Thursday, April 16, 2009

Week 13 - Sun. 12 April - Sat. 18 April

Well this is officially my last week here in India - as I said in my last post I went to Cochin, which is a coast city in Kerala (about an 8-9 hour drive plus 'tea stops') in the Easter break with five staff members and we had a blast - we ate like 'Kings and Queens', did a bit of shopping, went to a traditional Indian storytelling show and went on a Back Water trip - how that was amazing! We started out on a house boat then after stopping on a remote little island where we ate a traditional Kerala Indian dinner off banana leaves we aboard a small river canoe and went punting through a canal/stream. We stopped off at a little house in a remote area where they grow different spices and then made us all some masala tea - my time learning to cook different curries while I have been here helped me to recognise and name almost all of them! For the rest of the week it's been relaxing and love to sleep in a little - Tuesday we went to school for the kids to ride their bikes and have a swim in the pool. Wednesday I went down town for the last time and visited my favourite spots in Ooty then today Wendy and I and the kids went down to Jungle Retreat for a day's excursion to have lunch down there in the jungle and to have a lovely swim in their pool. Tomorrow it's off for a picnic possibly at Emerald Lake before I pack the last of my gear and head down to Coimbatore to catch my early morning (like 12.25am) flight to Singapore. When I get home I'll update this to give you the run down of my last couple of days of my trip away before it's back to reality! Till then have a good one! Here's a challenge for you - can you guess what spice is in the shell that the man is holding and what are the three parts of the spice are and what are they used for?

Week 12 – Sun. 5 April – Sat. 11 April

This was the last week of the 1st half of the second semester – it’s Parents Week and it’s been chaotic. Monday was Swimming Gala and I had to get three kids up, dressed and ready to go with all their gear for school! That was a new-ish experience, Wendy and Ian returned home later that evening. At the Swimming Gala, Gold House won by a mile! It was great to see the whole school up at the pool watching and cheering on their class and team mates – medals, trophies and cups were all orders of the day. Tuesday night there was the Variety Show and Junior School Concert Wednesday during the school day with a Thanksgiving Service at 4.30pm. Wednesday and Thursday for the first hour of the day I taught in Standard 3/4 class and then for the last hour or so before lunchtime I was down in Reception class. We had a blast – that’s Andrew, Elijah and myself – they had read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ in class a week or so ago and Andrew piped up “Mitch knows how to make green eggs and ham” so that’s what we made – amazng how a little green food colouring can make eating eggs and ham fun!!! It was a tad crazy for the next hour or so saying bye to staff, parents and students that I have gotten to know while I’ve been here. It’s been great to be back here and to share with everyone life at Hebron – it’s a bit of a unique experience – I’m really going to miss my curries at lunchtime and fresh mangoes for dessert! Tomorrow is Good Friday and I head off first thing in the morning to Cochin with three or four of the single female staff till Monday. Then it’s back up the hill again for a few days till I leave early evening on Friday for my long trip home.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Week 11 – Sun.29 Mar – Sat. 4 April

This week is my last week staying at the Isaacs place and I return to Ian and Wendy’s for the last little while before I head home. On Sunday I went to Coonoor on the hill train with Joan and Jennifer (the SV’s – Senior Volunteers) – it was a fantastic day. We had a chance to visit the markets in lower Coonoor and do a bit of shopping before heading up the hill to a lovely tea place called ‘Tranquility’ – it was so relaxing sitting in their garden drinking a Peach and Passionfruit Ice Tea Blend before returning down the hill again to catch a very crowded trip home on the train.
Wendy returns from her three weeks away on Monday so on Friday night Ian headed down the Ghat to Bangalore to pick her up so I’ve got the three kids for the weekend – we had a great weekend with Saturday evening being the Student Council event of ‘Metropolis’ – it was a night of food fairs, games and entertainment from the students, it was a whole school event with a few parents that have arrived early for Parents Week. Then Sunday morning we got up and had pancakes, green eggs and bacon for breakfast, went out for lunch to Garden’s Restaurant for a dosa and then Andrew and I made a Welcome Back banana cake for Wendy while Ashlee made a Playdoh version of it! For dinner we all made our own pizzas with fries and watched ‘Magic in the Water’ – of course we had O’Reos for dessert ‘cus you can’t watch it without eating O’Reos.

