Tour of Kolkata and Udayan

12 February 2007

Our new tour guide, who will be our guide on our trip to the Sunderbans, gave us a tour of Kolkata. We first visited the Botanical Gardens which covers 273 acres of land and contains many exotic trees, including the Great Banyan tree which is over 250 years old and covers 1.5 hectares of the Gardens. It is the greatest attraction of the Indian Botanical gardens. After we went on to the Victoria Memorial which is a tribute to Queen Victoria built after she died in 1901. It took 20 years to build and was completed in 1921. It is also known as the British Taj. The building was beautifully designed and is a very impressive monument.

Great Banyan tree

Our guide took us on to what is known locally as Potters Lane. This is where hundreds upon hundreds of statues are made out of straw then moulded with clay and then used in many of the religious celebrations and rituals (some stand at 30 or 40 feet high). Many of the statues we saw being built were in preparation for a religious festival in November. We followed this with a visit to the Jain Temple; this is one of the earliest forms of Indian religion known as Jainism, which follows very strict rules of vegetarianism and non-violence.


Udayan Welcome

This morning was very special as we made our first journey to Udayan; we were warmly welcomed by James and everyone. James firstly introduced us to some of his main helpers telling us a bit about them. Many of them are former boys of Udayan who have returned as workers.

James then very kindly gave us a tour of the site taking us round to some of the classrooms where we watched the children being taught. We saw the newly built medical wing which much of St. Joan of Arc’s recent fundraising efforts have gone towards. As we walked around the site we saw many of the ways in which Udayan makes itself self sufficient, for example growing their own crops. We were shown the children’s dormitories which are separated into boys and girls. As we visited the girl’s rooms the children came out for their lunch break and we were able to have our first interaction with the girls playing clapping games. The girls were totally mesmerised by our digital cameras and all wanted to have their photographs taken.

Team playing with the girls of Udayan

Following on from some tea and biscuits all of us enjoyed playing a football match with the boys of Udayan. The boys were in better shape than us, and used to playing football more so rang rings around us!

Joan of Arc vs Udayan Football match

Before the children went off to their studies they entertained us with singing from the English Choir and a violin recital given by two students. We now have some free time to settle into life here at Udayan, which will be followed by dinner and bed. The new day at Udayan will begin at 7 am sharp!

We apologise for the absence of pictures today, unfortunately the connection isn’t fast enough at Udayan to upload them! We anticipate to add them in when we return to the Fairlawn tomorrow evening.



@ 4422 days ago

another thrilling report! excellent detail!
it all sounds amazing, especially seeing directly what our money has achieved?

im disappointed that you didnt win football!

hope that you settle well, and relax – as it seems you will have busy days ahead of you!

take care,

love BELL

Kathy O'Brien

@ 4422 days ago

Hi Siobhan and all the other St. Joanies,
Your day yesterday sounds full of wonderful sites. Today must have also been absolutely brilliant, I’m sitting here at my desk reading through your diary account and there are tears in my eyes. It must be so wonderful to finally be at Udayan, seeing and interacting with the children and finding out what your fund raising has achieved. We are so proud of you all. Now the drama group don’t have to worry about their scripts they will have to devise a nice little play for the children. Hope the rest of your time is just as exciting, have fun and enjoy the children. Looking forward to the photos.
Only down side must be the early mornings.
Love you lots Mum xxXXxx

sophie bainton

@ 4422 days ago

hey guys just got back from bristol world! how are you all doing? sounds like you have been a busy bunch of people! kolkata now! and in udayan! very exciting stuff! the botanical gardens sound amazing! it all does!

well heres some shocking news watford FINALLY actually won some football on saturday 1-0 against west ham amazing i know!

enjoy udayan looking forward to the next entry and more photos
love to all, soph xxxxxx

Samantha Meredith

@ 4422 days ago

Hey guys,
Glad to hear you are having a great time, and to see where all th emoney raised has gone must have been a wonderful experience.
Kat i hope you have taken your scarf of at least once! Kellys party was good but we missed your over the top dancing. Grace i hope your having a wonderful time and we missing you loads both loads.
Cant wait till you all get back.
Lots of hugs and kisses
Sam xXx

xXx FraNceSca xXx

@ 4422 days ago

Hey everyone!!
Siobhan i get what you were talking about in your text now- the MASSIVE TREE! hehe. makes sense lol The tour of Kolkata sounds brilliant and very exotic!!
So you’re finally at Udayan and i’m so proud of you all! It must be soooo rewarding to see what our money has acheived and how it has helped. I bet it was quite emotional actually.
Haha losing the football hey, tut tut to you all, Grace your sports skills should have come in here!! :P
I hope you settle in and good luck with another early start! Although 7am is pretty amateur compared to what you’ve been used to-5am!
Can’t wait for more photos!!
o yeah n also- I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST guys!!! about time 2! had it today at 2:30 in the POURING of rain!!!! Was soo hard doing my left reverse round the corner bcoz i couldnt actually see the corner properly bcoz the rain was lashing down so hard! But it’s all good in the hood and I can join you in the driving world now Grace! hehe. Going to Bournemouth 2mz, so an early start for me 2 but nothing like what you lot have to endure!
Enjoy udayan and i’m sure you’re all doing Joanies proud :D
Loadza Love xxxxxxxxxxxxxx huggles 2 all xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


