]> A Winter in India http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker These are stories, observations and photos from our Fulbright sabbaticals in India. The most recent entry shows at the top; scroll to the bottom if you want to read in chronological order. The entries that have no pictures are listed in the blog entries at the top left. For the entries with pictures, click on the thumbnail picture and you will see the full size photo. In either type of entry, you may have to click "more" to read the whole entry. Hope you enjoy this. And our thanks to MIchael Hanrahan at Bates for helping us get it going, customizing it, and training us into the 21st century. Enjoy! Pam and Dave en The End (26 March 2006) http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/177 <a href="?q=node/177"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/india-photos.thumbnail.jpg" width="100" height="70" alt="The End (26 March 2006)" title="The End (26 March 2006)" /></span> </a><p>As we write this we are sitting in the Detroit Airport waiting for the last leg of our odyssey, the flight to Portland. </p> <p>We feel an urge to summarize, but it is not possible. India is too complex and chaotic to yield to easy summation, so we will make do with a few parting comments.</p> <p>Our American emphasis on “doing”, “productivity”, “efficiency” and “outcomes” came up against the Indian emphasis on “status”, “hierarchy” and “obligation.” Some frustrations were inevitable.</p> <p>Public health and science education were our main professional interest areas, but such information is not openly available. Although India is a nation that produces many mathematicians, quantitative information is not a top priority. We heard lots of contradictory information. In part that is because record keeping is minimal, but it is also because the “facts” are vastly different for different parts of the country and for different groups of people within the country. We were guinea pigs in our own studies of public health; we were careful and had very little stomach problems, but we were frequently sick from Delhi’s air pollution. Even though all vehicles used for public transportation must use clean natural gas, all the private vehicles run on diesel fuel and have no engine pollution devices. India is changing so fast that growing pains must be expected.</p> Mon, 27 Mar 2006 14:08:04 -0500 Women’s work http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/176 <a href="?q=node/176"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/women.thumbnail.jpg" width="65" height="100" alt="Women’s work" title="Women’s work" /></span> </a><p>In Kausani, on the same trail where we met the boy porters, we also met this woman, carrying sticks and herding her goat. Somehow with all that she managed to bring her hands together under her chin and say “namaste,” which is both “hello” and a sign of respect. She grinned broadly when we returned the “namaste.” Normally we would say it first to an elder, but we were hoping to spare her the necessity of saying it back, considering the burden she was carrying. But she felt obligated to say it anyways. She appeared to be at least 80 years old, but it’s very hard to tell.</p> <p>On the way back to Delhi we saw these four, an adult woman and three little girls who looked to be ages 6, 7 and 8. Here they are walking along the side of the national highway, just beside the roadside restaurant we had stopped at for a rest about halfway to Delhi. So you see the advertising boards that look much like they would in the U.S., and work that we would never see in the U.S.</p> Thu, 23 Mar 2006 05:52:06 -0500 Men’s work http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/175 <a href="?q=node/175"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/boys-work.thumbnail.jpg" width="77" height="100" alt="Men’s work" title="Men’s work" /></span> </a><p>One day at Kausani we went for a hike behind where the paved road ends. Walked a couple of hours out and back on trails like the one in the top photo. We were bird watching; there were dozens of different kinds, most of which we hadn't seen before. Zooming past us came these boys using tump lines to carry bags of sand. How much does a bag of sand that size weigh, we wonder. Sixty pounds? Eighty pounds? Whatever it is, it is a substantial percentage of the weight of the porters. They were not going very far, and in a little while they came back again, unloaded. They were curious about what we were doing, so I pointed to the bird, which they knew the name of. I offered them the binoculars to look through. They were startled at first and then they laughed with such glee! They started punching each other on the shoulder and teasing about which of them should go first. One after another they looked through, kidding each other as they did. Then they asked, in gestures, if I had a camera, which I did. He asked if I would take their picture, and here it is. These kids were excited to see their own photo. You can see that one of the kids has the binoculars. Digital cameras are fun; I could show them the photo right then, which made them laugh and tease each other even more.