India Day 20
I’m sitting in the local internet shop using internet to get my iPhone working with a local sim card and figured I’d write an entry as I wait. There are men sitting in the shop having a conversation in Assamese about me and the other Americans building the boat. There have been two channels at the build site interviewing us, and two corresponding airings of the footage and interviews. Today three men from India Times came by and interviewed us. That paper is printed distributed nationally, so staying under the radar is not an option at this point.
People have continued to live up to their reputation of being good hosts. We have been invited to many homes for tea, and invited back for meals. Everyone smiles excitedly asks questions with child like curiosity. I have learned so much about the Assamese culture thanks to the knowledge of the locals I’ve met. On the surface, the people of Dibrugarh seem to be of a god like race without worry or struggle, but as I’ve gotten to know them, I see that they are very real and have very real problems.
The poverty here is like nothing I’ve ever seen. In a way it is encouraging to see how conservative and resourceful an entire country can be, but it also shows how incredibly painful and destructive overpopulation can be. From what I can tell there are no sewers, just channels dug at surface level with stagnant water that contains every drop of human and animal waste that is produced in the city. Trash is thrown anywhere and everywhere, and the streets would be unrecognizable if it were all removed.
There is a nut that is chewed in a leaf called pan and most people chew it and it is spit rather than swallowed. The spit is red and all of the sidewalks and streets here are “painted” red. Cows roam free and would wander into peoples homes and shops if they weren’t shooed away. There are also stray dogs, goats, ducks, and geese. Any and all of the animals can be found in the middle of the road as the mass of traffic flows around it, horns blazing. A horn, by the way, is used as a beacon rather than a tool to communicate extreme emotions. There is almost a white noise of horns.
Intersections lean more towards the chaos side of the scale than the order side, and my attention is employed to the maximum when navigating them on my bike. I have seen five accidents since I’ve been here, so I wouldn’t say that there is a good traffic system in place. The roads are mostly in poor condition and many aren’t paved at all. Some of the problems with the roads are caused by flooding during the monsoon season.
My adventure crossing the river the other day yielded some interesting insight into the sanitation issue here. Apparently the government gives money to the poor villages on the river for sanitation units, but some of the families use the money for something else. They just go down to the bank of the river to go to the bathroom. It is a minefield and I have to take great care when approaching the water. when we took the boat across I walked out to it barefoot and got in. I tried not to think about what my feet and legs were immersed in.
I am slowly capturing a town, and a boat being built, and hopefully an adventure. I haven’t had too much time to reflect on the world that surrounds me lately, but I have a feeling that the answers to my questions about the film will become clear once I do. Today is a slow day and Daniel is feeling sick so we are all just doing our own thing and picking up where we left off tomorrow.
Until next time…