Monday, December 18, 2006


So I have formulated this idea for an NGO. I thought about it awhile ago and today I was inspired to write the more practical side of things. I have yet to take any courses on NGOs and non-profits, but I hope to in the future. The following is the rough outline of what I hope would all one day be part of the NGO, as well as the physical space it would entail and the aprox. number of employees for each sector. I have a feeling it would start small, maybe just as the access advocacy, and then over time we would be able to expand into the whole thing. I would love feedback, comments, ideas, concerns, things I have assumed, left out, etc. I am hoping to work on this project with some people with various skill backgrounds in the future.

This the first draft, so please don't mind any typos at this time...


The ACCESS Organization is a non-governmental organization that will address the problem of poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and homelessness for families in the urban environment.

Its’ approach is holistic, tackling the issue from all sides, including acting as advocates for the families in finding resources, helping families in dire need with the safety of a home and basic needs while helping them create a better future, providing educational opportunities including a crèche/preschool, a place for school aged children that have not yet been to school to prepare and gain skills, and a library, open to the public that promotes literacy and access to books, computers, and homework help.

The goal of the program is to holistically address these issues, help the families utilize what is available to them, and create a safe and steady present and a more promising future for the families we work this.


1. Access Advocacy

ACCESS would be the biggest part of our organization, and would be open to the public- with a focus on aiding those who have trouble navigating the system and finding help. We would act as a point of access, enabling families to find resources to reach their goals.


1. To connect families to various services. This will involve meeting with the family, discussing options, and connecting the organizations that meet their needs. Organizations could include: schools, educational scholarships, skill building programs, adult literacy programs, housing programs, employment opportunities (see 4), utilizing government programs available, and so forth.

2. To organize and monitor organizations (NGOs, nonprofits, Governmental Programs, etc) which offer various services. Programs will be examined, and files created and kept detailing their work. Files will also be kept on how families referred from us felt about the organization, if it was helpful, etc.

3. To aid families in filling our forms and collecting various pieces of information that may be needed to meet their needs. This could include filling out government forms, scholarships, job applications, etc. Additionally, a place for each family to safely store important documents will be made available

4. (Possible addition) Records kept of relevant job opportunities. Our organization would review each workplace offered to us, making sure those offering jobs are honest, and do not maltreat their workers. We would follow up with those hired, making sure they were being treated well, given the wage promised, etc.


The ACCESS unit would need rooms for meeting with families, a file system (computer and paper (if needed) to record and maintain information. It would also need safe dry waterproof containers for families to safely deposit important records they need to maintain.


We would need employees with a vast knowledge base of the programs to meet with families, discuss options and find organizations, which will help them. Additionally, they would need to help families to fill out forms, applications, and so forth. Employees would also be needed to go to various organizations, find out their willingness to be added to the ACCESS network, maintain contact with them, and help review their services. The number of employees would vary once need is determined. (3+)

2. Crisis Center

The family crisis center would consist of four small family homes on the premises with simple but safe facilities. Each family would receive individualized care and services with the goal of helping them gain steady employment, education, and a safe place to live. This program is designed to aid individual families, slowly, with the ultimate goal of the family creating a foothold and moving out of the center when they are ready.


1. To find families living on the street, and bring them to our temporary shelter.

2. Help family meet basics (housing, food, health care, clothing) and feel secure. Find out family’s story and their goals.

3. Find appropriate ways of aiding family in improving situation. This may include: helping find employment, improving skill base, literacy training, securing housing,

4. As needed, allow family members to take advantage of our other services while living in the center and after leaving. Programs include crèche/pre-school, ‘catch-up’ school, adult literacy program, ACCESS Program, and so forth.


The family crisis center would consist of 4 small family home units consisting of kitchen, bathroom, sleeping room(s) and verandah. Each unit would have running water, a water filter, fans, coolers, electricity, and basic furniture. (More personalized items would be provided to each family as needed). The homes would open into a large courtyard with grass, trees, and a vegetable garden. The homes would be located on the same land as the other programs, allowing families staying in the homes to utilize them as needed.


The center would involve working with employees in all other programs. Additionally, there would be a counselor provided specifically for these families to speak with them regularly and help them determine and plan their goals, explain the center and so forth. This counselor would also be involved in checking the family into the center. A ‘scout’ would be needed to go to where families are living on the streets, meet with them and gain their trust, and then aid families who wish to come to the program. Eventually this person may be hired from a former family who stayed in the center. For the homes, a person to be in charge of general upkeep and repair of the homes, cleaning between families, and keeping the courtyard in proper order would be necessary. A night watch person would be needed to maintain safety of premises during night hours. A local doctor would be hired to provide families with medical care upon move in. (It would be determined whether or not a full-time doctor would be needed, or whether one with a nearby practice would have enough time to spend with the families)(4-5)

3. Educational Programs.

Education Programs for children at ACCESS would consist of a few different programs: first a crèche/pre-school for young children where they can play and gain a foundation for skills needed in school while their parents are working, a “Catch-up” school for school aged children who had not yet been to school but would like to go. This school would give consist of a high student-teacher ratio and help the children make gains in basics such as literacy, math, etc before being placed into a school program. Lastly, our program would house a small public child-friendly library where children would have access to books, computers, and a study room where tutors would be available to help with homework questions. Programs such as story time, computer classes would help children gain skills in various areas. This library will also have materials available for adults.


1. The crèche/pre-school attempts to address three problems at once: parents who must work but have no one to take care of their young children, parents who work and must keep older children out of school to care for younger ones, and exposure to school environment, literacy skills etc in preparation for school years.

2. The “Catch-up” school will give school-aged children who have not yet had a chance to attend school the opportunity to be exposed to and learn many skills to enable them to be placed in a school setting. The environment will be child-friendly, and allow the children to explore the school setting and gain the necessary skills to continue their education.

