May 24, 2011
The First Days in India
Hello to all from Adampur, Punjba, INDIA! First, I would like to thank everyone involved in the Summer in South Asia fellowship, Zilka, Nancy, and most especially our kind donor who made this once in a lifetime experience possible. I never would have thought that my dream of going to India would be fulfilled, let alone while I was an undergraduate!
After two seven hour flights, one seven hour layover, a twelve hour wait in the Indira Gandhi Airport for a nine hour bumpy in a van, I arrived in Adampur. I am staying with interns who work for the NGO I'm also working with, EduCARE India. After a day or two adjusting to the immense heat here, I went to the office and began learning more about the organization. I will be helping with the Women's Empowerment programs and the Marginalized/Migrant Communities programs. These programs will help me conduct research on the affects of globalization on education in this part of India. It sounds like I will be moving to another village this coming week, one that is a little more rural. The NGO has several Centers, one in Adampur, Janauri, and another in Dosarka (where I will be moving).
Overall my adjustment to life in India has been fairly smooth although the first couple of days I was wondering what I got myself into! The heat is almost unbearable, it is so dusty, and I hate that I can only drink bottled water. However, because the people are so friendly, the food so delicious and the landscape and culture so intriguing, I stopped focusing on the intensity of the heat and tried to forget my cooler climate back home.
One of my first experiences with the friendliness of the Indian people was at customs in the airport. The men going over our visas offered Martha and I candy and although we initially refused, they insisted. I remembered that it is typically inappropriate in Indian culture to refuse gifts so we finally took some. Then while Martha and I waited in the airport for a van to take us from the airport to Jalandhar, Punjab, we started playing cards. A man who was waiting to pick someone up from their flight sat by us and starting talking with us about our card game and then we talked with him about what we were doing in India and about his own life in Delhi. Before we knew it, ten or so of his friends who were also there to pick up people from the airport, joined us and taught us a card game called Flash. It was basically a gambling game and as two American girls playing cards with ten or more older Indian men, we drew a lot of stares at the airport but it was a lot of fun. One of the men made me talk with a friend of his on the phone - bizarre, but funny.
Yesterday was my first official day working in EduCARES office (the only place I have internet connection) and after a day in the office and a delicious veggie burger for lunch, a group of us went out to the migrant camps. There are two camps in Adampur, one a snake charmer community and the other a “rag picker” community. Having worked with migrant farm-worker communities in the Michigan, I was excited to compare the differences and similarities between migrant camps and workers in Michigan and India. The camps here are relatively small (around 30 people but it seemed like it was less) and their homes very simple tent structures with tarps over the top. There is some weird competition between the two camps of people but I'm looking forward to working further with both, hopefully. So long as the snakes that the snake charmers keep in baskets on the ground don't escape...
Speaking of which, there are rattle snakes in the fields by our house. A little more threatening than the blue racers that I'm used to back in Michigan.
Well, that's it for now. Not too much to report yet! I have limited internet access so I may not be able to consistently post - that and I can't guarantee my posts will be very good quality because it is hard for me to concentrate in this heat. A final side note: I just had the most delicious meal of masalla dosa with a 7 Up. It is like a crepe filled with potato, onion, and some form of spices that you dip in other sauces. Delicious! I am loving the food.
Posted by julimari at May 24, 2011 09:27 AM
I had masala dosa too, it's so good! I'm pretty sure all the restaurants in the city have it so I'm definitely going to go back and have more. Also if you see it on a menu or are offered some, get some parota, it's a delicious buttery bread that you will get hooked to!
Posted by: nhhakim at May 26, 2011 07:11 AM
Parota - I must look for some, thanks for the recommendation! I love the food here even though I'm upping my fried foods and sugar intake by a lot more than the usual!
Posted by: julimari at June 8, 2011 12:58 PMLogin to leave a comment. Create a new account.