May 2011

In the heat of a north Indian summer afternoon, I was asleep on a traditional Indian bed under a shady tree surrounded by paddy fields. The farmhouse, which had become my home for the 10 days I spent conducting research in villages of Uttar Pradesh, was nearby. Jagatpal, my friend and research assistant, lay next to me; we were resting following a morning of household interviews as we awaited the heat to calm before continuing with more work. We awoke, greeted by our farmhouse host and a visiting Panjabi family, a family of Punjabi singers, who offered to share a song, a private concert we nor they had anticipated.

“Dil vi diwana mera mein vi diwani” (“My heart is crazy for you and me too”)

For the second phase of field research, I shifted from Haryana west to Uttar Pradesh. I conducted three additional village case studies to close out the thesis field research. Below are photos from the weeks I spent in UP. Most of the photos were taken during household interviews in the three villages. Note that clicking on the photos brings up the full size image.

 

View from the afternoon nap spot under a tree, overlooking the fields. When we arrived in the village, wheat had just been harvested. Within just a few days the fields were plowed, flooded and planted. Our host, the farmer, hires a group of 10 West Bengalis, paddy experts, every season. They earn 1400 Rs (30 USD) per acre planted. They would complete planting the 20 acres within 5 days! 
Bareilly town is the district capital, where I spent the first 4 days in a government guest house. Jagat and I were well taken care of by the government officials, who provided all housing, food and transport at no cost.
We were fortunate to stay with an excellent host family in a village of Uttar Pradesh while carrying out research in the surrounding area. Our family’s hospitality was exceptional . . . delicious Indian food, sleeping under the stars every night (under a mosquito net) and baths every day in the cool water of the tube well. Even though research was tiring, the heat was intense and my stomach was suffering from the water quality in the surrounding villages (the water at the house was no problem), we were able to relax and recuperate daily with our family.
Wheat harvest, packed and ready for sale. Buyers come from afar to purchase the crops grown by our host family.
Village household interviews underway. Uttar Pradesh villages were much more poor than Haryana villages. There was no running water and many households are made of mud and cow dung, and don’t have electricity.

 

The buffalo is the most important member of the rural Indian family. Milking underway.
A few villagers resting in the afternoon heat.

 

Flavored ice!
Women from a lower caste. Due to caste discrimination, they have not received any government assistance for toilet construction, though 60% of the community has.

 

 

A little open defecator . . .

Village women threshing mustard, which will then be ground into mustard oil for use in cooking and other applications.
Weekly market nearby the research area.
Red chilis

The most important component of Indian kitchen, spices.

Government primary school in one village. Although all 7 schools in the 3 villages I worked in had toilets, each and every one was totally full and out of use. If the children need to “go” during the school day, they walk to the farm field.
Community focus group discussion. In this discussion, villagers were explaining why they prefer to relieve themselves in the fields rather than in toilets. They quite liked going to the bathroom outside.
Clothes washing underway, with water from the common Mark IV hand pump. These pumps are ubiquitous in Indian rural villages, provided by the government.
Many villages have ponds which collect the liquid waste from the village drainage system. A happy family taking lunch.
This village was being eaten by the river. In the last year 4 houses were consumed, and more will be in the coming months and years.

 

The three research villages each had about 300 households, and 20%, 60% and 25% of households had toilets from recent sanitation projects, respectively. Even at households where toilets were constructed, many were out of use. The photo to the upper left shows a common sight, cow dung cake storage. Toilets provide a convenient way to keep the cooking fuel dry. The photo to the upper right was also out of use, but might be a bit leaky on the substructure end if it had been used! The photo below shows a toilet partially constructed and unused.

 

Every village has a sweeper to keep streets and drains clean. It’s a dirty job.
Helping plow the field after wheat harvesting in preparation for paddy planting in the fields of my host family.

Due to dirty water in villages, I spent a day in bed with stomach problems. I was never lonely though as I was always well cared for.

 

Host family photo. The family had two grandparents, their two sons and daughter-in-laws, their daughter and 3 grandchildren. Jagatpal, my friend and research assistant is to the upper left. This is a Panjabi Sikh family.
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