In the previous post, I wrote about last one year and how it got me to India Fellow. So now is the time to reflect on first month of the fellowship. Especially because in the initial days of perplexities and self-doubt, this is what I had given myself.
A milestone of sorts!
“If you survive 31 days, you’ll go on for the rest of the year, may be even more,” my determined half said to the discontented one.
Looking back, here are some highlights and unique experiences:
- Information overload – A lot of gyaan sharing has happened. The details from induction training hadn’t sunk in yet, and there came loads from Chaitanya, the organisation I’m placed with.
- Escaped a possible tiger attack – During a field visit to Vidharha region of Maharashtra. We were seven people on three bikes one after the other, riding through the dense jungles on an afternoon. Those in front spotted the beast and turned their vehicle immediately. The other two followed the suit and whizzed for their lives. Later on, we were told the animal was ravenous and was desperately looking for anything/anyone to eat.
- Couldn’t escape annoying field staff though – In Vidarbha again. We were three female fellows accompanied by one local lady and three not-so-gentle-men. They tried to click our pictures (openly and secretly), took our numbers (only to be blocked by us later on) and (after a hell lot of defiance from our end) even slept in the same room as ours.
- Juggling with different roles – Some of the activities are marking staff attendance, loading office furniture on 1st floor, dragging women out of their homes for village meetings, attempting kick-ass power-point presentations in Hindi and getting work done from others. By the end of next month, I’ll probably be a pro at scolding people, sometimes even without a reason. So, please put up with me if I seem like a ‘pain’, the next time we meet 😉
- Rural Mud immersion
- Wardrobe Segregation – Whatever little clothing I had gotten, has conveniently divided itself up into three major sections:
a. Bade shehron mein pehenne wale kapde
b. Chhote shehron mein pehenne wale kapde
c. Gaon mein pehenne wale kapde (which is just a lot of dupattas combined with category b)
- Formed a few Self-help groups (SHGs) – For someone who isn’t familiar with what an SHG is, it’s a group of 10-20 women who pledge to save a decided amount of money every month. It can later be used for their personal benefits as well as for achieving mutual purposes of the group. Use Google for more detail, or wait for my next blog post.
- Was scorned for buying poultry eggs – From all I got to know later, it’s socially demeaning not only to eat eggs but for women to even buy those in this part of the country i.e Harda, Madhya Pradesh.
For men, of course, anything is allowed. Well, I just found another way to infuriate those shopkeepers on a daily basis.
Other than this, I learnt that ladies, you don’t need a hair-straightener to sort those tresses out. A cheaper way is to be in rural India and not shampoo for a week. Ta-da!
Also, I’ve acquired this skill to pull the Pajamas over within a second of hearing the door bell. Because being seen in knee-length shorts is criminal here (as they are all sanskari folks chanting God’s name day & night, on loudspeakers!)
All in all, it was one of the longest Augusts of my life, one of the most memorable as well. How about you?