one heck of a month!

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i can now say that i have settled into my little life here in Bangalore. the only thing left to do is pick up my foreigner’s registration from the local immigration office… which was a task in itself that should, with a little luck, be accomplished very soon.

after arriving very early in the morning on the 24th of August, I attended school and jumped back into the work i’ve been doing in the resource room. the school has felt very much the way I left it. my relationship to the school is slowly changing. i’m starting to feel much more a part of the staff and system here. everything is starting to come easier for me and the inter workings of school-bureaucracy in India is coming a little more naturally now.

the week i arrived, i got wednesday through friday off school because of Ramadan and Ganesha Chaturthi (Hindu elephant-headed god’s birthday celebration). I got to spend that extra long weekend visiting with friends, having some truly wonderful food, and reacquainting myself with the city.

teacher’s day was directly after this holiday and though we were in school, i’ve never known any school to show so much appreciation for teachers than an indian school. each teacher was given the equivalent of about $100 worth of gift cards to a good department store here in Bangalore. plus a nice box of sweets and a small piece of jewelry, as well as some very kind words from the education and finance directors. the students were especially excited to stop teachers in the corridors and wish them a happy teacher’s day and shake hands. it was truly a day that i was proud to be a teacher.

life in general has been extremely busy. i’m now lucky enough to have another foreigner, NC, from the U.K. in the school for about the same length of time as i am. about a week after i arrived a female volunteer from the U.K. was here for two weeks and NC and I were both really excited to be able to show another person around, which is something neither of us had the first time we came to India. the experience of showing someone else around showed me just how much i have learned and grown since my first arrival in India. especially being able to understand more of what people are saying is a huge realization. my first two weeks i had difficulty even being able to tell if someone was speaking english to me because i was not accustomed to the accent of an Indian-English speaker. sharing experiences with these two companions has made my first month back an easy transition. finding my way around the city has become much less of a hassle and i really know where i’m going most of the time.

besides foreign friends, i have really started to develop friendships with many of the younger teachers at school and have been officially invited to 3 homes now. its exciting to have social breakthroughs when there are often misunderstandings from both sides that can be the root of many misunderstandings. also my own natural tendency toward introvertedness has been a slight obstacle to immediate friend-making, through slowly but surely i’m definitely feeling more connected.

about two weeks ago i got to go to one teacher’s home for a Malayalam (people from Kerala) harvest festival known as Onam. we had amazing food and ate on the floor with our hands… the traditional way 🙂 it truly is amazing to be welcomed into an Indian home.

I’ve had an amazing first month and will tell you all about our school trip to GOA in my next post (to come soon). I’m going to attempt a once-monthly blog so friends at home can keep track of what i’m doing and where i’m going.

much love.
Sarah.

here i go…

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this is my new beginning.

monday. this monday. i will be leaving for Bangalore.

i have about 500 things to do before that time, most troublesome of which, keeping my luggage to two 50-lb bags. my whole life in 100-lbs. as scary as that sounds to me the $150 charge will be a great motivator to trimming it down.

i’m not so much nervous about leaving my home, rather freaked out about trying to make sure that i get everything i need together for the long journey. not only do i have all of my personal effects, but i’m also traveling with a number of supplies for the school that are not as easy to obtain in India. given that organization is not my strong suit, i’m really just anxious to have everything ready to go and get on the plane monday without a hitch.

up until then, i’ll be packing, organizing, getting in last-minute friend visits, and generally stressing myself out. wish me luck!

