For almost half of the TSC India Team, the day started earlier than usual… way earlier than usual. At five this morning, they got up and made the two mile trek to the beach to watch the sun rise over the Indian Ocean. Pictures were taken, and then they made the trek back. All of this, and probably more, took place before I was even up. If you are reading this, you are to blame for why I couldn’t go to the beach because it was a late night of blogging last night. When they came back, the ones who didn’t go woke up and started their days. Just before we left, most people gathered in a hall and did some morning yoga. I didn’t partake in this as well, but they all looked pretty funny sitting on the ground and taking deep breaths with their fingers on one nostril.
After yoga, we got on the bus and went to an Indian supermarket because we were running dangerously low on snack food. Barb and Kati wove up and down each aisle without a single section spared. Chips: check. Drinks: plenty. Cookies and crackers: you bet. Assorted other items: got ‘em. Problem solved. We left with six or more bags of snacks. It was an appalling amount considering that the resupply was made necessary because we had eaten through the three duffels of snacks that had been imported from Seattle.
We showed up to the school laden with snacks, and took a little while to lay them out in the room and get comfortable/organized. While this process was happening, a kid who we’d gotten to know named Lucas came in and informed us that it was his sixteenth birthday. We sang him happy birthday, and then instead of us giving him something, he came around and gave everybody small chocolate candies. I don’t think that this was like some cultural thing that is practiced all over India. Someone suggested that it was probably most like how we used to bring in birthday cupcakes or other treats to share with our classmates when we were in elementary school.
Once settled, we began the day’s work on the computer lab. When it comes to setting up the computer lab, I usually just do as I’m told without much of an idea of what’s actually happening. However, it didn’t seem like there was as much to do today. We plugged in the network cables, and then made them neat and out of the way by zip-tying and putting them in a plastic channel that runs along the wall. Minh is reading this, and he says that the reason it seemed so easy for me is that he, Devon, and Laura did all the work cutting and measuring. With this task done by early afternoon, Joe rallied a lot of people together for an expedition to the local Mercy Burger. The reason behind the name remains an enigma, but it holds a special allure because the logo is a large McDonnalds-like M. Unfortunately, our quest for a burger (even if it was chicken) and fries was cut short when we found the building locked and dark. It looks like this branch doesn’t have an all night drive through… or even a lunch menu.
As with all things, there is a silver lining if you look hard enough and Joe, fueled by hunger and a desire to drop some rupees, found it. He asked some local kids who were loitering across the street from Mercy Burger where the good food was. They pointed him to a hotel restaurant a hundred feet away. We walked into the Nandha hotel lobby, and had second thoughts. Many people realized that they weren’t that hungry, and maybe not willing to commit to a sit down affair. Thankfully, Joe was relentless and he was able to convince people that it was the right choice. I had to leave before the food came, but it is reported to have been the best we’ve had yet. Good work Joe.
The reason that I couldn’t stay and eat is because I wanted to find the internet café before we were due back at the school. In itself, that’s not very cool, but on the way back Jenny, Lynna, Barb, Kati, Laura (Ahn), and I got to ride on an auto rickshaw. We got back, and in the next couple of hours, people worked in the lab, played cards, or went to take a tour of Karikal’s government run hospital. At one point during this time, internet was turned on for all of the computers, and those still at the school flocked to it like geese to whatever geese really like. It was like a scene from the end of a romance movie, where the long separated couple is at last reunited. It was glorious. Facebook, email, and Winter Olympics were the most commonly viewed.
As usual, there was a lot of playing (which entails running, volleyball, badminton, and occasionally soccer). Today, arm wrestling caught on and a huge crowd of the boys at the school got really into the matches. They would pick a favorite before the match and then cheer during. In the end, Joe emerged as the undisputed arm wrestling champion. Molly however, had the most people who wanted to wrestle her.
Sometime after dark, our day at school ended and we got on the bus to Mutu’s house. When we came in, we heard his daughter singing and playing an instrument, but when we came in she packed up and stopped. We all sat down, and after a lot of encouragement, she agreed to perform for us. The instrument was like a weird accordion box that she played by inflating and compressing an air chamber. It was a good performance. Then Mutu took out a flute like instrument and showed us Indian scales. To my ear, they didn’t make any sense, but the music using them sounded good. Then we had dinner. After dinner we made our nightly pilgrimage to the ice cream shop and then walked back to the bus, only to find that it was broken. Unsure what to do, or when it would be fixed, we boarded the bus and just sat there. The bus finally revved to life and everybody cheered, but it promptly died again. Again we sat and waited in hope of a fix. When we heard the engine begin to move, we perked up in hopeful anticipation and luckily, this wasn’t a false alarm. We pulled out and drove to the orphanage to sleep… and sleep we did.