After breakfast today,Sarah asked the students about what they like and what that don’t like about the course and experience.
Some students starts missing Canada, while others were still in the honeymoon phase and enjoy being here.Sarah also told us that we need to approach our project slightly different. As a result we are dealing with organizations instead of the community.
They already built trust in the community, and they would be helpful in overcoming some barriers that we might have to face. The class was divided into two groups, which were waste management and water filtration. We started by brainstorming questions that we could ask the kundalini organization. Profu, Kundalini’s founder, travelled to Heaven Goa and answered our question in order for us to find possible solutions . After having lunch, we came up with questions to ask the Magic Bus organization . We went to the magic bus administration office and we interviewed them with questions that we prepared.Rashima who is representative of magic bus answered questions that the two groups came up with. Delgit got jack fruit form his neighbour for us. We tried jack fruit for the first time in our lives. Raksha brought the girls to a tailor to altar the Sarees that they bought. Two groups had another meeting and try to organize and analyze all data that they gathered from the organizations to make their surveys.
Monday, May 18, 2015
After an exciting weekend trip, it’s time to go back to work. It called for a bit more energy to get up on this Monday morning. Fortunately, I am a member of the water group and I have work buddies stand by me. That makes life much easier. My group focuses on water sanitation and health education. First, every group member was assigned a title, a leadership kind of position in the project. I got a position, being responsible for doing budget, along with Yinan. Our project manager is Natassja, Christian is 2D leader, Melis is 3D leader, Kersti is logistics manger. See, all of us got promoted in a single day. Many celebrations! Once our organization was formalized and institutionalized, our work got done quickly and efficiently. Soon, we found a way out of the fog of the mission when Christian came up with a brilliant idea. Afternoon we went out to the community and began to put our plan into action. We moved around and made a lot of observations about the community’s water usage condition. Their water usage is really uncomplimentary. Our group was very glad to have a good start. Bravo! The other group – the garbage workers sweat even harder; they kept on working on garbage when our group concluded our job and sat inside the quiet and cool temple. In such a hot and humid day, walking inside the foul-smelling garbage and trying to find ways to help the community, they endure and carry on. What a courageous and benevolent act! After spending more than two hours in the community, we headed on to Margao city to shop. The girls and boys were thrilled to have some scoops of flavorful ice cream. Then we went to the market to try to find some blouses for our final dinner party. Though we were unable to load the right blouses, we all got crazy in this evening adventure. It’s time to go back our GOA home and adjourn for the day.
Saturday May 17, 2015
It’s been exactly one week since we arrived in Goa. We have spent the last week adjusting to the extreme heat, as well as some minor inconveniences such as frequent power outages and new toilet etiquettes. This weekend, we were spoiled with a two-night stay at a luxurious air-conditioned hotel and a memorable experience exploring many temples throughout Hampi.
We started our day a bit earlier than usual this morning. We ventured out of the hotel through a dark lobby, hopped on the bus, and raced our way to the hill to watch the sunrise. We thought we were going to miss the sun climb into the sky due to an unexpected train passing that stopped us on the way. We hustled as fast as we could up the uneasy ancient stairs. The sunrise was beautiful as any sunrise is, but what made this sunrise greater was the scenery and our unusual mix of art and design students. The chanting of Sanskrit played in the background and stood as a constant reminder that we are here – we really made it all the way to India. We were welcomed sit and join the ritual by played instruments as the two men sang Sanskrit into the microphone. Coming together to worship as a group creating a unity between us all.
By noon, we had packed ourselves into the bus and traveled from luxury back to reality. Although the bumpy and twisty roads led to an uncomfortable ride, most people fell asleep. We were so exhausted from full days of sight-seeing in the hot sun. Our stomachs began to growl after the feeling of hunger took over our thoughts, we stopped for dinner at KFC. It was a meal very familiar to us, but with an Indian twist. With our tummies full of fried chicken, we drove the remaining 4 hours back Heaven Goa.
On Saturday, we woke up in our hotel rooms after the previous day of traveling to Hampi. In the morning, we gathered in the hotel restaurant to have breakfast together. Once we were ready to go, we got on the bus and headed out to explore Hampi. This city is home to many important monuments from the times of ancient India.
Our day was filled with sightseeing, as we explored Hindu temples and ancient ruins. Many of the temples and monuments are found amongst grand rolling hills. Atop these hills, the Indian landscape alone was breathtaking. Lush greenery, mountains of rocks, and ancient ruins in the background were apart of the awe-inspiring view from these hills.
The temples and ruins themselves were incredible to look at. I noticed the details on these ancient walls. They were beautifully carved as if by a devoted artist. The wearing of time had only dulled their edges but they looked beautiful nonetheless. Detailed carvings were featured on columns, doors and gates; guardians to paths that led to the ancient temples. Our guide told us stories of these temples and monuments, giving us some insight into the history of India. Within the ruins we found monkeys, as well as an elephant!
