Friday, August 1, 2008

journal entry: june 9, 2008

We missed out on yoga today due to a down pour.  I woke up to the sound of rain pounding on the tin roof of the guest house.  It wasn't an unpleasant way to wake up, but did make me feel slightly apprehensive about the continuation of the bus journey from yesterday.  We didn't reach our original destination due to the four hour mud slide delay.

Again Pavlos sat with me and told me about the different crops and other indigenous medicinal plants.  As we climbed the mountain, we entered a pine forest.  On the trees I noticed cuts and small collecting bins.  I was so excited to see that the trees were being tapped for resin, and that I actually knew what it was.  The species of pine, which I was able to identify using Pavlos's book which I'm currently reading, was Pinus roxburghii.  I like names with two i's.  The resin collected is used in the production of varnishes, paints, and turpentine much as they are in the US.  Swami K yelled from the back of the bus and asked me if it was rubber tapping.  I was quite honored to have my brain tapped for information.  Oh puns!  How I love thee.

We came around one curve and had to come to a complete stop.  This time a car had fallen from the road slightly up on the hill from us and was on its side.  The men of the bus immediately jumped out and were helping get people out and flip the car over.  The women of the group had to stay on the bus.  I felt helpless and trapped.  While it was terrifying and nerve racking it was a wonderful display of people coming together.  While I understand why Cameraman would want to document the experience, I felt it was inappropriate due to the driver's disorientation and injury, as well as exposure and vulnerability.  I felt he should be helping instead of filming.  He's such a strong person, his muscles could really have been utilized more effectively.  Most of us on the bus were outraged that he was filming.  Columbia ended up asking him to stop.  I guess I'm mostly upset about his lack of sensitivity to personal space and desire for privacy during a moment of vulnerability.  Then again, the spheres of public and private are different here and boundaries of what is personal is rather unclear.  Many times I wonder if there is personal space in the Indian context.  Perhaps I should think more and figure out my exact thoughts and feelings on this issue and discuss it again later.

Luckily no one was terribly hurt and we were able to continue on our adventure.  Cameraman was very quiet the rest of the ride.  Could have also been due to his being sick.  Everyone has been getting sick.  I've been perfectly fine, aside from slight diarrhea which apparently is typical of spending time in India.  Perhaps I'm a freak of nature or something.  Or maybe its from all the sketchy things I've eaten off the floor or licked so my sis didn't get it for years.  I can't wait to gloat to Karebear and Greenie.  They've been trying to break me of my germ embracing habits for quite some time.


We just had a group meeting about awareness of the group within the cultural context.  I don't think I was being personally attacked, but I left feeling extremely guilty and bad about myself.  Not a difficult thing to do... but still, I haven't really felt like this since I've been in country.  I'm trying as hard as I possibly can to be aware and conscious about how my actions, reactions, appearance, and interactions effect the group, Columbia and Berkley, Negiji, Pavlos, and the people from Navdanya we're working with.  I'm personally hurt  they didn't feel they could take us to meet the woman we were suppose to meet today.  Apparently she's an expert on local plant use.  I'm upset I didn't get to hear her speak.  I've been on what I consider my best behavior, and highly bothered that Columbia and Berkley were even questioning such.  Are we that offensive?  I've been personally offended several times, but have tried to let it go and not get to me.  "Pep talks" like tonight's leave me feeling frustrated and self loathing.  I know in some way I've contributed to the overall frustration felt by the leaders towards the entire group, since I am part of the group, but I never imagined I could cause them to doubt being allowed to work with Navdanya in the future.  I'm trying to be as low maintenance as possible, but right this moment I feel like I must seem like a spoiled, snotty, privileged princess.  Silly me.  I thought we were all doing relatively well aside from getting sick, which really can't be helped.  I haven't complained at all about the fact that I haven't been able to call or check my email in over a week.  I miss people.  I miss talking to them, but I'm carrying on without a word.  Right now it's taking all my energy to externally stay calm and rational.  

Slightly more upbeat and positive... I did have a wonderful conversation with Columbia, WordMaster, and Mr. Michael over dinner about GMOs (genetically modified organisms), global food production, and the Navdanya philosophy as I understand it.  Honestly I was quite surprised by the facts and arguments coming out of my own mouth.  It was sort of an out of body experience were I somehow sat next to myself and thought "hot damn! she's so BA (bad ass... I like to abbreviate it B.A.  Dane Cook reference everyone.)!"  As conceited as this may sound, I was really impressed with myself.  These experiences of being impressed with my own intelligence are REALLY refreshing.  I never feel intelligent.  I always feel like I've tricked everyone into thinking I've got a fucking clue.  I believe this is one of my first of many transformations.  I'm trying to focus on that right now to keep from throwing things or saying things I will possibly want to take back later.  

Another positive to focus on, I bonded with Mr. Michael today.  We went on a walk and discussed the gender differences in our travel experiences, where we've previously traveled, and politics as they were when we left.  All I know at this time is that Obama is the Democratic candidate, Gweneth Paltrow is a karaoke star, and Will Smith is king of Hollywood.  All highly newsworthy things from the Western side of planet earth.  Sarcasm.  Truthfully, I'm really jealous of the difference in experiences the men in the group have had.  I wonder what it would be like to travel in India as a man.  It's hard traveling here as a woman, but I think I'm getting a stronger more aware feminist vantage point from this exposure.

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