Moving in on Haryana!

After the 4 weeks in Delhi, I spent 1 week in Nainital and in Lucknow, the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh. I stayed with the family of Vinod Mishra, my Indian research advisor, in Lucknow while helping him with a conference publication and working on my research proposal further. We submitted the publication and the research proposal last week. The publication was accepted for presentation at the conference, which will take place in Loughborough in July. I’m still waiting to hear back if I will receive the research funding from the Government of India. I applied for about $12k to cover costs for lodging, transport, research assistants and all and should hear back within 2-3 weeks. So, my field research is now impending. I am in Chandigarh, the capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana. It is the wealthiest, cleanest city of India. It feels a lot like home actually. I’m couch surfing here, staying with students of Panjab University. It’s been great to meet so many Punjabi students, live on campus and learn about life here in northwest India. I also had the opportunity to visit Gajewas, a village of 3500 people in eastern Punjab and home town of my friend Amandeep. I’ll be in Chandigarh for about 2 more weeks while I complete preparations for field research. Then I’ll be off to some villages in Haryana for the research.
I am staying with students from Panjab University in Chandigarh via Couch Surfing. I stayed in the student dorm for the first few nights and am now putting up in an apartment nearby where the students stay sometimes. The second night in Chandigarh was also Manraj’s (3rd from left) 22nd birthday, so we had a little celebration on campus. Chandigarh is the first planned city of India, designed by French architect Le Corbusier in the 1950s. It is also the cleanest and wealthiest city of India by per capita income.
Panjab University is a school of 10,000+ students in Chandigarh. Here are some students near the student center. The campus is small, clean and full of many students.
While in Chandigarh I am couch surfing with Punjabi friends. After contacting Honey through Couch Surfing, I had the opportunity to become part of the Panjab University students staying in the hostel. Above Honey and I were meeting for the first time in the hostel.
Near Jaintidam outside of Chandigarh enjoying the evening and sunset in the Shivalak Hills, the foothills to the Himalayas.
With some Indian students at Panjab University.

Chandigarh’s Rose Festival took place over 3 days in late February.

More shots from the Rose Festival.
Camel ride anyone? It was one of many rides available at the Rose Festival.
Last weekend I was able to visit the home of Amandeep (‘Peace Lamp’ is the meaning, all Punjabi names mean something), one my friends from the University. Amandeep’s family lives on a 30 acre farm in eastern Punjab, about 70 miles from Chandigarh. Thus there is almost no inorganic waste. All food they eat and household fuel they use comes from the farm, most importantly from the cows. Meals includes buttermilk, butter, yogurt, parathna (flat bread with vegetables inside, cooked in butter), some type of cooked vegetables (with butter!) and other small flavorful side dishes such as chutney and pickle. Then custard for dessert, after dinner. The food was delicious. The food is cooked with biogas from a digester that runs on cow dung. The cows live well here. Village life was very interesting to experience and very peaceful too.
Taking an early morning walk around the Dhillon Niwas (name of farm) we came upon one of the families 5 shallow electric wells used for irrigation.
 
Aman with family home in the background.

Amandeep’s family grows wheat and rice paddy for sale, along with other vegetables for home use. Wheat season is now here; the crop will be harvested in April/May and then the paddy will be planted soon after. So, before harvesting everyone is relaxing in the village. They live simply and without much need for outside products. All food consumed is produced at home!

Amandeep with nephew Harnoor (meaning “God’s Light”). Most people living in villages stay close to family. Land is inherited by sons, who live together for life. Daughters are married off in arranged marriages, and actually because of this traditional practice of male inheritance there is a huge problem with female infanticide here (sons are preferred over females). As a result there is a serious shortage of females in Punjab. On Amandeep’s family farm, his mother and father, older brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, cousins, maternal and paternal grandparents all live together. Harnoor’s grandparents spend much time taking care of him and their granddaughter. Meanwhile, the parents of Harnoor and his sister take many of the household responsibilities. The practice of communal sharing is very high in India. And so, family pride means everything here.

Amandeep’s village contains about 700 homes with 3500 residents. The small village is surrounded by some of Indian’s richer agricultural lands. The village has a Gurudwara (Sikh temple) as well as a large Hindu temple, seen above.
The village beach . . . actually this is the village pond where gray water is collected from the households through a drainage system. Toilets are not linked to this water body, instead households are using septic tanks for human waste.

Buffalo sitting in front of traditional Punjabi doorway from early 20th century in the center of the village. The doorway is surrounded by cow dung cakes which are drying for use as cooking fuel. Regardless of a household’s wealth or access to electricity or LPG for cooking, all families still make use of dung cakes for baking certain types of food. The ash can then be used for cleaning hands as it can function as an antiseptic.

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