June 21, 2011
The most important aspect of my trip to India was the chance to stay in one area of the country and truly get to know people here. This is what separates all the Summer in South Asia fellows from tourists who might hop from one city to another trying to see as many heritage landmarks as possible. While sightseeing is always fun, you arguably learn very little about the place you visit because this approach does not lend itself to getting to know people on a deeper level. After a month in Mysore, it saddens me most to think of leaving all the people that I have worked with.
The data-collection portion of the study thankfully concluded very well and we reached our target range of participants. I have already planned to meet with Dr. Madhivanan when I get back to Michigan to discuss next steps for the project so I hope the research will keep me busy straight up to the start of the school year. I presented some preliminary findings to the staff on my penultimate day in Mysore and was glad to share some of the work with everyone and have the chance to answer questions and begin preparing to write a detailed summary of the conclusions and implications from the research.
After the presentation, I tried to take advantage of my last night and visited my new friends at Devaraja market. Just the night before I ran into a merchant at the busy market center and ended up having a two-hour conversation with him. I was passing his oils shop and, most likely out of intrigue that I was a Westerner, he called for me and asked me to sit with him and have some chai. He told me about a book he was writing about LGBT issues in India and the taboo associated with them and I was really intrigued because my study also dealt with taboos that pertain to sexual health issues in the country. We talked, asked questions, and simply enjoyed each other’s company. It was really refreshing to have such an in-depth conversation with someone from across the world and learning that some issues really are universal. It was another chapter in the book of human connections for me.
I also had the chance to connect with other life in India. After finishing a load of laundry late one evening earlier last week, I put my clothes out to dry and hoped the dry and fairly hot night would leave me ready-to-wear clothes the next morning. I checked very early and left them for a couple more hours since they were still damp. While working with Dr. Reshma at around noon, Siddhu peered through the window and yelled, “Nader…laundry…monkeys!” I ran upstairs and found a group of at least ten monkeys playing on the clothesline that my laundry was hanging on. The monkeys were also hanging on my laundry and trying it on! They were very smart and I thought I should capture this memory and I grabbed my camera and recorded a video of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQhw-oIXxtI. They took some souvenirs for themselves, but none of those clothes were very expensive and I easily managed the last week without those clothes so seeing my monkeys play with laundry was more enjoyable to watch than anything else.
Posted by nhhakim at June 21, 2011 11:59 AM