Day 19: No Time for Reminiscing

Mitchell here today. We have started talking about the end of our trip, because it is fast approaching, and I have started thinking about all the things I am going to miss. I am for sure going to miss eating with my hands but I can’t wait to show the family back home how its done. Tearing roti (tortilla like food), with one hand, is a skill not easily mastered but an art that every one here has perfected. I will also miss driving through the streets and watching as our our driver avoids cows, motorcycles, mopeds, bikers, pedestrians, gorgeously painted trucks, and the occasional car. Learning how people behave while driving in India could be a course all its own. After watching our driver maneuver through some questionable situations I think I am finally beginning to understand how things work on the road. For example, the horn is honked and the lights are flashed, on average, once a minute on our hour long drive to work each morning. However, the honking and light flashing is conveyed with a completely different emotion than it would be in the United States. In the US these actions seem to usually be associated with reckless driving or road rage, but here it simply is a means of letting other drivers know that you are right beside them, behind them, or looking to pass. I have yet to see another driver angered after being honked or flashed at. It should also be noted that the average speed here is much lower than it is in the US which makes things a bit safer. In the whole time we have been here we have only seen one accident where an ambulance has been called. Usually a car and motor bike may brush up against each other and the drivers will exchange looks to make sure each is okay and keep driving (this happened to us with some one on a moped a week or so ago!). I like to joke around with the other team members that I will be a “horny” driver when I get back to the states.

I will miss many other things but we still have nearly a week left so I will reign things back in and talk about what happened today. We got up early to try to beat the heat and meet with the pump operator in Dolatpura. The men of our team have finally stepped up to wearing pants in the intense heat. Props to the ladies of the group that have been doing this the whole trip. Yesterday was the first day we wore pants and our co-workers in the factory said we looked great, so no more shorts for us.

We finally met the pump operator of Dolatpura. We were beginning to think the elusive operator did not exist. Turns out he is a real person and he helped sort out some questions we had. After talking to him a few of our team members went to take water samples or talk to people at the anganwadi. I walked around and took notes on the open waste water drainage system for the town. Priyank went with me and we walked and mapped out the location of the main drainage system.

Then we split up into two groups and did some semi-formal interviews in an effort to make the towns people more comfortable with our presence and learn what people do around the village. Erica, Jon, and I (along with our friend and translator – Viral) went to a family and talked for a while. We got down to business at first and then eventually we talked about random things (like dreadlocks, marriage, and body piercings) and life in the US. We talked for a while and then stopped by another house briefly before heading back to the factory.

We stopped by the factory real quick and then headed out into the “boonies”. We took some crazy back roads and drove by a small banana farm before we got to the small house in a field where lunch was prepared for us. The land owner was an employee of SETCO and had invited us over for lunch outdoors. We were very thankful for all the food that was prepared but we are still having trouble adjusting to some of the cultural differences. For example the host of the meal does not sit down and talk with us when we are eating, we are served food. Viewing this through the American lens, I personally would love to have our host present while we eat the delicious food but things work differently here, and we just have to go with the flow. We were also served fresh mangos. The mangos were the BEST I have ever had. After our delicious meal we were shown around the farm and we got to see the wide variety of crops. The crops ranged from a huge banana field, to mango trees, to cotton, to lemons, to timber for furniture, to corn, to bahdri (a cereal). After lunch the majority of our group was feeling the 111 degree heat. Jon and I were especially drained. 

We headed back to the factory then home. On our way we stopped at a nearby grocery store and bought ALL their gatorade. Then, following a typical Dolatpura routine, we all konked out for 2 hours after work.

I feel like my post may be a bit long winded (Dr. Krishna has rubbed off on me a bit I think!) but I just want to make sure people aren’t missing out. I joke about you, Dr. Krishna, but you have been instrumental to the success of our group and we are very thankful for all you have done.

One last anecdote: While in the apartment this evening Mike grabbed one of the fruits that Zoha brought from her home in Sidhpur and he started eating it. Normally the fruit, [called chikoo (phonetic)] is like taking a bite of a peach and tasting pungent brown sugar (I am not a fan! They are much too sweet). Little did Mike know that it was nowhere near ripe and he yelled out in shock about a crazy sensation he had in his mouth. Jon overheard Mike’s shouts and rushed to try it out as well. After watching Jon try the fruit I, naturally, wanted to try out this crazy unripe fruit too. So I grab the fruit and bite down. It was an explosion of sensation! The piece of fruit I had bit off completely sucked all the moisture out of my mouth within half a second and left me making an absurd face and running for water! So here the three of us are running around the kitchen yelling about this crazy sensation. But no need to worry mum, we all survived and are feeling just fine.

That’s all for now,

Mitchell

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