It has been quite an active week in Buldana starting with the arrival of my parents Pete and Rob to seeing the only basalt crater in the world. It’s been great catching up with some of our family members as we have been travelling now for over 80 days and home and work as we once knew it is becoming quite a hazy memory now. The girls have really enjoyed being with their grandparents especially being able to hang out and chat with someone else other than us (their parents!). We continue to stay on the more positive side of the fence this week – the glass is half full – in regards to wading through the end of the culture shock and finally coming immersing ourselves in what life has to offer here in Buldana. We still have the normal teen and tween attitudes on the road…if I had an expectation that our children would be and act differently while they’re on the road I’ve quickly got myself up to speed! Attitudes and behaviour are at times similar here to back home, it’s just that now we are turning everyday routine and normalcy on its head.
Mum and dad bought over a drone. Charlie and Ash pooled their birthday money together and finally got something they wanted to take with them from the very start of the journey. I’m sure Charlie and Ash will be uploading some amazing scenes in the coming weeks and I’ll share it with you.
On a more personal note, I’m trying to keep up with the amount of writing I’m wanting to do while travelling but I’m finding it a lot more difficult to achieve than I first imagined. Time disappears here too – the regularity of supervising school work takes up the majority of the week days although it’s now running smother than the previous 4 weeks and well I just try and steal bits and pieces of time to write from my head and onto the lap top to just get the experiences and thoughts and feelings down. Days turn into weeks and now weeks are escaping and transforming into months. But I am committed to getting most of what we experience and do here down into journal format…and the epic tale of our adventures maybe book form will come later. Social media also takes up a large amount of my ‘spare’ time and I’m making a concerted effort at marketing myself on that medium too – it’s an interesting journey in peeling layers of an online onion skin – there’s so many strategies to know! But I’m enjoying all of it, including an online photography course in an attempt to get the very best shots out my new camera.
Living in a place with zero tourism industry – absolutely ZERO – depletes our energy reserves and enthusiasm rather quickly and that’s where much of my time goes – organising the next thing to do and see and how that’s done. It’s no easy task organising and relying on others to get you around but we are managing it well and fortunate to have Dr Moses and a bunch of volunteers to assist us. But from the limited restaurants here to the shops and tuk tuks, being organised here in rural India is a foreign word. Nothing is consistent from one day to the next, not even a lime and soda drink! The unorganised world we find ourselves in impacts our motivational levels too, as we are waiting much of the time. It becomes a clash between nurture and nature – and the impact of our environment on us cannot be underestimated and requires some fine tuning and a willingness to adapt to the new and unfamiliar environment we are living in. Most days we do really well at this; some days are a complete mess. But it is a great experience to be living here just like one of the locals and has provided us all a different perspective on how people live in rural India.
Overall, living in rural India this week has run much more smoothly due to three main reasons: 1) the grand parent’s arrival, 2) being more active this week and doing more things, and 3) we are on the downward slope with only 3 weeks to go before we leave Buldana and move onto the next part of our journey: Spain.
So here’s a daily overview of what we’ve been up to this week:
Mum and dad arrived Saturday night, and Dr Moses invited them both to the preschool to a small welcoming ceremony. It’s a welcome ceremony for newly arrived guests (they don’t get that many throughout the year) so mum, dad, and I went to the preschool at 11am to participate being welcomed with garlands and posies and children singing and demonstrations of their English learning prowess. I’m still amazed at how young some of the students are – 2 and 3 years old. But it was a lovely way to see the preschool in action and for mum and dad to get some sense of the value placed on education here in rural India and the necessity to provide services like this one Dr Moses is providing to rural village and slum kids whose parents could never afford to send them to an English school anywhere else.
