Sunday, October 27, 2013

Truly a trailing spouse!!

Simon was booked in for a week long conference in Goa and we decided it was too good an opportunity for me to miss out on. So for a couple of days we left the kids with two wonderful friends and very early Sunday morning flew out to Goa. By mid morning we were in our hotel.

This was totally unlike any of our previous trips either to Goa or in the rest of India in that we hardly strayed out of base camp. The only adventures I experienced were in the books I read, and there were several.

We had lunch in the Cicade De Goa where we stayed with the kids when we were in India on holiday back in 2008 - when we had no idea we would ever end up living here!! That was about 5 and a half years ago, when Ads was the age Wills is now, and Wills was a toddler!

We stayed in one of these rooms from which we could just walk down to the beach.

Simon's conference was in the Grand Hyatt which was very grand - unlike the hotels we normally stay in!!

However, it was a touch incongruos that Simon's conference was entitled "Leading in a digital world" with lots of signage next to gardeners with brooms and pulling weeds by hand!

So in the Hyatt, where the latest trends and advances in technology were being discussed, just outside  India went about it's business in the same manner, unchanged for many years.....

While this mini break was a really relaxing experience and  these hotels were a beautiful side of India - it's not my Incredible India - mine is the one of color, noise and chaos!!!

(Very) Early morning walk

Sunday morning - 6.00am - all set for a 13 mile promenade? - not exactly,  especially after a very late Saturday night - but off we go!

Oxfam organize an annual 100Km in 48 hours hike as a fundraiser, in close proximity to Bangers. Teams of four - each member of the team having to complete the 100K. This was a pre-registration, is this a good, or even sane idea? comparatively short hike.

It was a beautiful temp for any sort of physical exertion - grey, overcast with a slight breeze. In the UK this would herald rain and cold - but here doesn't mean anything of the sort! I didn't take my real camera as - I'd firstly have to carry it and secondly would be a source of irritation to my fellow hikers as I'd be forever stopping and clicking so these pics are all i-phone.

Its hard to believe that there is this incredible peace and tranquility only a mile or less from the hustle and bustle of mainstream Bangers. Given our on-going monsoon season it's incredibly green and lush at the moment.  Even just taking i-phone pics I seem to be lagging here as a couple of my fellow hikers seem to disappear on the horizon.

Its very rural with scattered small farmers cottages and low tech/high manual crop agriculture underway. Both the motor bike and the farmer seem drowned by their loads of sugar cane. But being India both overladen bike and driver will wobble off to market without loosing a single sugar cane on route.

Before we completely left urbanisation we walked through a few small villages and even at just after 6.00 am some pooja was underway. The rooster just partially visable on the left side of the pic. was about to meet a sticky end and evolve into an offering to some God, to the accompanianment of some very loud drum beats.

 And this being India - folks were going about their business regardless of this strange band of walkers. As their lives are so labour intensive they must find it hard to comprehend why we would need or want to go strolling about the countryside for no apparent reason.

 I must admit I felt way better at the end of the walk than I did at the beginning! Twenty -two Kilometres in just over 4 hours - not bad going. Do I feel 100K is possible in 48 hours - yes, desirable I'm not so sure. Our next hike of 30K is planned for three weeks time, Diwali break interupting any atempt at a more rigorous intensive training schedule! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bare naked cars!

Today is  Ayudha Puja - 9th day of Navrati (full story blog Oct 9, 2011)  and almost all forms of transport are dressed to kill - well actually dressed not to kill - they have been blessed for 12 months of safe travels twisting and turning both horizontally amongst other vehicles and obstacles on the road and vertically over the potholes, speed bumps and tracks that make up the roads of Bangers.

But our poor four and two wheeled steeds are paint less, adornment free and real party pooppers. Today is the first day I missed having a driver - there was no-one to puja the cars and bikes. The gardener washes the cars a couple of times a week and with hind sight I should have asked him to buy the kit and do the necessary.

So here's a flavor of some of the cars in our hood and outside.

Our neighbors were very busy - 4 push bikes, 2 motorbikes and two cars all blessed for a safe 12 months on the roads!

Even the Mall was decorated - whether for Dussera or in preparation for the long run - to include the upcoming festival of lights - Diwali and Christmas only time will tell!

