I’ve left Jagdishpur, the dusty, smoky village that I’ve called home for the past month. Already I miss the company of Alyssa, Dave, and Omkar – and the daily adventures of fieldwork, data analysis, and life in a small town in rural India. I’ll miss our team of 12 enumerators that we trained and drilled and trained and drilled – if nothing else comes from this research project, I will be proud that we gave a employment and opportunity to the group of women in this group, most of whom have not held another job. Half of our team is shown below, since we travel in two separate groups to cover more ground. The woman in the pink salwar in the front right was part of the village council (the panchayat) who acted as our very kind guide as we selected households in the village.
I will miss our dhobiwala, or washer man, who washed my clothes and had them ironed (or outsourced the ironing) for 4 rupees (8 cents) each. Everything came back in a beautifully folded pile. A true luxury! I still washed many of my clothes (always underwear, which was inappropriate to send to a laundry man) and hung them to dry every night – but the dhobiwalla was good at what he did.
The power outages won’t be missed. Two nights ago the power deserted us for the entire night, and I tossed and turned and sweated so much I would wake up for stretches and just fan myself. Twice I awoke with a start because sweat was dripping into my inner ear – I’m still not sure how that was possible.
Train from Lucknow to Delhi is AC, teal seats and teal window shades, a power outlet by my side. I’m at the window and next to me is a muslim woman in a black hijab with sky blue and pink rhinestones along all borders. There are three seats in a row, and in the center seat she sits with either her ~3 year old daughter or 8 year old son. When she swaps with her husband (a row behind) to take the boy, she shoves against me to make room to have him sit next to hear in the seat. Again, I’m struck by how accepted personal contact is here, while I feel uncomfortable with a stranger touching me on a long train ride.The woman looks younger than 25, perhaps, and her husband as well. She feeds her daughter water out of the water bottle cap just like Stewart Little and places Lay’s chips in her mouth. She tries to raise the window screen to distract her child but the man in the seat behind us pulls it back down. She points at the translucent screen and talks to her daughter – the only words I discern are elephanta and tiger. There are no elephants or tigers outside this train.
She wipes her daughter’s face and nose with a Huggies’s baby wipe, and watches this screen as I type. There are six hours left of this train ride.
We’ve done some great work this month. Well over a quarter of the surveys we will be collecting in Uttar Pradesh have been collected. We’re still finalizing the fuel weighing, temperature and aerosol sampling plan – but that will launch soon.
Now, I’m off to the state of Uttarakhand in the farther north of India. To mountains. To the coming monsoon. To training an entirely new group of ladies (and perhaps men) in the survey. To new types of stoves and potentially new types of solutions. To another 6 weeks in India.
Some flashbacks from the field:
All of the enumerators received an ID badge with their name and photo that said “Stove Researcher”.
Ankita particularly requested that I wear my hat in this photo. I think she was in awe of it – she also asked to wear it for a photo. My otherworldly florescent glow is especially prominent in these photos – perhaps because my skin was literally dripped and reflected more light?!
Omkar the fearless field leader.
Beautiful field Alyssa (looking at this picture you’d never guess she sweats, too!)