A Year in India


Premature Nostalgia
June 17, 2009, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Day to Day | Tags: ,

As my fellowship nears its end, I’ve started appreciating the everyday moments that have come to characterize my time in India. A few of these moments stood out when Chandan (my coworker and close friend) and I traveled to Hyderabad last week to run a teacher training workshop. The following list may seem random and mundane, but that’s half the reason I want to capture it in words.

Hyderabad waterfront

Hyderabad waterfront

1. Sitting for hours at Hyderabad’s Western-ish waterfront food court talking, taking silly photos, and eating “American” masala corn.

2. Getting hysterical with C in the midst of his workshop presentation. “Digital Equalizer is AIF’s initiative that allows for projects like, um, Respiration through Power Point!” Ha.

3. Driving, driving, driving through Hyderabad’s hot, crowded streets. An hour from the airport to the hotel. An hour from the hotel to a museum that was, in the end, closed. An hour back to the hotel. An hour + (in circles) to dinner. Etc, etc.

4. Mutual bliss over returning to our city of heart.

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Why I Miss India
December 21, 2008, 7:29 am
Filed under: Day to Day | Tags: , ,

After arriving in Chicago for the holidays, I got the following email from my coworker, Chandan.  A perfect reflection of my Bengaluru experience thus far:

“Hey Meer,

It’s been hard reminding and stopping myself from calling you today. I don’t know what would I be after June 09. 

Anyway today I began the Samvada work with a workshop and believe me IT WAS AMAZING AND THE BEST EVER!!!!

Seriously……… this group is actually a bunch of college girls of a corporation composite college. basically studying their 11th & 12th grades. A corporation college is maintained by the city corporation and not the regular Govt education department, but practically perhaps there’s not much difference. 

Anyway coming to the meat of my story, the girls were super vibrant and everyone of them was jumping up on her seat to be heard! A rare sight, isn’t it? They were just jumping… and then whenever I picked up someone to talk, there would be zero hesitation…absolutely. And I ran them through these statements on agree-disagree and they just loved expressing, arguing and even fighting! It was an amazing experience. And it was another day that I think I was hilarious. They were just laughing their stomach out for me and my little giggle-provokers. They loved me. I loved them. It was super atmosphere.

And the Samvada educator also liked the way it all went. And then I took your camera and began shooting. And my God! What a camera that is! The shots are so stable even without a tripod! Really.. am not kidding. Somehow the very weight of it is an advantage, since it doesn’t move that easily around. I got some great footage.. super close-ups and lovely discussions… Will show you when you are back. 

And then awwwwwwww I am missing you. Come back soon. And get ready to stay for another year.. … 😀 But seriously, I am missing you a lot. Hope you had a safe trip. Enjoy your holidays. I will keep you updated about every day. Am planning with my cousins to go around the country for a week or so.

Let me know what’s going on there. Say hi to uncle and aunty and to Priya too. 

-C”



Perspective
December 9, 2008, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Mumbai | Tags: , ,

My coworker and close friend, Chandan, had a unique perspective on the Mumbai attacks.  Most have been looking at the situation and placing blame on Indian politicians, “the system,” and the Indian government’s culture of corruption.  These forces, to them, are behind India’s poor security and intelligence; these forces explain the haphazard fashion in which the media is portraying the incident; these forces fuel government officials to react to the attacks in unsettling ways.

Chandan took a more ground-level approach and laid some blame on Indian citizens themselves.  He gave me one simple, concrete example.  Why, he asked, does he encourage police force corruption by paying off traffic cops (a common practice here in India) every time he gets a driving ticket?  If the Indian people are disheartened by their government’s corruption, shouldn’t they do whatever they can – even in small ways – to curb it?  Since the attacks, Chandan has decided to stop bribing policemen and instead pay his traffic tickets legally.  Individual responsibility at its best.



A Story From Chandan
October 6, 2008, 4:41 pm
Filed under: Day to Day | Tags: ,

A video of Chandan (my coworker and friend) talking about Bangalore’s contrasts.  Pls ignore the background giggling, though it’s pretty indicative of the laughing fits that C & I have just about every day together.