Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Ode to Christmas

3 days before Christmas came the school presentation,
A month of planning, rehearsal and teacher fixation.
All came down to one night with a 200-odd crowd,
seeing the kids sing, dance and act – it made them feel proud.
“A rioutous laugh” they said, “hilarious wit”,
What genius to include human sheep, 2 minute noodles and angels – all in one bit!
The singing superb, the dancing graceful.
The poor sound quality, led by Brad, distasteful.
After the event the excitement persisted,
with samosa and coffee to fuel them, sleep was resisted.
Now they could relax and look forward to that day,
When a jolly red fat man, a visit would pay.
Such conjecture, guessing and overall angst,
Up there with Iraq war two, I believe it does rank.
“What presents?”, “how many?”, “what food?”, “how much?”
These were the questions and like and such.
From near and far, the visitors ranks swelled,
Until Christmas Eve, when 200 here dwelled.
The curry chicken, white bread, biscuits, coffee could not be beaten,
Such a feast that night was eaten.
For the older ones, parties were showered,
We had dancing, singing and fires that towered.
Until Christmas came at the stroke of midnight,
And we all went to bed to wait for first light.
When awoken by noise, by cries of glee.
No sleep was achieved from six forty three!
Toys, clothes and bric-a-brac were pulled from their wrapping,
The kids all adorned in their best Christmas trappings.
At ten another delicious meal was due,
Hardly looked at however for their eyes they did glue,
On a small Christmas tree in the corner, that could hardly be seen,
For the big pile of presents, the amounts, obscene.
The floor became a sea of crinkled up paper,
Amidst a flotilla of gifts, the sight quite a caper.
As children exploded outside to play with the toys,
A moments rest I found without noise.
What better time to open my gift,
So excited, as it was so heavy to lift.
But alas my enjoyment was terribly suspended,
When all I got was a rock, Hindi skills were depended!
It read “Suhanna ka Pati” in Indian script,
I knew what it meant, I was not to be licked.
To track down a baby’s Dad I did wander,
To find another clue, of this puzzle I grew fonder.
“I Hope you get the next clue” it stated,
I asked a girl for an inkling, with my breath bated.
A numeric code was the next bit of enigma,
I grew worried of failing, and gaining a stigma.
But solved it I did, through sheer genius,
I’ll spare you the details – it’s a bit tedious.
The game went on until it ended and my conundrum was fixed,
But when I received my gift, my reactions were mixed.
Some lovely bright cloth, cotton and wrapped
For a shirt, long-sleeved, but still I felt trapped.
Some say I was rude, when I raised quite a stink,
Not for the quality, no this cloth it was pink!
Now it may gel for metro’s and men of other persuasion,
But for me I can’t think of a single occasion,
That puts me in a pink shirt, for public to see.
Except now for parties that have a bright shiny tree
I’ll retell this war story with great joy,
and display to the world without feeling coy,
This pink badge of courage, earned in the trench
But then I might shower to get rid of the stench.
So that was my Christmas, it was so very spectacular,
In comparison, Oz next year will be crap, excuse the vernacular.
Only 1 year away, then I must draw the line,
Then I’ll relive the Christmas of two thousand and nine.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

While we're over here with winter woolies on and looking forward to the most exciting Christmas since we were 10 years old, we both wish all of our friends, family and pretty much anyone who reads this blog a very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Photo's

We've been a bit slack in both taking photo's and also putting them on the web. We've updated these now and can be seen here. This link is also on the right of the blog site under our photo. There'll be more photo's soon as the Christmas festivities are quite an event in these here parts!

Tourism tales

Well we’re back from our whirlwind Delhi trip that was eventful, interesting and educational. We have now officially turned from visitors of the orphanage to “pukka ambassadors” as our reason for the trip was to play host to an American girl who is visiting for a month. It’s a bit strange turning from tourist to a bit of a “local”, entrusted with getting to a place by yourself and being the “face” of the orphanage and safely escorting a visitor into the arms of a hundred screaming kids. The initial plan was to pick her up on the 16th December and do the touristy thing until the 20th when Rick would drive to Delhi and bring us, an ex farm gal and an Australian guy back to the farm.

