Soup-ey Dal, Power Outages and the 22 Rickshaw

After a few weeks now, I guess I can say that I’ve got a good “routine” going. Please interpret that word as loosely as possible. Perhaps “rhythm” is better? Whatever you want to call it, there are now at least a few predictables tied in with the total unpredictables of each day. Predictables: The power will go out twice a day for one hour, I will have 4 chapatis, soupey dal, and some oil drenched vegetable for lunch, I will sweat, I will drink as much chai as possible, I will take the 22 rickshaw to Seva Mandir to get to work. Unpredictables: pretty  much everything else.

Take my week of site visits last week. Tuesday, I had predicted (planned) to visit a Youth Resource Center (YRC)—where I will be doing my work—in the unfortunately named village of Malariya.  When I arrived, it was boarded up and closed. (Turned out to be an adventure of an afternoon, which I may just share with you one evening over drinks.) Either way, the day got nothing accomplished in terms of my “work” here.  Thursday was kind of the same thing. I took a rickety bus to village called Dhar to visit another YRC and happened to meet one of the most fantastic, optimistic women I’ve ever met.  She is a volunteer for the YRCs and actually said to me “I just want to work with girls, to make sure they have the education opportunities i never got (after only finishing about 8 years of schooling before I was married)”. She was so sincere, and I just sat there grinning, beaming with the optimism that I used to be totally full of (Yes! We really CAN change the world!). We had a nice chat but I can’t say that it really advanced anything that I’m trying to get done. However, on both of those days, the power was out for 2 hours, I had chapatis and soupey dal for lunch, I sweated, drank a ton of chai, and took the 22 rickshaw to work.

I would like to briefly interrupt my own writing by saying that: IT JUST STARTED TO RAIN. For only the second time since we’ve all been here…man does it smell good.

I think we’re all coming to terms with the unpredictability of our time here.  We know that there is not much time, and there’s a seemingly infinite amount of work to do.  Boy, does that sound like some lofty existential issue. But seriously, papers are due, reports need to be written, questionnaires need to be completed.   But centers are closed unexpectedly, schedules change on a dime, interpreters cancel last minute, and sometimes, when you’re least expecting it, the 22 rickshaw isn’t running and my host mom doesn’t pack me soupey dal for lunch.  I learned to have infinite “hankuri” or patience during my Peace Corps service, so that when things come to a halt, it’s not the end of the world. Eh, I had two entire years to sort things out.  I am now learning the delicate balance of patience and a necessary drive to complete a project.  Of course, all sorts of questions come to mind when I think about this (what am I sacrificing in terms of quality of work, how respectful of the culture am I actually being, and all those fun things).  I start to question what side of the fence I fall on (going back to my first blog entry)…am I taking those baby steps and turning into someone with timelines, deadlines, requirements that don’t really square with the local “rhythm”.  I’m not really sure, but I do know that someone in New York City is waiting for a term paper at the end of all this.

Namaste y’all. Alice J

Oh, PS….I feel like Sarah really should be the one to post this. But, there’s nothing like a Bollywood dance party to break up a lazy Sunday and put you in a great mood. You should try it sometime 🙂


2 thoughts on “Soup-ey Dal, Power Outages and the 22 Rickshaw

    • ha! well how can i put this…although the 73 packs in a good 75 people, and the 22 only fits about 10, i would say the 22 has more person per square inch! too bad im not on the 73 heading to stoke newington!!

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