Monday, June 28, 2010

SSS: Week 5

Sarvajanik Shikshonnayan Sansthan (SSS)
A-3/302, Vishal Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow
226 010 (Uttar Pradesh) India

Initial itinerary:
12-16 June, Hardoi
2 batches of meetings with focus groups

We separated the days between 2 batches due to the lack of transportation, and for efficiency. Ideally. The first group - the "white group" /the Europeans - left on the 12th. They were delayed a lot of hours, and I was not really surprised to see them after I woke up midday when they were supposed to leave early morning. While they were gone, we were supposed to work on our reports and presentations for the final week of the project. Instead, the Malaysians, Yi Ni and Khar Khee, left for Jaipur and Agra since they weren't going to have enough time to travel before their flight back in July. America and I, on the other hand, will have more time to spare after the project and so we stayed and went shopping in the Aminabad market that Sunday.

What we didn’t know was that markets are closed on Sundays. Too bad. But still, a few shops were open, and we found some nice fabric and accessories! I bought a beautiful jewellery set for 600 INR (600 PHP). Here it is worn in the wedding we attended on the 17th:

The "white group" changed their name themselves to the "efficient group" as they got back ahead of schedule. Lucky. KC, our CEO, didn't go with them. Otherwise, I'm soo sure they would've stayed longer in every village,.

Our group - the "very colourful group" - were told to be ready to travel to Hardoi in the morning of the 15th. We were ready, but again, troubles with transportation delayed the trip. We left almost at 10 in the evening, and arrived at half past midnight.

The day after for work was great! The weather was perfect for our field excursions. It was cloudy, windy, and with no rain. We were able to manage our time in our survey work since we had more command this time as compared to our 2nd week visit. Yeah, there were those visits for chai (tea), which I didn't mind, but we still managed to visit and do our work in 4 villages that day. We visited Udaipur, Sahjhanpur, Munder and Sawayajpur, all found in the Pali District of Hardoi. I was able to get all the information I needed. I was definitely happy but at the same time more depressed with the information I gathered. Knowing more and more about the grassroot problems indeed leaves you with a heavy heart, but also with a motivated one because you know there's always something you can do to provide them more freedom, no matter how small of a difference you make.   

 With the villagers in Sawayajpur, Pali, Hardoi

Khar Khee from Malaysia with the group she talked to about health issues

Anyway, the good thing was that we, like the efficient white group, finished ahead of time. It was also partly because the doctor whom we were with had an emergency back in Lucknow and had to leave immediately. But, that's besides the case. On a worry-free trip back to our office in Hardoi, America and I took the courage to try DRIVING OUR BUS! We needed courage for many reasons. And for me at least, I experienced a lot of firsts with this.

It was my first time to:

  1. Drive a bus
  2. Take on a right-hand drive vehicle (drive from the right side of the vehicle)
  3. Drive on the left side of a road
  4. Share the driver's seat with someone else (the driver, though the driving was all on me. Promise!)
  5. Drive in India!! ..where there are no known rules on the road

WE SURVIVED! It was definitely not second nature to me unlike how I'm used to. The gear placements were different and I always had to think in changing gears. However, it was such a high.

(I have a video driving, too!)

We rested a bit in Hardoi, then started back to Lucknow in the evening. I guess the quality of the tires in India aren't very good too because there was a time the driver had to hit the brakes hard to avoid a bull cart parked in the freakin' middle of the road! A few meters ahead, our front tire popped. I looked at it, and it had become very, very thin. We were in the middle of fields. There were no street lights at all. Luckily, America and I had our (small) torches with us. It took the driver 15 minutes to change the tire, then It was a trouble-free travel from then on.

The wedding we attended on the 17th was of Bhavna (Gaurav's sister) and Ashutosh. It was awesome! The food was great. The company was great. It was the 3rd, but only wedding we attended where we actually stayed for the ceremony until the wee hours of the morning. We couldn't stay till the end but coming home at around 5 am I think was an achievement. The ceremony ended around 7/9 am.

Random photo while getting ready for the wedding

Party before the ceremony

Hitting the dance floor, Indian style!

Gaurav of SSS in ceremony

The view of the ceremony from above

Initial Itinerary:
18-19 June, Lucknow
Meetings on HIV/Aids and with seed distributors

I didn’t set any expectations for these days, which was good because no meetings happened AT ALL. It was another "weekend" for us. It was good in a way since we were able to spend more time doing personal things - like shopping! We also bought our train tickets to Gorakhpur (4hours from Lucknow) for after the project in July. From Gorakhpur, Khar Khee, Daan, his friend arriving from Holland, Tommy, and I will be taking a bus to the India-Nepal border, and again another bus to Kathmandu, Nepal!! I CAN'T WAIT FOR NEPAL!

It will be an adventure-filled and physically challenging trip. I am VERY excited. I got a lot planned - bungee jumping included. Afterwards, I'll be moving to Hyderabad found south of India for my 2nd internship! - New city, new adventure, new India.

July definitely has a lot for me to look forward to!

Problems and challenges encountered

Apart from the the challenges of traveling, and the surprises we encountered, I find the very relaxed atmosphere in the office a challenge actually. Most of us interns are used to separating work from our personal businesses, and here, the line between them seems non-existent. It makes us very lazy! Seriously. It is definitely more tiring to work without the right boundaries.

Living in the office is one factor - space. Even though it is convenient, having the people we work with around 24/7 gives a kind of uncomfortable unpredictability. We didn't know when to rest and when to be ready when we actually needed to. It was exhausting!

The different work behaviors is another factor. Time management seems to be unimportant to most people here. Especially with our superior, work time is always his time. No matter how great he is in his specialization, not having respect for time makes it very difficult, for me at least, to be motivated and inspired to work myself. We have been verbal about this problem in the 2nd week... and he definitely has taken action. It is not something one person can change overnight though.

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