Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Where are We Going?

Monday I was meeting Raju (one of the people who work for AIF, but not in the fellowship) at an NGO AIF was looking at. Partially I supposed just so he could meet a Fellow and get my responses from living here, but also to have another opinion on the NGO.

The NGO is in the Hoogly district. Now I, knowing that the Hoogly (what the river Ganges is called around here) is about a 30 min drive thought it would be an hour drive at maximum. The directions that I received from the guy who worked there went as such.

After the 2nd Howrah Bridge
Take a Right onto Bombay Rd.
Then go Left onto Delhi Rd.
Continue on Delhi Rd. for 30mins
Then ask for Pandal Church and we are nearby.

So I still thought it would only be about an hour ride. Raju suggested that I meet him at the Airport on Friday instead, (but since the Airport is also an hour away and I had gotten all sari-ed out that day), I said going there would be no problem.

I hailed a taxi (at about 12:20) and was heartened when he seemed to recognize Pandal Church. We made it to the bridge and (after taking a long cut to hike up the price, which would become unnecessary, but we didn't know that then) got onto Bombay Rd.

Every so often the taxi Dada stopped to ask directions, every time the person would just motion to go straight. At one point he picked up a hitchhiker who helped us make the Bombay-Delhi RD. Switch. He also tried to speak to me in Bengali and when I didn't respond said (in Bangla) "Oh she's south Indian." I think the sari threw him off.

After several phone calls to the NGO, stopping for directions every few minutes, and driving an hour down Delhi Rd and a 1/2-hour around the town there we finally got to the NGO. Seeing no taxis and thoughally lost at any rate, I had the Taxi Dada wait for me.

The NGO PRATIBANDHI KALYAN KENDRA or PKK as they called it worked with the physically and mentally impaired so that they could be mainstreamed as well as the teachers so they could teach those with special needs. After a nice lunch with paneer and a bit of good debate on education, and the responsibility of the middle class, we all (3 NGO members, an Australian guy who was working there for some reason, the pediatrician, Raju and I) sat down to actually hear what PKK did. I was still a bit confused an hour later (by this time it was 5pm), and excused myself so I could get home at a reasonable time (not to mention I was expecting to hear from one of the Epi proffs at OSU that evening).

7:20pm I roll to my door and run upstairs to get the last 1,000 Rs I was stowing away in my cabinet (AIF doesn’t generally pay on the 1st, but the second week of the month), which I combined with the 600 Rs in my wallet. I then proceeded to beg the Taxi Dada to accept the 1600 Rs I had (the fare was actually 1700) showing him my empty wallet. After a good 3 mins of begging, looking pitiful and almost stirring myself to the point of tears he accepted it and left me with the 90 Rs (I had hidden in a back pocket) to survive on until we get paid.

In a Nutshell I took a taxi ½ way out to Who Knows Where/Hoboken when I had only expected to go across town. The NGO was nice though. Good thing AIF is reimbursing me for the 1600Rs cab ride. I think it's Kate who always reminded me it was about the journey not the destination, good thing too.

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