Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sewa Ashram- Friday

At 8.30 on Friday morning 'Hornboy' picked us up to drive us to the ashram. With our limited communication skills we confirmed he would be taking us to the Sewa Ashram at Narela. After about an hour it became apparent he had no idea how to get to Narela. After a few wrong turns and asking a few people we soon found ourselves heading in the right direction. After 2 hours of eventful driving we made it to the ashram where we were warmly greeted by the staff and volunteers.
   Soon after arriving Ray got down to work with Kaye and Nino, while Sam, Hunter and I had a bit of an explore. We went down to the children's house where we got involved in painting a mural on one of the walls. It was so great watching all the children and some of the handicapped men all getting involved and leaving their mark on the wall.
  At the ringing of the lunch bell we headed back to the main ashram and enjoyed a lunch of rice, dahl and chapati. At the ashram, lunch always consists of rice with some sort of dahl and filtered water which has a flavor that will take some getting used to.
  After a quiet afternoon with an afternoon tea of  very sweet chai the kids and I headed to the kitchen to watch the evening meal being prepared. About 15 kilograms of flour was being turned into several hundred chapatis. Making chapatis  for around 100 people is quite a long and laborious task utilising about 8 people in a very well organised process. The kids and I all lent a hand in the last step of the cooking process which is the final stage of cooking and browning of the chapatis. The evening meal consists of a potato based vegetable curry with chapatis. The food at the ashram is amazing. The flavors are truly delectable and I look forward to each meal with anticipation. The food is all vegetarian except on Sunday night when they have chicken, and a paneer dish for the vegetarians. Having only three meals a day with no snacks aside from a morning and afternoon chai is taking some getting used to. An hour or so before lunch and dinner I find myself starving; it is not because the meals are small; the portions are very generous and larger than what I would normally eat. Ray is having the opposite problem; because he is eating a regular breakfast he finds himself not very hungry at lunch or dinner. We where told by several people that we were guaranteed to lose weight while in India; but as yet there is no evidence of any weight loss and I am not sure that there will be with these high carbohydrate meals. 
  After dinner everyone pretty much heads straight to bed as it is very cold. Hunter and I shared a room and Sam and Ray were in the one next door. I insisted Hunter have the bed under the window as it had a mosquito net and she is a mosquito magnet. She was not keen as there was no glass in the window and there were about 200 cows and donkeys crowded outside her window. They literally put there faces right up to the window and a sharp exhale can cause the curtain to flutter. It took her a little longer than usual to get to sleep and we were woken a few times during the night by the donkeys braying and the cows scraping their horns against the wall. And every 5 or 10 minutes we would hear a sound like a tap being turned on as they frequently urinated throughout the night. 
So that was Friday... our first wonderful day at Sewa Ashram!

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