This week has been an efficient use of time for the most part. Even though I took off two days in order to go to Jodhpur for Republic Day, which is one of India’s independence days, I have managed to get quite a bit done. The greenhouse, that had been forgotten about until I came poking around for it, has gotten underway and the center is working well, as usual.
Last weekend, after spending some time with the gals in Jodhpur, they informed me that my name had become a verb for multiple uses. What I mean by this is that while doing something that would usually be characterized as something that I would usually do or make someone do, that it was now considered “pulling a Hannah.” My name now has the verb attached to it meaning “to be firm and to ensure the desired results.” Due to take no crap, strong will, and won’t back down personality that I have, the others always make me bargain for things, get us the Indian price, and overall anything that may be a difficult maneuver. It is quite fitting for the way I have started to take care of things lately as well.
Every since getting frustrated with the way things had been going, I vowed that I would make a difference and not be just another intern/white girl in India who ended up coming here and not producing real results. Unfortunately the past interns left me with more work than necessary to complete which makes it impossible to do any projects that would have been more fitting in a rural setting/ impoverished area such as the area that I live in. I have begun to get leeway in both projects that were left in the abyss and forgotten about once the other interns left their 9-week stint in Chandelao this summer. After speaking with my organization and contacting our main office in San Francisco, I am now allocating the money that was going to be used to bring trainers from a nearby village with a large scale crafts center to teach the women, into hiring a tailor from Jodhpur to come and teach the sewing women some specific skills necessary for quality products. This is time consuming, however, because it requires me to rewrite the grant proposal in order to change the original use of the money and to do all the research and development necessary to bring the tailor to the village.
On the greenhouse front, we have begun the first stage, and with much prodding and “pulling a Hannah” the project is actually being implemented. This, like the other grant, was not properly researched by the intern and is now going to be changed quite a bit, though it will be the same usage. After meeting with a man in Jodhpur who works with the Indian Agriculture Department, the plans now seem somewhat concrete and we have a much better idea of the layout and plan for building the hoop-house style greenhouse. He will be helping us along the way and has given us a contact in the city to help find the materials needed for building, which Praduman (my host father) and myself will be meeting in town tomorrow to search for the materials needed at the current moment. Today, after imposing the necessity of starting the greenhouse, a man from the village has come to the plot reserved for this specific usage and has started digging the holes needed for the bases of the poles. The first step will be to dig the 2X2X2 pits and then cement in the bases made from 2” wide PVC pipe and rebar. At least this part of the project is getting underway. The composting is to start soon and hopefully we will get the greenhouse going soon enough.
Other than work, today was quite fun since two of the other interns came to the village to visit me instead of me traveling to Jodhpur. Julia and Emily had not been to Chandelao yet, so they had been wanted to see the village that I reside in before leaving India. Julia stayed the night last night and we relaxed at the hotel while Emily came and joined us this morning. While I still had to work a bit today, with cracking the whip at the pit digger (not really) and a bit of work at the center, I managed to play host quite well and took them around to see the village and points of interest as well as the center and the hotel. Once the bus came that they had to ride back to Jodhpur, it was quite full at 4 o’clock and I convinced them to try my favorite way of riding the bus, especially when it’s full: on top. They climbed up to the top and situated themselves according to my instructions, and much to the bus conductor’s dismay, and my assurances, off they went to enjoy the best views of the surrounding countryside, while not being squished in the ever so crowded rural bus.
The rest of the day was actually spent by me visiting multiple houses of the women/girls who work at my center. In the past, the only times I had visited someone’s home in the village, or surrounding villages, was with someone who spoke both Hindi and English. Even though I think they have asked me to join them before, I could never be sure of what they were asking of me, so I continued to play dumb and not know for sure. Today was different however, and the girls made sure I knew what they were asking and I followed them to their respective homes for chai and a visit. Even though we do not speak the same language and there was a lot of laughing that I was not exactly sure of the reasoning, I had quite a lot of fun joining them with their families for a while and looking over the family photos and being treated as a family guest for chai. I went to three different homes and stopped at others while we were on our way back, all of whom tried to get me in their homes for chai as well. I believe I have now started the trend of getting Hannah to go their homes… Tomorrow I already promised to visit two others. I have really been inducted into the community now, and it is nice to be treated as such instead of a tourist or unfamiliar face.