Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24, 2012

Made my way to the Children’s Library wondering if Gulsham, the teacher who had repeatedly invited me to her village, would come today so we could go there immediately after the Forum session was over. Asel was ready to do her presentation on the proper way to issue instructions in the classroom, but she spoke so softly we could barely hear her much less make any sense of what she wanted us to do. Willoughby was present as well as Joel who would conduct a presentation on classroom management later on, which turned out to be quite lively even when the register was way too high for those present.

Willoughby informed me the Peace Corps staff was holding a potluck dinner that same afternoon and she wanted to bring me along to introduce me to the rest of the volunteers in the area. Since Gulsham had not shown up by 11:15, I agreed to go with her, but then at 11:30 she showed up and tried to excuse herself by saying she had overslept.

While I felt bad that she had made the one hour trip probably just to fulfill her promise, I had to be the bearer of bad news and let her know I had made another commitment in her absence. The minute I said that, she turned around and left the room. I hope to make it up to her in the future.

There was a meeting of the Forum staff members, and even though I was starving, I stayed alongside Willoughby to discuss the creation of yet another committee to handle the day to day affairs of the organization now that Gulnara is stepping away gradually from those duties. We agreed to hold a conversation club for the teachers so as to increase their fluency level to be run by Willoughby and I along with other Peace Corps volunteers in the area. The first one will be held December 22 and will be all about Christmas.

We finally took a trolley to the Peace Corps education coordinator’s flat and Willoughby held on tight to my arm while navigating the icy sidewalks as she confessed she had fallen twice already and was grateful not to have suffered any injuries so far. We walked to the sixth floor of a somewhat modern building and found the volunteers busily carving one of three turkeys and putting the trimmings on the tables.

The country director, who also served in Nepal, showed me photos of his recent trip there contrasting them to the ones he had taken 30 years ago. I was surprised to hear he had outsourced all of his photos and negatives to a company in India to have them scanned, cleaned up and retouched by professionals as it was so much cheaper than in the States.

I was introduced to the stout, red-headed Judson, the volunteer who had stood me up twice at Lingua after offering to help me with the newsletter format. He pretended not to know who I was and then finally relented and claimed he thought Matthew had agreed to help me with it. What a liar! I made no effort to speak to him during the gathering at all.

The turkey was the usual dried up, tasteless, and colorless business I had experienced so many times in the past. I feasted instead on the delicious mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin soup, roasted vegetables and a somewhat dry cornbread. There was a table laden only with desserts and I loved the pumpkin pie and bread pudding with a persimmon sauce someone had concocted. An apple crisp was way too sweet for me and the ice cream didn’t appeal to my senses being completely white, but not in the coconut ice cream way I’m used to.

I saw no coffee or tea anywhere and couldn’t conceive of eating all those desserts without a shot of coffee at some point. I asked the coordinator, Bill, about it and he offered to take me to his flat upstairs to make some just for us as he knew the rest of the volunteers were only onto chai. He had the same type of coffeemaker I do, albeit a more expensive contraption, and best of all, gas for cooking.

We discussed the pending booklet we are expected to collaborate on and agreed to so after the Christmas break when he’ll be back from the States and I’ll have some time before starting the next round of teacher training workshops. The coffee was superb and I bid everyone goodbye as I wanted to walk home before it got too dark. Seth was able to pull my coordinates on his cell phone and I found myself about 5-6 blocks from my apartment.

I watched the movie, “The Secret Garden”, based on a children’s book I have failed to read and didn’t find it engrossing, believable or even appealing based on the beautiful images of the English countryside. I’ll hold my final judgment until I get to read the book one of these days.

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