However, one hour later, everything had dried up and the shopkeepers who had packed-up for rain-mode spread out again. Here is one one of these very temporary stores created on this stone archway.
Also, one of the NGO elementary schools that serves local slums had a new saying of the day posted...I agree.Ohhh, and exciting news in blog-land. I have just called a lap top repair place in Delhi (apparenly located in Asia's largest electronics market...), where the store owner said (in English!) that replacing the Dell laptop screen could be replaced in 1 hour! I know it is not fixed yet and I don't know if I am supposed to bargain over the price...but I can't help "We Are The Champions" from playing in my head. Good luck, me! (as my grandfather Roy might say :)
Today was the first day of classes for the Indian students on campus and I am already enamored with the student body. Get this: after eating dinner together in the cafeteria from around 8-9pm, they come out to the lawn and sit in little circles of either all girls or all boys ranging from 5 to 15 people. (Although I did see one suspected couple walking and talking…). In these circles, the girls often take turns singing songs in both Hindi and English ranging from quiet, traditional folk songs to dance songs such as “Let’s Party!” In addition to singing songs together in groups while sitting in the grass after both lunch and dinner, they also play little games such as spin the bottle – the games usually involve singing as well. Jessica and I were invited to join one group of 6 girls, which within a few minutes had grown to about 15. After it was my turn to sing a song (I sang part of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly me to the Moon”), they transitioned to a game which is basically the equivalent of duck-duck goose, except you don’t tap people on the head – instead the girls going around the outside has a little towel that she hides as she prances around and then drops behind someone and if the girl running around the circle makes it around the circle before the girl with the towel behind her notices, then the girl who didn’t notice has to go in the middle of the group and perform. I don’t know what all the options were but we saw two singing performances and Jessica gave a little dance performance – she was a big hit with some of her bangra moves! When the groups of girls get together they are the most bubbly, sweet, cute little groups you can imagine. I am very much looking forward to participating in more group singing and game-playing in the cool (~85-90F) of the night.
Here is a picture of the girls (plus Musheer) outside Haldiram's restaurant.
Jama Masjid is a large mosque with Hindu and Persian design elements. There are no minarets (tall towers), but these mini-domes (from which lanterns are hung) line the top of the entire mosque wall. This is a picture of 54 m high Buland Darwaza (Visctory Gate) that celebrates one of Akbar's military vistories.
After lunch at Fatehpur Sikri we headed back to Agra to visit Agra Fort, a fort and palace complex begun by Akbar in 1595 and extensively added to by his grandson Shah Jahan, whose favorite material was white marble (and who also built the Taj Mahal). When Shah Jahan's son seized power in 1658, Agra Fort became Shah Jahan's prison for 8 years...could have been much worse though...I think he still at least 350 concubines. Here we see the entrance to one of teh first palaces we looked at. Intricate carvings and stone lattices all over the place!
After an already long day it was time to head to the Taj! Securty to pretty tight. As you walk toward the Taj Mahal you go through a large, dark gate, and similar to the treasury in Petra, Jordan, a view of the Taj Mahal reveals itself in full splendor. There were a lot more people here, than at the other two sites, as expected, but I am still suprised at how few foreigners I see. During the work week we see no foreigners and even at India's biggest tourist attraction, I only noticed about 30 obvious non-Indians. On the west side of the Taj, there is a red sandstone mosk and on the East side of the Taj is a mirror-image of the mosque (for symmetry :) Both the inside and outside of the Taj Mahal is adorned with beautiful patterns of semi-precious stone inlay and teh inside is also decorated with semi-translucent white marble with carved flowers ( a lot of irises). The Taj mahal was built for the wife of Shah Jahan after she died givign birth to their 14th child.
Here I am with the obligatory me-and-Taj picture...
The Taj Mahal was built on the bank of the Yamuna river, which was looking very beautiful as the sun dipped lower in the sky.
