Days 6,7,8,9,10 annnnnnnd 11…

IMG_3728Hello from Munnar…

This ones for you Daddy J, Happy Father’s Day love you dearly!!!!IMG_3179

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So as I’m sure the title of this post suggests, we’ve got a lot to catch up on!!!!

 

SO day 6, I spent in the school teaching verb conjugations. A group of 13 year old boys called me over to tell me that ‘You are very beautiful , and I like football ‘ had to congratulate them on their English there haha!!! When they asked whether I was married and I replied saying no of course not they kept saying ‘why not??’ really really made me notice the difference in cultures !!!!

Day 7, Tuesday , almost a week in to my time here, time has flown by. Tuesday was a fab day. It started with cake for breakfast, what more could you want??? The reason for this was that it wasn’t feast day for Father Antony, so after mass, we sung to him, gave him gifts and a lovely cake with gorgeous chocolate icing and a flower. We then had chapattis with coconut curry and jam, followed by Cake- yum!!!

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Sister Shanty and I then spent the afternoon in town , as sister rejeena left on Wednesday and I attended a wedding so I had to buy a gift for that, but more to follow on that one….

In town I bought the girls in the boarding some plum cake, which is their favourite and apparently quite a rare treat. Once we returned I spent some time with them, serving cake and chatting.  They are just the sweetest most lovely girls in the whole world, I wish I could take them all home with me!!!

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After this, Shanty and I went to the tea museum, which is right next door to the convent , so ideal!! This was very interesting, but the trip was made by the gorgeous cup of masala Chi we had afterwards in the cafe,surrounded by signs which had different tea related clichés on them. My favourite being ‘tea is the answer to most problems’ – so accurate, as proven by this very happy perhaps slightly embarrassing  snap 😌

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Day 7 began as per usual , with morning mass and breakfast. Then sister Gracy came to my room to dress me in my Sari as I had been invited to a wedding. We drove to the church with the fathers , with 7 of us in a car which was most certainly designed for 4 along mountain paths that can’t have been more than 4m wide, every time the back wheel slipped off. The path onto the grass verge I had to shut my eyes- however I made it my mission on this trip to try to say yes to as many things as possible, and this most certainly paid off. The hours car journey was filled with some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen, despite absolutely pooing myself in the process. When we first got into the car , the sisters said a prayer, and if I had known what the journey would be like , I think I would have prayed that little bit longer, haha…

The wedding was beautiful, surrounded by rolling hills and sunshine , with every guest wearing bright colours , amazing. In the church men sit on the left and women on the right, on the floor, well all except me and the sisters as a ‘special guest’ I had a chair, which was right in the middle of where the women were sitting. Felt slightly obscure with 3 people on chairs, 2 of which being the bride and groom and then me, with the bride and grooms parents sitting on the floor not too far from where I was sat. Nevertheless, the service was beautiful and I met some truly lovely people. Many photos were taken , and I was asked to be in the official Family photo with the bride and groom’s family, I deffo didn’t stand out in that one at allllll…

After spending some time praying at the groom’s home we then set off back to Munnar. Sadly we had to attend a funeral as I was with all of the parish priests . It was for a young woman who fell off a school bus the day before. I don’t think I quite braced myself enough for how difficult this funeral would be. With the death being so recent, we entered the church to find the husband of the woman and her 2 young children hysterically screaming and having to be held down. Everyone in the room, including myself had a bit of a sob. That will most definitely stay with me for the rest of my life, so so sad and so hard to watch.

Sadly, Rejeena had to return to university.We had a little cuddle said our miss yous and promised to email each other regularly to compare exam stress at uni!!! As a leaving gift I bought her a nightie, which is what she wanted. She always laughs about all my belongings being pink, so of course I had to buy a pink nightie!! 😋IMG_2413

After an absolute rollercoaster of a day emotionally I was completely knackered so after dinner went straight to bed. Shanty bought me some snacks to my room to cheer me up as I was a bit shaky after the day, she’s such a babe.

