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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sorting the problem - Hostel move

On my last note, I was in the hostel from Hell. On this note, I’m in a much nicer place. A week ago, I came close to leaving Kayamkulam, and I was even seriously contemplating leaving India – all because of the hostel I was meant to stay at (if school had their way), for the next 8 weeks.

After sleeping in that place for the first 2 nights of being back in Kayamkulam, I went to school on Monday morning (the 19th). It was my first day, but I was a wreck. I’d already made a deal with myself: I wasn’t going to teach any classes, until the accommodation was sorted. So, arriving at school, I went straight to the head mistress and told her that if there weren’t going to be any changes in accommodation then I’d be leaving. I wasn’t snotty about it, I was calm, honest and… desperate for a way out of ‘prison’. They were so helpful, they listened to me… and saw my desperation as I sat there in the office, almost depressed… I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t put on a smile and I didn’t want to see the kids – who were way too interested in seeing the foreign teacher again. Nothing made me want to smile… I just wanted to hide and I wasn’t even ashamed for the fact that I was having such a strong negative reaction and ‘becoming a problem’ for the school. Because, in my confused daze, my mind was already leaving Kayamkulam and I didn’t care what others were saying or thinking.

But, but but… they weren’t going to let me go, just like that! Nope. They were finding a solution for me… I didn’t know if that made me happy to stay or if I would’ve been happier to go. At that point, all I knew was, I had to move, that very same day. The management discussed eagerly in Malayalam what to do and where to put me. They probably also were trying to figure out why I had gone temporarily loopy (I don’t understand the language, but I can only imagine their disbelief). Anyhow, after some discussions and phone calls, suddenly they were able to offer me something better! Which was a shock, because on the first day they told me that there was no other hostel in town, and that the hellish hostel was the only place for me. And now, that I was about to leave, they suddenly had received news of a better place… Humm… I’m not too sure if that was really the case or if they remembered me as being the ‘push over’ – 18 months ago – who would always say that everything was good, fine and dandy, whether or not good, fine and dandy were the feelings she was feeling. Maybe they remembered her, and had presumed/hoped she’d not have changed. But, to be honest, I haven’t a clue what they were thinking about me or about the hostel. All I can say is that they got their act together and sorted the accommodation. And half an hour later, I was brought to see another place and instantly jumped at the chance of having my own room in a new hostel, that’s bright, fresh, clean and spacious. The warden (who is the lady who manages the hostel) is actually the same lady who was in the hellish hostel, 18 months ago! She was working there when I was ‘suffering in grime’ last year. She’d quit from ‘hell’ and had moved herself to something that was starting to resemble ‘heaven’ to me. It was nice to see a familiar face…

That same day (still the 19th), I moved my stuff from one hostel to the other and I couldn’t believe how relieved I felt. Life was light again, I could smile, I could see clearly. And, even now, I can’t quite explain how or why that first hostel sent me so crazy inside my head… and I’m unable to grasp what happened to me, between leaving Sasthavattom school on the 17th and arriving at the new hostel in Kayamkulam on Monday the 19th. But trying to find reasons and answers, was, and still is, only tempting to disturb the peace that has returned, ever since settling into my new home. Instead of seeking answers, I was finding myself trying to focus on teaching classes that I hadn’t been able to prepare, whilst having high fever and a massive cough.

Because, of course, the emotional stress brought the virus back, - the one I thought to have beaten, before leaving Sasthavattom. It was trying to knock me down – but it failed. Because I struggled onwards and continued to go from class to class, for the remainder of the week. I needed to make the best first impression I could – and I wasn’t willing to become known as the ‘foreigner who is a constant problem’. I didn’t go to the doctor again. I was reluctant to take anything… Until my voice nearly disappeared after 3 days. Then I gave-in. I accepted medicine and just wished to rest…

From Friday onwards, thankfully I got the chance to wind down, to put the whole emotional fiasco into perspective and to settle into my new home, and beat the flu and cough at the same time. That’s when our Christmas holidays started… I was to have 10 days leave apparently… With that notion in mind, I was adamant to spend the full week in bed so I’d be fresh and fighting fit, from the 2nd onwards (which is also when school reopens). But what happened? Instead of spending 10 days in bed, I spent 2 days (the 25th and the 26th) resting… UNTIL the phone rang on Monday night, at 7.30pm. I was told I’d be teaching vacation classes from the following morning and the classes would last for the remainder of the holidays! Noooooo!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn’t believe it… I hadn’t prepared anything, I hadn’t expected that at all and my health was not in anyway fit to think about teaching and jumping around with a group of kids who expected me to be the fun and active teacher that would make their Christmas vacation classes a lot brighter.

Well… What could I say, only: “Okay, it’s fine…” And that was that – after all they’d done for me the previous week, how could I let them down? So, I’d just grin and bear it… Then it was simply up to me to get my head into gear and my body filled with some extra energy and teach as best as I could and fight the bug at the same time.

At first, I wasn’t too sure if I could do it. But, so far so good… Because I’m doing it! I just proves that, of course, when we seriously put our minds to doing something, we can always overcome anything that’s an ‘obstacle’. Something will always click and we can get on with the job (simply by telling ourselves to stop being such a ‘winge-bag’ and do the duty we promised we would do). Those are the more harsh words that we (or I) can use, if the obstacle is more of a challenge to get passed.

Anyhow, back to what’s going on now… For this week, there’ll be no rest. And now I’m only hoping that I’ll start feeling better, before next week, because then I’ll have a busier schedule. Otherwise I’m not too sure what will happen… Some doubts are in my mind, in regards to what to do ‘long term’, if I can’t get passed this. For now though, I’ll soldier on...

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