@ 4421 days ago

Hiya Guys!!!!!
Glad to see that you are having so much fun!
But honestly loosing the football! You have no excuse, you have been getting lots of exercise over the last week :p It muxt be amazing to actually see what all our work in the sixth form (especially charity week) is going towards! Are you starting to teach then tomorrow?
So they have showed you all of their wonderful talents, when are you going to show them yours? I expect to see videoo evidence :p im sure you guys have lovely sining voices!!!!!
Look forward to seeing the photos and receiving another update tomorrow!
Have Fun
Lotsa Love
x x x x x x x x x x


@ 4421 days ago

Helo every1!
WOW! Another amazing day! And ya got a bit of a lie-in! Although it was still an early start! Yet definately sounds worth it!
Tut Tut loosing the football!!! Wat happened!!! Oh well i suppose we can 4give ya!
Cant wait 2 c the pictures! I will def log in 2moro 2 have a look!
Shane only a week now!!! Woop Woop!!!!!
Love u all loads xxx

Mr Woollatt

@ 4421 days ago

Drama crew…it all sounds fabulous and I’m really pleased to hear you’re all safe and things are going well. I hold my head in my hands as I believe I’m about to write what is definitely your dullest message, but you (Siobhan) did ask me to contact you with my thoughts re your U5 script, so here goes…

‘If’ you want to look at anything, look at sections 3 and 4. Don’t learn other lines yet as we may switch things. Otherwise we’ll look at it all together when you return. We have three weeks til your exam when you get back which is more then enough time to work it though. No worries. I’m hoping the experience is everything at the mo and U5 is right towards the back of your minds (but I also know some of you are panickers!) Learning your 3p opera lines on the plane on the way home would pass the time though. Siobhan would love to play Drama teacher and test you all I’m sure! Miss Devlin can play Mac the Knife.

Until then, take it all in, enjoy, and keep Shane in line!

Lucy O'Brien

@ 4421 days ago

Hiya Siobhan

Glad that you are having a really good time!
Missing you lots

Loads of Love


Mr Woollatt

@ 4421 days ago

PS Losing the football is shocking! I can only imagine Katherine was in goal, Grace was out injured and you attempted to play like Luton Town!

Sarah Cassidy

@ 4421 days ago

Hi Siobhan,

Missing you loads. Glad your having a great time out there.
Look forward to your next update! Keep safe and take care,

Lots of love

x x x
PS. I’m still chatting to that friend of yours x x x

Emily O'Neill

@ 4421 days ago

Sir they were quite clearly playing football like Tottenham play it ;)
I’m glad you are all having a fantastic time and I’m sure there’s much more to come!! And by the way I get mesmorised by digital cameras :D
Well it’s back to rainy and windy in England now, so you really aren;t missing out on much- except being wet and cold.
Love to all

Francie and JJ O'Shea

@ 4421 days ago

Hi everybody, especially Neal of course x
So there you are in Udayan, and I’m sure you feel that all the fund raising efforts have been worth it – even the public leg waxing Neal!
It sounds wonderful and of course the very essence of the place will be the children themselves. I hope in the midst of the noise and sounds and chaos and fun, that you find a moment to really enjoy the true purpose of the trip, and to cherish that moment away for the rest of your lives. xx
That’s enough ‘Mummy’ sloppy stuff (!) so will hand you over to Dad. X X

Ireland played France in the first ever rugby match in Croke Park but lost 20-17. A real “choker in Croker” as the press said. We’re back from our lovely time in Morocco and first day back to work, bit lazy to do the unpacking so house is untidy …. and we can’t even blame you!
Missing you but so glad you’re having such an amazing time.
Lots of love from Dad X X

Sophie Cole and the whole family of nutty neighbours!

@ 4421 days ago

I hope no teachers are reading this, or Sophie’s reputation will be going steeply down hill on account of her e mail address!

Hi Katherine, hope you are well and happy. We miss you – it is very quiet here! I hope you are having a wonderful time, learning a lot and keeping bouyant despite what you see and learn. The children in the photos on the site look so wonderful – Hazel.

This is Sophie ….. Sorry to hear about your camera!!!!!!! Mum wondered if it might be insured on your M & Ds house insurance – its quite possible. I went to your house today to pick up my lovely CD – thanks so much – love you, miss you. This trip is tooooo long.

I have been looking at the comments to see if Ronald McDonald has left anything – but sadly no :-( – Oh, well, he is only a boy. Speaking of which the other one has just woken himself up on the sofa snoring! (Andrew). Russell and Matt are upstairs trying on my clothes !!!! No not really – but wouldn’t it be funny – and Matt’s hair is really curly now – he looks like a cherub, he could also play Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream, if the school do it for a production before we leave – but only if I can play Titania (I wonder why??) But who can play Bottom? – someone with big ears perhaps (or is that bid head) ? Alex ??

