Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Journey Continues...

Please follow my journey to Sri Lanka : Clive in Sri Lanka

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Leaving India

My flight was at 5a.m. and experience dictated that I had to be in the airport three hours earlier. That meant leaving the house at 1:30a.m. I thought I'd go to bed early to get at least two hours' sleep but the temples had other ideas! On my last night in India I had not one but TWO temples blasting out music/noise with fireworks and bomb blasts for twenty minutes around midnight. You can only smile - this is India after all!

For the last few days I've thought "this is the last time I'll ever do this" or "this is the last time I'll ever see him, her, that..." but always without total conviction - there was always a possibility that it might not be the very last time. But now, this was it. The very last time. Time was too short for it not to be.

I'd given myself 45 minutes to leave the house but I didn't really need it: I was packed, ready to go, well before I lay down. All I had to do was stuff my dirty clothes into the pocket on my suitcase, zip it up, lock it, and I was ready. The place itself could have done with a clean but it wasn't too bad. I was leaving behind various odds and ends like buckets, cutlery, cups, sharp knives, food containers and so on - hopefully more than compensating for the dusty rooms.

The kids from next door were excited to be coming with me to the airport at that time of night with their rickshaw-driving dad. Maybe that made it all a lot easier because we just chatted away and the 30 minutes' journey flew; there was no time to feel sad. And then it was the mechanistic process of scanning, weighing, checking, checking, checking and checking again. An hour or so of people-, clock- and announcement-watching and then we were off. Goodbye India!

A friend asked the other day if I had any regrets about leaving my secure, comfy job and lifestyle behind and going to India to work with SISP's children for eighteen months. "Not One," I replied. To be honest, it's been hard on my personal life but the rewards from the children have been immense.  If they hadn't been, I wouldn't still be doing this.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Last Post From India

This is probably my last post from India. I fly out at 5am tomorrow morning, Trivandrumn to Doha to Heathrow, on Qatar Airways. There's a 6-hour stopover in Doha which will be a bit of a struggle unless I can find somewhere to have a lie down. Already I feel shattered and could do with a good sleep, and I doubt I'll get much of a rest tonight.

Yesterday was an emotional time for me, as you can probably imagine. I've got to know these kids really well over the last 18 months - they're almost like family to me. A few tears were shed - mostly mine.

The lunch was nearly a disaster. When we got to the shop the food wasn't ready. Then we had to return to SISP to get some big pots - the shop hadn't thought to tell us that we needed to supply them. Finally, I was the one in the back of the rickshaw holding onto pots of very hot gravy which spilled over me as we bumped along the roads and rough tracks to SISP. We made it with five minutes to spare. I had to half-wash my shirt because of the gravy splashes over it. But it was all worth it - the food went down a treat! The kids really love their chicken fry, parottas and chappattis. Buying for 120 mouths was not cheap but the pleasure was palpable!

In the afternoon the children put on a delightful show to say farewell to me and to James, a volunteer who'd been with us for a few months. There were several fantastic performances of dance and theatre, then fruit salad from me, a few speeches (including mine), then a birthday cake from/for vol Nathalie. Lots of fond farewells (tears) and then we shot off to the funeral of a teacher's sister. She was a girl of only fifteen and had died of lung cancer that morning. By the time we got there she was already in the ground and the hole had been filled in. What I found awful was that no one had told the girl she was dying. As far as I can tell, everyone was in denial.

I keep getting given gifts! Esther, in the tailoring workshop has given loads - ear rings, a necklace, cushion covers, water bottle cover, and lots of other bits and pieces. Then she gave me packets of nuts, banana chips, and jack-fruit chips - all big and heavy! I had to give them away unfortunately because they were too heavy to pack in my baggage. And today I was given a model of a rowing boat, the type that is raced on the Backwaters. Again, very kind, but I have no spare space or weight allowance - I'm right on the limit. And that's after posting a 4kg parcel of sheets and towels to Sri Lanka!

