I’ve been waiting for something super update-worthy to happen, but it’s amazing how quickly life can start to seem routine again, even when you’re literally 8,000 miles away from your comfort zone. (I Googled it).
I have been largely disappointed by the attitudes of the other volunteers here. They are mostly German, a few years younger than me, and they complain that the beaches here are dirtier than the ones in Florida. They all quit their volunteer work after the second day, complaining that the sites were “boring” or “smelled gross.” Now they just spend all their time chain-smoking and sunbathing in their bikinis (which we were strictly advised not to do, due to the modesty of women in the Indian culture).
I’ve been trying to not let their attitudes bring me down, and to instead enjoy time by myself- reading and reflecting and living so closely with nature. Afterall, its only a few short weeks before I have to re-enter my American world of buildings and makeup and protein and seatbelts and professional clothing (or even clothing that is clean and dry, for that matter). I need time to myself anyway, after having been so intimately involved in the lives of so many people for the past two years– both clients and classmates. (Just ask Dr. Elvis how much a sponge can hold- he’ll tell you what’s up).
When I start to feel guilt/awkwardness for socially outcasting myself, I just pretend that instead of living at a volunteer camp I’m living at a home-stay. A home-stay without a family. But then I can pretend that the staff members who live on camp are my home-stay family. Like the cook who I bribe for watermelon. And the stoic woman in beautiful sarees who I beg for toilet paper (one roll a week, if I’m lucky!)
The staff is especially nice to me, probably because of my previous mental instability. One of the drivers said that when I cry, he cries. He also kept saying that I’m the “loosest” girl he’s ever met. (His English is not good, and I finally figured out -I think, and hope- that what he meant to say is that I cry more than any girl he’s ever met). Anyway. I think we became best friends, but he has since been fired for reasons I don’t understand. Story of my life.
I still enjoy working with my class of adolescent girls in the slum. They are very sweet and I have gotten more creative with my teaching of English, which is fun. I’m also supposed to teach them math every other day, which I could do without, since of my students are better at it than I am. An hour before I go to work on the math days, I go to a web site called Math is Fun!, and hurriedly give myself crash refresher courses. (Later this week I hope to be able to do division with remainders!)
I decided to stop working at the beach hut school room for young children, because I found it too chaotic. So I switched my morning work to an old age home, where the residents have basically been abandoned by their families and mostly just want someone to sit with them and play cards. Today was my first day, and I was greeted by a woman who asked me to shave her beard.