Journal Entry 2: First Day of Work

I’m naked, wet, and the lights are out. Sounds like the beginning of an X-rated movie, but unfortunately this was me during my first power outage. I had just come out of the shower, the shower is actually a faucet that I sit under while bathing myself with a cup, when zaga-ram the lights go out. My dripping nudity made me feel vulnerable. I sat down on my bed and waited with a salad knife at the ready. You can’t be too healthy. My heart was pounding a bit, I realized that in the pitch darkness my eyes would be useless at detecting an intruder, so I sat perfectly still and waited for the outage to end. I guess this is how meditation was created.

I fell asleep with my salad knife. When I awoke in the morning I found my circuit breaker and restarted my fridge! Then I ate a peanut butter, jelly, and unfrozen chicken nugget sandwich. I walked to work.

Work is only ten hectic minutes away from my house. Walking is super-dangerous for nimrods. I share the road with cars, bikes, tractors, bicycles, ox drawn carts, dogs, goats, and cows. The road was made of asphalt. The asphalt is under buried under several inches of red earth. The red earth when dry sends dust into the air. The women cover their noses and mouths with their saris when the dust comes. When the road is wet it has pools of murky water to step-in or have splashed on you by the passing cars. The road is both dry and wet simultaneously. Dog and cow poop everywhere. There are strange things in the road like scrap-metal and cement chunks. People are using heavy machinery like circular saws without protection or warning. The streets are risky to cross and there is an open sewer that begs to eat your flip-flops or first-borns. The walk excites me and the stares keep me on my toes. I see all sorts of dirty places, but smiles on all the faces. Walking on the street is nerve wrecking and I think that this weekend will be fun even if I only venture thirty minutes from my house and come back unshaken.

The first school day was awesome. The kids are so cute, pushy, and friendly. They immediately grabbed me by the arm and all tried to pull me into their separate classrooms. The children in the playground all tried to offer me an unbeatable deal to join their class. I’m glad to be so welcomed at the school with the children. The first class I sat in was called, “Venus”. The classes at this school are named sequentially along the solar system with the Kindergarten being the Sun, and a few asteroids making up for the difference. The kids called me over to their tables to see how they had cut out certain shapes. The kids are taught a very proper form of English, which makes them sound like little tan geniuses. The students all sit on the floor and windows provide the room with light. During the class a woman in a sari, almost all the women in this area and at my work are wearing saris, appeared at the door and gave me chai. Awesome “ . “

After Venus class I went to observe the 10th grade economics class. The kids were learning about the economic plans of post-colonial India. I was fascinated that they taught children these advanced topics, 50% of the kids had good participation. When one of the kids kicked a chair the teacher reminded the kids that the other classes didn’t get the luxury of chairs.

During lunch I was giggled at for bringing a fork, eating green peppers, and for not taking the spiced curried sauce. Although the food is perfectly hygienic, I need to take baby steps into Indian food. I am not timid about food, but I have to take my health seriously.

I noticed three students who were very east Asian looking. One of the little boys caught my eye and pointed at the bunch and said, “ Himalaya”. I followed-up with a teacher and learned that the students in question were from Manipur. A state of India that borders Myanmar. Remarkable diversity

I spent the rest of the teaching time meeting the remedial English students whom I would be responsible for. They were all cute, smart, and hyper. I played Amity games with them. I am so lucky that I worked at Amity. I totally know how to teach English to a child whilst entertaining them. My work colleagues believe Jackie Chan and I are residents of Japan. When they ask where I work the answer is Japan. So they think I am settled in Japan. In a way I am.

** If you are a foreigner in Japan at this moment, if you leave Japan for over one year you need to get a special re-entry permit which allows you to maintain Japanese residence even while away for an extended period of time. I have that, so I am still a resident-ish. **

I will be stationed primarily in remedial English for primary school students. Looks like the student has become the master. I observed the other teachers and realized the kids just need more games, games, games to stay focused. I am brewing up a special teaching-style that will wow those kids with knowledge coated in fun-honey.

The kids taught me how to count from one to ten in Kannada. India has three levels of language. The language of law and commerce is English. The language of inter-personal relations and domestic issues is conducted in one of India’s 30 odd regional languages. The inter-state language is Hindi made mainstream by the congealing effect of Bollywood Bollywood very very jollygood culture. So I am learning a bit of Kannada from the kids. Kannada sounds follow a bit of Japanese phonic coupling.

One – Ondou              Two – Yeredou            Three – Morou

        The kids left the grounds at 3:45. Those kids love-love-love school. The high schoolers didn’t shove-off like American kids do. They smiled and flirted with each other as they ambled toward the gate. The younger kids played games. The smaller kids just ran excitedly in random directions happily honoring the end of the day.

The day ends with a closing meeting. I wanted to see how an Indian organization conducts itself, although this is a rather informal group of like-minded people it was cool to see the family-style way they conducted their business. Not at all authoritarian or harmonious. Indians are a healthy emotive bunch and I like that, as long as I’m never on the receiving end of an Indian firing, shouting match.