</p> Thu, 23 Mar 2006 04:52:45 -0500 Happy Holi (15 March 2006) http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/174 <a href="?q=node/174"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/holi.thumbnail.jpg" width="61" height="100" alt="Happy Holi (15 March 2006)" title="Happy Holi (15 March 2006)" /></span> </a><p>Holi is a huge holiday. It is a Hindu festival, but it appears that many people other than Hindus celebrate. It is a festival of color. Powdered paint, in a half dozen BRIGHT colors is sold by the truckload, as are squirt guns of all shapes and sizes. People “play Holi” by smearing each other with the powdered paint. Then after a few hours, the squirt guns and water balloons and buckets come out and wet colors start. All the layers of powdered paint become rivers of color, plus a lot of what is squirted and thrown is water with more color in it. </p> <p>We were invited to a neighborhood Holi party by Dr. Pawan Malohtra, a microbiologist we had met seven years ago, through a mutual friend from Buffalo. He and his wife and two daughters live in West Delhi in Kirti Nagar. “Nagar” means community, and this nagar was a great layout: twenty houses built in a ring around a sizeable park. No space between the houses and no individual yards, but every two or three-story house had front balconies and roof top space that look out on the park. There is only one entrance, and that is gated and guarded, so the kids can play in the park, watched over by all 40 families.</p> Fri, 17 Mar 2006 00:33:06 -0500 Trail building http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/172 <a href="?q=node/172"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/trailbuilding.thumbnail.jpg" width="68" height="100" alt="Trail building" title="Trail building" /></span> </a><p>Near Almora we went for a hike up to Surya Temple (Sun Temple), an 800-year old Hindu temple. It was about 3 km steadily uphill, but all on “trails” that are the roads to the villages. First picture is a work crew making a new section of trail. They use a partner technique for the shoveling, as you can see at the left in the photo. There is a rope attached to the base of the handle of the shovel. One guy jams the shovel into the ground, the other guy pulls on the rope and the force of moving the dirt is thus shared. Other guys with crowbars are breaking up the dirt, getting it ready for shoveling. Guy in the red shirt is supervising.</p> Fri, 17 Mar 2006 00:23:49 -0500 Corruption, corruption and more corruption http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/171 <a href="?q=node/171"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/corruption.thumbnail.jpg" width="68" height="100" alt="Corruption, corruption and more corruption" title="Corruption, corruption and more corruption" /></span> </a><p>Corruption is pervasive. We see on the news here about American politicians being sent to prison for corruption, and people here think this is one of the strengths of America. They assume there will be corruption, but they are amazed that anyone actually has to pay a penalty for it. </p> <p>One example is Laloo Prasad, a politician who was the Chief Minister for the state called Bihar, and who was notorious for corruption that he made little or no attempt to hide. He had squandered the state’s money to the extent that the state was virtually bankrupt and was experiencing none of the investment and development that most states in India have been enjoying. After 14 years as Chief Minister, he was finally voted out of office during the time we have been here. Our landlady and her daughter were ecstatic and could hardly believe that it had come true, that some politician had been voted out for his actions. There were also caste overlays to this story. Prasad is from what are known here as the Backward and Scheduled Castes, so he spread some of the money around to other lower caste people, while using a lot of it to pay for votes. Most of it went to his immediate family. So, he was voted out, but is he in jail? No, he has now become the Chief Minister of Railroads. The railroads, the military, the civil servants and some other government sectors have their own schools, their own medical providers, their own vacation resorts, their own restaurants, and a pension system. None of these things, except the schools, are provided to the rest of the public. So now Prasad is running the railroads and he has advertised fare breaks, to try to lure the middle class away from airlines and back to trains. His budget ran a surplus this past six months, which he has publicized greatly. Suspicious thing about that is that the railroad upgrade projects that were supposed to have been scheduled for this year have not received any funding (an easy way to run a surplus in your budget!).</p> Fri, 17 Mar 2006 00:20:27 -0500 Scooter families http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/170 <a href="?q=node/170"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/scooter.thumbnail.jpg" width="77" height="100" alt="Scooter families" title="Scooter families" /></span> </a><p>Many, many people here can now afford a scooter, and it is the family car. Here we see two adult men, and adult woman and a baby on one scooter, actually quite a common sight. Somehow the women never get their flowing saris and scarves caught in the wheels and the babies all look completely calm.