a typical day


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Asia » Pakistan » Punjab » Lahore
May 12th 2009
Published: May 12th 2009
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A Typical Day

Not really, so let’s make one up from lots of other days with all the best
Alarm goes off at 5.45 giving me a bit of snoozing time while the temperature is still pleasant.
Getting Geoff out of bed is just as hard here as at home!!!
Luckily we have a good bathroom with a shower and a western toilet. Plus geckoes and fireflies and cockroaches!! But we think that problem may be solved for abit due to nasty chemical spray, try not to stand on crunchy nearly dead bodies when visiting the bathroom at night in a power cut!

Early morning is a good time to do the washing again due to cooler temperatures. I have a big plastic bowl and we put the clothes in water overnight -the soak and hope method of washing—the water is always very grey as the dust is a big problem. Infact my typing finger are black having just written this short piece and even having dusted the key board before I began. Anyway, washing gets hung up on hangers from the trees or draped over the bushed and part from the odd bird footprint it is dry by the time we get back after lunch.

Breakfast-it is lovely to sit in the veranda and listen to the birds, the mosque and the world service while we eat fried eggs with hot greasy paratha. Remember the malaria pills and drink lots of water . The cooker we have access to runs off a bio gas digester and some days there is gas and other days none so on good days we boil water like there is a big baby due! The unreliability of the gas is why we don’t cook our own food. I think I may have forgotten how to do it!!

Off to school—such a long walk—in the VSO guidelines you are advised to vary your route to work but unless we climb over the wall or walk backwards we can’t complie with that advice!
The farm yard is always interesting and at the moment we have to walk round huge mountains of wheat that are being shovelled into gunny sacks and loaded on colourful lorries to be taken to the seed merchants.

At the High School the girls have organised themselves into assembly and this part of the day usually runs without the help of teachers who arrive on the transport at anytime between 8 and 8.30 depending on, well, the weather, how fast Uncle driver drives, how many donkey carts or buffalo have to be passed or if anyone needs shopping etc!! Time seems to have a different meaning here and yet most things appear to get done eventually! You are either waiting around for something to happen and then -‘lets go!’ and it is all happening.

We all have a group of girls after assembly to work on oral English—I have written a simple programme of introductions and conversations and circle games. Everyone seems to be enjoying the games!

Today Geoff spent much of the morning trying to load the very cheap, so probably not legal, copies of Encarta and Encyclopaedia Britannica onto the 2 computers that actually work in the High School! It is so frustrating ,we bought 4 but 2 have had to go back and due to transport and language problems it is hard to know when/if they are coming back. It is usually the case that everything is nearly nearly loaded when----opps -power goes off!
We really hope that he can get all the computers up and running before we leave. We have been promised a UPS and a printer by Syed Barbar Ali’s son ,who visited on Sunday with his all male entourage.
{this meant that we had to be about to join the school/farm /dairy tour come inspection and to eat lunch while making polite conversation and trying to ask in a round-a-bout way for fans and more staffing the school! I am made to sit at the head of the table as the only woman but an honary man for the time being!}
7 working days a week here sometimes!!

I went to the local boy’s primary school and demonstrated to Rabia how to tell a story using stick puppets. As it is harvest time here I did Little Red Hen but made her friends a donkey, a cat and a peacock. Today I told the story in English and Rabia translated but by the end of the week she will be doing the whole thing on her own and will have made stick puppets with some of the Government School teachers and then they will tell the story----well—that’s how it has usually worked with other activities. It is great -I get to do all the things I love seeing them passed on to other teachers who are starved of ideas. Rabia is brilliant and once I have started an idea she will take it and use it in the best way for the schools here.

Then it all has to be typed up for AIE---reports reports reports—hate them!! Imagine sitting in an oven with sweat dripping down your back and someone shouting over a huge megaphone about 100 yards from the window and trying to type really fast because you know that the electricity will go in a few moments-----the down side of the job!

We eat lunch with the teachers—it is rather like being in a 6th form common room! They giggle and chatter away and often I hear our names mentioned. The language is something I just haven’t got to grips with and it is my regret as I could do so much more if I didn’t have to rely on everything being translated.

We come back ‘home’ between 2 and 3 and collapse in a damp heap often falling asleep! Reading, internet, and catching up on the dreaded reports or preparing things for school take up the afternoon.

When it is a little cooler we go for a walk. Sometimes that can take ages as there are birds to watch and identify , the dairy to walk through and pat the calves and ‘chat’ to the herdsman. The pump stop and join the women in an impromptu pedicure by washing your feet in the canal then rubbing heels on the rough concrete sides and being given a foot massage by one of the students from the high school!!
Almost back to the farm yard and the children appear shouting out -mango tree mango tree—so we shake many grubby hands and sing a couple of verses of ‘Here we go round the mango tree’. Sometimes the small Christian community wait about to chat, as they assume we must be Christian. I have tried to explain our views but if you are not Muslim then you must be Christian—oh well---everyone prays for us---that’s nice.
Back into the farm yard and a cup of mixed tea with Irfan to discuss the days farming events . It is getting dusk and the mossies are coming out so we go back to our room and hope the power is on to drive he fan to cool the air down a bit.
Dinner is late now—about 9 o clock and Irfan usually comes and eats in our room!! He came in the winter because it was warm and now he comes because it is cool!! He always wants to check his email or look through our photographs or play with the mosquitoes zapping bat!
And so to bed-----and another day in rural Punjab is over. Hope the electricity stays on (to run the fan) till we have dropped off to sleep. Night!


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