Wednesday, August 26, 2009

rural adventures part 2

just to let everyone know, i have safely returned from rural india with:
1. more hair
2. less weight (uhh, so i seriously eat 3+ meals a day because the food here is phenomenal but i still lost ~5kgs aka 10 pounds or so... curious...)
3. mosquito bites that amount to teenage pimples all over my body
4. an appreciation for electricity, internet access, and phone access, hot water, clean water, and toilet paper
5. less gifts for you guys (i gave them away to these kids at an orphanage but it's ok, i will find something else...)
and lastly, 6. the concept of "jugar, jugar" - aka no more type A Justin... (IST is so prevalent here. So if you thought BPT or APT was bad, let me introduce to you IST - indian stretchable time. if BPT and APT had a baby, IST would be it. pretty much a test of patience and flexibility, which i have finally succeeded in not succumbing to frustration.)

so the second place we visited was lokshala, jharkhand. we were invited by an organization headed by a fellow wolverine. he did his post doc at uofm way back when and now he teaches biochem at some medical school in india and he's one of the main people in charge of this volunteering area. but anyway, it's hard to describe the village - it has electricity so it's not like terribly rural but it's still a pretty rural place. the electricity ends at around 10pm every night so early rest! or meetings and work in the dark. anyway, upon arrival, they hired help to carry our luggages (even though it really wasnt necessary) but it was still a cool sight. i am super amazed at these hired help because these luggage were pretty heavy. each head-load could be up to like 40-50kgs (100lbs) which is a lot of weight to put on your head and they were able to walk it some distance, balanced and all that.

some pictures of the area:
so this area has a problem with keeping water since it runs off so they built man-made lakes to store the water for irrigation and everything else. depicted here is a small lake that is used to water the crops, do laundry, and shower (i wonder if soap water is good for crops).
a beautiful alley way. there's something tremendously wonderful about these villages. their simplicity is captivating. and the surrounding natural landscape is breathtaking. you wouldnt think this is india if i didnt tell you it is.
so these villages were a lot cleaner than the ones back at gaya - there's no human feces everywhere but there still is cow feces. better at least.
a local craft shop that we visited. their 'sarees' (sp?) are beautiful. they also make sarees for sail. it takes about 30 hours of hard labor to finish one piece and they sell it for like $10-20, which is like nothing. for the man-labor they put in each article of clothing, they should be making a fortune.
some kids observing us. adorable.
our living quarters. as you can see, mosquito nets everywhere. except they were useless. jharkhand mosquitos are way worse than new delhi or gaya mosquitos. those pale in comparison to the deadliness of these monsters. you're itchy for about an hour after the bite but the worse part comes in the middle of the night when the venom starts acting up and you just want to chop off your arms and legs. even now, i have local infections at every bite. mega not awesome!
our common room, which is very cozy and homely. i want my home to be like this... oh and our parrot (?)

so we came here for 2 things: teaching at schools again and cultural exchange. most of the schools were in terrible shape, lacking in school supplies and books. some lacking in teachers (since it's hard to entice teachers to come to such rural an area). and some were so crowded, it's hard to imagine how one can ever learn. there was this one classroom that could probably seat 30-40 comfortably but it sat over 100 students. and since there was no electricity, there was no lights on the ceiling, nor fans. it was dark and stuffy even with the windows and door open. what a terrible learning environment...

this one room building is an entire public school for an entire village. under-funded much?
but the kids were awesome and i think they enjoyed our time there as much as we enjoyed it. i think we ended up teaching at 5 different schools (even though we really shouldve just stayed at one) but nonetheless, it was a touching experience.
doesnt that look delicious? because it was...

then for the second part of the trip, we just enjoyed our time there - milking cows, painting walls, sewing (she said of the entire group, i was her best student - awesome!!), and making daily appliances... like a broom! haha

and of course, we had to do yoga. or why else would we come to india? haha

yeah so that pretty much somes up this part of the trip. lots of little stories but cant remember right now...

OH! and peace corps wrote me. i have been finally medically and dentally cleared. so now all that is left is an invitation for placement, which will happen sometime in september or october... hopefully. cant wait, awesome!!

i will return to new york post september 20th so get ready to hang out with me!


  1. cant wait to see your hair! this trip sound so amazing though- despite the lack of utilities... seriously amazing. and please spend like almost everyday at my apt before you leave.. it's small- but will be functional.

  2. reading your posts leave me breathless--and wondering. what program did you go through in traveling all over india?? and that's pretty cool! my flatmate (in scotland) just got out of her 2 yrs in peace corps in armenia!