</p> Thu, 16 Mar 2006 03:32:13 -0500 Always use seatbelts http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/169 <a href="?q=node/169"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/seatbelts.thumbnail.jpg" width="59" height="100" alt="Always use seatbelts" title="Always use seatbelts" /></span> </a><p>Another frequently seen public service announcement is “Always use seatbelts.” In fact, their use is “compulsory” in the front seat.</p> <p>But as you can see, most people don’t sit in the front seat. People with little or no money are very resourceful at making due with what they have. In the mountains, there are “share jeeps” that pick up anyone and everyone along the road. Here on the plains, the jeeps are replaced by these vehicles that look like old VW buses. As you can see, people ride along with the back door, and even the passenger-side side door open, allowing more people to stand on the body frame.</p> Thu, 16 Mar 2006 03:28:49 -0500 Do not overload vehicles http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/168 <a href="?q=node/168"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/trucks.thumbnail.jpg" width="88" height="100" alt="Do not overload vehicles" title="Do not overload vehicles" /></span> </a><p>After we had seen glorious views of the Himalaya from Almora, we went even further north for closer views. Unfortunately, by then the weather had changed and everything was clouded in. We got some heavy rain, which was good because they are dependent on rainwater and had not had any all winter. Bad for us because it also got really cold. Snow on the near mountains, and about 37 F in our unheated hotel. So after two days, instead of the five we had planned, we headed back to Delhi. First day, a four hour drive to the Nainital area (another lake, with the lovely name of Bhimtal). Then the second day, an 8.5 hour drive to Delhi. It took an hour and a half to get down out of the mountains, then the rest of the way was on the absolutely flat Gangetic Plains, and mostly on a national highway. These pictures were from along that part of the drive.</p> Thu, 16 Mar 2006 03:22:16 -0500 Mother Ganga and Her Worshipers http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/167 <a href="?q=node/167"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/Mother Ganga.thumbnail.jpg" width="100" height="88" alt="Mother Ganga and Her Worshipers" title="Mother Ganga and Her Worshipers" /></span> </a><p>This guy obviously doesn’t worry about bad hair days. He is one of the millions of Hindus who believe that the water of the Ganges will heal all physical and spiritual ailments. On the return trip to Delhi from the mountains we crossed the Ganges and saw first hand the multitudes who visit this sacred river. Further downstream and upstream are the more famous pilgrimage stops along the Ganges, Haridwar, Varanasi, Benares and others, but here also the devotees throng to restore their health. At the river’s edge cement stairs called ghats allow devotees to reach the river safely and immerse themselves. I wish I understood more of the Hindu rituals to better appreciate their spiritual journey to this river. Boatmen are more than willing to take a devotee for a ride on the sacred river and merchants are more than anxious to supply them with all necessities. Wherever there is a visitor with a purpose to fulfill there are also others to help (for Rupees) them with their experience. Just to be around folks like the one in our image makes one become more spiritual, if only to wonder at his devotion improves us all.</p> Thu, 16 Mar 2006 03:18:19 -0500 The Himalaya Mountains http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/166 <a href="?q=node/166"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/Himalaya Mountains composite.thumbnail.jpg" width="67" height="100" alt="The Himalaya Mountains" title="The Himalaya Mountains" /></span> </a><p>These three images were taken looking due north from the front lawn of our guest house, aptly named Snowview Resort, in Almora, Uttaranchal. In the upper two images taken at slightly different times near sunrise it is easy to see Trishul on the left and Maiktoli on the right. Now Trishul is about 23,140 feet above sea level, which is about one and one half miles higher than Mt. Whitney in California. The tippy-top point of Maiktoli is 22,110 feet in elevation. In the bottom image one can just see on the right edge a mountain named Nanda Devi, which is the tallest mountain in India at 25,400 feet or 4.8 miles above sea level!!!!! These mountains are pushed upwards about 1 inch per year. Think of them as the crinkle in the earth’s covering fabric caused by the entire subcontinent of India moving north against the continent of Asia.</p> Thu, 16 Mar 2006 03:14:01 -0500 Life in a Pop-up Story book http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/165 <p>As we are looking back on our months here, there was one day that sort of epitomized the way things go. This was actually back in January. The Health Attaché at the American Embassy had set up some appointments for us to meet with various people in Delhi. They scheduled two appointments in one day, the first at 10 in the morning, the second at 2 in the afternoon. Figuring that each appointment would be no more than an hour, this in the U.S. would seem like more than enough time to do both. Even though they were at two different institutions, both places were in the southern end of Delhi. But as the day transpired, it felt more and more like one of those children’s books, where you turn the page and a folded cutout pops up with a new picture.