American Nuts

First of all, unlike Evan, I find the vegetarian lifestyle wonderful! I won’t even mention to the group that US Pizza (pronounced Pizz-ahh), where we are planning to go to dinner tonight after Hindi class, is vegetarian only. Hehe! Maybe they make a good nut pie!

A lot has happened since my last post: Sarah and I have started our scholarship project and have been traveling to the villages and conducting interviews and distributing money; I attended a Indian wedding reception on Tuesday; Our group visited Animal Aid rescue shelter; I spend my free time exploring Old City, reading development books and escaping the heat.

I’ll begin with the wedding. After much anticipation, Nani (my host grandmother), was not able to attend the wedding reception due to her sister-in-law’s death (a Indian custom for mourning). I went instead with Nani’s daughter, Rachna, her husband, and another intern, Pultik, who is Indian-American. Typical weddings have 3-4 separate events. At the reception, the bride and groom sit in their wedding attire on a decorated stage and guests take turns presenting them with gifts and taking pictures with the couple. There is a large all-you-can-eat buffet which Pultik helped me to navigate. I enjoyed tasting all the spicy new Indian foods and having “American Nuts” ice cream for dessert. Overall, the experience was short and sweet (and spicy too).

Yesterday we visited Animal Aid, a rescue shelter for injured street animals. The shelter houses and cares for cows, donkeys, pigs, birds and dogs. Cats are rare in India; I still don’t know why. I didn’t take any pictures of the animals because in all honesty, it’s really sad. Don’t get me wrong, organizations like this are needed, but it’s hard for an animal lover like myself to confront such a reality. There is an abundance of paralyzed dogs that scoot around on their front legs (trailing their lifeless body behind); an incredible feat indeed. I’ll stop there since I favor positive posts. I’ll end this section by encouraging other animal lovers and caretakers to check out the website (just google Animal Aid India).

On the brighter side, a funny experience with animals: Since it was raining, all the villagers (including us) were gathered under the roof of the government school building. Not to be left out, a herd of goats decided to join us. One goat was feeling particularly frisky and decided I was a good choice to relieve some of his energy. He bolted towards me in a mix of humping/jumping and I ran away screaming and laughing at the same time at the treat of being attacked by a horny goat. The only think I could think of saying was “jootha”, which means “impure”. All the villagers found this incredibly amusing but thankfully another goat was in his path, so I was saved. From that point on, I am extremely cautious around goats; they’re nuts.

My biggest realization is that I have only one month left. Despite some of our grumblings about life in India, I’ve considered coming back, which shouldn’t be surprising to those who know me since I’m a travel nut. I say this because India is the educational center for NGO activity. Here, the language of capabilities enters development conversations and initiatives. In future posts, I’ll detail my brewing thoughts of capabilities. In the meantime, Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom is glued to my side. I am slowly beginning to identify the role of capabilities in my interactions with villagers (the parents and students affected by the scholarship program). Needless to say, my mind has been occupied with relating theory to practice, a goal that I had set for myself at the beginning of the internship.

Distributing scholarships in Kaliwas

For those of you following our blog that are planning on interning in Udaipur at some point, please don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions!

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