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Posts tagged ‘Indian Food’

India: The Fieldwork Edition

Better late than never, right? A year ago at this time I was frantically reading everything I could about girl’s education in India in preparation for a two-week trip to northern India as part of my capstone project in grad school. My team was working with an NGO, the Study Hall Educational Foundation, based in Lucknow, India, doing an evaluation of their girl’s empowerment curriculum that is being used in nearly 100 government run all-girls boarding schools known as KGBVs. The KGBVs are grades 6-8 and target students from lower socioeconomic classes. The curriculum teaches girls about their rights and bodies — the legal age of marriage, what abuse is, the changes they experience during puberty, hygiene — something that is desperately needed in many parts of the world.

Before we headed into the field, we spent two days exploring New Delhi and Agra. I’d heard a lot about India from fellow travelers especially while I lived in Asia and to be honest reviews ranged from “it was the most amazing trip of my life” to “eh, it was hot, dirty, people are very poor.” The whole time I was in India I was comparing it to my time in Jakarta and other parts of Indonesia and well, maybe I have a major bias, but I enjoyed traveling Indonesia a lot more than India. India was interesting and I would love to visit the southern parts some day but it’s not that high on my list.Colorful Delhi

Taj Mainer

Colorful India

Our fieldwork took us all over the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest regions in India. Many of the schools we visited were over a two-hour drive from any bigger town. Below is a photo of a ghat in Mirzapur, one of the larger cities on our journey. It was magical watching the fog roll in over the Ganges River and spotting freshwater dolphins swimming along.


Delhi was a bustling, busy and messy place. I also didn’t expect it to be so cold and foggy in January. When we opened the curtains in our hotel room we couldn’t see anything down below — that’s how thick the fog was.


The Jama Masjib in Delhi where you must don long robes to walk around. It’s one of India’s largest mosques.

Delhi Mosque

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Hidden Wonders: Pasar Baru

On the surface Jakarta is a polluted traffic-filled mess. This isn’t a tourist friendly city where you can just wander and stumble on something interesting or historic. It takes effort to find things in Jakarta. And for the most part your efforts and time are rewarded with tucked away, hidden wonders:

Down a gang kelinci (gang means alley, kelinci means rabbit, so you get small alley, or rabbit hole) in the Pasar Baru area are two hidden Chinese temples. As Chloe, Fajar and I wandered we asked some mie (noodle) vendors where the Sin Tek Bio and Kuan Im Bio temples were located. We were directed down a narrow dark alley where vendors were selling fake Crocs and men were hunched over small tables slurping down bowls of noodles. It was dark and this didn’t seem like the likely place to go, but I reassured myself with my ever-growing faith in Jakarta — eventually we would find it and it would of course be worth it.

In the midst of a neighborhood full of daily life, with women washing clothes in the street and children running around, are two Chinese temples that date back to the 17th century. Sin Tek Bio, also known as Wihara Dharma Jaya (both photos above), dates back to 1698 and is devoted to the god of business. A young man working at the temple motioned for us to go upstairs where we discovered more altars with offerings. He also showed us how to leave the temple through the back and end up directly in front of the Kuan Im Bio temple:

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