Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 6: Stacking Bricks

This morning when we left for the build site it was a beautiful, sunny day.  When we arrived at the village everyone was already into the festival that was taking place.  This festival happens once a year and is in honour of the village's God....there are hundreds of Gods in Indian.  The temple was decorated, there was very loud Indian music playing, both live and over a loud speaker, people were all dressed up and every now and then they would let off loud firecrackers.

Once we got ready for the day and heard from Sundar what we were supposed to do o the site, we headed off into our groups.  Today I decided I would help move bricks from the road to the top of a roof of a new house we will be working on....number five.  To move the bricks....all 1500 +....we created a human chain from the road, up the side of the house, onto the roof.  Today we had some ladder issues...not the safest...so I decided to stay on the ground.  The other group is working on the 4th house...digging a trench to start the foundation for the toilet area.

By break we had about 300-500 bricks moved and then it started to pour rain, thunder and lightning.  We eventually moved from our tent to the veranda of one of the houses near by.  It was extremely small, but worked out OK for a short while.  Once the rain started the festivities slowly shut down....we found out later some of the power was turned off because a few of the power lines we were working by were loose and not safe in the rain and lightning.  The rain continued for about an hour and during this time there was some discussion about going back to the hotel....couldn't stand on the roof in a lightning storm!!!  Many people did not want to leave, so we decided to stick it out until lunch and see what transpired with the weather....good thing we stayed because the weather cleared eventually...yeah!!!!

Since we weren't going to be able to move the bricks up onto the roof, we decided to move them from the road to the edge of the house.  The entire team created a human chain and passed one brick at a time to one another...I guess this is what it is like working on an assembly line!!!  We did this for a good hour nonstop...I was starting to get dizzy....and had all the bricks moved by lunch.  What a workout on your stomach muscles, shoulders, arms and hands.

With the tent being so wet and leaking, we moved to another veranda for lunch....it was much bigger.  At 2pm we were hard at it again.  This time we were to move bricks at the first house we started...they were having supplies delivered tomorrow so they need the space along the road.  We moved bricks from the edge of the road and placed them around the house...this allows the masons to work much faster when they are building the walls.  Once again we created our human chain and passed along our bricks....and once again the music was turned back on.  From time to time people would change their position in the line to get a bit of a break...it's amazing how much you can get done with a human chain!!!!  We continued this work for the entire afternoon...not sure I will want to stack bricks anytime soon when I get back home!

When we left the village today, we drove through another section.  This time we saw the school the children go to who are in grades 1-5.  Once they reach grade 6 they must go off the village for school...about 3km away...so many children would not be able to continue their schooling because they could not afford the transportation.  This is very sad, as many of the children I spoke to were very bright and appeared to enjoy school...several of them could speak many words in English.

When I got back to the hotel, I had a shower...definitely my favourite part of the day...we really do stink after a full day of work, and headed out to do some shopping.  We met early for dinner today, as we had some time beforehand to learn a bit about the caste system in India.  Until 1947 this system was in in place until freedom was received.  This system is completely based on occupation, which determines what caste or class you belong to.  Those in the higher caste had many more privileges...the forward class...than those in the lower caste...the backward class.  Your caste used to also dictate where you lived in a city...those of higher caste would live closest to the temple, which is traditionally in the center.

Although this system is no longer in place, it is still somewhat practiced unofficially, but things are slowly changing.  One big change that has occurred since 1947 is that the backward caste now have the right to an education.  People do not marry outside their cast...today some people are starting to however.  About 95% of marriages in India are still arranged...there are actually ads in the newspaper looking for wives/husbands...interesting to read.  Women must still provide some sort of a dowry...this could be anything from gold, to land, to furniture.  Because the woman's family must provide this dowry, people would have abortions or kill they babies when they knew they were having a girl.  Today it is illegal to find out the gender of your child before it is born, since there were so many abortions taking place of baby girls.

The village we are working in is the lower class...backword caste....agriculture labourers.  There is also another section of our village where those people are even a lower caste than where were have been working.  Many of the women who are having homes built have been widowed or have no husband.  In the village they would be looked down on or have less status.  Once they have a home...not a hut...their status will be increased in the village....this is so nice to know.

We had dinner tonight at an Italian restaurant....the Pizzaria...brick oven pizza...yummmm!  After some good pizza and a little sweet fresh lime soda, we headed back to the hotel on our bus around 9:15pm ready to turn in for the night.  Another great day.

Until tomorrow....

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