</p> Tue, 14 Mar 2006 02:22:20 -0500 Women Weavers of Kumaon (9 March 2006) http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/164 <a href="?q=node/164"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/weavers.thumbnail.jpg" width="74" height="100" alt="Women Weavers of Kumaon (9 March 2006)" title="Women Weavers of Kumaon (9 March 2006)" /></span> </a><p>Today we visited a community-run enterprise called Panchachuli: Women Weavers of Kumaon, which employs 700 women from the Kumaon area of Uttaranchal as spinners and weavers. It also employs a large number of men doing the dying of the fibers, and the packing of the finished products. The whole operation seems very well run. The women are working in clean, well-lighted spaces. Although there are many women in each room, that appears to add to the social aspect of the work. They have buses that transport the women to and from their villages. They are making woven items of lamb’s wool, pashmina, silk, tree fibers, or nettles, and combinations of the above. I’m not sure I would want to be spinning nettles, but I assume they must boil it or somehow de-nettle it before it gets to that stage. Much of the fiber is vegetable-dyed, but some is chemical dyed. The vegetable-dyed items are much softer.</p> Tue, 14 Mar 2006 02:18:46 -0500 Jageshwar Group of Temples (8 March 2006) http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/163 <a href="?q=node/163"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/cremation.thumbnail.jpg" width="55" height="100" alt="Jageshwar Group of Temples (8 March 2006)" title="Jageshwar Group of Temples (8 March 2006)" /></span> </a><p>Today we drove through beautiful pine forest to Jageshwar, where there is a large group of Hindu temples that range in size from 2 to 60 feet high and were built over a span of 1000 years. The “new” ones are from 1560. It is a staggering collection, made even more so by the gigantic size of the trees around it. Some of these deodar trees were 12 feet in diameter! They look something like larch trees on steroids. It is rare to see forest in India, and this was just beautiful.</p> <p>The Archaeological Survey of India is doing a fantastic job of conserving and restoring these sites, and in the process, employing and training hundreds of people. We wandered around the temples for a while, and took the first picture of the preparations for a puja ceremony, though we didn’t know what the ceremony was to be. We went off for a hike across a little river and up the mountain. On the way down we ran into a group of Italian women who told us that the preparations were for a cremation. So we sat on the side of the mountain and watched from a discrete (?) distance. The second photo is the family seated around a large fire at the place we saw being readied in the first photo. The ceremony involved lots of chanting by the priest, repeated by the people, and tossing of flower petals, and pouring of water. While the ceremony was happening, a large truck delivered tree trunks ton the street outside the temple complex. Workmen carried one tree at a time, past the temples and over to the river bed, where they built the cremation pyre, as you see in the third photo. We decided not to stay to watch the actual cremation.</p> Thu, 09 Mar 2006 05:16:04 -0500 The Perfect Dental Parlor http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/?q=node/162 <a href="?q=node/162"><span class="image thumbnail"><img src="http://leeds.bates.edu/pbaker/files/images/Almora-Dental-Clinic.thumbnail.jpg" width="100" height="74" alt="The Perfect Dental Parlor" title="The Perfect Dental Parlor" /></span> </a><p>This is the picture of my new office that I am going to put on my website to advertise my new practice location.<br /> David L. Baker, DDS<br /> Dentist trained in America<br /> Easy to find, walk-ins welcome. Payment for services is negotiable.<br /> Every seat in reception area has a view of Himalayas. Sit-down, flush toilets.<br /> Electrically operated equipment when power is available. Closed during monsoon.</p> <p>We liked walking around Almora, but we only had time to see the main street called the Mall and the big bazaar area. I am sure that there are other dental offices in more upscale areas, but all we saw was this one clinic with a dentist’s name on the sign and two dental establishments doing dentures. In fact, one denture clinic was a combination dental and optical shop. Like everything else here in India the denture clinics were open to the street and the patients waited on a bench while the technician worked on dentures. It looked like there was a curtain at the back of the small store-like space where the impressions were probably made and new dentures tried in. But maybe the technician just hands the dentures to the patient while other patients give their opinion of the looks and speech clarity. There is no such thing as patient confidentiality here that I have seen.</p> Wed, 08 Mar 2006 05:06:42 -0500