Sunday, 22 January 2012

Arriving in Koraput

The journey from Delhi was a very long one - 36 hours on the train and then 5 hours in a taxi on trecherous mountain roads. We arrived in Koraput after dark and were therefore taken directly to our accommodation. The house is very nice with three bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms (one Indian and one western) and a living area. The accommodation is simple but clean and all the essentials were provided.

Our first day at the SOVA office was very slow. We didn't really know what we were meant to be doing. We had an introductory meeting where the staff introduced themselves and we explained some details about ourlives. We also learnt how SOVA works and what it does. The next few days at the office and we still don't really know what needs to be done - as if we don't really fit in anywhere. It's very frustrating but we have been told to just be patient.

We got to know the market in Koraput within a couple of days - where to buy the best fruit and veg and where we can buy treats like chocolate and baked beans. We have so far avoided the meat alley as it smells so dreadful and I can't imagine the meat is that good quality so I may be going veggie for the trip. We're all topping up on our protein by eating eggs with almost every meal!


Delhi is colder than I imagined. I don't know why but I thought I would step off the plane into searing heat. In hind sight I should have realized that Delhi is actually very far north and therefore would be cold in the winter just like the UK.
Driving from the station to our hotel was an unexpected experience. I had read about the roads in India but it definitely did not prepare me for what I found. There are no rule; no indicating; no 'staying in the correct lane'. Drivers swerve in an out of lanes trying to get furthest ahead very often only just missing hitting a person or cow which may be crossing the busy road. However they seem to have a system. None drive too fast and unlike the UK drivers know to look out for people who may be crossing. They also seem to have a very effective 'honking system' - no driver worries about what's behind only what is in front and if a driver wishes to overtake from behind they simply honk their horn several times to let everyone else know to get out the way.
It is hard for me to see the poverty in Delhi. Families just sitting on the side of the road or under the metro bridge. Walking to get the metro kids as young as two and three come up to the group and beg for money making gestures towards their mouths because they are hungry. It puts things in harsh perspective when just a few minutes down the road there is a Hilton Hotel.
The streets stink and no wonder when there are so many pigs, dogs and cows wandering around the place. Also India does not benefit from something we take for granted in the UK; refuse collection. Rubbish is simply burnt or the more likely scenario is that it is just chucked on the sides of the road. Since being in Delhi I have seen children rooting through this stinking rubbish to find food. Back home I don't think anything of being able to bag up my rubbish and having it taken away but here they have no system in place. Imagine if it was the same in the UK.
It's not all bad (and sorry for being so morbid)! I have tried some amazing food in various restaurants but the best has to be the street food. We were advised not to eat street food by Skillshare but when it looks so delicious it's hard to resist. I made sure everything I was eating was hot and of a high demand so I knew it was fresh.
Sightseeing in Delhi was an amazing experience. Firstly we travelled to the Red Fought, Then to the Gandhi memorial garden which was so beautiful and peaceful and then on to Humayan's Tomb. Finally we went to some markets which were full of vibrant colours and great foods. As a foreigner you get hassled a lot by people trying to sell you things and trying to hike the price up. I have become able to say a firm 'no' when I don't want something and to barter to get a good price.
I will be traveling with two others to Koraput in Orissa tomorrow by train and taxi - it will take a grueling 40 hours to get there and I have to say I’m not really looking forward to it!!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Two days to go!!

Hi Guys,

Only two days to go until my departure to India. Getting really excited now. I have to get the train to Heathrow Monday morning which will take 5 hours! Then a nine hour flight to Delhi ....

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


If there's one thing I know about myself it is that I over think things, I over stress about things and therefore am, 12 days before my departure to India, in panic mode. Will I forget something? Will I have everything I need in time? Will my boyfriend remeber to feed the cats?! With all these thoughts bouncing around my head I do the only thing I know to sort them out; I write a list. I say 'a' list, what I mean is a write five! And I feel somewhat better for it.

I am very excited with only 12 days to go until my departure and I feel fully ready to embrace a new way of life and a new culture as well as new people and experiences. I am there to help the people of my new community and I am there to grow myself. I will be working as part of an organisation in Koraput, India called SOVA (South Orissa Voluntary Action). I have accepted that I am not going to change the world but if I can make a small bit of difference to even one persons life I will be happy. I won't however be content as I am hoping I can help a community.

I am going to India thanks to an opportunity from Skillshare International and organisation that works within International Citizen Service (ICS), which is part of the Department for International Development. "Each project is designed to bring about lasting change for very poor communities, and volunteers will have the opportunity to contribute directly to this change ."