In thinking about what to write for this blog post, I realize that if I had sat down last night to do it, I would have written a completely upbeat post littered with pictures of a great HOLIday weekend with friends. This is not that kind of post. It is one driven solely by emotional volatility.
On any given day here, my emotions range from happy to frustrated, excited to full of blinding rage. My life is characterized by severe mood swings that make me feel either happy to have made the decision to come to India or on the verge of packing up to head home as soon as possible. It took me about 20 minutes to calm down enough this morning to be able to sit down and write a blog post that was not just 500 words of whining (not sure I succeeded at that). I have been without running water in my apartment for nine days now, and with my tears of frustration the only flowing water in sight, I headed to work just ready to wrap up what I am doing this week and head home rather than try to find another place to live…for the fourth time. My landlady claims that there is just a water shortage in Pune and she can not do anything about it, but I am the only tenant in the building who has had any problems (my neighbors have even been kind enough to give me some buckets from their abundant sources). I go from frustrated to really angry to defeated. As I am preparing to talk to my landlady tonight, I am starting to feel anxious, worried that my complaints will lead to me being kicked out of my apartment (an ongoing threat).
This weekend, Mandy, my best friend and neighbor Naz, and I had fun days of brunching, exploring new Pune territory, and of course playing Holi. We spent hours getting as colorful as possible and playing with both kids and adults at Pune’s Residency Club. I convinced myself pretty early in the day that this is the smartest, best HOLIday in the world and that it needs to come to America – you get to throw things at people and get really dirty! The holiday and having a visitor here helped me to feel reenergized about Pune and I was actually looking forward to the next few months. I went from bored to happy to optimistic.
At the end of February, I traveled to Rishi Valley, where I visited the elite boarding Rishi Valley School, a private rural primary school, and a public rural high school. I got to see self-paced science labs, taught an English class because a public school teacher did not show up, and spoke to many people about the differences in girls’ education in the north and the south of the country. I learned about innovative curricula, observed classes, spoke to teachers, met students, and got to know Amber better. I arrived in Rishi Valley curious and left feeling inspired and hopeful about getting back to work.
Over the last several months, I have been working with a team of teachers and staff to write English language assessments to be administered at Akanksha’s nine schools. I have spent longer than typical days writing developmentally appropriate instructions for students of different levels, formatting child-friendly papers, and devising score sheets to try to capture long-term trends in student learning. I have traveled from stuck to tired, from feeling overwhelmed to feeling accomplished, and certainly feeling concerned about the time and energy put into creating these summative assessments.
I am trying to think of something meaningful to say to wrap this up, but I think I will just leave things at the small snapshots of the emotional roller coaster of living la vida Pune.