A Leaky Boat

Hoshangabad, India —  The boat you see is a ferry system to cross the Narmada River. I just rode in the boat to this shore and know why the men are standing:  the bottom is full of water. As I rode across, I raised my legs as I sat on one of the benches, trying to balance my shoes on the curved side of the boat to avoid inundation. A memory of a doctor’s warning against touching open water sources in India flooded my head; but I could not have anticipated this adventure. Now on dry land, I am standing …

Women of Wenchang

After four months of working and living in northern India, I found myself captivated by the western-ness of China, particularly in regards to women. Deplaning in Guangzhou, China, I noticed women in short skirts and shorts, and couldn’t help but stare at their bare legs. I felt almost scandalized, and for a moment wondered if the young women were operating a second business (perhaps). But I also realized how my eyes had changed; I saw those women through the lens of a conservative culture. In northern India, I had been covered in shapeless modest clothes and long pants in even …

A Chicken Gets Plucked

For four weeks, I was a teacher assistant for undergraduate students in India, where they investigated Khirki Village, an urban village within New Delhi. On the first day exploring the village, several students and I came across a small alley where a man was plucking a chicken in his shop:  a folding table with a tented ceiling outside on the street. Young kids from the alleyway were gathered around to watch the action, and upon seeing us, the foreigners, their eyes grew at all the surrounding spectacles. I was struck by the children’s curiosity and timid openness to us. I …