Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Monday, January 17, 2011

India's rocking my world

Yesterday morning we got a stark reminder that India, while moving rapidly toward becoming a first nation superpower, is still a "third world" country. We awoke to no running water in the hotel. Normally the water pressure is very low and there is precious little hot water, but there is water for washing, brushing teeth and such.
Thank heaven I brought baby wipes.
Off for the long ride to Jaipur (Jay'-purr) at 5am, we could still see the beautiful countryside en route even in the dark.
Because we've been riding around so much, it's clear that India - whatever its economy is experiencing - is heavily investing in its infrastructure. There are major road, water, new parks and other projects going on around the clock to enhance the nation and its people. This is a country planning for a successful future while putting its people to work in ways that benefit all its citizens.
This may be too much of a generality, but the workers we've seen doing their jobs appear to have a near reverence for the task at hand. There's no hanging around or attitude, just consistently performing the tasks in a near respectful manner.
Jaipur is the tourist Mecca of India. And in any tourist spot here, people are always beseeching you for money. Whether it's selling trinkets, getting their photo taken, begging, handing out paper as you enter a public toilet, nearly everyone - it seems - asks for money. I believe it's in part because just about everyone considers themselves an entrepreneur here, and there's nothing that seems to impede the free flow of business.
Mind you, I would not recommend opening a designer decorative lamp boutique in any of the places we've visited so far, but whether it's an independent fruit stand, snack business, or service, there's a stroke of entrepreneurship that feels like it's part of the nationality.
Apparently this is a relatively new phenomenon in India after the economy of it's former #1 trading partner, the USSR, collapsed in 1991. But the people have caught on to the precarious life of running independent businesses, often of a limited size, in a big way - leading to the India's invention of hotmail.com, the Pentium chip and other international phenomena that have paid off royally for its economy and workforce, resulting in Western nations "outsourcing" billions of dollars' worth of work here as well as creating new enterprises.
Everywhere we go, there are animals. And though most are allowed to run freely, all have owners except the monkey. Monkeys are free of any human possession. But goats, cows, pigs, dogs, camels, horses and the rest all have owners responsible for their welfare. I've yet to see a cat, but I've only been here 4 days.
Mercifully, I got some dog petting time in yesterday - a gorgeous Great Dane, Jenny, owned by a Hindu family who invited photographer Michael Clonner and I to visit their spiritual celebration last night in their home.
It was an honor to be invited in the home of these wonderful people, thanks to our guide who took a personal liking to us, eliminating any preconceived notions he previously held.
Visiting Amber Palace (said to be grander than the Taj Mahal), we learned that the undoing of two ruling kings "back in the day" was their ego. That because they fought each other for top dogship - they weakened themselves to the point that a third party (the Moguls) came in and easily defeated the already beaten down feuders.
I couldn't help but think of the Republican split with Tea Partiers, as well as the toll taken by the bitter rhetoric between Republicans and Democrats. If history once again repeats itself, stay tuned for a third party takeover!
I'll have more about our long day in Jaipur with some funny stories later, after the photos are downloaded. We've taken *hundreds!* But I'm only showing those that you wouldn't see anywhere online or in a tourist book!
Having a late dinner with our hospitality hostess at the School for Girls (who has a terrific sense of humor!), I was brought up to date on the girls and women here. There are 700 from 20 nations, skewing older than I expected - from teenagers to 35 (and a few African women up to 45). Some are afraid to speak - for fear of being beaten. Not here of course, but that is their experience where they come from. So getting them to participate in interactive workshops I'm conducting will be the challenge. I'm staying in full-tilt coaching mode rather than switching between teaching and coaching until everyone feels safe enough to speak freely.
In just five years the school has been running there has been a phenomenal impact by its graduates. Girls are asking to marry older (one of the most severe problems for poor nations is girls marrying too young), they are either working in their villages or have left their villages to have meaningful jobs as well as more positive, healthy relationships since they now know how to stand up for themselves.
I meet with the head mistress this morning to outline all I'll do, how I'll do it an when after breakfast.
One big lesson for this American: after drinking *real* chai tea? I'll never have the American version again - it just won't satisfy!

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  • At 7:53 PM, Anonymous mp said…

    Love this writing cp it's great to hear you are having such a great time...

  • At 7:54 PM, Blogger melissa said…

    Glad to know you are having such a great time...

  • At 3:09 AM, Blogger Lisa said…

    Your eyes and ears are astute, honed by years of filmmaking and journalism. I am so loving this journey you are sharing!

    And--best way to get good chai in Seattle: Ask your friends from India to make it for you!


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