My Daily Routine

 Posted by Ines at 6:01 pm  India
Jan 032011

I have been here three weeks now and my weekday life has settled into a routine. Because my room is dark I seem to sleep in until I hear people moving about at 8am when breakfast is ready for us. A few times I got up early and led a yoga class. I have said I will do it again but we have all been a bit lazy. Our Indian house “mother” is a young Indian girl called Priya. Her English is improving quickly but when she gets stuck she giggles and smiles. We all call on her for help with the tuk tuk drivers, making phone calls etc. Today as usual after breakfast, my tiffin in sitting on the table ready for me to take to work. Tiffin is my lunchbox and it consists of 3 round tins, one on top of the other that fit into a metal clasp with a handle. One will contain rice or chappatis, another dahl and the third some curried vegetables. I don’t have to leave for work until 11.30 so I have time in the morning to go online and answer emails, write this journal and do my washing. I usually write a review of the lessons I did the day before and think about what I will do in my classes today.
It was an ordeal to begin with to go into the streets alone and bargain over the fare with the tuk tuk driver but I’m used to it now. I am probably paying too much but only by a little and the denominations from the ATM make it hard to continuously have small notes ready for the many rides I have to do. The fare should be 40 rupees but I usually pay 50 and once when I only had a 100 rupee note I had to give it all as the driver smiled happily and told me he had no change. What can you do? After all, 100 rupees is about $US2.20. Once the bargaining is over I point the way to my workplace, using the Hindi words for left and right. There is so much life on the streets that the 10 minute journey is always interesting. There may be a shrine on a cart being pulled by a cow, then at the railway crossing there are bicycles, motor cycles, trucks and pedestrians all pushing and shoving to cross after the train goes through; hawkers, beggars, businessmen and shopkeepers, dusty ragged children and colourful sari clad women. Once there was a funeral procession with the body lifted above the heads of the bearers and covered by a sheet.
When I arrive in Ambedkanagar slum I walk past cows and the pats of dung drying in the sun, goats and street dogs, little children who cheerfully call out to me, “Hello”, “What is your name?”, “How are you?”, “I am fine”. They often want to shake hands. I tread carefully round the rubbish and piles of dust. They have toilets in their homes but the men still urinate in the streets and a child may lower his pants to defecate over a hole in the pavement. I am glad to walk into the little courtyard, where my classroom is and greet the Indian ladies who manage the Idex Centre in my slum.
My first class is the married women. Their knowledge of the alphabet and some basic English phrases is improving. They love to repeat everything I say at the top of their voices and I clown for them as everything I do seems to be funny to them anyway. Yesterday a new lady joined the class. I felt like a deity when she touched my cheek with the palm of her hand at the end of the class and then bent to touch my feet! I let the ladies do some colouring in yesterday to improve their fine motor coordination skills. They are writing for the first time in their lives and concentrate like small children as they copy the letters I put on the board.
When they leave I have my tiffin with the Indian teachers and stand in the sun in the courtyard. It really is cold in Rajasthan in the winter. There are homes in doorways off the courtyard and women will be scrubbing their pots and pans or their children, hanging out the bedding to air, chatting and smacking the toddlers or cuddling them, whilst any men at home will stretch out for a nap in the sun.
After lunch I have my ‘young women’s class’. They are mostly children, aged from 10 to 18 but the older girls’ time is often taken up with household chores or stitching. The younger girls go to school in the morning and can already speak some English. A couple of them, Shivani and Payal, are particularly intelligent and when the rest stare blankly at me I let them model the sentences for the class to repeat. Shivani does this with much gesturing and expression so we copy that as well and soon they are all laughing. When I see that they have had enough of drilling, I get them to write in their books or do some drawing. They love to use the coloured felt pens and make brightly coloured pictures of houses and flowers. Then their regular class teacher Sonu entreats me to play games like Hokey Pokey and Ring a Rosy, which she truly enjoys as much as the girls.
When the teaching day is over and we have sung the Goodbye song I accompany Sonu and any other trainee teachers who have joined us, to do a house visit. Sonu has made me understand that the women are very happy to have me in their home. With the help of my translators I fill in a form about their everyday life. The new ladies in the class are not receiving help from Idex and want to apply so that their children can have tuition fees paid at a private school. I hope that my home visit report will assist them in this.
Now it is time for the tuk tuk ride home. Dinner is at 7.00. I can sit and talk to the other members of the household, make teaching aids from magazine pictures or watch television. Sometimes we walk to the sweet shop nearby and have lassi to drink. There is a bottle shop but on the only occasion that I thought I would buy some wine it was closed. I always had a glass of wine in the evening when I was at home in Sydney but I find I don’t miss it here. I can’t remember a time when I slept with other girls in a room but it is cosy to talk together until we fall asleep. Most of the other volunteers are younger than my own children but that doesn’t matter at all. They are fine young people and we are all here in India together.


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