I've been in Pune since Wednesday. It'sa pretty big collegetown in Maharashstra, about a 4 hour drive from my village here. Of course, when we came here it took about 7 hours. We caught a ride in the bank's bus which is currently set to become a mobile business school--it will be able to bring the services of the business school to women in more remote areas and do not have access to the branch locations where classes are currently being held.
The van needed to be brought to Pune to get fixed up to be a "mobile classroom." We spent about 2 hours sitting in a big autoshop on the outskirts of the city to figure out how we were going to design the school. It was pretty interesting, but there were some hardcore mosquitoes in the autoshop and i came looking like I had some wierd allergic outbreak.
After that was over the next day we decided to attend some workshop that is happening here. This girl who is a friend of the family to Chetna, the woman who runs our bank has set up a program that brings students from the UK to India and sets them up with various NGOs around the country. Part of the program is a 2 week long "training" in Pune where various left wing activists come and tell these kids who know nothing about India what a horrible, violent and backwards place it is. It was pretty amusing, and also rather infuriating at the same time.
We were lectured on caste and communalism. One guy did a lecture on how the third world is treated in the conventional human rights discourse.That was pretty interesting because the guy pointed to a lot of the misrepresentation of India and other global south countries and how foreigners tend to approach development in a very myopic way when they come to countries like India to do NGO work--it was sort of pissing off these kids because they were like "well, I came here to save India from itself, and youre telling me im an orientalist?" It was pretty funny to watch.
On friday there was a lecture on healthcare in India--this was probably the most fruitful thing I got out of the 2 days here because I didnt know much about public health in India and the man lecturing seemed more rational and objective then the people speaking before him about the other social justice topics.
I head back to Mhaswad tomorrow, probably by bus...hopefully I'll be alive to write another blog entry in the coming weeks.