Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sunday Cricket Fun!

This Sunday, I got to spend some time learning a bit of cricket from Mittu, Madhu and Satyam.  I'm not so sure about their run counting methods, but it was definitely tons of fun!

A few videos and photos from the day below.  (Note: Mittu, photographer/videographer in training, took many of these so they're a bit choppy) :-)
Satyam being silly
Satyam excited about his 100+ runs

Mittu & Satyam

Saturday, January 7, 2012

4 Hours on a Motorcycle (Saurath to Darbhanga)

Today I went on a scenic adventure from Saurath to the city of Darbhanga - about a 40 km distance - by bike.  Darbhanga is a larger city here in Bihar with a more active commercial sector.  Our goal was to search for suppliers with whom we can build a relationship for the women's shop, to ultimately reduce costs and improve the bottom line.  The following is what I saw along the way.

Note: I took these in motion, so the quality isn't the best.  But, words can only go so far, so hopefully these photos paint a better picture...

Kid riding around on his cattle
Family walking along the way
(I think the woman is carrying rice)

Ladies selling vegetables by the Darbhanga train station

Women passers-by

Ladies working on the khet
More kids and cattle

Kids being kids

Kids coming from the khet

Typical bus with special upper roof seating

Coming from the khet

Women passers-by (love the mix of colors)

More cattle and kids riding on cattle
Festive rickshaw

Road from Darbhanga back to Saurath

Darbhanga Raj palace

Darbhanga Raj palace

Signs for Computer & English classes are everywhere

Tempting ladoos in front of a mandir near the palace

Crowded streets of Darbhanga

Lots of detours due to road construction

Sparsely populated highway (many parts still under construction)

Leaving Saurath

Bathing the cattle

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bad Nik Chai Chi! (This Tea is Wonderful!)

People here are always asking me - Aapko Saurath kaisa lagtha hai?  What do you think of Saurath?

And my first (and honest) response is always about the people.  In my short time thus far, I have found the people of Saurath to be incredibly welcoming and open-hearted.  As I have visited many different homes, the first of order of business is always to offer me a seat and a hot cup of tea.  And no matter how many times I may insist that "Hum tik chi" (I am fine in Methali), the seat and of course, the tea are an absolute must.  

And without a doubt, the tea here is absolutely delicious.  "Bad nik chai chi" I've learned to say in Methali, which means - this chai is wonderful!  It always seems to give people quite a kick, when I utter these words in stilted Methali after my first sip :-)

And I find this hospitality across all social strata.  No matter how small the family's means, they make painstaking efforts to welcome all guests.  In fact, the first time Bhavana (Rangoli store owner) offered me a meal in her home, she said: Hum garib log hain, lekin humara dil bara hai  (We are poor people, but our hearts are big).  And when I met her neice who was visiting from Delhi, she insisted I try the chur lai (a delicious sweet like sugary rice cakes) they had just made.  She told me: We welcome and treat all guests as we would God.

Humbling words.  And an even more humbling experience to watch this unfold for a complete foreigner such as myself.

But the power of this, and ultimately the power of chai, extends beyond the social realm into our work world here in the village.  As I've seen, our programs can only be successful with the community's buy in.  And one of the main ways to build a relationship with the community and foster their trust, is through such social interaction.  For example, as we try to promote our papad training program, we visit women in their homes, sit and drink chai with them and discuss how attending this training can ultimately provide them with another source of income in the future. Amazing, what the power of chai can be in the right setting.

Now, if only I could get my chai to taste like this... :-)

In the meantime, here are a few pictures from our Office New Year's Party:

Getting some decor set up
Naya Sal Mubarak Ho!

Chicken & Lamb
Paneer & Veg Kabob for the veggies
Dig in!
Nearly everyone from the office


Hanging out w/ the ladies of the office

Roshni (Bhavana's niece) and I
More hangin'