All in all, a really fabulous day even including the Indian policeman who asked for a really big bribe because our driver's license plate was the wrong color and he saw a bunch of foreigners in the car...first hand experience of police force corruption!...what a big day...it is 11am and I think the rest of the group is just starting to stir. Love, Catherine
Well, I just broke my laptop but it could have been much worse. The data appears to be in tact and I still have about 25% of the screen. I have the upper-left quadrant, which if I got to choose, would definitely have been in my top two choices for favorite screen quadrants. Since I am successfully posting a blog it looks like I may continue using the laptop for email and blogging (even though looking at the screen so soon after the accident makes me a sad.) I have attached the following picture for those who have never seen a broken laptop screen before:
In other news I visited another community today and say children getting water from a gaint water pipe with leaks. Here is a picture.
Also, I am heading to Agra tomorrow to see the Taj Mahal and two other sites - it should be another hot day with a high around 100-1110F. I can't see what I am typing so I think I will wrap up here.
When I heard a showman shouting underneath the flair
I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts
There they are all standing in a row
Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head
Give them a twist a flick of the wrist
That’s what the showman said"
- from a well know novelty song in the 1940s referring to an English carnaval game, more recently referenced in Disney's The Lion King.
...okay...so its possible I don' have too many pictures from yesterday or today because my group has been writing up the community research we have conducted the past two weeks. But in the spirit of coconuts, here is a picture of me drinking coconut milk from a coconut. The guy at a food court we visted yesterday chopped the top off with a machete after I ordered (which even with a huge knife did not look easy), so I am glad they don't ask customers to knaw them open. The dish was called lemon rice and was served with a small bowl of lentil soup, some pickled vegitables, and curd (South Indian cuisine).
Also, I have been running every day at 6:30pm (around sunset) with one or two of the other girls and have made friends with a group of Indian business school students who seem to be the only students on campus during this holiday month. Sometimes I ask them if I can participate in their exersize schedule (including jogging, some sprints, stretching, sometimes meditation and yoga and then about an hour of lifting in the gym). This evening I found out that they also meet every morning at 6:30am for yoga breathing exercises...I asked if I could join in and they said that was fine. Group yoga in the morning out in the meadow with peakocks making sounds in the taller grasses with the sun just barely up....can't wait! I'll see if I can sneak in a picture without acting like a complete tourist:)
When we came out of the alleyway I saw this cart containing some shiny god-statues and some platic green parrots. This is my favorite picture from today.
Also, I learned that there are 'ice cream trucks' near these communities that sell sandy colored ice cream on sticks that seem to be made in the cart and sold for 1 Rp each ($ 1/40)...complete with bell! Yay, for the children!
On the way back to the school we stopped at a local temple. There was a small main building with a painted statue inside and several statues decorating the outside walls and the small surrounding courtyard.
As we were walking through a residential area we came upon this lovely Ganesh temple:
Once at the market, we (I mean Sony) bargained for Kurti's (just the tops that can be worn over jeans and suits (salvar kamis), which is a top and a bottom. We also looked at skirts and I checked out some cheap tupperware :)
We took shelter in the air conditioned sari shop and were impressed by all the colorful and sparkly fabrics that the helpers threw out one after another:
After going to the market we headed over to India Gate where in the now cooler weather, there is a 4th of July atomosphere: children playing in the fountains, families BBQing on the grass, lots of vendors selling snack food and noise-makers. Here I am in front of India Gate (a memorial to fallen Indian soldiers). Around 7:30pm it was dusk and my Lonely Planet guide showed one restaurant in the near vicinity - I led everyone through a not promising looking area as it began to get dark and my mid was filling with doubt but then a nice lady asked us if we were looking for anything and it was only
...In other words: "I sail!" (see What About Bob?)
The first day it rained 55 mm and it rained that might and the next morning our campus was flooded with water 8" deep in some areas. Surprisingly the sun came out and the water went away and Saturday was a lovely day. My impression is that monsoon season consists of very heavy rains lasting 1-3 hours 1-3 times a day. Here is a picture of the street from the entrance of our favorite lunch spot near the NGO.
