Day 14 Friday 3rd August

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20160805_205348_resizedAfter consuming mostly vegetable curry for a period of two weeks, the excitement of having a Dominos pizza was a reminder of the luxuries to come in a week and a half. We ate with the monks and tsunami children on the basketball court. After which the monks decided to join in our sing along to ‘Sex on Fire’ which the girls found amusing and ironic. Because we all enjoyed the Dominoes on the basketball court we will be repeating this on Wednesday.

The Sri Jayendra boys have been repeatedly challenged us to many matches during our stay. Seeing as none of us play basketball or handball, we thought it would be more of a challenge to them to play on a more equal playing field, the sport being football. So far we have won 3-1 in matches which is a considerably higher win margin compared to that of basketball which we lost 35-14 (if I remember correctly).

During the day we taught at GKV followed by Sri Jayendra then to music practice. We will be performing a traditional Indian song from Goa and ABC by the Jackson Five at the Mini Convocation and thanksgiving service on Monday.

We hope the chaplain enjoyed his all meat BBQ at the Kings School.

Flynn

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Day 13 – Thursday 2nd August

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Following the previous tiring days, it was a relief to have a peaceful day to ourselves. Thursday started with the usual morning run for some and breakfast for those whose ears were not still ringing from the night before. Assembly at Sri Jayendra introduced a surprisingly long prayer song to remember the beloved saint, Sri Jayendra, after which the morning was filled with a few rushed lessons at GKV. The excitement and eagerness of the children never fails to lift our mood! Yet, around midday our tiredness struck a cord and so lunch provided us with the energy to continue to the afternoon which included taking our “squad photo” (Rev’s words, not my own)! Lessons at Sri Jayendra unravelled and the school day was finished with another choir practice in which I enjoyed channeling my inner young Michael Jackson! Afterwards, tea was served and the students spent the evening relaxing or playing sport with locals. Some students played football with the U15 Sri Jayendra team and the final score was (a little disappointingly) 2-1 to the S.J. students. The highlight of the evening for some was the addition of noodles to the dinner menu! Basketball was given a miss as the opportunity for a good night sleep took priority. However, as a keen ‘sub’, it’s amazing to see how much everyone has improved at basketball and the morale never weakens despite regular defeats by the locals. Finally, curfew was greeted with unusual agreement and we all appreciated the rest.

Something that was not mentioned in yesterday’s blog post was that Thais and I were allowed to teach an impromptu Art lesson at Sri Jayendra. We were only planning on helping out and offering advice but once the students filed in, it became apparent that the Art teachers had another plan – it was down to us to teach an entire class for a whole lesson! Luckily, we had a few supplies and so used these to create a last minute action plan for the lesson. Nevertheless, despite the lack of preparation time, the lesson still proved very successful and it was fascinating to witness the concentration and excitement of the students.

(Kate)

Day 12- Wednesday 3rd August

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Another morning was spent teaching at GKV, later followed by 2 lessons at Sri Jayendra. The 8th period was spent at choir, with Nicole and Ben bravely teaching the 1st verse of the song and perfecting the chorus. The rest of the Goan song was learnt by us all, along with improvised dance moves which we attempted to follow.

After a break we left to Tirunelveli to watch the top Tamil blockbuster – Kabali. Upon reflection, the first line of this paragraph was written before the movie and nothing could have prepared any of us for “the greatest culture shock of the trip” (Kate).

Centered on a 60-70 year-old (age undetermined) ‘super star’ protagonist, “Bollywood De Niro” (Nicole), whose very silhouette incited screams, whistles and claps from the local audience, not unlike those experienced at a rugby match, seeking revenge on a Malaysian drug-lord for the death of his (very alive and very unaged) wife. Basically “a Bollywood die-hard” (Henry).

The highlights of the movie were the melodramatic sound effects as well as the empowering Bollywood punk-rock, absurd costumes and suave wigs in need of some sultry hair flips. The insane plot line, filled with cliff-hangers and twists cannot be ruined and I expect all parents to immediately watch the film. However, make sure to have the sound at a deafening volume, no subtitles, ice-cool air-con, as well as, most importantly, a rowdy whistling audience. Hollywood action films seem utterly pathetic in comparison and we are unsure as to whether we will ever be able to watch them again. Students are already requesting posters of Kabali (Rajinikanth) himself, and many boys are growing out their side-burns. We left the cinema deafened and overwhelmed, yet excited that we found the new ‘mature’ Tamil James Bond. Hollywood your search is over.

