Thursday, 9 July 2009

Toothpaste, Sweat, and (almost) Fisticuffs

touthpaste mouthI awoke today in a good mood. A blast of Steve Harley's "Come Up and See Me, Make Me Smile" and I'm out the door. Smiling, friendly kids and adults. And there's the very attractive 25yo daughter of the auto-rickshaw driver, brushing her teeth in the garden, white frothed toothpaste all around her mouth, and she still manages to beam and look attractive! Then it's in to school. After adult tuition my first period is free - or it should be. As with most days, there's a reason to fill it - someone's sick or taking a kid to the doctors or sorting out a birth certificate or any of n possibilities. I mind, but not much: certainly not enough to complain. And there's no time to really mind - I've got to sort out an activity for them to do. Today I just regurgitate something I did six months ago which they've all but forgotten. Then two classes with the older kids and it's lunchtime.

failed mitreIt being Thursday, I have the afternoon off, but today I'm making the mitre box out of angle iron, for mitre-ing the aluminium frames of the pinboards I'm making. It doesn't go well. Without a set-square, protractor or scriber it takes a while of irritated measuring, marking and assembling. At least my new drill bits don't go blunt immediately they see the iron this time! Cutting the 45 degree angle is difficult, requiring quite a lot of physical effort, and the blade wavers off course. This, with the backdrop of loud banter from the youths in the workshop and tinny noise coming from one of their mobile phones. I try to keep my cool. Then one of the kids accidentally/intentionally bumps me as he passes behind me. I accidentally/intentionally return the favour and he ends up in the box of coconut shells, scowling. It's hot, its sticky, I'm dripping in sweat and all surfaces and tools are covered in coconut dust. It's not nice. In the end I call it a day - perhaps I've made an inch of progress.

A welcome cup of tea and a sandwich nicked from under the nose of the cook. She looks fiercely at me, but then again she looks fiercely at everyone! Miserable Old Boot! And finally, as I'm about to leave, I turn and find two older youths with hands locked around each other's throat. Christ! I shout at them but it makes no difference. They're pushing and shoving and moving stiffly, suddenly and aggressively. Shouting even more loudly still doesn't work so I wade in to pull them apart and, amazingly, I succeed. One of these kids is backward, stunted, but very strong. The other, I can only presume, was picking on him. I try to find out what's going on and the normal kid intimates in his very basic English that they are only playing. Yeah, right. So no fists were actually flying but they were about to, or so it appeared. It's frustrating not being able to communicate effectively or understand or calm things down. In the end I drag them off to the head teacher, all the while with the normal kid beseeching me to give him another chance. I'm tempted, but decide that if this is a pattern of behaviour then it needs to be dealt with. They start getting difficult but I grab a passing kid and he calls the head. Thankfully he arrives quickly and starts talking calmly with them. I leave them to it, find my bag, and go home.

No comments:

Post a Comment