I’ve arrived, not only in India, but in Phaltan (pronounced fall-tin). After two nine-hour plane rides and over ten hours waiting in-between, I touched down in Mumbai on Thursday at about 11 pm. Thankfully, getting through immigration, customs, and the baggage claim was fairly simple, as was finding Maxine in the crowd outside. She was right in her e-mail. There are only so many white-haired women with canes waiting outside the Bombay International airport. The sign didn’t hurt either.
We stayed at Maxine’s friend’s home until Sunday, when we rode first to Pune and then to Phaltan. She had a taxi drive all the way from Phaltan to pick us up and then bring us back, waiting patiently while we ate lunch, did some shopping, and visited a friend in Pune. We didn’t reach Phaltan until Sunday evening and we both crashed. On Monday, I got my first taste of the school and those kids got their first taste of me. Maxine had the 10th standard students interview me and then, one after the other, every student had to introduce me to the rest of the class. After about twenty: “She is Rachel Carroll. She comes from Superior, Wisconsin in USA. She is here to help teach English and she will be here for eight weeks,” I have no doubt about who I am and what I’m doing here.
One girl asked what I thought of the school. However, since I had just walked from the car, to Maxine’s office, and then directly to the classroom, I couldn’t give her much more than a big smile. I told her that it was a very good question and promised to answer it better later. Then, when we left the classroom, she smiled and waved. I think I made a friend.
Today I got to try again with the 8th standard, only this time we had quite a bit longer and, naturally, the kids were more apprehensive. They got into groups to formulate questions and I got to draw my horrendous map of the US again (the United States of chalk blob). Then they went all around the room asking questions. I made up my favorite bird and sport off the top of my head (the Eagle and Frisbee—that was a new one for them). After class, one giggling girl came up with a group of friends and said, “I like you!” and another asked for my autograph.
I know I am going to be old news soon, but right now this is fun.