India Blog 2017

Thursday 16th February

dmanton on: India Blog 2017

Another action packed and extraordinary day at Bachpan and we're not sure where to start! We began the day with a Sports Assembly on the terrace at school. The children, dressed in their impeccable white, performed drills, yoga, karate, gymnastics and more. So many children were delighted to show their hard work and reflect a lot of practice in what they were doing.

Here the children use one of their human pyramids to build a bicycle! The yoga display was impressive too - yoga is a really important discipline here in India and there were many skilled children who displayed their yoga talent. See how flexible these children are?

After the assembly we were treated to a ride on a tuk-tuk auto-rickshaw. The ride, although short, was extremely bumpy (the roads really are struggling around school at the moment) but nevertheless this was great fun - even though it is hard to imagine how 12 children can squeeze into one on the way to school! It is the most popular form of transport for Bachpan.

With the boys indulging in another game of cricket (ouch, getting hot) Mrs Smith, Lottie and Miss Tomlinson were able to have some mehendi patterns, artistically painted onto their wrists and hands. Don't they look good! The henna takes about an hour to dry before it is picked off - and then the resulting pattern can last for over a week, especially dark when the hands are warm! 

We taught a number of lessons and Mr Manton was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of Year 1, who following his story telling assembly, provided so many lovely flowers and chocolates - its going to be a tough team effort to eat these this afternoon!!

As the sun went down we went out into the local countryside to look at a farm. As well as cattle for milk, we saw large areas of cotton (just harvested) and wheat (just ready for harvest) - as well as a host of other vegetables like aubergine and onions. All the crops depend on an intricate system of irrigation as water has to be brought in from the river and wells to support the crops - it hasn't rained in Gujarat since August!!

We enjoyed a hugely welcoming meal with Chintan (who is coming to England) at his family home - the expression in India is "Guest is God" - and you are certainly made to feel like one. We ate outside under the stars, on Chintan's balcony overlooking the remains of a 3 day wedding plot. It is wedding season in Gujarat, and the horoscopes suggest this is a great time to wed. These cows agreed!

We have to set off home today after our morning in school, so this will be the last post! Thanks for joining us!

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Wednesday February 15th

dmanton on: India Blog 2017

What a day! And, its only 4pm! We've done so much in our Wednesday that I don't know where to begin. The day started with a game of kho=kho with the staff at Bachpan, before the sun got hot! We played in the grounds opposite the school, with over a dozen teachers joining us for a warm game of kho-kho. Well done Mrs Smith and Miss Tomlinson for taking part in a mixture of sandals and bare feet - ouch! 

After kho-kho we were able to settle into a run of four lessons each, enjoying meeting and teaching four more classes. So many children are so pleased to have had the chance to experience some different teachers from the UK - its all very over-whelming and we keep being given chocolates, flowers and cards after the lessons! (not much of a hint, Southroyd children - ha ha)

Following lessons and an enjoyable assembly from the younger children, we were thrilled to spend some time with an Indian family - and a very nice house! The family own a business manufacturing and exporting products like polos, vick's rub and chocolates. The family shared an amazing lunch and spoilt us with gifts as we left. Their gardens have orchards and a fantastic vegetable patch, explaining the incredible freshly cooked and prepared lunch we enjoyed! 

The temperature is soaring today and at 36 degrees we're in need of some rest time before we go to the Shiv Restaurant later with the children and families of the Southroyd visitors this May!

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Tuesday 14th February

dmanton on: India Blog 2017

What a day - and its only lunch time! We began the day with a welcome assembly from the upper school, with children sharing the news, dancing and also performing a play based on Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man. Soon after we were invited to play kho-kho on the newly acquired back yard. As the sun rose, and the temperature warmed up, we all enjoyed the local game - even poor Mrs Tomlinson, who ran into the wall at one point! (don't worry, she was fine!)

Afterwards we were able to deliver some more of our lessons. Mrs Smith working with a variety of Y4, 5 and 6 to talk about maths and negative numbers.

Miss Tomlinson enjoying working on the terrace to use drama and discussion to explore themes from Aesop's Fables.

And Mr Manton, working to share the ideals of the Global Goals - and try and order them as a priority, in a diamond model.

After a restful afternoon we enjoyed a game of street cricket. Soon there were over 10 local boys who joined us. Despite an intrusion by a full herd of goats, a handful of scooters, four cows, a milk-salesman and two stray dogs, we managed to play a number of overs in the receding heat! Cricket really is the top game of India!

Once we'd cooled down a bit, the group were fitted with some traditional outfits for Garba night! Chaitali came along to the house to assist our three sari ladies below! Don't they look the part!