Day 8 was not as busy. I returned to the school to do some teaching again and then spent the afternoon on the roof , in the sun reading. I am sat, in the sunshine , on the roof of the convent , where the sisters have planted lots of plants. If I look out to my left I see the tip of the plants in the garden and then the school behind that, from which I can hear the hustle and bustle of the playground during afternoon break. When I then look to my right I see a large bush covered in a plant called bluebell and then behind that the tumbling hills of Munnar , of course covered in tea plantations which form a sort of pattern. May I say, another proper pinch me moment there!! Sr.Shanty and I then went into town for our favourite – parrata!!! We went to a vegetarian restaurant, and ate our food off banana tree leaves, the food was absolutely scrummy!!!IMG_2714.JPG

Friday was a very quiet day. I spent the day teaching again in the school. Sr. shanty has a degree in Clinical Psychology, which she completed in Italy and she is also a qualified yoga teacher so she has agreed to teach me how to meditate and make chappatis whilst I will teach her how to make egg fried rice and how to use Facebook so she can reconnect with her uni friends. Friday evening was packed full of meditation and chapatti lessons- pretty perfect evening in my eyes…

Saturday was by far the best day yet. Shanty decided that we should have a day out to explore , as she rarely gets a chance to get out as she is in charge of the orphanage. So one of the fathers of one of the children in the school picked us up at 10am and didn’t drop us home until 7. We spent the whole day driving around the mountains in his TukTuk which is now by far my fave method of transport. (Prepare for looooads of pictures here)

We first stopped at a view point, which is so high up that when there is no cloud you can see the city of Kochin, which is a 5 hour drive away- madness!!!

We then drove to have some tea and a mid morning snack where we also saw lots of monkeys 🐒 . I think the only way I can describe how amazing the view was from this cafe is to buy each and every one of you a plane ticket so you can see sit for yourself, although the pictures are beautiful, they simply do not do it justice…

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After visiting some Gorgeous natural waterfalls we had a short Jeep trip down the side of the mountain to a gorgeous spice garden, around which we had a tour, explaining all of the medicinal properties of various spices. As we were standing talking about Passion fruit and how it grows one LITERALLY fell from the sky, like I kid you not, bam. So we opened it up and ate the seeds inside , so so good. IMG_3741.PNG

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The rest of the day consisted of ELEPHANTS, (and having an almost debate with the man from ‘elephant world ‘ about why I was refusing to ride one as I think it’s cruel) gorgeous views, lots of eating different fruits straight from the tree more waterfalls, and a new career choice for me as a TukTuk driver , (apparently im perfect for it )all in bright sunshine, god I love you India!!!!IMG_3069IMG_3070.JPGIMG_3109.JPG

Today,  Sunday, I was woken at 6:30 for morning mass by Sr Shanty who brought me the most gorgeous cup of masala chi to make the early get up slightly more bareable. As I mentioned in my last post, on Sundays we attend mass at the Parrish church, which was lovely. Today , Sr.Gracy, Sr.Shanty and myself had a mother lush day out, similar to yesterday  but again absolutely amazing and to top it off I ate a whoooole chillie for my lunch, and survived to tell the tale…IMG_3641

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(The Hills are alive ???)

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And breaaaathe…

Days 4 and 5…

Hello From Munnar…

I will try my best to pick up where I left off and hopefully this time with pictures too…

After my last post , I headed into town with one of the sisters to buy 2 Sariis and one dress. (I now look like such a local haha)

To get to town, we travelled on the school bus with the children who were heading home, what an experience, never have I ever seen so many people in one vehicle, there were at least 3 people on each seat for 1 and we stood in the aisle , crammed in with many others who were also standing. As we went round the corners we would all fall like dominoes in the aisle , Laugh, stand up and one moment later they would all fall again, safe to say my balance and upper arm strength is pretty minimal. As we went, the students all sang prayers in a call and response , similar to our ‘Everywhere we go ‘ .It is so funny, every child when I see them says ‘Hello how are you’ or ‘Hi beautiful how are you doing’ even the 3 and 4 year olds and they all wave and when you wave back beam the biggest smiles, simply lovely.

When we arrived in town I changed my money into Rupees and then went on through the markets to buy my outfits. For three outfits it cost just 3000 Rupees which equates to about £30, for gorgeous high quality outfits, I could do with these prices in Topshop, haha!

Saturday was easily my favourite day so far. There is no school so everybody is so relaxed and happy. As usual, we woke for mass at 7 am and then had our breakfast. After this the sisters have an hour to relax or do their chores, then from 9-4 all of the staff from the school will pray together. As I was cleaning my room at 9:30 I was greeted by the most beautiful music and it turns out that they sing their prayers , all day.  The convent was full with people, laughter and music , all day.