Anyway, have a wonderful, wonderful fab time – I am soooo jealous – but if I’m lucky, my turn will come – if Mum can cope. I saw a really eggy, old fashiond, grannified scarf in H&M today – you’d love it! I miss our boogies on the bus – is there a “u” in boogie? It looks like bogey – but that may have 2 “g’s” but we are too grown up to do gross stuff like that on the bus – and after all, we are ladies!!

Take care, be of good cheer – and bloody well come home soon.

Love Sophie xxxx (and Mum)

Carol Normoyle (Mum)

@ 4421 days ago

Hi Shane and the ‘gang’,
well, it rained nearly all day today (yuk) and it was windy and miserable. 7am eh, you lot got a lie in then!! Thanks for the detailed update today, sounds like your trip just keeps getting better and better. Enjoy Udayan and hope you all leave a lasting impression, make the most of your time, you are all so lucky to be there. Hi, this is now Shannon speaking. I would just like to say that I’m missing you an awful lot! I hope you enjoy your time there and you should make the most of each day because it will be over before you know it, I can’t wait till you get back so that you can tell me all about it!!!! Back to mum now, bye bye and will speak to you soon on the phone. Lots of love mum and Shannon xXxXxXx

Gabrielle,Michael,Karen and Jon

@ 4421 days ago

Hi Michael and all from St. Joans, your trip to the Botanical Gardens must have been amazing. We would love to see some photos (espeicially those of the Great Banyan tree). I am just about coming to terms with the last minute try scored by France but I don’t think the shock will ever go away. Mam has a heavy cold and is a bit under the weather at the moment but hopefully it will not last long or be too contagious (I’m just over the Flu myself). We are watching a bit of Telly and chilling out at the moment. The house is really quiet since Karen and John moved out and although we are missing all of you, we are enjoying the change of pace. It is fantastic to be able to leave the house tidy, go out and come back to find it is still tidy. We can’t believe how quickly we gan get ready in the mornings (no queue for the bathroom or the mirrors).

Michael and Neil, I don’t want to hear anymore about how well your training went or how great a win you had in the league because if you can’t manage to beat some children, it could be time to hang up your boots.

Seriously though, I hope you get on well with the children and that you can help them in some way. Our thoughts are with you always and we can’t wait to hear all about your experiences on your return.


Mam and Dad.

patrick lincoln

@ 4421 days ago

Hi there everyone… still watching the journey with great interest and enthusiasm! The pictures are good and the site is a wonderful record of your trip. At last you have arrived at Udayan..that must be really something and will produce some memorable pictures and text.
There’s a special message for Kathryn from Jill to say she has been following the trip but hasn’t been successful in posting a message. However she wants you to know, Kathryn, that Sufi has met with her woolly chums, Zara and Sophie, twice and she seems just fine!!
Enjoy every experience at Udayan, the peak of your trip, and look forward to your pics and words from this special part of your journey.

Patrick Lincoln

Kathy O'Brien

@ 4421 days ago

Good morning Siobhan, hi all, its a wonderfully bright sunny day in England today – almost tropical. Still you won’t hear me complaining of the heat. Except of course it is not helping my fridge outside the back door, luckily the new fridge freezer will arrive tomorrow.
Dad’s not too well at the moment – he has a bad cold, or a touch of the ‘Man Flu’ a bit like Neal’s Dad probably. He’s in bed recovering today so give him a thought.
You’ve now had two days with the children at Udayan. It must have been very uplifting and fulfilling. I can’t wait to read your update and see the brilliant pics. You are all so lucky to be given the opportunity but I’m sure you know that.
Don’t be too hard on the drama students Siobhan, gently does it.
Love to you all and God Bless. Mum xxxXXXxxx
Cough, cough, sniff, sniff, snuffle from Dad xxXXxx


@ 4421 days ago

heya Grace! hope your having an amazing time!! You’re not missing anything here, it did snow however a few days ago which caused hours of amusement!! neyway hope you ok!! still in one piece! can’t wait 2 c u when you get back and hear all your adventures!! lots of love Lauren xxxxxx

David & Tracy

@ 4421 days ago

Hey Ho All! Esp Mikey!

Sounds like all is going well. Tried to email you straight back but you must have finished online. Anyway…

All going well here, we’re still looking for houses. Moved Karen and Jon into theirs. Very nice place which you’ll see soon. Will be great to have a party at theirs (I’m trying to get them to have one soon.)

Not a lot happening here to be honest – still trying to get the site online as the server peeps are being a pain in the backside. You’ll find out how much hasn’t been happening when you get home.

Stop playing football by the way. :) You’re a bit rubbish really! lol Take seom more pics and see you very soon.

David & Tracy


Sarah Cassidy

@ 4420 days ago

Hi Siobhan,
Still missing you loads!
Looks like your having a great time out there,

Love you loads,

x x x x