Well, those are the facts, devoid of too much emotion. I'll write a bit more when time allows. Right now I'm on countdown.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday's wake-up calls have all come at the god-forsaken time of 04:10.  You can imagine how I feel about it!

Meanwhile, at SISP, the new volunteer Computer teacher has agreed to start next week.  That's really good news for the children - there'll be no break in their education and the quality will improve because he's young, has good ideas, and can communicate well.  I've watched him with the children - he's a natural.

Esther gave me a note of thanks and farewell yesterday.  I read it but got a bit choked up when thanking her for it.  If I get any more notes I think I'll read them after I've left.

I mentioned this ditch ages ago and vowed to find out what it was. Well, I didn't need to do any investigating because everyone said the same - it's an irrigation channel coming from Neyyar Dam, 40km away, providing water for the emergency irrigation of crops. 40km! Dug by hand! Complete with sluice gates and frequent bridges, and no lock gates. This is surely quite a feat of engineering!
Today was the first time during my 520 day stay in India that I've seen water in it. The short section in the first photo had been cleared only a week ago to look good for the temple festivities; the rest is somewhat overgrown and yet the water was flowing well.

This little cutie is about 520 days old too. She was born at around the time of my arrival here and I've watched her grow from a babe-in-arms to this smiley toddler. I see her nearly every day on my walk to school. She beams and waves at me, and can say a few words. Her mother and grandmother are equally smiley and friendly!

Sunday, 21 March 2010


The temple noise started with Suprabhatham (Good Morning) at 05:00. And in exactly 24x7 hours time I'll be on a plane to the UK.

Ten minutes after it started I was outside, razor blade in hand. I figured that, since I'd complained yesterday, cut wires near my house might be a trifle obvious. But what if I just shorted the wires together and blew the amplifier's fuse? A razor would cut into the insulation and a bit of tape wrapped around it would stop me getting a belt off the 100 Volt line voltage.

First problem was that even at 05:10, there were people on the road. One guy suddenly appeared out of the shadows and looked at me suspiciously. Second problem was that the path with the wires (the path to the temple) had been specially lit with fluorescent tubes every few yards - it was like being under a spotlight! Anyway, I went for it... and failed. Bummer! I shorted the wires together during a quiet bit and held the razor there for several seconds, but by the time I'd got back to the house the noise started up again. Bloody frustrating.

I could just move house but all my junk isn't sorted. I've got to stay here a few days while I rationalise everything into piles of what's going to the UK, what could be posted to Sri Lanka, what's going to be given away, what's going to remain, and what's to be binned. And meanwhile I've still got classes to arrange, farewell-photos to do, and a blog to write!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Before I go

Oh goody, the temple's started its deafening festivities again. Last night and the previous night they warmed up with a couple of hours in the evening. That was sort of OK but then I had it at 04:10 this morning. Yes, 04:10, as in TEN PAST F&CKING FOUR!!!! Full f&cking volume. :(
Am not a happy chappie.

I went and complained. And I know how much difference complaining makes... sweet FA, but it made me feel slightly better.

This 'festival' is going to last until the 29th, the day after I leave.

I noticed that the wires are hanging within reach this time...

This blog

This blog will soon be coming to an end because I'm leaving India. But who reads it? Not many! I've been monitoring for the last month. Of 38 visits, 25 were mine! 10 came from the UK, 2 Sweden (thanks, Marco!) and 1 from Belgium. The person in Belgium was in Gent - thank you, whoever you are! So, of the ten UK visitors, Christopher in Swansea visited me three times :-) Two people in Abingdon visited me a total of three times, then one in London, Trowbridge, Oxford and Ashfield.

This isn't very exciting stuff, is it? Perhaps that's why I have so few visitors!

It doesn't help that Google isn't indexing my pages even though this blog went public a month ago, and nor does Google's search facility work.

Doesn't matter. In a few years time I'll look at it again and surprise myself at what I got up to!