A candid description of my trip from NYC to rural India and finally to U. of Michigan, Ross School of Business. Go Blue!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Work Week #2

So I am back in Udaipur relaxing and catching up on emails after another week of work. It looks like I won't have much internet access afterall in Dungarpur, so I intend to post as much as possible to my blog every weekend.

Work is going well although it's absolutely exhausting! Typically this past week I would wake up and board one of the PEDO trucks to go out to visit women microfinance loan recipients in the villages all over the Dungarpur district. Usually Baby (my host sister) or her sister-in-law Sweta will accompany me, along with another PEDO employee, Dhumendra, who is doing the Hindi version of everything I do in English. Sweta is fluent in English and a lot of fun. She just returned from visiting her husband (Baby's oldest brother) in Russia. They've actually been married for 3 years but have hardly been together. He used to be a chef on a cruise boat in the US and now he works at a restaurant in Russia. He is wrapping up things there though and heading back to Rajasthan permanently in 2 weeks.

Anyway, back to work. So we head out in a truck for a 2 hour incredibly bumpy drive to a different PEDO Field Center each day. There we pick up the head of the field center and he brings us to visit 2 of the women under his umbrella that will make good case study participants. Once we find the women, we usually visit their house/shop or whatever they own and I interview them with Baby or Sweta translating. Usually every person nearby will gather around us, so a crowd of 30 children staring at me throughout the entire interview is not uncommon. In one village the town drunk came by and even started yelling at us saying nobody could talk without his permission. Everyone pretty much told him to shut-up though. After the 2 interviews we usually pack up and head back home, arriving around 8 pm each night. The drives make the trip very exhausting and it's the hardest work I've ever done, but also the most rewarding and interesting.

Some highlights from the week:
On Monday baby's family had a ceremony called Puja (kind of like a Hindu blessing) for her 5 year old cousin. Nearly 40 people gathered at her house so I got to meet everyone in her family! Although I am a hit with children older than 5, the babies seemed to scream bloody murder everytime I got near them. Nonetheless, I have some cute pictures of the kids that I can post in the future.

On Wednesday we went to interview a woman in a village where female empowerment is the way of life! Apparently during draught seasons, or whenever they just get really bored, the women dress up as men, take the mens' weapons and go on a robbing spree. If any man gets in their way they just beat him up. However, unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn't see this in action and I thought the women were all quite lovely actually.

On Thursday we inteviewed a woman who carries a hindu god-like status in her village (we interviewed her for the business she started with her loans; the god-like stuff was just something extra that was fun to learn about). Apparently she had a dream about a golden statue that was buried in the earth. She then actually went and found said statue where she dreamed it was located. Then, several years back a snake started visiting her and biting her. Every time she does something wrong the snake will come out and bite her again. She showed us the scars. The villagers have built a temple for her and people visit her with their problems. We met a man there who apparently couldn't speak for 15 years until he came to see this woman who cured him.
Baby asked her about my married life and she said that I will meet my husband in 6 months, that he will be a good man, and that if I ever come back to India then I cannot come without visiting her with my husband. She basically told the same thing to Baby, but for some reason she asked that I pay 11 rupees to the golden statue whereas Baby got her future read for free. Oh yeah, apparently last year this women became suddenly engulfed in flames in front of her house, but did not burn. Sounds a little difficult to believe right? Especially the part about me getting married in 6 months. I thought so too.

On Friday I spent most of the day with Sweta and Dhumendra trying to write-up all our case studies. We are going to make it into a book and formulate some general impact assessments on the whole PEDO Microfinance initiative so far. I spoke with my boss about what I will get involved in once this is finished, and he said I will be learning more about the next steps in their microfinance plan. Now that all these Microfinance Groups are totally self-sustainable, we want to go a step further and help them start larger businesses or micro-enterprises even. This is actually what I am most eager to learn about so I am very excited for the next few weeks of work.

Anyway, please continue to read (including my newly added entry below on arranged marriages). I have more pictures to post of the village women and Baby dancing in a monsoon rain, but might not get them up this weekend. Also, leave comments and let me know if you want to buy any jewelry/handicrafts from Namrata. Thanks for reading!


At 5:01 AM, Blogger Sanju said...

Its a nice blog. I hope you will enjoy your stay in Udaipur. by the way use refined Soya oil instead of peanut oil if you can.....!!!
Have fun...

At 5:01 AM, Blogger Sanju said...

ts a nice blog. I hope you will enjoy your stay in Udaipur. by the way use refined Soya oil instead of peanut oil if you can.....!!!
Have fun...


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