We only spent one night there, but it pretty much lived up to expectations. Unfortunately the girls who normally lived on the campus itself weren’t there when we visited; I think they’d been moved to Kukas; but we did get the chance to go and have a look at the classes in the rural school. And we taught them heads shoulder knees and toes, naturally. It was good to see the work that the organisation we’d been working with did, and the kids were all so enthusiastic to see us. It was an eye-opening afternoon, seeing the contrast between the urban slum and the rural village, but also the similarities – the openness and enthusiasm of the kids, but also the poverty.
We spent the rest of the evening back on the campus, having dinner (delicious, of course), and having a guided tour from Teena who used to live on the campus, being herself from a rural village originally. She wandered round pointing out things of interest, such as “grass” and various fruit trees, but sometimes her knowledge failed her: “this is a tree… I don’t know.” We finished the tour (“this is a tractor”) and then retired to our rooms, but not to sleep just yet – true to form, all the national volunteers wanted to dance, and the UK volunteers were definitely happy to watch (it is very difficult to describe just how funny it was watching Teena dance). A good couple of hours were spent in this happy past time (I believe some videos were taken, though I haven’t seen evidence of them yet), during which time Teena spent at least half of it looking at herself in the mirror (“I look nice, na?” “So slim!”) and Rakhi spent at least half asking for photos (“One photo please”).
Once it got to the stage that we were all falling asleep where we sat, we headed off to bed, ready for our planned early start the next day to catch the sunrise. What felt like about an hour later we were awoken by the various alarms (have I yet mentioned the awful AWFUL Nokia alarms, which blare out “It’s 4 o’clock, time to get up!” at you until you turn them off/throw the phone across the room) and all stumbled, struggled, dragged ourselves out of bed, not bothering to change out of our pyjamas, and headed across to the highest vantage point we could find to get the best view. It may have been India but, as it turns out, 4 in the morning is cold wherever you are in the world so it wasn’t all that pleasant to begin with, though after 10 minutes of my internal monologue grumbling that we could have spent an extra quarter of an hour in bed and still been up in time, the sun’s rays began to peek over the distant hills, and as it turned out it had all been worth it.
Once the sun was properly up we all realised how cold it actually was and went to find a source of chai and heat, and found both in a lovely man who I felt quite bad for waking (although who knows, he may have already been up, things are strange in India). We warmed ourself by the fire for a while (and I was wondering all the while how on Earth do Indians manage to maintain the crouching position for hours on end, I kid you not it is an absolute miracle of their anatomy, I couldn’t do it for more than about 8 minutes without getting horrific cramp) before breakfast time was upon us and it was time to leave.
It had been a brilliant trip, and nice to spend some time together as a group of just us, without any work to worry about, and I think it was at this point that the proximity of our departure really hit me, and how much I was going to miss everything and everyone.
We packed up and headed back to the flat for the last time, where we had to clear up and pack all of our belongings, which had inexplicably spread themselves far and wide throughout the apartment over the duration of our stay. The next day we would be leaving Jaipur for the last time and heading back to Delhi for the debrief and departure. I was not looking forward to it in the slightest.