Friends, hello, it’s been a while. I tried to commit to one post a week. But here we are, four weeks, no posts… I am writing from an air conditioned, seated car on a IRCTC train gazing out onto the landscape between Jaipur and New Delhi. What is it about quickly passing through a landscape that compels me to write and reflect?
The last week in Uganda was a scramble to finish my assignments. In Design Thinking and Development, I created a photo essay to present my research on the topic of the relationship between humans and the earth. In Technology, Change, and Innovation, I wrote a paper on clay pot water filters. For Anthropology and Social Change, I explored the topic of development, decolonizing, and the roles of social enterprises: my thesis is this: “Through a discussion of literature and experiences in Uganda, this essay problemetizes the social imagination of development and modernity as defined and imposed by the West and discusses the role social entrepreneurship plays in sustaining the development narrative, suggesting that social entrepreneurs can work in this system to dismantle it.” If you are interested in reading any of these essays I would be happy to send them to you. For Social Entrepreneurship, my group focused our research on the question: how does clean energy technology impact women’s empowerment? To answer this question, we visited Green Bio Energy, a company that makes clean cooking charcoal out of bio waste (banana peelings, organic waste, and dust). We found that clean energy directly impacts women’s empowerment because women are most affected by dirty energy; their health suffers from increased exposure to indoor pollution while cooking and they are in harms way when they collect firewood from the forests, just to name a few reasons why. The intensity of the course work and the deep immersion that is this whole experience is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining but also deeply rewarding.
I left Kampala feeling so much love for my host family, Maama Patricia, Taata Joseph, my sisters Bertha, Brenda, and Belinda, and the other friends and family created. I left Kampala exhausted from working late into the night and excited to rekindle my relationship with India.
I first came to India when I was 12 with my Aunt Judy, Mum, and brothers. Judy lived in India for 30 years running her fashion business and my Mum interned with her when she was 18-20 years old. The summer of my 12th year, Mum decided it was the right time to take her kids to India. We came for one month and traveled around Agra, Jaipur, Neemruuna, Shimla, and Chandregha. The trip was an insane experience for me, one that I cannot say I enjoyed for so many reasons… I was excited to see how I would experience India now that I am at a very different place in my life.
Like Uganda, when we arrived in India the weather was cool and calm. I found breathing easier in New Delhi than I was expecting because it as not hazy, smoggy, or humid. During our time here, the weather has transitioned from winter to spring and it. is. hot.
As this is an academic program that travels, I am acting more like a student then a tourist. We are living in South Delhi with host families and commuting on the metro every day to class in Jasola. I have spent most of my time in a mall called Nerhu Place doing my readings and coursework. I could feel like I was missing out on really experiencing New Delhi… but I am experiencing Delhi in this way. I can come back and be a proper tourist, but now I am a visiting student.
That being said, one of my favorite days was when Milo, Carolina, Jamyra and I spent the day exploring Old Delhi with a Tuk Tuk. We went through the spice market and I could not breathe through the air thick with mustard, chilly, and other spices. We went up a hidden stairway to a flower shop filled with marigolds and roses, they really smell different here!