Hi to all subscribers of “Kargyak Times”
So, another week has just gone bye and we also rounded off the very first month (calendar month) of continuous operation of the school. It means we had to count kid’s missed lessons, late arrivals and other small problems. Those who know local conditions probably know how it works here. For those who have never been here I’ll sum up some of the local habits: time doesn’t matter - ‘meet you at 5’ might as well means ‘meet you at 7’ - in short it simply means ‘meet you whenever have time’. To feed the livestock is just more important and some school cannot disturb it. Washing is useless hangover. And louses? They are pets :)
Well, back to the results - first, I have to say that they shocked not only me but also Yega, Tibetan teacher who is more used to the local conditions. I’ll start with the bad news - we have two students who we saw only at the enrollment, but fortunately, only good news follow. Unexcused absence range from two to five days (and five is more or less exceptional). As for the late arrivals, Tashi with nine of them holds the record. Fortunately, he’s an exception and I have to say that after we talked to the parents last week, he’s been trying really hard to make it to school on time. Then we have four kids who didn’t miss a single lesson and even have no late arrivals! We rewarded these kids with small gifts, of course. As for the hygiene, we will probably never get rid of the bad smell but we haven’t had the louses here yet, however, we’ve seen a lot of bold heads here. All in all, it’s been quite a progress compared to the beginning when the school was completely empty in the morning and kids missed many lessons taking livestock for pasture. It seems that extra homework for late arrivals and constant stressing of how important it is to go to school and be there on time was worth it.
I shouldn’t forget to mention that the kids have been progressing also in other things - most noticeably, they really improved their knowledge of calendar! It may be surprising for someone but the locals do not use the same calendar as we do, they have their specific and very different calendar and it have to be said that knowledge of their calendar is not very useful for them because it is not used by the authorities in Indias.
I’ll probably disappoint those who expect a thrilling story of weekend hiking because Pyru, support from the Czech Rep., arrived this week and we decided to work on the building and to do some repairs with the material she brought. But, we’re in India which means that loooot of things simply just aren’t in stock and the rest of them is of veeeery low quality - we had to improvise a lot and it cost us a lot of effort and energy to do the necessary repairs (I even found it as challenging as hiking in the mountains). Four of us, me, Yega, Lopi and Pyru, spent whole Saturday working on the frontage of the building - it had been slightly blowing through several little cracks. I do not want to do any harm to the good name of our designers and builders but “the comrades from NDR must have done something wrong” (it’s quote from the Czech bitter-sweet popular movie about the bad old days of communism) because the frontage is not sealed very well. Pyru therefore brought construction foam which we awaited impatiently as solution to all our problems :) As I said above, conditions in India are very specific - it means that she managed to buy only four cans of the foam which was enough to stop up only 1/7 of all cracks. As we used up last can of the foam, time to show how resourceful we are came. As I said before, there must have been a slight construction error but the conditions here are so harsh that it is hard to say whether it was possible to predict such complications or not - the wind often blows straight against the frontage at speed of 8 meters per second. Back to work - we used up the foam to fill in areas that were difficult to get to and Lopi fixed the big holes with mix of dirt, yaks droppings and God knows what else. Then came the try of the year - we attempted to cover the most problematic parts of the frontage with plastic! With some difficulties we managed to do it - and it took us “only” 5 hours :) The truth is that from the aesthetical point of view it slightly disrupted natural look of the building - unfortunately we had no choice but to do it.
But you can calm down - scarf on the “face” of the building is not that bad because we used only clear plastic which is not that visible. At this moment we can just hope that it will stand the gusts of wind and snow. We probably didn’t violate the right air circulation because there’s been no unusual condensation inside so far. We had been working hard outside for 6 hours when I realized that the “European crew” must be catching up on the locals in terms of hardiness - all the time I was just in T-shirt while Lopi was muffled up in his sweatshirt and jacket. I had had to take a picture of that! :) But I don’t want to sound to macho - the outside temperature reached to 10 ºC which is pretty warm for Kargyak at this time of year. When the sun hid behind the mountain, we moved to work inside filling in every little cranny with silicon - at least of that we have plenty. Pyru washed the windows in the meantime so we had nice and warm view in the evening. Then I only answered zillion of emails from Surya and peacefully died in my bed.
On Sunday we were going to make bed for Pyru, small cabinet for kid’s shoes and to paint what necessary. It doesn’t sound like a lot but in local conditions it’s a very ambitious attempt - something like straight plank just doesn’t exist here. We started early in the morning. Lopi was working on the cabinet and I took charge of making of the bed. The work was proceeding pretty smooth even though we were as usually disturbed by the villagers coming here everyday to ask for help with something (like to treat the kid who burnt his foot and so on). Yega and Pyru gave us a hand so we were working really fast. First, we had to straighten the planks that were crooked like an airscrew - after a bit of violence we forced the planks to keep relatively straight. Then we learned Lopi how to cut them straight and we approached to the installation itself. Cool! It really works! The last thing to do is to get rid of the terrible mess we made. And yes, I almost forgot to mention what a great job Lopi did with the cabinet - it looks just perfect and we finally have place where we can put kids shoes and shoes of unexpected visitors (and there’s quite a few of them). When I asked Lopi to help us with the cleaning, he replied he would rather go home but even thought I knew he was tired I had to ask him again to help us to get rid of the mess. I tried to motivate him with upcoming dinner which, as I told him, he didn’t want to miss. Ladies and gentlemen - it took quite a while but for the first time I felt less tired then the locals. It was probably because for the first time in several weeks I wasn’t feeling sick. Anyway, the outcome of our hard work is that at this moment, 10 pm, the temperature in the corridor is 14 ºC while the outside temperature dropped to -5 ºC. It is difference of almost 20 ºC! The building therefore seems to work great so far, but, the biggest test is still to come during the winter so we want to be ready for it. We are going to make some tables and bunch of another little things tomorrow. We also have to go through all the stuff Pyru brought and sort it and then there’s still kitchen to be cleaned and stove to be build in....so it will keep us busy till Christmas, I think.
It is already after ten in the evening and I really don’t have energy to write something more, so, that’s all for today. “See” you in 14 days...