Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Coffee Plantation, an Elephant Camp & the Golden Temple (Jeffrey, ILR'15)

Coffee Plantation, Elephant Camp, and Golden Temple. To the casual observer, it might seem unlikely that these three things would be listed together, but then this person obviously has never been to India.  As we set off for our trip early in the morning, we were all looking forward to the long but exciting day ahead. 
The first stop of the day was the Coffee Plantation, which was located in a rain forest like region of Coorg, very unlike the urbanized Mysore from which we had departed. From an ILR perspective, the trip was informative because we got to learn about how the agricultural sector within India was being affected by the changes in the larger Indian labor market and also learn about the ways in which gender played a role in the division of labor on the Plantation.  We were treated to fresh bananas, coconuts, and oranges while we learned about various aspects of the Plantation’s operations. After that we took turns riding on what we came to affectionately call the “roller coaster,” as we stood on back of a flatbed and got to see more of the plantation as well as the living quarters of some of the staff at the farm. 
Following that and lunch, we departed for the Elephant Camp which was reached via a short riverboat ride. The highlight of this part of the day was being able get up close to the fully-grown elephants, some thing that we all knew we would never have been able to do in the United States. 
Some of the braver students took turn feeding the elephants bananas and also receiving blessings from the elephants. The trip served to reinforce our understanding variety of roles that elephants in the Indian culture.
The last place that we visited was the Golden Temple, which is Buddhist Tibetan temple.  Walking into the temple, we were greeted by three gigantic Buddha statues. The scale of the temple and its elaborate decoration really gave a sense of the importance that the Temple has to the Tibetan community of India. 
Overall, the day’s activities were highly memorable and though they were varied location, they all helped to give me a better understanding of the diverse range of lived experiences that exist within India.

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