3. The library will give children access to books, programs, computers (for educational purposes), a safe and quiet place to study, and tutor help if needed, to help them make gains in their education. In these ways, the library will continue to encourage literacy and skill building outside of the classroom setting, and will allow any child to access its programs. The library can also foster community involvement by creating clubs for children to make an impact on their communities. Clubs such as one on the environment or social justice could make an impact on the community and teach the children that they can make a difference.


The crèche/pre-school would involve a baby area for young babies, including cribs for napping. The area for toddlers to preschool age would be an open room with various age-appropriate toys and activities. A small kitchen would be attached and allow for meal preparation for the children, as well as a bathroom as needed for the children. The rooms would open onto the main courtyard, where the children can play safely on age-appropriate playground equipment.

The catch-up school would involve a room with large tables where children can work on projects. The room would be child-friendly, and contain various games, books, etc for working with the children. A Chalkboard would be situated at one end of the room.

A girls and boys bathroom would be available for the children. A separate bathroom would be available for employees.

The library would consist of a large children’s room lined with books, tables in the center for studying, a desk area for librarian and tutor, and a designated computer area. A corner would be designated for story time. An additional room would house adult books of a wide variety. A public set of bathrooms would be available.


The crèche/preschool would need appropriately trained persons/teachers to work with the infants and toddler children. Additionally, older students such as college students may be employed part-time as aides to the main teachers. (3+)

The catch-up school would require well-trained teachers to work with students in a non-formal schooling environment. The number of teachers should be high, depending on the number of students. (1+)

The library would require a librarian, a head-tutor, as well as some younger (high-school or college students) part time tutors to help during after school hours. Additionally, a person well versed in computers to teach computer literacy and keep computers updated and working properly. (4+)

Club leaders could be volunteers from the community.

Additionally, Hindi-speaking (or Hindi-learning) volunteers from outside that are trained/training in education or have experience working with children may come for periods of time to work with any of these three programs. (?)

4. Skill Building

The Skill Building program aimed at adults that will offer a variety of opportunities that can lead to gaining employment, gaining better employment, improving their situation, or navigating the urban environment. It will include a variety of programs, depending on need, and will always include basic literacy programs for adults. This program would work with the adult family members living in the crisis home as well as adults from outside interested in the programs being offered.


1.To allow adults to gain basic literacy skills so they can better navigate their environment and their workplace.

2. To give adults a chance to learn various skills to help them gain employment or improve their employment situation. This may include programs on starting a small business, learning math for work environment, handicraft skills, carpentry, sewing, and so forth. These programs would be offered to coincide with interests and concerns of adults interested.

3. Offering programs for adults that aim to improve family situations such as creating a family vegetable garden in a small space, nutrition for the family, family planning, domestic violence, health care, saving money, navigating banks, etc.


The adult programs may use other spaces such as the “catch-up” school or library for evening classes. If the program necessitates daytime classes, a single multi-purpose room may be needed. A storage area would be needed for the materials needed for specific skill building, such as sewing machines, tools, etc.


Various skilled persons may be employed for different programs and projects. One adult would be employed regularly to teach night literacy classes. Volunteers may also be a viable option for this program (1+)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

...about you

I keep looking through my blog and wondering who is reading my blog. I usually get a couple of comments, but mainly from people I FORCE to read my blogs (aka friends and family). I was just wondering.. DO other people read my blog? Does anyone read it regularly? This remains a mystery. Maybe I don't want to know the answer.

*BUT* if YOU do read my blog (which I guess if you are reading this right now, then, you must, presumably be reading my blog) I want you to send me a comment... Tell me who you are, and if you have a blog, so I can check yours out too.

So, yeah. YOU. I wanna know.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Yes, it does affect me!

I just had a interesting chat with a friend that helped me realize why I get so annoyed with things like strippers, pornography, etc. Even something as innocent as strippers at a bachelor's party still makes me sigh and wonder why guys think its cool. For a long time I really couldn't explain what about it still causes me much chagrin and irritation, but today I realized that my biggest annoyance is that as a women, any of this affects me.

How do strippers at a far away bachelor party affect me? Well. I realized that it creates a situation where men who normal feel women should be treated with respect and as an equal suddenly have an exception to the rule. Women should be treated as equals unless they fill certain categories- such as strippers, porn stars, prostitutes, etc. And while many guys who would consider seeing a stripper at a bar or a friend's bachelor party may never consider visiting a prostitute, they are still putting themselves in situations where women CAN be treated as not equals. And if women are equal and should have all the same rights as a man, should there be situations when they are actually not equals? It seems like that undermines the struggle for equality on so many levels. "women are only equals if..."

I have an excellent example of such a case as well. A couple of months ago I went to fellow graduate student's party. A few nights earlier, a large group of the guys at this party had gone to a strip club together in Syracuse. Later during the party, one guy, a law student at Syracuse University (I wish I could remember his name so I could embarrass him properly, in case some girl with a crush decided to google him) was standing with a group of his law student buddies. I walked by and the guy shouted to me "HEY! Can I lick your Pussy?" in astonishment to such a comment I just say "what?!?!?" and then his friends, laughing repeated it "He said he wants to lick your pussy." More Laughter. I am dumbstruck. Didn't know how to response. Uttered something rude and stalked off. I told the host of the party, the friend who invited me, about the incident.

He reacted. He exclaimed about the rudeness, the immaturity of the guy. I told some other friends too. I can't remember who, but someone exclaimed "what, does he think this is a strip club? Is this a frat house? Does he think he can talk to a woman like that here (at a grad school party)?" I kept thinking about how this comment disturbed me at the time... and now it is just so clear to me. The idea is not that you should NEVER yell "can I lick your pussy" to a woman, its just you can only yell it to certain KINDS of women, ones that are unequal to you, like strippers, drunk girls at frat houses, etc.

