weekend in pune

I worked my first Saturday. It seems a little silly to make people work every other Saturday. Especially because it seems that if we have Saturdays off due to holidays (like last weekend because of Diwali) then we need to make it up on another Saturday. I feel like that defeats the purpose of a holiday. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Today was nice though, just like yesterday. Socially, work is amazing. I feel really good about it too because I feel like I’ve bridged a gap between the Ed team and Social Workers and others in our office. I may be mistaken, but in my 3 weeks here I’ve never seen the other Ed people sit with the group that sits and eats lunch together. Pooja tried to invite me for two days, unsuccessfully, and yesterday I sat with the group. (On a side note, Pooja is an awesome girl who is an Akanksha alumni who goes to college now and works at the office as well. I’d say that makes a pretty successful program). It’s different, but the only thing I can compare it to, is sitting with the cool kids in high school. It’s not like that at all, but it sure does feel good to be included. I usually go out to the corner to eat outside. (I should take a picture of it some day). Sometimes I eat with one of the other two Americans, but lately it hasn’t worked out so I’ve been eating alone. Everyone takes their lunch, grabs some plates and bowls from the kitchen, puts mats down in the back room, pops a squat, and eats. Everyone shares everyone’s everything. A meal is not complete without chapatti – like a larger tortilla type thing with which you use to eat your food. Silverware is rarely used except to serve. Everyone laughs and speaks a mix of Marathi and Hindi, I get filled in later or sometimes they make me repeat a word or two. I appreciate this. I’m sure I’ll get Marathi and Hindi terribly mixed up, but I figure if I can speak something, it’s an accomplishment. Today Yogita and I sat down for a conversation on our own and we ended up exchanging numbers. That’s also a nice thing.

To learn, I chose 3 songs, found their lyrics and translations on line, and have been studying away this evening. I can’t say I know anything yet, but soon. Dhire dhire (slowly slowly).

I found a way to deter the roaches (besides being meticulously clean). I take the bug spray and line the corners of my kitchen and doorway the second I walk in. This worked so well last night. I saw the huge water bugs outside my door scurrying around (outside my door is directly outside) and not a one entered. I know it’s a little gross, but if I can do it like this for now, maybe it’ll work for a lot longer than just now.

The bad news is that the capoeira space fell through, the good news is, that as long as it’s not raining outside we can go to the “park” (the green part in the middle of a track) in Koregon Park. It’s far, but two out of the 3 people who called are looking for another space and I might have a connection in my own neighborhood.

I must be off now. The woman who did the demo lesson the other day invited me out with her friends tonight. She informed me that I don’t have to be as conservative in my dress as people warn me. After her lesson she wanted to exchange numbers to see if I ever wanted to go out. It all happens so suddenly. I actually feel like I’m a freshman in college again and I’m testing out all of these new friends. Sooner or later I’ll settle on just a couple. Capoeira will help with that too I bet.

Last night was interesting. We went to this very posh place. Sayali made sure I knew that whatever I heard about what women can’t wear in India wasn’t true before I got ready. She was right. Women at this place, Attica, wore exactly what women in the US wear. Sayali’s friend picked me up and we met with another friend and Sayali. We stopped to get a Kati Roll. It was soooo good. There is a Kati Roll in the Village, but this was so much better. Sid, Sayali’s friend, assured me this was one of the best in Maharashta. I wouldn’t argue. We drove for a while and got to Attica. If one didn’t know exactly where it was, I’m not sure one could find it easily. Sayali and her friends were really nice and made an evening with music I would not normally listen to, very mainstream house music, enjoyable. I’m not sure how to describe the place, but it was rather large, it had a weird bar setup – you had to put money on a card and then get your drink, and the drinks were veeeery weak and veeeeery expensive. It was a good experience that none of us really enjoyed, at least that part. Sayali and her friends were fans of the music so I joined in at time. There were also quite a few foreigners there as well. We’re pretty easy to spot. Some traveled together, others, like me, traveled as the single foreigner in a group of Indians. It was interesting. We looked at each other a little strangely, maybe with a little recognition and a little shock, and then kept it moving. I got home around 2 and passed out.

I decided to take the morning before capoeira to clean my place but only got to sweeping and mopping when Atul, a soon to be capoeirista, called to say that someone wanted to show me some flats in Model Colony. Unfortunately these beautiful flats are almost twice of what I pay. Every day I get closer and closer to figuring out how to make my place a little more homey (I think a paint job in some fun colors would help).

And capoeira. Malcum picked me up from Shivaji Nagar (I decided I’m starting to put locations in here as well to help guide folks around). We went to Koregon Park, where I first stayed when I got here, to where he teaches yoga during the week. There was one other girl, Ira. We had a small class in a small space. It was a good start. We’re still looking for a permanent spot and more students will come. We’ll look at Don Bosco’s, a priest school that used to rent out some space to a karate group (so I heard).

Although things got rolling at work last week, this is the week where everything begins. One teacher of one of my centers ended up in the hospital and will not be back any time soon. This means, among other things, that there is no teacher. We decided to rotate a staff member and coach volunteers on how to take the older group. Tomorrow is my day. It is a 2.5 hour session. I haven’t been in the classroom as a teacher in a while. I’m super excited though, especially because they’re a bit older (12-14ish). I’ll be working on their service project, debate (there’s a competition coming up), and literacy. I can’t wait to meet them. I’ll be with them every Monday. This week I’m visiting almost 2 centers every day. It’ll be a bit nuts!

The best…I have internet at home!!!!

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