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Social Unrest And A New Project
Posted on March 8,

It's been another eventful couple of weeks, but of a slightly different flavour this time due to a little social unrest! There we were, Joe and I, playing some badminton and basketball after work as usual (a perk of living on the site of a school!), when a couple of the teachers came to tell us to pack clothes for a few days as we needed to leave. A little confused, we did so and we left with the headteacher of IB school, Ajit, who explained to us on the way to his house that a local caste of people had decided to block all the main roads in Haryana state in an attempt to cajole the government in reserving them a certain amount of governmental jobs. He assured us there was nothing to worry about and it would be over in a few days, but until then we'd be staying at his house so we weren't on our own in the school, which had to close.

After a few days, it turned out things had gotten slightly worse as the crowds blocking the roads were getting unruly whilst they waited for the government to make a decision. This involved them shouting a lot, setting fire to things and making a general nuisance of themselves. A week passed in much the same state so the decision was taken to deploy the army to regain control of the area, and as a result it was decided we should take a few weeks' holiday from Rohtak whilst the situation settled back down. This suited us as we were starting to feel like a bit of a burden to Ajit and his wife, and we didn't like not being able to be constructive with our time. So we took the opportunity to travel around Rajasthan, a neighbouring state.

Two weeks of deserts, fort explorations, langur-feeding and camel safaris later, we returned to Delhi to see how the land lay with Rohtak. Unfortunately, we couldn't go straight back as they wanted to double-check that we would be extra-safe (Indian people are incredibly protective!!), but fortunately there was a new project we could get stuck into - Ukindo's new, second school!

Ukindo had managed to commandeer a couple of rooms in an area called Trilokpuri in Delhi. It was a 'resettlement colony'; the people here used to live in slums but the government had moved them to this area into tiny houses, all piled on top of each other in a jumbled fashion. The houses were brightly painted but the streets were grubby and unkempt. Walking along those narrow straights, weaving around piles of rubbish, mopeds, dogs, cows and the odd chicken, our every move was followed by the staring eyes of the inhabitants above and around us. The men played cards, the women chatted on woven beds that lined the road and children played with rocks, but all would stop to peer at us with serious faces as we walked past. It was like accidentally walking into a rural English village's local pub; staring faces and a sudden stony silence, you could practically hear everyone thinking "You're not from around here...". However, unlike a local pub back home, the slightly intimidating looks could be easily broken with a smile or a friendly "namaste!" - then it was all grins from the adults and waves from the children.

By the time we were at the school I was much more relaxed. Looking around though, it wasn't particularly inviting - the walls were a dark, dingy purple, uneven and crumbling, the lights were broken and the place was pretty unclean. Excellent! It was time to get our hands dirty!