Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday, March 17

Today was another busy day. In the morning we tried to go see the Water Aid coordinator again but he was out sick (probably a good thing he stayed home based on yesterday’s meeting), but we did talk briefly with another person that works there. We came back to the hotel & met with the business manager’s two aunts who are the founders & directors of a grassroots NGO for Women & Children’s Welfare. They were impressive women who have been working for over 20 years on programs for health, education, and women’s empowerment. We’ve learned that networking is a huge part of the people who run these organizations (social capital as they put it), and many of them have worked with other groups or at least know of them. So if you talk to one of them, you’re likely to get additional contact information.

We then went to see the Joint Director of Uttar Pradesh (UP) Jal Nigam, which is the government agency that regulates water supply & sewage services for rural & urban areas. He was helpful and gave us a lot of useful information, and is going to send us additional data in an e-mail. He also gave us another contact, and took us to see the Chairman, who is a by-the-book guy and wouldn’t talk to us until we provide him with a reference from the Government of India saying they are working with Water for People. There were 5 other gentlemen in his office when Jim & I walked in – it was like being called to the principal’s office – yikes.

Coming back from the UP Jal Nigam, I saw an HSBC bank with ATM, so we stopped, and I was finally able to get some rupees.

Near the hotel when we were walking around, check out this picture of a woman filling up a water container at the public water tap.

Holy men drinking water from a public handpump at one of the monuments (Bara Imambara).

Indian people (most of them, anyway) are so gracious & hospitable. Wherever we go, as soon as we sit down, someone brings us water (which we don’t drink unless we know it is bottled water), and usually, Indian tea (known as “chai” in the U.S., but in India, it just means tea) & biscuits or some type of snack. They also don’t mind if we drop in without an appointment, and go out of their way to help. I remember when I was growing up, friends would just drop by, and not only did my parents not mind, they welcomed it. Often times, the guests would end up staying for lunch or dinner, depending on the time. And a unique little Indian quirk – they tilt their head from side to side rapidly, which to foreigners looks like they’re disagreeing or saying no, but actually they’re saying okay or yes.

1 comment:

  1. WOW, what a long trip in just getting there. How discouraging the first few days, but it seems there are more contacts and you are able to do some work. Awesome! Interesting different from our lives.
    Stay safe and enjoy your time in India! Love, Gail