The train arrived a-okay,.but late by an hour. Not too bad, but I couldn't phone the people at the volunteer place I'm staying at (I' teaching in Delhi slums). But I ran straight to a security guard, got directed straight to the pre-paid taxis, and then straight into an auto-rickshaw to go to my accomodation. It was a fun journey! My driver spome very little English but he was insanely happy. Laughing over every bump (of which there were many :P ) but it was a nice ride, and he pointed out some cool temples and government buildings too. Near our destination we got very lost. Tiny dirt tracks with no signposts. But driver-man persevered! He got us to the place by asking many locals. And then I was greeted, though the two people here couldn't speak much English. Then I was left in the office alone for an hour or so, then paperwork, paid for food and was taken up to a matress... And left for another few hours. It was kinda amusing but so darn confusing!
Eventually children came in, so I sat on the steps until an assistant to the teacher told me to sit among the children. They all wanted to shake my hand, ask "what is your name?", me reply "My name is Daniella. What is yours?" and then they tell me theirs. Bad as it is I don't remember any! All said quietly, and I'm terrible with names at the best of times! But it was fun. And then piles of children on me wanting me to mark their books. :D luckily I had the most amazing little girl sittingbnext to me! She marked the younger kids books, and she told me what to write where. Particularly useful when marking hindi! :P such a smart kid,.and pretty great at English too. When.Sonu Kaur (the teacher who runs the classes) came in things wete easier, as I was told by her some of the things to do.
After that I had a chat with Sonu.and her husband. They're genuinly such great people! They just want to help whoever they can in this community (wahoe community. I'd adf lonks to their web pages at the bottom) and they want to teach people how important education is. They'veworked so incredibly hard and done a LOT in.a short time. Quite inspirational! Then I missed meditation talking to my parents (woops, but the chat was needed!) had dinner then got offered a second dinner (I declined) but sat and chatted with a couple of the guys helping this project out over some chai tea.
Next day I woke up early to be ready! Aaaand was left waiting for an hour before breakfast was ready.No big deal, but was slightly amusing, and so typically Indian! :D then I helped with the morning class, and the computer classes (me watching them play on paint. It's a fun waybto get the very basics learnt!) Next was a tour of the slums (after a short, fruitless hunt for a spice shop.nearby). It was a really interesting tour!
Weirdly I think it was better then I'd expected, mainly m'thinks due to the improvements over thevpast 4 years,.like wiring electricity into some parts and water tanks so they can at lesst get water. Just to clarify, I'm not saying it was nice! But I think it is slowly improving. Everyone looked cleanervthen I'd imagined too (cleaner then most people I saw in Varanasi even!), like a couple of girls wearing white and it had no stains. If I was wearing white it would be filthy, no matter where I was! :P I think the main way to improve everythingnthere would be education.and the government here actually DOING something sbout it. The parents generally don'tsend their children to school, even though there are free ones, because they want them to work. A couple of the daughters are usually put into prostitution, and the kids are all working for money in some way. Not right! And they have no beds in a lot of the houses, just a stone floor and 10+ people in one small room. No sewage system either,.so foul smelling streams everywhere (though again, I think a lot of Varanasi smelt as bad). Huge amounts of rubbish, thoigh that's common in India. Everyone still wanted to say "hello" to me and i didn't feel unsafe (though i probably would have if it had been nighttime). There was a tiny school though! I held a baby (still not sure what that was about :P ), and I'm glad to see the attitudes of at least a few people are changing. That's the way it has to start,.and hopefully there will be more sinificant improvements, and maybe the government will even reduce their corruption so the lower levels can function without corrupting. One day...
Then back to my classes! I took another computer class, trying to find vaguely educational games do they can learn how to open and close things and ghe like. Difficult when they silently tug on your skirt and point going "game" on a laptop that has no internet,.and another that runs on linux (which I've never used before) so I have to find similar things when they all want the same one. But I think we managed okay. :)
Then off I was whisked to go take another class, this one smaller and run by a woman whose been divorced twice so is really struggling to be accepted in the community. She's doong so well though! She's learning English (which i helped with) and taking classes for the kids. Her daughter is adorable too. :D I only wish she had more confidence in herself, bevause i genuinely think.she's doing amazingly, especially in such circumstances.
On this day a danish couple also camee along to help for a week. I was rely glad to see other foreigners, and they were such awesome people too. Was nice to be able to compare experiences of travelling and get some advice about the other countries I'm goimg to and give tjem some advice on India.
Later we went to.meditation class. It was tthe most odd but fun meditation i've ever been to! Sikh meditation. Ot started like most, sitting yhere cross-legged (desd feet) listening to chanting. Then instruments appeared, a harmonica,drums and tambourines. And then it became a childrens music class. There was no set rhythm, just the harmonica going, the drums each with there own beat and the shaking of the tambourines adding to everything. I was lucky I didn't have an instrument at that time because I wouldn't have known what to do! Then we had the wet cake thing (lakha?) and sat and talked to the guy who runs the meditation. Then dinner (daal bhat again) and bed!
Next morning was similar to the previous one; waiting ages and then lessons started late whilst we were having breakfast (toast) in the office. This time I had help from the danish couple, which I really appreciated. :) then Iwent for a walk to fetch notebooks, an alphabet chart and some vegetable, body, insects and early man charts. I carried these nack (stopping for water amd a snickers bar on the way :D ), gaining even more looks then usual. When I got nack I was kinda waiting for lessons with Neelem (the divorced lady), but she never showed up so I ended up sitting in on a typing lesson instead. Tjen I went round Sonu's for dinner,.learnt how to make a chickpea curry thing and more about how she became anadvocate of women's rights and education. Seems it was largely xouchsurfing teachingb her how big the world is and what other cultures are like. Then back to the school and chatting some more. I learnt you can buy a driving license and not take the test. And drive with no license as long as you bribe with a few rupees sometimes. Oddness!
The next day had been planned to go to the red fort and some other Delhi sites, but Metius (the danish guy) was really ill, so it didn't end up happening. I did however go on an exploration of the nearby markets on a fruitless search for saffron. It was fun though! And I got pineapple juice and a snickers, so not a total waste of time! And i love walking round markets anyways. Then back and cleaning the classroom for a festival later , which involved CROWDS of children and loads of adults all crowded into a tiny space, listening to chanting, some readings and then soda for the kuds and lakha for everyone. And the decorations were all balloons! I sat at the back with a girl couchsurfing there and we couldn't stop giggling and were a bad distraction for tge kids. I did teach them to fist bump though! :D then te kids left andthe teachers stayed and had some pepsi. I signed something which I hope was just innocent :P
Then with Neelam for a lessonand I marked her english exercises. I also read veg names and parts of the body with the kuds. They loved that! Pictures work wonders! Then I spent the rest of the day mainly talking with Gabbie (danish girl), tea with Sonu (and them trying to get me to pay for volunteering in Nepal I probably don't have time for) and then more chats until dinner and bed. Then a nap before walling out of the slums at 4am, an awesome drive with my taxi driver (who loved to talk and talk, especially about his german wife), we passed a wedding and then into the airport! And onwards to Nepal!