As of 4:30 am local time I arrived in Ahmedabad, India. Though I can’t say the planning for this trip has been seriously trying, I was excited to leave home, as I was starting to be somewhat bored. The flight was as good as any 20+ hours of airport time can be. It was 12.5 hours from New York to Doha, 3 hours in the Doha airport, and then another 3.5 from Doha to Ahmedabad. I left New York at 11:30 on a Thursday and with the time difference didn’t arrive till Saturday morning.
A car was waiting at the airport to take me to where I will call home for the next few weeks. I am staying with a family, the woman is one of the head people at the microfinance bank that I will be working at. I have my own room, which mercifully has an air conditioner. The temperature here is 106 degrees and I am trying to be careful about not wearing revealing clothes etc (more to follow on clothing later) so I am quite hot a majority of the time. Upon arriving at the home I took a 4 hour nap till about 9 am and then got up to start my day at the microfinance bank. The work days here are from 10-6 rather than 9-5, I was expecting that Saturday would be a day off though and I would be able to settle in. Hopefully that is what tomorrow will be for.
Today, rather than be a day to relax, was a day filled with activit. I started off with a a morning prayer at one office of SEWA. This was followed by a brief yoga session with the workers (all of whom were women). From there I learned a bit more about SEWA insurance from my host while I am in India. However, since I am not actually working with insurance, before long I was shuttled off to EWA bank to learn more about the micro pension program, the SEWA venture I actually will be working with.
It turns out the bank was only just across the street from the insurance office but because the streets here are so incredibly crowded and difficult to manage my host sent me across the street in a rickshaw (like a three-wheeled taxi) to ensure that I wasn’t trampled by a motorcyclists, driver, or maybe some cattle or a camel. Seeing my first camel walking down the crowded traffic filled road was definitely a shock.
Once at the bank I had a tour and then waited for a long time to meet the women who is actually in charge of the pension program. I met with her for all of 30 seconds and then went off to see a presentation given to poor women in a poor part of Ahmedabad on the pension program. Though the presentation was given entirely in Gujarati I was lucky enough to meet, at the bank, another American student who is half Gujarati and also working with SEWA this summer. Her name is Maya and she speaks Gujarati and helped me immensely by translating parts of the presenation.
More to follow on the presentation and the work that I am doingg here later, I have so much to write but I am currently on a borrowed laptop, it is dinner time, and I want to sleep, I am pretty sure I have missed one if not two nights of sleep by now.