A Travellerspoint blog

School

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It's the end of teaching next Thursday so everything is starting to wind down - including sadly the blog posts. However I still have a few more in me and I thought it was the perfect time to show a few pictures of Manavedan Government High School to give you a good idea about what a rural Indian school looks like (and to prove I have been teaching and not just swanning about!).

The first things that hits you when you drive up to the school is the cows in the playground - cows pretty much have free reign here and the school is no exception. The second thing is the school buildings, one storey brick huts with thin walls and deteriorating porches running round the edge. This has got better recently with some remedial repair work and a brighter then bright Indian paint job.

Inside the classrooms are dark with rows of hard wooden benches for the students to sit on and a blackboard for the teacher to stand at - and that's it. There's no electricity, no books in the classroom, no posters on the walls and in some cases no walls at all. I have to admit it was tough to get my head round how to teach in an environment like this and I'm still not totally sure, but we've all managed it somehow...with a bit of imagination.

Posted by carlala 06:37 Comments (0)

Yoga

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One of our favourite times of the week is yoga on the roof - an hour of calm and peaceful relaxation amid the general chaos of India.

Sumi - the lovely yoga teacher from Manavedan has been kindly and patiently teching us the basics of asayanas and pranayamas twice a week. I have more experience then the others and try to do more in the morning, (been slightly lax lately!) which allows me to have some time to myself, escape and let the sounds of Nilambur, the autos, the children and the cockeral wash over me.

Posted by carlala 07:16 Comments (0)

Saris

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I'm currently 2 hours in to a 6 and a half hour train journey from Kochi to Nilambur having dropped off a bag of excess luggage ready for the flight back in March. All the books, soaps, incense sticks and scarves I've accumulated over the months have been packedĀ  up along with my favourite and most sentimental purchases, my saris.

Before coming to India I knew that I wanted to understand and wear the gorgeous 6.5 metre length of material that forms the sari. I've discovered that there are multiple ways to drape it - some more revealing, some more modest, some more practical and some more decorative. Each woman will have a certain style that she likes and will highlight her personality a little. The material itself can be divided into three parts - the body, which is the majority of the material which forms the drapes and is the main part of the dress; the pallu, which is the highly decorative back panel that hangs over the shoulder to the knee; and the blouse piece, which can either be bought separately or will be part of the existing material ready to be made to your size. This is usually matching or highlighting a colour from the body and you'll soon be told if you've chosen the wrong colour (I was!).

Shopping for saris is one of my favourite pastimes - Kalyan Silks is one of the best and like an old school department store where an assistant follows you round with your purchases. But buying from the nilambur small shops is great as they pull out sari after sari for you to look at. They can also be bought in bulk from auctions if you can keep up with the bidding!

I have the traditional Keralan sari of gold and cream, a beautiful blue sari with a multicolour trim and a guiltily bought red and gold sari from Mumbai. Yes I've only worn them a couple of times but to me they epitomise my experience and memories of this extraordinary country.

Posted by carlala 22:03 Comments (0)

Mumbai - part 4

Food

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I'm currently lying in a hotel room in Thrissur where I will be presenting at a conference on teaching EFL (English as a foreign language) tomorrow...my life gets more surreal by the minute! I thought I'd take the opportunity to write my final post about Mumbai and write about one of my favourite subjects - food.

I have to admit that, sad as it sounds, I've had very little appetite lately - two bouts of Delhi belly and I'm a little hesitant about what I eat. However, Mumbai has a fantastic selection of restaurants and street food and what I didn't eat I photographed. First day I succombed to a little home comfort in the shape of ratatouille, potato dauphinoise and garlic mushrooms - tres bon. The next day I had a walking tour and my guide bought me these nice dosa filling style potato cakes for breakfast and she advised me to have a Pav Bhaji as a traditional North Indian lunch. I did and it was delicious - I think it was a tomato and lentil dahl with coriander and an onion side with bread slightly fried in ghee to mop it up. For dinner I headed to the world famous Leopolds (read Shantaram or see Johnny Depp's movie out soonish) for a chicken kebab. More about the atmosphere and beer then the food but it filled a hole. The street food looked incredible - these fish were being served about 3pm for a late lunch with curried eggs and rice - sadly my stomach was being a wimp but they smelt tasty!

Posted by carlala 19:27 Comments (1)

Mumbai - part 3

Culture

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Nearly my final post about Mumbai, although I'm sure I could write a lot more. One of the main reasons I wanted to visit the city was because I'm feeling a little culture starved down in the little municipality of Nilambur. Mumbai has it in abundance from the highbrow and historic Gateway of India and Taj Hotel to the the slightly less highbrow Regal cinema to watch the latest Bollywood blockbuster Angnepath (it's good!).

Also there was an arts festival on during my stay with contemporary outdoor sculpture, photography, arts and crafts and street shows - highlighting the vibrant arts scene. It was a perfect way to finish the day after visiting the Modern Art Gallery and an out of the way contemporary art gallery showcasing video art from one of the Uk's up and coming Asian artists. The only thing I gave a miss to was the Prince of Wales Museum...it's just reminded me that it's about time I found a job!

Posted by carlala 18:40 Comments (0)

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