Sunday, 22 October 2017

 Final week in Tansen

Despite being in Nepal, or rather because of it, I organise training in a meticulous way trying to ‘cover every base’. It’s exhausting and, as Saran has gone to Bhairawa, I’m on my own but it all gets done by 6 pm including Nepali copies of the programme. I feel quietly confident that there is enough input from me as well as activities involving the teachers. Sagar had asked that a teacher attend from a non-twinned school and I was happy to oblige. The school is in a poor village by the Kali Gandaki River and the people rely on boating and fishing. That brings the number of teachers to over 20.
I arrived at the Red Cross building at 8, training to start at 10 but Nepali time … A good thing I did arrive early as Saran had a near miss on his motorbike (not his fault) and was running late. One person did arrive at 9.45, the others over the next hour.

The training was very tiring but went very well with all the teachers engaged. The focus was independent talk and writing. I insisted that the teachers do some short, paired narrative writing explaining that if they expect the children to write in class, then they should write too. The originality and diversity of ideas when given the opening paragraph of a piece entitled the box was great especially from Shiva and Sirjana from Bhalebas whose box contained an animated story book crying to be freed from the box.
Saran as always did a sterling job translating, Sagar also helped and gave a rousing speech at the end. I felt quite tearful saying good bye to teachers who are so kind and welcoming. Optimistically, I think that given the engagement and very positive comments at the end, that the teachers will use many of the ideas we discussed. Anyway I celebrated with a G & T at Nanglo West!

Saran relaxing

Our delayed trip to Bhutwal for resources should have started at 9 a m, it was then moved to 9.30 and the driver appeared at 10.30, he had gone with his family to Bhairastan temple 15 kilometres away, to do puja. He needed blessings as I had been cursing him particularly as Bhutwal is so hot and it’s important to get there early. Also our friend Sana was waiting for us at her home in Parbas on the way. Fortunately we spent a lot of time in the new department store which is air conditioned.

On the way back, Sama insisted we visit her new house to see her mum and have a cup of tea. This being Nepal and Tihar coming … we were served a three course meal! Very kind and very filling. In the evening, Janaki took the home stay guests out for a meal at the new Royal Inn restaurant located in a great position looking over the west of Tansen and the valley – I could only manage a beer.

The next day I went to the municipality building where Sagar had arranged a meeting with the deputy mayor and the chief planning officer. It was a positive meeting in which I outlined our work and our plans for a Resource Learning Centre. The deputy mayor was very interested and said she would look into the possibility of helping re funding for training. Of course we can’t move forward until we have some concrete funding from the UK. However, it seems the new administration have a very positive outlook.
I quickly updated Saran before he set off on the long trip to Gorkha to visit another twinned school – too far, too time consuming and expensive for me to go. Part of the journey is by cable car and foreigners are charged a lot more than Nepalis. Saran would be met by a teacher on a motorbike when he got off the cable car in Manakamana.
I was planning to go to the fishing village on Monday, relying on the village chairman to take me there – when he was contacted as he hadn’t turned up, he said he was too busy. Such a shame for me, and for the school, as the head teacher seemed really keen. I had no more time and couldn’t justify the cost of a jeep just to take me. Instead I visited Bimala, Dan’s wife, sadly her elder brother aged 54 had passed away having suffered cancer. He was also Saran’s uncle.
After breakfast at Sagar’s house, I went to say my goodbyes to Saran’s parents who are the kindest and most modest of people. I will really miss Mrs Saru’s cooking and Mr Saru’s wide smile and twinkling eyes. They have fed many volunteers at their little ‘canteen’. I was ambling back to the homestay at 11 o’clock to finish packing to get the 2 p.m. bus to Pokhara when I had a call from Dhani to say the bus was cancelled.  I should hurry as I would have to get a bus from Barthung at 1 p m with a 20 minute drive to get there! Mad scramble and once again a rushed goodbye to Janiki who had tikka and flowers for me. Will miss our long chats and warm jokes.

Knitting Didi - never uses a pattern - always the same style!
So farewell to Tansen for another year. It’s tough leaving but Saran and the bright lights and German bakery in Pokhara await.

(Lots of exclamation marks in this post but goes to show that even after so many visits to Nepal, it can still amaze and frustrate me! (And that’s another one)

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