Pune (March 29, 2002 - April 1, 2002)

New Zealand

Hospet/ Hampi
Deep Griha

Train trips in India are an experience in themselves. There is a non-stop parade of characters walking/ shuffling/ crawling up and down the aisles. The food vendors reminded me of the Mary Poppins scene with their sing song voices selling coffee, chai (tea), snacks, fruit, hot meals, or cold drinks. There are also beggars, shoe shine boys, cleaners, and various grades of singers/ entertainers.  Every stop becomes an explosion of noise as food vendors jump on the train or yell through the windows to sell their wares in the few minutes we are at a station. 
Heather's b-day

Aga Khan palace

making garlands

Pune is one of the four World Association of Girl Guide and Girl Scout  (WAGGGS) Centres. Sarah in particular has been looking forward to staying for a few days with the Guides. Their Indian facility is called Sangam. The rooms were hot, but the pool was pleasant and the meals and company were excellent. It is the start of the hot season, so there were no programs going on that we could participate in. 

We celebrated Heather's 11th birthday on March 30th. The staff at Sangam very kindly organized a cake, present, a lei, a bouquet, and a jasmine garland for Heather's hair.  But for her birthday present, our budding philanthropist really wanted to sponsor a child in India. The staff at Sangam, and Tina (a regular Sangam visitor from England) were very helpful. Tina organized a visit for us to Deep Griha. Deep Griha, meaning 'Lighthouse',  was started in 1975 by Rev Onawale and his wife Dr Onawale. It provides medical treatment, nutrition, day care, nursery schools, and job training to residents of a number of slums in the Pune area. They also fairly recently started a program where foreigners could sponsor local children of orphaned or one parent families. 

One of the goals in our trip was to do some sort of volunteer work while we were traveling. We could not arrange this beforehand - families looking for 2 week to one month assignments are not placed by the conventional Western aid organizations. Deep Griha had no problems with our requirements, so we are busy organizing a return here for a few weeks at the end of April.

Knowing we'd be back later, we only had a very quick look around Pune including the Aga Khan Palace where Ghandi was imprisoned for a period, and where his wife died. We also visited a street market where some of the vendors were busy making colourful flower garlands. 

We did add one more chapter to Sarah's upcoming 'Laundry around the World' book while we were here. We had heard about how inexpensive laundry was in India - dhobis beat the dirt to submission by hand over rocks (see the Mumbai page for pictures) and have your laundry washed, ironed, folded, and returned that same day or early on the next day. We had not done laundry since Thailand and had quite a good stash, so we just sent it out. It came back with a shocking bill for $60 making it the most expensive laundry by far on our one year off. We only have ourselves to blame as we didn't ask first - apparently the dhobi that Sangam uses charges by the piece. He would have charged the same if we had sent out towels or linen in place of the tiny pairs of Chloe's and Heather's socks and underpants.  Oh well. 

At least we were dressed in clean clothes to travel on to Goa to meet Mark and Penny.