So, yes, it does affect me. It affects all women. When women are equal to men, except certain ones in certain situations, it undermines that we are equal at all. And when that happens, all of a sudden "highly educated" people think its ok to yell crude things at any woman in any situation. It bleeds out. Shouldn't equality exist everywhere for every human?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Street Children

Can you imagine walking down the street everyday, seeing small children in tattered clothes curled up sleeping on the sidewalk, or keeping stride with you, tapping your arm, crying "I'm hungry I'm hungry!" In many countries, this is a regular occurrence, so much so that people tend to ignore the child completely.

When I was young, maybe around 6 or 7, my family was visiting friends in California and decided to go to Mexico for the day. I don't remember what we did in Mexico but at the way home we got stuck at the border because a US Drug officer was murdered. (Of course, no one told me why at the time) I just spent my time sitting in the back of the four-door car peering out the window as we sat in a line of traffic. The only thing I remember from that trip was looking out and seeing a little girl about my age carrying jewelry, in tattered clothes, going from car to car trying to sell pieces to tourists waiting. I remember looking at her with my six year old eyes, and thinking "She is just a kid like me. Why is she out there, and why am I in here?"

That question has always stayed with me. On my many trips to India I have taught extremely poor, low caste girls in Bihar, played and taught art to former street children living in a group home in Mumbai. Each time I was able to interact with some amazing, bright, playful, and affection children, all of whom left an important impression on me.

One day in Jaipur my friends and I were waiting at a circle for a bus to Delhi. A little girl with beautiful dark skin, white teeth and two little braids sticking up came running up to me. She was wearing a tattered green skirt, and was barefoot and without a shirt. She smiled at me, and started asking "shampoo? shampoo?" while making hair washing motions. Many other little kids came running up, and I began to ask them their names and other questions. I decided to get them some food and their was a lassi shop nearby so I bought them lassi's (yogurt drink). The first little girl that came up to me told me her name was Meera. She was very talkative and helped introduce the other kids. In the end she asked again if she could have some shampoo. I explained that I didn't have any with me.

I still think of her, and wondered what happened to her. I'm not sure, but her mom may have also been living on that street corner with her. Other times I passed through that bus stand I looked for her, but she was never there.

I wish I could have done more for her. I wish there was more help to kids and their families living on the streets. Living in such dire poverty kids have no access to soap and water, let alone an education. If they live with their parents they are barely scraping by, and many have to beg just to eat.

That's what I keep thinking about lately. In India there are so many street children, and so many families living on the street. They often are migrants from villages, unable to make it at home and hoping for a better chance in the city, they often are illiterate or have very little education, and have no access to any knowledge or connections to get ahead.

When I finish graduate school, I dream of starting an NGO specifically focused on aiding children and their families in these kinds of difficult situations. I want to work as a link in the chain, to create points of access for these families to have a chance to get ahead. For their kids to be educated, for parents and future generations to gain skills and find a job, to find safe housing and clean water. Things any family wants.

Lately I have been coming across some interesting NGOs which work with street children in this way, such as with works with kids in Jaipur. It has open air schools, a "school on wheels" a "shower bus" for kids to shower, and homes for kids with no where else to go.

Today I also looked at a photo journal on BBC ( regarding street children in Bangladesh. I found it extremely interesting how they empowered a girl who had been a street child herself to work as a counselor and advocate for other street kids, teaching them.

If anyone knows of any other organizations doing these kinds of things in India, I would love to hear about them. I have some ideas about what my NGO would involve, but also I want to see what and how other working organizations are doing as of yet. Also, suggestions and comments always appreciated.

(The picture at top is one I took in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam of a little girl of maybe three or four who followed us for blocks trying to see us Wrigley's chewing gum. The second picture is three of my students in Bihar, all from extremely poor families. At bottom are some boys at the home for street children in Mumbai, acting silly for the camera.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Grad School: Not What I Expected

When I decided to go to graduate school, I had an idea in my head. I had (have) a passion for the cultures of India, for Indian language, and I wanted (want) to learn as much as I can. I want to be able to read a variety of books, take language courses, have intense and exciting debates and discussions with my colleagues, be able to converse and learn from my mentors in a community environment. When I went to to grad school, I was not thinking about pieces of paper or degrees. I was thinking about the chance to be in a community of people who were as interested in India as me, who got excited about culture, who wanted to learn languages. That was my goal, my goal was greater knowledge, a community of learners, not a piece of paper.

I am now in my second year of grad school, and reality is a far cry from my dreams of passionate learning. I cannot recall the last time I had a good discussion with anyone in my department about anything related to India, culture, or language. Discussion revolve around passing the qualifying exams, navigating professors, and weaseling your way to that Ph.D. We learn to "trust no one", play your cards right, and never reveal too much to anyone, hence they use it against you. Professors are not mentors, but an opposing chess team. You have to make the right moves, or you are out of the game. And once you begin to lose, you cannot redeem yourself. There is no learning process, you are seen as a static piece, a plastic pawn.

The only discussions I have about culture are with drunk people at parties. The only time I can discuss anthropology or theory (safely) is in the confines of my own home. Class discussion is not for learning or synthesis, it is for proving to the professor that you already know the "right" answer. And if you don't know the "right" answer, better not speak at all, because then you will soon be in check-mate, a lost cause in the graduate world.

Some may argue life is a game. Getting a job, for example, is all about playing the right cards. But one would think that Anthropologists, those who study culture and all it contains (ahem, as in everything) would be able to identify the structure of power and prestige the institute creates and understand it for what it is. But, that too is not the case. Professors gladly feed off the power they receive, and while students not wishing to be academics are looked down upon, they themselves seem to have little passion or interest in teaching. Rather, it is about proving their importance, their chance at the top after jumping through the hoops we go through now.

It reminds me a lot of the concept of the "Mother-in-Law" in Indian joint families. She was treated badly as a new daughter-in-law, so once she is old enough to have a daughter-in-law, its now her turn to torment someone else. Regardless of whether it is necessary or improves the situate, it continues to be done. It seems that how professors view their new lot. We must jump and dance, suffer what they suffered, prove ourselves through arduous quests and conquest. Only then are we true "academics". And to be an anthropologist, of course you MUST be an "academic".

