Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Day in the Field

So I just returned from my second field visit. Instead of writing all the details and boring you and, well, me, I'll just put up some photos. A successful day in the field entails...

Going to your first focus group discussion way early so it's only 90 degrees. Make sure to bring three men who will work to piece together their English to translate. The women's houses will be made of desert clay of sorts that has sand and cow dung in it. The houses keep the heat out quite well.

Then you ask the most respected village elder for directions back to the cluster office. He got mad at me for not accepting chai with milk. Lactose intolerance simply doesn't exist here. 

Get cajoled into taking the MOST awkward group photo with the rest of the group of women. Then take my hoard of men, all wrapped in scarves to keep the dust out, back to the cluster office. We rode on motorcycles this time since no jeeps were available. I thought we were quite the crew as we rode around all wrapped up, skidding out in the sand, and with a white girl on the back.....

 Go back to the cluster office for lunch and while everyone naps and lounges during the heat of the day, I review all the interviews from the morning. One of my translators, Shrikant (to the right), came to check on me and took a creepy picture of me. I found it while uploading these to my computer. Despite his creepiness (my first night I slept in my underwear and a t shirt because it was really hot. He came in to make sure all was well, and talked with me for a half hour as I held a small blanket over myself), he was very helpful and had the most comfortable motorcycle. After a great discussion with the women on the right, I got on the bike to go to our next village. The women and men died laughing when I got on. As we left the village, Shrikant turned around to say "You sit like a boy, and now the laugh." Here, all women ride side-saddle on motorcycles. I find that slightly suicidal and terrifying, especially when we skid out driving through the sand. Women here do it in sarees, but I guess I'm just not as much of a cultured woman.

These last women are being scolded by the woman on the left for keeping their faces covered for the photo. Women in rural areas practice a system called purdah in which they cover their faces and don't leave the house. The self-help groups I was talking with are actually one of the rare times they can leave the house. However, since my translators were men, they almost all kept covered. The women above are actually Muslims, and they never covered themselves in front of us. It was only the young Hindu women.

Hope the picture helped to put it all together

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