many bits

PAN Card and time with Pooja

I had to get my PAN card today; it’s something like your social security card I think. It’s used to help file for taxes. This was a nice experience, unlike any of my other experiences with government offices in India. He remembered Susie (the other American working for Akanksha) who applied for hers last week, and Pooja, who applied for hers not so long ago as well. He made me fill out the form for a second time because I didn’t write in all caps, which apparently I should have known I should have done. Besides that he was super friendly. Pooja and I were both pretty shocked. It was also an interesting experience to walk to the office with Pooja; she told me some religious information – today is Ganesh’s (Gumpati’s) birthday. Usually one person within the community makes food for the entire community to celebrate. Her uncle does this in his community. She said he’ll cook 25 kgs of rice. That’s a lot of rice! I also learned a few other tidbits. Apparently there’s a statue of a Ganesh about an hour or so away from Pune (the city area) that grows over time. A long, long time ago it was a little Ganesh, and now it’s much bigger in size. No one knows how it grows. It reminds me of the crying Mary statue in Sicily, Italy.

Kicking the Poor Out
Pooja also told me about what happened with the slum that she used to live in. This was a part of the same slum that the kids of our once center come from. For over fifteen years corporations threatened they were going to tear the slum down in order to build their office building. It took them fifteen years and then they finally did. They moved the families to proper buildings in a neighborhood about 20 minutes away. When they got there, there was no running water or electricity. It took a couple weeks for those to kick in. The corporations on Pune-Mumbai Highway Road keep expanding. They’re threatening the rest of the slum now. It doesn’t matter in which country you live, on which side of the world, the corporations will always come in with money, threats, bribes, and power to push their agenda no matter how great or small the consequences for others. Can you tell I’m frustrated?

Pang of Homesickness
I woke up Tuesday morning with a pang of homesickness. It was horrible. I haven’t felt that homesick since my first week here. I called my mom, hung up, and waited for the call back. What made it worse is that she didn’t call; in her defense it’s not that she didn’t want to, but because she didn’t have a phone card and it was pretty late at night. I called again and she picked up. We spoke for 54 seconds. It was enough for the moment, but as of now I’m more confused on why I got so homesick. One theory is that I just had too much fun in Goa and I’m coming down from my vacation excitement. I’m not sure, but I am sure that I didn’t like that feeling at all!
When I came into work, my coworker/friend was here already and I told her how I was feeling. An hour later she says, “Why don’t you just come home tonight.” So after work, I went home with her. It was really nice.

Pollution Factor
I sometimes wonder, as I walk down the long road to the bus and then again the long road to the office, how I’m being affected by pollution here. I heard at one point that biker’s lungs in New York City look more like smoker’s lungs because of all the soot and pollution they inhale. I don’t even know how to begin to compare the way I feel when I breathe in sometimes here. Many cars still run on diesel fuel; you can see the smoke puttering out of their engines and feel the air attempt to enter your lungs. At some points you don’t feel satisfied with your breath of air because it’s been so mixed with other fumes and warm air. I don’t even want to think of what it’s going to be like when it gets really hot. I also wondered what it would be like when I got a bike, but it can’t be any worse than being in a rickshaw, and at least then I can move a bit out of the way. Speaking of my bike, I’m making slow, slow progress; very slow progress.

Follow up on Global Warming from my Last Post
This only adds to my theory that people in the US don’t really feel the effects of climate change and therefore, some, believe it doesn’t exist – http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/02/what-does-fred-upton-actually-think-about-climate. Fred Upton wants the EPA to stop regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Another frustration I’m facing.

Teaching
Like many non-profits, especially in the field of education, there is a lot of coming and going. I am not new to “winging it.” I am new to teaching in India. The concepts of teaching remain the same no matter where you go – as long as you’re in a progressive teaching setting (which I’m happy to say Akanksha is). One of our centers had a “going” which left me to take over for today. I’m happy to say that I still have “it” even in another country. These are kids I’m more used to dealing with, a little bit disruptive, sometimes even a little rude and disobedient; these are the kids I like because they’re usually a little more interesting and spunky. I had a great time working with them today.

Daily Routine
I thought it might be a nice thing to tell you what I do every day – although every day is slightly different depending on where I’m going and what I’m doing. I wake up between 6:30-8:00 depending on which center (if any) I’m going to. Traveling to centers can take between 15 and 40 minutes, depending on how far away they are from my house. I used to take a bus about a third of the way there and then hop in a rickshaw the rest of the way. However, I’ve made friends with the rickshaw drivers in my area – one of them yelled at the other for not taking me, the daily customer. I’ll spend the morning in a center observe a teacher, help with the class, take the class, and then head to the office. I do my office work, have lunch, and then maybe head to another center in the afternoon to do the same. Sometimes I’ll do one center a day, sometimes two. I’ll get home between 6-7, pretty exhausted, make some dinner, and if I get enough energy, I go to the gym. On Thursdays I teach capoeira. On Fridays (if I’m not working on Saturday) I’ll head to Mumbai directly after work. If I am working Saturdays, I hop on the train right after work on Saturday. I keep really busy. I have the evenings to myself, which I’m enjoying more and more, although I think I might spend too much time on line trying to connect with friends in the US and Mumbai. Tonight, I’m taking advantage of an earlier night and finishing up this blog that’s been going for three days, going to read my nerd book “The Argumentative Indian” and hopefully get to sleep before midnight again.

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