Indian Cooking Lesson
On the last day of ICO (In Country Orientation) the volunteers were given a lesson in Indian cooking. We were taught the basics of using a pressure cooker for dal and how to use a tawa to cook roti. I got to make a dosa as well! Oh and aloo ghobi too. It was also our job to cook lunch for the VSO office employees... they said the end result was great!
chop chop chop
International Volunteer Day
On one of my free days I attended a presentation at the oldest high school in Delhi, I want to say it was called Queen Mary's School? I was invited by another Canadian VSO'er, Liam, who gave a lovely presentation on volunteering and successfully got the children passionate about it. All the students were invited to come clean the Yamuna that following Saturday as part of International Volunteer Day. The presentation was great and I got to say a few words about where I am from, why I volunteer and what I will specifically be doing for my NGO here. The students really surprised me with their ideas about getting involved and their ideas about what can be done about climate change... as the theme for IVD was environmental. It was nice to be around youth who are creative, passionate and willing to give their time.
Liam presenting at the school
All the VSO volunteers in ICO were welcomed to participate in cleaning the Yumana River too. So early that Saturday morning we loaded onto a bus that took us to the filthy banks. We arrived to see hundreds (if not thousands) of people wearing gloves and boots sifting the sands and the water to collect garbage. It is a regular practice for people to bring their household waste and just toss it in the river... very different from anything I know in Canada. Even as we were cleaning people on the bridge that could see our efforts would dump their litter. I found this frustrating and yelled a little... in English but I think the message was understood, but not complied with.
Cleaning the river
Man, that water was dirty! It is shocking for me to see a body of water in that state. It looked black and it wreaked. I doubt that it could support any wildlife! So, we cleaned for a couple hours, which entailed sifting garbage and putting it into large bowls then dumping the bowls into piles on the beach... I never saw what came of those piles that we left behind. Even with thousands of hands we did not make a dent... and I mean not even a dent in the areas that we were literally standing on. The job is too massive for one day of effort. There needs to be more education about pollution, a service for people to get rid of their garbage (I suspect that most of this garbage comes from slums where regular garbage removal is non existent) and enforced laws about dumping. In a country with many more pressing issues I can see why ones like this get left out of the equation. The day was more about promoting volunteering than cleaning the river but I found the state of the water to be more than a little disheartening.
At the clean up there were speeches and performances to keep us going. I really enjoyed the music and hung out close to the stage. I wished that I could have helped more but I was not feeling well that day... I stuck it out though. Performances were by Indian Ocean, Menwhopause and Terra Naomi. They were all quite good. I even got the drummer from Indian Ocean to autograph my my arm. Rock on!
Finally, I made it out to some of the cities Ghandi memorials for Mahatma Gandhi. It was interesting to get a glimpse at a part of India's history. My favourite (albeit, in my opinion a little morbid) was the Mahatma Gandhi memorial where he was assassinated. It has in stone his last steps and a gazebo where he was shot. I enjoyed seeing where he lived for the last part of his life and was amazed at the small amount of possessions that he had left behind.
Ghandi's last steps
AM, where Ghandi died (I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to smile or what)
What he left behind when he died (sorry for the glare)
Song from title: Bukowski by Modest Mouse