Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blame it on the black star.


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.

Brahmapur where we left the train and waited for a bus.

On the walk to the monastery. We were tired but seasoned India travelers and appreciated the gorgeous scenery.

Tibetan settlement at Jiranga area in Gajapati district.

Pond near the monastery.

Saying Goodbye to India

As a VSO volunteer you know going in that the goodbyes are coming. I tried hard not to think about it and focused on developing relationships with my co-workers, roommate, Indian parents and other volunteers as I would in any other situation. However, as I started to feel the pressure of my time running out I had that sinking feeling and slight panic that resembled my last few weeks in Canada before I embarked on this adventure. There is sort of a sad balance to it.

My work organised a “Leaving Ceremony” for me and everyone from The Orissa Association for the Blind had a chance to stand up and say something about me. It was really touching and I spent almost the entire two hours in tears. I also had a chance to say something about the NGO and the people there. I encouraged them to volunteer their time and to teach skills to others to make their community stronger.

I hope that my impact at the OAB is lasting and that they develop and use the database and job matching application. If they do not continue with their project I feel good knowing that I was able to share my skills with some individuals who really wanted to learn.

I'm on an overnight train out of Bhubaneswar to Kolkata tonight. I'm staying in Kolkata with another volunteer and then flying to New Delhi to Brussels and then home to good old Pearson Airport! I had packed up in time for me to have a few people over for some food and hugs before my journey home (JB too!).

The conference room filling up with OAB staff, students and members.

My dear friend Samad speaking about our time together behind the keyboard.

Myself speaking with Mr Bihari Nayak, my boss.

The Orissa Association for the Blind presented me with a flowers, a scarf, and a tribal painting.



As the guest of honour it was my duty to pass out sweets to everyone in attendance. I loved getting a few seconds of chat time with everyone!

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I actually found out that shortly after I arrived home that my friend Samad found a job and that he can now support his family. I told him that he deserved all the credit for wanting to learn and spending so much time with me going over internet navigation, word processing, spreadsheets, and database structure and implementation.

Song from title: Black Star by Radiohead

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