Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hi everyone! This might be my last post from India for this trip. I have less than a week left and it doesn't feel real. I can't believe how quickly six months has gone by. The last thing I posted about was the Golden Temple so I think that brings me to the Special Olympics we just hosted at school. The school that I am working at (  is one of the few in the area that has a program for special needs children. Renu Bali, the director of the school recently decided to host regional Special Olympic games for the special needs children in Tender Heart and a few local schools with similar programs. There was a training camp held for coaches last Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday was the set-up day, and on Thursday and Friday the games were held. The events were Bocce Ball, Long Jump, Soccer, and Shot Put. Each child was given an opportunity to try each event. At the end of the two days the points were added up, the children were awarded with medals and certificates, and they were sent home very happy. It was a great experience for me and being included in the running of the event felt very familiar from volunteering at the Special Olympics at home for the past four years. Some of these kids don't have much to do at their schools or are rarely allowed outside of their homes after school so it was great for them to get out, make new friends, and improve their self-esteem. After it was over, I helped one of the teachers write an article and select a few pictures for the local newspaper. I will put pictures from the weeks on the blog once I get home.
Another great thing that happened recently was that we got to go to a wedding. It was a Rajasthani wedding so everything was big, bright, and colorful. The bride was a woman who used to teach at Tender Heart and is now teaching in a University. The ceremony was beautiful and I got some good pictures that I will put on as soon as possible.
There are just two of us volunteers here now so it's pretty quiet around the house. I have met a lot of amazing people here and this trip would not have been the same with out them. I think we are going to a Bollywood movie tonight and maybe some doing some shopping later this week so maybe I will have a little bit more to write. The picture I attached is a typical Rajasthani wedding Saree. It is the same style but not the exact one from the wedding.
Also, congratulations to the Windham Girls Swim Team on their 9th (correct me if I'm wrong) place finish at the Class A State Championship meet yesterday!! Good luck to the boys team today!! See you all soon!     

Monday, February 7, 2011

Now that I am back in Faridabad for my last few weeks, I will continue to work at the school and women's project. Today I have been typing the annual exams for the kids that are coming up next month. They will have a series of three hour tests made up by their teachers. So far, most of the teachers have turned in math and environmental science tests but there are many more to come.

The picture I posted is from the internet and I will post mine when I get home. It is of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. It is the most sacred place of the Sikh religion and is visited by about 50,000 people per day. It also provides free accommodation and meals for tourists and Sikhs who make their pilgrimage there. I traveled to Amritsar with Laura, another volunteer. We were able to see the temple in the day time, late at night, and then again at sunrise. It is open 24 hours a day and always plays prayers throughout the area.  I found the Golden Temple to be more impressive than the Taj Mahal. We were also able to see a few other sites in the area. We went to Jallianwala Bagh, which is the memorial grounds of the Amritsar Massacre led by General Dyer on April 13th, 1919. We also walked to nearby temples all dedicated to different Hindu gods, one of which was a miniature version of the Golden Temple.

In the train station on the way home I met a family that was also traveling to Delhi. I was sending a message on my phone and I saw two little feet standing in front of me so I looked up and there was a little girl with one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. She introduced herself as Muskaan and made her brothers and sisters, who were quite shy, introduce themselves as well. They were fascinated by what I was doing there and asked me a bunch of questions about America and were very curious to know what I thought of India. They were all ecstatic when I asked to take a picture of them and they all were all so sweet and wished me a safe journey and hoped to meet again someday. It's the little things like that and the kindness of the Indian people that makes me love this country and forget the things that make me hate my rickshaw driver getting lost 5 times on the way back from the metro station and then trying to over charge me (which is nothing new). Luckily I had a friend in the area who was able to come pick me up and I got home safely.

I'm back to typing the exams now. Have a great week everyone!!! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

For two countries that don't necessarily enjoy eachothers company, India and Pakistan have an incredible border ceremony. Hi everyone! I am updating from Amritsar in the state of Punjab. Last night I went to the border of Pakistan for the nightly border ceremony. It starts at 5pm and last about an hour. There is a lot of music and dancing before it starts and two women on each side of the border run up and down the street carrying their respective flags while a crowd of at least 500 shouts and chants. The ceremony starts and the border patrol officers from each country march towards the gate with very quick steps and better high-kicks than any cheerleader or dancer I have ever seen. When the last officers approach the gate, it is opened, the two shake hands and salute eachother. The gate is then shut and not opened again until the end of the ceremony. There are a few more minutes of chants from each country and at the end they march back to the gates, open them, tie ropes connected to the flags together, lower them until they cross and then take them down. The officers fold them and march them back to their patrol stations. It was incredible to see how much pride one country can have. Pictures and videos from the rest of the trip may have to wait until March because I do not think I will have wifi on my laptop again until then, but I hope you will find them worth the wait. I'm running out of time before my 3pm train but I will update about the amazing Golden Temple when I get back to Delhi!. Off for one last cup of chai and heading to the train station for an 8 hour train ride, which in this country unfortunately probably means atleast 10. Hope everyone enjoys the weekend and I will write again soon!   

