Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 15th: The work gets harder but the rewards are greater

It's Wednesday night and still no word from our fearless leader and the rest of the team in the States regarding their visas. We're feeling badly for them and wish that they were here. Furthermore we feel bad as they're missing out on all of these wonderful experiences. We're crossing our fingers that they'll be here by the weekend.

Rest assured however, as the (hard) work continues. We may be small in number, but we are mighty! Teamwork continued in earnest today and significant progress is being made. When we started on the first day, the trench was approximately 3 meters deep and by the time we departed today the rock foundation was about half a meter from ground level. The work seems to get more and more difficult. Today Bob and David were heaving huge boulders with a number of the local men. If the Ministry of Labour showed up on site, they'd surely have a heyday. Men in flip-flops were rolling boulders UP hill no less. Another hot day and another honest days worth of work. We should all sleep like logs tonight.

After work we headed to a 'historic temple' as a friend of one of our host partners was throwing a celebration. We learned that the celebration was in honour of his friend purchasing a bus and starting a touring company. We arrived at the temple and were greeted warmly by the community. They were eager to serve us food and have us partake in the celebrations. David, Kim and Bob were brave and enjoyed the lunch and sweets that were provided. I won't lie, if my gluten allergy wasn't enough to deter me from partaking, the paper plates with full on advertisements for Purina Dog Chow would have done it - ha! I'll let you know tomorrow if I'm the only one from our crew who heads off to work.

We came back to our hotel to find that the princess had brought in an aesthetician to provide services to her mother and aunt. She was kind enough to ask if Kim and I would like anything done. We both jumped at the opportunity. I'll only say this, it's the best $3 manicure I've ever received and will likely be the only time that I ever tip 150% for a spa service.

Before dinner we were able to join the Royal children on a visit to their family farm about 10 minutes drive from Bhindar. What a polar opposite from the chaos of this small city. The peace and tranquility of the countryside left us all feeling perfectly zen.

A peaceful end to the day was welcome as we all reflected upon a few aspects of the trip that have caught up with us today. Since our arrival we have been so warmly welcomed and treated to fantastic hospitality as any guest would be in this part of the world. However, we have noticed that we regularly draw a lot of attention. This has been highlighted during our brief excursion alone through the streets of Bhindar as well as our visit to the temple today. We gained a few followers as we moved through the temple and then drew a crowd while we sat and ate. The interest was so high that we were being photographed by complete strangers, although Bob and David made the most of it by posing for anyone who wanted a photo with them. It allows you too see the world through a different perspective when you realize that you are the minority for once.

Plus, the language barrier can still be an obstacle to overcome on the job site. Despite knowing a few basic words in Hindi, there is only so much that you can communicate through body and sign language. We are slowly getting used to the subtle differences in hand gestures and the common words. Although there are still moments when good intentions are lost in translation, it is these minor misunderstandings that show how far our worlds are apart. It will take a little more time to prove our abilities to the hard working and experienced villagers this just adds to our volunteering journey in a developing county.

Anya Malda and Dave Hood
DWC Volunteer Participants
Udaipur, India: October 2014

PS. Thanks to Dave for co-authoring today's blog. I may just pass the torch ;)

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