Monday, May 22, 2017

Finishing Week One

Today we went to the local flower market and then did our first community interaction activity.
The day began bright and early with a trip to the local flower market, where fresh flowers are brought into the city and sold every day to small vendors and other customers. The sights, smells, and sounds were more than enough to wake everybody up and prepare us for another day of navigating this organized chaos we’ve come to know.

Our first community interaction activity was conducted in three groups spread throughout the surrounding neighborhoods. This exercise gave us the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life and let us learn more about Bangalore while also honing our interviewing skills. It was an eye-opening experience for all of us, shedding light on both our similarities and differences. Like the U.S., there appeared to be a common theme in the hope of a better future for their children and the importance of education. This did, however, emphasize the fact that even within a small area, individual perspectives will often vary enough to require multiple interviewees to gain a clearer picture of a community. It also connected our previous days’ trips together by showing how the different problems that the organizations are working to solve—such as water, housing, and unplanned development—have impacted the day-to-day lives of the people living here.

We wrapped up our first week by reflecting on our experiences thus far while relaxing at Yogisthaan Cafe. Although there are some similarities to our lives in the U.S., such as the metro system and similar tastes in music or TV, there are also many differences. The number of people and level of noise has increased dramatically from the Twin Cities, but other differences have been a source of more confusion—such as the lack of separation of church and state. We have continuously been encouraged by the general friendliness and willingness of people to take time out of their day to answer our questions. Even more inspiring are the individuals and local organizations that are using their knowledge and skills in various sectors to create positive change towards a sustainable India.