Almost there - Almost to NGO land
Kanniyakumari Travel Blog› entry 27 of 37 › view all entries
I was going to be working in
On the way though, we stopped to pay respects at a coworker’s mother’s funeral.
I was tired, another 14 hour travel day, and dozed the last few hours in car. When I was a baby and couldn’t sleep, my parents put me in the car and drove me around the block to put me to sleep. I blame that conditioning on my current vehicle-narcolepsy. Whenever I’m in a car, boat, plane, train, and occasional motorcycle, I fall asleep. So again, struggling stay awake, I relented and passed out.
I woke up just before Kanyakumari.
The next day I met Henri. Henri is the Executive Director of the NGO, my supervisor, and Cynthia’s husband. He is a man of great stature…he’s 6’4. He has a commanding voice, a keen eye for detail and analytic dissection, and when he sees something he disapproves of �" he lights into it with a thundering voice, some belittlement, and constructive criticism. I initially was very surprised and taken back. I though, shit! This is going be my supervisor, I hope I don’t screw up! But I soon realized that he did not act out of malice, he just expects everyone to give 100%. He isn’t angry, just passionate. Henri warmly welcomed me to the NGO with a huge bear hug. I will learn a lot from Henri and this organization, and I really hope I can endure his wrath should it befall me.
I attended the strategy meeting for 3 long days. There were approximately 50 people there. I tried desperately to remember everyone’s name, but by the end, everyone started looking alike. They all wore similar haircuts and mustaches. I took to writing down the names in my journal, my personal cheat sheet. I met the interns working at the NGO �" Riskhan, Jihvantha, Yosodara, and Salma. They have since become my closest acquaintences. Anitha and Ananth are staff, but also part of our little group. The meetings were held mostly in English, but some Tamil also. I required a translator for the Tamil. I also quickly realized that no one understood my English…which is really strange because I thought I spoke it relatively well.
By the end of the third day, the end of the strategy meeting, I was wiped. I already had pulled an all-nighter, was running on an average of 4 hours of sleep/night, still living out my bag, had not done wash since before Mumbai. That’s when I learned that the planning meetings were beginning the next day… Another 3 days of grueling meetings putting together concept and program plans for the next 6 months and the NGOs plan to go national.
Long nights blended together as I stole sleep on the floor cot while my other two roommates took the bed. It was my choice. I was really hoping to get some yoga in, but lack of sleep and crowded room was…unsuitable.
The interns were given a reprieve for one day, and we took advantage by going to the Vivekananda Statue and temple off shore. A short boat ride, in the rain, and we were there. For a few hours we played and explored, before jumping back into meetings. But made for some good photos and a much needed break.
Valentines Day fell during the meetings. It’s not a big holiday here, and so meetings carried on as usual. One thing that always struck me as a bit…”weird” (not that it’s culturally correct to say such things) is the male to male affection. One hardly ever sees a man and women hold hands in public, certainly never hug, and kissing, well that is reserved for Bollywood movies and fantasy.