Oh man did I wake tired. I was still finding it somewhat difficult to believe I had come this far. Considering the success of the previous evenings meal I went back to the same place for brekkie. Coffee, juice and a-blow-your-mind spicy Asian omelette with hash browns instead of bread. Service was slower, and meant I had to race back to the hotel to meet Kate and Jaggu, from the volunteer service (VSN).
Bundled in to the back of a cab, we made a hasty escape towards the hills as the Indian premier was visiting, and various road blocks were to be in place for his motorcade. One bumpy ride later down roads reminiscent of Kerry in the 90s we made it to the children’s hostel where I would be staying – SSCH. I was briefly inducted and told about the successes of the rebuild project they had run, and that the kids would help me get to school in the morning over the most unreal tea I have ever had. (Chiya – tasted somewhere between a Chai and real tea with lots of sweet goodness)
With that done it was about time for kajaa, an afternoon snack. Today, noodles and apple slices. When Kate and Jaggu left, I went to unpack and prepare a little for the next day. Not long after, a knock on my door from a sweet girl I had met earlier who asked to come in. As part of the induction, I had been forewarned that Nepalis are shy at first but then inquisitive and forthcoming, and like to look at your things, ask questions, share. We chatted for a bit before dinner – my first course of Dhal Bhatt (Rice & pickled/chuteneyed veg & lentil broth.), which incidentally is delicious, and you get to shovel it into your face hole with your hands.
Afterwards we looked at yoga magazine I had bought on the way here, and Sushmita, one of the house carers came along too (best way to describe Sushmhita is as a sound Bean an Tí, I have no non Irish point of reference…). The kids and Sushmita all call me sister whilst the kids call Sushmita auntie. Some of the kids call me Didi too. Bed was an early one, I was knackered so well pleased with that. Slept a whole 12 hrs! I had told my new friend I would be up to teach her yoga in the mornings but I slept right up until Dhal Bhatt time, this time served with some sort of curdled yogurt thing which some how was as more-ish as it was repulsive.
The morning was uneventful, we left at about 08.30 to head to the school I would be teaching at. Still a little apprehensive as to what to expect, we hopped on the bumpy bus down to the school. The kids have assembly on arrival and I met with Jaggu and the principal. I was asked how many classes I wanted to teach and shown around the school briefly before joining an English class. The teacher had no prior warning and as I had no prior teaching experience out of my depth is pretty much where I was. I decided it best to just get involved in the class and to help where I could.
The following class were slightly older kids. I would say within the first 15 mins the had the size of me. “Miss how old are you?” “Miss are you married?” Then the turn to the regular teacher and say something in Nepali – the teacher turns to me with a shrewd smile and says “They think you are a junior”… and then the questions start to come from her… “Have you taught before” “What was your last job?” “Why are you here?” “What did you study?”… I felt a little interrogated. And that my presence is maybe an unwanted, unexpected and unnecessary distraction for both her and the kids. The most use I seemed to be is in supporting the teacher with the correct use of grammar.
We had a 10 minute break before the last class which was spent mostly in silence in the staff room… the other teachers speak amongst themselves in Nepali and every now again a question is directed at me, sizing me up… or is it down at this point? The final class goes with less of a hitch, and before I know it I am on the bus back to the town the hostel is based in, having had a little help from a nice lad who used to live at the home, who now teaches in the school and studies physics. He warns me that the bus home will not be what I am used to, that I may have to stand. I smiled and giggled and explained London rush hours to him, but I don’t think he thought it was that bad. And now having ridden the bus I can confirm I would choose a Nepali bus ride over rush hour on the central line any day.
I arrived at the home at about 13.00 and sat in the sun for a while. Sweet Sushmita joined me…at this point my cold had reached its peak, my head swam and I was coughing a lot. I went to my room to write a little and soon after she arrived in with some tea for me… so kind. Not like long after it was time for kajaa… oh sweet lord. It was unreal, toasted spiced chickpeas mixed in with beaten rice. Kinda like Bhel from Dishoom but maybe a million times better? The afternoon passed with ease, spending time with the older kids home from school and the toddler Anouska who runs the place.
The evenings are short here, dhal batt is normally served around 6.30. I sat with the kids whilst they did there homework, looking at math problems I haven’t looked at since I was about 18. The room was chilly and I read a little, before heading to my own room. We get up early, so be time is equally early… maybe 9.30 or 10. One of the kids had loaned me a book called “The Little Princes“, which is a great book detailing the plight of Humli kids during the civil war in Nepal, and the aftermath. If you want to know a bit more, I definitely recommend having a read. Maybe have some tissues handy, yno, to catch the tears.