Well, this blog was beginning to look lonely, with no update for almost four months! So much has happened, and so little has been written. My special apologies to anyone who has send me an e-mail since, uh, late January (to put things in perspective, as of the time of my last posting, Hosni Mubarak was still the President of Egypt).
Things are going well, with June expected to be the busiest month of my life, with two big projects to wrap up before I finish my work at Puvidham. The first is the curriculum documentation, which has to be made into a form that can be easily understood by other people -- not an easy task. Who knew that curricula were so big? Especially since one of the major goals of this curriculum was to develop all of the material ourselves, from the daily schedules to the learning materials for eight classes (Lower kindergarten to 6th grade).
The second Big Thing is something that started with my parents' visit in January, a herbarium that gives information on the local species of plants. I've been spending some very enjoyable mornings collecting plants, drying and mounting them, and talking to villagers about the traditional uses of the plants in their communities. I've learned a lot, not just about plants, but also about the history of the place, the way that people's beliefs and aspirations have changed even in the past 30-40 years. With a little tweaking, this should be my thesis also! I have to say, it is just about the opposite from what I expected to happen.
You see, both of my parents are botanists by training; many days and weeks of my childhood were spent accompanying my father into the field, the best of which was the time I missed a month of the 5th grade to be a 'field assistant' on my dad's trip to Northern California. We spent these trips mostly collecting specimens of hawthorns for his research. While the trips were usually fun and I got to see a lot more of the outdoors than most kids who were raised in Toronto, I was always deeply embarrassed at my father's lifelong study of a plant which is unremarkable aside from the fact that it has killer thorns and you can make bad-tasting jam out of the fruits (admittedly, it does allow him to claim to be one of the world's foremost experts on the genus, since only like two other people study it). I have been determined to never have anything to do with plants, or herbaria in my adult life. Now I find myself enjoying it, even using the interminable dichotomous keys filled with botanical jargon which is a must for identifying plants in the field. (Don't be too proud, parents. I still hate your hawthorn jam).
Well, that's what life is like now. I'll try and post some stories from the past four months. Until then, enjoy these photos from the exchange trip I chaperoned to Darjeeling, West Bengal.
|Darjiling Trip -- trip to Tiger Hill|
Thanks for reading!