Week 2

Posted on September 13th, 2009 by

This week we started each day with a yoga session with Dr. S.K.  He taught us stretches we did before each session and we also learned about the health benefits of breath (or energy) control, the yogic poses, and relaxation.  It all proved, for me, to be a great way to start out the day with purposeful movement that felt energizing.

On Monday we had a class session that debriefed the homestays we had this last weekend.  Many of us had positive experiences that included fasting with Muslim hosts celebrating Ramadan, shopping a bit, playing games with the children at the homes, and experiencing the hospitality Indians pride themselves in (this means we must eat more than we can all the time, and then eat some more after that).  It served useful for us to have these experiences to understand what life was like for Indians of our same middle-class stature, what is social acceptable in different situations, and to learn more about Islam.  We also talked about how people in this country identify themselves.

Tuesday we were sent, in groups of 5 or 6, to ride the bus on our own for the first time.  We met our leader, David Solvaraj, and walked to a large Catholic basilica to witness the celebration of Mother Mary’s birthday.  The line was about 3 km long, so when some officials wrongly assumed our leader was a priest, Father Solvaraj proceeded to inform them that we were from Rome.  The sea of people was parted and we gallantly walked through to an exclusive area right in front of the shrine to Mother Mary.  Many of us were uncomfortable about the privilege that had just been granted us because of the color of our skin and our supposed origin, however one must admit that we put on a pretty good show as we said “Scusi” and “Grazie” to all that we encountered.

The next couple of days we spent mostly in the classroom debriefing our experiences, and listening to speakers and our leaders talk about Hinduism, Islam, the climate of India, and Globalization issues and ethics, and we watched a 2-man performing group.  The group is called Rafiki, which means friend in Swahili, and they performed a play about apartheid in South Africa and how so many things divide us, such as the caste system in India and the Dalit “untouchable” community.

Thursday and Friday we spent a few hours learning about and creating compost and an herbal garden.  We did this with the Bandhavi girls and other Visthar staff members.  It was interesting to learn the health benefits of different herbs and to actually get our hands dirty with something that will greatly add to the livelihood at Visthar.  Friday was mostly spent preparing for and having a debate about the legitimacy of the Indian government allowing a Coke company having been built in a smaller community of indigenous people called the Avidasi.  This addressed the direct and indirect affects of globalization in a developing country and outlined who benefits and who suffers and the extent to which these occurrences can occur, ethically or not.

Today, Saturday, was a free day in which Lindsay took us into Chavasnagar for some shopping and other wonderful exploration.  We all went to the various shops for purchasing clothing, to a grocery store and/or a bookstore, and afterward many of us went to our first cricket match in a stadium.   We are all definitely finding out about the many sights, smells, textures, and ideologies of India, which are so rich and varied!


One Comment

  1. Jill says:

    Thanks for sharing! It still sounds amazing. Can’t wait for next week’s update.