Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
2Trip End Sep 26, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Wow, what a crazy week (6 days) this has been! So much has happened in such a short time but I'll try to keep it as interesting as possible...
I arrived in Jaipur last Saturday night, welcomed by a blast of 30 degree heat at 8pm! A nice surprise! The weather has constantly been hot and humid with the odd burst of a monsoon downpour! Much like its been in England, the rain I mean!
I'm living with 5 other interns, two Germans, one from Poland, one from the USA and one Canadian so not only am I lapping up the vibrant culture of India, its also great to be working and living with so many other international students.
It's so difficult to put into words, or describe well enough, this amazing country.
The most striking thing has to be the roads! The incessent hooting 24 hours a day from mopeds, rickety old busses, the odd car, speeding motor bikes and brightly decorated lorries all vying for the tiniest gaps between each other as they race around Jaipur. There is no sense of traffic laws or rules and it really is a free-for-all and I've been privilege to this first hand, not only riding on the back of a few motorbikes to get to work or riding the rickshaws or busses on the way to work, but also in the attempts to cross any of the roads. The trick is to close your eyes (having specifically made sure there are no busses or lorries coming at you, because they tend not to be so agile) and then just walk out and listen to the bicycles, cars, motor bikes, oh and the cammels, weaving around you! As long as you dont hesitate or pause, they all move out the way and you arrive, covered in sweat (from both fear and humidity) on the other side of the road. Then repeat over and over again!
Aside from this, the poverty here is unbelievable! children sleep on the pavements, rickshaw drivers sleep in their cabins, men and women lie dotted all over the pavement, sleeping in the humidty, filth and noise as best they can! Jaipur is the most densely populated city in this state and it really is obvious where ever you walk. Its really a very desperate situation but again, its hard to put into words the smells, noise and intensity of the poverty felt here. Hopefully I can share some pictures with some of you when I'm home! But its great that the work I'm doing, as I'll describe below, is going so far to helping some of the most desperate in this state of Rajasthan, becasue as awful as it is here, the situation is only worse in the rural desert villages which I'll be privileged enough to visit in the coming months.
So far I've visted the Palace of the Winds, the City Palace and the amazing Astronomical observatory within the walls of the infamous Pink City of Jaipur (feel free to google these places). They really are amazing attractions, especially the observatory, built over 300 years ago with an enormous sun dial amongst many other features, which tells the time accurate to within two seconds! Absolutely incredible, and I saw for myself how accurately it traces the moving shadow of the sun!
Anyway, the work im doing here is also quite amazing! Im working 6 days a week, from 9.30 till 6 (with an hour commute each way) for an organisation called HEDCON which has many member organisations specialising in sustainable development concerned with mineworkers ad water management projects, offering reporting services to assess the success of these other NGO's projects and writing annual reports for them as well as pressuring the State Government with legal activities, and offering training, support and help to millions of desperately poor people in this state.
At the moment, (and this is after two days of being at the office) I am writing the material for their new website; sifting through previous HEDCON publications and reports, reading books etc to be able to write the information which will then be used by the web designer to put together the site... this will hopefully be available for you, and the rest of the internet browsing world, to see in a month or so! An amazing opportunity! but this is only the first weeks work schedule... next week I'm checking a translation of an article they've written in Hindi on mineworkers writes and then at the end of the next week or so Im starting research into a project that has been running for the last four years aimed at the empowerment of the elderly in this State! I will be then going on a field visit to conduct interviews and field research into the success and failures of the project before returing here to document and report on my findings before its publication in the near future! Remember... this is week one!
It really has been amazing so far, thanks to any of you who read this far, I hope you can appreciate my enthusiasm!
Oh, and I'm off to the Taj Mahal tomorrow, will let you how that is next week : )
Hope to hear from you all soon!