Category Archives: travels

A journey of reality, happiness, anger, frustration, togetherness. Best can be quoted as “ANUBHAV” of a lifetime

Like a part of any other research project, This Bihar field work was also very important with regard to the project outcomes but it remained in our memory as a unique experience which we (Preeti, Anjali, Subhash, Negi ji) gained in this one and half month’s field work.

Being a social work professional, we always look for more than just the collection of data in our field work and this also happened in our Bihar Visit. For clarity, it is important to mention that we visited 6 districts of Bihar named Patna, Ara, Samastipur, Vaishali, Begusarai and Lakhisarai. Prior to the field work, we have heard a lot about these places as to “how unsafe and safe the rural and urban spaces of these town are…the kind of lodging facility prevails there…Local conveyance etc.”

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Time passed by, we went one after another town for collecting data and we went to knowing more about agriculture, observing the rural beauty of Bihar, learning from the patience and politeness of people, loving their hospitality and experiencing the whole of it.

Being in a team of three girls and later two had kept the spirit alive and we went on accomplishing our targets. After visiting field for an around 20 days, a time had come when one of us used to get disenchanted, bored, then the other used to encourage and quote what our Sir has said “Ye Bhi ek Anubhav hai” and used to end up with a grand laughter, sometimes both of us used to be silent (with some retrospective-introspective thoughts in our head). Nevertheless, we were able accomplished our job, that too with positivity and happiness.

Would just like a share a small incident from the district of Begusarai. It is important to mention that the popular notion about this town is that is “thoda Dabang type” especially after the flashing of that daily soap after the name of this town on an entertainment channel. On the first day of our fieldwork in Begusarai When we entered in one of the village named “Iniyar” and as soon as our vehicle stopped and we were about to get down, a group of school boys were passing by. They must be in the upper primary classes. One of them said to the group “Hume to Aapnon ne loota, Gairon mai Kahan Dum tha, Hamari Kashti Bhi Wahan Doobi, Jahan Paani Kam Tha”……It was the moment….we were shocked, astonished that how confidently a small boy can recite a nazm…it was then that we said to ourselves that “Welcome to the district of Begusarai…this is the grand opening.”

Preeti Mishra & Anjali Mishra

Chhattisgarh – A land of contrasts

Sujata, Anupama and I landed at Raipur airport on May 21st. We thought we could beat the Delhi heat, but no luck. We were received by a very warm blast of air as we stepped out of the airport. But let me rewind a bit here.

The airport is one of the swankiest new airports built in Indian state capitals in recent times.One wouldn’t imagine that one of the poorest states in India, having the lowest HDI and among the lowest per capita income, could boast of such a plush airport. The airport had beckoning coffee shops, an assorted variety of tribal handicraft shops and many others. There was a glass topped water-flowing canal cutting across the ground floor of the airport, which we crossed over with gingerly steps.

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We all had one-piece luggage and the ubiquitous laptop. Anupama brought an extra exquisite and irresistible leather bag. Sujata and I had to be content holding it now and then. Through subtle queries we tried to find out if she had a few more of them, at least a couple. But the queries were politely ignored.

The tribal handicraft shops had salesmen and women who were looking for a good catch for the day. When they saw Sujata and Anupama glancing at them, their faces brightened. I generally avoid such shops in airports and take another route if possible. But Sujata and Anupama were made of more adventurous stuff. I gracefully offered to look after the luggage and they quickly made a foray into the shops and got some wonderful, surprisingly affordable, mementos too. I think my low esteem of these airport shops needs a re-assessment.

Now coming back to where we left, one could see that the aesthetic appeal inside prevailed outside also. Well-manicured plants, bright patches of flower beds, artistically landscaped grass carpets and colorful coffee and snack shops decorated the huge airport lawn. But we had to get to work fast. So, we located our taxi driver and drove to the imposing Satlaj Hotel, right in the centre of the city.
This particular hotel was highly recommended by Sujata. The hotel needed a coat of paint, but the rooms were comfortable. A garlanded photo of the hotel owner who expired early hung above the reception. The ex-hotel owner has a history which we plan to investigate in our next visit.
Our business was partly in Raipur and rest in Naya Raipur, the new capital city, 17 km away from Raipur and connected by an excellent highway. The airport is somewhere in the middle of both the cities, and was visible almost the entire long ride. Looked like we were circling around the airport. Some government directorates remain in the old city and many have shifted to the new city. The SPAC (State Plan of Action for children) team will become familiar with all the landmarks along this stretch in the days and weeks to come. Later I came to know (from Google of course) that Afghan planners are looking at these twin cities as a model for the new Kabul city, but hopefully not for its health infrastructure. The newly built Mantralaya is an imposing building with a formidable security. Somewhat comforting to know that we will be developing the plan of action sitting in such a world-class building.

