Have a look at this great post by volunteer Jonathan Helland on what a typical day volunteering in India looks like! Looks like the Indian locals are happy to have Jonathan as a teacher! Read more >>>
I realize I haven’t posted in a while. The reason is that I’ve finally fallen into a routine, and so little in my life feels particularly noteworthy. It might be to you, so I’ll fill you in on my what my day to day life looks like here:
Wake around 7:30–shower, dress, and head over to the nearby restaurant (called, like all restaurants here, a “hotel” for some reason. Hotels are called, lodges, hostels, or, confusingly, hotels.)
8:00 Have a cup of coffee (or two) at the hotel. The coffee here is overloaded with cream and sugar unless you demand otherwise. I suspect that underneath all the cream and sugar I would find weak nescafe, so I take it as is.
My bill at the hotel is paid weekly by the Gurukulam, so I walk out without paying. I always wonder if the other diners think I’m skipping out on my bill.
I walk the 1 block to the bus stand and get on bus 3a. Josephine (a fellow teacher and wife of John, my liason of sorts) meets me on the bus. She has been given money to pay for my ticket. (As for why I have not been entrusted with the 9 rupees ($0.16) required to get to school on my own, see my previous blog entitled “Foreigners are children”.)
The bus takes a half-hour to get to school. I read, but I’m the only one. I asked Chandra why no one reads on the bus (not even the newspaper), and she said that she was told as a child that reading on a moving vehicle is bad for the eyes.
When I get to school I am shepherded off to eat breakfast. Breakfast often includes up to three different starches with which to soak up sambar and chutney. Today it was dosa, idlies, and samia–three of the best treats from South India. This is enjoyed with one or two young girls standing and watching me-ready to serve me more food as soon as my mouth is too full to say “no thanks”.
I usually manage to eat my colossal feast in time for first period at 9:30. I teach 4 periods everyday, grades 1-8. More on the teaching experience next time. When I’m not in class I’m either planning lessons* or reading a book. I have no space of my own (until my room is done), so this is done either in Chandra’s office while she tries to work, or outside on one of the concrete benches right outside her office.
Lunch is similar to breakfast, except it always includes some veggies and absolutely titanic quantities of rice. As massive as these portions are, they are often supplemented with gifts of food scrounged from the other teacher’s lunches. After eating all of this rice and sambar and veggies, everyone will look at me with shock and horror until unless I also force down a helping of curd rice. Then, of course, I get a small desert.
After school, I hold an extra-curricular class. I rotate through Exercise, Creative Writing, and Extra Spoken English. I’ve only started these this week and success has been spotty. I am always called away from my extra curricular class with 20 minutes left so that I can be served tea (served with tons of cream and sugar and completely indistinguishable from Indian coffee–both taste like cavities and diabetes.)
I catch the 5:40 bus with Chandra and go back to my lodge, where I usually talk with Kylie on the phone for a while and read a bit before heading down to dinner at the hotel around 8. Sometimes, I am invited to dinner at the last possible second.
Last night and again tonight, I have received 8PM phone calls inviting me to meet with important donors to the Gurukulam who would like to meet the man who came all the way from America to teach here.
I really, really wish they’d give me more advanced warning, but I have to go now.
*By hand, on dead-tree pulp, pressed and dried into a writable surface called “paper”–it’s like traveling back in time.
If you're interested in changing up your daily routine, consider volunteering with WorldTeach! Visit our website, www.worldteach.org, for more information.