Monday 19th February

I’m starting writing this sitting outside in the morning sunshine in Haipi village, Manipur. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. We were talking last evening about the Emmanuel School, of which I am a UK trustee. In making plans for the future of the school it seems that a key factor is whether or not we should hold the school to UK standards. One of the challenges for us as we work with people in a different culture is to make what we build both physically and socially as sustainable as possible. This applies to the materials we use to build the new primary school, but also to the safe-guarding policy that the UK charity commission expects.

Life here is different. One of the features of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was the tendency for overstatement of the young man managing the hotel. In Delhi a number of public conveniences were labelled “Toilet Complex”. From the title I was expecting something grander than it was. We past number of hotels along the road a couple of which had variations on ‘Unique’ in the title. While this is clearly inaccurate, they were certainly unlike anything one might see in Western Europe.

In cities one sees far more people – men – seemingly just hanging around than one would in the UK. Where we bustle about with some sort of purpose, a lot of people seem to stand around here. Men and women seem to keep separate. On a tour around a Mogul fort, we saw a number of groups of young men – not something one would see walking around Windsor Castle. In that same historic monument a new wall was being built and the brickie’s mate, knocking up and carrying the mortar was a woman.

Village life is different. Everything revolves around rice. Tithes at church are made with rice. Work involves rice. The word for a meal is also the word for rice. Life is slow-paced and when I think of our (western) desire to ‘sort it out’ I am reminded of the parable of the Mexican Fisherman.