Educational Weekend

My friend from New York had a Jew question to ask a not so Jewish Jew. This was for a project for grad school. He messaged me via facebook in his morning and I got the message this evening, wrote back to him, and then we had a conversation about it. Regardless that I’d always like to feel that I’m there for my friends, we both marveled that it is pretty amazing that he could use someone from across the globe to help out. He’ll give me the results of his paper when he gets them. I’m really intrigued.
I used to have these things that I called, “moments.” They were little glimpses in time where I would stop and think, “Oh shit, I live in India.” I’ve been having them a little more often again but I don’t know why. It might because next week marks 2 years. I’ve been thinking of doing a little two year anniversary blog posting, but not yet.

This weekend was filling. There was a huge education conference in Pune; this was the first one ever here, last year it was only in Mumbai. This year it will take place in Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. It just demonstrates the progress, or the attempt to make progress in education in India. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was impressed about the amount of social entrepreneurs here, on the ideas that were being exchanged in informal settings outside of the sessions, and the sessions themselves. There is a lot of really great work being done here and that made me happy. I got to meet some amazing people with whom I really hope to keep in contact; both people who can benefit from my experience and people who I would like to speak to in order to further my goals and ambitions. It was pretty cool.

I also had some unpleasant news and a strange/slightly funny/slightly icky experience yesterday. On the way home from the conference I stopped by to see the kids. I hadn’t seen them since the previous week and Ishwar promised to call me because both him and Chapel were sick with a fever, yet they both came to the park. It was a great park day; we just decided to lie down in the grass and be still. We left early and we got them some medicine and took them home. Ishwar was supposed to call the next day but didn’t. Avinash met me at the entrance of their community and began telling me what happened earlier that day. I proceeded to see Ganesh, whose mother cried in front of me, Chotta Lingapa, whose parents I met for the first time, and the rest of the kids who saw my reaction as I heard the story, understood what I could from it, and tried to explain what I understood back to them. Today we went to see Chapel who was taken to his elder brother’s house about 10 kilometers away.
They were trying to burst crackers (small fireworks). It didn’t go off. They tried several times to light it; they tried to open it and remove the powder and then put it back to light it again. Their last attempt ended up working a few seconds after they lit it when they were looking back to see what happened. Ganesh’s legs are burnt up to the knee, all black. Chota Lingapa is burnt with boils and burns around his hands and legs. Chapel got the worst of it. His face has some kind of third degree burn, his left hand is burnt with a huge scab already over it, parts of his feet are burnt with boils, and there’s a huge boil over his right hand. It hurt to look at his left hand. It was wrapped in a scarf. They all went to the hospital, a free one that’s apparently the best for burns. They got medicine and cream. Chapel doesn’t want to go back though because, as his sister in law said, it’s free and they scream and treat him badly. What do you do for that? It hurt to see their wounds, it hurt to think that I thought they knew better than that. Chapel’s brother and Avinash took us to Chapel’s house today. His bhabi was really great and Manoj and Sagar will take him back to the hospital on Tuesday. It’s just something that happens here, all the time. We’ll do what we can with them. It kind of ties back to this weekend’s conference though. There are great organizations and great people who are trying to change the landscape of India, to make it work for everyone, not just those who it works for now. I wish, as I always say, that I could do more, but it’s not my place to do anymore than I’m doing. I love them, and I think that’s a lot and they know that. They love me back too, which is nice. Enough of that now though…

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