Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22

A week of language classes with our teacher Anuji.

“mera naam Mark hai” (My name is Mark.)

Not bad for the first week!

Anu is a wonderful person. I think she’s the happiest person I’ve ever met.

The weather is getting hotter and I’m drinking at least 3 litres of water a day. Breakfast is always an omelette, butter toast and black coffee out on the roof top of the International Social Institution (ISI).  Which reminds me, I last wrote I didn’t know what the ISI was about, but it is, as I have discovered, a center for social activism here.  There is the conference and classroom building (for our classes and lectures) and a residence building (where I live).  But many different activist groups use this facility such as for advocacy for the Dalit’s (untouchables) and tribal people, gender and human rights, work with HIV/AIDs, malnutrition, and a whole lot more.

Outside our residence is a mini slum along the laneway.  The local children often come up to us and help us with our Hindi.  Mike Rosencrantz (an American vol and basketball fanatic) bought a basketball and has been playing with the kids. Joe and I have brought our instruments down from our room and have played for the kids (and all the other adults that come around).  It’s hard to play because all the little kids want to pluck the strings and turn the tuning pegs.  But it’s fun.

We’ve all been figuring out where to shop and find things and where the best markets are.  Of course, we always pay too much for the auto-rickshaws when we go out. The drivers drive like it’s the Indy 500. We generally kiss the ground after every ride.  I’m slowly figuring out the driving culture insanity.

Joe, Cristina and I went to see the VSO doctor (Dr. Huzuria) to get our Rabies shots (which was highly recommended) on Friday (and we’ll have to go another two times for the rest).  Using a auto-rickshaw to get around is always an interesting venture.  The drivers know their local runs, but when you go more than 15 minutes away from their home base they inevitably get lost.  To their credit they frequently ask for directions, but they will also increase the fare if they’ve made too much of a blunder, as happened when we went to see Dr. Huzuria or our shots.

In any case I am never sure where I am while traveling around Delhi, the roads and traffic circles run in every and all directions and it’s hard to keep track of direction.

Yesterday (Saturday) our group went on a tour of Delhi.  From temples to forts and minarets and museums, we had a long hot day, but it was good to be inspired by the incredible sculpture, artwork and lives of the people long gone.  And of course all along the way we meet and talk with so many wonderful Indians.  It was nice being a tourist, but we did manage to show our passports with our work visas which allowed us to pay the Indian rate instead of the tourist rate for admissions.

Today, as you know, being my birthday, I’m going to catch up on my internet time and then do my Hindi homework.  This evening I’m taking the group out to Gulab’s for dinner.  It’s a vegetarian, second floor little restaurant with good food and low prices. For example, seven of us ate there last week and it cost 300 rupees, which is roughly $10 CDN.  Although, when I settle in and am only earning Rupees, I’m going to have to stop thinking in Canadian dollars.

Happy Birthday to Me.


"We can't solve our problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."  Albert Einstein



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