So where to go and what to do? I began school with a passion and a love for learning more. I was excited and ready to read and discuss. But early on, I suppose, I made the wrong move, I showed the wrong cards. First and foremost, I was told that I "laugh too much". I didn't know laughing was a crime. This ruined my "Professional" appearance. I didn't know I couldn't be myself. And to make things Worse, I actually TOLD a professor that I was having a hard time in their class, and needed suggestions for catching up on material I had not yet been exposed to. This was the end for me. I was soon told I would be recommended for the "Masters" Program by the same professor. This may sound like a compliment, but if one knows about the world of graduate school, they know differently. If you are recommended for such a thing, this means that you are not seen as worthy of "Ph.D." work, you are lowly, you can't think properly, write well, or possibly last to write a dissertation. This is the way out. You are in check.

Mind you, this was decided about me perhaps after a month or so of grad school. I was already in check. And so began the end. As one professor talked with another, and down the line, I suddenly heard my name and "masters program" together. My funding disappeared. My fate is sealed. All before I even knew anyone professor well enough to trust and speak with them. And once you know that you are viewed negatively, as "hopeless" then well, what more can you do but try to protect the dignity you have left? At this point I am trying to preserve what I have, to hang on, and leave. I am afraid to make any moves at all. I am in check. One move and I could be check-mate.

It's amazing how knowing that others have already made negative judgments about you (and without even knowing you in any sense) can effect your success. Compare the opinions of me as a grad student to one in any other environment. I took Hindi in India this summer. Not only did my teachers enjoy that I "laugh too much" but I was actually taken aside and complimented. These teachers got a chance to know me, and came to see me as "someone who studies and works with a passion and happiness" that they found refreshing. The head teacher told me this. He informed me that all the teachers in the program had excellent things to say about me, and found the (happy, smiling) way I go about the world refreshing.

At work I have been complimented for being an excellent worker, for being able to complete my tasks fast and well, and so forth. Granted, by job is not rocket science, but all the same, my co-workers can see that I am hard-working and respect them.

Switch back to my life as a graduate student. None of my professors, not even my advisors seem interesting in conversing with me for longer than 5 minutes, they are too busy. I doubt any one knows basic things about me. I have never had a chance to have an intellectual discussion. I am seen as "unprofessional". I "laugh too much" (I didn't know enjoying life was a crime), and I apparently present some odd appearance to them. I feel like, if only they got to know and see the real me, to get past their assumptions about "graduate students" and what they should be, that maybe they could see I have potential. Maybe I am different, maybe I present myself in a different way. But I don't see anything wrong with laughing, or being passionate about what I study. I believe that helps me, not acts as a detriment to my education.

When I came to grad school, I didn't know what to expect. Since then I have learned a great deal in terms of learning about theories, organizing and writing, and so forth. I see much progress in my work. But still I am seen as exactly the same person as when I entered grad school. I am seen as someone who doesn't exist. The person they think constructed through their assumptions and cultural expectations, but never really got to know.

I don't buy into their system, I'm not here to play chess. I am here to learn. Maybe I don't conform to their rules about what a "graduate student" should think, feel, act, and say, but I have never conformed. It's not my way. And I don't see it as a negative. It's what makes me who I am.

I will get as much as I can out of here, in the time I have left. I may have no funding. I may be "master tracked" already, prejudged and sent down the line, but I won't let it stop me. My goal was to learn about what I am passionate about. That's still my plan. In whatever time I have left, that's what I'll do. I'm just not going to play chess.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

just another day

sitting around the house. Another saturday finished off... another week of work-class-homework to begin. i feel such a detachment from this place. Just want to get it overwith. I barely try to hang out with the few friends I have, prefering to stay indoors, reading or making myself new recipes. Alas. I don't know. I don't feel invested enough to try. A friend I had last year and I don't talk anymore. It's too bad, but I feel like it's not my fault. I feel like I only did what was fair. What else can I do?

Last night I went to a Garba (learning) night. It was really fun and I wish I could dance more often.. maybe take lessons... it would be fun.

My mom and sister visited last weekend. I was so excited for them to come.. but when they got here I got all grumpy and snappy. I don't know what my deal is...

What else? My week is basically working, class, reading, and watching one of my 5 tv channels. Weekends are usually doing the dishes i didnt do during the week, laundry, and homework. Sometime I go out for a bit, but I don't feel much like partying, and less like drinking. Then I have to watch the drunk people. They are somewhat amusing, and somewhat.. well... like that guy at the party before.. a disgusting guy....

nothing else much here...

Monday, September 25, 2006

pictures to share

Here are some pictures of India I thought I would share:

pigs runing about in Jaipur

Beautiful flowers in the hills of Jaipur

A Jaipur Fort

Roof of a Jaipur Fort

Next to the Taj Mahal.. the signs of tourism?

A boy watching his herd of Buffalo

Bras drying on a fence in the hillstation of Shimla

New Study Shows America Causes Depression

Ever wonder why so many people in America have depression? I always did. So.. I did a little study. Trucked my arse off to India for three months. Sure, I was terribly sick with a baterial infection for a month. Sure it was blazing hot. But all in all, I was all smiles. OK. not ALL smiles, but I certainly was only unhappy for true real reasons. To follow up in this noted happiness, I trucked my arse BACK to the US (central NY.. oh dear).

Promptly, I noticed a lack of sunshine, and cold, rainy, dreary days., as well as a noticable lack of people. With that, a meloncholy began to grow inside me, and as now become what I call a full-blown "funk". In truth, things aren't incredibly different on the surface.. I am studying in both places, have friends, collegues, and roommates. Here I have my nice pets. So... what is the difference?

