics with the kids and manage to get a few smiles in return.

At Grace, I take a different approach with my youngest group, interacting with them in small groups.  There is less bedlam even though there are always a number of students on their own.   However, maybe they were just suffering from end-of-the-week blues.

At SEAM, the kids had an emotional send-off for Charlotte, giving her a beautifully designed card drawn by one of the fellows.  Everyone had signed the card on the inside.  Charlotte was quite moved and had an opportunity to express her gratitude to each of the kids as they shook hands with her.  These kids are mannerly and respectful.  They also seem happy, a true tribute to the staff here.

For dinner we went to an restaurant to celebrate Charlotte’s contribution to the team.  It is quite a nice restaurant, and we all enjoyed our meals.

With the support of Raja and Sheeba, I had my first shopping experience in India.  Particularly after seeing the fellows in the handsome outfits they wore when Raja’s parents entertained us, I decided I wanted to get an outfit too.  I hate shopping, but this was an interesting experience.  In the end ,I purchased material that I will have tailor made.  That will be another adventure, I am sure.

Raja has been most patient, guiding us through our various volunteer activities.  But, he also is responsive to our questions about his country’s history, culture, religions, etc.  I have learned so much about his country through him.  In a sense, he is on duty 24 hours a day as we pop in and out of our assignments, in and out of the guesthouse for this or that.  He is always available – or his faithful partner Sheeba.  And, if worse comes to worse, we have Rooshon.

Thursday October 13, 2011

 "The best way to cheer yourself is to try cheer somebody esle up" - Mark Twain

We woke up for our usual breakfast at eight thirty. Jean and Carlos were going to Assisi Illam with the little day care children and I went to Grace school. There were some new kids at the daycare with Carlos and Jean, with some particular girl who bit all of the other boys and made quite a few cry.

We came back to the guest house, where Raja and Sheeba were waiting for us. Roshan was feeling a lot better and had the huge smile back. After lunch, Jean and Carlos went to teach their two classes at Grace school, where Esther, the principal, was a student in both of Carlos' classes. They walked back, this time without Barnabus, and got home safely.

In the afternoon Charlotte was feeling a lot better so we all left for SEAM. Raja, Carlos and I walked there while Charlotte and Jean went with Stephen. At SEAM, Jean taught the two older girls, Carlos helped his two students with their reading and I taught them multiplications. Charlotte had her prepared material with Rajeesh and even though they spent some time reviewing it, Rajeesh, unfortunately had to leave early.

We came back to the guest house for dinner, and afterwards we had the group shots before Carlos was leaving at three in the morning and Charlotte after the weekend.
It was a great day, most of it because of the improvement with the children we were teaching. Once again we look forward to our next day in India.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wednesday October 12, 2011
"You can't shake hands with a clenched fist" - Indira Gandhi
It was a humid and relatively warmer morning in the beautiful district of Porur. Eugenio and I were late for breakfast as it had been settled from the beginning of the program; while Charlotte, Jean and Raja waited for the drowsy teenagers at the table. Not much was said during the early meal and we got ready for our daily volunteering. Garza and Charlotte headed to Grace School, Jean and I went to Assisi Illam to take care of the toddlers. The morning at Assisi Illam was better than those before, as the youngsters started to trust us a little bit more and weren't that eager for their mothers to pick them up; it didn't, however, mute the noise of those crying looking at the gate waiting desperately to leave the children’s home and go home. Grace school for Garza and Charlotte was also great, as they were making progress with the students. Charlotte teaching fourth and fifth grade and Eugenio with the kindergardeans and second grade. Eugenio gifted a mentally challenged student with a coloring book and crayons which she seemed almost too grateful for. We came back for lunch and Raja reminded us of evening supper at his parent’s house. Jean and I left for Grace School after lunch, while Charlotte and Eugenio had a much deserved rest. Jean took a few students from one class to give them some wise teaching, while I, had fourth and fifth forms again. We played a couple of learning goaled games, and because their behavior was not too horrid, I gave them some nutritious and cavity-causing chocolates. The principal also had a couple and seemed happier to receive them than the children. Barnabas was waiting with his habitual rusted bike at school's end and Jean and I walked with some of the students who where headed someplace with the same direction. The team re gathered at the guest house and we left towards SEAM. The volunteers had a shortened session with their individual students, and left early to take a quick shower before the much expected supper. Eugenio and I dressed in the typical and fancy Indian way, wearing our respective Kurtas. Charlotte and Jean went via autoshaw to Rajas parents home, and when we all arrived, we were welcomed by both his father and mother and Stephen's family. They proudly showed us their family album, looking at the pictures mostly caused either awe or laughter among us, looking at our hosts in their baby forms, childhood and teenage years. The food was excellent, we could not have wished for something more delicious and extravagant. After dinner, they gave us a short tour of the house and Stephen showed us his as well. A photo shoot took place and I had the opportunity to carry Stephen's 7 month old daughter which was a great accomplishment after she openly had rejected Garza. The team had a lovely evening, we said goodbye to our top notch hosts and headed back home.

