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First day at Udaipur and at the youth center

November 23, 2010

It was 8 am. Too cold. I decided to sleep in and waited till last minute before getting out of the bed. I slept with my sports coat on, and my trench coat covering my upper body and head. My legs and feet were crying from cold. It is freezing cold. When I finally got ready at 10:25 am, I met one past volunteer in the living room. She just arrived from her weekend trip and has stayed in the living room since morning.

We chat for a bit, then Samvit joined in. We were supposed to go to FRO, the foreigners registration office, but it was raining. Bikes are not meant to run long under the rain. We waited and chat more until it was close to noon. The rain stopped a little so we took courage and got out of the house. I went with Samvit first to FRO. The other girls were going to meet me short after for lunch. Hey, it is actually fun to ride on a bike and went around the city. The air felt fresh–though cold–and it was just cool :). Registration took 5 minutes. Great.

We then drove by a touristy area in Udaipur. It is long windy hilly road with small shops on the sides; just like in Pushkar. I saw a bunch of guest houses with rooftop restaurants. Yeah, touristy area was confirmed. I don’t like it, but we stopped at a restaurant there anyway. The view from there was just awesome. I did not have my camera with me, so my apology I can not share it. I could see the lake, the Lake Palace, and City Palace from it. The restaurant has both regular table area and sit down area. 90% of the visitors there were Israeli; chillaxing while watching TV and doing random things: sleeping, playing guitar, coloring a book :D. While waiting for the other girls, I sat on the same table with a Slovakian couple. They were busy writing postcards, like 20 of them!

I have to say the food was good, at least mine. The name is French, thus I quickly forgot it, but it had Chicken breast with mushroom sauce, steamed vegetables (which is awesome!!), and mashed potatoes. The hot lemon ginger honey drink accompanied it well. I was satisfied. Then it’s time to head to the center. I was excited. I was also anxious; could not imagine what I would encounter. What if their story was true? Can I tell?

Samvit was already there when we came. I made a quick introduction to the kids, but he quickly asked me to join him in the older kids’ class (12-15 years old). I made a quick introduction there, too. There were only 5 kids, so I did not have much trouble remembering their names. Samvit started with going through their project, which is to make any artwork about birds. Only 2 of them did the work, so we discussed theirs. The students’ written English was ok, but their spoken English was minimal. One student could barely understand me. A few of the problems–as I saw it:

  • They reverted back to using Hindi too fast. As soon as they did not understand it, Samvit would reiterate in Hindi. About 80% of the communication in class was in Hindi.
  • The length of the class, 2 hours, did not allow enough flexibility to split into Hindi and English sessions. Mixing them up in the conversation does not help these kids in learning English.
  • There was no structured English lesson. The kids has been learning from a book and projects, but they need to go through the core grammars.

2 hours went by pretty fast. I had a good time; got to spend one-on-one with the students and went through their sentences. I gave them some tips on using the words is, a, and do/does. Not sure I was effective though, as the proper use of these words should have been taught in a full session by itself. Samvit acknowledged that they went through Unit I and II of the book too fast. I totally agreed. I recited the poem on the first page of Unit I and one student did not know the meaning of most of the words in there. This is going to be challenging.

I don’t feel like I am getting enough answer about Samvit and D.A.A.N from working at the center though. I am still filled with questions.

We had dinner together at home. It was chapatti, aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower), and aloo dish. I like it. Unfortunately, I could not break the conversation to talk about more serious stuffs though. He had personal things to handle. I went up a bit to think, and when I came back the door was locked. It was only 7-ish pm. Disappointed, I came back upstairs and chat more with the other volunteers. I decided it is ok to wait till tomorrow. But tomorrow got to be it.


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