Trains, Planes and Rickshaws
During a semester abroad in India, Heather Hamilton studied Indian culture, history, politics, religions, and one of India’s many languages, Hindi. Heather also conducted research on agriculture and agricultural education for a directed study program, where she received 4 credits toward her major, Agricultural Industry Management and Communications.
Read From Her Travel Diary
After 15 hours aboard an airplane, I reached New Delhi, India’s capitol, and officially the craziest city I have ever seen. Located in a central New Delhi marketplace, our hotel was almost unreachable. After several stops to get directions, we set off down a road filled with cows, pigs, monkeys, and so many people, some of whom reached out to touch the funny white girl.
I don’t know what I imagined when I prepared for India. It wasn’t what I expected, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When I saw the building I was going to be having 5 classes a day, 5 days a week in, I began to question my decision. Let me describe the building: 4 students, one classroom in a rundown library, no air conditioning, 2 stray dogs that hang out there. Supplies not provided. PowerPoints or handouts? Yeah, right. Oh, and the power, due to a government mandate, is off 2-3 hours every day, so no fans. But it had charm. Definite charm.
At a government-run village school, I attempted to investigate agricultural education, but quickly found out that such an idea is somewhat of a joke in rural, or urban, India. The school is very basic; students sit on the floor and study from books made of printer and newspaper. Each of them is in a school uniform, India’s answer to caste and financial discrimination. Children from Padampura and surrounding villages attend the small school from primary to secondary school graduation, where they have access to 3 computers. The electricity is limited, so they run, at most, 2 hours per day. Though everyone is interested in us, the children are very curious and attempt communication through something like Pictionary.
The house where we are staying is nice. Rich Indian families live similarly to the way that we live, with a few minor differences. They have a servant. We never have to clean anything, or cook. Big change. We do our laundry in a bucket in the bathroom and hang it to dry on the roof, and take cold showers. The food is good, and for 5 months, I’m going to be eating a mostly vegetarian diet. One funny thing: there is a McDonald’s across the road from us that serves something called a McAloo Burger. Also, there is a painting of the Hamburgler on the wall, despite the obvious absence of beef.