At 11 I had tea with the head father of the Parrish and 2 younger men from the church. One of these men has a brother who , with his family moved to England many years ago. He now lives in Blackpool with his wife and 2 children. After this , I returned to my room to read and heard a knock on my door , it was one of the sisters with this man who had his brother on the phone to speak to me, bless him.

After this , sister Rejeena gave me a Sari lesson and she did my hair how Indian girls wear theirs, I received many many compliments on my hair that day, I also wore my dress, so I fitted in perfectly.

For lunch, I had rice with vegetables and gravy ( Avery different to our gravy may I add!!) , then I decided to return to my room just to lay and listen to the music, this deemed to be so relaxing that after 10 minutes I fell asleep for 2 hours – gosh I am turning into my mother.

The sisters suggest that we sleep after lunch every day to refresh , and this certainly worked , I woke up feeling a million dollars…or Rupees should I say?

With afternoon tea I had Pathida, with Jack fruit, so yummy !!!!!!  This is like a fried sweet circle shaped..thing… I can’t explain, but nevertheless it was so so yummy, I hope we will have this again 🙂

Today is Sunday, so this morning we attended mass with the people from Munnar at the parish church. I woke at 6:30 and got ready , then we had breakfast and at 9 we left and walked into town to the church. In Munnar there are 3 hills surrounding the town, on one hill sits the Muslim mosque , on the other the Hindu Temple and on the 3rd sits the Catholic Church, where we attended mass. The sisters told me about how the 3 religions live together in harmony and even celebrate together at Christmas. It is so nice that this is the case, everybody respects everybody which is just perfect.

As we climbed the steep steps up to the church , there was loud music playing from all 3 places of worship, somehow they all blended to form such a lovely bustling sound, I had to stop for a moment to take it all in , surrounded by beautiful smells, music and the gorgeous tea plantations, I just felt so grateful to be here, one of those proper pinch me moments I must say!!

The service was beyond beautiful. Very different to our services , but also similar in some ways. At the beginning of the service , 4 boys walk down the aisle , one of which swings the most gorgeous smelling insence which slowly fills the room. The atmosphere was immense , even though I could not understand a word they were saying. Hung around the whole church is a long trail of Rosary beads, 53 sets to be precise , the longest In the whole of Asia. The 53 represent the 53 family units in the Parish.

After mass , sister Rejeena and I stopped in a shop to buy some henna and bindis, again I was shocked by how cheap these were. When we returned back to the convent , we had tea and then I went on to help , in the kitchen. Sister Gracie came in and handed me a mango, and taught me a new way to eat them. By biting a hole in the top and sucking out the fruit, this shows just how ripe the mangos are here compared to the hard ones we have at home!!

After lunch, I helped make tiffin in the kitchen with Sister Gracie and Sister shanti. We made beaten rice , which is like squished rice , with cumin , coconut and a plant which tastes like sugar, with tea and lemon. The girls came to the kitchen and have me some ribbons for my hair , as like them , I wear mine in 2 plaits and they tie theirs with bright ribbon so from tomorrow I will do the same.

Then, after our Tiffin, sister rejeena did my henna for me on my hand, it looks absolutely amazing. I have told her that if she stops loving chemistry she should be an artist haha, but I think if I was getting nearly 100% in a chemistry degree, I would stick with it too.

Tonight I ate with the sisters, we had black beans and rice with mango, as I was sat in my bed , Sister Gracie and Sister Shanti knocked on my door and gave me 2 beautiful Shawls which they bought me as a gift. I feel so overhwelmed by their kindness. I can not belive how quickly time is flying by, I am just trying to grasp as much of it in my fingertips before it flies past and away from me, I must take more time to just stop, breathe in and appreciate how lucky I am to be here.

Clarrie xxx

Days 1,2 and 3…

Hello from Munnar, India!!

I arrived at the airport at 3:05AM on Wednesday morning and was met by the lovely Sister Stella and Sister Rejeena. We then travelled to the provincialate where I slept for one hour. I woke and was offered bread and curry with Dahl ( a lentil curry) for my breakfast. We were then met by our driver Abra-Chetan (Chetan translates as older brother).

Sister Rejeena joined me for this long drive, in fact we have become good friends. She is 24 and studying BSc Chemistry, and has already completed the 4 years of study required to become a sister. We compared our degrees and she informed me about life in the convent. She is working at Munnar during her Summer holiday and one day would like to teach Chemistry here.  During the journey, we stopped to see a beautiful waterfall, a popular Indian tourist attraction. Here , I was given fresh coconut water which I watched being cut and drank from the coconut itself. (I have many pictures but can not work out how to upload to this computer so I will have to add these when I am home 😦 ) At the waterfall 7 different people and 3 families asked for a photo with me – Am I really THAT Blonde?!? I did wonder how many Facebook pages or family mantelpieces I will appear  on in the next few weeks -Haha!

