Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It's Been a While

And it'll be a little more, even.

Verrrry busy past couple of months with the school, travelling back and forth between the village and Jammu and doing this, that and the other.
Haji Public School's first Annual Day was held in May. Great times! The kids & teachers were prepared with song and dance routines, a darling play (Doctor-Doctor) and general showcasing of talents. My pick of the lot: Kids singing folk song "Surayya teri suit ne bigaadi duniyaaaa," a philosophical life-lesson in comic verse. Hilarious. Also a little prize-giving ceremony for the bright sparks of the school.
(Click on pics to enlarge.)

After that trip, it was more running around headless chicken-esque, getting together a Rotary Club in Doda. With help from the awesome Rotarian Adeep Singh in Jammu, we received our official Rotary Charter on May 17, 2010. I am now Rotary President, ha ha. (That's right. It's all about ME.)
Lots of prepping and preening required as a Rotary Club. Also attending meetings and conferences, creating PPTs and talking through them... things I've always LOVED doing. Not.
Anyway. It's a good thing. We can take our school much further this way. And do tonnes of other stuff. God knows tonnes of other stuff needs doing in our rag-tag Doda District - home of the extremely jobless, hay-chewing, laid-back, gossipy mountain peeps who are glad to fill their own pockets regardless of right or wrong, morals or ethics. *snarl*

Wow. Where did that come from?

Anyway. June was a fun month. I hosted my first CouchSurfing acquaintance, Miss Beata Labikova, who also became Haji Public School's first ever teaching volunteer. What an experience. First time toilet paper has ever reached our little village Breswana. :)
Bea is a young scholarship student in Canada, majoring in... wait for it.... Jazz! Yes, and she's doing another academic major as well, which makes her life slightly busier than mine. I found out Bea has no concept of meal times because of her crazy schedule back home. Our Kashmiri peculiarity of four full meals a day came as a shock, and eventual bowel trouble, for her. Oh, the memories.
Bea was a treat to host. Completely no-fuss, low-maintenance, easy-going and a great traveller. Getting to our village and doing the rigorous uphill and downhill stretches, not to mention the long hours of road travel, is not exactly easy for a city slicker. But Bea was not that. She had a pretty good time of it, while I was on a "show off your culture and village" spree for a fortnight. I anointed Bea my offical guinea pig, experimenting on her for future volunteers' stints and used her as a bouncing board for ideas and feedback, especially keeping foreign travellers in mind.
Since she had a relatively short stay in Breswana, Bea did a brief intro session with the kids, talked to them about herself and gave a little presentation on Canada. Over the week she was with us at school she did painting sessions with the kids, a little arts and craft, singing, taught them Hang Man, gifted them stationery, and most fun of all: brought out bubble makers! What larks, Pip, what larks! Forget about the shrimps, we had a pretty good time ourselves. :)

Before Breswana we took Bea to Kishtwar, where she enjoyed traipsing through Chaugan and clicking pics of its trademark donkeys (pronounced 'dunkies' in the real Pahadi accent). Stayed at our khaala's place where we taught Bea the intricacies of a game called 'kirket'.
After the village trip, on our way back, we had to take a bizarre detour to the police station in Doda (escorted by men in uniforms), where the cops 'verified' Bea's authenticity by checking her FB profile. Nyaahahahahahaaa. I.Kid. You. Not. It was hilarious. :)

Overall, great experience.
Note to Next Volunteer: The bar has been set pretty high. You have a class act to follow.

That was May and June. This week it's been paperwork madness, getting together stuff for the Rotary. Rotary Doda is organising a free medical camp in Doda on July 17th and 18h, BTW. And tomorrow onwards, I leave for a month of travelling.

First to Doda to organise the Med Camp.

And then........ *drumroll* ZANSKAR and LEH!!!  Where we have to buy horses to take back home. And in Leh it's reunion time with girlfriends from Down South in Hindoostan. Also, BB the Insane joins us on these mad travels. What excitement I say. :)

Crap. Is that the time? Must pack. Later, all. (Much later.)