I posted a story about a meeting with Master A who turned up at the preschool to meet Dr Moses and have a discussion about assisting his shoe shining business and getting him enrolled into a Marathi Middle School in Buldana (story posted on the blog titled Shoe Shining 101 with Master A). We spent the afternoon talking with a 12-year old boy finds himself an orphan and alone in India – no parents and no school. Instead he shines shoes in and around the local law courts and chai stands where people with money and leather shoes congregate. If you haven’t had a chance to read this story I recommend you do – it’s an inspiring one filled with hope for a brighter future for Master A and an example of what small actions, time and a dose of kindness can make in their lives.
Since my parents assisted Master A with new shoe shining products, we have seen him numerous times working down at the law courts. Mum and Dad even took him to the local shop to but him new clothes – he chose a pair of dark jeans and a shirt. Steve and I saw him on a daily walk near our area of Buldana and we jumped into a tuk tuk and bought him some much needed shoes – a pair of runners. It is most likely the first time he’s worn shoes, hence the need to get a larger than normal size to accommodate his spread out feet and toes. He is just one the many sad stories of hardship children face as here in rural India. There is no comparing the resilience and independence Master A has who is the same age as our third daughter Billie. At times I just want a magic wand to make all the pain and trouble and hunger and missed opportunities – to vanish. But the world unfortunately doesn’t work that way, especially here. So anything we can do in a small way to make a difference is a welcome reprise.
In the afternoon we travelled by car out to Manubai village. The journey took over an hour to get there and it’s the village where Dr Moses’ mother Ayi was born. Her story of survival in her village is an amazing one where Ayi was the only child to survive beyond day four after birth. Six siblings before her died on day four. The reason for her living beyond day four of birth, depending on how religious you are, is tied to the missionaries who came into the Manubai village and provided healthcare, education, and a unique set of spiritual beliefs in a Christian God rather than the Hindu gods. Ayi celebrated her 80th birthday last Sunday with her family, the volunteers from the north eastern tribal states, and the eight people from Australia (us!). Considering the average life of a woman in India is 68 or 69 years of age, Ayi is living an exceptionally healthy and long life here in rural India. But then again, Dr Moses informs me that when his grandmother passed away, at what he thought was at the age of 104, his uncle shared at the funeral that her real age was 114!
Manubai village is a poor village that is home to about 2,000 people. As we walk around parts of the village, Dr Moses shares his stories of visiting this village when he was a young boy with his younger brother Vipul to visit family. At this time Dr Moses’ family lived in a township with access to services including power and water. Village life was starkly different and each day at dusk the village turned black and Moses and Vipul would cry to their mother Ayi to take them home in the morning because they didn’t like the dark. But Dr Moses says the morning came, and with the sun up all the village kids would play together with Moses and Vipul and they would forget all about the limited services at the village.
Dr Moses and his family members were from the untouchable caste class. Those on this side were deemed inappropriate scavengers and frowned upon. Untouchables would have to sweep the ground they walked on behind them, to rid the ‘untouchability’ of their footprints. Dr Moses pointed out to us the subdivision between lower and upper caste members’ homes – this side made from basic building materials, run down and broken homes and the other side larger, stronger built homes with more money put into the look of them. It was alive then when Moses was just a young boy, and the caste hierarchy is certainly alive and well now in rural India – it’s one of the unnecessary social and Hindu religious customs I would just love to erase from their society if I could.
The reason for visiting the village was not just to take a walk around it and be nosey, but to deliver basic health care to the villagers. Dr Moses, his sister Varsha who is a graduate nurse and works at the local government hospital, and the CBHP undergraduate nurse Rachana form the mobile health clinic team. This clinic, as the name implies, is mobile to meet the needs of basic healthcare in rural and remote parts of the Buldana region. Villages do not have their own healthcare facilities within, and rely on accessing healthcare needs from the nearby larger town and cities. Unfortunately, many of the villages do not have money, time or easy access to basic healthcare and therefore don’t access healthcare. Over many years Dr Moses has formed relationships and built rapport and trust with 10 villages and their chiefs who form part of his mobile health clinic route.