Of course India, being India, this all changed by the time we made it to Delhi and after a few manic phone calls it was decided we and the American girl would travel back by train on the morning of the 19th. This of course cut our Delhi time in half but we were reluctant to miss this window of opportunity to see the plethora of sights in and around Delhi. In hindsight it might have been better to stick to a more relaxed program of activity, especially since the American girl had just travelled 24 hours straight but we didn’t know if or when she or us would have another chance. This is the story of how you do Delhi and Agra in 2 days:

Thursday 17th

5 am: Get to the New Delhi Train station for a 3 hour train trip to Agra. Once arriving at our destination it was decision time on how to get from sight to sight. I personally like Auto-rickshaws (Tuk-Tuk’s in Thailand) but Clifton (Deputy Director of the orphanage) had recommended a car. Naturally I ignored the advice of a 7 year resident of India and chose a rickshaw, saving $2.50 in the process. So off we went to visit the sights in this ancient city. In the interests of brevity (too late you say) I’m just going to list the places we went and show a photo of them – you can make up your own commentary about how we walked around them, how old they are and which Maharajah killed the Maharajah who killed the Mughal to get rich enough to build this big red or white thing.

  • Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (Baby Taj)
  • Agra Fort
  • Taj Mahal

We were about out of time after all this, missing out on seeing the Fatehpur Sikri due to some idiot choosing the slower rickshaw over the faster taxi and we rushed back to the train station to find our train had been delayed by 2 hours. This, combined with the train running an hour slower to Delhi, made for some very tired travelers arriving in the seedy part of town at midnight. Luckily we were too exhausted to be scared and made our way back to the hotel with only sleep on our mind.

Friday 18th

After the previous busy day we thought it would be a good idea to have a rest day to recuperate. Of course we had no time for such frivolities and set about seeing Delhi’s main attractions before nightfall. Once again to avoid boring you about how many bricks there are in the Red Fort or which English oppressors the Indians particularly hate, I’ll just show you the photos.

  • Something or other Gate
  • Jama Masjid
  • Red Fort
  • India Gate
  • Humayun’s Tomb

Once again we missed out on seeing a few sites (pun intended) due to my insistence on rickshaw travel. There’s something about zipping around in an open-sided, glorified tricycle that makes you feel closer to the people, the streets and less attractively, the smells that you just don’t get in a car. This fixation of mine led to a first hand experience of criminal behavior that is an India institution. We were travelling to India Gate when 2 young Indian males on a motor bike matched the pace of our moving vehicle, reached past the American and grabbed the backpack on Miriam’s lap. Miriam was too quick for the would-be thieves and held on tightly, forcing the motorbike to swerve into our rickshaw before speeding off. The number plate had been whited out and they made their getaway to ply their dastardly deeds on other, slower reacting tourists. We were all a bit more alert after this and I was almost disappointed at the end of our journey to find no others had dared to try the same trick.

The next morning we were up at 3:30 to catch a train out of Delhi, to ease our journey a car was booked for us for the final leg of our journey home where we could finally relax, surrounded by a hundred kids all talking to us simultaneously.

A few facts we discovered during our trip:

  • Brad isn’t going to build Miriam a tomb the size of the Taj Mahal when she dies
  • Kid’s safety scissors cannot be found even in Delhi
  • An American breakfast which claims to contain bacon, doesn’t
  • It’s possible to eat 6 meat meals in 2.5 days and feel justified in doing so.
  • Long hot showers are possible in Delhi staying at a $11/night hotel

Monday, December 14, 2009


We're off to Delhi tomorrow morning, returning on the 21st December. We probably won't be logging on while we're away but we'll update you on our travels once we're back.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mobilility mutterings

Hi there faithful blog consumers - just letting you know about some travels Miriam and I are planning in the next few weeks to whet your appetite for fresh blogs. We'll be travelling to Delhi along with Rick Shipway to pick up 3 people visiting the orphanage for Christmas; Danny from Tasmania (which I've heard is actually part of Australia), Katie from the US and another, Gail from somewhere in India. We'll be spending 2-3 days in and around Delhi waiting for all of them to arrive and probably get a chance to visit the much lauded Taj Mahal. I (Brad) will be also consuming 6 months worth of meat that has been missed from my diet.

After Christmas we will need to get out of the country for a bit to avoid being arrested for overstaying our Visa and will probably head to Kathmandu to get it renewed. News on the grapevine is that India is clamping down a bit on back-to-back Visas so we'll be leaving with our fingers crossed, hoping we can get back in again. The visa application will likely take 1-2 weeks so we'll have some time to explore the Nepalese countryside whilst there.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Get the violins out...

