Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Rooftops of Faridabad

At the market, I haggled for scarves, slippers, bangles and a silver elephant ring for myself :)
We had a delicious meal at the market, and each drew maps of our respective countries on our hands, talked about marriage, virginity, weddings- CP wants me to marry him to he can come to the States - HA! Next was the Lotus Temple- shaped like a....lotus! Four huge processions of pilgrims made their way barefoot up the steps to pray inside. It's very hot though...
I took a nap on the way to Faridabad, fifteen minutes and before I knew it- we've arrived at the house of Bandhu. Dr. Bandhu...He doesn't really greet me at all, but speaks directly to CP. I don't realize that this is his house, not the actual orphanage where I thought I was being dropped off. He shows me how to make chai (I spill it everywhere :) and suddenly all these bright faces show up!
"These are your students," he tells me. I've been here 5 minutes and I am already thrown into it!
"What will I teach them?" I ask...
"Everything!, says Bandhu. Math, English, writing...."
I don't realize that these are the street children who come every afternoon for schooling they can't afford. They all have these big, wide brown eyes and are all holding these dilapidated notebooks but are so eager and excited to learn...
We practice some English phrases. My best student is Jyoti- she is very bright, good at spelling, reading, writing and math. She always wobbles her head to say "yes," and she has a big smile.
There is one little boy who is so positively adorable. Three other volunteers walk in: Nicole, Nadine and Annie, who immediately get settled in with a kid to work on something.
I work with Jyoti on reading and writing flashcards. We give them cookies, they grab their shoes and leave. Soon after I head to the sector 15 market in Bandhu's dilapidated car which we squeeze into. We stop at a house in a neighborhood so Dr. Bandhu can fix a hearing aid (he's an ear doctor). Next is the market where we brave getting stared down by lots of curious Indian men. We pop into a bakery so Nadine can buy some gulab jawal - like Entenmann's doughnuts!
Faridabad has a couple main markets but for the most part, it is a very poor city. In the distance are big smoke chimneys spewing out nasty-looking fumes. Me and Nadine head up to the roofdeck as the sun is setting; we watch some boys playing cricket in the park, as dirty streetchildren play on the playground. Beyond that is the slum- dilapidated tents covered in rags and cloths. I no longer see the bright colors of India but gray and dull slum colors. There is movement in the slum as others throw more rags on top and dig holes in the mud. Stray dogs are everywhere, and rule the streets at night.
Bandhu went out and bought us Kingfish beer- we head up the roof and pull out 2 cots to sit on. It was Nicole and Nadine's last night so we celebrate with drinks and smooth Indian cigarettes. The breeze was nice and cool up on the roof, but soon it started to rain and lightning. We head under the little shack and let the rain hit our toes. Nadine, Bandhu and I stayed up until midnight talking mostly about Bandhu's woes about how little he is paid for all the work he does. And how websites like Global Crossroad take the money from the volunteers and keep it for themselves. Bandhu or the orphanages don't see a dime. If you go on websites of Jaipur or Kala Marg orphanage, they are either free of cost or charge very little. Such a scam!

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