“Computerized eye care centre”… when you have power

Just a quick post from where I am, that is from India, rural Bengal. We are currently staying with my husband’s family (now also my family!) in a university town of Santiniketan.

My thoughts are circling around media and accessibility. You will see hundreds of people here having access to their emails through their data plans, but you will also see broadband internet that is constantly disconnecting at home, plans paid per minute and you will watch your upload bar dragging in eternity. I guess the internet is also working on “Indian time” here, like everything else.

Yesterday, a whole day trip to Mushridabad revealed another batch of, what I see from my perspective as inconsistencies. We were passing a village in the middle of nowhere in a mad speed of 60 km/h (despite what you may think 60km/h CAN be a mad speed when you are jumping over potholes, swerve to avoid cars, bikes, rickshaws, goats and human traffic coming from both directions), so I didn’t manage to take a photo. One of my favourite signs up to date is a sign on a half-dilapidated shack written in fluorescent green colour that said: MEDIA FLUENCY CENTRE.

I was supposed to have a skype conference call with my supervisor and the M.Ed. committee members, but seeing the quality of the internet connection this may not be possible. Unless I enter one of scarily looking tiny houses that possesses the latest equipment attached to cracking dusty walls…

An all that only if you don’t experience one of the many power cuts…


Posted on March 1, 2012, in ECMP355. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. You’re in India right now! (er… then?!) Wow I’m totally jealous. How did you manage to take the time away from school/work to go? Is this your first time to India? My significant other and I have considered traveling and teaching there… do you know much about the opportunities there?

  2. Hi, sorry for such a delay in responding. I came back from India and immediately went down with flu that turned into bronchitis and laryngitis.
    Well… I told everyone in advance that I am going. We had to do at that time, as my husband’s family was preparing a Hindu ceremony for us. Which was awesome and went well 🙂 We’ve been there before 3 years ago.

    Love to India is a tough love. It involves a lot of understanding why the country and culture work as they do. Unpleasant sellers, rude ticket collectors, nothing really works, if you are white they think you are a walking bank safe filled with money, schedules are there only to show that you have a schedule, but nothing runs according to them. I can go on. India is a difficult experience, unless you watch it from a bus with AC. However, India is also amazing friendship, contrasts, beauty, unexpected kindness, art…

    Now when it comes to teaching there, I would be extremely careful which agency you are going with. As I said, half of things work only if people want them to work, otherwise they fall apart. Some places don’t have websites. Or they do but they don’t work well. Or you would have to call… If they ask you to call back a day after, expect that no one is going to answer the phone for the next 4 days. And don’t believe that everyone speaks English in India. They don’t. Some people have exceptionally good English, but in smaller places and people who are not from middle class may not speak any English at all.

    On the other hand, as white people have tons of undeserved privilege in India, everything may go smoothly for you. That’s just India – you may have the best or the worst experience… I was thinking of going back some time after graduation and teaching village kids, but I would organize this through people I know and would stay with my family. I am not saying it’s impossible, just make sure you are safe (India is NOT a safe place). If you need some help, I could try to get someone look for something for you, but that would be in West Bengal (make sure you read about it before you say you are interested, WB is one of the most difficult places, I think, thanks to their communist government history and present).

    Also, make sure you read about the seasons in the place you choose. Usually winter is the best (December – February), spring is dry and hot (the dust is the problem if there are no rains), then summer strikes and is hardly bearable as I heard, then monsoon – if you like 80% humidity and wet clothes without a drop of rain 🙂 – I actually liked the monsoon season. And fall and winter again.

    I could actually go on about mosquitoes, eye lenses, bargaining, clothing, salads… – there are so many subjects, that I can’t even begin to describe how many things one should take into consideration when going to India. However, despite my long and scary post – India IS amazing, and can potentially be a wonderful experience. There are things that will take your breath away and experiences that will change your life forever. Being prepared though is the main thing and I can’t emphasize it enough.

  3. Wow! That’s an amazing account of your time in India! I’m originally from India, but grew up in the Middle East. I usually visit India once every two years, so I can totally relate to what you’re saying! India is indescribable….it’s a land of great contradictions and contrasts, the rich coexist obliviously with the poorest of the poor and while you may have access to the latest technology in the cities, rural areas are definitely not as fortunate….I’m sure your experience was one of the “once in a lifetime” ones. Hopefully you’ll return to my country many more times! Hope you feel better soon!

  4. Thanks Achsah. I am always a bit worried when people ask me about India, cause I think they may get me wrong. I don’t mean to criticize or slander India. I think understanding India is what makes a difference – I am slowly understanding reasons, relations, backgrounds, history of West Bengal and some things, even if they simply annoy me, I accept. It is also much easier to be a visitor and laugh at some things than actually live it.

    Going back to India? Are you kidding me? To my fantastic new family that goes bonkers about me? To riding elephants? To the dusty sunsets? To the craziness of colours in the trees? To the little glow-bugs in the trees looking like living lights on christmas tree? Of course I will go back 🙂

    Which part of India are you originally from?

  5. Anna, Thank you so much for the post! I don’t know why but I didn’t receive a notification that you replied… so I apologize for my late reply as well.

    I really appreciate that you have been open and given a real, no frills account of your experiences in India. Traveling to any country is all about, like you said, accepting and just doing your best to understand the culture and the “whys” of the culture. Pictures of India look incredible, though I know that’s just one snap-shot of a much more potentially complicated place. I hear you on the ‘no schedules’ thing- I had similar experiences with a very loose perception of time when I spent 3 months in Jamaica volunteer teaching.

    I do think the caste system and such rigid lines for classes would be a very difficult thing to understand in India. But like you mentioned the colours alone would be enough to bring me there.

    Thank you again for sharing : )

  6. No probs, Heather! I will send you a link when I finally upload them somewhere, so that you can see the cool stuff and the less cool stuff.

  7. Them as in pictures 😛

  1. Pingback: Summary of Learning in ECMP 355 « Short Quips

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