We made it!

We made it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 11 Mysore – Walk to Srirangapattana

Last night we heard from my sister Kate that Max and Alice between them and their schools (St Mary’s memorial and Westminster College) raised a total of an additional $1500AUD for our cause, what a great effort. Ally had a casual day at her school and gave an inspiring talk to her school mates and Maxy organised a walkathon, very fitting, from Glenelg to Somerton in Adelaide. What an incredible effort and it gave us all a real buzz to know back home there are still people interested in the cause and supporting us all financially. Given our experience of yesterday we know just what a difference this additional $1500 will make to these kids we are meeting.

We had planned a 9.00am start from the hotel so up early for breakfast, all dressed in our Green ChildFund T-shirts and now we are affectionately known as team green or team Irish. There was a buzz in the air after the incredible day we all had yesterday although I only got a small amount of sleep last night, between the emotion of the day and the bright lights shining into our room I found it hard to get to sleep last night. Mum had a great idea and asked the hotel for a loaf of buttered bread and compiled a selection of vegemite and peanut butter sandwiches for our walk today. We headed off in our vehicle to meet at St Theresas church. On the way I asked Bec if she knew where my sunglasses were, I felt on my hat where I normally keep them and they weren’t there, they were on my face, how well am I doing today!

We arrive at the church for the start of our walk today and see Prem and Antony and their smiling faces. There were several other ChildFund staff, Father Jonas, Vincent and other members of the team, everyone clearly feeling very positive after a very successful day yesterday. We were not quite sure of the plan today, other than to protect Gus and his cheeks. As the minutes passed it was conveyed that the plan today was to start with a fundraising drive through the streets of Mysore in two groups before coming back together to wish the walkers off for the remainder of the walk. We had several green buckets and childfund flyers to distribute to the local shopkeepers. We started our walk and as we went momentum gathered and buckets were slowly filled. The majority of people were very happy to support the cause and in particular the kids were very successful, especially Maggie who was a natural.

Amidst the slow walk around there were the usually engrossing moments in time that India provides. The calf standing in the middle of the main road with the bus screeching to a halt to gently nudge it, and I mean very gently nudge it on its way. The butchers, to which Gus asked why the thing hanging had a tail, interesting conversation given Gus and his love for Goats. Perhaps the most confronting sight was the two men, witnessed at different times of the morning with no legs who were each literally rolling down the road amongst the traffic and pedestrians getting to where they needed to go. Just difficult to comprehend what life must be like for these two grown men, having to roll sideways down the road, just stop for a minute and think about what it is again we have to complain about, a moment of perspective again in India. You saw the usual contradictions of those who had the most to give often giving the least or not at all and those who clearly had very little happy to contribute what they could. There were ofcourse the tourists who were happy for Nicola to explain what we were collecting for to then turn and ignore her when she then asked for a small donation. Then there were the people last night from Wales staying with us at the Green Hotel, who had seen our story in the paper and approached us to ask if they could make a donation and made a very generous donation, ah the contrasts of the human condition, you can’t escape it. I have learnt (or am learning) not to judge and not to compare just to accept. I have found when falling into this trap in the past it does your head in. So now I try to focus on what I can do and nothing more. Still a work in progress….

The morning was very successful for ChildFund albeit a very long morning. The 4-5 kilometres we walked to collect the fund took over 3 hours to complete and by the end of it we were all getting exhausted. We were the first to make it back to the meeting place which was at the major roundabout in central Mysore. We heard from the other group that they were still half an hour away, on my mind was the fact that it was now nearing 1pm, the hottest part of the day and we still had 15kms to walk. We stood in the shade and just watched as the traffic of every possible vehicle imagineable as well as thousands of pedestrians worked their way around the intersection of 5 roads coming together. At one point the traffic was stopped and an old man, covered from head to toe in dirt, wearing just an old shirt and shorts, small cloth wrapped around his head and bare feet came walking around the roundabout in the middle of the 3 lanes pulling behind him a small wagon (flat top, two wheels at the side). Next minute the lights changed and the scooters and motorbikes came from behind him and swamped him, then the autos, then the cars trucks and buses. Not to be put off the old man just kept walking and the traffic just made its way around him, only in India.

After some time we saw Indy with Vincent, one of the staff making their way to our group. Indy, bucket in hand had a very successful morning. Her bucket even included a cheque for 250 rupees. Next we found Poppa and Maggie and Bec, Nicola and Maggie jumped in the car to return to the hotel where Mum and Gus had returned a little earlier in the morning. So we had Poppa, Indy and I together and there was just some confusion regarding Eibh’s whereabouts. Someone suggested that she had gone in the car with Maggie, although we didn’t see her. A few calls later and we were still none the wiser. The time was going past 1.30pm and we were getting anxious to get on the road and then out of the crowd pops Eibh, bucket in hand doing her last shop for ChildFund. Antony’s casual observation of the buckets suggested a 10,000Rupee morning for ChildFund India, a very important effort not only in collecting funds but also in raising awareness. One of the highlights of the morning was experienced by Poppa, India and Maggie when one of the girls who yesterday received her new bike came riding by. She stopped and came up to the group saying thankyou again and was on her way to school on her bike, it was wonderful for the group to see the bikes in action being used for good straight away.

A quick vegemite sandwich and a round of goodbyes we walked with Father Jonas to the edge of town where he sent us on our way to the main road to our end point for our day. After this the walk was quite uneventful, thankful generally for the milder conditions and once we were out of the town of Mysore the walk was very pleasant. We made our destination by 4.30pm and despite an enormously long day we were very happy with our efforts. Raju, as if on cue arrived to collect us to take us back to Mysore for our final evening. Once back at the hotel the day had taken its toll on Indy who was exhausted and after a wash up, a little cry and a cuddle was convinced to come down for our final dinner. The evenings are quite cool out in the grassed courtyard and dinner by candlelight is one of the treats at the Green Hotel, the food is definitely the other. Eibhlin ordered up for the table, Gus on his scooter going around catching lizards, and then later with Nicola’s help catching frogs we had a lovely finish to our time in Mysore.

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