Sunday, May 31, 2015

Adjusting to the Spice

A scene from the road in Hebbal, Mysore,
which is the neighborhood near our Hostel
Hello Everyone!

Here’s a bit on our first few days in India, although already we’ve done so much I feel like I’ve been here much longer than that. Most of the group arrived safely here in Mysore, and we’ve been settling in nicely since then.

The first order of business on Friday was to go shopping for the appropriate attire for our stay here (pictures definitely will speak for me on this one). Other than that, we got our first view of the city, ate our first meals (spicy, but so good!...we’re getting used to the flavors too) at the hostel, and got a quick glance of SVYM. We also all experienced the extreme exhaustion that comes with such a long trip.

The front of the palace during daytime
On Saturday we had our orientation, which began with a very nice ceremony welcoming us to SVYM. After a tour of the campus, we participated in a lamp-lighting ceremony and listened to words about SVYM’s mission as an organization. This part was especially interesting to me as Madame Sindhu, our program coordinator, stressed that India is at a “critical juncture” and that SVYM aims to catalyze India’s development through the growth of human capital. Not only does this mission statement resonate with me, but it also provides me with a deeper context for the reason for my project.

The temple at Chamundi Hill
Today the group toured Mysore, and this was truly an amazing experience. We started the day at the Mysore palace, where we learned not only the royal history of the city but also the city’s relationship with the British and how it gained independence. The palace was BEAUTIFUL, so beautiful in fact that we went back at night to see it lit up. Again, pictures will do it more justice than I can with words.

We also visited St. Philomena’s church and Chamundi Hill, at the top of which is a beautiful temple. We watched an offering ceremony inside the temple and took advantage of the spectacular views of Mysore from outside.

Before I sign off, I want to mention an observation/thought (among many) I’ve had over the first few days: why the sharp divide between wealth and poverty?  I noticed it driving through Bangalore on the way to Mysore and also a little bit here. I don’t know the answer, but through the newer presence big industries, like Infosys in Mysore, my thoughts turn to the need for high-skilled labor and the apparent lack of it.  Does training in particular industries contribute to wealth? Are there other avenues for upward mobility? I’m sure there are tons of answers to this question, and I definitely hope to explore them in classes (which start tomorrow!) these first two weeks).
A group of us in front of the palace,
which is only lit up on Sunday nights

Ok, that’s all for now!

All the best,

Abigail





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