The mobile health clinic team set up their health service in a local hall or someplace similar, and the villagers come to have a free check-up or talk about any health problems they may be experiencing. Women, men and children come into the hall and are handed a piece of paper with their name and details on it. I was in charge of the weighing of the villagers and recording it down on their personal details. Most of the women weighed in around 40-45kg. Some were as light as 30kg! The heaviest men were 70kg, while the elderly men weighed about 40kg. There is not much meat on any of the village people and it is obvious that they are the very poorest of India – living and working in what feels like pre-modern times.
Dr Moses talks to them as he takes their blood pressure, while the nurses work out the medication side of things – basics like paracetamol, joint pain relief to more serious needs for high blood pressure. If a villager needs more urgent attention, Dr Moses can write out a referral to visit a neighbouring clinic in a town or he is happy to see patients from villages in his own consulting rooms in Buldana city. Most of the villagers live and work within their village and are less likely to venture out and travel over an hour by auto rickshaw (and pay) to Buldana, which is why this mobile health clinic is so vitally important.
Today was International Women’s Day and we had been invited to the nearby village Guiaan. We have visited this village twice before – once by ourselves and the other time with Dr James Wei. But today something was being organised around the celebration of International Women’s Day by the women of the village. Dr Moses messaged me in the afternoon saying we would travel to Guiaan at 4:30pm and that I was going to deliver a speech there! Say what? No one had given me any notice of this occurring, so I quickly grabbed my pen and notebook and wrote out my speech. After reading the amazing feminist posts coming out of social media I was flowing with enough ideas for a short speech (see story posted on the blog titled International Women’s Day).
We arrived to the always colourful sight of women and girls gathering on a mat outside of the Village Health Workers home. It was a small and cramped space but they all managed – as most Indians do in tightly crowded spaces. Young girls stood up and read out messages, some sang songs. Rachana, the CBHP nurse, read her speech to the audience and Varsha also delivered a passionate speech to the audience also. All eyes were alert and taking in the messages of equality, choices, support services. It seems women have a common theme around the world. Then my turn. It went well and I was extremely humbled by the experience to speak to these women and girls in a rural Indian village. As many of the readers are already aware, women and girls do not experience equal rights here – far from it. It is customary for a woman to be perceived and treated as a chattel – a product delivered from first a girl’s father and then to her husband.
It’s still such a shame to see very limited choices and therefore opportunities for females in India. In rural Indian towns, like Buldana, many of the mothers I meet do not work. As soon as they are married they are expected to stay at home, have children and look after the house (which includes husband, children, and in-laws). Village women do hard labour in farms or working on the side of the road splitting rocks for road construction. I am yet to fully understand the entire fabric of how this society ticks. Working is not expected of women; the only expectation is that they bear children and look after their husband – cook, clean, have sex! Husbands are the head of a family, and therefore control home life and the women in that family. It’s an interesting world to try and understand by experiencing it through living here in the culture. Yes, they have a long way to go, and I think surely they must see that men’s control over women must ease up. But for now I don’t think they get it yet. I look into the faces of all the young girls sitting on the mat in front of me, innocent and adventuresome and wonder what type of future is in store for them.
So what is these girls’ fate? At the moment they are all studying to become someone – but there is a struggle between someone they see themselves as and the something that their parents will be proud of. We ask the girls what professions they would like to pursue and what is mentioned back to us is doctor, police, doctor, police. This repeats from girl to girl – doctor…police…doctor…police. I’m left bewildered by the repetitive answers and I’m left with that sickening understanding that young girls here really don’t have a choice to become and do what their heart desires. Their destiny is tangled up in their family’s wish and desire for girls to be ‘good’ Hindu women. Families follow the customary trail of bringing up good and obedient girls who display a willingness to be subservient in their families and culture. It’s all smoke and mirrors here and I’m not certain I will truly understand the depth and layers of Hindu religion and culture before I leave. But I’m yet to find and talk with women who tell me they can have a husband and a career of their choosing. And that’s a sad place to be in 2017.
