Today was exhausting. We just returned (around 9pm) from a day at the American Center and American Consulate where we had orientations and got to meet our mentor teachers and principals. There was so much information and it was hard to take it all in due to severe jet lag. When Niladri was talking to us about the history of Kolkata and showing us pictures, I kept nodding off even though he is hilarious and perfect. Afterwards when we went to our security briefing at the consulate, I was telling the others how desperately I wanted to hear him despite what my eyes were saying. We all laughed because we dismiss such excuses from our own students, but maybe their excuses aren’t as good as 36 hours of travel time. Also, no student has ever said to me, “ I was so desperate to hear, and I am sorry that I couldn’t stay awake.” They should adopt that line; at least then I wouldn’t feel as angry if they slept.
My other big first for the day was my first taxi ride. We have been told over and over to expect cabs to try to rip you off. The foreign rate is something like double the meter plus 10rupees. Our program coordinators even gave us a printed sheet of prices depending on what the meter said. Today we were grabbing a couple of cabs to take us to the American Center – only about a 15 minute walk down the same street as the hotel. Sarah and I get in a cab (the meter is running – this is the part you must check before getting in). He drives us to the center, and when we arrive the meter says 16 rupees. According to my chart, I owe him 40ish rupees, but instead of just paying what the chart says, I say how much? He says 100r. I say ok and start looking for money. Sarah says no, it shouldn’t be that much. She is obviously better at life than me. I show the cab driver our chart and we pull out 40r. He tries to barter with us for 50, but Sarah pushes me out of the cab. Obviously I have to learn how things work without help because I would have just paid the 100 even though I knew it was too much. Mostly my group found it hilarious that I had showed him that I have a cheat sheet – especially since I wasn’t even willing to trust it and then I wanted him to trust it.
By the way 100rupees is about $1.75. Crazy.
Also, my mentor teacher and morning administrator were wonderfully nice. I still feel like I don’t know what to expect tomorrow, but it will be fine. I hope. I am very nervous about meeting the children. I must sleep so that I can be more alert in class than I was today.