Saturday, July 9, 2011

week 5

For the past week the girls of Sambhali have been learning self-defense at the park next door. This isn’t just any type of self-defense, they are learning how to use bamboo sticks! I have to say, my first sight of some girls and women holding bamboo sticks awkwardly, the women in Sari’s was a bit funny. I can say though, after one week, all of them got the hang of it, and they just kick ass. Our teacher is a Mr. Singh, who can be a bit grumpy, but is usually very helpful. After the first two days the girls were complaining about the blisters they had on their hands from spinning the bamboo sticks, but by the end of the week they were twirling these things with skill. Some of the girls were especially good, and picked up hitting, twirling, and spinning the sticks pretty fast.
I have to say, I don’t think learning the art of the bamboo stick is actually going to be applicable in their daily lives, but what is actually empowering for them is to know that they have the skill to do so. The girls felt stronger at the end of the week, and there was a definite change from them being timid and shy about using bamboo sticks at the beginning of the week, to them knowing exactly what they were supposed to do by the end.
Self-defense at 7am is early for most of us, but all the girls actually had to get up a lot earlier than 7am. The reality is that the 3-4 hours that the girls and women spend at Sambhali is the only time they have for themselves. The rest of their time is spent doing housework and helping other female members of their family with housework. They wake up in the morning and help make chapattis and food, they clean, wash clothes, wash dishes and sweep their homes. So when we had self-defense at 7:30am…the girls had to get up much earlier just to finish their chores before coming to school.
Most households in Jodhpur consist of extended family (from the father’s side). So there are grandparents, aunts and uncles at every household. There is an average of 8-14 people in each home, and each nuclear family lives in one room. I went to visit some of the girls in their homes, and I really enjoyed myself. They were so excited to show me around and introduce me to their family. All of them insisted on me either having a cold drink or snacks, they were absolutely lovely. It was great to get to see their homes, I got a better view into their lives and their everyday reality, plus I got to spend more time with them!

Here are pictures.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Some stuff

Here are some things that I found interesting or funny about my time in Jodhpur:
Mangos: Its mango season in Jodhpur, and I could not be happier. They are ridiculously cheap, 1 kg usually goes for about 50 rupees, that is 3 mangos for $1! They are so freaking delicious! There is also this type of mango that is small and green, and they way you eat this mango is by squeezing it slowly until the flesh is all pulpy. Then you make a hole at the bottom and suck all the pulp and juice out! Once all of it is gone, you take out the pit and finish it off. Its always funny seeing little toddlers holding their little green mangos.
No Plastic Bags in India! Yeah, the US should be ashamed. Trash is usually thrown out on the street, cows eat parts of it and the rest is burned. Because plastic bags are bad for cow, they have become illegal. Instead they use bags made of old saris. They are really pretty and they make shopping a lot more exciting. Instead, sari bags are used, made out of old saris. They make shopping exciting.
So many cows-as expected. And they really are everywhere. Big ones, little ones, brown ones, white ones, black and white ones. Burning cow poop is considered good and a way to ward off bad things. About once every two weeks, they take some dried dung from the street and burn it. Its actually quiet great, and its fun to talk to people at the guest house about traditions and customs like this.
Temples: Visiting Temples are really fun. I have had a lot of fun going to Temple either by myself or with family members. People are very nice, and they always insist that you get involved. It’s very relaxing to sit there and listen to the women and men singing and clapping. The women sit in the front and lead the singing and the men sit in the back. And usually when you visit temple you get a little sweet treat-this also might be the reason I go. This is the Ganesh Temple

Toast: There are a lot of different kinds of street food in Jodhpur, the most common probably being Pani Purri. But there is one that I honestly don’t get…Toast. There are piles and piles of toast just stacked, and people love to get them. I have not tried them, so I can’t say how they taste.

Shopkeeper books: all shopkeepers have a customer book, where their customers have filled in reviews. They are actually fun to read, and without fail every shopkeeper will pull theirs out to show you! Even some rickshaw drivers have them.
Water drinking method: Whenever people use water bottles here, they just use the “waterfall” method, not touching their lips to the bottle. And without doubt, most places have a water tank or water fountain with an attached tin cup that everyone uses through the “waterfall” method. Its really hard, and I always spill water on myself, but I eventually got the hang of it.