Today we ventured out in another direction to visit a brick making facility on the outskirts of Buldana city. We arrived to a middle of nowhere location that could be more called no man’s land with long straight roads going to nowhere and a dryness to the landscape that seemed to scorch the eyes. We did find the brick making place after asking for direction from a man on a motorbike, but the brick making facility was empty because it was market day. Market day was the one day each week where the people who live and work at the facility walk to a nearby village to buy food and goods for the week. There was one woman and her two young boys who spoke with Dr Moses and informed him of all this but she was more than happy to show us how the bricks were made so we followed her and wandered down to the brick making area.
To give you a sense of the place – it’s dry and dusty. There are two large pyramids of stacked bricks in the distance, one of those pyramids of bricks is billowing smoke and we watch the smoke rise up and disappear with the gentle breeze. In front of us are hundreds and thousands of grey bricks – many lying in neat rows drying in the sun, others piled up into block-like batches ready for transporting. The young woman, who is very pretty, peels back the thick yellow tarp that protects the wet soil for brick making damp. She squats down on her legs with ease and leans over and grabs clumps of the wet dirt with both her hands and places it in front of her on a fine ash powder. She starts massaging the wet dirt with the ash into a ball and kneading it deftly. Then she places the round clump of dirt dough into a rectangular tin and pats it down firmly. In just 30 seconds she has made one brick and the tin is turned upside down and out pops a perfectly rectangle grey brick with the trademark of the company engraved into the top of the brick.
The men drive the tractors and move large amounts of dirt while the women make the bricks and carry a large number of them stacked high and dry on top of their heads and deliver them to the pyramid kiln. It’s hard and dirty work. The people who work here are migratory workers – they move around the state and the country searching for seasonal work with their families in tow. The brick making work finished up before the wet season arrives, so these families leave their temporary homes and go in search of more work somewhere else. As a result of moving all of the time, their children do not attend school, and another generation of illiterate and uneducated brick makers are being created. We tell this woman, once we walk back to her little brick home, that she is beautiful. She laughs and says almost matter of fact it is so dirty here how could I be beautiful.
At her home we are invited to go in to see it for ourselves. There’s no door as such, and the temporary home is small and short. It’s made from bricks, built by them while they are here working for the brick owner and contains just two rooms – a kitchen and a bedroom. There is a small bathroom – I wouldn’t have called it a bathroom unless Dr Moses had pointed that out to me, but it has an open air feel about it without a roof and short walls made from bricks. No running water. No electricity. Nothing. We have interrupted the woman’s work of laying down cow dung on the floor of her entire small home. I notice a tub of soaking wet cow manure at the entrance and the wetness on the ground from the freshly laid manure. She tells is it takes about 20 minutes to dry. Then she will be able to set up her kitchen again and pull all the pots that are currently sitting on the tin roof down and start making dinner once her husband arrives back from the market shop.
We watch the two young boys run over to a dirt mound, and greet their father who is walking back carrying just one bag of shopping. He looks tired from the shop and shocked to see a bunch of foreigners standing around his home. He wipes his face with a folded handkerchief, the two goats tethered to the day bed move quickly out if his way and we notice that one of the goat’s limp awkwardly – its leg broken and a rope was tied around the break covering the leg as a splint. Life is tough here.
We have been invited back sometime next week before 10am to see the brick making facility in action when all the workers are present. So we said our goodbyes, the pretty woman even with nothing organised in her wet cow dung floor offering us a chai. We thanked her for the offer but departed waving to them as we climbed into the cars.
