Well, I’ve now been in Delhi four days. And I’m pleased to report that I’ve had no tummy problems at all so far – despite the fact that I’ve been deliberately eating the spiciest food on offer in an attempt to shift the cold symptoms that have bugged me since I landed here.
It’s an interesting time to be in India – and especially in Delhi. The country goes to the polls on the 7th of May, so there’s a lot of electioneering going on. Meanwhile, Delhi is preparing to host the Commonwealth games next year, and so huge chunks of the city are under construction. It’s kind of disconcerting when you can see the massive amount of work being done to extend the Delhi Metro, just across from the squalid slum you’re standing in the middle of. That aside, Delhi is a vibrant, lovely place, full of zindagi (life).
On Tuesday, we started painting Asha’s community centre in Zakhira – under the watchful eye of Claire, who works in an art gallery back home. We did a little more painting on Wednesday, but in the morning I had my first up-close look at slum life when five of us visited Zakhira. Ranee (the lady who runs things in the centre) showed five of us round.
One of Ranee’s many jobs is training up CHV’s (community health volunteers) who then pass on their knowledge of hygiene and basic health care on to the slum dwellers. Asha’s achievements here have been amazing. For example, the number of TB sufferers in Zakhira is now just three, as opposed to 35 when they set up shop here. Asha also does a lot of advocacy on behalf of slum dwellers, and on many occasions have prevented them from losing their homes.
On Wednesday afternoon, there was a prayer meeting at the community centre. After it finished, I got to have a go at Indian drumming. I think I handled the drum okay; I was channelling every bhangra track or Bollywood tune I’ve ever heard! In Indian drumming, it’s all about the “Boom-boom”. That’s the base. Boom-boom. A-boom-boom. Boom-boom, taka-taka, boom-boom. Acha!
Well, we’re busy painting the centre’s IT Room today – which means I’ll have to unplug this computer in a minute so we can get to the walls. So I’ll sign off for now – and will most likely be back at some point during our Easter break.