Tuesday, February 5, 2008

School field trip: India

I'm off with my school program on a study trip until 17 Feb.

January 28:

Is starting to heat up in my mind. We're going in 9 days. We had to pick roommates tonight and I - am - loved! It's nice when you ask someone to be your roommate and they say "I would LOVE to. YAY!" Jane S and I are going to have so much fun. As I reported our roommate status to our class rep "Lola & Jane with the candlestick in the billiard room. Or maybe with the bathing suits in the pool. Or MAYBE with the booze in the mini fridge."

But really, I hear that the trip is pretty intensely packed with some fascinatingly amazing meetings with some cutting edge agencies, firms, NGOs, and a wide array of issues to push us and test our concepts of the world. For instance, we'll meet with an NGO that focuses on making child labor "better" which is a huge challenge to my own image of things. The US went through it's own industrial revolution and led its own child labor laws. Is it just for us to impose our Western views or what we have accomplished in our own society on other countries? It would be better if other countries could develop without some of the negative drawbacks that we overcame, but sometimes the right answer isn't the best one. I hear that India instituted a ban on child labor under 17 years old and this left thousands of girls ages 15-17 on the streets to do what? Prostitution mostly. Is working in a factory better or worse? Is it better or worse to eliminate these opportunities and how? Or, is it better to improve the situation while taking steps to eliminate it? I don't have these answers yet. We'll see what we learn.

February 5:

India tomorrow. I still haven't had time to really sit and absorb or prepare. My friend BH says "I am especially curious to find out how the Delhi metro turned out. They were working on it while I was there in 2003-2004. I am obsessed with trains esp. subways/metros. I dream about them all of the time. I have a paris metro map that i love dearly. I think that it seems like an almost impossible feat for delhi to actually have a metro. well maybe not impossible but 'surface life' sure is a different cup of tea... i love the friday mosque 'jama masjid' by the red fort. all kinds of folks are collected in front of it and tons of markets and dripping goats heads and that's where i saw the man without eyeballs and the body without limbs... the smells... moments frozen in time. i checked out the ymca to see if i wanted to stay in it, but with the variety of SUPER CHEAP places i chose not to. nice ymca though. i think my rickshaw broke down on the way there. o the hanuman temple is a sight... o and i ate at subway once just to save my life cuz i was never so sick in my life and b/c it reminds me of my high school days but not the delhi version with their chutneys and fake meats - india is the vegetarians paradise and they call it vege (pronounced vej) and right next store the folks dining at pizza hut were five starred out - they pulled out the chair for them and handed them menus and politely asked if they'd like anything to drink... while the cows walked past the seikh drivers for the super upper class suv cell fone talking ladies on their way to somewhere important
i love india"

I have heard "a living hell in heaven on earth." I have heard there is no pinpointing her or generalizing her. I know there are those news stock photos that try to convey the massive population and the immensity in transportation. I'll just try to absorb her as best I can and capture her in my own way.

It's 21h45 here and I'm doing the traditional last-minute packing that has been acquired from either/or/both my parents genes. Trying outfits on and off and thinking of packing enough but not too much - I'd like to leave room for saris and jewelry and jellys and jams - oh, wait, I'm not allowed to import food am I? Or am I? Or will I anyway? Just kidding... I have to be careful what I post here - someday I might want to run for President! Ha!!!! I did buy about 8G of photo cards and a few cheap but summery skirts (thank god some stores are now thinking spring!). Some of my attire is even FROM the places I'll be going to! ... sigh.... and good! Globalization is a complex matrix which I hope to learn more about. Let the market be, control the market - I'm not sure I fall in either camp.

What I do know is that in these summery skirts and 86F weather I will not be wearing tights or 'pantyhose' or stockings and instead, I'll be blindingly white like glue. At least I know I can seek refuge in the group of 30+ other pasty white kids. ... Speaking of refuge. We've all been warned not to give hand-outs to beggars, children or not. I'd like to imaginge I've been prepared a bit better for this shock as back in the day my mum learned a different approach as we cruised the insane streets of Buenos Aires. She'd carry apples in the glove box. I'm not sure if it's condescending to think we know better about giving out money to poor people (the complex gangs with warlords and fake babies-for-a-day schemes, drug or alcohol addiction), but I like to think that some of those kids were happy to have something to put in their bellies and were able to find a way to escape their Fagins to do so. So, of course, I think I'm mentally prepared to see this world (again, but times 100 million), and prepared not to immediately want to give them money, my jewelry, my personal effects and a good scrubbing.

But who knows? I might just crumble under the reality of it all. Or... maybe it's a bit too strong and I'm not entering into the movie "Gandhi." Frankly, my own fault, I've been so damn busy wrapping up school and such that I haven't done the appropriate investigation and research. I've printed a bunch of readings for the long flight so I plan to get in a few good hours of that before medicating myself for sleep. ... but oh the adventure! And it will be good to get out of Paris for a substantial amount of time. I need to re-appreciate her.

Well, this is over and out for now. I've got more packing to do. (The fashion show part is done, now the rolling and stuffing - - thank you, parents, for passing on this extremely useful skill!)

I'm not bringing the laptop but will check emails from the road. I won't be uploading the images as I go unless direly needed and available. But thanks for the well wishes.

See you in a few days!


Anonymous said...

~sigh~ i expect some shaman's about to get lucky......



Anonymous said...

How is it that you feel even further away?