Our time in Chennai seems to go at the speed of light, as we have reached the middle of the program, and it feels like we just arrived yesterday. We go to sleep waiting for and dreaming of another day filled with awesomeness.


Tuesday October 11, 2011

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. 

Today we reshuffled the deck slightly – G. and Charlotte spent the morning at Grace Nursery and Primary School.  G. worked with the younger and Charlotte continued with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th standard classes.  Carlos and Jean went to Assisi Illam for a couple of hours.  Jean felt that spending time with the day care children at Assisi Illam was a better fit for her.

Rani, our cook, out did herself today.  For lunch we had balloon bread, always a big hit, fried seasoned onions, and a chicken dish.  Umm umm good. 

Early in the afternoon Carlos and Jean spent some time at Grace Nursery and Primary School.  Later in the afternoon we all went to SEAM.  Since the children are all back in school now, we each spent time with just one or two students at a time.  Shortly after Charlotte started to work with Rajesh, his Mother arrived.  I met her – she seemed like a lovely lady as well as very appreciative.  While Rajesh visited with his Mother, Charlotte read with John until Rajesh was available again.  Each Jean, Carlos, and G. was huddled with a couple of students all evening – the names and faces changing periodically.  Raja was directing traffic. Some of the children were disappointed that Carlos and G. were not playing cricket with them.                                                              

Back at the guest house once again, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of vegetable/rice briyani served with a light yogurt and chopped red onion sauce. I must try that yogurt sauce when I return to my home.  Raja treated us with I. C. for the big D.  We all enjoyed the treat. 

Following dinner, Raja reviewed with us, our goals and definitions of an effective team.  Overall we felt that we were achieving our goals – although Carlos said that he and G. could improve on punctuality…..we’ll see.   

Charlotte Mc

Monday October 10, 2011

I always have difficulty starting when I write.  Where is that first sentence?

Writing about India presents an additional dilemma because the country is overflowing – with people, cars, motorcycles, garbage.  All of these are everywhere, and except for the garbage, all are in motion.  With that motion, there is noise – of the vehicles.  The people, on the other hand, are quiet, their movements slow but flowing smoothly.  The people are colorful also with their shining black hair and their enormous brown eyes.  To these features the women add their colorful saris. 

At Global Volunteer’s guesthouse we are sampling also Indian’s cuisine.  Actually, I chose to overlook one dish when given the option, but others have introduced new and flavorful spices to my taste buds. 

It has been a few years since I last participated in a GV program, and Raja’s attention to detail has reminded me of the heavy workload the on-site coordinators carry.  Simply handling the varying personalities could provide enough stress to send these miracle workers in search of a bottle of Prozac.

Here we have the additional pleasure of Raja’s family – Sheba, his wife, and Roshan, their 3-1/.2-year-old son.  He reminds me of Levi, my youngest grandson, and Roshan’s constant chatter in his high, tiny voice brings a smile to my face.

We are a four-person team with “G” and Carlos tipping the see saw between their youth and the senior status of Charlotte and myself.  It is an interesting mix.  I like their innocence yet their sophistication, their inquisitive natures, their openness to new discoveries.  For instance, they both tried the bitter gourd, even though they don’t suffer from high blood pressure.

Yesterday, Charlotte and myself, introducing us to a few rock art sites south of Chennai.  The carvings depict the major Hindu gods, with their guardians, in many different stances.  These figures in themselves are fascinating but there also is the craft itself which is amazing.  How were these craftsmen able to produce such intricate works with such primitive tools?

After that day of sightseeing, I think we were all ready to get down to our responsibilities today.  For me, on my first day, this Monday was jam packed with new faces, each different yet each with a wide smile.  In both the school and then the orphanage in the evening, thee students were welcoming, polite and bubbling over with enthusiasm.  They are the students I am sure every teacher dreams of having in her classroom. 

I have never participated in a volunteer experience where I did not feel that I gained much more than I gave.   I have no reason to believe this experience in Cheenai, India, will be any different.


