Friday, 17 October 2008

I'm in India!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Flew Heathrow - Colombo - Trivandrum with Sri Lankan Airlines. The main flight was 10hrs 45mins and exhausting, not helped by an additional two hour wait on the tarmac before take-off to fix a fault. Still, better safe than sorry! I chatted with an interesting guy ("JK") from Sri Lanka who was studying Disaster Management at Coventry Uni. 35 yo and, up till now, a permanent student. He had another year to go until qualifying and returning home to his wife and hopefully a government job in a new disaster relief department.

At 10:30a.m. I finally got out TRV airport after exchanging £50 at a crap rate but I wanted to have cash immediately (India Rupees are a closed currency, not available outside India). I was met by my old friend, Justin Hawar, a taxi driver, who took me for my first chaia (tea), and then to Baker's Resort Hotel in Kovalam.

I found it incredibly hard to take a nap - even though extremely tired I just couldn't sleep, so I eventually got up and had a walk to the supermarket - I had remembered razor blades but taken the wrong handle! Everything seemed so familiar - which of course it was, since I was here at Christmas last year. I then visited SISP, the NGO I intend to work with, was shown round by a proud school secretary, Mrs Kumari, and was amazed by the size of the new school building - a great improvement from the old, cramped, rented place on Harbour Road. Set back from Kovalam Junction down a side road, there is no road noise now, though the kids seem to make up for that!

With the help of Sherief, an employee at Bakers Resort, I managed to fix myself up with an AirTel Lifetime SIM card (the only condition being that I have to top it up at least every six months). And with the help of Justin I visited a potential accommodation... but really it wasn't suitable. 500Rs a day (about 15,000Rs a month or about £200) for a room in a shared house. It was very comfortable and well-appointed, but much too expensive for me. I want to pay about 6000Rs a month (£80) for a small self-contained apartment.

As I write this I spotted a big black creature out of the corner of my eye, scurrying across the floor. Turned out to be a huge cockroach! I eventually tracked it down, hiding inside a wooden chair, hoiked it out and dispatched it. Yuck!

Have to say I'm feeling a bit down. Meeting the SISP kids didn't magically make up for leaving my children, friends, work and home in England. I'm expecting too much, I know, and I'm jet-lagged. Still, I was able to text my daughter and some old friends, and their replies kept me afloat.

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