Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Year (almost) in The Life Of a VSO Volunteer

My time in India is drawing to a close so I thought I would do a post on the things that I had thought of very differently when I arrived, and I now consider ordinary plus things that have surprised me about my life here.

from left to right: Amanda, Rosie, Kevin, Julie, Chris.
I arrived in New Delhi with Amanda, Julie, Alan, Kevin, Chris, Angie, Rosie and Gera on the 5th March 2012. It was early morning, 5.30am, and we were met by Manmadha from the VSO Programme Office. As we were driven through the increasingly busy streets all my senses were absorbing the smells, colours, noises of a completely new culture and lifestyle I would gradually be acclimatising to. I tried to keep an open mind during my time in New Delhi: the hectic roads, extremely spicy food, everything smelling of chili, stares from men as we walked down the streets, were all very alien to me.

Breakfast in Old Delhi, Alan, Drew, Maeve and Angie

The bustling streets of Old Delhi
The time in Delhi was a gentle way of easing us into a new culture and way of life. By the middle of the 3 weeks we were all like 'goats on a rope': eager to get to our placements and the next stage of the adventure. My only trepidations were: 36hour train journey (2 nights on a train on my own) and riding the motor bike in a country with seemingly few enforced traffic rules!.

Reviewing my early diary entries I see my first impressions of Puri were: 'hot, dirty, and noisy': in April, 6pm and the temp was still about 35degs C; rubbish just thrown in the streets; motor bike, auto rickshaw, car and bus drivers sound their horns just to say 'get out of my way!'
The beach was a welcome sight but nothing like I had imagined: the current is too strong for proper swimming; the beach is always busy, you are never left alone for long; the sea breeze lacks that refreshing saltiness of the English coastline.

Intricate Sand Art on Puri Beach
Sand Art to Celebrate the Lord Ganesha Festival
One of the most interesting discoveries has been the amazing creations out of sand by local artists.
Like English beaches though it is a focus point for all tourists to Puri and the main shopping area that runs parallel, known as C.T Road, is full of Hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. There were not many  tourists when I first arrived but now with more temperate weather conditions there are always other Europeans to be seen in this area.

I soon gave up on the motorbike idea and my colleageus at work have been kind enough to drive me around when needed, they even gave me a bicycle for getting around Puri, saving me a small fortune on rickshaw fares.
My first few days cycling down  the Grand Road in Puri I felt like a fish out of water - how would I ever find the things I needed? How would I ever get the 'Indian' rate for food? (everything seems expensive when they quote you the tourist price). The chaos of the traffic was daunting on my bicycle as motorbikes cut in front of me where I knew I had right of way.

Holy Bull to be quickly and quietly passed by
Traffic seemed to be more respectful of the cows milling around the main highways than a woman on a bicycle! The only set of traffic lights in Puri is in the centre at 'Medical Square' - lining up there on my bike reminds me of the cartoon 'whacky racers' - who would be first off the mark? Who would come closest to a scrape but miss by a hairs breadth? Honking horns and sleeping cows besides! Now I simply queue with the rest of them and hedge my way forward with the masses when the light turns amber rather than waiting to be honked by impatient auto rickshaw drivers.

A local fish and chicken stall
I am now living on the outskirts of Puri, about 2kms from the centre of the grand road, but we have all the necessities right on our doorstep - fresh fish and chicken (when it's not a religious festival that forbids their sale like yesterday!). The shop on the corner sells fresh fruit, vegetables and milk so we don't have to go far on a lazy Sunday!

The work and trips to The Field to see the Children in their homes, planning training sessions and getting positive feedback made it all worthwhile though. The cows still wonder the streets - even huge ferocious looking bulls! There are semi-wild dogs everywhere and monkeys occasionally startle me by shaking a branch in a tree overhead!
Parallel bars in place and a very happy Rosalin and Debusmita
Now the Service Support finally has the parallel bars I requested 5 months ago, the children are attending regularly, some have made huge leaps forwards in mobility and activities of daily living: I am very proud of all my co-workers for their dedicated work. I will miss them all as well as the children.
I am sure there are many more things about living in India that will come to mind nearer my return home on 13 January 2013.  I am going to Panjim in Goa for Christmas and New Year, and shall be meeting fellow Volunteers Rosie and Gera.
I wish everyone who reads this a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A visit to Chilika Lake and the Diwali Festival

