Two weeks since my arrival here in Delhi. I’ve been enjoying many things here, especially the ultra-quiet life in my apartment. And the fact that, even though traffic is utterly insane, it’s not me behind the wheel!
Work is going well, though I am discovering just how difficult it is to be in the role of “consultant” and responsible for “capacity-building” and therefore not completely in control of a project. I ended the first half-week here almost manic in my excitement of all the things I will do to steer the project in the right direction this year. I still intend to aim for that, but in any setting it is important to sit back, listen and learn, before attempting to steer anything.
Regardless, I am still very happy to be involved in the project. I spent a lot of time reading about education in India, the changes made in the last decade or so with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan program, the caste system, and the attempts to integrate Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes into mainstream society (essentially through affirmative action, just as controversial here as in North America from what I can tell).
A lovely weekend as well… after doing some work on Saturday, me and my current housemate Dougal ventured out to our favourite market, the Dilli Haat. We’ve been informed by our coworkers that it is a tourist trap and overpriced, but we can’t seem to find the same quality and type of things in any other market. I picked up a great bracelet and a beautiful silk bedspread. We also got to see a Saudi Arabian band, part of Saudi Cultural week in Delhi, and some kind of anti-corruption theatre performance (in Hindi, but still entertaining for us).
On Sunday, we headed to the centre of town. On the way there, we somehow found ourselves in the middle of a large group of people walking with luggage on their heads. One man managed to stop traffic by holding up a large flag. Not an easy feat in Delhi.
There is a booksale in this part of town every Sunday. Booksellers lay out books of every type imaginable, for very reasonable prices. I bought a favourite Tom Robbins in hardcover, an APA style manual to give as a gift to the office (the research officer I share an office with was quite excited), and a Carl Hiaason novel, all for about $10. Halfway through, we sought refuge in an old imperial-style hotel with lots of air-conditioning, good snacks and coffee, and some funny eastern-european tourists that were taking pictures of everything – including the bathroom. Not that I’ve never done that 😉