Well, this week was the official first week of placement times (edit: first two weeks, I was a little late in posting this). I've started work and it's been fun, if slow at times. I think that I will write more about that in my next entry, once I have more of an idea of what I am doing.
Another important detail of life is that as of Tuesday, I have the internet where I'm living. It's a pretty sweet hookup, it gives me just-faster-than-dialup speeds in the middle of nowhere. However, I have to hold it as high as possible for it to get signal, which has meant duct taping it to an old water tank when I use it. Whatever works, I guess. Also, it gets broadband speed in all major cities in India, meaning that if I spend a weekend in Bangalore or something, I can skype people after 10 PM India time.
My living arrangements have been the most noticeable change so far: I am living in the school's hostel, where schoolchildren live whose families live far away, or whose families can't keep them at home, or who otherwise don't have a home to go to while they are at school. It is worth noting that these children are the hostel's sole residents, making the maximum age here around 14, with many as young as 3 or 4. The only exceptions to this rule are myself, and a lady who does the cooking. However, the cleaning, washing of clothes, upkeep of the garden, and all the rest of the hostel's maintenance is done by the work of the children who live here. Everyone, down to the smallest toddler, has some sort of work to do. The kids also do a good deal of the cooking, which leads me to believe that if all contact with the adult world were to be broken, these kids could probably run the place pretty decently without resorting to a) some kind of lord-of-the-flies-esque power struggle, or b) starving.
They all live in two main buildings, and in pretty close quarters. I am the only one here with my own room, which comes pretty decently equipped, with its own bathroom, balcony, and, wait for it, rooftop. I am currently writing this entry from the roof of the Puvidham hostel, with a pretty sweet view of the surrounding valley.
The kids have taken pretty well to me. It's fair to say that the last place I expected to be was in a place where I would be surrounded by children, but things are working out pretty well. I am, thus far, a constant source of novelty. Every day has had some sort of theme associated with it, which has led to constant amusement for the kids, and a mix of jetlag and exhaustion (and also some amusement) for me. Day one was “Uncle!” in which they find a new big person in their midst who doesn't speak Tamil, and make him teach them things like duck duck goose and skinni mirinki dinki dink (is there a better name for this song? Also, any suggestions for new kids songs? I could only think of the wheels on the bus and row row row your boat. Pity me, I never went to a real summer camp).
Day two was “Uncle has arms!” in which the discovery that I could lift them pretty effortlessly led to swarms of little children pulling me down to the ground. Days three and four were “Uncle has a computer!” and “Uncle has a camera!” respectively, where they played games and took pictures (SO MANY pictures. Some of them have actually gotten pretty good at the camera.) under my very watchful eyes. If any of you have ever seen a toddler playing with a piece of electronic equipment, you will understand my horror at the prospect of these things being at the mercy of a few dozen very hyperactive pre-teens.
I've been able to get to Bangalore on my last weekend, and next weekend I'm travelling with work to Chennai, to do some serious curriculum development (I have no idea what that means, but I will be doing it!). It's been nice to have a change of scenery every few days; I think that these days, I like to have a balance of urban and rural living and so far placement has given me just that!
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