It's one month since I arrived in India and things for me at SISP are starting to improve. I feel more accepted by kids and staff alike. I imagine they're used to people coming and volunteering for a few weeks at most and so you are treated accordingly. I was invited to a team meeting on Friday and, although you can't expect permanent staff to change from speaking Malayalam, at certain points they spoke English to ask my opinion or find out information from me. Also I have run two full classes now and am gradually getting the kids to cooperate without having to resort to shouting. I'm trying to get accepted more as a regular teacher - volunteers are not all about fun and games! I'm also learning tricks to keep the kids engaged and occupied - it's a two-way learning process.
Last night my friend Phil Morgan (from JET) and his wife Jackie arrived at Hotel Samudra at the end of their tour of Southern India. I caught an auto-rickshaw over to see them and we, with their tour group, spent a very enjoyable evening having dinner at a beach-side restaurant with a refreshing breeze and the waves crashing a short way away. Nice to relax, hear their stories and catch up. Very pleasant! Today we got together and I showed them the coast from Samudra Beach to the fishing village of Vizhinjam. We happened to bump into Shajila, a young Muslim girl from SISP, and I discovered that she hadn't been to school recently because her mother was ill in hospital with Dengue fever. As she has no father she is having to cope keeping the home running. I'll have to let the guys at SISP know. Phil, Jackie and I then caught a small and rickety bus into Trivandrum. To be honest it was so bumpy, and with the normal Indian driving standards of involving swerving all over the roads, that I was a feeling a bit queasy by the time we arrived. But that soon eased and we did a spot of sight-seeing at the temple, the museum and Bazaar Road near East Fort. It was great to have decent conversations again and also not have to stop every five seconds to interpret!