On Friday the teachers at the NGO run school we are based out of asked us if we would help judge a poster/presentation competition between 5 groups of students doing vocational training on various themes ranging from infanticide to why cheating is bad. Here I am lighting one of the ceremonial candles on stage...our unexpected participation in this event was bewildering but fun.
On the way home, our autorickshaw (containing 3 girls) was followed by these two young men on a motorcycle who apparently wanted to come to our house.
NOTE: the record for most people seen on a motocycle stil stands at 5!
Today we visited a second slum community called JJ Camp. (JJ stands for a Hindi word that means thatched roof houses, even though most of the houses have tin roofs). JJ camp is not as well off as A-block (yesterday) and pretty much smells like human waste everywhere you go. About a quarter of the children have severe skin rashes either due to infections or 'medicines' administered by the mothers. (One child we saw yesterday had balding patches after the mother tried using something on his skin). In addition, most of them probably have lice because they were itching their skin and scalps like crazy. Here is most of a family with a mother and her six children. The room that they live in (right) is so small that some of the family members have to sleep outside the door.
The smaller boy in the black T-shirt has dark black makeup around his eyes (I have seen this on many young children and babies) because the community believes that it will improve the child's eyesight.
Kavita, Catherine, Julie and Musheer at the Deepalaya health clinic.
Crowd of excited children from A-block. The dogs name was Julie as well.
The girl to the right of the mother in the yellow sari wanted to learn English and Dharani convinced me to sing Happy Birthday for the crowd and everyone joined in:)
After work we went to see this impressive Baha'i temple shaped like a lotus flower (Lotus Temple) - the four girls negotiated a fare back home by ourselves for the first time. This was a little challenging but we ended up paying only 10Rp. more than we should have (80Rp.) - therefore I deem our negotiating skills a huge success!
Here is a blurry picture of the whole team:
Around the circle starting with Jessica (front in red), Dr. Sunaina, Sony, Dr. Miraj, Nupur, Yamilee, Julie, Dharani, and Mushir)...I took this awesome picture.
Today was our first full day of work during which we visited the two NGOs that we will be learning from duing the 4 week research period. It was another super-hot day (44C) and everyone had their low points during the day, but overall we are a tough group and I am very proud of all of us.
I liked this 'thought of the day' from a chalk board outside a "posh" 1-12 adademic school/vocational school run by Deepalaya that serves the surrounding slums:
first bounty from the local market (each subdivision in Faridabad is numbered and has its own markets...these treasures are from 37 Market)
freeways are for people and cars
Fun Fact: "Brain freeze", like that experienced when eating ice cream too quickly, can be alternatively obtained by moving between outside and inside temperatures. Wooo!
Jessica walking along one of the tiled paths on the campus.
Our very own table tennis hut: table tennis table (minus net) included!
Jessica on football field with pretty bougenvilla plants...this is one of my favorite spots on campus so far.
Getting off the airplane in Delhi was like opening the door to an oven, and instead of closing the oven deciding to get inside the oven and stay for a while. The temperature at 11pm was 110 F and my crew was concerned about what the addition of sun might do to this situation. Our supervisor suggested we drink about 25 glasses of water a day (although it is possible I misheard) and I have already aquired a small army of 1L aquafina bottles. Im pleasantly surprised to discover how wonderfully everything has been organized for us (although the dispensation of these plans seems to come at a very measured pace that I need to adjust to), and am very excited about working with Prof. Miraj who teaches and does research/projects in the area of NGO management. (I lucked out!) We anticipated having Fri-Sun to recover from jetlag but it turns out Fri-Sun is actually our 3 day orientation. Monday we start fieldwork and research at specific NGOs. I will write more about the timeline for the summer tomorrow. Here is the team from MIT; soon I will get pictures of our supervisors and our Indian teammates.