India Part 2: Zooming In

Our “Gujarat Waterscapes Workshop” started not in Gujarat state at all, but in Mumbai. Our first week began with meetings at AKPBSI, our partner organization, and familiarization with what I’ve decided will be one of my new favorite cities. Mumbai fits all of my criteria: colors, vibrancy, great food, local identity and global diversity.

After a short time in Mumbai we zoomed in- or, scaled down- flying to the city of Jamnagar in Gujarat. At a population of 200,000, a tiny fraction of Mumbai or even Chennai, I was worried that the small town would be dull in comparison. Our group was thrilled to discover quite the opposite – as the capital of a former princely state, Jamnagar has a rich collection of historic architecture that’s matched by the cheerful chaos of its markets and street life. Since our student group happened to be all-female (that is, excluding our professor), we were also pleased to discover that the area’s famed bandhani scarves could be bought for a dollar or two each.

As compared to Mumbai, an international metropolis, Jamnagar also had the feeling of being truly Indian. Its rare to find a place on this planet that has a healthy local economy not immersed with western retail. In fact, in my entire trip to India I think I’ve only seen 2 McDonalds, only in Mumbai, and not a single Starbucks outside of the airport. Also, outside Mumbai, almost every woman is dressed in traditional India attire; generally a draped sari for married women, or a tunic-style kurta for younger ladies. These come in every color of the rainbow, with embellishments ranging from gold and silver embroidery to carefully placed mirrors and sequins. (If I thought I could get away with it, I think I would have replaced my entire wardrobe with Indian garb.) While men are generally dressed in a western style (or, more correctly, western-style clothing dated a few decades), traditional tunics and kilt-style bottoms were not uncommon. As India works to enter the ranks of developed nations, it will be interesting to see whether it can maintain its own identity in a way that many countries have not.

From Jamnagar, we scaled down again, to our fieldwork site of Jivapar- which I’ll discuss in detail in my next post.

IMG_0385 IMG_0389

Mumbai

Mumbai

Mumbai train station
Mumbai train station

Mumbai train station

Mumbai train station

Mostly, we were productive, but sometimes we drank coconuts

Mostly, we were productive, but sometimes we drank coconuts

Mumbai

Mumbai

Gujarati Thali- the local cuisine
Gujarati Thali- the local cuisine

Advertisements

One comment

  1. […] some people are off having international adventures this IAP, January here in Cambridge has been just as packed with activity. A sample of some of the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: