Friday, June 22, 2007

B-Block and McVeggie Burgers

Friday, June 21-2007

For the past two weeks we’ve surveyed over 91 households, trying to gain insight into the social and economic motives behind sending a child to school, failing to send a child to school, and why a child would drop out of school. Our education team (Yamilee and I, and our RF counter parts Meenu and Priya) spent our last day surveying in the slum called B-block. We had to walk about 20 minutes in the sweltering noon day heat and humidity to make it to the settlement. By the time we reached the main alleyway we were all drenched with sweat and half way through our water (this basically describes how I react daily to New Delhi weather)!

We were able to gain quite a crowd amidst the narrow alley way full of shops and vendors. However, the swarms of flies were a bit nauseating as were some of the sewer smells. I had a great time meeting a group of extremely talkative girls around the age of 15 who were smart and funny. Since our team is all women, our RF counterparts have a better connection and feel more comfortable interacting with mostly women for our survey. In a bright blue alley (almost all walls are a bright color) their eyes lit up whenever we asked them questions and they even gave us a bit of attitude and joking. It’s refreshing to see such friendly faces when many women lose the luster to their eyes and end up hiding behind their saris and veils. Lots of the children like asking me my name and are delighted when I can ask them a question back in Hindi. Apparently “Jessica” isn’t a hard name for them and they loved yelling it. I on the other hand could hardly repeat back many of their names – but having them spell them out is key!

Our Education team surveying a shopkeeper's family in their small store.

This past week our weekdays were filled mainly with entering our survey data and analyzing it to compile a nice quantitative and qualitative report on education in Delhi and our work with Deepalaya. It’s been truly interesting trying to first formulate an accurate and comprehensive survey to address our objectives and also trying to make sense of the dozen or so graphs we were able to make with our data. We were able to address our hypotheses about gender inequity, parental level of education, educational awareness etc.

To break up our days, we often go to local eateries, eat at the canteen, or grocery shop at the local market.

An introduction to where I get my food daily:

McDonald’s (don’t cringe!)- located a mere 2 minutes from our lodgings, this Indian version is absolutely awesome. I would say >50% of their menu is vegetarian (heaven) and pretty light on the stomach. I particularly enjoy the McAloo Tikki Burger ( spiced potato),the McVeggie Burger, or the Paneer Salsa Wrap. And don’t forget the $0.25 Soft serve cone! Prices $0.50-$1.00.

Introducing the McVeggie, the McChicken, Filet O'Fish, and Chicken Maharaja Burger.

Nirulla’s – also close by it serves Indian “fast food” combined with American icecream and drinks. I like getting Aloo Parantha here, a bread filled with potatoes and fruit shakes. Prices $0.50-$1.00.

Canteen - this is the cafeteria for the campus and we buy meal tickets at a little counter and then get to enjoy a 3 dish meal for bout $1. You get these metal trays with several compartments and you often have rice and chipatis along with a few curries to choose from.

Sector 37 market- located about a 15 minute walk away there’s a market in a pretty nice neighborhood. Here, I’ll pick up yogurt, granola, bread, mango juice, Indian ramen and more for not more than $4, a big difference from food shopping in the U.S. where prices quickly add up. We also rent Bollywood films from the local dvd rental shop and enjoy these in our spare time. So far my favorite so far has been 'Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham'.

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