Working in another culture is tough. Especially when its 110+ every single day. Navigating a workplace that operates in a totally different way, missing out on 97% of the conversation because you don’t speak the language, not picking up on social cues that would really help you out. You’ll experience the highest of highs but also the lowest of lows, sometimes within one day, sometimes within one hour.
I had one of these days this past Sunday. It was my last-ditch effort with data collection in two different villages. The first, Malariya, has been difficult. Visit after visit (and this includes a bone-crushing 2 hour bus ride to and from the village) the youth center has been closed, boarded up, and no one around to talk to. After hearing my frustration with this particular center, Nitesh (my supervisor) agreed to go with me and offer a bit of authority. I wised up and rented a private car, and we left at about 8am. Well, two hours later guess what:
We stood there, pouted a bit, scratched our heads and resolved to just move onto Dhar- the next village on the agenda. We weren’t due to arrive there until about 4pm, but what other option did we have? I was feeling a bit down though, because the center being closed meant that practically one entire village is missing in my study, and this means a big gap in my work. Of course my mind starts to spiral: “Well, this means an inconclusive study, which could mean a bad presentation to Seva Mandir, which could mean I’ll never get a job, and then I’ll be forced to eat canned food and turn into a spinster with 100 cats”. You know. As if on cue, though, about 10 seconds after pulling away from Malariya, a song starts to play that reminds me that it’s not such a big deal:
And let it be we did. We drove to Dhar and had a wildly successful afternoon, full of interviews and focus groups, lots of laughs, and a beautiful nights’ sleep under the stars. Within 12 hours, I went from feeling like my project was a total failure, to feeling like I should soon be up for Nobel prize consideration. Well played, India.