India Day 2 – 1st Day at Prem Dan

So we were up at 6am and luckily I managed a shower before the water disappeared (poor Javi) and then we were off to the Mother House for breakfast at 7am. This consisted of bananas and bread and that lovely chai tea.  We had a little orientation and advice-giving and then one of the volunteers who knew the way led a bunch of us to our designated house, Prem Dan.  The walk was about 45 minutes and harrowing.  I just can’t explain everything now or even in words but we walked through the slums you see in films or on TV – some of them had huge wide roads full of mental cars and taxis and tuk tuks, others were so narrow you were getting dripped on by god knows what and stepping over the people sitting on the floor staring at us as we marched through.  Crossing the railway line was an experience and also sad as there are millions of people living on them! So crazy.


So eventually we reached the OASIS of Prem Dan and once inside the huge security gate to be honest I breathed a sigh of relief.  The place is gigantic and I followed the girls into a staffroom type place while Javi went off with the men.  Everyone got out flip flops and changed from their trainers (a mistake I will not make again tomorrow) grabbed an apron and we went to wring out all the laundry.  I really enjoyed this physical work and got chatting to all the Spaniards (80% of the foreigners here) and also met a lovely bunch of women from Texas. When we finished that we went inside and spent time with the women.  Some had no arms, some had no legs, one poor lady didn’t have a face apart from her mouth – looked like burns of some sort.  The two rooms are huge and spotless, one with beds and one with seats where they eat and spend their days.  We painted nails, gave hand massages, listened and smiled – the most important thing.  The first lady I encountered was a tiny shrivelled little thing who did not let go of my hand for a long while.  Another lady fell asleep while I rubbed her hands and arms and if I tried to move away quietly she gripped them harder.  Another used me to get from one place to another. Another was just making eye contact and grinning a huge grin – so sweet.  This one I fed later.  Everyone was so sweaty after the laundry and soaking wet knees down, but nobody cared, we were there for the ladies.  We gave them their breakfast of rice krispie looking cereal with scalding water – I was so frightened of burning my lady’s throat but turns out I wasn’t fast enough for her and she ended up trying to down the whole cup hehee.


Then we volunteers went out for biscuits and chai – much appreciated! and caught up with the boys.  Everyone was soaked in sweat (no smell though – nice) One lady resident came up behind me so I started ‘chatting’ and stroking her hands and she spotted my necklace (it’s extra shiny as I have the little charm the Sisters give everyone on it) and was touching it and suddenly tightened her grip – I smoothly removed her fingers haha. Won’t be wearing it tomorrow. While we were having this break a dead body was carried past. Aw. This house is for the terminally ill – so everyone here was near the end.


So back inside I fed my smiley friend who wolfed the whole lot and was grinning at me the whole time, and then we washed all the dishes outside.  They’re so clean – two washing bowls and then two rinsing bowls. It’s impressive. There was one lady resident who was going round miming stabbing the volunteers in the back – bit scary but she was tiny and there are no knives in the vicinity!  Another little old lady was an absolute sweetheart – she was kissing everyone’s hands and foreheads and telling us wonderful life stories – just such a shame we couldn’t understand her.  So so lovely.


So after washing the dishes and helping the ladies to their beds for a siesta I waited for Javi and Sebastian (a very cool guy from Chile in the next hotel) with an Italian lady who was also going home to Sudder Street and was getting an autorickshaw – so we followed her for about 10minutes along a huge busy road (she’s been here 4 times so she knows her way around) and spent about 25 minutes trying to physically grab any autorickshaw that came within reach – it was mental! Eventually we just jumped into one and were bartering with him all the way until he stopped to throw us out so we gave in and gave 12rupees each (that’s about 15p or something).  He wasn’t happy with the money we gave him and wanted ‘new’ coins and notes, as in shiny ones! Er, we jumped out.  Now this journey in this vehicle was incredible – I have video footage but can’t upload right now (am in an internet room while Javi shops for clothes on the floor below – I can see him through a window hehe) but it was phenomenal – I do not know how we didn’t touch or kill anyone or thing or another car.  Bonkers.  Words can’t describe.


When we got back Javi went and exchanged a top he bought from this man on the street for a different size – I couldn’t believe it when he came back to the room with two different colours to try on before paying! Haha! Thing is you’re so sweaty here we both ended up crying with laughter as he could not get these tops on or off without assistance – was so so funny. We then proceeded to sleep for two hours solidly and shower etc and are now about to go for dinner at 8.30pm.  I have acquired one bite – I really hope it’s not malaria-iac – you understand me.


Right we haven’t eaten anything except the snacks from the Sisters today (strangely we do NOT have appetites here) but Javi has just developed a big headache so we’re going to eat and drink lots of fluids.  That’s if I can get out of this shop without buying tons of clothes… but they’re like 150rps for amazing pants – that’s 1.70euro. Mental. I’m going to treat myself and get a 300rps pair tomorrow.  Oh and we just got an Indian sim here too (seriously this place does everything) and we were fascinated to watch the man trim down a normal sim card to fit the slot in the iphone – with a stapler!! Amazing people, can make anything here.  Well, they make everything we have in the Western world!


Ok got to go or I’ll rack up a bill of like, 3euros or something… 😉  pictures when I can!


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