Friday, May 27, 2011

step by step...

 Step by step I am learning how to garden in arid conditions on sandy soil, with out access to all the organic inputs i have always been able to lay my hands on....I am a commited orgainc/ biodynamic gardener,never used chemicals in my life.
Here there is no seaweed, no gypsum or dolomite....not much in the way of nutricious mulches....locals use a very small amount of urea, some animal dung and poison sprays for pests.
some things grow really well in our conditions- eggplant is rocking on far better that i have ever experienced, tomoatos are getting something weird and the chipmunks are eating the few fruit so not so successful.
I used urea on the garden sprinkling it around vaguely thinking of it as plant food- but no it is really plant anhilator if you don't know what you are doing.....
 Oh well, at the moment my poor garden resembles the desert, back to square one....our eggplant patch is rocking on....although Praveen was less than excited when I said we will have to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
These are mogra [Indian jasmine] and so lovely, they have been in the water for 3 days now and still perfuming the air all day long, with roses you can smell them in the freshness of the morning but as the day heats up it overwhelms there perfume....not so with Mogra. Down in south India it is the habit for ladies to make garlands of these and wear them in their would smell like heaven all day long.

Some difficult social things are staring to happen as everyone local is getting to know us....people want to work for us, or they want us to lend them we have had 2 different families in 2 days saying ohh Madam likes my daughter [yes I speak politley to people and like to make the occasional joke, if they do a good job I will give them that feed back- all at not the Indian way, you don't speak much to staff and never praise for good work, as to being so informal as to have jokes and laughs....]
they have suggested we should adopt there daughters [girls/women of about 20] they are trying to ensure they have a job cleaning our house, and I know they are very poor families but it really pisses my off.
If they get their claws into you like that, it is just as likely the young women is no longer a good worker, the rest of the family, all 90 million of them would have no qulams about turning up with their hands out.... we have a lot of family in Delhi, Praveen's own blood relatives, some are good and get on with life, one or two are extremely lazy and dump eveything on his shoulders as the head of the family....NO WAY are we setting ourselves up for more of this.
It is so difficult here sometimes....people are poor, hard to imagine how poor people can be if you can't have our experience on the ground. and anything that might make life a little easier or ensure regular income, of course they want....but we are struggling or at least having to work extremely hard to egt by in our own way and are simply not going to be a handout for every hard luck story that comes by.
We give water to many families...we were worried our well was running dry but it was simply a power problem, electricity not strong enough to run the pump and we are mangaing better to take advantage of strong power as soon as it comes on.....that is an act of charity we choose to do, it means many families have quite a few less kilometres a day to walk to get one local would consider doing this for their neighbours, who would pay the electricity bill? we do it because we feel it is a good thing, not because we are idiots who are going to fall for every story that comes by.....

It makes me angry, we are not seen as people, we are seen as wealthy fools and you know the old addage "A fool and their money are soon parted" I know who would like to do that.

Ohh excuse my venting....sometimes it is difficult having any type of normal relationship here, when we are both outsiders to the area and financially we are not on equal footing to our neighbours. I can see they might look over the fence enviuosly but with my upbringing you would never ask for anything from anyone...."Indian culture is different, Indian thinking is different my dear" poor Praveen must say that a million times some weeks as he tries to explain what is going on, it is hard for him as well but he is half prepared.......

1 comment:

Chris Lines said...

I am just enjoying a few quiet moments sitting here reading your blog Fiona, I try to check in about once a week to see what you are up to. Plus, its a way for you to know that there are people put there reading about your life. I read this and I could just imagine how you are feeling, how these problems can eat away at you and so difficult to know what to do when your home cultural values are quite different. There is no room for poilteness when people are desperate - to them it is worth a try asking if you will take on their daughters as servants, house them, feed them just because you were nice to them and you showed them respect as other human beings. I guess the way through is just to be firm but polite about your 'policy' on all things. Water is essential to life and it's a humanitarian act to give it, so no 1, you are already doing something charitable for your neighbours. No 2 , your purpose of being there is to live your life as part of that community and what you do with the Stitching Project and sewing workshop, Shakti, and other enterprises is your way of doing that. Is there a way that you can point that out and at the same time make it clear that in YOUR culture and YOUR home, you do not take any more employees than you already have. It's a bit like that situation you were in a while back , where you were getting women producing sub-standard work and all watching to see how you would react and deal with it - you are being tested again, it seems and eventually everyone around you will know who you are and understand your ways and doings but as you learned before, its probably important to establish that early on in the game.... I do feel for you, you have taken such a lot on and you are doing such fantastic and inspiring things. Anyway, you are a tough cookie and its good to get the ground rules established so your life is not full of difficulties like this every day.It may be that you have play the role of the Memsahib but it does not mean that you have to feel bad. As I say, one day I will come out there on a Rajasthan tour and see for myself. My little trip to Bangladesh did give me an inkling of what its like for you, though and that extreme poverty