Karadi High School

Last week we all went to visit this impressive English medium high school in the nearby village of Karadi. It has a very modern and large campus due mainly to donations from locals who now live all across the world. The school has an impressive website (I will post the web address later) which details the history of the school among other things. It was founded soon after Gandhi’s famous Salt March passed through this village. It was pro-independent India at the time and believed in Indians providing an education for themselves. I suppose there is a certain irony now that the school is English medium and has become dependent on donations from Indians living in the West.

As with the village school, Sunesh, Sanjeev and Anya could not believe how well behaved the children were – they didn’t even talk while they waited for their teacher to finish talking to us! Lateness and detention don’t seem to exist – teachers just stare back blankly  ‘why would any child be late? They know school starts at 10am and they are here until 5pm.’ Oh yes and they go to school on Saturday as well!

Here are some pictures from our visit.

Primary school section

Primary school section

Outdoor washing facilities

Outdoor washing facilities

Just another well-behaved kid...

Just another well-behaved kid...

State-of-the-art carpeted IT suite

State-of-the-art carpeted IT suite

School books look just as unexciting everywhere in the world!

School books look just as unexciting everywhere in the world!

Almost everyone comes to school on a bicycle or moped

Almost everyone comes to school on a bicycle or moped

Every office, staffroom, shop, home has a shrine somewhere in the corner.

Every office, staffroom, shop, home has a shrine somewhere in the corner.

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Shops

I have already photographed a couple of the village shops but, just to give you a flavour of shopping in different parts of the country, I will post up some photos of shops. In Navsari, our nearest big town, there are hundreds of shops many of them are small and not much bigger than kiosks. There are no obvious chain stores and there is only one supermarket which is brand new.

Let's start with a bike shop, what else? No wonder Rachel Carter couldn't find a mountain bike to buy!

Let's start with the local bike shop. No wonder Rachel Carter couldn't find a mountain bike to buy!

Typical roadside and telephone kiosk. We called Arun on his birthday from here.

Typical roadside and telephone kiosk. We called Arun on his birthday from here.

'Pack it high, sell it cheap' seems to be the mantra.

'Pack it high, sell it cheap' seems to be the mantra

Hello, is that Birmingham?!

Hello, is that Birmingham?!

High fashion indeed

High fashion indeed

There is a constant queue for petrol and these boys will sell it by the pop bottle.

There is a constant queue for petrol and these boys will sell it by the pop bottle.

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Jobs

Over the coming weeks I will post up some pictures showing the different kinds of jobs people do. Since there are already quite a few farming/village photos elsewhere on the site, I will stick to some of the more unusual jobs.

Here is the vegetable man who comes to the village most days.  Many people walk between the villages selling anything from ice cream, fish, clothes to sweets.

Here is the vegetable man who comes to the village most days. Many people walk between the villages selling anything from ice cream, fish, clothes to sweets.

Everyday several people do the rounds selling different types of fish.

Tasty looking or what?

You can get your shoes mended on your door step.

Up and down most of the roads there are little shacks that fix bikes

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Modern houses

Just in case you are beginning to think that everyone here is living in shabby country farmhouses – here are a few pictures of some of the more modern houses we have been to in the last couple of weeks. All the people who own these houses have lived and worked abroad in wealthier countries like the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Holland, Germany etc. Many of their family members still live abroad and send money back here regularly. Some, like Bharti’s father, are retired people who spend 6 – 8 months in India and return to the UK for the summer.

All of these houses seem to follow a similar style of ostentatious proportions regardless of their location. They really stick out in some small villages, towering over other people’s more traditional homes. They are often painted very bright colours and inside everything is marble – the floors, skirtings, stairs, balconies and most of the kitchen. Compared to the older homes, creature comforts are everywhere: flushing toilets, showers, satellite tv, running water and sinks etc. Some people have also brought home the idea of having a garden with rose bushes and a lawn but this is very hard work to maintain. More successful is the small-holding attached to most of these homes, usually packed with fruit trees, various vegetables and sometimes, animals. In my experience there is always at least one person hired to help around the house and possibly one other to maintain the garden. Not a bad lifestyle for someone who probably spent their life running a small shop in Coventry!

Another subtle and under-stated driveway

Another subtle and under-stated driveway

No, not Beckingham Palace. Just another bloke who ran a sub post office...

No, not Beckingham Palace. Just another bloke who ran a sub post office...

