So last night was a surprising and eventful one. After not being able to sleep for most of the night, for multiple reasons, I awoke to a noise coming from converter that I had my computer charging on. Well, subconsciously I hit the charger from my computer and less than five minutes later the whole wall went up in flames! Well, maybe not the whole wall. The converter and wattage box that I had plugged in caught on fire to my surprise and I grabbed the charger out in what I thought till later was just in time. I mean it is not charred and melted like the converter and box, but it is not working. So I am wasting precious time typing right now because I don’t know when I will get a new charger.
Other than waking up in a fright last night, the past week has proved to be a successful week full of meetings and visits. At the end of last week, I visited a crafts center in a village a ways from my own in order to see the large-scale center that exports to overseas accounts. It was amazing to see the ingenuity and efficiency that has gone into creating such a well-oiled machine. First the women are on salary and are only given holidays and a certain amount of days off, versus the lack of accountability on how often the women work at our center. The women are specialized in different areas of the center and work together to produce fine quality products that are then sold in the shop and exported. Nila Moti, the other center, employs 70 women from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. The biggest difference other than size and efficiency was that the organization that started the program is a constant force in the process and sends someone to work there and check on operations multiple times a year. At Sunder Rang, the organization that gave the money and set up the center has left the project to be run and overseen by whoever can help out, and that doesn’t always allow for efficiency and skill sets needed to manage a project. I am hoping that we can find a manager before I leave, because the fears that I have for the center being left behind are an impending doom if no one comes along to replace me.
On to the greenhouse: Sandy, the older volunteer, and myself visited a farm outside of Jodhpur a few days ago and had a superb visit with the farmer. After getting so frustrated over people who claimed to know everything, but really knew nothing, it was a breath of fresh air to find the true expert on all things plants. I was a bit worried that we would not get the information that we needed, but once we arrived, the translator and farmers started answering every question we had with in depth demonstrations around the farm. While we are not planning a large-scale farm like he was overseeing, he still knew how to plant and cultivate in the arid desert of Rajasthan and offered to come to the village and help train when the time comes. I can’t explain the relief that I had when I left the farm knowing that all hope was not lost and that the greenhouse really is possible. The next step, however, is trying to get those involved in the village to actually start the work and get the plans implemented.
First things first, we have to test the soil to the PH levels and salt content to know if we will be able to plant in the soil. We are expecting to have to bring in soil from other areas because the salt level is quite high, or so we have been told. This week’s goal was to start the compost in the hotel grounds so the vegetable scraps and other compostable materials can go straight from the kitchen to the compost bins. Someone at the hotel will have to be charged with the responsibility of making sure only specific items are allowed in the bins while at the same time keeping it moist and turning it over as to not get overheated.
The village has been very loud and busy lately and the center has been just the opposite. Most women are missing from the center for the past week or even up to two months for some of them due to wedding preparations. One of the girls from the center is getting married this weekend and we have all been invited to celebrate! I know I will be the entertainment because they all love to see the white girl dance, but I am excited to go to a village wedding. I don’t know how different it will be from the city weddings I have been to but I am about to find out. Tonight is the first night of the wedding. Well it is the dinner that the family puts on to start the celebrations and tomorrow through Saturday, three days, will be the festivities. All I know is I am going to be decorated and made to dance more than I want, but I just feel special because I was given an invitation like they give to their relatives and friends.