This has been a week for taking leave of people here. Signing off with my local shop keepers - very strange, when what I want to do is shake Kiran’s hand and say thanks so much for being a friendly face every morning and having to make do with a very formal When are you coming back? How long is your flight? dialog. Muna, my local tiffin walla isn’t here just now so it looks like I have missed him. Then I’m sending off my favourite sabzi walla with a small puja thank you tip plus a plastic waste basket and a plastic food container :)
Next it was over to Sanghamitra’s parents house for the usual chai, chat, biscuits and cold drinks. Her mother’s Oriya is very clear and I can hear more and more of it. She has always made me welcome in their house. My poor attempt at an appropriate thank you for this gets smiles but the message gets correctly translated by Sanghamitra. Next we head off to the market to buy a petticoat for my sari – gosh when was the last time I wore or even owned a petticoat! We collect my sari’s blouse from the tailor but oh dear it is far too big round the under bust line and rides up over my boobs when I move so it has had to go back for re-stitching on the eve of my last day. Will it be ready? Of course, this is not the last minute, this is India :)
Last night was spent with Sushila my landlady and daughter Rinky drinking her chai. Everybody's chai is different – hers is made ginger and cardamom, Sanghamitra’s is made with black pepper and bay. Mine adds a touch of cinnamon to the ginger and cardamom. All are different and all are very nice. The tea connoisseur has turned into a chai connoisseur!
Rinky is receiving the remnants of my nail oil, cream and polish along with my chair. Ok I am spoiling her I know. Her mother is going to get the pestle and mortar I inherited from Hilary as a thank you for all her chai and Oriya lessons. Everything is either being flung out as rubbish or packed up and stored by my NGO for subsequent volunteers along with the fridge. Unused food is going to the Old Age Home, and old but perfectly acceptable clothing is being found an appropriate home.
Amidst all of this I have had to try and get my Exit Permit arranged. This was complicated because I queried their wording, which seemed to me to indicate that I had been granted my visa extension, whereas I really have only applied for it. Then there was much confusion as the Superintendent of Police was not available to sign, so his deputy did. Then the local guys were very reluctant to give me the one with his signature on it as it would not match the other documents and their messages to officials when I hand my exit permit over at Mumbai. Trying to convince them that i is perfectly acceptable for the deputy to sign on the SP’s behalf just goes against the typical Indian work practice of having only one centralised authority to whom everyone defers and waits for decisions from. So I ended up with 2 exit permits :) That was yesterday. Today at 5PM we get a call lease come back to the Office and collect a 3rd exit permit, this time signed by the SP.
My last day saw me working to finish off some things with Mr P. This week saw usual power cuts being rivalled for inconvenience by the fact that we changed our Internet account and so ended up without any net for 4days waiting for the telecoms people to properly connect our new account
Sadly I did not manage to get back over to the Old Aged Home to say my farewells there as the office had arranged a picnic lunch out of town by the river. So the CHILDLINE Team, and the main office staff headed out and set up cook pots on an open fire and dished up a delicious chicken curry, aloo gobhi, rice, dalh and salad. So much food! I was glad the farewell did not turn into a formal one, with Indian style speeches. It was nice and relaxed, much more me.The local spot is a prime picnic spot at this time of year for Rayagada residents, being near the river, with trees for shade and the local kids make money bringing firewood to picnickers and washing up for them. I was pleased to see that we fed the boys who had helped and that as they were eating they were quietly but effectively told about CHILDLINE in their own language.
So this is my final post from Rayagada which has been my home for the past two years – I will not forget you.