...and here's the west wing

...and here's the west wing

Nice bright colours for a sunny country

Nice bright colours for a sunny country

Blending-in is not what it's about!

Blending-in is not what it

Don't worry, do not adjust your monitor...

Don't worry, do not adjust your monitor

All mod cons - including solar panels

All mod cons - including solar panels

Mosaic roof

Mosaic roof

Marble staircase

Marble staircase

Every balcony must have one - a swing.

Every balcony must have one - a swing.

Modern fitted kitchen

Modern fitted kitchen

All very clean and tidy

All very clean and tidy

Typical back garden, big enough for mango trees and plenty of veg.

Typical back garden, big enough for mango trees and plenty of veg.

A rare sight - a lawn and a bit of landscaping.

A rare sight - a lawn and a bit of landscaping.

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Transport

There are many ways of travelling in India – more than we have in England. Over the coming weeks I will post up some pictures of the different types of transport we spot on our travels. Here are some of the popular ones around this area of Gujarat.

Dada's car

Dada's car

Even Gromit has taken to riding on animals!

Even Gromit has taken to riding on animals!

Everybody seems to own one of these - but why the hairy seat?

Everybody seems to own one of these - but why the hairy seat?

These buses don't leave much room for any other road user

These buses don't leave much room for anyone else!

...and the trucks are even worse.

...and the trucks are even worse.

Following many requests from all you ‘Indian truck fanciers’ out there (I had no idea there were so many of you) here are some more photos from life on the road including a few juicy close-ups of trucks…

The picture above was taken on the highway heading north where the road is being upgraded for hundreds of kilometres and drivers constantly have to switch to the other side of the road. Jams are frequent, safety non -existent and those trucks on the right are not part of the roadworks, they are just jostling for position through the chaos!

Below is a nice rear-end for all you truckers out there. Lorries are always hand-painted with individual logos and names, but they all have the same message on the rear about dipping headlights and using your horn when over-taking. However, Indian headlights seem to be stuck on full-beam and the crescendo of horns on the road is so great you can’t hear yourself thinking that surely a reminder to let go of the horn occasionally would be more beneficial.

Nice Islamic detailing on the step…

Can you imagine this sort of detail on your Tesco delivery van?

Eagles are one of the favourite themes for the artists

We’ve seen plenty of amazing sights on the road. Sadly I wasn’t able to photograph most of them on account of having my eyes tightly shut, praying to any god who was listening and saying goodbye to my family as something headed straight for us on the wrong side of the dual carriageway! Here are a few that we did catch…

Huge loads like this boiler held on with a bit of string continually block the road.

Needless to say, the truck was moving whilst this guy was running about on top of the box. Incidentally this was a delivery of ‘snacks’ Bharti had ordered, but I think there was a misunderstanding about quantity…or perhaps not.

OK, maybe this was the delivery of snacks! Who said you can’t get a shop on a bike?

A couple of ‘Hippo’ bags full to the brim. Why make four journeys safely when you make one gravity-defying one?

And finally, another Mad Max surplus vehicle. Stripped down chic for all you truck heads.

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Village kids

Most days these children are in school and we only see them after 5 o’clock or at weekends. Usually they run around barefoot (some of them go to school barefoot) and they run in and out of everyone’s house. When they come to us it is usually for sweets or to look at our gadgets. Some of them are learning English in school and one of them is good at maths. Anya tries to get him to do her homework.

Aaah, bless!

Aaah, bless!

Many toddlers have heavy amounts of kohl put around there eyes

Many toddlers have heavy amounts of kohl put around their eyes

Alot of people live in small houses down lanes in between every village. These people tend to be poorer and work as labourers in fields or own small plots of land. Their children are full of life but have nothing much to wear or play with.

Everyone wants their picture taken!

Everyone wants their picture taken!

These children look pretty desperate to us but there are many others much worse off. The migrant workers who come to the area to cut sugar cane and other crops live in the fields where they work. They bring their families with them and sleep out in the open. Everything they own is wrapped in bundles and carried with them. Hopefully we will have time to visit them as we have brought a 2 suitcases full of clothes to give away.

collecting water from the local well

collecting water from the local well

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Traditional village house

Here are some pictures of the interior of houses in Moti Pethan. These houses are about 100 years old and some are very colourful. Usually there are beds as well as seats in the front rooms and you have to be careful not to sit on a sleeping child or granny! The first time I came to India I stayed in a house like this. It only had an outside toilet, no running water and the floor was made of grass mixed with dried dung – surprisingly nice to walk on!

old-style front door

old-style front door

All windows have shutters but no glass. The metal bars keep out intruders but not the mosquitoes!

