Sunday, 28 May 2017

Finally - It's too hot!

I have coped pretty well with the heat up until now, even enjoying it and because I am tight, not putting the fan on loads in order to save electricity!  When i lived in the UK I would scrimp on heating and now the situation is the reverse!  Have to say though, it is easier being hot than it is being cold!  I really don't miss the cold, I used to hate it!   However Friday was the day when it really hit me, as I sat in a heap at school, telling the children 'bahut garmi' meaning too hot, as i waved them away.  We all sat in heaps on the ground, having endured already two months of temperatures in the 40s and no fan within our make shift school, so no means to cool down and sweating profusely!  I finally have to relent and say that i am too hot!  The woman who loves the heat wants it to cool down now!
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There are many things in the pipeline at the moment where are a bit too new or too in the early stages to mention just yet, but they are keeping me exceptionally busy to the extent that this is a short blog post before I go and crack on with many jobs whilst making time for Hindi homework.  It is good to be busy but this is super busy and I have so many people to liaise and meet up with but it should lead to my end goal of being able to stay out here permanently, so it's all good.  As a result though I have been far too busy to get up to much, including not really celebrating my birthday.  So today's post is going to be about the children as work with them continues as always.

Recently I have been working on teaching them their name as it bothers me that they can neither write their name in Hindi or English and many of them can't even recognise their names amongst three other names.  I think being able to write and recognise your name is so important as it gives a sense of identity and increases self worth when you can write your own name.  The children have been loving it and most are doing really well with it that we have moved on to writing some basic phonics and making sure the children actually know what they are writing, so that they recognise that 'cat' is cat and not dog.  The children love doing their phonics sheets and I am beginning to question how I can start teaching them English, which is something I have not done until now.  Up until now the focus has been getting them to come to school, trying to get them to recognise the English alphabet then working on their counting, working on recognising shapes and colours, all of this is done in Hindi and I am slowly trying to teach them it in English too.   They are complete beginners when it comes to learning English and so it is hard to know where to start but at the same time, I see great potential with them.

Some of these kids are so lovely and actually pretty clever, had their situations been different and they were born into easier and more pleasant circumstances.  Therefore I want to help them be the best they can because some of them are young enough to want to do well and to really focus on it and at the end of the day, every little bit does help them.For once these children are enjoying school and they tell us that and more and more kids come to school each day despite the heat.  It's not unusual for us to have 20-25 kids there.  Children who never used to come to school are coming every day and asking for you to give them school work.  With exception to the heat and dust at school, the easiest part of my job at the charity, is working with these kids.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

What I've learnt about five months living in India....

Firstly, where the hell has all the time gone and secondly wow five months!  For some time now, living in India has been the norm, the everyday experience that in some ways I almost forget how life was like in the UK as I continue to live in the here and now, only focusing on that and never reminiscing about my old life in the UK.  I knew from the very start when I set off on this adventure that I would not miss the UK, not because there is anything wrong with it but because a person's home should not be defined by the country they are born in but the place their heart belongs to and the place they make home.....

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However after a rather random journey to my friend's house last night that should have taken 20 minutes and resulted in the Uber moto getting lost, wanting me to speak on the phone to half his family and making numerous comments that bordered on creepy or just plain stupid, it reminds me that India has so much still to offer and I have so much still to understand!  It did make for good entertainment when I got to my friend's house and having had to speak Hindi on the phone to the driver to explain her location, she had also come to the same conclusion as me!  On the other hand, I am loving the Uber moto's!  The chance to be on the back of a bike, which is where I prefer to be.  My brother had a bike when I was younger and I used to love being on the back and riding on the back of a motorbike is always more interesting in India!

What I've learnt after five months in India;

  • I made the right decision!  Sat with my friend last night, keeping her awake for several hours putting the world to rights, I realised how settled and at peace I am here and how fortunate I am to have amazing people around me.  I sat there happy as we discussed plans for the future and I realised despite some of the battles I have experienced here, I don't regret my decision.
  • There are some random people out there who can be difficult and have absolutely no common sense.....and then you meet some amazing people that you are fortunate to call friends.  Whether it's the guys I work with at the hostel that show me that there are young men here with innovation and business minds who have a different way of thinking and kind hearts to my female friends that I laugh and joke with and find cultural barriers broken with and friendships that define social and cultural norms.  Some of my friends are people who speak almost no English and I speak little Hindi and yet there are connections there. 

