Little Did You Know

Ayla Blair-Smith - India


April 17, 2018

I realised that despite my "profound observations" during my stay in India, I never got around to explaining the simple things; my daily routine. I never once explained this to parents, nor close friends mainly because I was constantly overwhelmed by new things and the obscurity of those things until eventually they became normal to me. It's not until now that I have returned home I have realized how different my life in India was, in every aspect possible.

Let me give you a run down.

10:00 : Wake Up.

This in itself was an experience for my host family and for me, as I had been attending school during previous years and therefore Saturdays and Sundays were the only days were I ever woke up past 8:00. However here, I had the luxury of sleeping until 10:00 everyday. Though for my host family, this took some getting use to as they could not wrap their hand around the fact that I could sleep for so long, as they themselves woke up at 5:30 every morning. So imagine how they reacted when I woke up at 13:00 on a Sunday for the first time.

10:30 : Roll out of bed.

Pretty self exploratory.

10:30 – 11:00 : Shower, breakfast, and putting a wash load on.

By showering, I mean a good old bucket shower. Some days there was hot water, and other days there wasn't. You learn to deal with it pretty fast.

By breakfast, I mean a banana and pomegranate on the go, as I simply preferred fruit over a mountain of rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so whenever there was an opportunity to avoid rice I would take it no matter what.

And last but not least, putting a wash load on. By this I mean organizing my clothes into either colours, whites, undergarments, or dyed colours, and soaking them in detergent.

11:00 – 11:30 : Uber to work

Given where I lived, it cost the same amount of money to use public transport as it did to use an uber, being 40 rupees one way (just under $1 NZD).

11:30 – 13:00 : Grade papers

During this time of the day my class was learning Hindi and Telegu (the state language of Telegana). Therefore, it was the perfect time to grade papers, as the Indian education systems likes to throw exam after exam at these kids. I don't know if there was ever a week that went by where my students had an "exam free" week, but that's another story.

13:00 – 13:30 : Lunch time

Again, pretty self explanatory. Though I would like to mention that it is very rare that the school offers lunch to the students for free. The reason why this was possible at my school in particular is because a NGO decided to sponsor the school every year to allow the kids to have good healthy and nutrition meals everyday. Not only did they offer this to the children of my school but also to the teachers. This is important to note because despite the fact that in other countries teachers and valued and paid the average wage, if not higher, that is not the case in India. Being a teacher is often looked down upon (when teaching in government schools), because it means that you did not go to university and therefore "had" no other choice but to become a teacher.

13:30 – 14:30 – English class

I take the English class. Which consists of reading comprehension everyday. I read through 10 pages of Harry Potter everyday, and they provided the summary of those 10 pages. This later resulted in better essay writing – which is essential to pass any exam in the Indian educational system – improvement in speaking abilities, and the ability to use their imagination, all of which they lacked previously.

14:30 – 15:30 – Revision session

As mentioned before, I don't know if there was ever a week that went by where my student did not sit a single test. Therefore, there was constant revision sessions happening, which I gladly took at the end of the day. Most had to do with Mathematics or General Knowledge, so a "pop quiz" usually took place to make the day a little bit more enjoyable.

15:30 – 16:00 – School finishes

Usually because it's peak hour it can take anywhere between 5 minutes, to 20 minutes to order an uber home.

16:30 – 20:00

Hand wash the clothes that had been soaking in detergent all day.

Plan the next day classes.

Go to my local Pani Puri stall. Pari Puri is an Indian street food that is by far my favourite on the go snack. It's difficult to explain exactly what it is but I'll try my best: puri (fried crispy ball) crack open at the top, filled with a chickpea filling and mint flavoured water. I know, I know, it sounds rather bizarre but trust me, it's a MUST if you ever visit India.

Nap.

Dinner. Which for anyone who has yet to visit India, or Asia countries alike, eating happens with you right hand, the use of your RIGHT hand in particular is essential, as your left hand is used for other things. (Google can provide you with all the answers you seek). Therefore, I had to learn quick how to eat nit only with my hand but also with my non-dominate hand (as I'm left handed) and oooh was it hard in the beginning not to use my left hand – my host sister (7 years old) told me off more than once.

Sleep. And repeat.

So as you can now tell, my days, that quickly became normal due to my ability to adapt, where anything like my days at home. Where I have my own car, a job that earns above minimum wage, constant hot water, a shower head (!) – something I would have considered to be in every house before this experience.

I hope that through this you get a glimpse of what the past seven months have been like for me, and all that I've come to realise in between then and now. 

Cheers. 

Ayla Blair-Smith