(Thais)

Kabali poster

Kabali poster

Students eagerly await the film
Students eagerly await the film

Day 11 – Tuesday 2nd August

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A day off. (National holiday)
I now see why teachers go on strike; it’s not the pay, it’s tiredness. Teaching isn’t an easy thing, so the day off was greeted warmly with 6 of the 8 boys and 1 of the girls skipping breakfast to get a few extra hours of sleep. However everyone was forced to rise at 10, for a momentous occasion was at hand. Piling into the kitchen, half awake, everyone sat silent, before we all broke out in a happy birthday rendition, Indian style, for Miss Hannah, the Stormzy fanatic.

After this we headed across the road to the school to start learning some Indian dance. Some of us had  bowls on our heads, others carried axes and pick axes, and some had large bamboo sticks. With what can only be described as chaos and ‘hip action with music’, for an hour, our dance session came to an end.

We headed back over the road for a brief chill out and a spot of lunch, which consisted of curry, surprisingly. Even more surprisingly, curry is something which is an unknown term to the Indian children we have been teaching, and even harder to explain to them…

Having eaten our fill of rice, we packed for the beach. Cramming on to a tin can of a bus, which sounded like it would fall apart at every corner, we began our hour journey to the beach. Two and half hours later we arrived at a quiet, yet beautiful beach, with the occasional washed up flip flop and other plastics, which we’ve come to expect on this trip so far.

The water was refreshing and strange at the same time. Having washed ourselves, for the last 9 days with a bucket and jug, the sensation of lounging in water had been missed. Spending a good hour in the water, throwing a tenni

s and rugby ball, we left the water to purchase a bottle of flat coke each. However, not before two members of the group were slapped round the face by flying fish – Nicole and Noah – (although rather that than a slap around the face by the vice principal of Sri Jayendra, the feared and respected Ganga Mam).

 

We packed up our sand-laden, clothes and bags and headed back on to the coach. For some, particularly Noah, this was a daunting prospect as he had ‘undercounted’ his much needed packets of Imodium…. Fortunately we arrived safely at home without incident Smiling face with smiling eyes

The evening was again much the same as the others have been. We headed out for evening basketball against the monks, a much fairer opposition for us than the night before.

(Ben P)

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Day 10 – Monday 1st August

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After a well earned weekend of rest, we resumed our daily teaching timetable, starting with morning assembly at Sri Jayendra. This proved exciting as “Miss Hannah” was welcomed onto the stage by Gangamam for an early birthday celebration. Once assembly had finished, we all piled into the school bus which drove us to GKV for three morning lessons and tea. We all found 15°C temperature rise from Kodaikanal to Sankanagar made this slightly more difficult…

After lunch and a quick rest, we went to teach two lessons over the road, followed by choir, impressively conducted by Nicole and Ben. Here we learnt a Goan song that the Sri Jayendra school choir sings regularly, but the long and complicated words made for much amusement for the pupils, both English and Indian.

The evening brought with it the much anticipated basketball match between the winners of the state championships, the Sri Jayendra team, and the Emanuel students. While this proved to be an easy outcome for the champions, we were all impressed by Emanuel’s spirit and tenacity.

(Daisy)

Miss Hannah being wished happy birthday at Sri Jayendra

Miss Hannah being wished happy birthday at Sri Jayendra…Happy birthday friend!!

Polly and Thais prepare for teaching
Polly and Thais prepare for teaching

Day 9 – Sunday 31st July

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During the first line-in of the trip for some, 3 students along with the Rev (Noah, Lizzie, and Alice) attended a local church service in Tamil, the church was seemingly airlifted from Hertfordshire. This was later followed by a trip to Bryant park. For others, after the first lie-in, during which they didn’t receive the Rev’s abrupt knock on the door until 9AM, we all departed the hotel and began our long journey back to the hostel.

Our first pit stop was the Gandhi museum – a much needed relief from car sickness and the great anxiety felt driving along the Indian mountain roads. At times, 3 lanes of traffic often formed on a single track road. We were treated to a rather undeservingly “expensive” toasties. The Reverend quickly ushered us into the museum as we were 45 minutes behind schedule. With only 30 minutes to spare in the museum and lots of information on boards to read, most of us only got half way until we told to exit. Seeing the doti which Gandhi wore on the day he was assassinated was particularly memorable.

It was then back on the bus and off to the Madurai Gallery to view an impressive array of carpets, some taking up to 7 months to complete. A few of our students bought big ones, brave enough to think that they might be able to transport them in their suitcases – we will keep you posted on that.

After a few cold drinks and a sales pitch we crossed the street leaving the shoes in the Gallery and our feet burning from the hot roads. Our destination – the Meenakshi temple – was an impressive 16 acres and the largest Hindu temple in India (and perhaps in the world). The temple was full of people praying to the many decorated statues of the Hindu gods. A notable experience was standing a few feet away from the temple elephant. Although it was a striking sight many of us felt uneasy about its captivity. Overall the temple was beautiful, huge but mostly overwhelming.

