Hello from Sidhpur! That’s the name of the village I’ve landed in, and I just discovered today that it’s pretty easy to get to Dharmshala (धार्मशाला) (known to me basically as the place to buy things more complicated than basic food items, and delicious Indian desserts) from where I live by bus, for only 5 rupees/10 cents!
I’m sorry I haven’t updated this blog as often as I’d have liked. I’ll blame my awesome friends at SASLI, my Hindi class itself (especially finals), the awesome two weeks I had at home with many of my friends and family, and the intense travel schedule I had up until about a week ago. Highlights from that time include a beach party (with a cake that had a pretty decent map of India on it), a visit to my grandparents house for the last time, and spending time in a climate controlled environment for the last time in quite a while.
After a car ride, 2 plane rides, several taxi rides, and a bus ride later, I ended up here in Sidhpur. I actually thought I would be staying at Jenna’s (a fellow that came before me) old place, but instead I’m staying at Sarah’s (a fellow from another program that was here this past spring) place, which has a kitchen, small bathroom (with HOT WATER and a FLUSH TOILET, both of which I appreciate a lot) and a general room with a desk, my bed, and other things. I now know my way around the neighborhood enough to make VERY light conversation with shopkeepers, and where to buy decent milk, yoghurt, eggs, peanut butter, and BAKED GOODS!
This week has been all about settling in – and no matter how hard I try, it can’t be rushed. I want to feel comfortable here so badly that I’ve been doing as many home improvement things as I can, from buying a foam mattress to replace my thin cotton mattress I had to buying a (what people tell me is really good) water filter and storing device. It even has a toll free number I can call if I have problems.
I could write a whole blog post on making my water clean, but for now I am either a) buying bottled water (at around $.40/liter this can add up though) or b) first boiling my water AND THEN running it through my water filter. This is difficult because I can’t put near-boiling water through the machine so I store it in two one-liter apparatuses (non-BPA-leaking water bottles/thermoses) until it cools, THEN I run it through the filter, which takes a while too. Is this worth not contracting giardia, etc.? I sure hope so! Apparently after monsoon season ends, I don’t have to boil the water and then put it through the filter. I would give myself two weeks of this before I just cave and stop boiling before filtering…we shall see!
My Work So Far
Things at my organization, Jagori Grameen, have been progressing somewhat. I’ve been going to various meetings with the SATH and AWAJ teams, including a planning meeting about a mother-daughter fair (mothers and daughters, believe it or not, don’t get to interact as much and talk about being women as much because the sons in the family are paid attention to far more), two women’s counseling meetings with the legal team (they hear applications brought by men and women related to dowry disputes, land ownership, and domestic violence, among other things, and try to see how they can solve the situation out of court), a women’s village meeting where they talked about the problems of alcoholism and land ownership (women are rarely given the opportunity to own land), and follow-up meetings with women and men who Jagori gave medicine to for hyper-anemia (the villagers around here don’t get much iron in their diets, especially women because they tend to be the last to eat at the dinner table). I’ve been getting to know the team members, and have become especially close with Vasu, a New Delhi girl who came to work at Jagori in April on the AWAJ team. She’s one of the counselors that works with the nari adalat, or women’s courts, and other aspects of the AWAJ mission. The entire team has been very welcoming, and calls me a team member often and presents me to other people as such, which makes me feel really good.
The title of my post, (धीरे-धीरे) which means little by little, is said all around me all the time. “Dhire dhire apko Hindi aatii hai” (little by little, Hindi comes to you). I am adjusting little by little, day by day – and all I have to do is be OK with that.
Next post – my initial feelings on India and Indonesia.