The First Week

 Posted by Ines at 3:25 am  India
Dec 192010

This first week has flown by. I gave myself two nights and a day in New Delhi to get acclimatised before I flew on to Jaipur. I had heard of all the construction and the new airport at Delhi that was finished just in time for the Commonwealth Games but was still surprised to find a city of such wide streets with such a modern feel to it. It is fourteen years since was last in India. In Delhi at least the the old Ambassador cars are almost gone, replaced by Japanese brands. There wasn’t a cow, monkey, goat or donkey to be seen until you got well away towards Old Delhi. I had booked a tour and expected to go on a bus and be anonymous but I was the only one on the tour, in a modern four wheel drive Mahinda with a chauffeur who jumped out to open the door for me every time I got in and out, and my own female guide who took me to the most famous tourist sights in Delhi. Early on Tuesday morning I left for Jaipur. At the airport pickup I met Ricki, a young American vounteer who has just done two months volunteering in China. We waited for the next plane to come in so that Melissa from New Zealand could join us. We were taken to our accomodation in a house in a good part of town and met Gayatri, our house coordinator. After a couple of hours we had chosen our bunks and tried on saris and worked out a plan to explore the nearby shops. In the evening we were visited by our Idex (Indian Development Exchange) representative and told about our orientation which would take place on Wednesday at the Idex office. After our orientation we three left by tuk tuk, one of the three wheeler motorised cars that serve as taxis, so that we could go sightseeing. We were a little quieter at first as we realised that our volunteering was about to begin and that we had taken on a responsibility that would demand we give our best in circumstances that were still largely unknown to us. On Thursday we were taken to the slum area of Amedkanagar where we would be working. Melissa and Ricki would be going to the learning centre in the mornings to teach children. I would be going in the afternoons to work with women in the Women’s Empowerment program. I spent a short while with those women who had come to welcome me. There would a class for married women who had little or no English and then a class for younger women and girls and I would be teaching English and computer skills. In spite of the tiny room where the women were huddled cross legged on the floor I felt their goodwill and enthusiasm. I knew that I would enjoy working here and went home to plan my first classes.


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