My final article for Education Express was published yesterday. It was an feature on teaching children who are on the autistic spectrum.
Elsewhere, BBC online contains a story on the growing incidence of rape and sexual assaults in India and the poor response of some elements of the authorities there. The story is based on the experiences of a British woman living in Goa.
Arriving back in London was quite weird. Heathrow was unusually quite when I passed through and Tooting seemed like a ghost town compared to India – no crowds, crazy traffic and hardly any litter. Who’d have thought it!
Luckily, the weather is pretty mild at the moment, much to my relief. I can’t think of anything worse than arriving back to a freezing cold Britain.
On Saturday night, I enjoyed my first glass of red wine in a month and some beef – yum! It’s going to be strange getting used to washing dishes and clothes again after being looked after for a month.
I won’t miss the crazy commute to work. Those crowded bone-shaker buses make the Northern Line seem like first class travel by Eurostar. I will miss my hosts in Chennai and also the people at NIE – I hope to stay in touch if I can.
I’m back in London now, but I have no plans to end this blog just yet. There are a lot of thoughts, observations and memories that I have not put into words, so I plan to keep this going for the next couple of weeks at least. I also hope to develop the blog a little more, adding a couple of new pages plus more photos.Please feel free to make comments on my posts so far!
My time in Chennai is nearly over. But the last 48 hours have been pretty amazing. On Thursday we had a rare opportunity for a couple of drinks. In Chennai, it’s a bit difficult to go for a quiet drink at the local bar. Strict licensing laws have restricted the numbers of places to drink – you can’t even get a drink with your meal in a restaurant!
The local bars are seedy “wine shops” dominated by men. The more female friendly alternative are the five star hotels, which serve alcohol in their restaurants and bars. So for my final night, we headed for the Residency Towers to their buffet restaurant.
We had envisaged just a small party: Charli, Shilpa and a couple of people from work. We ended up with around 12 of us, including six interns at NIE from England and Canada. After an excellent meal and several cocktails we headed to the bar, where a DJ was playing Bollywood themes to a dance beat. It was a good night.
Friday was my last full day in India. Charli and I headed for Besant Nagar to meet Shilpa. After picking up a couple of garments from Fab India we got in an auto and went to the Theosophical Society gardens. We saw a few parrots, woodpeckers and the magnificent Banyan tree – a huge tree with branches propping up the tree from the earth.
Because Charli and Shilpa had an assignment in Mylapore, we decided to eat there and went to a cafe they had sampled the previous week. Then, they went off for their assignment and I went for a very successful souvenir hunt in the Citi Centre shopping mall
.Charli and Shilpa’s assignment, a poetry evening, sounded… erm, rather interesting and eventful. I wish I had joined them and look forward to reading their account of the evening… watch this space!
This week is my last at New Indian Express. During the week, I filed a story on kidney disease, which appeared in today’s issue. My online learning piece is now on the web, and so is my story on English language training.
It’s been a really good month here it was a little slow at first, but I managed to get a lot of stories into print. I’ve also made a lot of good friends and hope that some of them will be joining me tonight for my farewell meal.
While I’ve been in India, I have been attempting to follow the news through the media here.
I have become a regular reader of The Hindu, the paper we get at my homestay, and of course, the New Indian Express. When I arrived at the end of December, the story dominating the papers was the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. When her son became party leader, it caused much soul searching this side of the border with some wondering why parties in the subcontinent rely on dynastic succession.
Another big story soon after my arrival, was the molestation of two women in Mumbai by a group of drunken men on New Year’s Eve. It was estimated that they were witnessed by up to seventy bystanders. Some of the coverage criticised the apparent attitude that women should not be allowed out after dark. The women in question were of Indian origin, but were now living in the USA. Further incidents involving foreign women kept the issue in the media spotlight. Continue reading
It was another early start for our trip to Auroville and Mahablipuram.
On Saturday morning we were picked up at 6.45 for the three hour trip south to Auroville – an alternative community built on self sufficiency principles. I was expecting a version of the Good Life on a village scale – but it wasn’t quite like that.
We arrived at around twelve after several delays and went for lunch straight away in a canteen a short distance from the place we were staying. After lunch, we visited a centre where residents carry out scientific research.
Because the village is supposed to be self sufficient, they need to make a living somehow. This centre allows villagers to innovate and manufacture products that reflect Auroville’s sustainability ideals. We were shown some toilets (Indian style of course!) that save water and allow human waste to be recycled.