Friday October 7, 2011

“Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” - Steve jobs

We woke up as usual. Today’s activities were very similar to the whole week before, we went to the Asssi Illam Day Care center. We started reading books and playing with. After a while Carlos, Eugenio and charlotte where seated and had to listen to the kids sing out load and had to point their body parts, we where very impressed that they where very shie when singing by themselves but in group activities are very loud. We left and time passed faster then usual. we had lunch and took our very well deserved nap to go to the South East Asia Mission children's home. We left at 4:30 and they were all ready expecting us ass always Charlotte taught the students she had been teaching to and where learning a lot. Carlos and Eugenio worked with other younger students and when throw their English books. We left there at 6:00 because Charlotte wanted to go down town to see silk fabrics, and stores.. Everything was full eaves the streets, it was hard to walk without getting pushed or run over, but after all we had a great day. And it was very interesting looking at all that. After a long while in the traffic we arrived home safely and had dinner. had dinner and headed back to sleep


Friday, October 7, 2011

Thursday October 6, 2011
"People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do" Lewis Cass
Another thrilling day at Porur as we reach the end of our workdays this week. We got off to a slow start in the morning as tiredness was beginning to pile up after a few days into our Program. Breakfast helped shake the sleepiness off and prepare to meet the everlasting energy children. They were already waiting for us, for their English lesson and their playtime with the merry volunteers. They were separated into groups once again; Charlotte taught her usual girls group, Eugenio got the littlest ones and Carlos worked with Satish and Isaac. After some time of good and healthy teaching, Sister Metilda called for a break were the children were served tea and was compulsory to finish it. A new boy arrived, who was joining day care, and everyone gathered around him and welcomed him to their home. Eugenio and Carlos played uncountable games with the little children while Charlotte went to a secluded room to keep imparting her teachings to those eager to keep learning. We came back to the house for lunch where the brave ones tried deep fried green chilly, which was very delicious and extremely spicy if you aren't either Indian or Mexican. The volunteers left to SEAM, and upon our arrival Raja told us that it was the wedding anniversary of the caretaker of the children's home and family guests where there to congratulate her. We met her family, a couple of very well English spoken girls and a young adult who where very kind to us. Charlotte taught her star student, John, who was making great progress and a somewhat difficult Kumar. Carlos and Eugenio worked with two of the older boys and they went on to their sporting activities, before daylight went away, there was the habitual cricket and afterwards they played kabadi, which is an Indian duel where one faces all. The mexicana were playfully tested and passed.

In the late evening, we went for dinner at a nice local restaurant instead of the House which was a nice routine change up. We had an interesting discussion on religion while little Roshan devoured his chicken lollypops. Raja and Carlos walked back home while the others took Stephens Tata.

We add another great day to our program in Chennai, and our expectations grow higher every day as we wait for the next one.


Wednesday October 5, 2011

“Nine-tenths of education is encouragement”. - Anatole France

Following breakfast, Carlos read Monday’s journal before we went to Assisi Illam for the morning.  Sheeba and Roshan joined us today at both facilities.  Roshan really is in his glory with so many small children to play with.  When we arrived, the children were drinking their morning nutritious beverage.  Then the children were divided into groups.  Charlotte had a small group – she helped the children with their reading, vocabulary and pronunciation.  Carlos and G. each had larger groups.  They played games, read and shared word books, and rough-housed with the children – they enjoy the energy of the young people so much. 

We went back to the Guest House for lunch and an afternoon of rest and relaxation.  About 4:40 PM, we are off to the SEAM facility.  On the way, Carlos purchased some balls and cricket bats for the children.  Again the children were very glad to see us.  They were especially excited about the new balls and bats.  Carlos and G. played ball with the children for awhile before they settled down to sharing word books. 

We returned to the Guest House for a good meal and conversation.  Stephen and Sheeba explained the caste system in India to us and some of the related history.  India has seen so many changes in the past fifty plus years.

Charlotte Mc

Tuesday October 4, 2011

“it’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are” - Roy Disney

Today we gathered for breakfast in the morning, and Charlotte wasn't feeling very good because of the malaria medication, she decided it would be best to take the morning off so that she could feel better in the afternoon. The activities were very similar to the day before, but at the same time everything is different we went to the Asssi Illam Day Care center and found out that most of the children went to the hospital to get their identification card for the government. But with the children that were there we went throw a picture dictionary and a couple of short story books. We started playing, drawing, and making paper air plains. After a while Carlos and Eugenio where exhausted and the kids with rechargeable batteries had plenty of energy left. We left before they had launch and headed back home. The team met again for lunch and Charlotte was filling much better, we had lunch and look a nap to be ready for the South East Asia Mission children's home. We left at 4:30 and they were all ready expecting us.