*a note on this blog in general: my goal is to post once a month at minimum, though hopefully i’ll be able to exceed that.

import: new announcement…

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as anyone who has read my posts on here must have noticed, i generally neglected to write much to share with the world since about mid June. this was partially intentional since i have been working on something and did not want to place any undue jinxes on it until things were for sure…

well that time has come. everything is set (at least the official parts). and drumroll please (for those I haven’t told)…….. i’m returning to India on august 22, 2011. 

about half way through my time in India, i was realizing that Christel House was still having a great deal of difficulty finding special education teachers, they actually hadn’t found any. i had gone into the experience with a seed planted in the back of my mind that if i got the opportunity to stay, i would. i didn’t completely expect that opportunity to present itself, but knew it was possible since the special education department is a whole new entity to the school this year.
long story short. i accepted the position.

on arrival at home, i began working on my visa application and checking airline tickets. daily…

well, it happened. after a small hiccup with the visa outsourcing company, my visa arrived today stuck nicely to page 17 of my passport!

upon arrival, i took the next step of doing final research on my flight and bought my oneway ticket back to Bangalore. its done. set. holycrap.

so… i have approximately 1 month to prepare for my return, which should be the perfect amount of time to get in some important fixes in terms of food and activities before getting right back into the Indian life i already sort of started.

**fyi, my parents are pretty much good with this as its a much more ideal place to be than wherever the peacecorps would have thrown me… nothing against pc, but most friends and family are happy i’ll be guaranteed to be able to keep in touch on a daily basis if necessary.

and so, here goes….

import: god’s own country…

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import: quick update

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Dear friends, family, and strangers,

Here is an update of the things I did for the past few weeks, I’ll leave this as my update and try to keep up for the next couple weeks.

3rd week I was here I went to a region called Coorg. This is a rainforest region that is covered in coffee plantations. I stayed at a really cool place called the Rainforest Retreat, which is an all-organic and environmentally friendly plantation. Unfortunately my first day there was spent recovering from the long, extremely bumpy bus ride and a stomach issue from the previous night’s dinner. It did turn out to be a very nice place to recover though. The second day I was there I was really able to enjoy the scenery and go on a couple of hikes as well as explore the plantation itself (including having to quickly pull two leeches off my ankles, eeekkk!). It was all beautiful and I will post pictures soon 🙂

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import: food

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thus far, food has been somewhat difficult to describe as i generally am uncertain as to exactly what it is that i am eating. i am nearly certain that i am essentially vegetarian at this point. some of the vegetables are recognizable; peas, carrots, green beans, some sort of potato, chic peas, okra… the rest are generally unknown. one that i now know the “common” name of is drumsticks… some sort of stem which is stewed until the inside is soft. the first time i had it, i clearly had no idea how to eat it… the outer layer is extremely fibrous, not meant to be eaten, and impossible to chew (as i found the hard way). the proper way to eat it is to slice open one side (which comes easily after it’s stewed) and pull the soft inside out with your teeth or a spoon. the second time i had it someone instructed me and it was a relatively generic, soft green thing, slightly like well-cooked green beans.

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import: this is where i work…

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import: HERE

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welp, here I am! this place is like no other i’ve ever seen! i could compare some of the street sights to Brazil, in the contrast of rich, poor, dirty, clean, new, old, and dilapidated. i had expected there to be many strange [bad] smells, luckily this expectation has been quashed as i have not yet needed to ride city busses. many of the women i have been around wear these lovely little white flowers hanging in the back of their hair, and they smell absolutely wonderful!

i ride a big yellow Christel House bus to school which is nice because the public busses look scary…

import: flight

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nearly there. all i have left is to find the christel house driver when i get to Bangalore. thank goodness the 14 hours to Delhi was relatively uneventful, even comfortable 🙂

arrival in DEL was pleasant getting off the plane, the international airport was very nice and nearly deserted. i took the chance to change into my linen pants and use the restroom while they still looked nice (and they were). the stalls were even larger than the ones in O’Hare.

i exchanged my cash for Rupees, stopped at the prepaid taxi stand inside then headed through the doors to find my cab…

as i headed out, i straightened myself, trying to look confident like i knew what i was doing. upon stepping through the doors, i felt the blast of what felt like 1,000 hair dryers pointed directly at me. i don’t think i’ve ever felt this kind of heat before. it was like being followed too closely by a hot charcoal grill.

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