…are why the British claimed India for a while and stole its riches (at least that’s how I explained it to a teacherless VII Class that I visited). I know salt and mercantilism and whatever, but rubies and gold sounded more exciting!
India’s independence didn’t end the continued “borrowing” of India’s wealth by the West. Indian fabrics, jewelry, and designs have now become of the part of the “exotic” look sold in suburban malls and upscale boutiques.
I find this picture an interesting example of the East meets West continuum.
I think this is an interesting style choice(?) given that this photo was taken in a country which continues to be at the center of a debate on the free expression of religion. I am not to judge whether this young lady is Hindu or not, but the perception of this “stylish” bindi stands in contrast to the views of the strikingly “not-French” burqa seen in many growing neighborhoods in Paris. Please take a moment to read the comments on this photo then look up the latest news on immigration in France. Think on it and we can chat over chai (probably via skype).
Here’s another example of the Western fashion world combining with Indian traditions. I have to thank Emily from Voyage-On for sharing this video - it is a great example of the weaving and fabric traditions throughout India. Also, please note the ridiculous scenes in the textile factory…oh the lusty attraction of sweaty, overweight textile workers.
If you’re stilling looking for more Indian artistry please check out this article. The artist grew up in Hyderabad - yeah! - and has created amazing installation art in an attempt to bring contemporary art down from its elitist status.
Another organization working to making contemporary art accessible to students, teachers, and the Hyderabad community is the Daira Centre for Arts and Culture. They are supporting IDEX schools this year, and are going to host an exhibit of our students’ work! You’ll learn more about them as our exhibit date approaches. For now just remember that they are part of the Hyderabad art scene that is reaching out to students that have never stepped foot in an art gallery…exciting!
At a training today for women’s health and hygiene, I was reminded of one of the interesting American stereotypes that continues to shock me - emotional emptiness. I had joined volunteers and workers from wonderful organizations like VOICE, YouSee, Nirmaan and Sakala, then decided to stay behind to chat with these new acquaintances. When I mentioned that I needed to get back to my apartment to see if I could find some time to Skype with my family, the IT professionals I was chatting with looked surprised. I received the same reactions from teachers and staff after describing how much I miss my sister or how I need to return to the US so that my mom won’t be too upset.
Coming from the country that introduced the world to commercialized Christmases, McDonald’s, and Ke$ha, I understand that we can seem like materialistic automatons. I am also starting to understand how moving out of your parent’s home by the age of eighteen could seem a bit like familial abandonment (from the Indian perspective - I am NOT moving back in with the padres).
Thankfully, a less than scientific survey of emotions in over 150 countries proves otherwise. Based on daily emotional experiences the United States was ranked as one of the more emotional countries. As an American I am not surprised, but I think many of my Indian colleagues would disagree. India ranked a bit on the low end, but daily experiences tend to be fairly normalized when you are one in a billion. In the US we make romantic comedies, and believe we can have the fairy tales we see in high definition and surround sound. Bollywood movies rely on emotional escapism, and then release the audiences back to the reality of daily life. Americans feel emotions as (often oversharing) individuals, Indians feel emotions as members of families and communities. Americans are taught that our emotions matter from early childhood, and now we can update the world on our emotional status within seconds thanks to Twitter and Facebook. As social media expands, I could see the emotional “awareness” aka expressiveness of citizens increasing worldwide.
This stereotype of emotionless Americans has to have implications for foreign aid workers, international business professionals, and US diplomacy in general. Does a Peace Corps member’s work take hold in a community where they are seen as emotionally maladapted? Are international mergers welcomed in countries where new American management is stepping in to increase “efficiency”? Are American diplomats viewed with more or less skepticism than their seemingly emotionally competent peers from non-Western countries?
How do you convince the world that the US has a heart? Or does that even matter when we pride ourselves on hard work, punctuality, and success - all qualities relatively bereft of emotional attachment?
I just really love this list. The people that have encouraged me to follow these rules are an invaluable part of my life. On this day of thanks, I’m thankful for the family, friends, and teachers that have challenged me to never stop learning. “Read anything you can get your hands on.” - thanks, Mom and Dad.
10 Rules for Students and Teachers (and Life) by John Cage and Sister Corita Kent.
You can listen to composer John Cage’s 1982 Fresh Air interview here.
I think this is the end of the trip updates, but hopefully there will be more random adventures to add to this slightly disheveled blog.
Photo I forgot to add to the last update: The Water Palace in Jaipur (you can see, but can’t touch)
Ok…on to Jodhpur - the Blue City!! Jodhpur is an incredible maze of narrow streets, blue buildings, and cute little spice shops…fun times.
It was the coolest city I visited, but I also have a thing for winding streets and lassi.
Mehrangarh Fort - two seconds of the latest Batman movie were green-screened in front of this behemoth.
This is the room for an audience with royalty. So pretty.
View from the top of the fort…
And a picture of one of my travel buddies, Yasmin, if you don’t catch the theme yet.
Now that you have your blue fix, I’ll whisk you back to Delhi where we visited Qutub Minar.
(Fun fact: It’s very old, but people will still want their picture with you and not the series of 12th Century monuments)
So that basically wraps it up. The trip was great, the company wonderful, and I feel like now I can join in on the north vs. south discussions. During my whirlwind tour of the Golden Triangle, I realized that I generally enjoy living in the south.
The food may be more fattening and the mustaches less impressive, but Hyderabad is the India that I have accepted as my home for these ten months. Returning from the trip was tough, but once I had done a load of laundry I felt like I had found my nest. But this bird will have to spread its wings sometime soon…Kerala?