Once I arrived at the orphanage , I was shown to my room and I rested for a couple of hours, I then had rice with vegetables for dinner and at 8pm I met with the girls in the boarding house. They are all so adorable, they performed a welcome song and dance for me and gave me a gorgeous hand-made card with a pink rose and a bouquet of flowers-Simply lovely (pictures to follow!!!!) They then spent the evening introducing themselves and each showing me a traditional dance.  The girls asked me to show them some English dance moves, so of course I taught them the dance to The macarrena, Saturday night and even how to dab, which happened to be their favourite (Mine too 😉 ).

After this I spent some time with Sister Rejeena, as she was leaving early the next morning to attend a ceremony 6 hours away where a young girl was being given to the church as a sister. Rejeena wanted to listen on my phone to my favourite music, she particularly enjoyed Barcelona by Ed Sheeran. Rejeena also particularly enjoyed reading my magazine which I bought for the flight. She was amazed by how different our culture is and by the clothes (or lack of) that all of the celebrities were wearing. We have swapped email addresses as one day I hope she will come to England.

The next day , I was woken at 6am by the sisters singing their prayers and meditating, as my room is next door to the chapel. At 7am I attended mass, which was in the local language, so I only picked up on the occasional Amen or hallelujah but nevertheless it was lovely. Following this we had breakfast with the Father who comes for mass.  I then had black tea and Pomegranate seeds for my breakfast as the sisters said this is good for an uneasy tummy.

I then spent the day teaching English to the 4 and 5 year olds in the nursery. We covered vowels, numbers up to 100 and alphabet. I must say, their English grammar was more impressive than some people’s who are my age, haha!

In the late afternoon I visited the market with the head sister to buy the fruit, Vegetables and Spices for this week. The town itself is overwhelming, never have I ever seen SO many people and cars in one place. We then travelled home on a TukTuk , which was fab, even if I did feel like I was about to fall out of the side as it has no seatbelts (Don’t panic Mum, I didn’t)

I had Jack Fruit with rice for dinner, a fruit which is grown in Munnar, with mango which is also locally grown, so yum!!

Again, I spent the evening with the girls in boarding. I shared with them the sweets that I bought from home, Skittles and Harribo Tangfastics. None of the girls were quite sure how to eat the skittles, but they all enjoyed them and there were enough to have a few each. Each girl took approx. 10 minutes to eat one sweet as they wanted to enjoy it properly, Will definitely have to post some more from home in the future.

Today, I have spent the morning reading outside and helping the sisters serve lunch to the boarders. For my lunch I had black tea with mango, rice and Bombay mix, I think my favourite meal yet.

This afternoon I am heading into town again to exchange my money as I have not yet found a oppurtunity to do this, and I am going to be measured for and buy a Sari.

Overall I am having the best time, India is hectic but beyond beautiful and every night I get a goodnight hug from over 50 girls in boarding. The atmosphere in the Convent is so welcoming and I feel grateful to have been able to meet such modest, kind, caring people, even if I am basically one big mosquito bite with legs, haha!

Write Soon,

Clarrie xxx

Setting up my travels to India..

And I thought organising a fundraiser for 100+ was tricky, however I can assure you that attempting to set up a blog is most certainly more difficult…

So here we are, this is officially my blog for India..

Where has the time gone?!?

One second its January and I have this impromptu idea of

  I want to go to India to visit the girls in Munnar this summer” to which my parents, family and friends responded (as they do with most of my on-the-spot ideas)

OK Clarrie maybe” yet somehow, unlike the “Lets go to Spain this weekend” or “We could totally go to New York in 3 weeks , student loan?” or even the “Lets be the first friendship group to all go to the moon together” , 5 months down the line, here I am writing my first blog post , 4 weeks prior to actually flying to India

Crazy Right?

I have been busy preparing for my trip, learning how to eat with my hands , and I am now the queen of tying (Tying, doing up ???) my sari, and Dad has even gotten involved, the neighbours must think we’ve gone loopy.

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So yes, as you can probably tell, I haven’t done this before but this my little spot on t’internet to keep you all updated with my trip to Munnar and with all my fundraising efforts.

Claz xxxx