Friday, October 12, 2007

A day in the life...

Here is an intensive breakdown of my life on the ashram.

3:30 AM- Wake up call, I roll around for a couple minutes and then do a couple push ups to wake me up.

4-5 AM Meditation- watching my busy mind, and surprisingly not squirming much.

5-6 AM: Yoga with Joseph ji, a wandering spiritual, abandoned Christian Keralan, who has settled here to live on the ashram. Great Guy. Realize that the sun has yet to rise and the nearby mosque has already conducted two prayer sessions over the loudspeaker.

6-7 AM: SLEEP...Although I am trying to train myself to work on less sleep. For those that know me and my sleep patterns well, then you will also know that a dark cloud of failure lingers over these ambitions.

7:00-7:30- All of the teachers gather for breakfast, which they call lunch, and is more like dinner. Rice, Dal, chapati (Indian bread), a couple subzis (vegetables), and a sweet dish. It is are largest meal of the day, which is fine with me. And are bhagwan, the food is delicious! Which probably has something to due with me not cooking, although I am suppose to. I instead do a terrible job cleaning dishes and have three 19 year girls hysterically laughing at me. good times.

7:30-8- Make some great Keralan coffee (thank you Joseph ji, way better than terrible NesCafe that everyone drinks here) and sit out and look out to the morning mist in the valley. Then it is music with the teachers. I am surrounded by a group of amazing musicians, which is fantastic! I am learning dholak, a two sided India drum, whose son, the tabla, gets all the glory. But I am taking to the harmonium and picking it up pretty quick. Strangely, I find myself longing for a harmonium much of the day, wishing I were playing it. They also have a guitar, which the male teacher's keep insisting that I teach them to play. There country songs are coming along nicely.

8:00-as short as humanly possible- First I take my bucket bucket of fresh Himalayan spring water. Delicious tasting but terrible feeling. ooohhhh the coldness. I spend the next 15 minutes screaming profanities and wishing I were dead. And it isn't even that cold yet, winter's a coming.

8.15-9.15- My only free time of the day, or Chad Time as I like to call it. I am constantly with teacher and students so it is nice to get away for a while. Typically I read, recently I have been engrossed with Orientalism by Edward Said. A fantastic read basically about the misconceptions in which the West has constructed perceptions, history, and an academic field of the East reflecting the dominating social structures and the West's fascination with categorical sciences. I wish I could spend more time with it. I typically have to lock my door to my room to keep the hordes of children that love through my stuff, mess with my phone and send text messages unwittingly to random people. Those kooks.

9:15-10:00- Assembly time, we meditate with the children for about ten minutes then sing songs, with the headmaster/guru Anand ji on harmonium, and the children on drums and tambourine, ADORABLE!!! My heart melts everyday at this time, the kids are so precious. What Anandji has done here is something truly unique and impressive. Definitely my favorite part of the day.

10am-1pm- Sit in classes with the teachers, help teach in whatever capacity I can. I am a pretty awful teacher at this point and my spoken Hindi is even more awful, but I try. Recently, I have been given many assignments more on the administrative side, creating a website and material for distribution to interested parties, applying for grants and the like.

1-2pm- Chai break, sit in teachers lounge with all of the teachers drinking chai, eating a few chapatis, and looking confused at the fast Hindi/Garhwali language spoken around me that makes no sense. After chai, I chase kiddus around the school until I am physically exhausted. They love it, but the perception of me is slowly turning into everyone's play toy, which I don't know if I have the stamina for. But it is hard not to, I will reiterate, these kids are ADORABLE!

2-4:00- Back to work, like for instance, we just got a grant from Plan International, an international development funding agency, to implement our progressive model in rural government schools. We are going to conduct a survey at 12 schools in two districts to access the situation at the school before we give teacher trainings and materials, so that when we return in 6 months we can compare if anything has substantive changed from our program. So right now I am working on a questionnaire to administer to teachers and students.

4:00-4.30- Second and last meal of the day, a dinner much like breakfast. Again delicious, I like this eating twice a day, it is the perfect amount of food.

4.30-6:30- After dinner, I dedicate my time to the teachers. Typically this is in the form of English. I also help them with lesson plans or teach them how to use computers and different programs. Every once in a while, I try to wander about in are foresty back yard, in search of panthers, black bears, wild fruit, and perfect look out views for the sunsets. Usually all I find is two scratched arms from the overabundance of prickly things in the forest, and nasty side aches, but it is worth it.

6:30-8- All of the teachers meet up in the meditation room to work on their english. I bring my Hindi books, but typically I just help them.

8-9- More meditation, I like how both of the times we meditate together are the times when I am the most exhausted. This session usually goes a little better, I have a tad more energy.

9-9:45- I have started a conversational class to work on the teachers spoken English, which is going well and the teacher seem to really enjoy it. I am trying to get them to articulate their thoughts on social issues in simple english, and then talk about how we can present these issues in class. And right now we are writing songs in English, that I will later put to music on guitar, which we will teach the children. By this time, my eyes are barely open, but the dedication and drive of these students definitely keep me going. They are all amazing.

9.45- 10.15- Typically I will bravely battle the hand sized spiders that move into my room during the day. Then I pick up a book or maybe type out a tasty blog, then call it a day, or more likely pass out from fatique.

This is during the workweek (mon.- sat.), during the 'day off' replace 5am-1pm with weeding the playfield, creating something for the kids to play on, farming, and other physical labor. Life's a bit intense but I love it.

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