Today was super productive since everyone actually had some sleep. This morning we visited the village of Dolatpura. We caught the eyes of many and soon had a large crowd surrounding us. One important thing we found out from them was that not all villages receive water from the municipality. These villagers got their water from underground. All of us climbed to the top of the water tower, even Erica, who is afraid of heights. We got water samples from the ‘sump’, a ground level concrete water storage tank, and from the anganwadi. Hopefully this will help us finda the point of contamination. We got a chance to sit down in the anganwadi, and try out our Gujarati. I can’t count the number of times I said “Maru nam Brianna Che” that day.
After that we left to go to a workshop for girls with Salma Ben. This was my absolute favorite thing we have done so far. When we got there we sat right down with all the girls and joined their session. They kept glancing at me and and giggling. I would point at my camera to ask if I could take a picture of them.
After talking to them, we got to sing and dance in a large circle with the girls. I was really nervous at the start of the workshop, but I ended up having a lot of fun and I hope the girls enjoyed our presence. I can’t wait to go back.
At the water treatment facility in Kalol we met a man named Girish. Girish lives in the facility with his family and runs maintenance. The process was really neat: water gets pumped in from the municipality then it is mixed with “alum” in these larges circular vats. The alum causes (stuff) in the water to precipitate out and settle to the bottom of the vats. That water is then sent to a biosand filter. After that, the water is chlorinated with Cl2 gas. We took samples from before and after the treatment process. If we find contamination after the water is treated, it will be very important to figure out and fix this problem, since the facility serves such a large area.
After the water treatment facility, we met up with Jon and Zoha and went to the Setco Factory Canteen for lunch with Gayatri who works in the Setco office. I got to practice my Hindi with Gayatri and I was pretty embarrassed about how bad it was, but she didn’t seem to mind.
We debriefed after lunch, then Mitch, Mike, Priyank, Viral, and I went to the village of Gokulpura. We were invited into the home of Jagdesh and he let us see his water storage. Their home was beautiful: modestly decorated with a smooth, cool concrete floor that felt good on the feet. An elderly woman offered us water but I had to refuse because it didn’t come from a bottle. We told them where we were from and what we were doing. Jagdesh told us that when Modi came to visit, he just drove down the road and waved, but when we came to visit, we actually came into the village and into their homes. I think they really appreciated that we were there trying to understand.
We collected another sample and the villagers watched me as I plated the samples. We also got invited into another home….but I’ll let Mike tell the story:
We were invited into a home for a quick beverage and a place to sit. About 15 locals followed us in to meet us. The host was very nice, and offered us “bottled” water, however, we noticed that the label on the bottle read “Thums Up” (the Indian equivalent of Pepsi). Realizing that this was obviously not bottled water, Mitchell and I exchanged smirks, and tried to politely convey that we, being Americans, have weak stomachs and would not be able to drink the water. Being cultured, refined college students, this meant rubbing our bellies and yelling “no, no, julab!” (diarrhea in Gujarati). The room had a good laugh, and we were proud that we had actually managed to yell “julab!” in context, as opposed to in an inside joke.
So…we went back to the Setco Factory. At 5:00 we met with the owner of Setco and University of Michigan alum, Harish Sheth, and we talked about the plan for the project. Mr. Sheth said that he learned a lot about India when he went to the states, and I think that I am learning a lot about America by going to India. Values that I held and never really noticed have sprouted from my hands. So many things that I am used to doing on my own are done for me now: Cleaning, driving, and especially speaking. I guess I have to find a happy medium where I can still maintain my sense of independence and continue to remain within the sphere of cultural appropriateness.