After walking through the Virupaksha Temple, we set out to explore the nearby marketplace. As we walked through stores of handicrafts and antiques, we eventually settled down for lunch. We went to lunch at Mango Tree Restaurant; which was an experience in itself. We gathered together on the cushioned floor and ate Indian cuisine.
After lunch we were shown what I think was my favourite monument. The Lotus Mahal stood in the gleaming afternoon sun, as we carefully studied its intricate architecture. It had lovely doorways, with fine detail and carved patterns. By the end of the day, we had seen several magnificent monuments. After our full day of exploring, we ended our day by grabbing some dinner and calling it a night at the hotel.
Today, our first assignment was due. We each wrote about our first impressions and expectations that we had after we experienced a week of Indian culture. Some of us finished early and packed our suitcases at a leisurely pace for our weekend trip to Hampi, while the others finished their essays right on time an packed frantically. We would begin our trek to Hampi at 12 PM and it would take us 8 long hours to drive there. We journeyed through lush mountainous regions, winding, bumpy roads, and layered plateaued fields. We craned our necks to get the best view possible of the changing landscape. During our bus ride to Hampi we made a stop to an abandoned structure where we took photos, and to stretch our legs. It was unkempt and overflowing with greenery. On our way to Hampi we also saw some monkeys while we drove through a wildlife sanctuary.
We arrived at the Orchid hotel by 8 PM. Although we had air conditioning in the bus over to Hampi, we were relieved to sleep in air conditioned rooms with sheets and comforters. We briefly freshened up, oo-ed and ahhh-ed over our rooms and toilets and met for dinner. Many of us returned to eating Indian cuisine while others tried out different dishes. We retrieved to our rooms as quickly as possible to recover from a long day and start fresh tomorrow. We’re excited to see what Hampi has in store for us!
As an extension from yesterday meeting with the Kundalini Clinic and their work for Zuarinagar, today’s goal was to meet and familiarize ourselves with the organization Magic Bus. After a breakfast that you can only assume the local Indians grew up with as a child, the potato sandwich, also known as Aloo Masala, gave us a taste of a starchy tradition.
With a short bumpy (a rhythm we have come to know all too well) bus ride we arrived at the Magic Bus offices in Goa. We were greeted by the kind organizers and mentors that run this location and took a seat in a circle where everyone introduced themselves. Our first taste of Indian Chai was offered with biscuits and despite everyone’s sweaty brows we sipped and enjoyed the hot tea while Magic Bus introduced the organization’s objectives and model through a moving video. We were all amazed by the organization’s continuous efforts to implement sport and play as an education tool into the slums of India. The presentation became a discussion of deeply rooted Indian culture and tradition and the hurdles that Magic Bus faces within their placements. A cycle of a lack of initiative and motivation towards education, the polarization of gender roles, the attempts to overcome hierarchical family systems are all hurdles we might face when it comes to research and implementation within the community in our own projects. Magic bus seeks to eradicate these issues and tackle them through 5 core subjects: health, education, gender equity, socio economical development and right to play. Magic Bus, with the help of Arun, his wife Parfu, and Sarah, familiarized us with these topics so when it came to our work we could create more effective and sustainable solutions within the existing systems. After the informative and engaging presentations we heard personal stories from the mentors about their favourite parts about working with children and some struggles they face. We were asked to engage in some of the activities that they do with the children within the communities and with giggles and eagerness we readily accepted. The icebreaker reminded us what it was like to be a kid again, laughing and smiling until our faces hurt the whole time. Even when the games were educational about substance abuse we still were able to engage and understand and gave us a glimpse into the successfulness of Magic Buses educational system. With many thanks and a wealth of knowledge we boarded the bus back to the guesthouse.
Our last objective for the day was to brainstorm our possible design opportunities and finalize the groups that we will be working in for the remainder of our time. After much deliberation and consideration we narrowed it down to two final groups one that will focus on water filtration and the other that will focus on garbage and waste management. With essays to be finished, pool swimming to be had, and sweet syrupy dough desserts to be digested we all settled in for another night.
The day started earlier than usual, eager with excitement to meet Aaron’s wife at the clinic. Having no previous knowledge of Indian medicine, we were fascinated to learn about Ayurveda medicine. After learning about how their training programs benefited women and provided them with a source of income which they can earn from home, we sat down for lunch, at Sai Punjabi Rasoi, where we ate freshly baked naan with paneer. With our stomachs filled, we rode the bus down to the community. When we arrived, we walked to our interview with a local community member.
We entered through a door, tucked between brightly, coloured, narrow houses. Inside we sat down on blankets that were carefully laid out by her. She was Ganga. A 35 year old Indian woman who dressed brightly in traditional clothing. Sarah began questioning her with the help of Raksha, our leader and translator. One thing that I noticed was the way she filtered the water of her household; a method she learned from her mother. The cloth was put over the tap to absorb all the dirt and out came “filtered” water. A makeshift solution that was a well known tradition. Aside from all this, what stood out to me the most was the fact that in that one small, humid space housed a family of 10, including Ganga. Stacks of urns were placed throughout the house and bundles of clothing lay scattered.
