05.25: Between 2 and 4 alarms ring. Time for yoga.
05.26: Between 2 and 4 alarms are snoozed or switched off. Yoga can wait until tomorrow. I set my alarm again for a couple of hours later, thinking I may as well get some lesson planning in before breakfast.
07.00: Alarm number two goes off. I weigh up the pros and cons of getting up vs rolling over and going back to sleep, swiftly deciding in favour of remaining in my little protective mosquito-net bubble.
08.00: Final alarm goes off. I groggily emerge from beneath the net, try and flatten my hair into something vaguely acceptable (we haven’t quite figured out the water schedule yet, but it seems mostly to be off in the mornings, so showers are an evening affair), and get dressed. We’ve just got our new clothes back from the tailors, so dressing is now quite an exciting affair, all baggy salwar trousers and beautifully printed kurtas.
08.15-08.45: Breakfast. One of my favourite times of day (along with lunch time and dinner time). We always get toast and tea, along with various spreads of excessively high sugar content, and at least one other new and interesting thing. So far to supplement our breakfast we’ve had noodles, spicy chickpeas, the ever-present dal, and some kind of savoury rice krispy-like dish. It is very enjoyable. We also seized the chance to buy luxuries like peanut butter at the big supermarket when we went, so breakfast is generally a very exciting time.
08.45-09.30: Get ready for the day of teaching. Frantically finish off any last minute lesson-planning that we may have accidentally skipped the day before, and attempt to collect everything we might need for the lesson.
09.30: Head downstairs for the first class of the day, usually slightly nervous (teaching is actually quite a scary profession if you ask me).
09.32: Rush back upstairs for the star chart/exercise books/board pen/stickers/notebook I’ve inevitably forgotten.
09.35: First class of the day starts. Class 4. I like class 4 because they are just the right amount of adorable. We go over some basic English principles and then I reward their 20 minutes of paying attention to me drivelling on about synonyms or adjectives with some kind of vaguely English-related game. The class goes very quickly; they’re only 40 minutes lessons and at least 10 of those minutes are inevitably spent faffing, forgetting to do the register and then being quietly reminded about it by one of the kids at the front, doing the register and probably horribly mangling the pronunciations of their names, etc etc.
10.15: Lesson over. Collect all my various belongings from their scattered locations, along with the kids’ books if I’ve got homework to take in, and head back upstairs to the room, with children scampering around helpfully picking up things when I drop them.
10.15-10.55: Relax. Or plan the next lesson if we’ve been very disorganised.
10.55-11.35: Lesson 2. Class 3 is our most recent acquisition so we haven’t really had to plan much yet. We’ve spent one very enjoyable lesson making name cards, but that’s it so far. Anything involving colouring pens is always very successful.
11.35-12.15: Lesson three, class 6. These guys are actually really smart. It’s hard to remember this because they are all just so small. But they invariably whizz through whatever I’ve prepared, so I always have to either frantically improvise or go into the next lesson plan if I’ve been particularly organised. My current favourite game to play with them is one I’ve invented, called “when suddenly”. It’s loosely based around the idea of learning the different types of past tense. A volunteer comes up to the front and I narrate a scene for them to act out, such as ‘one day, the old man was walking down the path’ (past continuous) ‘WHEN SUDDENLY…’ and the kids have to come up and invent an interruption to the story using the simple past tense. For some reason they are all obsessed with violence, so their interruptions are all along the lines of ‘WHEN SUDDENLY a kid came and beat him up using his stick’ or ‘when suddenly a boy came and tripped him over and he died’. Kind of entertaining, kind of disturbing.
12.15: Lunch time. We normally wait until about half 12 before we go up for food, so that the rush has died down. We sit with Sumitra miss and she generally finds something to laugh herself silly about, which puts everyone in a good mood. Lunch is pretty standard dal, rice and sabzi (curried vegetables), because it’s produced in bulk for the kids, but I’m definitely not sick of it yet.
