This picture is dedicated to my friend Deepak. I am so happy we met.
On my father's tennis buddy's recommendation we headed out for one last dinner as a group to the Bhukara restaurant in the Sheraton hotel, New Delhi. This is the biggest piece of Naan I have ever seen...however, we chose not to buy the $30 piece of gaint naan.
Yamilee and I "cheers" our bronze cups.
I know this picture doesn't do a good job of selling the dish, but let me tell you, this was the tastiest stuffed bell-pepper I have ever had - it had a spicy, vegitable curry including cashews and raisins in it.
Here we are in our Indian garb...aren't we cute...and SOOOOO tired...not to mention paranoid that these saris tied at a below-amateur-level were going to fail us at any moment.
Well, our car comes to take us to the air port in 4 hours and I have have not finished packing, so...yeah. See everyone in Goa!
We hosted the second big meeting today - here was the Adgenda
4 August 2007
PURPOSE: Meeting to ensure sustainability of sanitation pilot project in B-Block of Bhoomiheen camp through the interaction of all the stakeholders to :
* Finalize a payment system for the community agreeable to all stakeholders
* Discuss suggested responsibilities for each stakeholder
Set a regular meeting schedule for future stakeholder meetings
Mr. Mohammad Gulzar Community Committee
Ms. Krishna Community Committee
Mr. Rama Community Committee
Mr. Saurabh Issar Municipal Counselor’s Office
Mr. Thakur Prasad MCD Local Inspector (NO SHOW)
Mr. Deepchand MCD Local Manager (NO SHOW)
Ms. Snelata YWCA Community Mobilizer
Ms.Usha YWCA Community Mobilizer
Ms. Madhu YWCA Community Mobilizer
Ms. Vardi Devi YWCA Community Mobilizer
Ms. Shanti Devi YWCA Local Director
TIME: Begin time: 1pm, End time: 2pm-2:30pm
VENUE: Bhumin Vikas Mandal
*Project Update (5 min)
i. Bins installed
ii. Overwhelming use of bins and very little trash in waterways
iii. Requests for bins from all neighboring areas
i. Regularity of trash worker schedule
ii. Unresolved payment plan
iii. Regularity of emptying the large MCD bin
* Payment System (20 min)
* Group comments on suggested stakeholder responsibilities (15 min)
* Set up time/dates for future stakeholder meetings (10 min)
* Suggestion for natural expansion of the project (5 min).
* Thank you for your dedication to and support for this project. (5 min)
I don't think the meeting really followed the agenda partially because of Indian Standard Time causing the meeting to start at 1:30pm instead of 1pm and because the MCD officials never showed up...apparently it was meant to be though because the Monicipal Counselor's Office gave permission for the community to hire a private worker and the 3 community leaders and the 5 YWCA community mobilizers were ready to take on all the responsibilities.
After the meeting finshed around 3pm, the community committee members and the YWCA headed out directly to start collectingg money from the community to get the community-run sanitation program running.
All the neighgboring lanes want the program in their area and are 1. willing negotiate bin placement themselves and 2. pay the small monthly fee. We are going to try to set up a garbage bin fund so that these lanes can join the pilot project in the future...I couldn't be more proud of us and the community!
And here comes my reward...Jessica and I leave at 5am on Tuesday for 10 days of nothing but sleeping in beach huts, eating south indian food and hanging out on the beach reading, playing, swimming...everything but planning :)
After a morning of writing up documents in English and Hindi to make sure all the project stakeholders agree on their respective responsibilities, Musheer and I headed over to YWCA to confirm their attendance at the second big sustainability meeting on Saturday and get their feeback and advice on current challenges. On the right is Vardi Devi (the leader of the community mobilizers for this YWCA branch) and Shanti Devi (office director). I am so impressed with both of these women - they are sharp, strong, connected, and they know what they are capable of. Any community problem we explain to them, they are able to see through all the fog and tell everything as it is - bluntly. They don't speak english but I greatly enjoy every meeting with them.
After the meeting, Musheer, Dharnani and I had a few hours to hang around the community before the others came at 6pm to set up for the show. Here are some local girls we know.
Later on, I decided I would start drawing animals to see if the kids could identify them. Seven animals, two insects and ten minutes later I was being pressed on all sides by small bodies pointing and yelling out names in Bengali, Hindi, and English (from two of the older girls).
I was sitting near the temple writing in my project notebook when this little guy pulled up a stool and sat down right next to me.
At 6:30pm - an hour before the show the crowd has already begun to form. We learned the lesson about crowd control already...
The show starts and the people are captivated. Big cheers erupt from the crowd for images of the most popular neighborhood children, well-known shop keepers and friendly community leaders appear on the screen....I nearly cried...but I have also been short on sleep for three weeks now.
As we were packing up, the children's ecitement could no longer be controlled. We protected the equiptment, but Julie who was attempting to take a picture with some children was knocked to the growd by the mob of excited half-pints. Never in my life have I felt like as much of a celebrity - little children popped up all over with their hands stretched out waiting to shake mine and as we walked to the main road and waited for an auto, our 1 m tall entourage was all around us. As the auto pulled away last minute handshakes were exchanged and everyone waved and said good bye.
We were all glowing.
The MIT team decided to treat the RF team to dinner so we went to Le Chef in Sector 37 and had a tasty feast. Despite the exhaustion (several team members hadn't slept at all the night before) - we laughed all through dinner at our inside jokes and impersonations of particularly eccentric (or difficult) people we have met (or people who will surely get fired when their government contract is over...).
All hands in the middle...1,2,3..."INDIA!"
Monitoring the bin system: the local MCD manager is still having trouble sending a worker for 30 min 2x a day to take away the garbage. Last night we hit a semi-crisis point as several bins had filled up by 4:30pm and the local manager told us that he would not send an afternoon worker. We went for a meeting at the municipal councilor's office (read furniture store and nearby pharmacy) and had a blunt conversation about how government workers will only perform our community's work if there is a monetary incentive system put in place so that this area of work will be prioritized for the understaffed MCD office.
For yesterday evening, the Municipal Councilors nephew took on the local MCD manager's responibilities and personally arranged and paid for two workers on short notice - 150 Rs (~$4) for two guys to haul 10 trash bins to the big dumpster.
I was pretty tired by the end of the rounds in the community and was sitting under the overhang near the temple (where we will be giving our final show for the community tonight) and as usual children hung about watching me write and asking me to take their picture through hand gestures.
Here is a glamour shot of one of the bins locked into position next to a bunch of caged chickens on the back of a bicycle. Here you can buy your live chickens for slaughter directly in front of your home...yay!
Below, some young men read the poster on how to use the bin, with handy catch phrases like "put your garbage in the trash bin" and "open and close the lid".
In this picture, from right to left, we have an MCD trash remover, Musheer, Gulzar (one of the community committee members), and a second MCD trash remover. Both of these trash removers ran away before they gogt a chance to move any trash. These workers are proving very difficult to get a hold of and retain.
Here is Dharani - our trash bin warrior - diligently measuring trash heights every 30 min, while training us to do the same.
On the job...it started raining heavily during my monitoring shift and so Meenu and I sat under an overhang near the temple and she did mehindi (henna) on one of my hands. For most of the time we had a crowd of about a dozen boys, girls and women watching Meenu draw lovely designs.
...and you think I am kidding about gathering all these stray cows and becoming an urban cow-herder.