My first view of India was of the circuitous route my driver took simply to leave the airport. I have some existing familiary with most places where I travel, but not so in this case, where I was almost entirely dependent on a whole host of gracious sponsors to make my way through India -- or even to get out of Indira Gandhi International.
The view (south) from Ahuja Residency on Golf Links Road, where our students reside during the Delhi portion of their overseas trip.
I'm on a little Thursday AM walk, with destination the nearby Lodhi Garden.
Typical traffic along Lodi Road. Some of the two-cycle vehicles have been retroffited with less polluting CNG fuel. Everyone signals their presence, and intent, with continuous horns. Somehow it all works.
Lodhi Garden is the site of several 15th century tombs and other ruins, now a popular spot for outdoor exercise (and romance, I hear…hard to imagine in this summer heat).
Lodhi Garden, and indeed everywhere I went, is also a haven for dogs…even if unfed.
Now leaving the Garden. Plastic bags/bottles have become a big ecological item here.
My primary sponsor in India is Sharada Nayak, who organizes our Lewis & Clark overseas trip to India. Sharada was full of pithy quotes during our two days together: in India, Sharada reminded me, "all life is lived out in the open," and it's a little messy but at least it's real. Her rather opposite assessment of the 1W matched that of an American woman he met residing in India: our lives are orderly on the outside, but "chaos resides in the mind."
Sharada and her sister as children.
Vini Arora, the travel agent who coordinates logistics of our Lewis & Clark India trip. Vini's logo comes from the indigenous art above his head; he (as does Sharada in her car) has an elephant shrine, as this god "removes all obstacles."
En route to Centre for Science and Environment India office, one sees unruly economic growth everywhere.
Settlements adjacent to roads are common; this one included a number of ironworkers selling tools.
Now at CSE India, founded by Anil Agarwal. One of his many sayings: "I have never been worried about the Earth. I’m worried about human beings."
Sunita Narain, Director of CSE India. We discussed whether middle-class environmentalism, with its attendant depoliticization of environmental issues and focus on individual consumer choice, will soon become ascendant in India as it is in the U.S.
On Friday we set out with representatives of Navjyoti Foundation to visit the site of the former Yamuna Pushta settlement, a slum of some 200,000 residents razed in 2004 in the name of cleanup and beautification of the Yamuna River area. New Delhi has been under pressure to clean up the Yamuna, as this stretch boasts one of the highest pollution levels -- primarily from untreated sewage -- of any river in India, and the smell as we crossed the Yamuna here did not belie this reputation. Here environmental health seems directly to confront the lives of the urban poor who were removed, but of course the pollution is far more an effect of piped sewage than squatter settlements.
The Yamuna River bridge crossing was slow enough for me to ponder bike-based transport…
We're now at the former Yamuna Pushta settlement, which looks like…
…this. (For one view, see www.yamunagentlyweeps.com.) Navjyoti provided a range of basic health and education services in Yamuna Pushta, and followed residents as they were relocated to Bawana resettlement area some 40 km to the northwest.
We're now en route to the Bavana resettlement area; the pictured development here is also apparently an older resettlement area.
When Yamuna Pushta residents arrived to Bavana in 2004, they found…nothing. No infrastructure, no structures. Apparently the rainy season made for real challenges in simply finding a dry place to sleep. Now, five years later, Bavana consists of the most basic of amenities, much the result of the residents' labor.
Navjyoti provides a number of services in Bavana, primarily from this building.
The view outside from the Navjyoti gate. The entrance runs directly over an open sewer, a common sight in my travels.
Dr. Vipim Chauhan of Navjyoti, a homeopath who coordinates their efforts in Bavana, with one of many relocated residents. He is no longer bitter about the relocation, and points to the improvements they've made over the last five years.
Girls at the Navjyoti training centre learning music by singing an empowerment song written by their instructor. I had to wonder whether this was a donor setup (of course it wasn't), as the moment could not have been more poignant.
Future IT wizards in the computer training room, taught by the young woman in the foreground.
At a nearby homeopathic clinic in Bavana.
Now heading back from Bavana to New Delhi. I had alot of time to ponder the creative back sides of vehicles.
Friday evening eating out (in style) with Sharada and former Lewis & Clark students Laura and Katie, a nice ending to my short time in Delhi. Laura and Katie participated in the 2007 India program and have now returned to continue their service to the people of this region. I learned why Lewis & Clark's overseas programs are, for many participants, the high point of their undergraduate careers.