24.4.15; DEHRADUN, India

On Thursday, I made it in after the morning session as I still didn’t feel great, and taught half a day in the school. The good thing about school starting and ending so early with only one short break, is that everyone is out by 1.30, and you have the whole rest of the day! I feel like I have more time than I know what to do with.

When I got back to the shelter today, there was a new boy sitting with Shruti and Dr Pandey; they were speaking to him in Hindi so I didn’t find out much about him for a while. His English was non-existent, though he later told me he wanted to learn. The boy had run away from home to earn money, but had ended up being pretty much enslaved in a local bakery where he worked for two months with no pay at all. He stayed for a couple of days, managing to make a bit of an annoyance of himself in terms of hanging around in my room and generally being a bit odd.

(I later found out that the boy was in fact addicted to drugs, and seemed to be causing some disruption and so was moved to another shelter.)

In the evening, Shruti and I went to the hospital with Ayushi and Hema; Ayushi had to go for a blood test before her operation next week, and afterwards I went to get a top-up for my terrible phone. Shruti headed to the mall to check in on the stall selling the handicrafts from the Self Help Group, and we decided to go to a local fair which was close by.

By Western standards, the fair wasn’t particularly big, and the safety of the rides… questionable. First thing I saw was a discount book stand, and of course I made a beeline for it straight away. I ended up not buying any books for myself, but judging by the number of English popular novels there, I know where I’m going when I run out of my own! Browsed the stalls for a while; a ridiculous amount of cheap clothing and jewellery, as well as a couple of food stands.

We went on the Ferris wheel for a quick turn; pretty rickety and seemed a bit of a risky endeavour but the two girls really enjoyed it, although there was some fuss about them not wanting me to pay for that, or the juice we had afterwards. Although everything is enormously cheap here to my eyes, I realise it isn’t so for local people, and I think everyone, regardless of nationality, is uncomfortable having things paid for for them!

Just the other day, when I went to the mall with Shruti and her mother, I was forcibly prevented from paying for my own frozen yoghurt. It was awfully embarrassing. But I can’t help but think it’s the least I can do to spend time with these girls and pay for a ride at the fair for them, when everyone has been so welcoming to me and that I feel like I’m doing so little in exchange for the food, accommodation and of course experiences I’m getting from it. I bought a copy of “Twilight” for Ayushi – she loves the films – much to my own shame; I’m loathe to expose others to the terrible writing and underlying themes of abuse and a terrible relationship, but if someone already likes it, I doubt I can change their mind. And it might encourage her to read a bit in English!

On Friday I taught during the day; a full day of teaching computing! Dad, if you’re reading this, I feel your pain. You know, when you always spoke about drilling simple things into kids who don’t care? I FEEL YOUR PAIN.

Had a nap and later went for a walk in the evening; just to the main road and back, but I was dawdling so it took about an hour and a half. Didn’t have a clue where I was going, of course, but I figure I’ll work it out and learn the routes eventually. I bought some apples; feel like I got ripped off at three for 100Rs, but the guy was asking for 120 so I suppose that’s some progress?*

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A small temple near the shelter

 

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Casual cow crossing the road. A common sight here!

 

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Beautiful sunset during my walk.

 

I did some reading with two of the girls in the evening; not sure if it’s just me or if Twilight is actually more ridiculous this time around. I feel I’ve just gained a more mature, acutely feminist perspective…

*NB: Was later told an Indian would have paid 50Rs. Damn my foreign ignorance. Sigh.

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