The talk of the meeting was on Facebook. Facebook is not allowed at school. They are not trying to squeeze extra-productivity out of the already sapped staff like in the corporate world. They don’t want the kids to see their role models using a website that is potentially dangerous to children. Apparently some of the girls harmlessly created or displayed Facebook profiles. The attraction of Facebook is so strong it pulls on kids that might not even have food or electricity in their homes. The kids signed up for Facebook on their car-battery powered school computers. Kids gravitate to the things that belong to their generation, even if the time machine that powers their surroundings broke down years ago.

I will not be able to use Facebook at work. Unlike in the corporate world where I found that limitation generationally blind and grueling, I respect it in this context. The future belongs to the children and naturally they hunger for what is their birthright. Facebook, the Internet, computers these things will one day be theirs, but not until it is safe for them. If they saw me on it, it would be like a starving man catching a whiff of smoked meat. Brutal.

Since I won’t be using Facebook my communication with the outside world is going to be more limited. I will spend my weekends exploring India in search of gold, spices, and free-wifi. I wonder if I will find it, India can have startling contrast. This morning I saw two skinned pigs hanging unattended from someone’s doorway, I saw an ox cart carrying vegetables while the driver was on his smart phone. The kids from school rent tablet PCs to study from home, when some of the classrooms don’t have chairs or desks.

There is an Internet café in town, but a teacher advised that, “ You won’t be very comfortable there”. I guess it is a masterbatorium; the opium den of the surplus male. I will definitely not being giving up Facebook for three months, so I will be checking out what lies within.

After classes and the closing meeting the economics teacher walked me to the corner and pointed out a few directions. She promised me that the lanes of dirt along the tall grass led to a dominos pizza. That if I turned left just where an oil-tanker was making a dangerous U-turn I would find a coffee shop. It seems as though these Europeany comforts crashed like meteorites across the suburb. I will travel this weekend to see what is in the area.

I returned to the shop across from my house to discover that it had more foods. Apparently the shop, which happened to intrigue a window-shopping cow, restocks its produce on Tuesdays. I was advised to buy all the vegetables before they were gone for the week. I got a pineapple and some oranges. Indian oranges are sarcastically green when ripe. I returned home from the shop feeling quite comfortable with my street. The toothless raisin-man followed me to my apartment door to show me that I had left my apartment light on all day. Then he mustard out, “You wasteful bugger! ” He promptly slapped me across the cheek with my own pineapple. He vanished into a cloud of raspberry almond smoke before I realized what he’d done.

I came into my giant apartment and ate dinner. I love having guest and living with people. How fitting that I always get huge apartments handed to me. I decided that I will cook proteins for dinner and package the school rice to eat through out the day. I am going to cook Indian foods, write, and workout as a hobby. I successfully showered with a cup.

In India the water piping is not strong enough to carry toilet paper. In my house I don’t use the paper, because I can use the faucet and cup. I carry toilet paper in my backpack because at school there is a septic tank and that can handle it. Toilet paper is thought by some to be unsanitary and incomplete. Since it can’t go down the drain it piles in your trashcan. “then just throw it out” HA! Trash collection in India is a national concern not a nearly invisible service like else where. I’m totally ok using my left hand and a faucet, which drains into the floor and not a sink, in my own home. In public I’m not going to use the public faucet or hose again. I tried it, got my pants wet and without a towel my butt made my boxers wet. That said, many people in India bravely endure much harder.

One of the most consuming adjustments has been to the water. Its just that its not an adjustment its denial. I shouldn’t consume any tap water though my mouth. If I do I will instantly deflate like an untied balloon. In contaminated areas one could get cholera, jaundice, or typhoid fever from the water. The water is not clean for a number of reasons. The pipes that carry the water are old and they carry rust. My entire bathroom floor is covered in rust dust. It felt like sand, but it tastes like rust. Also during the annual monsoon, the water will over flow and contaminates will spread into the public water. Water bandits will tap into the government pipe water to illegally syphon off water to sell at a low price to poor people in slums with no running water. They contaminate the water through their activities. Not drinking the water has been easy, but washing has presented a challenge.

Although my level of precaution is not necessary to an Indian who is accustom to low doses of the lightly poisonous water. I have been washing things with tap water and rinsing them in drinking water. This rich bastard is brushing his teeth with Evian. Ok you got me, Its Aquafina, but can’t a guy dream! I know one day I’m gonna slip up and drink the water accidentally in a restaurant or at back alley goat fight. For now I am going to the store every day and slowly over-purchasing a water reservoir of my own. Finally.

All the things I have mentioned I do so with a pinch of funny salt and imaginative MSG. Bara Bah Bah Bah, I’m loving it in India. It is nice to go to bed thinking, “Now what will tomorrow bring? ”

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