Today was a good day…

As I left my the main house, where my landlady lives, a little earlier tonight, she asked me to sit. Baito. It’s a nice feeling to know that she wanted me to sit there even though all we do is watch some TV or movies. This was a nice feeling that ended a nice day.

Work was really great today, both work-wise and socially. I’m out of gas and have no fridge, so eating means eating out. This is relatively easy to do; it also might be more economic in the long run. It also means I get to eat Indian food all the time – no I don’t know how to cook anything Indian yet, not sure if I’ll learn, but I will learn what things are called (no I don’t know that yet either.) Anyway, I got to work super early, had a banana but was pretty starving, so when Shweeta came in, I asked her what to eat for breakfast if I don’t have a kitchen. We got some breakfast out, I had idly (kind of like a mix between a rice/farina patty) with yummy coconut chutney. I worked in the office, reading people’s lesson plans; I sat in on a teacher training about classroom management. Afterwards Bakti asked my opinion on how it went. Although this is part of my role as the Assistant Education Manager, it still felt really great that someone else values my opinion. I gave her real feedback, sandwiched the items that need improvement with the good stuff, gave her tips for next time, and I think we came away with some good stuff. For lunch, Arun, one of the social workers, took me to get bindi (eggplant), his favorite dish, from a lunch place I’d never been to before.

Arun is a pretty awesome guy. He’s from a town about 150 km outside of Pune, the town with the biggest onion production in the world. He was a farmer until he came to get is MSW in Pune. He’s following his dream of working with children. He’s 26 and lives with his wife, his wife’s brother and their family.

When we got back to the office to eat I expected that everyone would have finished already, but when I asked Gaudi (another social worker) if she was done she said no, they were waiting for us to get back. We ate, spoke about social lives, about them speaking in English for me. Arun is the social worker for the site I was going to visit that day so we rode on his bike to the site. Arun is known for driving rather fast. I love it (Mom and Dad please don’t freak out). He is also interested in selling me his old bike. Yes, I’m considering it. Rickshaws rip you off half the time, and busses are impossible. I won’t be doing this anytime, but it’s a thought that passes through my mind for the future. Anyway, continuing with my day, the site was amazing. These girls are in 4th and 5th standard, around 9-11 years old, and they’re great. The teachers are also some of the best I’ve seen. The classroom is beautifully decorated, the kids were engaged, polite, just great! It was nice to be there. They asked really great questions when I was in the hot seat (standing up in front of the classroom as they ask questions while wearing a crown). The best question was, “What’s the best thing in the world.” I can’t take credit for my answer, as there was a new volunteer from the UK, who went before I did, who immediately answered, “Love.” I loved the question though.

In the back of the classroom one of the teachers told me a story about why Love is the best thing in the world. There’s a story about a king who had three sons. They argued about who was going to take over the kingdom. The king didn’t know what to do so he sent his sons out into the world and said go travel and bring me back the best thing in the world. So they all went off. One son came back with different gold from all over the world, the second with diamonds. The third son came back with nothing. He traveled around the world helping people, learning different cultures, talking with people. He told his father that he had nothing to give him except the love of the world. I liked that story.

When I got back from the center I got to hang out with Nuper – my friend who does capoeira in Bombay who was here for a wedding (he’s originally from Pune). Yesterday we even played some music and capoeira in his friend’s flat. He’s another friend who has made my stay here a lot nicer. It’s great how you just click with a group of people. It does make me a little sad that I’m in Bombay, but it makes visits here and to Bombay super special.

Another great thing about today is my visit to the dance studio/preschool across the street from my house. For the first time there was someone in there, it was some sort of dance class. For as social as I am, these kind of things make me very nervous, so I charged forward and went in and spoke to the teacher. He was super nice, called the owner of the space who I will meet tomorrow to discuss teaching there (it’s a super tiny space, but better than the one from Sunday). He is also interested in taking me to his other dance spaces, having me help with his salsa classes, and putting up a big sign that says capoeira and advertising it around. I’m fine with that. We’ll see what happens.

I went to idilicious for dinner, a really cheap and yummy restaurant off the beaten path in my neighborhood. You sit next to people you don’t know as long as there’s a seat. It’s great. I got some sweets at Kaka Halwai, a famous sweets store, to celebrate my 1 month arrival and Arun’s 2 year anniversary at Akanksha. I’ll bring them to the office tomorrow. On my way home I picked up a pillow and new sheets. I’ll nest slowly. As long as I can keep the cockroach problem under control, I think this place might be ok.

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