BUILD: India Summer Trip 2013 - "Welcome to the Zoo"

by tuftsigl
Jun 03


Hello, this is Week 2 of our blog detailing our time here at Payir and in Thottiyapatti. You’re all probably wondering why the title of this blog is what it is, but read on and you’ll either be thrilled that we’re spending so much time so close to nature, or ponder as to why we’ve wound up on some modern-day Noah’s Ark trip. Along with the regular interactions with a variety of creatures (which makes Hanna smile wider than any Chi-O event at Tufts probably ever has or will) we’ve been visiting Thottiyapatti regularly, and doing our best to keep things rolling along smoothly into the last leg of our trip.
Things have been a mix of hectic and relaxing since we picked up Shobhita in Trichy last Tuesday. That day in itself was an event, as getting onto the bus proved to be a challenge, eventually resulting in Angad sort of hanging out of the bus for a pretty long period of the journey. Getting around in Trichy was difficult due to the lack of a translator, but we were pretty proud at the end of the day when we succeeded without really ever getting lost. We made trips to a giant Reliance Hyper-mart where we bought chocolate, tang, mangoes, a fan, and Bollywood DVDs, as well as to a Dominoes where everyone ate their pizzas with gusto until they were all sick (especially Lil K who actually had to throw up at the airport- first time I’ve ever had to pay five rupees for a friend to vomit.) Shobhita arrived, bringing with her mangoes, a fear of insects, and a desire to speak to everyone in Hindi despite them not understanding a word of it. Additionally, we also did get some work done, such as printing evaluations for the Learning Center, but equal amounts of time were spent sitting at a hotel coffee shop waiting for them to bring us chicken tikka and the bill before we had to leave for Payir (neither of which came.)
The following day featured one of the biggest rain-storms this state has probably ever seen- based entirely on my vast, vast knowledge of Tamil weather conditions. We were unable to visit Thottiyapatti that day in any case due to the unfortunate incident of a death having taken place in the village. So instead, we took time to frolicking and skipping about in the rain (except Angad. He does not frolic. Or skip.) After that, all six of us sat and watched Anjaana Anjaani as the rain pounded down outside. It was quite sweet, even if I do say so myself.
The other days have perhaps been less eventful, but have featured daily walks to and from Thottiyapatti, sometimes twice a day (with some time spent there.) We’re convinced the distance is actually a lot further than the 1.5 kilometers it claims to be, but this remains open to debate. In the village, we’ve been doing a lot of community health club discussions, trying to gauge an interest for the clubs among the local women. We’ve conducted both parent and student evaluations regarding the Learning Center, obtaining their views and opinions about the Center and its curriculum. We also spent a few days this past week doing the dreaded health surveys similarly conducted on the winter trip; an event which Heidi duly recalled as “the closest I’ve come to wanting to die since my last Arabic final.” Thankfully, with six of us around, and two translators, we were able to speed through them fairly fast, going to a number of houses and getting an idea of their sanitation practices. The toilets are still close to being finished, and we’re really hopeful they’ll be done before we leave.
Another event I’ve been asked to include in this blog by Lil K (I really don’t see why I must, but I suppose I should or she may hit me with a dupatta- coming soon: 101 Ways to Use a Dupatta), took place on Sunday morning. Heidi, the K’s; Lil and Big, and Shobhita all headed for Thottiyapatti first thing in the morning. Now I’m going to paint a picture for you so you can properly empathize with them. Sunday morning. 9 am. 42 degrees Celsius. Two hours of health surveys, with one quick trip to stand atop the water tower (which Big K has told me that I should tell you that I’ve heard that it was fun.) The supposedly 1.5 km walk back to Payir at 11 am. What’s the first thing you want when you get back? Filtered, cold, water. Correct? Sadly, these were unavailable as Hanna and Angad decided to watch How I Met Your Mother instead of preparing the water. Once again- I apologize to all four of you for contributing to your dehydration. I will buy you a bottle of Maaza (mango juice) as a gift.
Anyhow, now onto the crux of this blog-post: the animals at Payir. We’ve had bats (no strangers to those on previous trips who’ve stayed here in the past.) They’re not that exciting, except when they fly literally 2 inches over your head as if they’re German planes during the Blitzkrieg in World War 2. There have been scorpions- we spent an hour last night roaming around in the dark with sticks chasing one scorpion that Heidi may or may not have seen. Sadly, the scorpion was never found, and I ended up having to sleep with something that resembled a wizard’s staff next to my bed in order to be prepared. There have been baby goats and puppies on the way to Thottiyapatti, which the girls always stop to squeal over, and even I have to admit are pretty cute. There was the crazy goat that got bored of head-butting its owner and came charging for us, as Shobhita used Heidi as a body-shield to escape from the goat. Of course, there have been ants and beetles and various other bugs of all sizes and shapes that can either bite or just irritate. Most importantly though, there’s been BUILD’s adopted dog and new mascot, Ruby. We all sort of have a love-hate relationship with her, as while she’s a downright adorable creature sometimes, she also has the habit of lying in the mud and running into the room. For every look she gives with her puppy-dog eyes, she also tries to bite your hand. For every day she’s expectedly waiting for us at the Payir gate when we get back from Thottiyapatti, she’s…well, made Shobhita and Big K’s mattress quite wet. Hanna’s still of the opinion that we should take Ruby back to college (“and she can come to all the BUILD meetings in the campus center and Eaton and everywhere else, yay!”), but I think the rest of us are currently a bit unsure of that idea. We’ll let you know how that goes.
Okay, today I do not have little children screaming in my ear as an excuse for ending this blog-post. However, it’s very hot outside and I need to go wash my clothes because I don’t think I have any clean ones. It’ll probably be a bit of a struggle because the entire clothes line and the concrete pillar it was attached to all collapsed, coming very close to giving Shobhita one of the oddest injuries of all time. But alas, I must try. Bye bye.

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