Follow the blue arrow.
So, there it is. My trip to India has just taken a massive step on the journey from intention to realisation! Three months in West Bengal and Nepal, beginning in February, most of it working in a group of schools that are supported by a British charity! Today, I met with Anthony, who started the Mondo Foundation some twenty years ago and Hirsh, one of the Trustees who has special responsibility for the work in West Bengal. Both are charming, committed and articulate – our lunch-time meeting in a Nepalese restaurant by Euston served up a feast of anecdotes, character sketches of key personnel, stories of successes (and failures) and some pretty quick corrections on any of my ideas which they deemed unhelpful.
And I have to say that I really admire and am very inspired by what they are doing. It’s all about providing funds and help for specific projects that support the growth and improvement of locally run village schools in the Himalaya foothills, on both sides of the India/Nepal border. (e.g. new buildings for the schools, teacher training, work-packs for the children).
And what will I be doing? Yes, I will be doing some teaching – more on that in a later post – but most of my time will be spent on establishing an agricultural programme to provide extra, independent income for the schools and a new stream of educational opportunity for the children. By the standards of Oxfam or Save the Children, it’s very small, but the assistance it provides to the villagers in their commitment to their children’s future is massive.
And of course, I will also get opportunities to explore and get to know the area and visit local places like Kathmandu, Darjeeling and Sikkim, as well as the cities I am likely to travel through – New Delhi, Poon and Kolkatha over the three months I will be in India. It looks like being a very exciting time, with lots to do beforehand, the wonders of which I will blog, on the way.
At last, the house is sorted (don’t look at the back of the garden – when I said,”house”, I meant it) the last of my work commitments is complete and the first steps on the road to a business start-up next year have been taken. It’s therefore time to get serious about my dreams of visiting Granada and the Alhambra in Southern Spain.
The Alhambra Palace
Now, I don’t know about you, but for years, all my holidaying has been done by either car (within the UK) or plane (anywhere else). The result is that my personal globe is made up of small spots of intense, concentrated experience asurrounded by huge tracts of vague impressions from scchoolboy atlases, national geographic and others’ travel stories. As for the journeys between, they tend to involve long periods of intense concentrated discomfort, surrounded by vague impressions of equally discomforted fellow passengers, cramped toilets and films on too-small screens that distract but (largely) fail to satisfy.
So, this time, I am seriously considering a land route – having listened to my friend Macarena’s advice about coaches and spanish roads, it will probably be the train. Current thinking is to go in the last two weeks of November, making sure I have time for a week, at least in and around Granada, with stops in Paris and Madrid on the way there and/or back. But I’d really like to spend part of the time there in company… who can I ask?
How about you?