All windows have shutters but no glass. The metal bars keep out intruders but not the mosquitoes!

Front door lock

Front door lock

Shelves don't come from IKEA - they are built in with style!

Shelves don't come from IKEA - they are built in with style!

The shutters are even better on the inside

The shutters are even better on the inside

A wall cupboard

A wall cupboard

Every home, office and shop has a shrine

Every home, office and shop has a shrine

The powerful sun and the monsoon rain soon destroy paintwork

The powerful sun and the monsoon rain soon destroy paintwork

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Typical house in Karadi

This house belongs to Bhartimasi, our aunt. She is not married and lives here alone. Along time ago, our Bha (grandmother) grew up in this house but she now lives in Coventry.

kitchen

kitchen

the wet area is in the corner of the kitchen

Water is kept in the corner of the kitchen but there isn't a sink.

The bathroom

The bathroom

The toilet - squatters only!

The toilet - squatters only!

Many villagers cook over an open fire like this one

Many villagers cook over an open fire like this one

Clothes washing is done outside

Clothes washing is done outside

Bhartimasi's backyard

Bhartimasi's backyard

The local temple in Karadi

The local temple in Karadi

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Homes in Moti Pethan

Here is a selection of pictures showing what most of the homes look like in our village of Mothi Pethan. The older houses are about 100 years old. Some houses are much bigger and newer than others. This is because relatives living and working in plces like Europe, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand have sent money home to pay for a new house. The house we live in is a new one and has flushing toilets, shower, taps and electricity. This keeps us happy because we can easily charge ipods, camers and laptops!

Most of the older houses only have the electricity and have to fetch and store all their water from pumps or wells around the village. Some people have fridge freezers, televisions and dvd players but no-one has a washing machine and no-one needs a tumble dryer – the sun is always out! Clothes washing is done in the back yard and you can pay someone to do it for you.

Dada's palace!

Dada's palace

another newer style of house

another newer style of house

more traditional style

more traditional style

Terraced housing!

tha cowshed is often attached to the house

the cowshed is often attached to the house

Many of the houses have yards for storing fuel or keeping animals

Many of the houses have yards for storing fuel or keeping animals

There are several (very) small shops in the village

There are several (very) small shops in the village that sell eggs, sugar, rice, sweets and fried snacks.

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Out in the fields

After a week of getting out of bed late and just showing up for the fun jobs like feeding the chickens, it was finally time to get a taste of a real farm job. All of the children (including Gromit) went on their cousins’ tractor to a field several kilometers away owned by the family. After crossing several other fields and dismantling a few temporary ‘fences’ of thorn branches (nasty on the hands and legs!) we finally arrived in our field. Fortunately the grass we needed was already cut and tied, so all we had to do was load it on to the trailer. Hard enough work in the heat though – and we had to be careful of all the ticks in the hay…nice!

Gromit heads off for his first day of real work in the fields

Gromit heads off for his first day of real work in the fields

and off they went into the jungle...

and off they went into the jungle...

Dismantling the thorn bush fences designed to keep out animals

Dismantling the thorn bush fences designed to keep out animals

Gromit finds the hay that needs loading and starts barking out the orders

Gromit finds the hay that needs loading and starts barking out the orders

Anya's aunt and uncle are the only ones who really know what they are doing and they begin to stack the hay carefully as we all watch

Anya's aunt and uncle are the only ones who really know what they are doing and they begin to stack the hay carefully while we all watch and learn.

Anya's masi (aunty) wears a long sleeve shirt and scarf to protect herself from dust and ticks

Bharti, Anya's masi (aunt), wears a long sleeve shirt and scarf to protect herself from dust and ticks.

Then we get a go. Come on Sanjeev, put your back in to it!

Then we get a go. Come on Sanjeev, put your back in to it!

Here you go, catch!

Here you go, catch!

Finally we are fully loaded and the hay is tied to the trailer

Finally we are fully loaded and the hay is tied to the trailer

Gromit showed up again when all the hard work was done!

Gromit showed up again when all the hard work was done! Don't worry Anya didn't drive the tractor...

...Sunesh did!

...Sunesh did!

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