3 lessons

Into my 3rd week in India and I've learned 3 very important things…

1. Patience is key. Rural India runs on a completely different schedule and time frame. Everything requires a lot of coordination and patience. It is extremely hot which can make things even more difficult. It is not easy getting anywhere because everything is pretty remote and isolated. The buses are late. People are late. Meetings are late. Things change. How do we get there from here? We're taking the bus? The car? Who's going with us? Who speaks English and can help translate? Oh, this meeting changed? Oh, we're going here now? Wait, it changed again? The electricity here. And now it's gone. Cellphone service here. And now it's gone. Internet connection is here. And now it's gone. The generator broke and now there is no water? Well, crap. You get the picture. It can be very frustrating at times not knowing what is going on hour to hour let alone day to day. But I keep in mind how much effort everyone is making to ensure that we are given a full orientation and taken to various sites to learn everything. It is not easy to coordinate all this – very time consuming. And I really appreciate that they are willing to take the time to introduce us to every aspect of the organization.

2. There is poop everywhere. Cow dung. Water buffalo dung. Goat poop (Amazing how much goats poop. I visited one family in the village who had 9 goats – they were nonstop pooping machines). Hog poop. Chicken poop. Cat poop. Dog poop. Lizard poop. Bird poop. And all these animals basically run around free. In the streets, shop store fronts, people's front yards etc. So you always have to be on the look out for poop. And if you really think about it – it's dry season here – so everything is dusty and dried up – which means the poop is dried up – which means there is probably poop dust in the air mixed in with the other dust. Lovely thought, huh?

3. People stare. people know you are a foreigner and they stare. No matter where you go or what you are wearing or what you are doing, people stare. And if you happen to be a person of a larger size, people really stare. Adults have slowed down their bikes to a stop just to watch me walk. Little kids laugh and point their fingers. And sometimes the kids or teenagers will say mean things. But you need to remember, this is rural India. They may not have had exposure to many outside things. I am vastly different. I am wearing tshirts and pants – not the typical outfits so I already stand out. And in this area – food security is a big issue – many people have very little to eat so they are skinny or even malnourished and anemic. So a larger person may be a completely foreign concept. Having a thick skin helps as well as ignoring the stares – b/c there is not really much you can do about it. However, when I do interact with the local villagers (primarily women and children) – they have been nothing but nice.

This trip has definitely been an experience so far.
-Keena Kang

One thought on “3 lessons

  1. oh man. my sister always refers to this as the "indian staring problem." try to ignore it, and focus on the less idiotic people around you…that’s what we three have been doing here in BR hills — (men making kissing faces at us as they ride by on motorcycles, a guy who could not for the life of him look straight ahead on the bus today and insisted on craning his neck to stare suggestively at us instead, etc…). ignoring it is key. (that, and learning a few swear words in the local language. good luck!!) ❤

  2. Thanks for the sympathic response. For the most part it’s completely harmless and amusing. And one of our colleagues who’s from Delhi (very fashionable) told us that she’s happy that I’m with her on the bus everyday because before I came – everyone used to stare at her – so she now has a nice break. So even Indians aren’t immune to the stares! 🙂

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