Woohoo! I’m back in civilisation after what seemed like a week played in extra slow motion. Jen and I got back from City of Child and I have to admit by Friday we were practically crawling up the walls. We were threatening to murder each other, not out of spite but just for a lack of things to do.
We are meant to be writing a report on the sister project highlighting the major problems in the most tactful way possible so we have to both master the art of diplomacy in the next few days. Wish us luck! Anyway the long and short of it is that we had no power for most of the week so we couldn’t get on the computer to do much. Actually I lie – we had a window of about an hour and were inordinately ecstatic about that. Also I forgot to bring my novel with me which was a killer and I ended up reading about 700 pages of the Lonely Planet. Sad hmm?!
There is a lot of harvesting work to be done but they won’t let us do it, presumably because they think it’s a menial task but I would rather that then do nothing when the power is out. They mean well but I feel quite bad because they insist on making our breakfast etc and it would be great if we could communicate our gratitude properly. Alas our collective Marathi extends to hello lemon, sugar (we eat a lot of pancakes) and my name is anila.
In the afternoons we had the kids. Oh boy they are a handful but it is good fun once we get to it. The girls are totally outnumbered because there are only about ten of them as opposed to about 30 boys. I like it that way though because I’m used to having brothers their age so its like 30 crazy younger brothers.
We started doing a new programme this week of English study and games and stuff. We are in the odd position of reporting on the current scheme of things and then trying to implement something different at the same time. They warned us to keep our distance so that the kids don’t get attached to us so we have made sure of that but secretly there are a couple that I would take home in an instant and Jen said the same.
They love a game called Ladders which is a really simple thing we sort of made up on the spur of the moment at some point when we were desperate for ideas! They are competitive and go wild with delight when their team wins. Standards 5 and 6 had been misbehaving in their study so they had to sit out but it was a good thing because they didn’t think we would go through with the threat. Muhahaha that makes us sound really evil but it taught them a useful lesson.
We also did some arts and craft with them. I have never seen kids with so little imagination – I don’t blame them because at school its all very academic and so they have never been inspired to use their creative side. I’m sure in time though with more opportunity we will see more flair.
Well anyway I seem to be writing this post Pulp Fiction style so I’ll go back to the start of the week and take it from there. Go and put the kettle on we still have a long way yet!
Well on Friday we took off for Aurangabad which is a 6hr bus ride away. We went with Doug and Stephen becuase the others left on a different bus at a very unnatural hour of the morning and we were all agreed that there was something very wrong with waking up at 5am. Evidently most tourists aren’t quite as tight fisted as us because we were something of a rarity on the government bus. Everyone was regarding us with a strange curiousity and one guy had his head craned watching us the WHOLE way there. It was so funny because when each of us spoke he would look intently at us but we had a great time teasing Stephen who still seemed to be his favourite.
Well when we got there we had another fiasco with a rickshaw driver. These have become quite commonplace and we have become quite resilient to the point where you anticipate it each time and suddenly switch to your best ‘don’t mess wit me’ tone of voice. Then theres the odd nice guy who just cowers while you glare at him! Again the police got involved. It was rather amusing for Jen and Me who were spectators this time watching Stephen and Doug (6’3” and 6′ 5” respectively) debating furiously with a diminutive indian guy. Yet again the police got involved and caught the guy backtracking and told him to stop lying and waved him off. Result, woohoo!
We spent the evening in a restaurant with about 16 waiters attending us (they love Job Creation here). Mostly we ordered and they told us”Not Available” only to produce the item ten minutes later. We soon realised that Jens homemade kulfi had involved some guy running across the intersection to whatever Tescos is in indian to get her some vanilla ice cream. Afterwards we went to another hotel to a bar that was clearly modelled on a seventies discoteque. For once the indian guys in drainpipe trousers and tight cream shirts (very in vogue here) set of the decor. We had met up with Tim Louise Sara and David by then so it was who we were with that mattered and we had a good time.
Saturday morning we all eight of us visited a doctor friend of Neelas. Oh my you gotta love indian hospitality. The food was nice, the conversation a little strained (!) and in no time at all they were offering (read: forcing) to plan our whole weekend for us. We left about 3 hours later than planned for the Ajanta caves in a vehicle they had arranged for us.