Saturday, January 29, 2011

This is a lot harder to update with no internet in the house! We are still enjoying the new house and the new people we are meeting. The past few days have been pretty exciting. On Wednesday it was Republic Day. There was a parade on TV and celebrations everywhere. There was no work that day but we went to a local radio station where we were all interviewed and it was broadcast on the station a few days later. They asked us many questions about our respective countries and how they were similar/different to India and what we liked about each. We also discussed some issues that we thought needed to be addressed here and back home. It was very interesting because most of us were all from different countries. After the interview we came back, got dressed up in our sarees and headed to the school for a celebration.  The children had been working very hard for weeks to put it all together and it was fantastic. They prepared dances and songs and presentations as well as making food for all the guests and decorating the park. They were very excited to see all of us in our sarees. I have pictures and videos of the children that I will put on as soon as I can get back on my laptop! Friday when we went to school one of the teachers offered to take us to a few different houses in the village to show us how they are living. Some of the houses are quite large but they are very basic. Many of them have earned enough money for homes by selling land that had been left to them. Everyone was very kind and loved showing us around and telling us about their lives and families. The rest of the volunteers are away this weekend to I am enjoying a relaxing weekend with lots of tanning, writing, and reading...which is made even better by thinking about the fact that its only January!! I hope to travel to Amritsar next week with Laura, one of the other volunteers. We will spend the night in an Ashram, visit the Golden Temple, and watch a big ceremony on the India/Pakistan border with lots of music and dances. Hopefully by then I will be able to put new picture updates online. Enjoy the weekend everyone!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I was planning to take about a week to pack all of my things but I guess now I know I only need one night! We changed to a different house today. It is still pretty close to where we were before. They have their own set of projects but we all decided to stay at our school. None of us were ready to leave the children. The host family is very nice and they have a great home. Plus they have a washing machine, which was very exciting for all of us after all this time hand washing our clothes. There were already two girls living here when we moved in and one more is coming at the end of the week. I am hoping to plan one last trip before I leave, I just can't decide where yet. There are so many amazing things to see and do here, it will be hard to leave. Last weekend another volunteer and I went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. It was about a 4.5 hour bus ride each way, which was alot better than the 10 hour bus ride I took  in November to the Tiger Reserve. The city of Agra is not very nice but the Taj is beautiful. I didn't have a working camera at the time so I will upload some pictures that I got from another volunteer when the internet gets fixed at our new house. On the 26th of January is Republic Day and the children at school have been working very hard to prepare. They have been learning song and dances as well as making posters and cards. A teacher at the school is also a seamstress and she has made outfits for all of the children to wear for the celebration. I can't  believe it has already been almost 5 months. It seems like I got here a week ago! I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend and I will update with pictures soon!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This morning I left 25 degrees and sunny, palm trees, flowers, and fruit that is still good and came back to 12 degrees, cloudy, rainy, no palm trees or flowers.... awesome... One week was definitely not long enough in Hyderabad. The weather was amazing. It was sunny and around 80 all week but it wasn't just the weather. There is something about it that makes it so much different than Delhi. Maybe just because I really needed a change.
I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in Hyderabad with a family friend, Hannah, from the states who is here visiting her family. They were so welcoming and it was a great experience to be a part of an Indian family! Hannah was busy working on her new house but showed me a lot of things around the city. The top picture is of the mosque called Charminar. It is the most popular site in Hyderabad. Charminar is the equivolent of France's Arc de Triomphe. It is located in the center of the city and is surrounded by Bazaars selling a variety of different things. The most famous one is Laad Bazaar. It is a large strip with shops and vendors selling fabric, scarves, bangles, clothes, sarees, shoes, jewelery, and just about anything you could be looking for. Needless to say we spent a while there one afternoon.

 Another great thing about Hyderabad was the diversity. There were not many travelers, but it was great to see so many different religious groups in one area. Here in Delhi you really only see Hinduism. Its advertised and all the holidays are celebrated widely but you never really see anything about any other religions. In Hyderabad the Hindu Temples are advertised as well as Mosques, Churches, and every type of ceremony that is happening. There is also a large statue of Buddha (the other picture) in the middle of the lake. It is on a stretch of the road called the Tangbund. There is a mini fair ground on one side with food stands, henna booths, and a book fair and on the other side of the road there are sculptures of great poets, writers, philosophers, and artists. 

We were able to go to a Christmas celebration in a park, a pageant on Christmas Eve, and to church on Christmas morning. Hannah also showed me the studio that her brother created and now they run a Christian broadcast station on TV. The whole family is a part of the station. They all help run it and the four sisters all sing and read messages for the program.

I wasn't exactly looking forward to coming back to this weather but it will be good to get back to the kids! It's only been a little over a week and I already miss them. I hope everyone is has a great holiday season and makes the most of the start of a new year!