We leave the brick making facility and Dr Moses says we can drop in on an old friend who own and runs a farm just around the corner. The farm is 14 acres of land with crops of corn, lentils, cotton and herds of goats and sheep. There are two bullocks who pull a pre-historic cart made of iron (even the wheels are iron) and Dacey, Ash, mum and I enjoy a bumpy ride back to the farm house after a stroll up into the farm’s crops. The farm is owned by Dr Moses’ friend, a man who attended school and grew up with his younger brother Vipul. They kept in touch even though Vipul lived in abroad and New Zealand for most of his adult life, but would catch up each time Vipul returned to Buldana once a year to visit family.
The farm employs two workers and they and their families live in a small house located on the property near the main road and manage all the farm activities on a day to day basis. One of the workers picked corn right from the crop for us to take home, and we sat on the day beds under the shade of a tree while the sun went down enjoying the peaceful nature of being on a rural Indian farm. We have been invited back for an afternoon next week to bring some snacks, dinner and drinks and enjoy them at the farm. I think we’ll take him up on his offer before my parent’s departure from Buldana.
Dr Moses has been trying to get permission for all of us to visit the local government run hospital for a little while now, and today was our lucky day! Dr Moses came over at about 11am with a huge victorious smile on his face announcing, “I have been granted permission by the District Commissioner of the Hospital to take you there to see the hospital.” It was a big win and we were to go immediately. However, Charlie still had 10 minutes to go until she completed her first hour-long Year 12 Health & Human Development SAC up in the far room of the apartment, and no one was ready plus my parents had left their hotel for a walk to Buldana city and I had arranged for them to meet us back at our apartment at 12:30pm. So Dr Moses jumped on his bike and went searching for them while Charlie completed her SAC and the other girls got ready to head out.
Dr Moses couldn’t track down my parents in Buldana, so we went to the hospital and left our home helper Ajwula at the apartment. Mum and dad would arrive in an hour and we could manage getting them to us at the hospital then.
We arrived at the local government hospital and walked into the Chief’s office. He was seated at a large desk with a bunch of papers in front of him and a number of people seated on the 20 or so waiting chairs lined up in front of his desk. A man dressed in white – a crisp shirt and pants with a well-groomed moustache walked around the back of the Chief, picked up the phone and made a call. I had to giggle quietly to myself because it looked like we were watching an episode from Seinfeld and I was just waiting for Jerry or George to appear from somewhere. The Chief continued signing the papers that were laid out in front of him with his pen. Then he’d look up and speak to Dr Moses who sat amongst us in the waiting chairs. They talked and the Chief wanted to know more about why we had come here and what Steve and I did and what year the girls were studying. He was shocked when he discovered that the four girls were our four daughters! He was also surprised to know that I also worked in a professional field and commented that, “men work here and look after their wives.” I laughed slightly to release my infuriating tension and just replied with a smile, “we do things differently in Australia.” Of course he asked us numerous times to make sure he heard it right, “you have no sons?” I felt like I needed to remind this Chief of a District Hospital that the reasons why you have a tragic ratio of 1000 men to 900 women is because of this exact attitude and belief that sons are more valuable than daughters. Where’s that magic wand???
He was gobsmacked when Dr Moses mentioned we were travelling throughout 2017 and that we had saved enough money to travel overseas and fund our trip. The little man in white reappeared carrying a tray of small tea cups filled with sweet chai. We enjoyed the chai and kept watching the scene at the large desk unfold in front of us: more paperwork and interruptions from people waiting to see the Chief. And then a friendly faced woman with a smudged red bindi and white uniform entered the room. She was introduced to us as the Head Nurse who would accompany us on our tour with Dr Moses.
Now I haven’t been inside many hospitals in Australia or anywhere else for that matter thank goodness, but this hospital was a little worse for wear. It’s hard to describe the look and feel of the hospital here but the best description was one of an old fashioned asylum with steel grill doors that had large padlocks on them. Downstairs was out patients; upstairs admissions in ICU, burns unit, dialysis, surgery wards, poisons, and many of the other wards hospitals have. It was confronting to say the least, especially walking through the female burns ward and realising many of their burns were sustained by the actions of their husbands.
