I have a 30 minute commute to work everyday. From my house I follow a trail along the mountainside peering at the valley below and the Greater Himalaya rising up from the horizon. As autumn colors begin to fade into winter, the haze over the valley is replaced by crystal clear cold air. The shade is chilling now and the sun revered, but the views granted by the clarity of cold of winter skies seem to make the dropping temperatures worthwhile. The view on my walk to work this morning was the best I’ve seen of the snow-capped peaks, and my awe of them remains as I arrive to commence my work of the day.
Plenty of conversations have been happening of late about how different the way of life and work is here. At first, everything seems slow and even stagnant as if we are wading through mud to get anything done. But after some time it becomes clear that the mud we often feel stuck in is the expectations and attachments we carry in our minds. We have certain ideas based on our own experiences and conditioning of how the days ought to go both in the work place and at home. Coming from the West I find that I tend to compartmentalize time as if it were something I could stick into the perfect size Tupperware in order to make it last longer. While I might be able to carry on with this delusion for sometime back in the states, it just doesn’t work here. In these mountains time is no more consistent than the breeze that rustles the forest only to leave it still again. There is no use wishing for flux when there is flow or flow when there is flux. Thus I have been learning, sometimes the hard way, to pay more attention to the changing breeze rather than being confined to the plans and timelines I make for myself. There is a saying that I like very much…You make your plans and then life happens. I suppose we ought to let life happen and stop getting in the way.
One way all of this has played out for me has been my projects for work. They have evolved quite a bit since my arrival and I expect them to continue to change as different factors become more and less important. I talked previously about my first visit to the field which was part of a plan to carry out work in the Drinking Water and the Smokeless Chulha projects. While I am technically still involved in these projects, they have been on the back burner for some time. Doing fieldwork is quite tricky when you don’t know much Hindi, and so my plans have been postponed until it fits into the schedules of others. In the meantime, my focus has been working for Aarohi’s Livelihoods Promotion Program (LPP). LPP is entering into a new phase so to speak, and I am helping them figure out just how they are going to achieve various goals they have set that will hopefully lead to greater income generation from the local farmers who benefit from the farmers. Despite the occasional mundane task load, I have enjoyed becoming part of LPP’s efforts and hope to see the fruits of our labor start showing before I leave. And so my work is rather spread out. In a couple of weeks my focus will turn to testing water in Okhalkanda, and Feburary and March may involve lots of work on the Chulha project. And between all of these things are the amazing views of the Himalayas, occasional trips to meet with friends and becoming closer with the people I have connected with in Satoli. For all of this I am grateful.