On our walk back from our local Mall we passed one the the newly painted walls into out hood - now adorned with tiles to reflect the multi religious society here - on the bottom row we have mother Mary flanked by a couple of Hindu gods and on the top we have Jesus. If only the whole world could be so harmonious.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Spastics Society of Bangalore

Not a very politically correct name in the Western world!! The Spastics society in England changed its name to Scope when the word "spastic" shifted from referring to a medical condition to being an extemely derogatory term. There was some big hoohah when Tiger Woods had to apologize for referring to his lack of putting prowess on British turf,  as being 'a spaz on the green.' Spastic is still neutral in India meaning someone with cerebral palsy. In the US, it's more a casual term for general clumsiness not an insult. It just shows how Indian English, America English and The Queen's English are very different as to nuances, something we tend to underestimate in inter continent communication, or at least I did on moving from UK to US.

Anyway, back on point.....The Spastics Society of Bangalore is one of the charities the OWC supports and I decided to go on a visit. Organizing India Night and other fundraisers is all very well and good but it's important not to loose sight of where the money goes and the good it does.

Not only does the spastics society help those with cerebral palsy but also autism, epilepsy and other debilitating illness. There is also a department of educational phycologists who help/diagnose those with other more minor struggles within the school system - dyslexia for example.

It could by definition be a depressing place, sort of downhearted and down trodden but not at all. Its by no means opulent but is bright and breezy.

What was really cool was to see exactly what the OWC had funded over the years and there was a lot:

 The green floor on the physiotherapy room was one such project.

The OWC had also directed and help produce a video show-casing the works of the Spastics Society. This specifically showed the importance of education about, and diagnosis of, mental illness. There was one mother featured, who has an autistic son, who admitted she used to beat him until he was diagnosed by the spastics society and she began to understand him and the issues he faced. She touchingly said "I thank the Spastic Society for making my child a person" 

It is all about enabling and empowering. Some of the older kids and adults are put to work helping to make sale-able items - bags and cards for example. There is a bakery where some of the adult patients work to make delicious cookies and savories (we did have a sample or two!)

Again, in order to enable, tools very basic tools are made. Kids with cerebal palsy have limited rotation in their arms as the muscles are dystrophied. Yep - we all know that - but have you ever thought how difficult  it is to clean your teeth if you can't turn your arm properly. So the solution is to make a two part right angled handle - (see pink and red contraptions below) a skipping rope or bike grip handle at one end - (to make it easier to hold) and the toothbrush or spoon can by put in the red sort of extension and kids with less than 100% mobility can brush teeth, eat etc.etc by themselves.  No fancy expensive aids here but with limited resources and a bit of imagination these kids are being helped to reach their true potential. The parents are always involved - some now not only parenting their own disabled child in the best way possible but also to help teaching other disabled kids and their parents.  

The people who run this amazing organization include one of the directors, Mrs Krishnaswamy who at 80 still has a twinkle in her eye, her finger on the pulse and a mind currently coming up with a joint proposal with an international engineering company and a local engineering college to further utilize the latest OWC funded project, a tool room with basic lathes etc. to further empower and enable these kids born with such challenges and disabilites. What a women - to see her talk about the society you see not only what she has done for others but also the sheer joy that, that has brought to her - her light so shines!

A humbling and inspiring morning. I shall draw on this when cajoling local business to donate and the wonderful OWC band of woman to volunteer at our next venture the annual OWC Christmas Bazaar!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A country bike ride!

Ozone is on the edge of Whitefield, town to the one side but villages and countryside to the other. I have been out on my bike with a group of friends and also with Simon. It's amazing how easy is it to get out into the country side and also how friendly and helpful, when our trail disappears, the locals are... Biking and picture taking not melding well together, these are a few iphone snaps.

Firstly to prove I really was on my bike!! you can see how green and fertile the crops are, post monsoon.

These are some of the trails we share with other pushbikes, cows either on leash or wandering free, giggling kids wanting to high 5 as we pass, motor bikes, stray dogs, oxen pulling carts etc.etc.

Too easy to forget how close we are to nature and a more quiet and peaceful way of life.

We passed one home where there was the sound of a rhythmic banging. So we stopped and took a look. Real cottage industry!! One guy and his looming, weaving the most beautiful sari. All too happy for us to stop and take a look.

Good start to a mid week holiday, Happy Gandhi Jayanthi!