Final Orissa getaway My last weekend in India I decided to take a trip with some expats to a Tibetan refugee area Monastery hidden away in Southern Orissa. One 3-hour train ride, one 5-hour bus and one 45-minute walk brought us to our final destination. We actually stayed at the Tibetan Monastery inside the Tibetan settlement at Jiranga area in Gajapati district. They make their own tofu... need I say more? The food was amazing and the monks were friendly but shy. The temple looked stunning tucked away in the rolling hills of rural Orissa. It was a fantastic and relaxing weekend taking in the natural beauty of India.
Monday, November 15, 2010
OAB Update Things are winding down at work. I spent the last few weeks training visually impaired members how to use the software and adding in small modifications to make it easier to navigate. I have handed over all the source code and instructions to VSO and the OAB. It’s up to them now and I'm hoping that they are committed to the project that they planned and organized. I am available to do support for them any time and I'm hoping they take advantage of that. I wish them success.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Trip to West Bengal and Sikkim About month after being back in country after my trip to Canada, myself and five other brave volunteers embarked on a journey to North-East India. We fought the cool temperatures, crazy jeep rides and endless restaurants with horrible service to get a taste of Buddhist serenity, the Himalayas, and a glimpse in to Tibetan culture. To sustain ourselves we gorged on kurkure, momos and wai-wai and some how made it out alive.mmmmm guavas. Siliguri This town was just a stopping place to get us to our next destinations. This is the end of the line so to speak... the Indian rail can't go any more north due to the rocky terrain. It's here that you can rent jeeps to take you to Gangtok or Darjeeling. In order to save money on our jeep ride Jen R and I sent the Filipinas to negotiate our fare to Gangtok. This is because if you look really fast Filipinas could be mistaken for North Indians and therefore will not be overcharged as tourists. Jen R and I are basically giant white women so we hid around the corner until the negotiations were done. It took all of 20 minutes and we were on our way. Little did we know then just how bumpy and twisty the jeep ride would be... and it was the first of ten. (Facts) Tiger Hill. Alas, Kangchenjunga did not show!
Friday, October 8, 2010
After two weeks back to work I have won my battle with my NGO and they provided a computer for me that will host the job matching software. I was really beginning to think that it may never happen and that I would have to go home without seeing this year of work finally come together. I have successfully set up the software in the office and I am currently chasing the OAB around for people to train. I keep reminding myself that this is India and this is how things work. The Commonwealth Games fiascos in India over the past little while are a really good example of how some things in India are accomplished. I notice again and again that things do happen but with little planning and last minute luck. It's sort of like this:
- Don't talk about upcoming events, holidays, or goings-on until shortly before they happen.
- Throw a plan together and execute quickly without too much attention to detail.
- Invite import guests and audiences the day before or the day of events.
- Frantically call for banners, programmes, prizes, tiffins and flowers very close to the event.
- Begin the event about an hour later than scheduled while still setting up.
- Complete the event a little off schedule typically meeting your goals.
- Rejoice that everything worked out despite the amount of stress and running around it took to get things done.
So, I am again waiting on my NGO to provide me people to train in spite of handing them a paper with instructions, dates, and times. All they have to do is “fill in names here”. My plan is to stay home creating a detailed plan for my training and making two manuals (one without pictures to be printed in Braille). I hope that my absence will prompt them to do work for me. It has worked in the past. At least I have something with which to keep myself busy.
Here are some stories and highlights of the issues with the facilities at the common wealth games. This situation highlighted perfectly some of my experiences with planning in India.
Dirty Washrooms Picture from www.theage.com.au
Collapsed Bridge Picture from www.heraldsun.com.au
It has been a dream of mine to adopt a street dog since I came to India. After a lot of research, planning and finding a good vet in Bhubaneswar I was able to bring my doggie home. The experience has been bittersweet because I had picked out a dog that I called “Jaggy” (after Lord Jagannath) and told him that I would take him in from his street life when I returned back from Canada. He was living outside my work and I would visit him everyday... I have know him and his litter since they were nursing last December. Unfortunately I have not been able to find him since I have come back. I'm hoping he has settled down somewhere else and is not hurt or dead. I waited as long as I could (there are timed vaccinations I wanted done before Canada) and then chose another puppy that I had befriended that is actually from the same Mother... meaning that he is Jaggy's brother. So, Shea and I have named him JB as a tribute to our lost dog and I have had him with me at home and in the office for about a month. He is smart, playful and sweet. Can't wait to get him to Canada.
A day before I took him home.
Sleeping on his bed.
Song from title: Shirts and Gloves by Dashboard Confessional
Monday, September 20, 2010
I throw my hands up in the air sometimes. Saying "AYO!" Gotta let go! I want to celebrate and live my life. Saying "AYO!" Baby let's go!
Home and Back Again
After a much need hiatus back in my home country I have returned to Bhubaneswar now more motivated and focused on completing my placement. I had travelled home to attend my sister's wedding and took a couple weeks to catch up with family, friends and camp (it's what Canadians do!).
Canada was a whirlwind of activity that was over all too quickly. It was hard to part with my loved ones especially my fiance for the third time this year but I am taking comfort knowing it is the last time... and I can really only describe this feeling by quoting no other then Homer J. Simpson: "NEVER LEAVE AGAIN"... even though I'm the one that is leaving.
Leaving had allowed me to rediscover India and really pinpoint all of the things that I will be missing when I'm home for good... aside from the obvious like my roomie Jen and my great friend Prangya. I'll give you the short list (in no particular order):
- Volunteers (I have made some great friends and it will be hard to leave not knowing when and if we will meet again.)
- My workmates and OAB members (I still have people that stop by my office and thank me for just being here.)
- Food (such good vegan food.... and the "veg" and "non-veg" menus everywhere making it really easy to eat vegan)
- My animal friends. (I have routines with certain dogs, cats and cows...including pets, snacks and general greetings. I doubt anyone else will be showing them the love and attention that I have been providing.)
- Dancing at HHI Underground. (Our western-ish club hangout on Saturday nights where we do our best Bollywood dancing to pop-Hindi and our special cars home thanks to the wonderful management who always take care of us.)
- My many rickshaw drivers who always go out of their way to say hello and get me where I'm going.
... I'll leave it at that. More to come on this subject as I'm settling in at home.
Highlights from my trip home.
Taking part in my sister's wedding. A truly amazing day.
Happily walking with alcohol in hand... nothing to be ashamed of here.
Playing games with niece and nephews.
Blowing out the candles on my vegan birthday cake.
Hearing the ringing of silence while staring out at beautiful Algonquin park. (no screeching horns, no chai-wallahs calling, no cows mooing, nothing!)
Song from title: Dynamite by Taio Cruz