Maybe it's the soil, the air quality, or the lack of sunshine? Maybe it's the quiet isolation of the American world. ..or maybe it's just this country in general. This explains all of the depression and [over]medication going around this place. So, the conclusion of the study is that America causes depression. Perscription: move far far away.

far, far away

(and if you take this too seriously i'll smack you!)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

ode to a squat toilet

Jaipur is a very nice place, as long as you avoid the midday dhoop (sunshine). Dhoop is talked about like a snowstorm.. or rain.... "we shouldn't go out yet, there is dhoop"... it's best to do things in the morning and evening and hide inside somewhere during the strong dhoop. We have had two rain storms.. both beautiful, with strong winds, pouring rain, and even a bit hail. These storms cool down the world immediately. Delicious. The dhoop is not so bothersome after it rains... atleast for that day.

I am with a fellow AIIS participant staying at the Bhargava household, run by mom, who cooks cooks cooks. Dad goes out to work. Priyanka, 24, loves painting, embroidery, and other craftsy things. Shashank, 20, is studying hotel management and works all day until late at a hotel, where he met John Abraham the other night. John wanted chai. Our room is pink, with molding, two desks with beautiful cloth on them, and a happy, clean bathroom with sailboat tiles. The bathroom, like most indian bathrooms, has its oddities. If you turn on the left nozzle for the shower, the sink turns on.

But alas, the most trouble for us Americans is the squat toilet. At first, we regarded the squat toilet as a challenge... we felt we could do it.. we just needed to get more flexibility and muscle strength and we could beat the squat toilet into submission. This of course, did not happen. The squat toilet fought back. It won. As you squat, peeing, you realize.. pee is splashing everywhere... now... why would I want to pee in a way that causes urine to spatter on my feet and pants when I know I can pee differently and deposit said liquid solely in the toilet? A question to be mulled over. And secondly.. crapping onto he toilet.. well.. I have to hold onto the wall behind me.. and it just takes too long.. my arm gets tired, my legs get tired. I think back fondly to my western toilet, where I can sit relaxed, take my time, and even read a book. Not the case with the squat toilet... no amount of relaxation came to me squatting, only the fear I would fall over half way through.

The squat toilet.. we ask... what good do you bring us? Why use a squat toilet? What benefits does it bring. So, its true, I could not conquer the squat toilet, so I just sat down.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mumbai Ahmi Style

So I am heading out of Bombay tomorrow. Got in on June 5th. Been here a couple of days, have had a great time hanging out with my good friend Nikhit, his awesome cousin Riya, and his bro Vinit. My luggage was left in Paris.. so I got to buy my self some new clothes, always exciting. Finally retrieved my luggage tonight after a long but fun day in downtown. YAY! deodorant!

It's starting the monsoon season, but just has rained a bit off and on, nothing torrential. Also we say X-Men 3 today, very good. What else? I don't know. Having a lot of fun here. Nikhit has a wonderful family, and I am sad to be leaving so soon- but, ONWARD-HO to Delhi. Tomorrow my flight goes, and I will be met by Disha's very good friend Su and taken to her hostel.. Then on the 8th we will meet Disha at the airport, and I will go meet her family.

Alrightie! I better be off and stop hogging the computer. More soon.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

prr prrrr prrrrrrr CHOMP

Dear world,

Can someone please tell me what happened to my cat? Yes, he has always been a friendly, talkative type of kitty. But the past few days..... well... he is in overdrive. Follwoing me from room to room. Standing in front of my keyboard trying to LICK me while I type. Meowing. Meowing. Meowing. Coming outside when I walk the dog. Coming back inside when I finish walking the dog. Everywhere I go, his little kitty bell is tinkling as he follows me. When I am just sitting here, he will come up, and quietly put his paws on my arms, staring into my eyes. Begging to be pet. and pet somemore. I had to cut his nails just because when he put his paws oh so gently on me, his little nails still managed to jab me.

Why oh why has my kitty gone mad? His love is just too instense. How shall I manage?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

While we are on the topic of love...

How is it that I just discovered this song?

Bob Marley- Is this Love?

I wanna love you and treat you right;
I wanna love you every day and every night:
Well be together with a roof right over our heads;
Well share the shelter of my single bed;
Well share the same room, yeah! - for jah provide the bread.
Is this love - is this love - is this love -
Is this love that Im feelin?
Is this love - is this love - is this love -
Is this love that Im feelin?
I wanna know - wanna know - wanna know now!
I got to know - got to know - got to know now!

I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i - Im willing and able,
So I throw my cards on your table!
I wanna love you - I wanna love and treat - love and treat you right;
I wanna love you every day and every night:
Well be together, yeah! - with a roof right over our heads;
Well share the shelter, yeah, oh now! - of my single bed;
Well share the same room, yeah! - for jah provide the bread.

Is this love - is this love - is this love -
Is this love that Im feelin?
Is this love - is this love - is this love -
Is this love that Im feelin?
Wo-o-o-oah! oh yes, I know; yes, I know - yes, I know now!
Yes, I know; yes, I know - yes, I know now!

I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i - Im willing and able,
So I throw my cards on your table!
See: I wanna love ya, I wanna love and treat ya -
Love and treat ya right.
I wanna love you every day and every night:
Well be together, with a roof right over our heads!
Well share the shelter of my single bed;
Well share the same room, yeah! jah provide the bread.
Well share the shelter of my single bed - /fadeout/

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


So, since I don't have any, I keep thinking about love lately.

And I was having 'profound ' thoughts, for me atleast. Love is two things. One thing is, love is that feeling, the giddy, going down a rollercoaster can't stop thinking about someone thing. The thing where you want to be around them all the time.

But it's something else too. It's a choice. You have to choose to love someone. To follow up with the feeling. If both people don't have both things.. Then it is nothing. The giddy feeling, without the choice to be with someone.. Is just a shallow feeling. The choice without the feeling is just a farce.

