Thursday, 23 October 2008

Chai and Chat

On my way to the school each morning I have been stopping at a road-side stall for a chai to set me up for the day. I will often call in there after work too, for food before going home. I am getting to be known there and they are very welcoming. Indians as a race always seem curious to know where you're from, what your family situation is, where you're living, how much you earn etc etc and these guys are no exception. It's a little difficult as they have near zero English and me zero Malayalam, but they're gradually getting to know me through Indian fellow customers who often try to chat with me.

There seem to be three regular staff - one is the chai wallah, another makes all the barottas, dossas, chapattis, and so on, and the third fries the chicken and beef, and generally operates the till. The second guy is the most impressive - he stands at a huge block of marble-topped concrete, throwing the rice "dough" by whirling it around in the air until it's a big disk, slaps it down and slices it up, and kneads it. He has a continuous supply on the go, all at various stages, and has a big hotplate to his right which he slaps balls of dough down on, flattens them, and then flips them a few moments later. He can even can do omelettes at the same time - I had one this evening and it was great! He does all this with a constant rocking motion - which he maintains even in the brief periods of doing nothing! This is real fast food - from coming in to being served is usually less than a minute - staggering!

Work at SISP today was good - I helped the head teacher with a couple of English classes which is where I feel I can be of the greatest help. I have to keep my mouth shut, though, when he makes mistakes. They're only small errors but errors nonetheless, and some are even present in the text books. The rest of the day was spent helping with the computer classes - helping the Malayalam teacher - a nice guy. In fact, all of the teachers have been very friendly towards me. But the Head commands the most respect from the children - he has a certain knack, and the school hinges around him.

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