September 20, 2011 by sarahcasson
According to Navdanya staff, it should have taken us 4 hours by shared jeep to reach Jackwal Goan. It took us 13. Ooops. It wasn’t our fault. Instead, we waited awhile for shared jeeps to leave (they won’t until they are crammed packed, even if that means waiting 30 minutes for one more person), and the Navdanya ppl weren’t so right in their estimation of time.
While waiting for one jeep to leave, I scared a lady to tears by being white. You know, cause my skin is so pale and freckly that it TERRIFIED A LADY. Seeing people getting into th I jumped into the jeep next to her. Suddenly, she started looking uncomfortable and glancing sideways at me. Suddenly, she grabbed all her bags (there were a lot) and ran out of the car as far away as she could. She stood there crying staring at me while her husband tried to convince her to get back into the car. Finally (because I wanted to have the jeep leave and not wait around for a dumb lady to pull herself together), I moved to the back of the jeep.
Before I had been sitting in the middle row. This row faces frontwards (less car sickness), its relatively cushy and spaceous. Now, I was in the back. In the back you sit perpendicular to the front of the car, often without any window to look out (immense carsickness). You are cramped next to people whose body odor rubs onto you while your knees are constantly slammed into the person sitting opposite you as the car swings around curves. Basically, not so fun.
We finally arrived at Jackwal Goan. Its a small village that overlooks the Tehri Dam Reservoir. The Tehri Dam, as a sign says, is “One of the Highest Dams in the World.” I don’t know about that, but as far as large scale projects that are culturally and environmentally degrading, it was quite pretty. Blue water, green mountains…etc. The village itself was small with typical concrete houses painted white with brightly colored accents and mold creeping up the walls.
I didn’t actually see much of the village because our host (a Navdanya coordinator) seemed to think that the best way to show us hospitality was either forcably overfeed us or frog-march us to a nap. We spent the entire visit either stuffing down daal and rice (Bri was a trooper who threw up in her mouth and kept forcing food down. I would not have done this, but I can respect that.) or being watched (by their children to ensure we were resting) while we uncomfortably laid down on a stranger’s family bed.
We did do four “interviews” between the eating and pretending to sleep. I use quotes here because these interviews are worthless. Maybe, in a extremely positive light, they could be seen as a way to get a general understanding about perspectives on monsoons. But they were done in a manner that was a waste of time for all involved.
During the first interview, the interviewee got up and walked away. Not because she was offended, she just was bored of the questions. The Navdanya coordinator (asking the questions in Hindi/Garwahli, acting as my translator) didn’t do anything about it. Instead, she just filled out the rest of the interview as if nothing had happened. And then this happened with the second interview.
Both interviewees happily signed the survey (when asked by the coordinator) to indicate these answers were true. At this point, I realized the other interviews would probably follow the same pattern and told the Navdanya coordinator I only needed four. I thought this a good number that was not overwhelming but also didn’t seem too small. During our after lunch forced rest, I woke up to find the Navdanya coordinator sitting on the floor filling out the last two interviews. When she saw me staring at her, surprised, she asked “You needed four, right?” She found someone to sign the surveys.
The previous village I went to was not much better in terms of ethically collecting qualitative data (The living arrangements, however, were much more pleasant. No small children watched me “sleep.”). This coordinator already knew what answers he thought I wanted from the questions. When someone didn’t know an answer (something that was of interest to me, since I wanted to know what information was known where and by whom) he would ask such leading questions that eventually all the surveys had basically the same answers.
In both villages, I tried to explain what I wanted and why, but perhaps language or cultural barriers prevented me from properly getting my point understood. I may not have learned much about many people’s perspectives on agriculture, water and livestock in relation to a variable monsoon. I have, however, learned a lot about data collection, different cultural perspectives on what is important, and that I really, truly hate being force-fed multiple servings of various dairy products.