Tues Jan 11, 2011 update

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Well, here goes again. I typed for an hour last night and just as I went to approve and save we lost the Internet connection. That happens quite frequently. Tuesday was the first day off to Tengra on my own. My driver arrived to pick me up around 8:30am. I am so fascinated by all the activity on the road. Everything here is so run down. Buildings are rusted and trash is everywhere. Amongst all this rubble springs forth a sign "The Bold Look of Kohler" and right next to that a Ford Dealership with brand new cars in the display window. What a contrast to the old rickshaws and bicycles intermingled with the traffic.

On the drive we pass some shacks built right on the side of a busy road. My driver said these were the Bangladesh refugees. He does not speak very much English so he did not elaborate. However, I did find out from Stanley that Bangladesh is even more poor than India. There are no resources so therefore they cross the river to come into Kolkata. The refugees speak Bengali so they assimilate quite well. Due to all the street people, there are many unrecorded births so no one realizes that they're not Indians.

Once off the main road, the dirt road into the village narrows and has a different kind of business. There are people walking with huge packages on their heads and some with baskets filled with fruit and vegetables. Many rickshaws and bicycle pulled wagons, motor bikes, taxis and these 3 wheeled motorized vehicles called Autos. At night they turn into a rolling Indian disco. The road jams up frequently so you have to wait for it to all work out.

When I arrived, I learned that Mrs Saha was not coming into work (or so she thought) because she fell and hurt her knee. Stanley called her to say that she must come in because she had a lot to learn while I was there. While we waited for her, Dilip, a school worker and I had a Bible study led by Stanley. It was interesting to learn how the Indians apply the scripture to their lives. We read from 1 Samuel 2:8 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.... The people certainly are poor and they can be seen picking through the ashes of the burned trash. Stanley's interpretation is that they not only need to be lifted spiritually but they must also be shown a way to raise themselves financially. This made me feel really good because that is exactly what we are here trying to do. As I was discussing the progress of the knitters with the Headmistriss of the school she told me that she would like to employ at least one of them to assist the teacher. That is more than what I could have even imagined. Not only do they get paid to produce hand made knit items, but there"s the chance of a job at the school. Wow!

Tengra is actually 2 schools, one is the Hindi school and one is the Christian school. They have 2 classes K -5 and 7 and 8 has only one class each grade. There are 400 students. They start their day with prayer and bible study in Hindi. They have classes, lunch and recess as our students do. There is no heat in the building so the kids wear scarfs and hats in the classroom. Believe it our not, it is quite chilly here right now.

Stanley informed me that one of their Security Guards, Krishna Bahadur, a Nepali man knew how to knit and he would come to learn the patterns. He does not speak English so Stanley had to translate until Mrs. Saha got there. Krishna was great, he cast on the required stitches for the wash cloth, and knit 3 rows neatly and quickly. Then I began to teach him the feather and fan pattern. He caught on so fast. Princey joined us. Mrs Saha arrived and of course she also picked up the pattern very quickly. A local woman, Tula came in, then a mother of one of the students. Then the headmistress, Mrs. Satralkar, brought 3 eighth grade girls. They were so polite, they referred to me as auntie. All of the people who came in to class, had knitting experience, but none had done pattern work. They all knit the same way that I do using the English method. That made life so much easier! These people were chosen to be taught so that they could be the teachers when I leave (except the 3 girls). Not the group I expected but if it's oe thing that I've learned in India is that nothing is etched in stone. Everything can change at any time and then it can change again. I just go with the flow. I do like the timing here - no one gets anywhere on time - probably due to the traffic.

At about 1pm, Mrs. Saltralkar, Asha, sent her steno, Gita, (secretary) in to fetch me for lunch. I had already brought my lunch but Asha insisted that I let them do this for me since I was doing so much for them. They are very gracious people. I never did tell her that I had a lunch with me. We had a wonderful Indian meal. She told me that I would have lunch with them every day.

The Driver, Bernard, came to pick me up around 4pm. We dropped Asha, Gita and Princey off on the way. I arrived back at the BMS first.. When the others returned we went to New Market. It was a rather creepy experience.

Today was certainly a day of blessings.