  • That having an Indian brother is the best!  Not only do they have to take all your joking and messing about, they have to be there for you and solve your problems!  As my Indian brother said at the beginning of our relationship, 'I'm not sure I want a sister, it's a big responsibility and it means I always have to be there for her and help with anything she needs'.  Fortunately for me, he takes his role seriously and is one of my biggest helps and my dearest friends and I really am honoured to call him my brother, I would have struggled without him.

  • Street food is amazing and thanks to the guys I work with I am finding so much about the different street foods and getting to sample them.  Yesterday we had Dal ki Kachori and I am so going back for more of that!  I am going to be a street food connoisseur in no time!
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  • Things really do take time to happen.....for someone who struggles with time and patience, it's been a big lesson!  After five months of being here and trying so hard to explore work opportunities it has only been this last month where work situations have really begun to open up.  Not just work opportunities but life is becoming more full thanks to the connections I am making and the people coming in to my life.    Since I got here I have been trying hard to set up some kind of work and especially my massage work as that's what I love but this last month has seen so much change.  From getting a content writing job for a hostel blog, to a new volunteer partnership scheme that we are in the process of creating to other possible work opportunities and finally some responses from hotels in the area to the possibility of massage work.  We shall see where it leads but it feels like someone has hit the accelerator pedal and life has become super busy and full of opportunities.  It comes at a good time as my ultimate goal is to become self sufficient in India.
  • I still have so much to learn about Jaipur and the culture here never mind the rest of India.  India truly is so big and each state is like another country and whilst I become aware of my city and state, I have no awareness of the other states.  I try to understand and comprehend the social, cultural and gender situations but there are many times I am told things that I just struggle to comprehend or get my head around.  I struggle with the fact that people pass so many judgements, whether it's the fact you have too many cups of tea or how you have your hair to every decision you make in life.  I try and fail to comprehend some of the choices people feel they have to make or the line that someone can not do something because it is not acceptable in society, I guess because I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where my mum did not imprint her values on us and allowed us the freedom to be our own person.  Thank you mum!
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  • People like to do things last minute, I have got to learn to go with the flow.  It is very common for someone to get in touch with you and say 'We're going out in an hour' or 'let's meet in a few hours' or 'I'm just coming round'.  Planning is less likely and you've got to be prepared for any possibilities and that whilst in the morning you may not have had plans, by the evening that may have changed!
  • I've learnt to be late!!  I used to love being on time but for some reason I have learnt to adapt very well to the Indian way of keeping time and suddenly meeting someone dead on 2pm seems very difficult as i turn up 20 or 30 minutes later than planned!   It's great though, you end up with more time than you used to and you don't have to stress about being late as everyone else is anyway:-)
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  • Don't be afraid to approach people!  Due to still having a long way to go with my Hindi I have no problem with going up to complete strangers and asking them to speak to Uber for me as I thrust my phone in their face.  I've also learnt Uber prefers it if you phone them in order to make them come! That's not going to happen for me anytime soon, especially when Uber drivers can not work out which language I am speaking in as I mash Hindi and English together in some garbled tone!
  • I'm tight, even in comparison to Indians!  Now I have always been a saver and if you ask my family they will tell you I have always been tight! I like to see it as being careful with money!  I prefer to buy all my clothes from either charity shops or on Ebay rather than ever paying ridiculous full prices.  I would prefer to use coupons or offers and experience a bargain and spend only when I felt it was needed.  Now I would always pay for my massages or osteopathy treatments as I have always believed it's important to look after the body, but I was never interested in eating in that expensive restaurant or going to the five star hotel.  I'll try and save money where I can and that works great here and I'm getting as bad as some of my Indian friends when I start shrieking and asking them how much they paid or congratulating them on a good bargain.  I love being around bargain conscious people!
  • Asking for help.  When I first moved to India, I tried to do everything for myself especially when  it comes to buying things or finding out where to get things from.  This was not only time consuming but as many people point out to me, not everything can be found on google.  As time has gone on I have loosened my grip on Google and Amazon and turned to friends for help instead and found out life is easier that way.  In the UK I was used to being completely independent but India has taught me it's not about losing your independence but realising what  a wonderful support network you have with people happy to help.