Showing affection to ones hubbyland (husband in orphanage girl vocab) in public…

We realized how bad it had gotten when the other day when Brad was standing outside soaking up a small patch of sun. I walked over, and we both leant in for a quick peck, got to the point of almost touching, then both leapt back and quickly looked around to see if we’d been spotted by the romance police. We actually looked up and Brad made a joke about it being ok, as the satellites wouldn’t be able to see us through the foliage above. While my imagination went wild with snipers picking us off and SWAT teams lowering themselves from above.

The adult crowd…

The other night for the first time we had a “moment” which was really quite fun – some of us younger adults were playing “Jenga”. There was six of us ranging from 23-31 (me being the oldest) and we were just hanging out and enjoying each others company. I really enjoyed this brief time together and realized that we had not done such a thing since we left Australia. There’s something about just hanging out with your friends that I miss and it brought back some memories of all the good times we’ve had with those back home.

Department stores…

Being able to buy everything you need in one shop. Here you need to go to half a dozen shops to find what you’re after. Give me a Target or K-mart anyday…

Daily meat intake

Whilst Miriam has no trouble with the vegetarian diet on offer here, Brad feels quite saddened by the lack of carnivorous offerings. We have meat 1-2 times a week (mainly chicken) but he longs for the days when he could stop off at Macca’s for a bacon & egg McMuffin meal, have a long lunch with work colleagues and devour a beef schnitzel, not tell Miriam about it so they could then go out to CafĂ© Michael on Rundle St for dinner and gorge on rendang beef and red curry chicken. Needless to say that due to the lack of such a diet he has dropped 7kg and 3 holes in his belt so I guess it’s not all bad. This diet recently drove him to a nearby town for a “date” with both Miriam and a meat-filled plate. Unfortunately the only restaurant he knew of, spied on a previous trip, turned out to be vegetarian. Chilli Paneer is nice, but no substitute for the mutton kebabs, butter chicken and fried chicken he had planned to consume.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wealth of encouragement...

Using the remainder of some funds sent through by Brad’s workmates, along with some monies from our neighbour, we were able to start the construction of table tennis table. We have a small carpentry hut where shelves, desks, doors etc are all made, and that’s where the table was created. It’s really sturdy (needs to be with all the kids using it), and can be taken apart, and used as two separate trestle tables as required. The table tennis table has been a huge hit with the big boys (so much that they had to be banned for a while as their year 10 studies were starting to suffer).

The school was in need of some new rugs for the nursery and kindergarten classes. These classes are packed, and the tiny kids spend most of their time seated on the floor – not a nice prospect in the lead up to winter. The floors are cement, and the kids had a thin, threadbare, ripped rug to sit on. So thanks to our neighbour, we purchased 3 large rugs for the school to keep the little kiddies from getting frozen behinds this winter.

Thanks to a fellow city dweller & very good friend down the street, along with Brad’s uncle, we’ve been able to fit out some of the hostel rooms with new ‘almirahs’ (cupboards). Cupboards had been on a wish list for quite some time, and it’s been great to be able to replace some of the old storage items, which ranged from suitcases, to open wooden shelves and wood planks held up by bricks.

Now some of the rooms have brand spanking new, locally made, lockable cupboards, which even have a hidden document shelve and a shoe drawer. The kids were so excited to have new shelving, there was quite a buzz as I went around to see what they currently had, and having them show me where the new one would go.

The orphanage has a lot of farming land, and we’ve just recently finished a period of harvesting. The older boys had been flat out doing farm work from early morning to sometimes late into the night. The farm had been planning to purchase a new harrow for some time, and it was great to be able to combine some funds from Brad’s brother, uncle and our church and put it towards buying a new one. The farm is really important as the produce not only feeds the kids throughout the year, but also the excess is sold to cover part of the running costs of the orphanage.

The fruit 3 times a week still continues, it comes by the box, so each fruit purchase covers at a minimum one piece per person at a lunch meal, but sometimes it even extends to cover school morning teas the next day etc. We had a run of bananas and apples, and have recently even had some “oranges” (actually mandarins).

It’s great when the kids say thank you for the cupboard, sporting equipment, fruit etc, and we’re able to say that our wonderful friends and family from Australia bought that for you. It not only encourages the staff here to see the support coming through from Oz, but it really excites us to see you contributing to the great work being done here..

Thanks heaps to you all…