Leaving the temple we were harassed by street sellers who were keen to capitalize on a group of tourists and insisted we buy their whole shop. Therefore, arriving back at our cramped buses to complete the final leg of the journey felt more welcoming than usual.

After what felt like a mammoth journey, we reached the hostel at 9pm with great excitement- it felt like we were home.

(Polly and Jess)

The "Hartfordshire" church

The “Hertfordshire” church

Nicole stretches after the descent

Nicole stretches after the descent

The Gandhi Museum

The Gandhi Museum

Polly admires the inner temple

Polly admires the inner temple

 

 

Day 8 – Saturday 30th August

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“Saturday morning jumped out of bed and put on my best suit”. Welcome Nicole and Issy to the track – blog debut.

We woke in our luxurious plump double bed, and hopped into the hot shower happy to avoid the usual bucket. After we meandered down to the restaurant, we were welcomed by a large buffet, ranging from smiling potatoes to curries. Naturally we chose coco pops and warm milk.

After another filling meal, we began our hike up a never-ending winding path which took us past butchered chickens, staring locals and rabid cows. We stumbled upon a local gift shop (where Polly managed to spend her entire budget for the three weeks, and Flynn bought enough insence to supply the whole of Tamil Nadu). We continued our journey and miraculously caught a glimpse of a Domino’s in the distance. Tears of happiness formed; Tom sprinted inside to grab a menu, we waited anxiously and a huge sen

se of relief overwhelmed the group when we discovered that they did in fact deliver to our hotel. When we finally reached the top, Reverend Hunt gave us a whistle-stop tour of yet another church. Although not much could be seen due to fog and clouds, we were all stunned by the beautiful gardens and scenery that Kodaikanal had to offer.

We began our descent back to base, where many would resume sleep for another couple of hours. This allowed regain strength and energy for the volleyball, table tennis and golf tournaments that followed.

Domino’s ordered. Domino’s arrived. Domino’s defeated.

The girls admire the spectacularly foggy view

The girls admire the spectacularly foggy view

Day 7 – Friday 29th July

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Today marked the start of our first weekend in India – we ended our first week on the Thursday evening in order to travel to our weekend destination: the mountain resort of Kodaikanal. In the time of British India, British officers would send their wives and families up to this resort in the mountains during the summer to enjoy the cooler, purer air. We left early and had a break in a hotel in Madurai, where some of us dared to order meat for the first time in a week. Our lunch was accompanied to the sounds and images of the latest Bollywood hits, which seemed to revolve around endlessly similar love stories, punctuated by impressive choreography and 90s style clothing. After lunch we went back to our buses, to brace ourselves for the ascension to Kodaikanal. The road was rumoured to be twisty, and having already experienced Indian driving in the streets, most weren’t reassured by the prospect of narrow mountain roads. We had nothing to fear however, for our drivers were incredibly well verse in the art of “honking-before-a-blind-turn-to-warn-any-incoming-traffic-of-our-presence”. The sa could not be, however, be said for most of the drivers we crossed as we climbed the mountain side. On the whole, we felt safer in the Indian minibus than in most Parisian taxis, which admittedly does not say very much. During the drive, we were delighted to see a couple of monkey family groups right outside our windows, the babies tucked under their mothers were the uncontested favourites.

After 8 hours (2 up the mountain), we arrived at Kodaikannal at our hotel, which boasted amongst other things, a miniature zoo.

Meeting the emus

Meeting the emus

Noah was not amused

Noah was not amused

Day 5 – Wednesday 27th July

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The day started at 6.30am with a group run in the morning heat during which some of our members took a slight detour gallivanting through the shrubbery. Lessons began as usual as we battled through the morning at Sri Jayendra – at lunch time we were invited to partake in a tree-planting ceremony in memory of the late Indian president, Abdul Kalam, before making our way to GKV in the searing heat. After roughly two hours of teaching and heavy perspiration we headed back to Sri Jayendra on the bus for choir rehearsal. The India-Emanuel choir, expertly led by Nicole and Ben M, then spent over an hour warbling our way through our rendition of the Jackson Five’s ‘A B C,’ during which the boys proved that it was not ‘all about the bass’ to such an extent that our expert choir directors (Nicole and Ben) are seriously considering hauling up their note a few octaves.

The evening was spent in the local ‘John Lewis’ (Pothys) where the boys spent much time deliberating over trousers in the ladies’ department. During dinner the dining room became a catwalk as they treated us to a fashion show in their fetching new hareem pants. The girls looked on in envy as they looked far better on the boys than on them.

The Emanuel-India Choir

 

The Emanuel-India Choir

Students planting a tree

Students planting a tree

The boys in their harem pants
The boys in their harem pants