Welcome to my first attempt at a blog! I figured now is as good a time as any, having moved halfway around the world to Hubli. While I didn't know anyone on day one, I've since met many wonderful people, both those who have come from out of the country as I have as well as those who are native to India and have been teaching me a lot.

The plan is to update the blog somewhat regularly so that none of the posts get too lengthy (which is the case with the first several, as they were originally mass emails). We'll see how well I do at keeping up. Miss you guys!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blowing off some steam

First, please note the slide show - this baby took a lot of work on my less-than-stellar data card connection. You'll notice that many of the pictures are (c) Rene Edde; she is another Sandbox fellow on the trip who has been deemed the "media fellow," and one of her responsibilities is to document the work other fellows are doing at several of the Foundation's partner NGOs so that they can use those tools in the future to increase their funding. Her photos rock (and I told her so), so she has graciously handed them to me to post on my site for y'all's viewing pleasure. You can find more of her stuff at http://www.flickr.com/photos/redde/collections/72157605895333917/

The last couple of days have been rough days at work, as I'm still working on identifying my particular job responsibilities and finding a balance between what they want me to do and what I want to be able to do, paying particular attention to how the position was detailed before I even left the States. We had a small issue the other day that changed my supervisor's outlook on some managerial details so that he would like any guest lecturers at our training to be accompanied at all times. Sometimes we have a guest speaker (or "resource person," as we call them) teaching entire modules, meaning they are with us for full days at a time. While I have a laptop and he suggested that I simply work through the trainings, I am not okay with being tied to one room - I have done that before (tied to an office, physically) and was not able to accomplish nearly what I would have liked to. You have no time to build relationships, whether we're talking in or out of the office. So we had a discussion yesterday. In general I have had some trouble communicating with people in the office, not because I cannot understand their English (though sometimes that happens, too) but because the words we choose to express our ideas and meanings differ. Frequently the directions given are also very vague, and sometimes I just cannot ask enough questions to get to the bottom of what is really desired from me, so I have to spend time sorting it out for myself. I'm hoping this gets better with time.

Furthermore, yesterday (Saturday) at about 2pm (when I was leaving work - we do half-days on Sats) I also was informed that I would be going with the DF fellows to their village visit the following day... on my day off. Needless to say I was less than thrilled initially. Again, I spoke with my supervisor about needing more advanced notice and a long discussion ensued. Ultimately, I am glad to have an opportunity to go on this excursion and am looking forward to spending some more time with the fellows and off-campus - even if it IS a training and my job will be to make sure nothing goes wrong and fix anything that does (hmm...should be interesting since I'm only on week 3 in a foreign country), I appreciate the opportunity to make a visit. It's an overnight, too. I do, however, plan to take another day off later this week or something, as I still need to figure out where the heck that "dobi walla" is so I can actually have some clean laundry.

Speaking of clean clothes... because I did not have any (and, frankly, was in a funk), a couple of the other girls (Kate and Rene) and I decided to hit up Koppikar Road (our shopping haven) for some new garb. I ended up buying four kurtas, one salwar and two sets of material that I'll need to have tailored. I wanted to wait to do some shopping in Bangalore, but Kate convinced that I'll still need more anyhow - I mean, I'm here for a year, right? We also purchased some elementary school Kannada books so that I can practice my script. I'm telling you, these letters are wild. I'm not as motivated to learn Kannada as I might be to learn Hindi (since that would be so much more useful in the future, at least potentially), but it is still fun to be able to communicate with the local shopkeepers and such. Just the other night Lesley and I spent at least 10 minutes trying to tell a man in Kannada that we each wanted one package of curd. Even when we know how to spell the word (in English) the pronunciation is so particular that they have no clue what we're saying more than 70% of the time. We did eventually get our curd, but only after Lesley phoned her boss and handed her cell over the shopkeeper. The difficulty here is that there are a million little shops around so you know what you need is likely right around the corner, but unfortunately, everything is behind a counter. It's not as if you can just walk up and grab what you want - you somehow have to communicate your need, and that can take awhile.

Ooo, tomorrow night I have my first dance lesson in classical Indian dance!

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