Slowly but surely, I’m uncovering my path here in India. While it is sometimes frustrating to not have the amount of guidance and pressure that I’m used to, it’s also a blessing to have the kind of flexibility my site offers me concerning the utilization of my time. I thought it would be nice to provide some of you at home with an idea of how I make use of my time in the form of a schedule of sorts:
Tuesday/Up-for-Grabs-day – Nothing formally scheduled here; it is becoming a pseudo-Sabbath of sorts (unless I am asked to teach three classes like this week). I do usually tutor an MSW student from a neighboring town in spoken English any day of the week I’m available. So, a lot of catching up on emails, reading, relaxing, praying (ok, maybe not a lot on this one), and grabbing any opportunities that arise. Of course, everyday that I’m here (not including Sunday), I go to Jacob’s (a coffee shop) with the PG hostel guys, where a woman about 40 years serves us coffee and gives us free snacks sometimes. What can I say; she loves us and we love her. Other than that, I do whatever pops up on Tuesday. For example, while I was at a wedding yesterday, an Achen (Pastor) introduced himself and proceeded to tell me he would pick me up next Tuesday to visit a seminary that he’s speaking at. My response: Sounds good! Indian flexibility, my friends.
Wednesday/Mandirim-day – After talking with Becca, who is often overwhelmed by the number of ammachis and appachens (elderly women and men) she needs to visit each week at her site, Mandirim Society, and realizing that I have an excess of time, it has been decided that I will visit Mandirim each Wednesday to spend time with the residents there. This week was my first visit and Becca had to kind of escort me around, but soon I’ll be visiting on my own. It’s also great to spend time with another volunteer to process, rejoice, complain, and generally have some good laughs. Of course, I go to Jacobs when I get back to Kottayam (it’s about a 20 minute bus ride) and tutor the MSW student, who is not from CMS by the way. I actually met a friend of his at Jacobs and was then surprised with a visit from the two of them at my room that night. Slightly random, but mostly an exciting opportunity (I much prefer “tutoring” one person to “teaching” a class).
Thursday/Teaching-day – At ten o’clock I teach a class on Critical Essay Writing to the Communicative English students for an hour. The students generally have better English skills than other departments and there are some real characters in this class. They’re a lot of fun and when we have time, we even play games. From 1:15-1:45 I engage a class over at the Baker L.P. school (about a 10 minute walk to the elementary school). This is a bit of a struggle. Mostly because I don’t really know what to do with the kids; their English is pretty limited so I will read them a short story and ask a couple comprehension questions. We also play games like Simon Says, which build vocabulary. I’m learning what works and doesn’t. And there’s always Jacob’s and tutoring (have you caught on yet?).
Friday-Monday/Kanam Time! – Anywhere between Friday and Monday (leave on Friday or Saturday and return on Sunday or Monday) I take a one hour bus ride to Kanam to stay at the CSI Boys Hostel there. The children are either orphans, deserted, or come from families too poor to support them. There are almost 50 boys that range from fifth standard to college (including two at CMS who I ride the bus with). I’ve really begun to look forward to my time there. I feel a real sense of purpose when I’m in Kanam that I don’t always feel at CMS. We sit around and talk, play cricket, badminton, or volleyball (that’s right, I’m playing sports), eat, sleep, read, teach/learn English grammar, and attend Friday night prayer and Sunday morning worship. And whichever days I’m not there, of course include Jacobs and tutoring.
Chapel – Chapel services at CMS are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30-10:00. I attend each of these that I’m here for and sometimes lead the English service, which is on Monday.
Breakfast – Sometime between 7:30 and 8:3, the guys and I take about a 10 minute walk to a hole-in-the-wall hotel (restaurant) for delicious breakfast. It’s so good, I always get the same thing: iddyappam and mota curry.
Lunch – Anywhere between 12:00 and 2:00, I usually go to the college canteen for rice unless I’m invited by students somewhere else.
Supper – Between 7:00 and 8:30, the guys and I take another 10 minute walk in the opposite direction to have canye (rice soup) from Deepika Canteen (a place for newspaper employees, but others are welcome).
This in no way covers all the random events I find myself at or illustrates my time spent at the hostel with the guys, but should give you a pretty good idea of how I use a good portion of my time.