Day 23: X is for X-citing

Hi all, Natalia here! Our morning began with a kind of spicy pancake, mangoes, and obviously chai. We headed to the office bright and early, knowing it was going to be a busy day. After catching up on our blog posts and other, more serious, forms of documentation, we headed to Barola, accompanied by Rajeshbhai, for another round of one-on-one interviews.

We began our interviews in Motu faliya. Nisha, Sarah, and I talked to Kusumben and her family, including her two adorable toddler grandsons. They shared a lot of detailed information regarding their water management and agricultural practices. Meanwhile, Kabir met a fellow by the name of Jadeep Singh Jaswat Singh Rator, and picked up some interesting notes on the difficulties of farming millet. Before leaving the faliya, we located the house of Sangeetaben – who was at our focus group discussion and had asked to talk to us – and set up a time for an interview.

Relocating to Nishal faliya, we separated into two groups again. While Kabir and Rajeshbhai interviewed a man named Bharatbhai, the rest of us went to the house of Ramilaben (not the same one as yesterday – there are at least three Ramilabens). As we began talking on the porch, a small crowd of women, some of them around our age, began to gather. The structured questions gave way to laughter, compliments, and half-joking questions about our lives. We may not have collected much information, but it was a priceless opportunity to build positive relationships in the community, and also just a good time.

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As much as we enjoyed these lively conversations, we were starving by now, and very eager to return to the office for lunch. We were pleasantly surprised to be served mango rus, a very refreshing dish made from mango pulp. We spent the rest of the afternoon working. We reworked our schedule for the coming days, completed more documentation, and prepared for writing needs statements, the next major step in our needs assessment process.

Leaving the office, we agreed to give Elsa and Gayatriben a ride home as well. After dropping them off, we stopped at a store to pick up baking soda, so we can see if it’s an effective and compost-friendly cleaner for the toilet. After scouring the whole building and interrogating several employees, Kabir and I finally located the baking soda in the form of three small packets on a shelf otherwise occupied by dried fruits. We cleaned out their entire supply.

Back at the guest house, we debriefed on the day’s interviews, pausing only for a hearty dinner of Nutri Nuggets. We then began the lengthy process of drafting needs statements based on the problems we’ve observed in the community, calling up Sai and Rachel for guidance and input. For hours on end, we plowed through our problem statements, churning out need after need while consuming an alarming volume of snacks. Eventually our brains were fried, so we called it a night.

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