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February 18th 2013
Published: February 18th 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

Sunday, February 18, 2013

Trivandrum

We have finished a week of work. It's been a week of ups and downs. I went to a local clinic about my cough and the doctor gave me a diagnosis of, "wheezing bronchitis." He fixed me up with numerous unnamed medications, including an injection of some sort and told me to rest for 3 days. So the first few days of work were missed by me due to illness (mine and Jane's) and activities related to efforts to locate Jane's missing suitcase. Six days after arriving here and after our second trip to the airport, Jane was finally reunited with her bag, which apparently, never left Amritsar until the airline began looking for it. We now know why so many locals advised us, "Never fly Air India." The agent who was assisting us at Air India, told us the baggage people were very bad and his office always had to clean up after them. While assisting us, he also had to deal with what he described as, "Ten foreign ladies crying because their medications were in their missing luggage."

The local Fuller Center is run by a board of retired businessmen and professionals, totally on a volunteer basis. Our coordinator is a retired lawyer who previously worked for Habitat for Humanity. He has little or no knowledge of construction and doesn't quite understand our need and desire to actually get our hands dirty and do the work. Homeowners use their Fuller Center loans to hire their own laborers and buy their own building materials. The hired help appeared to initially resent our presence at the work sites and we were primarily used to haul materials from one spot to another. There are just 3½ actual work days this coming week and Wednesday and Thursday are both jeopardized by looming national transportation strike days.

This past weekend we went on day trips to the beach. On Saturday we made a 3 hour drive to the southern tip, crossing into Tamil Nadu. We spent the day at Kannyikanuri, where we visited a Gandhi Museum and took a ferry ride to a Hindu shrine on a tiny off-shore island. Today we went to Kovalam and took a short boat trip to a resort on the Arabian Sea where we had a wonderful buffet lunch and spent some time wandering through the resort and visiting the nearby beach. We had been told we could swim in a pool and relax on the grounds, but when we got there only men were in the pool and there were not enough hammocks or deck chairs to lounge in. So a short boat ride across the canal to the beach and we watched incredible surf and Boots helped some young fishermen move their long nets.

Monday, Feb. 18, 2013

Had a full day's work moving a large sand pile closer to the house under construction and making gravel. As an expert gravel maker from my Sri Lanka build, I was lead stone crusher. Moving the sand pile entailed pushing a wheelbarrow full of sand down an inclined path, trying to keep it from tipping over or racing down the hill out of control. We had the wheelbarrow situation relatively under control until some young men volunteered to do the filling and they filled it as if they were carrying the wheelbarrow. We had some Laurel and Hardy moments. I should add that we had additional volunteers on sight only after I brought out the instant camera and handed the homeowner's family a couple of photos.

Tomorrow we will move to another site to assist in mixing cement for the roof. We have heard that the Indian government is negotiating with transportation unions and the 2-day strike could possibly be reduced to one day or the matter could be settled without a strike at all. Hope springs eternal!

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