If you plan to come to India, namely Aurangabad you should definitely put this on the itinerary. They were carved in a huge cliffside about 2000 years ago I think and are really amazing to behold. The place is really serene because no traffic is allowed round a large perimeter of the area. There were lots of carvings and beautifully preserved paintings. It took a whole day to see and then we had to fend off a bunch of over enthusiastic guys trying to sell us magic crystals and diamond and ruby necklaces or whatever. It can be quite tiresome and there was one really persistant who called himself Daniel and said I should never forget him!! Well we rechristened him the Bob Marley guy on account of the fact that he looked like a rastafarian high on the marijuana he was offering us… so I suppose we will remember him for all the wrong reasons haha.
We had the funniest evening. We hailed a rickshaw to a restaurant only to find there weren’t many around to accomodate us all so we went four to a rickshaw. Jen ended up drawing short straw and sat up front with the driver. She had to hold on tight but from our perspective it looked like she was hugging the guy. He was probably only about 18 and didn’t have a clue where he was going so it gave Louise and me time to just tease Jenna all the more. He kept on saying stuff in Marathi which I reckon must have been sweet nothings but I guess in that situation ignorance is bliss as they say. We were starving by the time the food came at about 10 30pm having not eaten since breakfast and then when it came Jen and I had that horrible realisation that we’d ordered something that didn’t look unlike frogspawn. Don’t ever go to Food Lovers!
Well Sunday was a relief. Louise, Jen and I managed to get up early for a revisit to the doctor’s house and we had a yummy breakfast. This time we talked at ease and then made our excuses quickly. We went to visit the Bibi-qa-Maqbara also known as the mini Taj on account of it being a smaller less impressive copy of the Taj Mahal at Agra. Then we ran out of money (I had forgotten my purse) so I borrowed some money for the return fare to Pune and dinner. That evening we went to eat at Rama Krishna’s in central Pune which had the speediest tastiest food I have ever tasted!
Well that’s the good and the bad so I’ll round off with the ugly! This week Jen and I are still arch enemies of a troupe of mozzies it seems. Despite several applications of 80% DEET (which has stripped the polish of the bed so goodness knows what it’s doing to our skin!) they still munch away at our legs like they’re chicken drumsticks. But this was a walk in the park compared to an encounter with a dog that I had this week.
This was definitely up there in the Most Terrifying Moment of my Entire Life hall of fame. Anyway so we were strolling down the canal when I became painfully aware of a large stray dog that was following us and growling at us. We continued walking and Jen kept on looking back at it fearfully. I became quite terse with her and told her to walk on. Anyway I thought it was peeved because we were in his space but he kept on following and snarling at me. I was really scared and assessing the options which seemed to be a) Run and then be attacked by a dog when it outruns me b) Jump in the canal and then drown whilst being attacked by a dog or c) Stare the dog out and risk becoming dog dinner. I opted for C. I’ve read recently in Life of Pi and in one of those 50 survival books that Dad got me that I really thought I’d never need that it’s the best thing for it.
I was totally rooted to the spot and it had backed up by now as if readying to pounce on me and then it hissed and bared all those lovely sharp canines. Anyway it pounced up and I was still paralysed with shock and just looked at it intently trying to convey my best approximation of fearlessness. I was praying that I wouldn’t be the victim of a rabid dog attack and after about ten seconds it retreated thank God and I just caught up with Jen who informed me that I looked in complete shock. Ugh my heart is in my mouth just thinking about it.
Please pray I don’t have a repeat experience with a dog or any other animal. Jenna, on the way back had a standoff with a 6ft bullock and did that thing you do as a kid when you play hide and seek, you know close your eyes and hope it all goes away. Needless to say we both don’t have much regard for animals canine or otherwise without collars or an owner nearby. I’m laughing writing this but in actual fact it’s no laughing matter!
Anyway, its Saturday now, and the shops are about to open. We are going to the tailors again. Just can’t get enough of the 2 quid outfits, obviously! The tailor ain’t bad either! Well, ta-ra for now —