Random Thoughts Half Way Through My Trip

Trip Start Jul 26, 2008
Trip End Sep 27, 2008

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Flag of India  , Andhra Pradesh,
Monday, August 25, 2008

Random Thoughts

My trip is going amazingly well with one peak experience after another.  My hosts have set up the most amazing meetings - in every case with the CEO of the organizations I am visiting.  Although there have been many many changes constantly in my schedule - they have almost all somehow worked out for the better.

I keep describing myself as the dependent of my hosts - and that is sure the truth.  I think they too have learned relative to how to put together such a complex trip and keep this first time visitor to India mostly in his comfort zone.  I am also doing some of my own networking and meeting people who want me to also visit with them and their organizations. I will be doing two of those this Wednesday.  I am also getting quite comfortable with the phone system, making my own airline reservations, etc.  Almost everyone uses their cell phones for their primary and personal phone and it is quite easy to get in contact with these CEO's by cell phone night's, Sunday's, etc - and they have been most gracious to me, to the point of coming to my hotel to personally pick me up to go to their companies - which I immensely appreciate.

There have been times when each of my hosts has had to change their own plans, not be able to be with me when they had planned/hoped and were dealing with their own crisis/challenges. Niranjan, my primary host had to do that particularly early in my trip when he needed to work through some issues at Nirantara as well as be with a wife who is expecting a baby momentarily.  Niranjan's friend Vikash who I met at Grameen Koota early in the trip stepped in to fill the gap and has set up some amazing meetings for me and has taken on the role of sharing the putting together of my trip with Niranjan.  While here in Hyderabad they connected me with Raman who was a wonderful overseer of my visit here and took on the role of my driver/escort when I was having so much trouble having auto rickshaw drivers find where I was supposed to be going - which is actually a major challenge when there are almost no road signs, etc. Dr. Kulkarni was particularly important to me when we were together in Bali and he kindly prepared me for what I would encounter and how best to deal with the challenges of a new traveler in India.  Since then Dr. Kulkarni has had to respond to major challenges, including being with Muhammad Yunus for a number of days in India and dealing with a crisis in Assam, where Grameen Trust has recently started up new activities and is now in great turmoil.  Dr. Kulkarni has had to cancel all our plans together to go to Dhaka and Assam to deal with this crisis - so I am not likely to be able to see him again on this trip.

India has immense contrasts.  Its roads are for the most part horrible.  Traffic is a maze of trucks, busses, cars, motorcycles and pedestrians all trying to navigate around the constant chuck holes, wild - survival of the fittest driving, intermingled with animals in the road and pedestrians weaving in and out of it - with no one paying any attention to traffic lights, which side of the road to drive on, etc.  The trash is strewn throughout most everywhere you go.  I have recently been surprised that there are actually some trash trucks here.  It appears that culturally many/most Indians are oblivious to it and don't care.  The wild pigs, dogs, cattle, buffalo, etc live in and out of the trash - seemingly without any owners.  India desperately needs an environmental movement - which some (some that I am visiting) are leading.  It seems like all of India has power outages at least daily, some planned/scheduled and some unplanned. 

But there are also some amazing things going on in India by some incredible people and organizations - some of which I have already blogged on and others that I have already visited but have not yet been able to blog on. I will be sharing some things that are happening in India that are total state of the art and beyond anything else going on in the United States or anywhere in the world.  I had the privilege of being invited to the unveiling of such very major, leading edge program.

I continue to be amazed by the incredibly beautiful outfits that the non-Muslim Indian women wear.  The materials are stunning and vibrant. I have been studying the Muslim women's outfits, and interestingly enough, under the black berka's they seem to be wearing outfits equally colorful to the outer dress of the non-Muslim women.  They may also be wearing beautiful sandals and foot/ankle jewelry and some have some color in their outer outfits - including a bright gold head peace or a bright gold purse or even some color in the black outfits.  I am reluctant to try to shoot such photos - so I can't show it to you.

Yesterday - Sunday I went to an English speaking Methodist Church, where I had met the Pastor - Dr. Paul a week before (after church) and talked to him about microcredit and he showed interest in including it in the programs of his remote church's.  The two hour service was lead by another minister who seemed to be in charge of the higher level of Methodist Churches in the area.

Last night I went out walking about 7:30 PM.  I found a huge crowd trying to get in to a Sri Krishna service.  I noted that the women seemed to be in even more beautiful Indian Garb.  (I don't yet have the outfits fully figured out.  The older women seem to be in full saris, while at the same time the younger women and teens are in different but equally stunning outfits.)  In the same area I ran into a line of probably over 100 of the auto rickshaws in a single file line to get liquid petrol gas.

I have now, like all Indian's, become totally immune to the constant noise of horns coming from all directions.   No one pays any more attention to them then they do to street lights.

My hosts have been exposing me to additional elements and programs to aid those who's life's circumstances (many by who they were born to and where) have not been as fortunate as others of us.  Microcredit is just one of the ways that capital has become available to the poor.  In India there are Self Help Group's and Cooperatives that also do that.  I have met with this country's two top leaders in these fields and seen these operations in the villages.  I will write comparing these three approaches after returning home.  I am stilling learning much about them.  I visited with a fabulous program that rescues kids off of the streets - which I will blog on later.
It is clear to me that India and its people are an integral part of my life and I will be coming along side some of these incredible people and doing what I can to make a difference here.  I am now on the advisory committee of Vikash and his work, I am a "Virtual Counselor" to Byrraju (more on that in future blogs) and am in discussions to go on the Board of Directors of another organization.

Several of these CEO's and Guru's/Teachers in their fields have agreed to participate in teleconferencing lectures that I hope to create with California State University Channel Islands and their upcoming Social Business Institute and/or with the University of California at Santa Barbara programs that are emerging there.  Vikash has indicated a desire to help pull together such a program.  Vikash and others have expressed the desire to spend time in California as a part of such a program.

The weather has been quite good - somewhat on the hot side - but not overwhelming so.  Although there has been a bit of rain - it has not come at critical times and has not had any negative impact on my trip.
I have gone through a bit of diarrhea and am just getting over a cold - but I think that is par for the course.

I better end for now and load up some of the pictures that go with some that will tell you more.
I always look forward to hearing from any of you.  I am also encouraging my new friends in India to start commenting and adding their perspectives to this blog.  That would greatly enrich all of our experiences.
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