In early March VSO Volunteers and partner NGOs met in Puri for our annual Programme Area Review, part of the planning and review process of the thematic areas in which VSO works with Indian NGOs. It was a great opportunity to meet people from the various NGOs, to reconnect with the group of volunteers I did my in country training with in Delhi in December and to meet March 2010's intake of new volunteers. In this last batch I found someone who is an Arabic speaker, so it has encouraged me to start on the mammoth task of learning some in order to converse with Ayisha, Ahmed's mother. This intake just goes to show how small the world can be sometimes, one of the newbies knows the lady I tent shared with on my first trip to Mali a few years back.
As the meeting was in Puri, by the sea, I took to opportunity to take a few days either side for bit of R&R. Hilary and travelled up together in a freezing overnight train and I spent the final day with jen in Bhubaneshwar. That me me very pleased I am not in a big city, much as I curse the traffic in Rayagada, the noise, husssle and bussle of Bhubaneshwar left me tired and glad to be home. having to take multiple shared autos to get anywhere, so much traffic, so many people.
For our time in Puri Hilary and I stayed in Z Hotel which I'd describe as dilapidated chic. But it is a lovely place to stay with lots of open space, very airy and cool, set just back from the main road and quiet! Our room had a balcony with sea view at 700 ruppees for 2 people it was ideal. I recommend it. Saunter 100yards or so down the road and you'll find The Honey Bee bistro, which serves great breakfasts, along with salads, pizza, coffee, freshly squeezed real orange juice - alll things volunteers miss :)
The Sun Temple at Konark,
the Jaganath Temple in Puri
and the Raghurajpur Crafts Village . We spent probably the best part of the afternoon at the village with only one family being told how they painted on silk and bamboo - much to the chagrin of the other shop keepers!
The Sun Temple can only be described as The Kama Sutra carved in stone. Our guide's English was good enough to provide vivid descriptions of the positions!
It was a lovely few days break away.