12.45-15.20: Cat and I have a break from teaching until the last lesson of the day, so I always have big ideas of finishing off the week’s lesson plans or keeping up to date with the blog, but this almost always falls flat and I end up dozing off and waking up at quarter past 3 dazed and panicked.
15.20-16.00: Last lesson, class 1. Class 1 are tiny and adorable, and the best way I can think to describe them is confused. They basically don’t understand anything we say, which is funny but also frustrating. Today we did some colouring with them, with some nebulous idea that we would connect it with teaching English later. It ended up being more of just a therapeutic session for us, taking it upon ourselves to demonstrate our excellent ability to colour within the lines (to set a good example, you understand), and Matt and Daniel came to join us and had a great time. It was only when I found myself getting annoyed at the children for bothering me by coming up to ask for a different colour that I realised I should probably take a step back from the situation. It’s a nice way to end the day, colouring in with 6 year olds. And no matter how rowdy you feel the class is, and how much you yell at them to be quiet, they are always completely unperturbed by it, and cheerfully say goodbye to you at the end of the day.
16.15: Tea time. Another highlight of the day. Delicious sweet, milky tea (apparently they make it with condensed milk, which is probably why it’s so delicious), and as many biscuits as we desire (i.e. many). Perfection.
16.30: At this point some of us will head off to the ashram to help kids with homework, and the rest of us who aren’t “injured” (this term covers a lot of different scenarios) will probably get dragged into playing football with the boys. I think this is great. Also Daniel’s skills are greatly improved: sometimes he kicks the ball. But then sometimes he kicks it over the wall with the scary dog on the other side. Baby steps.
17.30: The kids have to go and study, so we go back to the room and collapse. Now its time to do battle with the shower. Showers here have several stages. First, check the water is on. This is always hit and miss. If yes, take your chance while it’s available or you’ll get caught out with shampoo still in your hair. The water is cold, so you have to ease yourself in: wet your hair first to get your body used to the temperature, then expose one body part at a time to the jet. There will still be at least one moment when you feel like your heart is about to die of fright, but that moment passes, and after that it feels almost like a normal shower. Still, I have learnt the art of swift yet effective washing – always a useful skill.
19.30: Prayer time. Those who went to the ashram have normally arrived back this time, after the obligatory tea with Chintamani Yogi in his penthouse and a quick blessing from his mother. Prayer time is actually a lot of fun. They sing different devotional songs depending on the day, the tunes of which manage to get stuck in my head despite my not having the faintest clue of what the words mean. We’re all then entreated to sing something from our (obviously extensive) repertoire: some instances have definitely been more successful than others. Since I’ve borrowed Bibek’s guitar I have appropriated the role of accompanying rather than singing as much as possible, which is much preferable. After we’ve tried our best to do something resembling a rendition of a One Direction song, the kids sometimes get told to come up and sing one of the English songs they know, which is always brilliant. Little Rohan’s interpretation of “I knew you were trouble” has got to be one of the best things that has happened on this trip. Or possibly ever.
20.00: Dinner time. Always much anticipated, and never disappointing. After being so used to Durham dinner times (5.30 on the dot or I starve to death), eating at a reasonable evening hour has been a struggle to get used to. Needless to say, the carbs are piled high. We always try to make ourselves useful, asking if there’s anything we can do to help (in true British style), and being flat out refused by the cooks (in true Nepali style). It went a bit far tonight when Daniel, in his eagerness, carried an empty pot to the table – which Sumitra found absolutely hysterical. We always have a great chat with Vivek at dinner, who’s always super happy to talk to us about our favourite superheroes and other important topics.
21.00-whenever: The gradual descent into sleep. Depending on how much we’ve got to do we’ll be marking homework (though I have found an excellent escape route from this in the form of not setting any), planning more lessons, or occasionally going crazy with the henna that we’ve taken to buying from the supermarket. By the time I get back home I’ll be good enough to set up a little market stall, I reckon.
The days are long but almost always satisfying: we’re busy but enjoying each part of it, and gradually getting settled into the rhythm of teaching and learning names and building relationships with the kids. I’ve gotten attached already, I’m going to be a total mess when we have to leave.