Today was our first day of work. Destin picked us up and we first took a trip into Thrissur to purchase Indian sim cards for Shreena and I. In England this would take no more than five minutes. It took 2-3 hours to get us sim cards! We had to provide photocopies of passport, driving licence, and photos. The rules for certain things here are really strict; even in supermarkets you have to put your handbag in a locker on the way in and get your receipt stamped on the way out. Yet wearing seatbelts in cars is unheard of! Destin also managed to lock the car and leave her car keys (and house keys) on the inside. This attracted at least 5/6 Indian men to the car to help and decide what to do, which was amusing to watch. A short while later they managed to get into the car without causing any damage.
On the way to our first interview Destin took us into a beautiful catholic church named Our Lady of Dolours Basilica Church(Puthan Pally) and we stayed to observe some readings and prayers. We then climbed up the bible tower which was 25 floors high and apparently the highest tower in India! The flights of stairs also have interesting religious art on the walls in the form of stained glass windows.
We then carried on to our first interview. The woman we visited was a former representative of the local panchayat. She lived in a very poor area and her house reflected this. The very small house only seemed to have one room which was used to live in. Despite this she seemed a happy woman and was very enthusiastic about the work she did as a representative. It was evident that she cares a lot about the local people and has high hopes for the qualitative changes women can bring to society within kerala. She has initiated various projects in her community such as putting in place street lights and access to drinking water.
We conducted 4 more interviews today, three at different houses and one at a special Onam market. Everyone was friendly towards us and offered us tea and Indian snacks (upperi (plain banana chips) and Sarkara Puratti (Fried- thick slices of unripe banana wrapped in jaggery, cardamom powder and ginger). It seems that people in the local area don't often see white people from England as we get a lot of stares! All in a harmless way though, people just seem to be quite shocked and interested to see us. We also made friends with some young Indian girls who were very keen to practice their English with us which was nice.
Walking home from the town centre after work in the dark was a mission... the road doesn't have a path and there are very few street lights (note to self; take a torch!) and the Indians' driving isn't any safer in the dark!
We arrived home to find a cockraoch which, after a lot of screaming and deet spray, was eventually killed!
We ended up staying awake until 2:30am doing the first days journal for George as there was a lot to write. But we eventually completed it and I was happy when we finally got to go to bed after a tiring first day!