But also, that choice, the person has to know what they are choosing. That is why I am always a strong believer that one cannot truly know what love is until they have been hurt. When you make the choice to love someone, REALLY knowing how much pain it can cause you, and deciding that it is worth it anyways. That is really love. The feeling, the choice, and the knowledge of what pain you can receive from it. That is all part of love.

It's no wonder so many people avoid it ...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

SPCA response

So I got my SPCA response today, and I am feel like it is a cop out. Maybe. I mean... is leaving two dangerous animals chained to falling apart cars in a backyard fills with trash, feces, and broken stuff in the rain, night, cold, heat, etc legally ok? Additionally, is allowing your agressive pets to often get lose, who then attack nieghborhood dogs and try to attack people legally ok? Is every once and a while leaving the dogs in the basement for 2-3 weeks at a time NEVER taking them out legally acceptable?

If these things are all legally acceptable that makes me upset. I mean, not only were these dogs obviously suffering, but their agressive nature and insecure chains ALSO put everyone in danger, and when not in danger, in constant fear of the dogs gettings lose. For months I couldnt even park my car in my own driveway because the dog would be lunging on its chain, snapping and growling at me from about 10 feet away. Any time at all, the dog could pull its chain lose, and bam. And when the other dog (the non-people attacking one) got lose and attacked Murray because I was letting him pee in my own yard (this was before I knew how often they got lose) the owner said "Well you were antagonizing my dog by having your dog in the backyard." MY backyard.

So Anyways, here is the letter. I am still deciding how I feel about it.

Hi Lindsey,
I am so sorry for not responding to your email sooner as I have been having all kinds of problems with my email (and I'm not even sure you will get this). Regarding the pit bulls that were taken from 174 Fellow Ave while we did respond to any calls we received about them, there were no violations of law at that time that would allow us to seize the animals. As you can imagine this can be very frustrating.
As yourself, we had no way of knowing at that time that the dogs would later be abandoned, left in the basement. Please know that had we had enough evidence prior to this, we would have acted accordingly.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Syracuse, Dogs, and the SPCA

So the neighbor I life in in Syracuse is decent, friendly neighbors, working class, and what not. Except since I moved in the neighbors on our right were, well...... Not so good. They had two pitbull mixes tied up in their backyard to a derelict car. They had random bicycle halves and broken furniture strewn about. They had random shady types coming in and out of the house all the time. In the fall, when we kept out windows open, we could hear them screaming obscenities at their children. We could hear grandma yelling at her son to go buy the kids food, there wasn't any and they were hungry. Sometimes the parents would get in long, loud arguments through the night, screaming at each other about drug use.

I felt bad for the situation, felt bad for the family, felt especially bad for the poor kids, and the dogs chained up. As badly as I felt for the dogs, I was also terrified of them. Being chained up in a yard, not trained, not socialized, can do something to a dog, and these dogs were mean. Ever once and a while one or the other dogs would get lose. Once the brown dog got lose and ran around my house. Another time, the black dog got lose and tried to attack my roommate. Luckily he was building a bookshelf at the time, and had a big board, which he waved menacingly at the dog and kept it off him. Then one day the brown dog got lose while I was walking my small 15 lb mutt in my backyard. It attacked him. I swung him in the air on his leash and grabbed him. The dog was still trying to get him.... So with quick thinking, I saw the kitchen window was open and shoved my little dog through, saving him. Luckily the brown dog was not so interested in attacking me at the time.

Since I had moved in, I had called the SPCA in CNY a lot of times, and emailed them, telling them of the dogs neglect, how they also kept getting lose, and this was especially dangerous since our homes are across from a middle school. Even through all of this, I heard very little to nothing back from the SPCA. I also called animal control after the dog attacked mine. Still the dogs remained there. Outside, tied up with garbage strewn around them, no place to sleep, rain or shine.

Every once and while, the owners would put them in their basement and leave them down their for a few weeks. I saw the guy walking the dog about 3 times, in 7 months. Other than that, they would get thrown some food, and then ignored. Finally, recently, these neighbors left. I let out a sigh of relief. No more being woken up in the night by yelling, no more loud loud music played in cars outside my bedroom window at 8 in the morning. No more pitfalls. They were gone too. Or so I thought.

Every once and awhile, the old neighbors would stop by in their van, stay for a bit and then leave. Since no one told me anything regarding the house, I didn't know they weren't supposed to be there. My other neighbors became suspicious that maybe the dogs were still there, but we couldn't tell.

Then one night, the cops came. Discovered the old residents were using the empty house as a crack/whore house. Great. Wonderful. Additionally, it was mentioned (by word of mouth to me) that the dogs had been found in the basement and were brought to the SPCA. Well FINALLY, I thought.

Just now, today, I heard more of the story. Apparently, the house is in foreclosure. So the bank owns it. They had some guys there today cleaning out the stuff from the house. I talked to them, and they told me that when these dogs were found, almost dead.

It made me so angry. I called and emailed the SPCA a million times. My neighbor also did. Why was nothing done until the dogs had to suffer so much, for so long? The one thing I felt I could do to help this bad situation next door was to alteast get this innocent (and aggressive only due to the owners) dogs out of this place. But no. Nothing was done until the dogs were DYING. It pisses me off. So I wrote the SPCA this letter today:

To Whom it May Concern:

I am writing because I have just found out some more of the story regarding the pitbulls at *** _______ Ave. As a neighbor who moved in in late August, I have called the SPCA many times, and emailed as well regarding the neglect of the those dogs. Many times I was told by your people that you would be looking into it. I never saw any consequences, and eventually, the owners moved out. Unbeknownst to me, they left the dogs in the basement. When the foreclosure company came to clean the house out, they found the dogs starving to death in the basement. I was told that then the SPCA finally came and took them. It really saddens me to hear that even though I have been contacting you with concerns about these dogs treatment in the past 8 months, nothing was done until after the dogs were forced to suffer these cruel, inhumane treatment as they slowly and quietly were starving in the basement. I am really upset that these dogs were not taken out of this situation earlier, preventing them from suffering from this further cruel treatment, when I, as well as my upstairs neighbors, had contacted you repeatedly regarding the dogs.

