We may as well have titled this blog “Interning in Undaipur, India: Our gastronomic experiences”.
Because I’m about to write about food…again. And I notice that food really is a theme of all of our posts.
This time, I want to talk about biscuits. And development. Hear me out. If you refer to the one learning camp video, you will see my deep appreciation for biscuits. My English heritage has taught me that tea is not properly drank (drunk?) without a nice hearty biscuit being dunked in it. It was heart warming to find the glucose-packed Parle-G brand of biscuit everywhere I looked here. If I receive a cuppa, I can find Parle-G biscuits without any fuss. In town or in the middle of some village where the street before the street before the street I took to get there has no name…Parle G is there.
And then last Saturday, I realized how completely insane that is. I was driving through some randomly remote area with my supervisor, Nitesh. We pulled over for a chai break, purchased a double pack of Parle-G, and and tucked in. As we were enjoying the pause, Nitesh laughed to himself and said “Parle-G, its the unofficial official biscuit of India! We are here in this village and can’t get clean water, but at least we can get Parle-G!”.
I mean seriously! It got me thinking of the question we explored a bit in the past year: whether development happens unilinear-ly or if its possible to “skip steps”. A common example that was used in recitation was the fact that there is no need nowadays to install ground phone lines because everyone has cellphones. So, the way I saw it, we are here in a village with no system for clean water access, but are enjoying the product of a very modern large scale business operation. Those biscuits were made in a factory that was likely hundreds of kilometers away, and the supply chain stretches as far as this remote village (and yes, even west Africa! they are all over…weird). So, the question is: Has this village skipped a step, and moved one small notch up on the development chain because it is part of a massive capitalist enterprise, or is it still totally stuck in neutral, OR worse off? I don’t really know but I sure enjoyed the snack.