About 48kms from Puri is a large lake where rivers converge in a tidal estuary with sea water. This forms the biggest brackish lagoon in Asia. Swelling from 600kms to 1100sqkms during the monsoons. On Saturday 10th November I arranged for a car to transport myself and 3 fellow volunteers to this scenic area with the hope of seeing dolphins and pink flamingoes. Ayumi  came to Puri on Friday evening by bus and we had a traditional English chicken dinner (my favourite!). Rosie was coming all the way from Ranchi just for this trip - a 15hr train journey each way! She arrived at 7.30am Saturday morning and we were there to pick her up with a breakfast of egg sandwiches, fruit juice and coffee!
Ayumi enjoying breakfast enroute to Chilika Lake
It was about a 2hr drive to Satapada where we were reliably informed was the best place to hire a boat for a trip on the lake. The information was correct and a 3 hour boat trip around the lake was RS1300/- (a lot more than in my older version of Lonely Planet but still good value at only RS325/- each - under £4)

Plenty of motor boats to hire
There were plenty of boats to hire as we had arrived before the rush and were soon cruising northward to the Dolphin conservation area.  
Chilling on Chilika
The boat was basic but at least it had shelter from the sun. We stopped at the sand spur which forms the Sea Mouth of the lake. The tide was going out and the current could be seen speeding through the narrow opening - almost like a rip current!
4 VSO Vols visit Chilika!
Not all the lake had a fast current and in a couple of places Buffalo were wading across in the shallows. 
Buffalo wading across in the shallows

I did manage to get a good video of the dolphins but I can't upload onto this site, you can however see it on my FACEBOOK page.

We arrived back in Puri before dark and after a while relaxing went out to dinner at the Wild Grass Restaurant. They were extrememly helpful and we had a lovely meal of about 8 courses: soup, nibbles of roasted vegs., chicken, fish, rice, cheese, and ice cream to finish! Again for under £4 - we highly recommend this restaurant!

Sunday morning the 4 of us went to meet Amanda at the Honey Bee Cafe on the C.T. Road. Since my last visit there it had moved to the other side of the street which so early on a Sunday was very confusing to me! They are good for breakfast because actually have bacon and sausages on the menu!

At about 1pm our driver arrived to take us the the RIACE festival in a nearby village 'Rajurpur International Arts/Craft Exchange'. This is the second anual event where artists from all over the world come and stay for 3 weeks to learn Indian Craft and also exchange ideas from their own cultures. The NGO I work for had organised a play by the Village Children's Club on 'Child Rights' relating to disability and child exploitation. We were invited as special guests to this show. As well as acting there were 2 lovely dance displays:

 Dancers at the RAICE festival 11/11/12

 The ages of the children ranged from 5 to 15 years and they did a superb display! By the time all the speeches and presentations were completed and our transport had finished taking the children home it was getting quite late. Rosie had a train to catch and Amanda and Ayumi a bus back to Bhubaneswar before the last one left that evening. Eventually we were on our way only to suffer a flat tyre when nearly half way home! 'All's well that ends well' and I'm please to say that everyone made it where they had to be with a sigh of relief!
During the preceding week there had been a gradual increase in bangs and explosions from fire works and fire crackers on the build up to Diwali. Much like guy Fawkes in the UK this is their fireworks day. The children, especially boys as young as 6, were playing with these explosive devices throughout the day - I didn't notice any health or safety warnings. The night of Diwali arrived and the explosions became constant with some extremely spectacular rockets and firework fountains too. Every house was lit up with candles along roof tops, window ledges and walls.

Diwali lights around a neighbouring house
A truly noisy, colourful, bright experience and a pleasure to be here for the spectacular celebrations when the whole of India literally went firework crazy everywhere!
I have 5 weeks left before my trip to Mumbai and Goa, then a week later I go home. It really is a lovely experience living in India.


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Autumn in Puri

I arrived back in Puri on 8th September to a very warm welcome from all my work colleagues and 4 strong men to help me move out of my old flat into the new one I am sharing with fellow VSO volunteer Stephanie. I wasn't looking forward to the move after 24hrs travelling and sitting around at airports, but it went very smoothly and Stephanie had prepared a lovely meal for me too!

It is now late October and the weather has certainly changed - less humid than when I returned to the UK in July but it's still very warm. The rainy season has come to an end and after months of wading through troughs of water and flooded roads it has now dried out and the pot holes/craters caused by the torrential rains are being filled in.