It really breaks my heart to think this dogs were mistreated for so long, and even with my and my neighbors emails and phone calls to you, that this still happened to these dogs.


Anyways, I will give you updates, I am curious to see how they respond. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

that fresh bleaching

my room mate spent a good part of the evening whitening her teeth. then she drank pepsi. (or coke, how do i know?)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

BBay part cricket

So i keep meaning to write more about my bombay trip, and I keep forgetting. Now I decided I will comment some on my time visiting with da boyz.

The second week I was in Mumbai, I volunteered a couple hours a day at a home run by nuns for street kids. The one I visited housed 20 boys. At first, I was totally nervous, because I never consider myself to be "good" working with boys, but rather assume I am good working with girls. This experience proved my assumptions wrong. Sure, the boys were a little rowdy from time to time, but they were great! I brought Uno and another game to teach them, and we spent some time sketching, making masks, and (I think it may have been the winner) making puppets! When not being artsy inside, I would go with them to the park and they would teach me how to play. I was taught the basics of cricket (well of batting) and played badminton and also the youngest boy Akash tried to teach me everyday how to properly spin tops. These tops are the cool kind that you wrap a piece of string around and then have to fling. Many of the boys can do awesome tricks with their tops, like fling them into the air and catch them (still spinning) in the palm of their hand. I, on the other hand, only managed to get the top to spin around a bit a few times, after many intense lessons from Akash, who was NOT going to give up on my lack of top-spinning skills.

Also, Akash really liked to take my hand and take me around. On the first day I was their, another boy sat down next to me, and just looked at me smiling. All of these boys were so sweet.

The nuns told me a bit about the home. They told me how all of these boys were found in places like train stations on their own. Slowly, volunteers would get to know them, find out why they were there, where their parents were (if they had them)and then would eventually invite them to come stay at this home (if they desired). At the home, they would get a chance to go to school, a warm, comfy place to stay, three meals a day, tutoring and homework help, and so forth. There was a guy who grew up at the home, now grown, with a good education and a job, who came and visited all the time.

In addition to the many kids found on the streets, some where orphans, like my Akash (oh how I wanted to steal him and his brother and take them home with me!) and another boy Kapil, who was found abandoned as a baby. He lived his toddler years elsewhere, then was moved to this home. Everyone described him as "a little off in the head" and upon meeting him I absolutely loved him! He is "a little off" (I don't know how) but he is also sweet, loving, engages with people, loves to play creatively, and talkative. He is around 8 (I would guess) and does not yet know how to read and write, but I noticed the other boys don't let him do a lot of stuff either (I was letting him glue his own mask, but the other boys got upset that he was smushing the glue stick). He also was extremely good at following directions even when he was not happy about them. He asked if he could go to the park to play with the other boys, and the head nun told him no because he has "fits" sometimes and she doesn't want him to fall down and get hurt (She didn't explain this any further to me). And he looked sad but then quickly found an indoor game to busy himself. Also all the other boys love him. Everyone always makes sure to show him affection by giving him a hug, greeting him, or giving him a pat on the back. The head nun told me they are trying to get him adopted by an American Family... But I don't know the details.

Another sweet boy was Gopala. He is missing his leg from a little below his knee down. My "interpreter" (another sweetie, a bit older, who loved to play sports in the park with me) told me "Gopala got run over by a train. That's why his leg is gone. He gets sad about that" Gopala has a fake leg thing, but it doesn't work too well. He is not allowed to go play in the park either. He can be very quiet, and keeps himself away from the other boys a lot. Once his leg (which has weird scars) touched somebody else and the kick smacked him. He started crying, and I went and sat by him. He said he was crying coz it hurt him, but I wonder if it was really because the boy said his leg was so gross, rather than being hit.

Anyways, each boy has his own story, and they were all such great kids. I really enjoyed doing art with them and playing with them.

Front left is Kapil, next is my lovely interpreter, two over is Akash, one row up (behind Kapil) is Gopala. Unfortunately, since I was there such a short time, I didn't get a chance to learn all their names, but I remember each one and special things about each of them anyways!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

what can i say?

usually, i try, try try to understand people's point of view, where they are coming from, and why they believe what they do. usually i am very tolerant, so forth so forth. but there is one thing i can never ever budge on. why? because it is part of me. this opinion in life is part of me. i can't let it go. i am not good at tolerating the opposite in people that are close to me. what is this opinion?

it's about our dear friend pornography. to me porn lies in the category of "grossly perpetuating viewing women as sexual objects for men's pleasure". yes. that is true. argue you with me. but, if, maybe. but still. i will not budge. this opinion is part of me. it runs through my blood. if i let it out it will leave an angry splatter of words that usually i would be able to keep to myself, were it about something else.

honestly. i can't deal. it makes me angry. like wanting to throw stuff. breakable stuff. it makes me want to cry. it also makes me want to scream, denounce humanity, and hide in a cave for eternity. i'm not arguing that other stuff that perpetuating women (or men, in some cases) as objects doesn't exist. it does. it exists. it's a shame, too. but this. this. porn. porn is like... the lowest of the low. well, besides maybe rape, pedophila, and so forth. i guess we will say the lowest of the low for a person not criminal/mental enough to commit said other crimes. and yet, so many people just participate in it anyways.

but honestly. it is one thing i cannot bend on. why? because i can't. why can't i? because it is a strong belief. for me, this is one thing where there is no compromise.

in general, i am an accomodator, a peace maker, a back patter. this is very uncharacteristic for me. that's why, i guess, it can be understood to be so important to me. again and again i have to go through this argument. again and again. it is tiring. it is old. i am sick of it. why can't a woman's perspective on women's bodies be taken seriously?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What ever happened to.....