The burns wards are gender separated containing not much else except metal beds with white curtains pulled around them for patient privacy. Dr Moses walked around to each asking the women how long they had been here and the percentage of burns sustained while we watched on with saddened eyes at the sight before us. One man was in a life-death situation with 70% of his body having been burnt. His skin was literally peeling off his body revealing the rawness of flesh. He was admitted yesterday and his chance of survival extremely slim. We watched him walk from his bed out to the bathing shed – a tin shed on the rooftop of the hospital where burns patients sit and are washed with warm water containing antiseptic, the peeling skin removed and then covered in white savlon and bandaged. Dr Moses says the women can be heard screaming from the pain in the bathing shed. I’d prefer to not wait for that one. We have seen enough.
In all burns situations the truth is more of a stretch of one’s imagination. Most are domestic violence incidents and the truth is buried in made up stories of ‘kitchen fire accidents’, ‘falling kerosene lamps’ and many other far-fetched stories that no doctor can quite get his/her head around. We met a 16-year old girl whose left leg was burned all the way from hip to ankle. She claims she ‘fell’ onto the fire at her home. But Dr Moses says many of these types of situations are the result of love affairs gone wrong. It’s a sad situation and a very sobering visit. Another 30-year old woman had been in hospital for a month already from her burns sustained all over her body. It was obvious it was no accident, but she nor her family members beside her bed spoke of what actually happened. Some just give Dr Moses a no comment. It’s common that unwanted women and wives are subjected to being set alight by a partner, husband or often angry mother-in law who don’t wish to be married to the woman any longer or have the woman in their family. This particular young woman’s chances of survival were also slim, with obvious swelling forming in her ankles, the result of kidney failure. All these people just lie in bed, motionless and quiet. Some sit up and just sit and wait, as the days and months of recovery go by.
We change wards and walk into the ICU unit where Dr Moses’ sister Varsha works. Varsha has worked at this government hospital for 18 years in all areas of the hospital. Today she mentioned that two cases of poisoning had been admitted in ICU – one a husband and wife who had taken poison and tried to commit suicide. The husband was in the Buldana public hospital while his wife was taken to another hospital due to the severity of her poisoning. Also a farmer had been admitted after the herbicide spray hose he was using on his farm malfunctioned and spurted poison into his face and mouth. He collapsed and started convulsing on the floor of his home, so his wife had to get an auto rickshaw from the farm and travel to the Buldana hospital.
There was also a child patient who had contracted TB, a young woman with a snake bite to her big toe, and people with fevers and all sorts of complaints. We touched nothing and moved around cautiously. Of course the staff were more than excited to see a bunch of foreigners on their shift and asked for photos and selfies as we walked around. It was a bit strange, but hey it’s rural India and we’re getting accustomed to these types of stranger than fiction occurrences. Mum and dad arrived to the hospital in a tuk tuk with Awjula so they too got to tour around the sombre place.
The final area of the hospital we visited was the birthing ward. It was located in another building in the hospital compound area. Three street pigs slept in the dirt just to the right of the entrance way as we walked in the front door. The birthing building was full of young women with tiny Indian bubs. We saw a two-day old baby weighing in at 2kg. They’re so tiny and quiet that my dad mistook one of the baby’s lying on a bed for a doll. There is a chart at the midwife station and when I asked what it meant we got a run down from the nurses while Dr Moses translated. This chart shows the number of births per day and month as well as the caste (class) of the birth. At first I thought this sounded like a bad chart of segregating caste, my initial thoughts were that lower caste members received less quality treatment. However, I am pleased to say I was wrong with my initial assumption and in fact the chart showed the number of births from people from the lowest caste the untouchables, tribal castes and BPL people (below the poverty line) so they can receive compensation from the Indian government – a birth payment of 700 rupees ($14) after having their baby.
