More drivel falls off my fingers because it’s too dark to work in the fields…
Typos here can be blamed on the mozzies which have hassled my feet. Remind me to bring socks tomorrow.
BTW, tales of niceness here should not be taken to mean that people in other places aren’t nice too. Over the years I’ve run into people from all over the place (Scots, Australians, Indonesians, South Africans, Americans and English folk spring immediately to mind) who give with both hands.
Wednesday 7th continued
I walked back to the house – mostly avoiding rain (or managing to control my umbrella effectively) but sheltering for 10 minutes at a fish & general stuff stall when it pelted down.
Near the house is another house where someone had wanted Rs10 from Ajeesh or I in the morning. Neither of us had it so I said I’d sort it out on the way home. Slight mishap – I found the right house but none of the family spoke any english so I couldn’t make myself understood and so disturbed them for nothing. What’s the road to hell paved with?
A day of enforced idleness – Ajeesh was still in Cochin and I wasn’t allowed to even make tea for myself. I did have a go at trying to extract the Malayalam alphabet from Ajeesh’s Malayalam-English dictionary. (The front-matter and end-matter are all in Malayalam so I couldn’t directly crib it.) Jaya tried to help but I’m still finding learning new alphabets hard. Malayalam is like Devanagiri in having 6 or 7 vowels, then about 40 consonants and then modifying those to show the vowel-sounds that follow them or to show that there are two (or more?) successive consonants. This may show you what I mean.
Anyway, I gave up for the moment and read my way through Jaya’s chemistry text-book. It’s meant to be around A-level/SYS/Advanced Higher standard. I could cheerfully shoot the proofreader (was it proofread at all?) and the authors for allowing huge factual mistakes to get through. I suppose it’s mean to fault the english language and writing style as well but they seemed extremely unhelpful too.
I was given an inhalation treatment: sticking my head under a blanket with a bowl of boiling water with some Vick’s vapor-rub and tiger balm. I was also given three doses of the ayurvedic medicine – glasses of boiling water containing the ingredients I’d bought along with crushed pepper-corns. Despite the massive amount of sweetness from the karipatty (apparently palmyra sugar), I could only sip this concoction slowly and through gritted teeth.
I seem to have slept well and the cold is almost gone – hoorah! So I think the treatments worked – huge thanks again to Jaya and Radhalaxmi (Jaya and Ajeesh’s mum).
Ajeesh returned this morning. After a lot of discussion centred on a cousin who’s wasting his time and leaving his immediate family’s land unfarmed, we came to town.
I had a quick blog while Ajeesh visited an office in town. Then we drove to his bank. I appear to have slagged the wrong bank – the bank whose directors are demanding a bribe appears to be Nedumkandam Service Co-operative Bank. So I unreservedly apologise to the Idukki Co-operative Bank. However, this was a small branch – the nasties are being played out in the head office and I don’t yet know where that is.
We had lunch at the cafe I’ve blogged about before. The owner is called Mini and her daughters are Raji and Remia. I’ll continue to eat and drink there but I won’t have any more sugar until Mini gets rid of the ants that infest her supply. Aarrgghh!
We then went to the local plant-nursery to pick up some plants: apprently wild strawberries although they they looked nothing like the strawberries I know. (I think they’re cherries.) Apparently, when the owner told me they were for the local public/government school, he gave them for free. DS, Ajeesh and I then went to the school and chatted with the headmistress while waiting for classes to end.
The children (at least the lower classes) were assembled into the one of the school’s main building. (It appears that there aren’t partitions between the various classrooms in this building.) Ajeesh, the headmistress and I were sat in front of them and the headmistress introduced Ajeesh and I. I feel a bit uncomfortable at being referred to as ‘doctor Bruce’ (I don’t like people to think I’m full of pride [except when I am] or particularly special*) but if can help them aim high, then I guess it’s ok.
*I’m sure I’m just a random bozo who gets it wrong a lot of the time
I was then invited to speak to the children – I started by thanking them and their parents for the wonderful welcome I’ve had here. I then asked them about their ambitions. All of this had to be translated by Ajeesh because very few of the pupils had enough english to understand me. We finished with Ajeesh leading the children in a repetitive song/clapping rhyme.
I can’t tell you how un-nerving it is to have 100 or so bright, young faces staring at me while I attempt to fill up the silence with useful and non-patronising words. Aarrgghh! I’ve offered the headmistress my services as a very temporary english tutor – we’ll see what happens!
We then went to the school fields to plant out the unknown-fruit trees. I have some good photos (thanks DS) of me wielding a mambati tambar. We also got Ajeesh’s former teacher and two of the children to plant out other plants and I tried to push the idea of not dropping the plastic waste that had been their wrappers.
I’m now here while Ajeesh is at a meeting to organise Jaya’s wedding. (If there were subtitles then I’d love to attend. However I don’t think I can add anything to the proceedings just now and listening to a prolonged discussion in Malayalam would just make my head explode.)
I should add another nice thing: today is the cybercafe/architect & design studio owners’ 19th wedding anniversary. Someone brough in some large fry-cakes and they gave me one. Thanks to this unknown donor and congratulations to Mr and Mrs Ozhathil!
I’m not quite sure what’s happening tomorrow but am looking forward to finding out.