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But nothing to beat the comfort of India Coffee House. Sujata being the veteran of Raipur, took us to a few of her favourite eating joints, and we have plans to cover many more in the next visit. She seemed to be a familiar face in these joints with malayalee and non-malayalee waiters and cashiers eagerly saluting her. And it was not only waiters and cashiers. There were also ex-project associates and others who seemed to be constantly hovering around the place.
For those going to Raipur next – please visit India Coffee House – ask for “filter coffee” and of course the exotic India Coffee House Special triple Sundae!

Maharashtra Meanderings

Working in development has the added advantage of regular field trips which include all travel outside the city of Delhi. On my last field trip, I went to the districts of Jalna, Yavatmal and Wardha in Maharashtra along with three field team members from Nagpur. Each district has something to offer in terms of experiences. The people are friendly and warm and I love speaking in Marathi . Here are some experiences from those travels.

We reached Yavatmal after a four-hour ride in the ST (State Transport) bus from Nagpur to Yavatmal. State transport is the cheapest mode of travelling in Maharashtra without prior booking. Just hop on to a bus from the ST depot, find a good seat, shove your bag in the overhead rack and enjoy the rickety ride! I did. There is something about night travel that soothes the mind. The barren landscape zips by, there’s a coolness in the air and it’s the witching hour when field logistics, demanding clients/respondents/superiors, dehydration/hunger somehow do not seem as draining and hopeful thoughts come to the fore.

We found ourselves booked in a hotel whose proprietor was shady but tried to mask his shadiness under old age. But I was having none of that and remembered my grandmother’s wise words, “Just be careful of creepy men, they come in all ages.” On inspecting the premises and finding that they were shadier than the proprietor, I yelled at him but was unsuccessful in getting our deposit back and left in a rage at 10:00 pm. Then we promptly booked ourselves into a hotel ten buildings up the road with another old proprietor who looked at me and promptly said “Madam, we never allow women to stay here.” As I mentioned before, since this hotel was only ten buildings away from the earlier one, my rage had not cooled off and so I asked him where workingwomen were supposed to stay in Yavatmal to which he replied that it was none of his concern to which I asked him to speed up the process of scanning my PAN card and handing me the key. That was an unusually exciting night. The next two days were spent in working in the district area of Yavatmal which does not feature highly on the list of tourist places to visit in Maharashtra and with good reason.

an innovative music player in a soda can (for schools that do not have electricity and need to play music for children)
an innovative music player in a soda can (for schools that do not have electricity and need to play music for children)
Sewagram, Wardha
Sewagram, Wardha

Four days later, I found myself in Wardha at Sewagram. It is a pleasant area and has a school, hospital, rooms for lodging and hotels that offer simple and clean food. It rained too which cooled down temperatures and moods and that is always a good thing. In Jalna, we visited residential schools for girls called KGBVs (Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas). Meeting with children is the best part of the field work and this time was no different. The girls were adorable and bright and smart and wanted to learn! They study in government schools and want to become a great many things. As citizens of our country, they have every right to demand a hopeful future for themselves.

Nirmala Mathew

Myanmar

Some images from Imna and Parveen’s visit to Myanmar border. More images coming soon.

*note: these images are property of Imnasenla Jamir and may not be used without her permission. As you can see….we have permission

Bloom
Border
Burmese women at Moreh Market
Dusk at valley
Frienship Gate
Sunset in the valley
Tuktuk
View from Myannmar

Glimpses from the Valley

Two of our colleagues Imna and Parveen recently went to the north-eastern part of India as part of an ongoing project. Here are some images from their visit to Manipur. More images from the other states will follow soon.

*note: these images are property of Imnasenla Jamir and may not be used without her permission. As you can see….we have permission 🙂

Andro Village
The valley in the afternoon
Tapioca Leaves
Manipuri Indigenous Woman from Andro Village
Loktak Lake
Keeping strict vigil over the Loktak lake
Dusk in the valley
cute Manipuri girl
Basket weaving
Loktak Lake