The team left for the airport at 4:30am on Monday morning and headed to the airport. We checked in and passed through security successfully, and took our seats next to gate 5, where the bus that would take us to the plane would leave from.
Our flight was to leave at 8:30am, however when it got to 8am and our flight had not been called, Barney and I went to check the departures board- our flight was delayed until 9:30am. At this point we started worrying, as our flight took us to Delhi where we would pick up the flight to Heathrow- leaving at 1:45pm. Eventually we got into the plane and took off around 10am, landing at Delhi at 12:30pm, leaving us an hour until the flight left. After sprinting through half of Delhi airport we were nearly at the International Departures, and having found out that we did not need to collect our luggage (unlike in Mumbai)- which was a relief- we then found we needed to fill in a departures form to get stamped by Immigration.
After waiting nearly 10 minutes, we sent Sarah through first, and as each person went through we ran to join them. After more security checks we eventually got onto the plane just before 1:45, the last on the plane. Luckily the plane did not leave until after 2pm, but it was a close call.
Since my last blog we took the boys up to the YMCA camp in the Yelligiri hills, four days of fun filled games, craft and silliness- once we had taken the 12 hairpin bends…
Once the boys left we stayed at the camp until the following lunch time, and headed back to Chennai, enduring a puncture and a very long journey.
On the Sunday afternoon we had an extra long session at the Boys Town
before saying an emotional farewell and then heading out for dinner with Team B, and packing before three hours sleep before heading to the airport.
One of the thing we are missing the most currently is fruit- so we sent a couple of people down to one of the various shops that sell fruit, so we could all top up.
I do feel though that sometimes people think they can cheat with their fruit intake- many fruit juices and smoothies are currently being consumed…
Anyway- one of today’s great experiences was going and assisting in giving an English lesson to a group of young ladies and gentleman of whom do not know English, run by Oasis and Blue Edge. These people come from one of the slum areas around the building, and are trying to give themselves a better quality of life by learning English.
One of the problems, is that those who are in the poorest communities do not get an education- except if a school is run for free by a charity, like the YMCA. Although the official language in India is Hindi, and in Tamil Nadu it is Tamil, English is the language of business and education. Because so many jobs require a high level of education, the poorest cannot get those jobs.
Did you know that when you call your bank, or a call centre calls you up, and they are from India, the person you are speaking to has had an education up to degree level? Unlike in the UK, you need a degree in India to get a job at a call centre. This felt especially real, as on the road to the Boys Town (which is now in the middle of an IT park- use to be surrounded by fields!) you go past a massive building owned by HSBC.
Assisting these people with improving their English was the highlight of my day- although both Cathy and I (who were sharing an auto-rickshaw) nearly jumped out of our skins when several fire crackers went off in the road as we passed.
Interesting time we are having here in Chennai. Weather is good, but the mossy’s are certainly biting…!
In preparation for our various activities at the Boys Town and the trip to Yelligiri i was sent out (on Sunday) with Emma, Ellie and Charlotte to find and collect various bits. One thing we required was a piece of drainpipe for the game “splat the rat”. This meant I was then walking around Vepery High Street with a 7ft tall piece of pipe. For the locals, seeing a white person walking down the road in India with a drainpipe, is definitely something they don’t usually see everyday.
It looks like the Project Leaders think I like shopping, so off I went today (Monday) with Tasmin and Barney (who turned into Ellie after a while). We ended up spending 4 hours trying to get everything on our list- not easy as you can see! One of the more peculiar items were four pieces of sheet wood, and a larger piece measuring 1m x 1.5m. Trying to explain this to people is hard enough for normal items, but this took some time. Eventually we got taken to a shop that sold sheet wood by a great gentleman from our main shop, Gold Mine.
To cut a long story short, we sorted out what we needed at Gold Mine, and the wood was delivered there. Then the man in charge paid for us to have an rickshaw to deliver us and our items back to the YMCA. I had the great task of riding in this rickshaw holding this huge piece of wood aloft as we went back along the high street. Ellie and Tasmin followed behind- and it was a rather amusing sight.
Wow, what a fantastic start to this year’s trip. This afternoon we went to the Boys Town and saw the boys for the first time this year. Spent our time singing songs, playing games, and introducing ourselves- with lots of shouting, and some of that was from the boys, and not just us…
It is such a great feeling to see the Boys again- this is my 4th trip with Chennai Challenge, and I always get a fantastic feeling when going to visit the Boys.