My first few weeks back were spent catching up on developments - there have been some staff changes, and 3 of the children who could not walk, have started walking, just before my return! This shows how effective my CBRWs management has become (personal pat on the back too!). It is however one of the most religious times in the Hindu calendar - Festival of Lord Ganesha - meaning 10 days of celebration which was preceded by fasting. There are many more festivals on the Hindu calendar between now and the end of November. This will mean squeezing in the training where ever possible for maximum attendance.

I hadn't been back very long when I had an invitation from fellow VSO Volunteer and friend Rosie to visit her in Ranchi and then go for a few days to Varanasi. As I had not yet had much opportunity to travel in India my NGO said it would be OK and I arranged the ticket to Ranchi, Rosie arranged everything else. Including a lovely party for her birthday when I was able meet her lovely Indian friends and visit her club too.

The day after her party we had an early start to visit 3 waterfalls in 1 day - they said it couldn't be done but we did it! The rains had finished so perhaps they weren't as full as they could be but it was still beautiful and a lovely day out. Rosie had arranged a hired car and a picnic lunch of Chicken Chow Mein.
There were 3 other VSO volunteers with us called Fred, Joel and Paul all based near Ranchi but working for different NGOs.

from left ot right: Joel, Paul, Rosie, Me and Fred

That same afternoon Rosie and I had tickets booked to Varanasi on the overnight train so it was home for a quick change then a lift to the station. It was a fairly comfortable journey and I think the fresh air and exercise at the Falls helped me sleep. We arrived at Varanasi and were met by someone from  the hotel. I thought at first this was a bit unnecessary but soon discovered I was wrong. The Autorickshaw could not get all the way to the hotel as it was in the old part of the city and traffic was restricted. So we had a long walk along smelly windy narrow alleys before finally reaching our hotel - certainly would not have found it without our guide! The room was basic and the hotel was right on the banks of the Ganges so ideally placed.

View from our room at Hotel Alka onto the Ganges

Sunrise on the Ganges

We were lucky to have about 3 trips on the Ganges River but the most memorable one was the dawn trip to view the Burning Ghats. We woke at 4.30am and went down to the river to get a boat before the crowds arrived. early morning is the time when the bodies of the dead are cremated along the banks at specific areas called Burning Ghats. There are bathing, washing laundry and boating Ghats along the shore of Varanasi. The Ganges is a holy river and of great importance to the Hindus as a last resting place and return of the spirit to be reincarnated.

Washing hotel sheets in the Ganges

Rosie and I had a few lovely trips out and enjoyed a few Kingfishers watching the prayer candles float down the Ganges in the evenings. We managed to stay out of the very mirky dirty water until a fish decided to jump out of the water right next to our boat blessing us both in Holy Ganges Water!

Rosie and me returning from a trip to the Fort.


Travelling on the local ferry to Ram Nagar Fort
 One of our trips was across the Ganges to the east bank and a visit to the Ram Nagar Fort. We travelled with the locals and I think we were a somewhat unusual sight for them!

Varanasi is certainly an unusual city even by Indian standards and I recommend a visit if anyone intends to come to India!

After 3 nights in Varanasi it was time to return to Ranchi. This was now the start of the Durja Puja festival and an important holiday in the Hindu religious calender. It was good to return to the relative calm of Ranchi. I still had a few days left to enjoy the sights before returning to even quieter Puri. So I saw my first Indian movie at an Indian cinema 'OMG'. Even though my Hindi is rather poor the acting was so good I understood the story well. We also visited Rosie's club - they were having Puja celebrations and her firends invited us along and even provided transport!
So I could not refuse when invited to take part in the stick Dance!
Sunday night I left on the 15 hour journey back to Puri. I slept ok and it was good to get back to the fresh air by the sea! I had caught another cold in another polluted city! I think I am allergic to cities !

Now it's nearly time to draw my placement to a close - I leave around the middle of January and have a lot of training, assessments and reports to do before then. Watch this space for my trip to Goa and Mumbai.......


Monday, 6 August 2012

New Resource centre opens

On Monday 9th July our new Sevice Support Centre for Children with disabilities opened in Chandanpur, 11kms from Puri where I am based for my work as CBRW (Community Based Rehabilitation Worker) trainer. After a month of travelling around doing Home based visits for the children it became aparent that resources in the home were limited and travelling time was restricting how many times the CBRWs could visit the homes. When I discussed this with Basant we both agreed a building in the community and central for the families would be a good starting point.