After returning to the temple, we took a tour of the surrounding area; the Zuari Nagar factory, where most of the migrants worked unskilled jobs for daily pay. It has served as a place of income for generations of migrants and perhaps many more. We then walked around the community. And as i walked, looking at the colourful houses and children playing, i realized that this wasn’t a place of struggle but a place where happiness and ease of life flourished. Neighbours visited each other freely, kids played without a sense of care and women chatted. Like a flower growing in the mud, this happiness was found in a place where men and women defecated around piles of garbage. The images of the slums were already familiar to us but the reality was not. Once our feet hit the gravel and we absorbed the smells of the community, we realized that this was something completely foreign to us.
As I sit here and recall the events of today — I have a greater appreciation for tomorrow. I have been exposed to a way of life that is unfathomable to the people that I know back home. It’s a way of life that has the channel changed on it when we get over feeling sad. This is a place we can barely begin to perceive.
The moment I stepped off our air-conditioned van, the heat and smells of the slums we visited today hit me like a brick wall. As I looked around in all directions, I saw fields of garbage being roamed by stray dogs, goats and cows. Next to that were storefronts, a restaurant, and a bar or two. And most notably, humans living amongst it all.
As we turned to walk up the side street, I could feel the energy from the glances of the locals. This energy is not negative, nor positive. It felt neutral to me. After all, they can only be left to wonder. Who are we, and what is our right to be there anyway? This is not our community, or our home. I am caught staring back multiple times and can’t help but notice the eyes of both children and adults. Rich, chocolatey browns, emerald greens, and gold gleam in the bright afternoon sun. Behind these eyes lie both innocence and curiosity.
I have yet to speak with anyone personally. However, the bright personalities of the children I saw, combined with the colours of the buildings, temples, structures, and clothing are all so vibrant. There are so many things that are happening at once in this place. So much order amongst so much chaos. With all of this going on, will I ever truly grasp the complexity?
I am excited to immerse myself more into these communities as the program moves on. There is much more to see before I can gain a sense of what I’m feeling right now. As an outsider, it is easy to dissect certain elements I see on the surface but I am curious to know how deep I will be able to dig.
Monday had felt like the day after a long week. That long week had been sunday; when we had arrived. staying awake until the evening then had been a battle of the ages. This morning we were greeted with indian crepes and yogurt. The crepes felt soft and the yogurt hit with an extra tang. It reminded us along with the heat and palm trees that yes, we were indeed in Goa. At our guest house, the warm breeze blew into our eating area under a pagoda like building at the centre of the house’s back yard atrium. This place felt exactly like a holiday postcard.
Arun the COO of ISAC greeted us with an orientation on our shared goals and what the do’s and don’ts’ are around the community we are visiting. Particularly that of unspoken language with elders. It seemed that body language is truly the universal language and being respectful and fluent with was critical. After lunch, Sarah briefed us on how our project is ultimately about creating clean water and empowering women and how it seemed we had a long and potentially wave-making project ahead of us. With a quick wardrobe change we headed out to shop. We walked the narrow roads populated by small shops and houses and saw how everything was buried in nature. Pigs, chickens, and dogs wandered freely around the palm trees surrounding the houses with the sounds of birds and animals becoming the soundtrack for the walk. We reached a little shop by the name of Things and Things. It was filled with goods from necklaces, bracelets, hats and small souvenir items to traditional indian clothing and DVDs. Everyone tried out shirts and garments, fascinated by the unique local design, brilliant colours, looking most importantly for something breezy to wear for the heat. We stayed for an hour in that one little shop. It was a cornucopia of varieties and options. After picking out our things we practiced the fine, ancient art of bargaining and negotiated prices down. We were told to start at 1/3 of the offered price and to go to half but we got them down to about 2/3, still a win in my book.
With that and a quick swim to see who could do the best back-flip dive, butterflies, and laps, we fell into our beds while raindrops began to fall. The sound of animals, the occasional motorcycle passing by along the road, and the rain soothed me to sleep. This was it we’d arrived.
One of your required tasks in this course is to post to the Design Abroad: India blog. One to two students will be assigned to post each day to the blog, reporting and reflecting on the activities you were involved in on that day. Each student will be responsible for two blog posts during the course. Students will write and upload, at minimum, a 200-word post. Along with thoughtfully written (and edited) text, you will choose and upload 2-3 photos that best represent the work and experience that day. For faster uploading, ensure you first re-save the photos as a smaller file size. Posts should be completed and uploaded by 9am the day following your assigned blog day.
Here is the blog assignment schedule over the next three weeks: