Photo of the Week
Photo Title


WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41465
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-05-28 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => I've never been good with goodbyes. I know myself, and I know I'm in denial. With each day running fast toward the sunset, I feel myself unable to process the reality that's soon setting in-- we are leaving. We are leaving Benares and Bridge Year is ending. That's why this goodbye is especially hard. Because this goodbye is entwined with a thank you I won't be able to put into words. How do I say goodbye to the family that has opened their home to me and welcomed me as one of the "Agrawaal" for the past seven months? How do I say goodbye to Dolly-ji and Lara-ji, when it will feel like I'll soon see them speeding around on their scooters, yet stopping to give me a huge hug on a dusty street? How do I say goodbye to Ajeet and Manju, and try to thank them for teaching me, believing in me, and trusting me more than anyone I've ever been lucky enough to know? How do I say goodbye to the kids, when I know I'm going back to enormous privilege they'll never know, when I know I'll never meet kids as loving, dedicated and hilarious as they, when I know that even though I intend on it, I won't be back soon? I've taken pictures, I've written four journals to the brim, and I've tried to capture this experience so I can take with me some sort of evidence because I know I'm scared of forgetting. I guess this goodbye is that way too-- because in a sense, a goodbye is a one word summation of a relationship, of a time, of a place, of too many feelings rolled into a tiny generalization too hard to face when something powerful comes to a close. Don't get me wrong-- I'm pumped for Ladakh. The next leg of our journey is a month in the mountains: teaching in a school, living in a village, exploring, trekking and breathing in the cleanest air and most beautiful views there are. I'm excited to go home, to see my friends and hug my family, to walk my dog and meet the life I used to know as normal. I also have faith that there's room in the universe for me to come back to Banares, and that I'll get to be in this crazy place, my second home, once again. But for now, I'm trying to enjoy these last days of blistering heat, spicy food, unmatched generosity, Devanagri script and kids with the widest smiles I've ever known. Thank you to Benares, for making this goodbye difficult. Because if this goodbye weren't so bitter, this year wouldn't have been so sweet. 
    [post_title] => Reflections on Leaving Banares
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => open
    [ping_status] => open
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => reflections-on-leaving-banares
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2012-05-28 00:00:00
    [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41465
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => post
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [categories] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 313
                    [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012
                    [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 313
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 263
                    [count] => 25
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 3.10014
                    [cat_ID] => 313
                    [category_count] => 25
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012
                    [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011
                    [category_parent] => 263
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/
                )

        )

    [category_links] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012
)

Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

Reflections on Leaving Banares

Azza Pandey,Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

I’ve never been good with goodbyes. I know myself, and I know I’m in denial. With each day running fast toward the sunset, I feel myself unable to process the reality that’s soon setting in– we are leaving. We are leaving Benares and Bridge Year is ending. That’s why this goodbye is especially hard. Because […]

Posted On

05/28/12

Author

Azza Pandey

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41578
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-05-08 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>                  

(And introduction, for family and friends of the Bridge Year India group, to Adrian Smith, who is co-leading with Daniel in Ladakh for the month of May.)

Namaste!

I have lived in India and Nepal for most of the past 14 years and find that the longer I stay, the more I realize how I have only begun to scratch the surface of this remarkable area and its people. After graduating from Middlebury College I spent several years in Nepal studying Buddhism, trekking, teaching English, leading summer travel programs and learning to sculpt stone Buddhas with a master Nepali sculptor. I spent my days sculpting with my mentor, exploring Kathmandu and practicing speaking Nepali, volunteering, and trekking into the most remote areas I could find.

Seven years ago I began leading semester abroad programs in India, Nepal and Tibet and feel incredibly fortunate to continue to have the opportunity to grow and learn in such an extraordinary environment and to share what I can of my experience with students.I first came to Ladakh in 1998 and continue to return for treks through dramatic desert landscapes and mountains in one of the highest inhabited lands in the world, and especially for the extraordinary people who have made that area their home. Ladakhis are honest warm hearted people whose hospitality will astound you. On a practical note, Ladakh is said to be one of the few places in the world where you can get frostbite and a sunburn at the same time.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you!

Julay!

Adrian

[post_title] => A letter of introduction [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => a-letter-of-introduction-4 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-05-08 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41578 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 313 [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 313 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10014 [cat_ID] => 313 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 )

Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

A letter of introduction

Adrian Smith,Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

(And introduction, for family and friends of the Bridge Year India group, to Adrian Smith, who is co-leading with Daniel in Ladakh for the month of May.) Namaste! I have lived in India and Nepal for most of the past 14 years and find that the longer I stay, the more I realize how I […]

Posted On

05/8/12

Author

Adrian Smith

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41579
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-05-08 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>                  

Julay!

Greetings from Ladakh! We thought you would enjoy seeing some photos of this spectacular place. After our arrival in Leh, we spent 1 week living with homestay families and teaching at the government school in Domkhar. Domkhar is our local contact Namgial’s home village and lies in a special permit area in western Ladakh. It is an area that sees very few tourists and we were all touched by the warm hospitality that we were shown there. As we could only obtain 1 week permits we had to shorten our planned stay in Domkhar and chose to spend the last four days hiking through villages in the mountains north of the Indus river. We stayed with families along the way which afforded us an intimate glimpse into traditional Ladakhi life while also preparing us physically for our upcoming trek. Today we leave for SECMOL (the Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh- www.secmol.org) where we will be teaching and comparing our experience in the local government school of Domkhar with Ladakh’s most progressive educational initiative.

We will be back in touch on May 15 before we leave for our trek which will take us to our final days here in Ladakh. All is well and we send our best wishes to all of you.

Daniel and Adrian

[post_title] => Julay from Ladakh [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => julay-from-ladakh [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-05-08 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41579 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 313 [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 313 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10014 [cat_ID] => 313 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 )

Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

Julay from Ladakh

Instructors,Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

Julay! Greetings from Ladakh! We thought you would enjoy seeing some photos of this spectacular place. After our arrival in Leh, we spent 1 week living with homestay families and teaching at the government school in Domkhar. Domkhar is our local contact Namgial’s home village and lies in a special permit area in western Ladakh. […]

Posted On

05/8/12

Author

Instructors

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41709
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-04-19 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>                  

Greetings Everyone!

I am looking forward to seeing you all again soon and traveling to cooler and quieter heights with you. Here is an itinerary for our time in Ladakh. Please be prepared that we will have little or no internet connection for most of our time in Ladakh. I hope you are all excited for our trip! I am looking forward to seeing you all on the 26th in Delhi!

Warm wishes to you all!

Adrian

April 27th: Group flies from Delhi to Leh, Ladakh

April 28th: Acclimatization day in Leh

April 29th: Drive to Domkhar Village and visit Alchi Monastery

April 30th-May 8th : Service Work in Domkhar school and Transference Workshop

May 9th: Drive to Rural Service Project with the NGO, SECMOL

May 10th-17th:Teaching and transference activities at SECMOL

May 18-25th: Trek

May 26th-27th: Monastery and Lhamo (oracle) visit

May 28th: Fly back to Delhi for rest day(s) before flight home.

[post_title] => Ladakh Itinerary [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => ladakh-itinerary [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-04-19 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41709 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 313 [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 313 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10014 [cat_ID] => 313 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 )

Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

Ladakh Itinerary

Adrian Smith,Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

Greetings Everyone! I am looking forward to seeing you all again soon and traveling to cooler and quieter heights with you. Here is an itinerary for our time in Ladakh. Please be prepared that we will have little or no internet connection for most of our time in Ladakh. I hope you are all excited […]

Posted On

04/19/12

Author

Adrian Smith

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41747
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-04-08 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

Modern Indian music thumps along with the same saturated beats, auto tuned singers, and cliché lyrics as western pop music, but the modern glitzy Bollywood stars are a world away from the kurtas and authentic tones of Indian classical music. Indian classical music is an extremely respected and difficult vocation. Most professional musicians are raised in musical families which make the student practice for hours a day from a very young age. This means that by adulthood, these musicians are virtuosic. Personally, the instruments and sounds these performers master seem esoteric. However, classical music has a wide and loyal following on the subcontinent.

The most popular instruments played are the Sitar and the Tabla. The sitar looks like a large guitar with lots of strings. This is the instrument learned by George Harrison when he visited India and is featured in a few Beatles’ tunes. It has a low constant drone which continues in the background while higher and faster notes are played over the drone. Famously, the strings are stretched incredibly tight which can tear apart a novice’s fingers. The tabla is a set of two drums, a larger deeper drum and a smaller higher drum, which is played while sitting on the floor. The techniques used for playing are numerous and complicated and includes everything from just tapping your fingers to rolling the heel of your hand over the top of the drum. Most concerts are some combination of sitar and tabla and harmonium, which is a small airy sounding piano which provides accompanying melodies for the primary instruments. A less commonly seen instrument is a Sarangi, which resembles a large boxy violin. Finally, the human voice is a very common and respected musical instrument which is actually my favorite to listen to. Most songs are long drawn out moans which vary in pitch and strength.

The notation and structure of Indian music is different from western music, and is centered on the idea of ragas and talas. The raga is essentially the melodic portion of a song while the tala is the rhythmic portion. Beyond this, I don’t know or understand the specific differences between western and Indian music. If are musically inclined and curious as to the differences, there is lots of information online.

Personally, I have not found much inspiration from Indian music, but it is impossible to not respect the skill, history, and devotion present in every aspect of the music.

FYI: I will be leaving Varanasi on April 25th. I will be going to Ladakh, a remote portion of the Himalayas, to do volunteer work, a village home stay, and to go trekking. It is doubtful that I will have much internet access while I am up there so these are the last few blog posts which will go up. If there is a topic I haven’t written about that you are curious about let me know while I am still in Varanasi so I can address your questions.

Tyler

[post_title] => Indian Classical Music [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => indian-classical-music [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-04-08 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41747 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 313 [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 313 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10014 [cat_ID] => 313 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 )

Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

Indian Classical Music

Tyler Rudolph,Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

Modern Indian music thumps along with the same saturated beats, auto tuned singers, and cliché lyrics as western pop music, but the modern glitzy Bollywood stars are a world away from the kurtas and authentic tones of Indian classical music. Indian classical music is an extremely respected and difficult vocation. Most professional musicians are raised […]

Posted On

04/8/12

Author

Tyler Rudolph

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41772
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-03-31 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

The difference between American and Indian lifestyles can be very stark and seemingly irreconcilable at times. One of the best examples of that comes in the form of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda is a practice of preventing, treating, and minimizing ailments which dates back thousands of years. According to the very reliable source of Wikipedia about 80% of Indians use Ayurvedic practices. From experience, this number is easy to believe as I have seen its methods being used in treating everything from a head cold, to excess body fat, to emotional distress, to a general lack of energy. It is a huge and rather complicated body of knowledge, but what is a below is an attempt to get at its essence.

The core principle is that your body contains different proportions of the five elements of the universe (earth, water, wind, fire, ether) which in your body are expressed as three humors pitta, kapha, and vata. If your body contains an appropriate balance of these three humors than you will be healthy and happy. Every person can be identified most strongly with one or two of these humors by and as a result needs to take corrective actions in their diet and actions to not allow that humor to dominate and as result create and unhealthy body and mind. I visited an Ayurvedic doctor to do a body type reading and was diagnosed as being a pitta. I thought the appointment was rather a hokey as he simply took my pulse, had me fill out a survey, and gave me a diet plan. If you follow this link (http://www.indiaoz.com.au/health/ayurveda/bodytype.shtml) you can take the quiz and get a pretty good feel for your body type. The rest of Ayurveda involves employing various techniques to keep these humors and as a result your body and mind in balance.

The techniques associated with Ayurveda are broad, with everything from meditation and yoga to medicines and simple surgeries. I experimented with an Ayurvedic treatment called Shirodhara which is supposed to treat stress and a variety of other disorders. A vessel was hung above me and warm oil ran continually over my forehead (See pictures). It was a very relaxing treatment that left me in a sort of a half sleep/trance state of mind. Maxson, another Princeton student, got in a large steel lung looking medicated steam bath. It seemed to leave him very sweaty and tired, but he said it really felt good. The clinic where I went also offers practices like assisted throwing up (you drink an unknown substance and throw up to remove toxins), bloodletting, and seemingly medieval practices.

Ayurveda also has a thriving business of creating pills, vitamins, oils, ointments, and other such items which will improve your health. They are made from an assortment of plants, animals, minerals, and metals. However, I have always been rather wary of these things because it claims to use toxic things like mercury and lead in its medicines without detrimental effects. A drug manufacturer we visited claimed that after its treatment of mercury the metal is safe for human consumption, but they refused to give details about the process and how exactly they change the substance. They did acknowledge that the US FDA believes that many of the drugs contain toxic levels of these metals, a statement confirmed by my Wikipedia research. Ayurveda produces some beneficial substances, from plants and herbs which I am sure have positive effects because they contain small amounts of effective vitamins or chemicals which are present in western medicine. My experiments with Ayurvedic medicines and vitamins did not impress me as they had no noticeable effects. If I felt truly ill I would certainly not rely upon Ayurvedic medicines to cure me.

Ayurveda differs from western medicine in that its purpose is to address the health of your lifestyle, mind, and body. It is to be used continuously and is not simply devoted to solving illnesses when they arise. American health care is criticized for not focusing enough on preventative care so perhaps we could learn something from the holistic lifestyle approach of Ayurveda.

[post_title] => Ayurveda [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => ayurveda [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-03-31 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41772 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 313 [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 313 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10014 [cat_ID] => 313 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 )

Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

Ayurveda

Tyler Rudolph,Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

The difference between American and Indian lifestyles can be very stark and seemingly irreconcilable at times. One of the best examples of that comes in the form of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda is a practice of preventing, treating, and minimizing ailments which dates back thousands of years. According to the very reliable source of Wikipedia about […]

Posted On

03/31/12

Author

Tyler Rudolph

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41794
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-03-23 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => 
I've been very aware and also very wary of my changing consciousness. I don't want to be cheesy and say to myself/others that I went to India and feel more enlightened, that I travelled in search of something and found it. If anything, I am now more lost than found. I'm very lucky that a typical conversation with Ajeet ends up in his waxing philosophical about art, religion, poetry, humanity, justice, and today we were talking about the idea of enlightenment. "We must think about the art of shrinking," he said, "once you realize that we are all no more significant than an ant, than the dust, then we can become englightened."
Dealing with my own insignificance here has been the most difficult inner and outer obstacle I've faced. I am one person, learning a second language, with nine months and only twenty-four hours in each day. I can only answer one curious child's question, only write one set of practice math problems, only slowly translate in my head one sentence at a time. Varanasi is one city, with one brothel, one thousand prostitutes and only one Guria. So many more need Guria's help, and so do the other millions of poverty-stricken children, here and everywhere, starving for food, an education, a hug, a chance, all these things that I have every day without even thinking about it.
And yet, the idea of shrinking is not depressing. I understand what Ajeet says. We must be humble, and only then can we make a difference. We must realize that all these problems we face each day-- be it finding food or finding an integral-- are incredibly small. This one gap year I thought was a big deal is still only one year lost in the infinite timeline. Who are we, as Americans, to think we are better than Indians because our roads are more paved? Who are we, as Princeton students, to think we are smart because someone sent me a sheet of paper with a number in the mail? After visiting the villages with Ajeet and talking with the "unskilled" women weaving saris by handloom, I've learned that I am not smarter than an illiterate Dalit. She organizes her handloom with hundreds of strings and a process too complicated to be summarized in a lab report. We all must shrink, and realize that no matter how big our problems or our solutions seem, they are small. Whatever measurable differences I'm making-- helping a student learn the full alphabet, teaching a girl who's never seen a computer how to make a colorful powerpoint, seeing a student progress from two to twenty words per minute-- they are small.
However, I have faith in the more immeasurable differences. I have faith it makes a difference when I ask a girl how she's feeling because clearly no one has asked her in a while, or when I braid her hair so she feels pretty. As small as we each are in the great scheme of the world, each only one person among the seven billion on the planet, there is something to feel empowered about. If each and every one person helps one more person, who helps another, who helps another, every small person can really be a part of making a difference. We shouldn't expect (like I falsely did) to change India. However, if we change ourselves, if we shrink ourselves and offer kindness each day, then we can reach some sort of enlightenment.
[post_title] => The Art of Shrinking [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-art-of-shrinking [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-08 16:17:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-08 23:17:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41794 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 36 [name] => Best Notes From The Field [slug] => best-notes-from-the-field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 36 [taxonomy] => category [description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course. [parent] => 0 [count] => 504 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 0 [cat_ID] => 36 [category_count] => 504 [category_description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course. [cat_name] => Best Notes From The Field [category_nicename] => best-notes-from-the-field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/best-notes-from-the-field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 313 [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 313 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10014 [cat_ID] => 313 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Best Notes From The Field, Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 )

Best Notes From The Field, Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

The Art of Shrinking

Azza Pandey,Best Notes From The Field, Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

I’ve been very aware and also very wary of my changing consciousness. I don’t want to be cheesy and say to myself/others that I went to India and feel more enlightened, that I travelled in search of something and found it. If anything, I am now more lost than found. I’m very lucky that a […]

Posted On

03/23/12

Author

Azza Pandey

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41805
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-03-21 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => 

Last week, Somnath, who works with me at the Kiran Centre, invited me to his house to meet his wife. I said yes, and we got on our respective rides - he drove a hand-cranked wheelchair for forty-five minutes as I pedaled behind him to his house on the outskirts of Varanasi.

We entered his one-room house, illuminated by a yellow sodium bulb on the wall and I met his wife, Pinki, who is also disabled and uses crutches. Pinki was pregnant a few months back, but had a stillbirth. Seeing the way she coddled her puppy, Tofi - wrapping him up in a blanket, cradling him in her arms - made me think about what that kind of loss, so common here that it was mentioned briefly at a work meeting, does to a woman.

Don't let them become a sob story.


This family of three was soon joined by their curious, friendly neighbors.

The room filled with smoke as Pinki prepared chai on a clay stove, which is fueled by dried cow dung cakes. She started the fire by melting a plastic cup onto the wood to help it light. The fact that this absolutely-toxic firestarter (in an 8 x 14 room, no less) didn't faze me is a true marker of my months here.

Don't let them blend in with the filth.

As the probably-toxic and fecally-powered smoke filled the room, I asked Shanti, the girl in orange, for her picture. She didn't respond, a common occurrence that I usually attribute to my pidgin Hindi. Instead, I learned that she is unable to hear or speak. Thus, between two neighbors, three family members were handicapped - Pinki and Somnath are both physically disabled as well.
Don't let them become a medical case.

Naturally, everyone wanted to get in the shot.

We drank chai with biscuits that I brought - even Tofi got one - and looked at pictures Somnath keeps of his days in school. Many of them were taken by foreigners visiting the Kiran Centre. He also unfolded his collection of letters, filled with contact numbers and emails and I-will-never-forget-yous.

Don't pretend they worship you.

Suddenly, it was afternoon. We made our way out. Somnath was going to bike all the way back to the center of Varanasi and come home again, making it a three-trip day. In a hand-cranked wheelchair, over cobble-stoned and chaotic roads. And you thought your commute was bad.

Don't treat them with pity.

Filled with chai and an afternoon spent among people who opened their world to me, the way back didn't seem so far.

Somnath chatted about his life. "I want to open a shop," he said.

There was a pause.

"Could you help me?" he said, finally.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I need some money. You have a lot of money."

I was silent.

I was glad for this, in a way. His question snapped me back to reality, reminded me that these people are not just a pretty picture or a story I tell to everyone back home. It kept me from over-romanticizing their lives.

They are not poor, simple people falling at the feet of the foreigner. They are not confined to the scene that my camera captured them in - a smoky, seemingly uninhabitable concrete block.

They have desires and agendas. They are good people, but they are also people who want the same things we want - a way up, a way out. I am ashamed at how we simplify them. At how we assume that they are content to remain in their filthy, photogenic dwellings simply for the benefit of our Western cameras.

As for Somanth's question? I quickly changed the subject, and it hasn't come up since. But it might have been the most useful thing he shared with me, on the afternoon he opened up his home.

[post_title] => Don't Let Them Become an Anecdote [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dont-let-them-become-an-anecdote [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-03-21 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41805 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 313 [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 313 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10014 [cat_ID] => 313 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 )

Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

Don’t Let Them Become an Anecdote

Isabel Henderson,Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

Last week, Somnath, who works with me at the Kiran Centre, invited me to his house to meet his wife. I said yes, and we got on our respective rides – he drove a hand-cranked wheelchair for forty-five minutes as I pedaled behind him to his house on the outskirts of Varanasi. We entered his […]

Posted On

03/21/12

Author

Isabel Henderson

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41818
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-03-18 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

Below you will find a piece I wrote as part of my studies here in India. It’s tough to wander through India without the fundamental debates behind Keynes and Hayek, Marx and Smith, running through your mind. It is easy to find the value in the post 1991 free market economy and to deride India’s initial attempts at growth. Yet, walking around a city like Banaras is proof enough that uncontained free market growth is certainly not the answer, as the vast majority of India’s population has been left out of the spoils. I can’t wait to get to Princeton to explore these issues in more depth, but for now experiential economic exploration is good enough.

The inception of the Indian Economy:

When the British gave Indians their sovereignty, they also left behind all of the problems created in their wake. The new economy had some unfortunate barriers to cross which were the result of British rule and partition. The partition of the country left a significant amount of infrastructure incomplete or in pieces because it was divided between India and Pakistan. For example, in Bengal much of the farming was done in what is now Bangladesh while the mills and processing plants were in India. Furthermore, large numbers of refugees leaving and coming created a humanitarian and food crisis the Indian economy had to deal with. Finally, the new nation had to deal with the large and cumbersome bureaucracy set up by the British for governance. This bureaucracy known as the British Raj, would drastically slow down the economy as it was prone to corruption and lethargy. It legacy can still be felt today as any foreigner who tries to work with the Foreign Registration Office will tell you.

Drawing inspiration from the socialist democracies of Western Europe and the central planning of the USSR, India endeavored to create a large, centrally run autarky. In a series of ambitious 5 year plans, Indian bureaucrats laid out the way in which the economy would grow and develop. The state took over or created large state run firms in heavy industry to work on large government funded projects. The government also passed a series of protectionist laws such as the Industries act of 1951 which required businesses to submit any changes or new ideas to the government before implementation. These requests would often get lost in the Raj and be rejected. The state dominance is blamed for stifling Indian innovation during that time period. The government also imposed large tariffs and restrictions on foreign good so as to prevent competition from infiltrating the domestic market.

The results of these policies did not live up to India’s grand dreams, India only achieved a 3% growth rate on its GDP between 1950 and 1980 which is abysmal when compared to the almost 10% growth rate of its counterparts like Japan and South Korea. This growth rate was slandered with the name of “the Hindu rate of growth”. Additionally, the government incurred a substantial amount of debt which forced them to issue bonds in rupees. This flooded the Indian market with money prompting widespread inflation.

Troubles didn’t stop there, government agricultural planning couldn’t fulfill its goals meaning famines were present in states poor like Bihar. In order to fix this problem India was forced to turn to the environmentally questionable green revolution, which drastically increased crop yields and turned India into an agricultural powerhouse. India’s autarkic policies ended in the late 80’s and early 90’s as the government was forced to confront its large budget deficits and a foreign exchange crisis. The rapid expansion and growth of the Indian economy after this point indicates that the initial years of India’s independent economy were wasted on a fruitless attempt to successfully produce a socialist, centrally controlled, democracy.

[post_title] => Indian Economics [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => indian-economics [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-03-18 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41818 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 313 [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 313 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10014 [cat_ID] => 313 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 )

Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

Indian Economics

Tyler Rudolph,Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

Below you will find a piece I wrote as part of my studies here in India. It’s tough to wander through India without the fundamental debates behind Keynes and Hayek, Marx and Smith, running through your mind. It is easy to find the value in the post 1991 free market economy and to deride India’s […]

Posted On

03/18/12

Author

Tyler Rudolph

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 41816
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-03-18 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => 

India is very proud that it is the largest democracy in the world, a fact which creates an extremely dramatic, energetic, and complicated electoral process. The country is simply so diverse that is impossible to divide the population into two voting blocks of progressives and conservatives. Not only are their sharp religious and geographical differences between populations, but policies like the reservation system (which requires a certain number of jobs/college spots go to people from lower castes, minorities, etc.) can promote bitter tension and angst over who is elected to control and dictate these policies. Cronyism and corruption is also rampant, so people of the same party, caste, or status as those elected can expect payouts, contracts, and judicial leniency. With all of these important factors included, it is easy to see why Indian’s take voting very seriously.

On Election Day in Banaras all shops were closed for the day and traffic was banned on the roads. The city was full of groups of people milling about voting stations, ballots in hand, while police lazily sauntered around the perimeter. A day off promotes solid voter turnout as most districts can expect approximately 50 to 60% of their eligible population to come out and cast a ballot. Over the course of a month, votes were gathered from various districts, counted, and finally on March 7th the results were released.

The results of this election are interesting and internationally significant despite the fact that it was only a state election. The reason for this is that Uttar Pradesh, my current state, is the most populated in India and holds significant amounts of sway in determining national policy and leadership. Additionally, UP’s sizable and diverse population means that elections act as solid bellwether for the entire country’s attitude going into national elections in 2014. India has a parliamentary democracy so the districts vote for their parliamentary representative who then votes for the state leader. Most of the time, no party gains a clear majority so to seize power in parliament they form coalitions with similar parties. This last election was an exception because the SP (Samajwadi) Party with support from lower castes and Muslims took 224 seats of the 403 seats available giving it a clear majority.

They will replace the previous leading party BSP whose leader Mayawati comes from India’s untouchables. The Congress Party, which boasts a history which includes Nehru and Gandhi-ji had a dismal showing despite the fact that Rahul Gandhi, the latest politically inclined descendent of Nehru, campaigned furiously all over the state. This does not bode well for Congress’s chances in the national election despite the fact that it currently is India’s national leader. Congress has but one positive thing to find in this election and that is that its traditional right-wing rival, the BJP, also was soundly drubbed in this election. This should lead to an interesting few years in Indian politics as UP adjusts to its new set of leaders and the Congress party questions its ability to connect with voters.

[post_title] => Elections [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => elections [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-03-18 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=41816 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 313 [name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [slug] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 313 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10014 [cat_ID] => 313 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 [category_nicename] => bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/bridge-year-india-2011-12-fall-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012 )

Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

View post

Elections

Tyler Rudolph,Bridge Year India 2011 - 2012

Description

India is very proud that it is the largest democracy in the world, a fact which creates an extremely dramatic, energetic, and complicated electoral process. The country is simply so diverse that is impossible to divide the population into two voting blocks of progressives and conservatives. Not only are their sharp religious and geographical differences […]

Posted On

03/18/12

Author

Tyler Rudolph

1 2 3