Tuesday, January 7, 2014

White-breasted Woodswallow: Neterhat, state of Jharkhand, India, Magnolia Sunset Point, Netarhat Regional School, Neterhat Notes, Internet and wiki WUaS in Nalanda and Betla and India, Communication and language in India

Woke up in Netarhat this morning in beautiful hilly area of Jharkhand, far from the busy-ness of Indian cities, in as quiet a place as Ooty (Udhagamandalam), in the Nilgiri hills, in the south in around 2004, - in the south of India.

No hot water or heat, or shower, or laundry machines, and a cool, damp room were part of it (so I slept in my clothes, and relatively long and warmly), but after a sunset at Magnolia Sunset Point, -

on a road past the beautiful Netarhat Regional School (which could almost be a Fettes College, in Scotland, which I attended from 1976-1977 – a British Public School complete with multiple football pitches, with buildings in a circle, beautifully) –

where Magnolia, a British Maiden jumped her horse off a cliff because she couldn’t consummate a relationship with an Indian shepherd, which is memorialized in quite plasticky sculptures, and where I met Adit Ram (a journalist who has studied in Cardiff, Wales, and who also works for the HT) and Prit Jh (with a Tourism MBA) and Gaut Sing and Amit, all from Ranchi, where Adit was ‘covering the sunset,’ and most of whom speak good English, the Prabhat Vihar hotel (in a 'chain' of government owned hotelts with the Van Vihar hotel) was a nice place to stay. Adit and Prit are doing journalistic work on Tourism sites in Jharkhand. Like most Indians, they are both encouraging and welcoming and supportive and warm, and while these are quite educated, and modern, Indians have much less material resources than people in the US. This morning they gave me a 2012 guidebook to Jharkhand, called “Jharkhand: The Hidden Jewel” edited by Swati Mitra, New Dehli, India: Goodearth Publications. Thank you!

Indians celebrate a lot. This morning I had heard that people were going to get up for the sunrise around 5:45 am. Two people knocked on my door, including my pilot / driver, Tasauar-Ansari, a little after 6. I locked my door and went up to the roof. I was surprised when most of the people in the hotel, it seems, were up for the sunrise by 6:30 it seems – a sunrise party on the roof. Where else but in India would one find a festive sunrise celebration, of people simply watching and photographing the sunrise? And I was glad to see Adit, Prit, Gaut and Amit again. We talked a fair amount more.

Traveling through beautiful Jharkand

Various sites
Life in rural, beautiful India

Paying extra for meals for Tasauar-Ansari (Driver) and Aman (Guide) unexpectedly was interesting experience, since Vishwajit Giri (in Kolkata) and Mr. Roy (in Betla) hadn’t talked about this, and while the amounts were nominal, it gave me a feel for paying people eventually at World University and School, and wanting to pick and hire the best possible people. I was a little annoyed at the 50 Rupee per meal costs, and while all of 90 cents or so, for each meal, its unexpectedness and our Jharkhand tours or Betla tours, took me surprise, and I felt caught in a web of sociality. In a way, in this very small business situation, Tasauar-Ansari was the driver, and hired by Betla, and Aman, as the guide, and a kind of tag along, and I gave Aman 200 rupees yesterday as guide, and Tasauar-Ansari was presumably going to get paid by Betla Tours. He was driving a nice and comfortable Indigo brand car, his brother’s car, who lives in Dubai or Saudi Arablia. It was a five hour trip back to Betla from Ranchi. And I was able to hire this two Indian lads, so they earned some money over a couple of days. (How could I pay more, but for different work is a good learning question, vis-à-vis WUaS?)

Tasauar-Ansari (Driver – around 26 and a skillful, relaxed driver) and Aman (Guide – around 20 with only slightly more English than Tasauar-Ansari)
Both are from Betla
Tasauar-Ansari had 4 kids at home, and Aman isn’t yet married.

I rode with them for 36 hours, and their norms and language were interesting to observe. I definitely want to help in India. 

Internet and wiki WUaS in Nalanda and Betla

Navin Kumar was able to google the Indian Wikipedia in Nalanda on his mobile phone

And a man was able to google both World University and School’s and my own home page – http://scottmacleod.com - on his mobile phone in front of the Betla Tours office in Betla

There are relatively few walls in India, in houses, in sociality, in driving (with few lines on the roads, and a honk and move ahead style of driving), and metaphorically, as well. 

Lack of money in India, and relative harmoniousness, due to the religiosity, I’d hazard …

Talking with Gaut, Prit and Ami this morning … about Jharkhand as a new state in terms of economics, history and politics - subjects Indians don't go to readily, in my experience.

The potential for World University and School in India, - and in Jharkland, in particular?

So many people need and want jobs here, and WUaS could hire them, but managing them would be interesting … both lack of perfect English and lack of norms for work and good work could be an issue …

Google Hangout with Adit and vis-à-vis getting the WUaS word out … ?

Communication and language in India … missed communication, miscommunication, and dropped communication … language is spoken, not understood, and is dropped, and begins again … in the car with two non-English speakers such as Tasauar-Ansari and Aman

Just gave this contact information to a young man from Orissa sitting next to me -

Heading on the 15:55 train to Bhubaneswar from Ranchi, where Rinku Nath will pick me up at 4:45 am and take me to Hotel Upasana and site seeing in the morning, now under the auspices of a different travel agency, Akma Travels, organized by Gau Pod, whom I liked a lot.

Spending two days in travel agencies in Kolkata a few days ago, about 4 and 5 visits to each, with Main Majumder has been invaluable.

It surprises me how few Westerners and foreigners I’m seeing, but also appreciative of even the little bits of foreign currency that a few tourists bring in for India.

Prabhat Vihar Hotel seemed to have so many people ‘on staff’ and probably could pay them a pittance or even nothing at all.

How can WUaS tie its education into the great need for jobs and income in this country?

And, like Google, could WUaS first start an office here?

So many people have come up asking to connect with “email ID” or take a photo, and with such a huge population, there is endless need, and very little opportunity. And Indian philosophy seems to soften people, and focus them inwardly, and on their deities – someone just said Indians have 27 million deities, and everybody bumps along, even as trash piles up on the side of the road, and so many buildings are either dilapidated or unbuilt. The standard of engineering can allow a large new bridge to collapse in two places (took a photo of this) over the Koyle River where Tasauar-Ansari and Aman first had a picnic, and even a focus on getting more money is probably problematic religiously, and the people I’ve met haven’t found their way to the stock market in India or all the financial thinking and culture that goes on in the U.S.

There are many budding industries here that would involve great changes in cultural practices in India. For example, a waste disposal industry would hire many, and involve setting up dumps in every village and town, and a media education campaign, could similarly create jobs. It’s big business in the U.S. for example. But I wonder if there’s a kind of inertia to change. The trains are old, but much used. There are a few nice cars, but many use bicycles, rickshaws and area on foot. Workmen and work-women in saris do bridge repairs in bare feet (men), or carry lumber on their heads (women). There’s kind of inertia here, and no clear plan anyway with so many people, possibly partly due to religion, yet India is an ancient beautiful song.

Harbin Hot Springs on the India hotel model? Sort of …

India is an ancient beautiful song.

Riding the elephant with Imam Udin as the elephant driver was great. Was he the Imam of the Mosque in Betla? He was delightful in quite a few ways.

And seeing the teeming, ancient, monkeys (red-faced and with red behinds), deer, and other abundant animals was cool.

The elephant seemed to be dancing and smiling a little later as she came in from another ride, and I was dancing with here.

Hope to get access to the Internet and blogging today or tomorrow, and re WUaS’s monthly business meeting on Saturday.

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