Today is a special school event – the official Annual Gathering Function at Dr Moses’ Vidya Niketan English School. Steve and I are the guest of honour along with our family members currently staying in Buldana. This time round Steve was invited to make a speech in front of the whole school community of teachers, students, parents, volunteers and supporters. He did a great job and spoke spontaneously about the importance and relevance of education. The youngsters dressed up in various traditional costumes, sang and danced to music, even the volunteer teachers got out front and performed a traditional dance in their saris. Special awards for the pre-schoolers were handed out by Steve – attendance, neat & tidy, and performance. Mum and dad had purchased some colouring books and crayons and were invited to hand them out to each and every preschool child. Steve and I purchased 35 plastic tubes that are used to suck up coloured water on the festival day of Holi (which is celebrated on Monday and is an Indian public holiday). All the children were happy little kids with their gifts.
Dr Moses has had four volunteers assist him throughout most of the school year and he also handed out gifts as a sign of appreciation and acknowledgement. In attendance was also many of the Village Health Workers (VHW) who are at the coal face of their villages health problems and solutions. They are big supporters of village kids being educated early in all areas – ABCs, 123s, hand washing and hygiene, and manners. An entertaining day and we all went out for dinner afterwards with the Kharat family, volunteers and our family.
Now we are in the process of working out whether the preschool will continue to operate next school year which commences in July. The preschool is in need of funding and support and I hope we can be some support and are able to assist Dr Moses in making the right decisions now and for the future. Stay tuned.
We’re off visiting Lonar Crater today which is 100km from Buldana city. After some initial organisational glitches with departure times (the rural Indian way), we (my family, parents, Moses, Awjula, volunteers and nurse) travelled the two hours in three cars to the only basalt crater lake in the world. We had a great time together and I will share more about our visit to Loner Crater in another post. But for now…
The crater was formed 50,000 years ago when a meteorite collided into earth and left a massive crater hole. Geographical investigations date back to 1823, but it was in 1973 when the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC researched the crater. Today the site attracted people from all over the world, especially scientists, who come to study this other world feature. What makes this crater so special is that it’s the only identified hyper velocity meteorite in basalt. Researchers believe that the meteorite was 60 metres in diameter and weighing one million tonnes of stone that struck earth at 20km/second high velocity creating tremendous energy and head and a cloud of molten ash and dust. The explosion was equivalent to a six megaton bomb!
We walked all the way down the rocky slope of the crater wall to the saline water’s edge. Unfortunately, the water stunk due to receding of the water level due to summer season and we couldn’t get close enough without getting into a mess with the muddy bog to actually touch the alkaline water. But the views on the way down (and back up) were glorious and a great opportunity for Charlie to get some drone footage.
The drive there and back is another story altogether – the craziness and risks that come with being on the Indian roads causes passengers much stress and anxiety. It can be likened to playing a Mario Cart Bros game – weaving, dodging, accelerating and slamming on the breaks. It’s constant and it’s dangerous. The roads are never quite wide enough, or smooth enough, or free enough. I think we’ll just stick to tuk tuks in and around Buldana for a while.
We have had our second week on the up! This is great news for our family. We are now starting to get into a pattern for school and life here in Buldana and go with the flow a lot more. It seems as a travelling family that when we stop and reside in one place we take on the environment around us – for survival and assimilation. The challenge has been to find that happy medium of travelling, sightseeing and living in a foreign place with a family of six with no tourism industry whatsoever. Knowing when to push through obstacles, and when to relax and go with the flow has been hard to gauge living in a country where our senses are exploited over and over again and our capacity for confusion reaches full. It’s a challenge for us all but also an amazing experience of having this time to completely step outside of our comfort zones and really live like a local of Buldana.
PS The internet doesn’t quite cut it in the afternoons here (or even some days), so photos can’t be uploaded as easily as I’d like and I apologise that photos are few and far between on my posts here. But if you’re interested in following more of our pictorial journey please head to my social media pages Instagram or Facebook – there’s lots of photos there!