review building practical in february 2014

One month later… Unbelievable how fast time is passing. I have the feeling as if I just came back, but it’s already been one month now. And we are thinking when to go to India the next time. But actually the deal is done: If they are finished with the to-do-list we left them we will come again.

But at first I would like to resume the impression from last February and March. It was a really intense and diversified stay!

When we arrived, Franz had been there already for more than a month and had started with the bamboo work. Therefore he could introduce us to the work on the construction site easily. Sebastian and me were showing the “newbies” around the village and tried to explain the story behind Little Flower to them. Now being here this was a lot easier than at university where we only talked theoretically about the hospital, the school and the village in general. Everybody was interested and curious and they didn’t understand why we didn’t start work immediately – we decided it would be better to really arrive at first. But it made me really happy to see how eager they were to start to work.

Well we started on Saturday. Thirst getting to know the team, discover how well or how at all to communicated with each other. And then we started to work. The first days we needed to organise ourselves and to find teams who could work together well, but then they really were good teams. One was working on the rafter, one on the roof with the pillars and the purlins and another one inside plastering the walls and designing the windows. Of course there were thousands of small tasks, which also had to be done, but those three were our main focus at first.

Slowly we got into a routine: At 7.30 we met for a morning circle, to talk about what has to be done and who will do it, around 10 am we had a chai-time and at 12 o’clock there was a lunch break with one hour to rest and then we worked until 4.30 pm and after the daily work was done we had a meeting with tea and snack (Samosa or Pakauda … mjam!). Then the evenings were free and we could do whatever we felt like: take a rest, go for a walk, go shopping into the city or visit a family. Every now and then I would give Hindi-lessons, with help from Laxman, one of the workers, who was have a blast listening to us. After dinner which was always served at 7 pm, we often sat at the fire place reflecting the days work and then we went to bed pretty early because we knew that we would have to get up around 6h to get breakfast.

But we also took some time for trips: Once we went to Varanasi for a weekend, the holiest city of India. It was also the first time for me and those ghats really are impressive: Every evening we walked along the water and the smooth light combined with the sound of the water tapping against the stairs creates a mystic atmosphere. And another time we went to Laxmanoa to have a picnic together with all the workers. We cooked great food and did some acrobatics and also relaxed of course. That was a really great Sunday.

We also were invited to a wedding, for which we all bought Saris and which was really exotic. So much glitter and glamour and lights and music, a gorgeous bride and a long queue of people behind the bridegroom when he arrived. Everything was completely chaotic and somehow it still worked well to follow all those rituals.

Also our “Richtfest” was awesome: a colourful mixture of Austrian tradition with Indian flavour. We had a “tree” which was actually bamboo and they brought ribbons out of flowers to hang on the now finished roof. And then they made us help them with lifting the tree and while we were helping them from below suddenly a bucket full of colours was emptied on our heads. When everybody was coloured we met for a “Völkerball” competition on the field and then we played tug-of-war and it was an amazing afternoon.

Time passed really fast and for me it was really beautiful to see how friendships came into being. Our guys are so warm hearted and open, you will just have to like them. Therefore saying goodbye was even tougher at the end of the five weeks we spent together. But in the evening before the departure we had a really nice celebration with food and huge sound system. And sitting together beside the fireplace until dawn was breaking…

I didn’t tell anybody that I had changed my flight ticket to surprise them. So the day of the departure I took some pillows into my backpack and brought it to the bus, telling the driver I would need to add something later on so he should not put it on the roof of the vehicle yet. As soon as everybody sat in the car – I was saying them goodbye secretly in the morning – and the driver started the engine, I approached Kabita to ask her, if it was fine for me to stay another two weeks. I think at first she didn’t take me seriously but when I said I am honest, she said she was as well. So I unloaded my luggage while everybody was staring at me in disbelief. Suddenly Abdul burst into laughter and hugged me. But then he was like: you will leave with Motilal on the bike later, right? And when I denied he and the others finally were really happy. And I was glad that I took the decision to stay some more days. I really wanted to prepare the time we wouldn’t be there as good as possible.

And that’s what I did during the next days: I was drawing plans, printing pictures, was discussing plans with them, took field measurements of the building, wrote manuals in English, which I translated with Laxman into Hindi. The to-do-list Sebastian made with me before he left, I revised with the workers, translated it as well and made a timetable together with them according to the single steps of procedure. Again and again I asked if there is anything, which needs explanation and what they will need to be able to continue properly also when they are working alone.

And all of the sudden the two weeks were over. I think time has never passed this fast in my whole life. Somehow I still had the feeling I wasn’t able to cover every detail and every question, but over all I had a good impression. And knowing that I will come back as soon as the work on the to-do-list will be done, made it even easier to say goodbye.

I left via Nepal where I spent five great days with Costanza and Maria and suddenly I was back home. Well “suddenly”!? The travel was a torture because we were stranded in Delhi for 24h. The reason: Our first plane left late from Kathmandu and we missed our connection flight. Well it’s past now.

And now watching the construction work from Austria and to see how good and autonomous they work, and especially how fast it is going, it is… indescribable. I could laugh, shout out loud and cry because I am so happy, every time Motilal uploads new pictures on facebook. We are in touch frequently: every Saturday I meet Motilal on Skype to talk about the work and the progress which we can see on the pictures and Mondays we have a video conference with everybody, which also students from the practical join, which motivates us all a lot every time.

I have a good impression, the progress on the construction site is good, the guys are motivated and here in Austria we are planning our next journey to see them all again! =)


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