Tonya Harding? I never would have thought about it, but today I was procrastinating and looking at wikipedia sites about figure skating, when I ran across a link to a page about her. We all remember her, the kinda white trashy figure skater whose boyfriend tried to wack Nancy Kerrigan? (in the leg). Well, here is your answer folks:

No joke.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bbay Part do deux dos

December 30, 2005 7:10 Mumbai time:

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is open the curtain and observe The Morning Walk. My bedroom window looks out over the wall of the society, below are parked cars, being wiped down. Most are small- Maruti, Honda, Hyundai, and most, interestingly, silver. Over the wall is a park.

It consists of some dry grass and dirt patches where boys play football in the evenings, some large trees covered in the dust of India that covers everything except during the Monsoon, and new, tiny trees protected by metal cages. On my far left, near the entrance is a playground, painted yellow. The one time I entered the park, I saw a blanket there, tied under the slide like a hammock. Curious, I peered inside. A baby, wiggled about, and entertained itself. The baby's mother was sweeping the pathway, at the other end. I stopped, watching a moment. A feeling came over me, like I had walked into someone's house, intruding on their daily routine. I quietly slipped out the gate. The woman continued to sweep.

Around the periphery lies a pink pathway made out of pavers, with another path bisecting the rectangular/oval path. Padding along this small oval are the Morning Walkers. Old men with pot bellies under their shirts, thick glasses, capri pants, striped socks and sneakers are walking. Middle-aged women in sari and sweater, with sneakers are walking, some with sari-end pinned over their head. Women who remind me of my mom- dressed in a 'nice' shirt, capris, and sneakers. Young people, in jeans, shirt, with headphones attached to their Mp3 players.

Around, and around, and around, each one passing by my window ever couple of minutes. No one notices me, peering down. So every morning, I open my curtain, and laughter escapes, involuntarily. The joy of the Morning Walk.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Oh Shit, they found me!

So I was bored and took this Enneagram test, which is supposed to tell your your personality type. Not only did it tell me. but described me exactly. Freaky. Really. I mean. Everything it says. Shit, man, shit:

The Helper (the Two)

Helpers are warm, concerned, nurturing, and sensitive to other people's needs.

How to Get Along with Me

* Tell me that you appreciate me. Be specific.
* Share fun times with me.
* Take an interest in my problems, though I will probably try to focus on yours.
* Let me know that I am important and special to you.
* Be gentle if you decide to criticize me.

In Intimate Relationships
* Reassure me that I am intersting to you.
* Reassure me often that you love me.
* Tell me I'm attractive and that you're glad to be seen with me.

What I Like About Being a Two

* being able to relate easily to people and to make friends
* knowing what people need and being able to make their lives better
* being generous, caring, and warm
* being sensitive to and perceptive about others' feelings
* being enthusiastic and fun-loving, and having a good sense of humor

What's Hard About Being a Two

* not being able to say no
* having low self-esteem
* feeling drained from overdoing for others
* not doing things I really like to do for myself for fear of being selfish
* criticizing myself for not feeling as loving as I think I should
* being upset that others don't tune in to me as much as I tume in to them
* working so hard to be tactful and considerate that I suppress my real feelings

Twos as Children Often

* are very sensitive to disapproval and criticism
* try hard to please their parents by being helpful and understanding
* are outwardly compliant
* are popular or try to be popular with other children
* act coy, precocious, or dramatic in order to get attention
* are clowns and jokers (the more extroverted Twos), or quiet and shy (the more introverted Twos)

Twos as Parents

* are good listeners, love their children unconditionally, and are warm and encouraging (or suffer guilt if they aren't)
* are often playful with their children
* wonder: "Am I doing it right?" "Am I giving enough?" "Have I caused irreparable damage?"
* can become fiercely protective

Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele

The Enneagram Made Easy
Discover the 9 Types of People
HarperSanFrancisco, 1994, 161 pages

Friday, January 20, 2006

BBay is the place to be!

So I spent two weeks in Mumbai (or Bombay, or Bbay, if you are THAT cool) over break, from December 27, 2005-January 11, 2006.

I decided, last time I left India, that I would go back during my Christmas break from grad school if I had the money. Why Mumbai, you ask? Well, last time I went to India, I spent 2 1/2 months in rural (when I mean rural, I mean RURAL, I mean, no running water or electricity) Bihar, which was a wonderful experience. (And no, I didn't get mugged, conned or raped, contrary to popular opinion of Bihar).

I have some friends from India, all of whom were shocked that I went to Bihar, and began to describe the virtues of the metropolii of India, especially Bombay. So I thought, hell, why not go check this shit out? So I found myself a flat online, in a suburb called Andheri West, booked myself a cheap plane ticket (mera pita Delta ke liye pilot the), packed my tiny rolling suitcase full of books (and clothes, I guess) and off I flew. (oh I had to get a visa too , of course. but that was not rather painful, since it was my third for india, I think they don't care anymore).

It's interesting that I flew Alone, because I am not an Alone kind of person. But I am an India person, and it's not very easy to convince your friends to take an impromtu trip to India without so much in the way of plans, hence I had to deal with Alone, so I could get my India fix.


Off I went. Flying into Bombay at night, my good friend, who is from BBay, picked me up and drove me to my flat. I briefly met Jyoti, the caretaker of the flat while the owner is visiting her daughter in the US. I checked out the flat...

Marble floors, in a "society" complex. There was a pool in the middle of the complex (which remained empty the whole time I was there). This flat consisted of 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. Quite swanky, in a place like BBay which is horribly expensive. I was told this flat cost 52 lakhs to buy (more than 100,000 $) but I was only playing $150 for my two week stay.

This is the kitchen....

This is my bedroom (socks on the floor)

Anyways, so, after taking it all in, I tried to sleep.