Friday, 24 September 2010

My day, yesterday.

I was asked about what my typical day is like. So I decided for 1 day to keep a record - here is yesterday
8AM - I don't use an alarm so waking up can be anytime between 6:30 and 8:30 depending on the quality of the night's sleep, my tiredness and time at which I went to be the previous night, and recently the amount of early morning builder's noise from the work on the upper floor of our house. It was all quiet this morning and I slept through.
I shower, dress, comb hair, the usual. I pick up and dispose of the night's gecko droppings. I take down and store any clothes which have been drying overnight.
I prepare and eat breakfast.
I refill my overnight water bottle and place in fridge to chill. My water supply is well topped up, so today I don't have to boil and filter any water. Just now I do this about twice a week, at the height of the hot season I was doing this every other day. To boil and fill my filter full takes about 1 hour and having pans of water on a rolling boil generates a lot of steam.  This morning is already hot, so I also make sure my metal water bottle is filled to take to work. I've started to not need to carry water every day now it has got cooler, but the odd day catches one unawares and the temperature goes back up to 33 degree C.
I check my shopping list. This isn't a day for my sabzi walla to call, and I'd been to the grocers only yesterday so no trip there was required today. Otherwise a shopping trip would need to be fitted into either this time or on the way home from the office.
So instead I do some work. Check email . This morning I prepared for my later meeting with Mr P. Throughout my placement I have been keeping an achievements log but I had not updated this since I got back a month ago, so updating that served as a good check on what I have outstanding with Mr P, what I am waiting to receive back from him and what we need to discuss this morning. As with many volunteers, and most NGOs, there is a bottle neck at getting feedback back on work completed. My efficiency level is much lower here than at home - it just takes so much longer to achieve something, all things move more slowly, all things require constant nagging and reminders to get a job completed. Trying to address the root causes of this in one's organisation is a  real challenge.
9:20 AM Leave house and walk to office
9:30 AM Arrive at office
BA, who is coming in just over a week's time, has returned comments she has made on two NGO documents, so I read these and reply to her email.
Morning hellos as everyone starts to arrive in the office. I practice increasing my fluency with normal greetings, questions and answers.  My Oriya daily word from B today is sampurna = completed. We have discussion about whether there is a difference between sampurna and sarila, there doesn't appear to be.
A parcel has arrived from  the UK. I hadn't open the others in the office but decide to open this one as there is much interest in what exactly is in these. A packet of muesli serves to confirm my attempts at describing my typical breakfast. Tins of sardines and mackerel are met with bemused looks when I say you eat it straight from the tin, cold, there is much discussion of preservation methods and eat by dates - 2015, really! Stock cubes are initially thought to be soup, this leads to major discussion about spicy v unspicy foods, about what exactly is a stew, how I like to taste the ingredients and not have their natural flavour masked by to many added ones.
10:30 AM I help Mrs P with a problem in Word. She is trying to produce labels to be used on the spines of project photo books and shows me an example. She is having difficulty with how to get text into a box in Word. A real easy problem to resolve. I take the opportunity to reiterate what we had discussed previously about good v bad photographs. I show her the first draft of the Shakti at a Glance/ Shakti Profile which was revised yesterday, emphasizing the need to augment it with the best photos we have. I use the technique of 'tell Mr P, Mrs P, re tell Mr P' quite regularly, it works :)
Mrs P brings up the topic of the Annual Report. I begin to show her a number of these from other organizations. We have been working this week on her Excel data visualisation skills so I take the opportunity to point out some good use of graphs within a couple of the reports by way of reinforcement. And give her a gentle reminder that she promised another blog entry on our PRI training camps for which she was graphing up the data yesterday.
Mr P joins us and we review several annual reports from Indian and International NGOs. This generates a good discussion of the pros and cons of their approaches, of what is liked and not liked in each, about the type of information and the type of photographs required for the production of ours. Opportunistic, this discussion, but it is a highly pertinent topic.
12 noon Meeting with Mr P.  We discuss the current emergency situation and the lack of doctors. The funding promised for 10 health camps in the villages we currently work in is insufficient to fund visits by a doctor from Rayagada Town. We discuss just how much we can do for the 47 villages in the affected area and the calls Mr P will be making this afternoon using the funders & suppliers contacts list I have generated over the last few days.  We discuss important v urgent,  about pragmatically drawing a line under some pieces of work and getting them off the to do list, of perfection v acceptable. We review preparations for BA's arrival, and the status of our other Short Term Assistance (STA) requests with VSO.
It was a good meeting. We end up with a prioritized work list, an agreement as to what will get completed this week by Mr P and by me; we have looked at how priorities can be established between conflicting demands on Mr P's time. I make a mental note to write up some examples of the time management methods we used for Mr P to refer to in the future. In addition, we have addressed some important questions about the upcoming Annual Report, in the context of desired goal of Credibility Alliance certification.
2:15PM Leave office and walk home
2:30PM Arrive home.
I wash my hands, feet and face. Sometimes I will take a full shower, but today as it is so hot I just need liquid, so I raid the fridge for a long cold fruit juice. I prepare and eat lunch. I wash up, tidy kitchen and wipe cooker clean, place the kitchen towels in to soak.  I unpack and store goodies bag contents, take picture and write thank you email to sender
3:30PM I sit down with a cup of tea and attempt the quick crossword - my once a week indulgence when The Guardian Weekly arrives! The brain is not complying and it remains unfinished after 30 minutes, so I change tact and write up this day so far for blog.
4:15 PM Back to work. I complete the final design work on organisation's business cards, letterheads, produce Word templates for business letters and begin work on design examples for the Annual Report. No I am not a communications specialist - but these are one off jobs which will help create a more professional appearance to the work of the NGO and give all the staff a greater sense of identity and pride in their NGO and its work. A good  feeling having another job struck of the list of things to do.
5:45 PM My landlady's daughter calls round on route to the shops. I send her of on an errand to buy more mosquito coils.  I light my last two, on in each room.
6:15 PM I spend a bit of time catching up with email from VSO, blogs, email and facebook messages from home, check ConstantReader book club bulletin board and write the second part of this blog entry.
7:00 PM I decide the shower can't be put off any longer. It has been a hot day, and the evening humidity is high, over 85%.
There's not much in the way of household tasks today just putting my clothes from last two days into soak over night. This will become one of tomorrow's jobs. I used to do washing on a Sunday, but for now the best way to get things dry in the rainy season is to have them hanging inside with the fans on, so that means doing washing in smaller amounts, every other day. I also have to wash my mosquito next  which I do about every 3 months, this should probably get done more often but I am rationing my supply of anti mosquito repellent for re sealing it. The other big household task is washing the floors and cleaning the bathroom,  which get done once a week, or slightly more often when the soot and dust deposits coming in the open vents and windows from the coal and ore carrying railway wagons really get to me, but again probably not as often as they should be done!
8:30 PM I prepare and eat dinner and wash up. Tonight I catch up on the furore over the Commonwealth Games debaucle. Other nights it could be an attempt at the cryptic crossword, or the sudoku, and some language work or some reading.
10:30 PM I take another shower - at the peak of the hot season I was showering 4-5 times a day. I head to bed with my Sony ereader and a copy of C J Sansom's Dark Fire, the second in his medieval detective murder mystery series.

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