Hello from the K.V. Kuppam block in the Vellore District of Tamil Nadu! The three RUHSA researchers (Lisa, Ann and Sara) are wrapping up their projects and realizing, sadly, that there are only nine days left in their stay here. RUHSA has become our home away from home, and there is so much more that we want to see and do before we leave!
Our days here look like this: breakfast is at 7:30, usually idli with sambar or groundnut chatni, along with coffee and a little fried dahl thingie. Then we go about our projects: Lisa has been visiting one local village with her translator, conducting a survey on local knowledge and attitudes towards waste management, Sara visits the milk societies to interview the farmers about milking procedure and economic losses due to a common bovine bacterial infection, and Ann is making the rounds with her translator to interview women from six villages about food security. For lunch we usually avoid the white rice mounds in the mess hall and go to Hotel Paul or one of the small street establishments for paratha or chapati. In the evenings, we go for a bike ride, play frisbee, practice guitar or visit with villagers we have come to know through our projects.
There are so many characters here we will never forget: Immanuel, our advisor who hooked us up with bicycles, travel arrangements, and can make just about anything happen with the push of his intercom buzzer... Anandan, the daytime security man who is like an overly concerned parent... our translators, who each have their own distinct strengths and shortcomings as employees!
Our weekend trips have been amazing adventures. We went with Shruti (another foreign student at RUHSA) and her friends from CMC to Pondicherry for a weekend. There we walked through incredibly diverse fishmarkets, were blessed by an elephant at a Hindu temple, and sampled French pastries at an amazing bakery! The three of us then took a bus to a rural venue to see A.R. Rahman along with Bryan, Dianna, and some of their friends from Karigari. This was quite the experience- imagine 17,000 Indian fans, dozens of costume changes, backup dancers, musical guests, and fireworks along with one of the most popular artists in the country.
We also accompanied Bryan and Dianna to Trichy to stay with some students and celebrate Diwali with their family. Between climbing a huge hill that overlooked the entire village, having a private tour through a Hindu temple, and jumping from a 20 foot wall into a deep well, we will never forget our first Diwali.
In nine days we will be off on our travel break, and though I'm sad to leave RUHSA, I'm soooo ready to start trekking in the cool mountain air and to see some of the things North India has to offer! Poi Varein!
Above: Biking around the village. Below: In Pondy with Shruti