So the other day, I was sitting at work in a frustrated mood, for many reasons, and I was thinking about how I have been here for 3 months and only have 5 more here. I know that sounds like a ways off still, but in reality, it will go by really fast. The thing that really started weighing on my mind was that I have gotten nothing productive done and what will happen if I don’t have anything to show for once I am gone. It’s not like I do nothing on a daily basis…
I mean, because the manager left right when I got here, I have been acting manager of the crafts center since my time has begun and most likely will be until I leave. This means that I work everyday and oversee while helping the women make the crafts. Being manager also means that I have to run all the errands outside of the village, because the women either don’t want to leave the village or would not know where to go to get the materials needed. This has proved itself as being one of the hardest things about the manager leaving right after my arrival. Finding the materials needed means I have to go to Jodhpur or other surrounding areas and search for the goods without the means of communication or physical features on my side.
Before leaving on vacation, that is almost three weeks ago, I left behind a bag with two items (key chains and zippers) and a short lists of things that needed to be completed for the center while I was gone. I gave them to my host father and he said that his mother would take care of them while I was away. Now, I don’t know whether she ever got that memo, or who may have ignored or forgotten about it, but nothing on the list was done or bought. This is where my frustrations begin. I have found that if there is something that needs to be done, then the only way it will get done is to hold someone by the hand and lead him or her to the finish. The idea of efficiency is completely lost here. This realization brought about my struggles with figuring out how to complete projects while I am still living here. I have been left with two grants that previous interns proposed and received but never followed through on, as well as figuring out the marketing and business proposals that I have commissioned myself to impose.
Since I have started to realize that things will not be completed unless I am there as a constant reminder, I used this week to compel my host father to work with me on the items I needed his help with. The past two days have been spent traveling to and from Jodhpur looking for items needed in the crafts center that the previous manager had bought from a city much farther away. I took my host father with me to find the products and drive me, because he had errands to run as well. The first day ended up being a never-ending day of tasks that needed to be completed by my host father. The only thing on the agenda for the crafts center that was tackled was getting to a bank in order to open a bank account for Sunder Rang. And I use the word “tackled” loosely because all we were able to accomplish was getting to the bank and having a discussion. Apparently, opening a bank account here in India is harder than going to a doctor and getting prescribed painkillers. They require more paperwork than an adoption as well as three responsible parties, one of which cannot be me because I am a foreigner. Needless to say, we did not open the bank account yet, even though I had papers from the previous manager, who I suppose just gave up on the work. This will require more help from my host father though because all the paperwork is in Hindi, and I cannot read a word of it.
As for the market, yesterday was spent in the market of the Old City in Jodhpur searching for particular items. This was actually a lot of fun, and being that one of my favorite parts of traveling the world is visiting markets, I found it enthralling. It was good that my host father was with me though because he was able to speak the language and receive a much lower discount to start than I would have. While I consider myself a cutthroat bargainer, because they always rip the white folk off, it is much easier to have an Indian when shopping the markets. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told by my Indian counterparts, “Stay here, if you come with me to start then the price will be much higher.” This doesn’t happen all the time, but it generally happens after another Indian is going to show them different shop with the goods we are searching for. Yesterday was a success and the shop owners will now recognize me as the gori angrez that will come back for products the next time.
The new goal is to start working more towards the bigger picture and less on the day-to-day where my time gets slowly vanishes. I now have to implement a grant for training the women, which was not going to happen because the trainers did not agree. I have to rewrite the budget and proposal in order to find new trainers for this grant in the immediate future while working on the greenhouse proposal that another intern left behind. While this time in Chandelao has not turned out the way I thought it would have, I feel if I work towards the big picture I will have made a difference and helped to change the lives of others for the better.