Things can only get bett….oh no, wait….


Friday 4th June 2010

Well hello again, time for another update from hell!

Things have predictably gone even more tits up since I last wrote. S and D have handed in their notice, H and M are on leave and no-one knows if they are planning to return, and T’s been fired, so in about a week and a half I’ll be practically the only foreign staff member left! My boss A has also been asked to leave, and she handed in her resignation yesterday, so that’s a plus!

The University is desperately short of cash – last month they were almost 2 weeks late in paying us, and kept making crap excuses about why the money hadn’t gone through, which could well be why they’re suddenly firing everybody – it’s the summer holiday and they probably don’t want to keep on paying teaching staff that aren’t doing any teaching for a couple of months.

I managed to get all the vaccines delivered to the hospital on campus, and have distributed cards to about 30 children so far, so now we’ll have to wait and see whether or not any of them show up for the free vaccines. We finally got a few students applying for the internship placements, 11 so far, but unfortunately things aren’t going great in that department either.

Really long and boring story – I can’t be bothered to go into it in much detail – the shorthand is that after interviewing the students myself, I took them to meet the NGOs, where they behaved appallingly badly. Two of the students were so rude and arrogant and started making demands before the placement had even begun. Three other girls were shown around the field sites where that NGO works with waste-pickers in the slums and promptly quit because “it was too hot” “they made us go outside” “it’s too hard” “we were exhausted! We had to work all day from 10am until 5pm!!!!” etc. The girls in question called me at 7am to inform me they were quitting, and I spent hours on the phone alternating between begging, pleading, and yelling.

Then I got some extrmely angry phone calls – first from XXXX, where the girls had been placed, telling me that the girls were inexcusably rude, and appallingly badly behaved, and it was all my fault, I had wasted their time, led them to believe they’d be getting quality students not monkeys, etc. Then XXXX’s partners, two other NGOs, called to yell at me and pull out of the programme – wasting their time, damaging their reputation, never working with us again etc.

I think it’s safe to say that MY reputation has taken a pounding – all because these students are spoiled brats who wouldn’t know a hard day’s work if it bit them on the arse. I seriously did not see that coming – it never once occurred to me that the students would be so awful, so I guess that just makes me an even bigger idiot.

Anyhoo, what else? Last week we all went out to have dinner to celebrate my birthday, and S almost got abducted. She popped down the road from the restaurant to go to the pharmacy, and took a wrong turn down an alley. As she turned around to come back out someone grabbed her from behind, physically lifted her up and started dragging her into their car. S (who is very tiny but extremely feisty) elbowed him hard and punched him several times in the face before running away. She came back to the car convinced her hand was broken, but thankfully it wasn’t. She’s ok now, but was extremely shaken up by the whole thing. She keeps warning me to be careful, which I always am anyway, but frankly I doubt that could happen to me. Indian men are fairly petite themselves, and I weigh almost double what she does – if anyone tried to drag me into their car they’d need a crane and a flatbed truck!

Soooo, I’ve been busy applying for other jobs, and will hopefully find something else soon. I suspect that once S, D and T leave things may well become a bit more dire around here!

However despite all the crap and the drama, I am hanging in, mostly thanks to the vodka in my freezer at home, and the fact that I am due some holidays, so as soon as I get this nightmare internship programme behind me I’m planning to bugger off for a couple of weeks’ R&R, probably either in Nepal or somewhere cooler up in the hills.

To end on a slightly more bizarre note, I found a fabulous book called “Sex Education for Teenagers”, written in 1997. It’s obvious that there isn’t enough sex ed over here (given that there are over 1 billion people in India!), and I don’t think they teach it in schools, but this book has some rather bizarre approaches. In the chapter about contraception, it lists all the usual things (condoms, pill, coil etc) but includes sterilization as an option! For teenagers! Seems a bit harsh. There are also several chapters on slightly un-related topics such as drugs, and mental health – including a rather worrying paragraph on schizophrenia, which is caused, according to the author, by “cold and uncaring parents”. I also particularly liked the section on the problem of “eve-teasing” – what a fantastic phrase!

There are also some great case studies, including one about a boy who doesn’t like the guy who’s been courting his sister, and decides to murder him. He persuades his mates to help him, and after cutting his throat they throw the body down a well. After the case study, there is a paragraph about the moral of the story. You might think it would be “murder is wrong”, but instead the key message is that the other boys shouldn’t have succumbed to peer pressure! It is a seriously bizarre book!

Anyhoo, that’s about all from me – much love to everyone wherever you are!
xxx
love “All students are Evil” Maya

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