Basant already had a building in mind and after visiting it and discussions with the owner, a rent and lease agreement was reached. The building consists of 4 rooms of which 2 were to be rented by SNDAYP as our Resource Centre.
Madhab outside the new building
 It still had no electricity and no water nearby but it was a reasonable price and the rooms a good size. A lot of work was needed to prepare the rooms for the equipment and a team of us set to work sanding, painting and cleaning.

Madhab and Pravakar working on the skirting to get it ready for painting.
                                                        It took a lot of elbow grease and was a lot of fun too!

The following few days saw a wonderful transformation of the main Therapy room while Madhab and I were off shopping for all the equipment and toys. I helped a little with the finishing touches too! It was also great fun choosing the Disney Characters to brighten the walls!

But the main wrok was done by this young artist:

He did the following amazing transformation:

Then we just needed to add the equipment

 and of course children:

Cutting the ribbon to open the new Centre

A young boy walks with a rolator for the first time
A picture paints a thousand words, and by the look on Basanta's face and that of the children I don't think I can add much more: It was a privelige and a pleasure to be involved in this project.

A special thank you goes to Mr John Stewart and members of the Andover Rotary Club, UK for their very timely and important donation to the setting up of this centre.

A week after the opening I unfortunately had to return to Europe due to a family illness. I will be returning in a few weeks to continue this work into the New Year and will keep everyone updated of the progress of my work and adventures I am lucky to have in wonderful India......

Monday, 2 July 2012

Rath Yatra, Puri, - Car Festival!

June 21st 2012 saw the start of this years' world famous Car Festival - 'it commenorates Krishna's journey from Gokul to Mathura. Lord Jaganarth, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra are dragged along the Grand Road in 3 huge cars known as 'ratha' from Jaganarth Mandir to Gundicha Mandir (temple).'

The temples are at opposite ends of the Grand Road. I am lucky enough to be living at the Gundicha Mandir end of town so all the festivities were literally on my doorstep - if I didn't mind jostling with over 1 million people coming and going over the course of the week!
There was certainly a transformation going on in Puri during the week leading up to the festival - vendors carts were moved, rubbish clearance was stepped up and open drains were covered to make entering shops easier and, of course, safer! The first day of the festival I walked down the Grand
Road, there was an amazing carnival atmosphere,.
 people dancing, singing
and dressed in amazing costumes

The carts are elaborately decorated pyramid structures on massive wheels. They are pulled by men along the road and once they start to move they soon gather momentum and are very difficult to stop or turn. Each cart has 6 wooden horses: white, brown, or black. The images of the Lords are positioned in the centre and they are surrounded by staff and priests from the temple. Only Hindus are allowed in Jaganarth Temple, and only Hindus are allowed to climb the stairs to meet their Lord during the week that they are positioned at Gundicha Mandir.

For me the high light was the lovely craft fair which was again just a short walk from my flat. Beautiful hand stitched bedding and pictures, pottery and wood carvings!

The week ended with the 'Gold Festival' when all the gold from Jaganarth Temple is brought out to adorn the Deities before they return to their resting places. This was unfortunately delayed by the most torrential downpour and severe thunderstorm I have experienced since arriving! It was made even more memorable because my friend Julie came down from Bhubaneswar for  the weekend - we were both caught out in this just as she arrived and were drenched through. The rain was so severe my flat flooded worse than ever and we had no power for several hours! (Glastonbury Spirit rules!)There was the end to my plans to cook!
When the rain subsided we hailed a rickshaw and had a lovely meal at the Wild Grass Restaurant followed by coffee at the Honey Bee mmmm...... all's well that ends well....

Next week sees the opening of our new Service Support Centre for Children with Disabilities, I have been asked to make a speech and cut the ribbon "we can't refuse - such an honour!"
See you soon.....

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Three weeks later...

I can't believe it's nearly the end of June and I am 1/3 of the way through my 'tour of duty'. The last post was about the wedding, I have a PS to add: Kabita is now back at work and looking extremely happy, even invited me to see her new home. So it was perhaps all pre-wedding nerves and
tension. Married ladies wear red and gold bangles around each wrist studded with gems, also a wedding pendant which is similar to our wedding ring. Very glamorous!