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  • Lastly, India has a love of bureaucratic paperwork, as I continue my hair pulling experience of getting my visa extended.  My bhai and I have spent almost two months working on the visa process and my visa is due to expire in a week and we are hopefully, finally, almost there!  It's taken the creation of so many documents, that were checked and then checked again only for faults that were fine the first time to suddenly be found.  Once the visa is finally extended and my biggest stress completed, next up is sorting out my sim card for my phone and my internet, both of which are due to be cut off due to my visa expiring and we will have numerous bits of paper work to sort as a result of that.

As my friend said, with all the dramas over the visa, difficulties at the charity and then the phone and internet to sort out, do I not think about going back to the UK.  However you can see these difficulties as obstacles or opportunities that challenge you and prepare you.  I always believe in life that you should have the strength to stand up for what you believe in and to live the life you desire even if  it goes against society and those around you than to deny whatever it is that is important to you. Plus this time round, maybe I'm getting used to the Indian way of things and I'm not half as frustrated by it as I once would of be.  India definitely leaves it's mark, but it also leaves enough scope for me to continue being me, defiant and feisty to the end! 
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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Learning the lessons of time and patience......

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Time and patience are my two biggest bugbears, don't get me wrong I can be so very patient with other people especially the children I work with and time, well time in India is a strange concept that I kind of cope with.  Those two words though, when it refers to me personally, I struggle so much with them.  Around 18 months ago during one of my meditation sessions and then again in my mentoring session with my mentor, these two words came up for me, as clear as day, as if someone had spoke them in my head and since then, I've realise that time and patience are a real bug bear!  When it comes to me, what I want and what I want to do, I want it all now and I don't want to give it time and have patience to wait for it to come around and finally be sorted out.  I guess I think time is precious and it's precious how we use it.  If we waste so much time in the wrong situation or in procrastinating are we not missing out on so much whether that is true and real happiness or achieving what you wish to in life and making changes that could have a positive impact on others.  
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India for me has always been a challenge but not in the usual ways that people would assume such as issues with staring or attitudes towards women which although can be a bit of a pain, I tend to take it in my stride and love the challenge of defying the odds or walking and acting confidently.  However I guess it challenges me on my time and patience as I have realised that in India things are slow to get going, not in a negative way but that it just takes time to get sorted, to make connections, to build businesses, to learn all that you need to and find out the information that you want.  

I have lived here just under five months and I guess in a way that I thought I would be fully settled with my business established.  I think I basically thought I could pick up my UK life and naively thought that it would work out just as well.  It hasn't but I am glad of that, i'm glad of the random opportunities that pop up, that you never know who you will meet that will provide you with a snippet of information, a helping hand, some wisdom or a new job prospect.  I really do love that about here, that it is so random and one thing often leads to another, but at the same time I feel like I am being taught the lesson of time and patience.  The reality is that jobs which I would work on in the UK and could get solved in a week can take up to a month to sort and a large proportion of that is not knowing where to look or how to get hold of something.  I was hoping my massage business would be fairly well set up by now but I keep hitting snag after snag whether it is issues with google verification process or my website failing to find it's way up the search engines and I once again have to have time and patience.  I almost feel like a draw string toy being held back whilst I am stood there trying to run forward and I am reminded that in India I need to have time and patience, to allow things to develop as they naturally should without overly forcing or becoming too stressed, particularly as new opportunities open up all the time.  

I am forever trying to be two steps ahead, running along but India teaches me that you can try and be like that and waste a lot of energy or you can go with the flow and let things work themselves out.  For example last time when my sim card was cut off, the joys of being a tourist!  It took around a week to get sorted and put back on again, including the fact that they said it would be done by the end of the Saturday and it wasn't.  I could of kept stressing and wasting time and energy on the situation including the Sunday when the phone shop was closed or I could let it be, focus on other things and return on Monday to see what the issue was, which was caused by a power cut.  I guess sometimes we have to have the time and patience to weather the storms and allow situations and people the space to work things out.

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Deep and reflective post for the week!  Which reminds me, I am signed up to do the ten day Vipassna meditation retreat here in Jaipur. I really enjoy meditation and find it so beneficial to quieten the mind, go within and listen to the heart and soul, it usually has the answers!   It is a ten day silent meditation, that I can cope with ok...the bits that I cringed at were that phones would be taken from you, gulp!  Worst of all though, no food after mid day except fruit!.......I don't know how I am going to cope on that!  If I don't eat I get ratty and I get headaches and I don't feel good, so going several hours without proper food does not fill me with joy, still it should be a good experience......if I can smuggle a few food bits in with me;-)

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