At the school hall, we were met by over 80 guests and soon invited to try out our Garba skills - old and new! Despite being either completely new to it, or a little rusty - we tried our best and had a great evening joining our friends at Bachpan for a Garba. The dance involves following a series of dance routines in a circular way around the room - LOTS of times! And boy, was it hot!!

Before the event began, children and guests were invited to give "puja" to the gods, to give the blessing of the gods and thanks for the event. Don't the children look amazing in their traditional dress?

Chintan teacher below is coming to Southroyd in May! He's very excited about meeting everyone - and enjoyed the challenge of helping Mr Manton keep in time!

Extremely hot and quite tired, we returned to Sanjay and Meena's house for a cup of Indian tea and some toasties! A great end to a busy day .... and we're not going to hear the wedding that's started up on the street! No noise will keep us awake tonight!

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Monday 13th February - School

dmanton on: India Blog 2017

We have just woken to the sound of Muslim prayer [nearby mosque] and nearby freight train, ready for a quick breakfast and amazing Bachpan welcome!

Here's a fantastic Mannequin welcome! Just like our own Southroyd Mannequin Challenge, the children welcomed us to Bachpan as human mannequins! This was alongside a fabulous array of fireworks, smiles, waved flags and traditional welcome. It is hard to put int words the warm welcome that you get when you arrive at Bachpan.

To make things even more impressive, we were able to see the new wing of the school with new admin and classroom areas on 3 floors! Miss Tomlinson here receives the traditional marking and welcome from children from Bachpan.

After a special welcome assembly with hymns, speeches and some excellent dance, all of our group made speeches to explain how happy we were to be able to come and visit our friends in India. Next, we were able to teach our first lessons in India - with Year 6, 7 and 8 being the recipients. Miss Tomlinson taught her children on the terrace, looking at using drama to represent some emotions and discuss the feelings within one of Aesop's Fables. Mrs Smith looked at maths and thinking about negative numbers, and Mr Manton led some discussion groups about global goals.

Before going home for lunch, we shared the story of George and the Dragon to members of Year 3. Some of the children took part as the villagers, royals, dragon - or St George himself.

We had an interesting visit to a local temple before tea, taking a visit to a beautiful marble mandir out of town.This temple is visited by many local Hindus and displayed many statues of Ganesh, Shiva and more. It was set in its own landscaped grounds and beautifully lit at night.

Afterwards we ate outside with Poojan and Moxsit and their families. Next door was a wedding festival - this time of year is very popular with weddings - where there are often 4-500 guests! There were fireworks and loud music nearby as the wedding got under way. For our meal, we ate outside talking to the boys who had enjoyed coming to Southroyd to visit us last year.

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Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th February

dmanton on: India Blog 2017

We've made it to India! Its been a long journey but Mrs Smith, Miss Tomlinson and Mr Manton are now installed with Sam, Owen and Lottie in the Surendranagar home of Sanjay and Meena.

The journey of 4000 miles felt at least that, as we visited Abu Dhabi airport on the way. The flights were on time and plenty of films were watched as we made it to Abu Dhabi, after a 8 hour flight. With 3 hours in transit, another 2 hour flight and a 5.5 hour time difference, we arrived fatigued into a warm and bustling aiport in Ahmedabad at 3am! A huge welcome of course from Sanjay and Meena, who came to meet us.

We needed a brief snooze before we started our day. Sanjay and Meena took us for a walk around their Ahmedabad complex, where we enjoyed a brief game of cricket, attracting some interest from the friendly locals. After a delicious lunch, we then took a drive to the river in Ahmedabad to enjoy a stroll, in a popular new resort for the city. There was time for a mini-car ride and plenty of photo opportunities to end our first travel day.

After a fantastic and welcome sleep, we awoke to the traffic sounds of a Sunday morning - and yes, the sun was shining of course! 8 teachers and old friends joined us from Bachpan School, as we investigated a vintage car museum on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. And what a lot of classic cars too!

One of the highlights of a warm walk around the museum was enjoying a fresh coconut drink for some (yes, Year 2 - just like the ones you studied!) The other option was a fresh sugar cane drink - you could see the operator push fresh sugar cane into a machine and hey, presto - out came a delicious sugary drink!

We had a lunch at Sam's Pizza, which was well enjoyed by the group, before a 2 hour journey back to Surendranagar to settle into the house. What a journey too! So much to see and so many things to reflect on, on our first night at home!

As we write this first post of the blog, we can hear the sounds of a nearby wedding (yes, its wedding season here) and the intermittent sounds of the local muslim call to prayer! Everyone is a bit tired but excited about our first day at Bachpan School tomorrow.  Sorry for the brief blog but bed calls!

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