Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A trip, and much more

So here I am, finding myself dusting off the screen and racking my brain for the password to sign into my blogger account. It has been a long time and I know that it is selfish of me to deprive my loved ones of information regarding my happenings and whereabout on the Indian Sub-continent. So many things have been happening that it is hard to know where to begin when it comes to relaying activities to those overseas. The picture above is certainly one which pretty much sums up India, what is said will be done on paper is so often ignored. These cows eat trash, and you see people milking the cows. I don't want to think that it is the milk which is being put into my tea at the local bakery, but it probably is! It is a land which begs to be compared with the wild west where people take justice into their own hands. Certainly it is not that wild, but in a country of over 1 billion people, enforcing laws and regulations becomes a huge logistical issue when taking into consideration each state speaks a different language and has different food, clothing, and culture. Where do you begin to bring forth a change?

I will start by saying that Indian children are adorable. I have had the bounty of being able to volunteer every saturday at a public school outside of Bangalore in a small village by the name of Mohre Public school. I have a class of around twenty-five children who I am in charge of for an hour every week. They asked me if i could be in charge of a music class, so I have been bringing in my guitar and teaching them songs. The second week of class we did a craft project which involved making shakers out of toilet paper tubes and some starch, rice, and newspaper. I really have to thank Red Grammer at this point as his songs have proven mighty popular with the youngsters in India. Mohre School is "English Medium" meaning that they teach in English, as well as teaching the local language Kanada, and Hindi, so I don't have that big of a communication barrier to overcome. Although my accent is definitely hard for the children to understand and it is very difficult at times to get the children to speak for themselves, as it seems to be built into the Indian education system to just regurgitate everything the teacher says and mimic the actions of the teacher. I will ask them their opinions on what a word means, and they sit with a blank look, then I'll give them the meaning and ask them if they have any more ideas, all the hands will raise and they will say exactly what I just told them, it is kind of creepy. But we have learned three songs: I think you're wonderful, Hooray for the world, and Teaching Peace.

I also help with a Jr. Youth/childrens class on the other side of Bangalore on Saturdays as well, it is located in a new developing neighborhood where a lot of families have moved due to construction jobs available. There are a lot of children due to the bustling area and most of them have not been in school regularily, so they are thirsty for knowledge. I also work with another childrens class near the Baha'i center in Bangalore. They are so cute and we have been concentrating on learning about the various religions of the world and instilling a sense of respect in the children for the varying belief systems which exist around the world.

The semester has ended here and my fellow students are beginning to fly out and head home. I on the other hand will be beginning a journey throughout India for about a week and a half. I will be heading to Panchgani first, which is around a 18 hour bus ride from Bangalore. There is a Baha'i winter School happening there which will be three days and should prove to be quite a great experience! After that I will continue on to Pune and catch a flight to Delhi, stay there for a few days and visit the Baha'i Lotus temple, will then take a train to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and then will go back to delhi and catch a flight back to Bangalore. I then hope to go out to some remote villages which I have been invited to come to by some Baha'i friends of mine. They wish me to come out and work with the children, God willing it will work out so I can experience a part of Indian life which I have had very little contact with, that is a rural life. It is interesting because the majority of the population of India exists in the rural villages, and not the cities. I have experienced a part of India which a very tiny fraction of Indians actually get to experience and am looking forward to getting "down to earth" with how most of the populous exists.

I have also started to learn Farsi, which is the language that is spoken in Iran. Perhaps the drive to learn this language stems from the fact that some of the original texts of the Holy Writings of the Baha'i Faith were revealed in Farsi (the other language they were revealed in being Arabic, which shares the same alphabet as Farsi). The thought of being able to read the Baha'i writings in their original form is something which I feel will only enhance my ability to serve the Faith and truly understand the global implications which the Faith has. I have been studying farsi for about a month and a half now and have begun to learn simple grammar and can formulate simple sentences (keeping in mind my friend saloomeh who is graciously helping me to learn, is sitting at my side helping me stumble through). I absolutely love writing the script, which is written and read from right to left and flows somewhat similiarly to cursive writing. It is a beautiful language both to look at and to speak.

Simple sentences in Farsi, the pen is my Teacher Saloomeh's writing, and the response in pencils Is my writing

Things are well here, I continue to enjoy my time and have really been greatful to God for allowing me to take this journey. I am learning so much that will only enable me to further help humanity. I think of you all often, and I want to you to know that (and i am completely honest when I say this) even if I don't contact you that often it does not meant I don't think of you often. I keep all of you in my prayers and can only hope that Life, in all its ups and downs, does not cease to be an arena in which you can grow and learn. For if you cease to grow, you stagnate and that cannot be healthy.

With a warm heart,

P.S. here are some pictures of the group that I studied with this semester.

Myself, Jon, and Michael,

Michael, my flatmate, and I, It was Indian dress day, so we wore Kurtas.

Myself and my somewhat well known model pose...

The Group

The Group with Nagesh, an employee of ICMIS who has done a lot to help us and is one of the nicest Indian males I have met