Coffeeshops and Landslides

Wednesday 28th July 2010

I know I just wrote a few days ago, but honestly there is so much to tell you I felt a need to write some more down!

I left Leh at 4.30am on Monday morning, and began a gruelling 2-day bus journey down to Manali, in Himachal Pradesh. The bus was comfortable enough, although the woman behind me refused to let me put my seat back, and the views as we crossed the Himalayas were breathtaking. On the first day we crossed several passes, including Taglung La, the highest point on the road at 5350 metres. It was cold and snowy, and very stunning. I used up most of my camera battery on that first day, as well as all of my ipod battery, and the journey finished for the day in a small town called Keylong, about 16 hours later. We had travelled 230 miles, and were put up for the night in “tented accommodation”, which sounds like a very posh way to say that you’re sleeping in a tent!
However, the tents were surprisingly comfortable – they were big while canvas tents, tall enough to stand up in, with 4 camp-beds per tent and nice clean sheets and blankets, even an electric light! I slept surprisingly well, and the next morning we set off at 7am for the last leg. Continue reading

The world’s best kept secret…

Friday 23rd July 2010

Hello all,
After my rather rushed email last time I thought I would try for something slightly more interesting!

My trip to Srinagar in north-western Kashmir got cancelled. Two days before I was due to leave I met a friend at a party who had just come back from there and said things were heating up again. Lots of fighting in the streets, military everywhere, a couple of civilians had been shot last week and an almost 24-7 curfew, meaning you can’t really leave your hotel room anyway.
Not exactly my idea of a holiday! Continue reading

Travelling Maya

Thursday 15th July 2010

Hello everyone,
Sorry it’s been so long since my last email, but so much has happened once again that I don’t really know where to start!

Let’s see, in shorthand: during my 1 month’s notice period I was allowed to take my 2 week’s compensatory leave, so I went to Nepal for a break and well-earned holiday.

Unfortunately my holiday was utterly exhausting and ended up being really quite stressful. It was GREAT to see all the kids again and being back was lovely. However I’d forgotten that staying at the orphanage meant getting up at 5am, which is not my idea of relaxing! Also there were 3 other volunteers there, so we were all sharing a cramped room. I won’t go into the details right now, but basically there was a lot of drama involving the other volunteers, me, Priya, and Aama, a lot of misunderstanding and a fair amount of upset all round. I also came down with a hideously nasty cold and have been ill pretty much ever since, so my holiday was mostly an exhausting and stressful disaster. Continue reading

It’s not racist, it’s because you’re white…

Monday 14th June 2010

Soooo, last week I was called down to see the Chairman (the big man himself). I was terrified I’d be yelled at again because of the NGO programme, but it turns out he has decided that I’m not doing any CSR over the summer while the students are gone, and has ordered me to sit in admissions for the next two months smiling at prospective students because basically they need a white face down there and there isn’t anyone else left.

I’m supposed to chat to new students and gauge their English level (although if their English is crap they will still be admitted as the Uni needs the money and is desperate to up enrolment) so it’s utterly pointless – even if they haven’t got any English they’ll be allowed in, so having me interview them is only so they can be paraded past my desk to see that the University has white staff!
I’m not even allowed to stay in my office – I have to move downstairs to a cubicle in the admissions cell so as many people as possible will see me. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Wild Life

Tuesday 11th May 2010

Ok, prepare for part two. Have you all got cups of tea and biscuits at the ready? No? How about a glass of wine? Comfy chairs are a must.

Despite the many ups and downs of my job (see my previous post), I am extremely lucky to have a fantastic groups of friends to hang out with on weekends. These friends are not only kind and sympathetic to my stressful work-related drama, but more importantly, DO NOT WORK WITH ME! While I like my colleagues (most of them), there’s nothing worse than only socialising with work friends – cos you never end up talking about anything except work. However my friends in Delhi know nothing except that which I tell them about work (which, lets face it, is everything, cos I’m a talker!), but so it’s utterly refreshing to be able to get away from it all and spend my weekends talking about fun and different things that are in no way related to my personal vortex of drama! (I seem to attract it like a black hole….) Continue reading