I have been very lucky to be able to visit Kolkata last weekend with 2 other volunteers, Julie and Amanda - they did all the planning and booking so I just signed up for the tour! Last Thursday was the local 'Swing Festival'. This marks the beginning of the wet season when Mother Earth comes to life with the new rains. Those who have toiled hard all year now take a rest and 'swing' to symbolise the winds which will bring the rains - this is what I have been reliably informed it celebrates. If anyone has any other ideas please let me know? Anyway it gave us an ideal opportunity to travel with the time off.

I headed up to Bhubaneswar on Thursday afternoon to meet Julie and Amanda. Our train wasn't until 11.45pm so we had a relaxing evening until time to hale a rickshaw. Now, the train started in Puri (65kms away) and was running 45mins late, sound familiar?? We found our reserved sleeper bunks and settled down for the night in a not too crowded carriage. I think we all managed some sleep before arriving in Kolkata about an hour late. It was a hot and humid morning even by 7.30am.

There were plenty of taxis - yellow cabs giving it a look of NY - and we joined a queue to get an honest price at the taxi booth. When we finally got in the cab and drove off  it soon became very apparent that the young driver really did not know where our Hotel was. He was stopping to ask at every junction and just wouldn't pay attention to Julie's map which had it marked as clear as day! While we were driving around it was interesting to see just how green Kolkata actually was with large green parks and wide roads in a lot of places. There wasn't the hustle and bustle I was really expecting from films I had seen.
Finally we gave up on the taxi and got out - the one-way system was causing the driver grief and it was only a short walk  from where he had eventually pulled over (and crossed the street to ask again for directions again) to our hotel!

The first day was spent recovering from the journey and orientating ourselves in the big city. Fortunately both Amanda and Julie must have been Girl Guides becasuse their map reading skills were terrific - apart from 1 minor detail - that is judging distances and time! No Jane, you may think I was exaggerating the '300 yards', but I'm not sure how often over the weekend 5 minutes became more like 30!(or just felt it). Its ok, I don't get much exercise in Puri so was good for me! The street life was fascinating - vendors of every type of ware you could think of just set up a market barrel and sold their goods. It seems to be the accepted rule that all stalls selling the same things all group down the same stretch of road! So if  you want fruit in 1 place you have a hundred stalls to choose from all selling the same, but if you want vegetables you have to walk on at least half a mile! This is similar to Puri but distances to walk and quantity of stalls seem less here now!
Saturday was a slightly more relaxing day and we visited the Queen Victoria Memorial Museum. I am proud to say we all got in for the local rate of RS10 because I had taken my residency certificate with me. The tourist rate is RS150, which is under £2, but when you are being paid an allowance based on local rates every Rupee matters! Kolkata does have a very good underground system which gets you from A to B quickly and cheaply - as long as you only want to travel north or south, there is at present only 1 line. Fortunately that was enough for us and meant we could easily meet up with another volunteer based to the south in Kolkata : introducing Kevin Ross:

 In the evening we eventually found a lovely Bengali restaurant and had some very tasty fish and vegetable dishes, and extremely reasonably priced too! While in the restaurant a fierce thunderstorm started outside bringing the promise of hopefully cooler weather! We managed to get a taxi back to the metro for Kevin and our hotel for us without getting too wet!
On Sunday we did actually wake to a much cooler air though it had already taken its toll on me - the really bad air pollution combined with Air-con in the shops had given me a sore throat and chesty cough - first in years I must say! (I need  the clean humid sea air of Puri!!!). We planned to visit the Mother Teresa of Calcutta memorial on Sunday, a short 1.5km from hotel according to guide book lonely planet! I am so glad it was cooler! The walk took us along, what I can only describe as, 'mechanics mile' - every shop along the road selling exactly the same 'spare-part-extra-add-on-tool-you-really-need-gismo-thingys-for-your-car-motor-bike' as the next one as well as every tyre ever made!
When we reached the Memorial I was in awe of it's simplicity and the gentle nature of the Sisters still carrying on her good work. Her room was left as it was when she lived there - no fan, a simple bed, desk, chair, pen and pencil. A remarkable lady and a visit I shall always remember. I didn't take photos because it seemed disrespectful, even though it was permitted, unlike so many religious Hindu, Muslim and other religious monuments. Just an observation on my side not a comment on beliefs.
Kevin accompanied us to a shopping mall where for about an hour I could forget we were in India's second largest city and imagine being back in Reading - almost! There was an M&S and a supermarket  selling even bacon and beef! I did indulge myself and bought some herbs and things not available in Puri, also a new for Kirta for work!