Charlotte taught English to some very dedicated students, that were much more advance then what she thought, but that didn't stop her of doing a great job. Carlos and Eugenio played a cricket game with a lot of excitement. The kids are very good. After a very long day we returned to the guest house, exhausted but happy about our day, looking forward to go back tomorrow

Monday October 3, 2011
"The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring." - Oscar Wilde
We woke up to a cloudy morning but with a high temperature nevertheless. We had a small breakfast and were told the schedule for the day; in the morning, we were going to visit for the first time Assisimi Illam Day Care center, and after lunch we were going to the South East Asia Mission children's home for our second time. Raja's younger brother Stephen, gave us a lift in his Tata to the day care center. As soon as we arrived, the children rushed to greet us with a massive and beautiful smile stamped on their face. Most of the children were still quite young, most of them aging from 5 to 9 years. All of them were orphans, as the semi-orphans were away. We sat down and they introduced themselves, some better than others but all of them making a huge effort. Sister Rose introduced herself and gave us a short briefing regarding the day care center. Raja and her separated the children in three groups so that each volunteer would have his own group accordingly. We brought some books with pictures and basic words, they were very excited and with two children on our lap, one climbing on our back peeking over our shoulder and a last one trying to flip the pages we managed to teach them a little bit. After a little while, given their age and their short attention span, they lost interest in the books and engaged in running, jumping around and tugging two Mexican volunteers around. Charlotte, on the other hand, had a quiet and attentive circle of girls around her, listening to her wise words as she went through the books. During this time, Sister Metilda also introduced herself and welcomed us there. After a tiring two hours with the benevolent and radiantly happy children, we came back to the guest house for lunch. After satisfying our hungry stomachs and our appetites had vanished, we headed towards SEAM where we had been the previous day. The children were quick to say hello as we got there, we greeted them and got ready to teach. Charlotte, Eugenio and Carlos worked separately, each with one child or rather, student. We taught them some new words, basic spelling, sums, subtractions, went through some Dr.Seuss' books and read them a couple of stories. There was some sort of cricket game, with the principles of the game applied and distorted to fit their facilities and inventory, before we left. The children waved us goodbye with their faces of eagerness to our return.

It was a long day, tiring but full of joy on both sides. We look forward to our next day and meeting the little youngsters again, who are so in need of love and we should be there to provide it for them.


Sunday October 2, 2011

“Travel teaches tolerance”

Vanakkam -

Following breakfast, Stephen led an Orientation Meeting.  Each of us introduced ourselves.  Stephen explained how he became involved with Global Volunteers, then each of us gave a brief bio.   Both Carlos and G. are recent high school graduates from Mexico.  They just finished a stint as Global Volunteers in Tanzania a couple of weeks ago.  Carlos plans to go to China next month and work with Global Volunteers there.  Charlotte has had a couple of volunteer experiences in the past with Global Volunteers - one in China and one in Italy.

The various Global Volunteer Projects in the Chennai area were reviewed and a general idea of a schedule.  Since we are a small group of only three, we will only be spending time at three of the facilities – namely Assisi Illam, Grace Nursery and Primary School, and SEAM.  Although we will be visiting the  SEAM Children’s Home late Sunday afternoon, we go to Assisi Illam in the mornings.  The daily schedule was reviewed and possible free time activities were discussed.   As a group we developed a list of characteristics of an effective team – namely, share ourselves, learn as much as we can from the volunteer experience, enjoy and be happy during our volunteer experience.  The Policies, Guidelines, and Philosophy of Global Volunteers were outlined.  We were briefed on the 12 Essential Package of the United Nations and how the Global Volunteer organization  is working with the United Nations and the individual Chennai projects to achieve  the goals of the UN – basically to improve the nutrition, education and health of some of the world’s disadvantaged. Stephen also talked about the specific projects in Chennai that the Global Volunteers Organization had accomplished over the past eleven years. 

After lunch and an afternoon rest/break, we all walked over to the SEAM facility.  The children were very glad to see us.  We each introduced ourselves to the children.  They sat on the floor in a very orderly fashion.  The children then welcomed us by singing two songs with great gusto.  Carlos, G. and Charlotte sat in the front of the room and the children came up in turn and introduced themselves to us – their name, age and class.  Charlotte was given a tour of the girls’ rooms and Carlos and G. toured the boys’ rooms.  We all spent some time together outside with the children before we left to enjoy a delicious meal at an Indian restaurant in the neighborhood.