Week 10 – Sun. 22 Mar – Sat. 28 Mar

Wow, two weeks have gone by and I can’t really remember what’s been happening – nothing too exciting I know. I’m currently staying at one of the parent’s from school’s guest house while Wendy is in the US and NZ. It’s been very quiet I must say, though on Tuesday evenings I’ve been going to Wendy and Ian’s to have my Indian cooking lessons and to stay for dinner and home group. On Saturday 28 March I joined in with the ‘Selbourne In Day’ (Girl’s Campus). The girls had decorated the dining room and the kitchen staff put on a superb feast for dinner and then we watched ‘Bride and Prejudice’ out on the lawn in the evening the caught an auto rickshaw home. It was a great evening out joining in with the girls activities.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Week 9 - Sun. 15 March - Sat. 21 March

Well this week has been a little different - while Wendy is back in New Zealand I'm staying at a day student's parents' guest house, so it's really quite! Have had to run another Thinking Skills workshop with another group of Hebron Staff on Thursday with the possibility of another session in the next two or three weeks - there's only two more weeks of official classes then it's parents week where the boarding students parents come and visit school then on the Thursday school is out for about ten days - by the time all the students have returned to Hebron I'll be back almost back in New Zealand. Sorry there isn't much to write home about this week but will keep you posted.

Week 8 – Sun.8 March to Sat. 14 March

As Monday was all the IGs day off and it had been Lucy’s birthday on Saturday we had a bit of a party for her – we had dinner at Selbourne (Girls Dorm Campus) then we watched ‘The Sound Of Music’ – Lucy’s choice. Had all the trimmings with birthday cake, slice, sweets and popcorn with the odd person bursting out in song – was a great laugh!
This week I’ve run another Thinking Skills workshop for the Junior School Staff Meeting on the ‘Habits of the Mind’ – didn’t realize that I would be doing PD for the teaching staff here but it’s great to be able to share some of my own knowledge and training with others that rarely receive any professional development in the area of where teaching is in the 21st Century.
Junior School Sports Day was on Friday, unfortunately I only got to see 40 minutes when I wasn’t working with Middle School students – here Sports Day and Swimming Gala are big events in this term’s calendar. Saturday it was Sports Day for the whole school, which is held at the local sports stadium/arena just down the road from school. I didn’t actually attend this event as I ran away to Mysore for 24 hours with Jennifer (Senior Volunteer). We hired a taxi and drove 3 hours down the Ghat (actually 36 hairpins) through the National Parks to Mysore – had an eventful trip down and saw heaps of wildlife. As we were driving along saw 5 elephants that were only about 150-200 metres from the road grazing, also saw two or three different kinds of monkeys, three mongoose (first time I’ve seen them this trip!), wild boar and several spotted deer. Also saw the tame elephants from the elephant camp being washed in the river which we’d missed out seeing when we went to Jungle Retreat. Once we’d arrived in Mysore and booked into our hotel we went to the local market and learnt how they make incense sticks and how they make the expensive fragrances that some of us like to dab on ourselves to smell nice! Got ripped off and highly frustrated by the first auto rickshaw driver that we went in but the next two or three restored our faith in tutt-tutt drivers. In the evening we went to Maharaja’s Palace to see the palace be illuminated by 97000 light bulbs – it’s an amazing sight! It usually is only on a Sunday night but they have just started putting them on a Saturday for half an hour also so we just managed to see them. Afterwards had a wander around Mysore by night as we walked back to the hotel, stopping of at a rooftop restaurant for dinner. The next day we meet Wendy, Andrew (Ian’s Dad) and Prakash for lunch at the Regaalis then dropped Wendy and Andrew off at the railway station headed for Bangalore and then the rest of us headed back up the Ghat. It was a great 24 hour trip to one of my favourite Indian cities.

Week 7 – Sun. 1 March to Sat. 7 March

This week has been kinda of uneventful apart but we’ve had a couple of comical events at home – one of the kids cats Maddie has a habit of climbing up the chimneys and making a mess everywhere – she’s white so you can imagine the state of her – there’s a bucket of water outside the back door and if Wendy manages to catch her she’s often dumped in the bucket so that she goes off and cleans herself. Anyways the other day Wendy was at the line hanging out washing and Maddie was at the bucket having a drink, it was funny watching her as she was carefully keeping an eye on Wendy and where she was, when she was sure it was safe to take a big drink only then did she relax and continue to drink. Then on Saturday we had the Sunshine Girls dorm over for a BBQ lunch then we went out for dinner to Sidewalk CafĂ© – on the way home Andrew and Lauren had Wendy and I in stitches. Andrew had seen the nude statutes that are apart of the fountain display down at Charring Cross and being 5 years old saw them as being gross – this lead Lauren to give a great big run down on the Greeks and the first Olympics (she’s studying them at school) and how the first Olympics were just for the men as they ran in the nude, Andrew pipes up ‘Why did the Greeks run naked in the Olympics?’ Lauren responds ‘Well cos they didn’t have PE kits back then did they!’ – that reponse just topped the whole conversation and had Wendy and I in stitches!