The best restaurants in Indian cities are the ones locals queue for an hour to get into. We found such a one on Sunday evening but by then I think I was past my best from shopping, walking and the heat! (Not to mention a shared beer of course). After a 45min wait our number came up - BINGO! - It all looked lovely and I would have loved some another time, but then all I could manage was ice cream and fruit salad! And tea!

 We returned to Orissa on Monday evening, the train a lot more crowded than our departing journey. The coming week sees the Car Festival or Rath Yatra in Puri, when 100,000 devotees flock to the quiet seaside town to worship Lord Jaganarth and family on their trip in 3 enormous hand drawn carts to their Aunt at the other end of the Grand Road Puri.

I leave you with this as it will be the subject of my next blog - coming very soon!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

An Indian Wedding

 It’s the day after Kabita’s wedding to Subatra and I wanted to record the events factually and without bias so readers can make up their own minds if arranged weddings still have a place in the 21st century. (I don’t think I have succeeded with the bias.)
Orissa, India, is a very proud but poor state in the Indian sub-continent. The Caste system is still strong here and arranged marriages are commonplace. I have been working in Puri, Orissa for 2 months and when I heard that a young girl from the office was getting married I was excited at the chance of being present at a genuine Indian wedding. 2 weeks to ago I even asked her if she was excited about her wedding day and I was surprised to get a blank look as a reply.
Tuesday 29th May arrived, we all had work as usual and I was asked to be back at the office for 7pm where everyone would meet before going onto the venue. I was given a lift by Mishra on the back of his motor bike and we arrived just a few minutes early. Kabita was being made ready by Debismeta and her attendants in a small room at the front of the hotel and I was beckoned in to take a seat.
She really was looking stunning and the detail and labour going into her Sari and makeup was amazing. Her hands and her feet were also finely decorated in henna tattoos and toes and fingers were bejewelled.
I joined my other colleagues outside for more information on the evening’s events: The Groom would arrive at about 11pm and the service would start at midnight, as per the custom of their Caste. I enquired what happened after the ceremony and was informed the couple would leave to go back to his family home and only family members would stay behind. Also none of my colleagues were going to stay for the actual ceremony. Dilemma. Debismeta offered to stay with me if I really wanted to, but we would have to stay until morning, because there was no transport and it wasn’t safe for women to go out in the night.  
Food was available now and I eagerly wanted to see what wedding fare was like: rice, curry (veg and non-veg) dahl and salad, now there’s a surprise! There were plates and we had chairs to sit on, but no spoons. (I became resourceful and used a carrot from the salad as my spoon!)
I returned to see Kabita and found her sobbing her heart out beside her mother and sister. She had not met her betrothed before this day, after the ceremony all ties will be cut with her family and she would stay with her husband forever. Surendra wanted a photo beside her but I declined as she was so visibly distraught!
At about 10pm I could hear drumming in the distance that was gradually getting louder. This was the arrival of the groom – fireworks, music blaring, men dancing, fuelled by alcohol but generally in good spirits.
The groom arrived in a beautifully decorated car and dressed in all his finery.

He was carried to the entrance of the venue where brand new shoes were placed on his decorated feet.
He was then taken into the building to a room above where Kabita was still crying.
The Grooms party then partook of the food and all seemed well so Debismeta and I went upstairs for photos with the Groom. On the way up we heard shouting and yelling from the garden below and looked out to see that a fight had broken out.
Everyone seemed to be joining in and I decided then I would not stay to see the ceremony. I think Debismeta was relieved. After a few minutes the culprits were evicted and calm was restored.
It was now 11pm and my colleagues were keen to leave. Kabita was with her family to join her in solemn matrimony to a man she had never met before. She is 21years old and her now husband 28. They say 'first comes marriage then comes love', I do so hope so for Kabita and Subrata.
I was pleased to get back to my apartment and that we didn’t stay, although Debismeta would have stayed with me if it had been what I wanted. I couldn’t sleep.
Last September my eldest daughter Christine married James who she has loved since she met him. It was the happiest day of her life, though mixed emotions for me, I was so happy to see her radiant and smiling. I could never imagine telling any of my children who and when they had to marry, but if it’s what you are used to and know, it seems you do carry out your duty even if it breaks your heart.