Tag Archives: bangalore

Aside

…well i finally figured out what it’s been that’s kept me from updating my dedicated followers (i.e. the friends and family that monitor me to make sure i haven’t gone completely over the deep-end). shame.

yep, shame.

now don’t go getting all worried, not that scary wrist-cutting shame that causes so much grief you can’t even live with yourself. no, its that kind of shame you get when you put something off just long enough to feel bad about it. then you get to that point where you’re afraid that if you try to make it right you’ll just draw more attention to the irresponsible procrastination you let yourself fall into in the first place and the shame sets in again. you know, the paralyzing kind that makes you want to avoid attracting attention to yourself? (at least if you’re an ‘avoider’ like me) its like that.

i think what it boils down to is the fact that i’ve never been a particularly disciplined person. throughout my schooling, assignments always seemed to be a day late, and i think certain teachers came to expect my heart-wrenching pleads for just one more day and the concession of a few points so that i could “finish” it. which meant that at about 9pm that evening i would frantically begin the project and stay up all night brooding over it to come out with a fairly decent rendition of what it should have been had i planned out the whole 2 weeks i’d had to get it done, further reinforcing my tendency to do it again. that is my life. has been for as long as i can remember and, clearly, i’m not growing out of it any time soon.

so, long, drawn-out excuse over with, a LOT has happened since the last time many of you heard from me! here’s the short list:

1. i made the formal decision to finish out a second school year with CHI! so that means i’ll be here through April/May of 2013. luckily, NC and i made somewhat of a pact so that neither of us would be here alone, which leads to the next 2 points

2. i officially got my visa extension which will be good through July 2013! not that I need it that long, but I’m glad to have leeway and not have to worry about doing it again*

3. NC and i have officially moved out of our previous home-stay accommodations and gotten into a new two-bedroom abode about a 20-minute bus ride from work! (which cuts my commute time in half!) i’ll dedicate another post to this on its own.

4. i got to spend about a month in Indiana this past May and got to see a few of the people i had hoped to see. hopefully i’ll be able to plan out my next visit  a little better (mark your calendars for December, people!) and get more visits in!

5. my very brave father spent a week here with me on my way back and got a small taste of my life in India. i think there was a bit of shell-shock, but overall i think his experience was good. i enjoyed being able to finally show off how much i’ve learned about life here and prove to myself just how ‘indian’ my lifestyle has become!

6. we currently have the special ed coordinator from Indy here working with us at school which has been a HUGE help for getting ourselves better organized and focused for creating procedures in the school.

well, you’ve now got the abbreviated version of what’s happened in the past couple of months. overall, things are going well and i’ve etched out some sort of life here that i think i can manage for a while. i’ll update soon with pictures and details of the new living situation.

tata for now,
sarah

*= new & exciting info originally neglected, added 23/07/12

shame…

Aside

i’ve been asked a few times now, exactly what language people speak here (“¿Indian?” “…no.”) so here is my explanation of that answer and why it’s difficult to learn.

short answer [i.e. you can read this paragraph, and have the basic question answered]: the “official” language of India is Hindi, but as this is traditionally, and historically a ‘northern’ language, it has not caught on in the whole of the nation, particularly in the south [where i am]. the language ‘officially’ spoken in Bangalore is Kannada (as Bangalore is located in the state of Karnataka), but as this large city is located fairly central to most of southern India, Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi are also spoken, as is Urdu for anyone practicing Islam. in my personal Bangalore experience, the average person on the street will speak a minimum of 3-4 languages, even if they cannot read/write in any of them. in Bangalore, because of a long history of British influence, a great many people speak at least a small enough amount of English that i can get around with fairly little struggle.

the longer answer and explanation:
first off, what you need to know is a brief lesson in history. before ‘india’ became a major center for trade with european countries, the sub-continent itself was extremely diverse. one could move only, say 100 km and the language, culture, and customs would be quite different. in India’s long civilized history the sub-continent experienced a long list of different ruling cultures which influenced various aspects of Indian life, to varying degrees. because of the diversity of the place, one could almost argue that this vast place could have been made into 30 different countries (though this would require a whole other post altogether, and a great deal of time i don’t have at the moment for research).

not only does each individual state have its own official language, but those states [like, say, Orissa] that have large populations of tribal people have unending numbers of ‘dialects’ that have sprouted off of that language some hundreds of years ago. in all, i’m told, the number of languages and dialects spoken within the borders of this nation may number in the 400’s. though i seriously wonder how one does a census of such a vast and sometimes obscure place.

my [personal] speculation for how so many languages have been sustained over so many dynasties, rulers, and kingdoms is that for one, there is a very high value placed on the learning and procurement of languages. traditionally, the first language an Indian child will speak is their “mother tongue.” they may also learn the “father tongue” if it is different, plus the local language which is often something else. let me give you an example (not an actual story, just a compilation of various students i have questioned about it); i ask a 9th grade student which languages he speaks and how he learned each of them. his mother tongue is Tamil as his mother was born there, he also speaks Tulu (learned while living in Mangalore), Kannada – as the village he has lived most of his life is in Karnataka, he also speaks Malyalam as it is related to Tulu and he once lived in a place where it was spoken, somewhere along the way he picked up Telugu, and at CHI the students begin learning English in the 1st grade. in case you weren’t counting, that’s SIX DIFFERENT LANGUAGES. yes, maybe the person is not completely fluent in all of these languages and certainly not literate in all, but the thought of just speaking even 5 different languages in a half-way decent manner is incomprehensible to most Americans at least. (i could probably write a whole other blog about why i don’t think this should be the case, but i digress)

as i mentioned, the official language in Bangalore is Kannada, but Tamil, Telugu, English and Hindi are also common. the most common next to Kannada is definitely Tamil. and at CHI, a great many of the students claim Tamil as their mother tongue. politically and culturally, Tamilians are very proud and attached to their language and Tamilians have moved to give it a higher status in India as it has some 60 million speakers.
because of all of this, learning one specific language is difficult. though it would be advantageous for me to learn Hindi if i want to travel in the rest of the country, learning, and especially practicing Hindi, is not particularly easy in Bangalore. my current project is learning Tamil, as the children at school get extremely excited if i can even come close to mimicking something in their mother tongue [which they get scolded for speaking in school or on the bus]. personally though, where possible, i try to use their language, be it Tamil or Kannada, when i am teaching vocabulary because i am interested in attempting to pick up a few words myself. it also engages them more if i take an interest in what they speak.

well, there is your long answer, i’ll let you know when i actually pick something worthwhile up and can actually communicate 🙂
also; soon to come is a post on “Indian English” which is another animal altogether.

Namaskara,
Sarah

what the **** language do they speak there?! …and are you learning it?

one heck of a month!

Standard

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.