Days at KGBV

I’ll be heading back to KGBV today.  I will go by train, my third time.  It is not exactly an experience that I look forward to.  There is no sense of chivalry here, no ‘oh please you first’.  It is definitely every man/woman/child for themself when venturing onto the train.  Seating and storing arrangements give a new meaning to the word ‘haphazard.’  No rhyme or reason, so for those of you with just a bit of OCD, India is NOT the place for you ; ).

If I were in KGBV right now, I would have slept ’til 5 am, then given a karate lesson to very enthusiastic girls from 5:30 am until 7 am.  Right now, at 7:49, I would probably be trying to get a bucket to take into an unlit shower stall for a quick washdown, all the while trying to ignore the spiders dangling in corners.  Don’t get me wrong – things are as clean as they can be.  But with open windows and such, difficult to keep the elements out.  After a shower, it would probably be time for breakfast:  four cups of puffed rice served with a soupy curry of garbanzo beans, or lentils, or maybe potato.  I eat on a mat on the floor.  I am the subject of much mirth at meals as I have yet to master the art of Eating With Only One Hand.  I make a mess always ; ).  Ah, it’s just the first week.  Give me time.

After breakfast, the girls start heading off to school in their blue tunic tops, white baggy pants, and a white scarf draped around their neck.  There is some last minute studying usually, and some prodding by some of the caretakers at the compound, and then they are off, and I hand wash my clothes by hand pumped water.  Again, the first day I did this, one of the project managers came up to me and asked, very sweetly and tentatively in broken English, “Uh, have you do this before?”  Well, yes, but apparently not to their way of thinking.  I was kind of bunching the clothes up and doing a rough kneading kind of thing that I had seen some of the other girls do.  The cook came over, gently pushed me out of the way, and demonstrated the proper method of washing:  big dousing movements in and out of the soapy water bucket, then again in the clean water bucket, then wrench all water out and hang to dry in the sun.  This method requires changing the water several times – but water is quite plentiful so there is no need for conservation efforts here.  Yesterday, I got an approving look from the cook; a small sweet victory for me here.

I spend the rest of the day coming up with the next lesson plan, figuring out which words I will need to know in Hindi, and then studying those words, and working through the drills.  There is also lunch time and two tea times, plus time spent conversing with some young ladies who have not gone to school that day.

The next karate class is from 4:30 to 6 pm.  The girls get out of school at 4, so they come back and change and are full energy and ready to go.  I really have never seen the level of intensity for karate knowledge anywhere as I have here.  I found out recently that the girls’ regular karate teacher who had schooled them for two years retired.  They have been without a regular teacher now for a few months.  So I am like a glass of water to a girl dying of thirst.  Exciting and intimidating at the same time.  I want to make the most out of the short time I have with them.  Yesterday I introduced the concept of shifting.  Today I hope to work on some balance exercizes.  I am also trying to get some of the staff – caretakers/teachers, project managers, even the cook – involved.  I’ve got one so far.  Eight days left.  We’ll see what I end up with by the end.


  1. Larry said,

    August 12, 2010 at 3:55 am

    Sounds like you’re having an interesting time and full filling a lot of girls wishes as well as your own. Has to be a great feeling knowing you’re making such a difference! Keep up the good work and just think how nice a hot bath and spa will feel when you get back :). Be safe.

  2. Sandykins said,

    August 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Good to hear your voice today. I miss you terribly. As I was saying when phone went dead, maybe the locals have a remedy they can suggest for the malady you mentioned. Joy and blessings my sister. Stay well, be safe. Keep in touch, it is the highlight of my days, to hear the joy, excitement and humility in your voice. My love to the girls, hug them for me.
    Mwah my sweets!

  3. Gertrudis said,

    August 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Rock On Belle!! Cant wait for the documentary on PBS! You make me so proud! …and to piggy back off of what Larry said, plus a deep muscle massage….

  4. Karey said,

    August 12, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I wish I were by your side, even though we’re strangers. I want to make a difference like you are. Right now my effort is through books. But I want to be out doing! Bless you. May girls know how important they are in this world.

  5. katie mckeever said,

    August 13, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    My grandpa always said: “nothing like a little manual labor to keep you humble”. I think washing clothes by hand counts, right. Any way I’m sure those girls will totally love any thing that you throw at them and learn it fast to.
    Just keep enjoying yourself:)

    Katie M.

  6. Belle said,

    August 16, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Hey, Katie, thanks for quote. All I can say is that I’m going to be really humble by the end of this trip. : )

  7. Belle said,

    August 16, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Karey, thanks for your thoughts and blessing. Means a lot. You’ll go forth and ‘do’ when the time is right for you, I have no doubt.

  8. Belle said,

    August 17, 2010 at 6:05 am

    Oh yeah! I’ll be needing one…

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