My days at SMSF usually start at about 6:30AM when I wake up in my on-campus flat-let. Or, at least, that’s when my alarm blares its repetitive and piercing siren. I don’t usually muster the motivation to leave my bed until 7AM. I then attend to all of the routine and often mundane tasks of getting ready for the day. Music usually helps me add some fun to the beginning of the day. You can bet your bottom dollar I’m jamming out to “How Far I’ll Go” from the Moana soundtrack on a daily basis. 😄 That aside, by the time I brush my teeth, apply insect-repellent lotion, “make” my bed, organize my backpack, and grab one of my antimalarial pills, it’s time to head downstairs, outside, and around a corner to reach the cafeteria for breakfast.
Laxman and/or Ram, the flat-let caretakers and cooks, usually have breakfast prepared by the time I arrive. If not, I just sit and wait for a few minutes until it is. I’m usually accompanied at breakfast by a fellow intern who happens to be from Iowa State University and majoring in what I’ll be majoring in (Global Resource Systems)! Two other interns from a university here in India are also staying on campus until the end of July. They typically don’t make an appearance until 8AM. Breakfast is, by far, my favorite meal. Maggi (popular brand of ramen noodles), eggs (boiled or over-hard), toast, papaya, grilled cheese, paneer “hot pockets”, and/or cucumber & tomato sandwiches can often be found at the table during breakfast time. I always have my bottled water to drink, but on most days, chai (tea) is given to us. It’s rather sweet. On a rare occasion, strawberry milk or iced coffee is prepared. When finished, I take my dishes to a pre-wash area and rinse ’em off to help out the wonderful people that work here.
I often head back up to my flat-let for the next twenty-five minutes to either catch up on the happenings of good ole social media or read (I don’t often read during this time, but it makes me feel better about the way I use my extra 25 minutes if I mention it – don’t judge me).
Office hours start at this time. The distance from Sehgal Foundation’s office space is just shy of 150 steps from the entrance to the flat-let building. I must say, it’s a pretty gnarly walk to work. On most days, I sit in one of the conference rooms with my laptop, a notebook, pen, folder full of data and important info, and often a book. As of late, I’ve spent quite a bit of time analyzing the data I’ve collected from field visits and interviews with farmers. This task often coincides with time spent researching articles pertaining to my topic of micro irrigation and its status here in India (more specifically, the rural district of Mewat). Recently, I’ve been organizing my data by creating graphs and composing a written analysis of my findings. All of this is leading up to my final report and presentation that I’ll give on my final work day at SMSF.
Of course, I’m not always cooped up doing office work. On the days that I complete interviews or focus group discussions with farmers, we usually leave the office around 9AM and arrive to a village by 11AM. In addition to the driver, I’m accompanied by my translator and usually a field staff employee of SMSF. Congregating a group of farmers willing to sit long enough to be interviewed can be a challenge, but the efforts have yielded some good data, thus far. During an ordinary field visit, I’m frequently treated as a special guest. For some, I’m the first American they’ve ever seen. The staring doesn’t phase me as much anymore. I embrace my role as an “alien”. 😁 On occasion, the farmers will bring out coca-cola or mountain dew. I do my best to oblige despite my distaste for pop. We’ll frequently leave between two and three in the afternoon in order to return to SMSF before the work day is over at 5PM.
If it’s an in-office day, I begin to fantasize about lunch around this time. Grabbing a latte from the office’s incredible all-in-one coffee machine ties me over. I don’t like to drink it often, but having it once every other day serves as a good pick-me-up throughout the week.
Lunch is served in the cafeteria until 1:30PM. It consists of the typical Indian cuisine (rice, dal, roti, cucumber & onion, vegetable).
The work day is almost over at this point. I’m dragging myself to the end. Don’t get me wrong, my research can be captivating. Nevertheless, eight hours in an office chair can be a bit unremarkable.
At this time, I walk the 150 steps (yes, I counted) back to my flat-let and frequently take a nap or hop on my phone like any other youngster would. As my time here quickly progresses however, I’m reserving more of my time for reading the few books I’d like to finish before I leave.
Now, I’ve either woken up dreary-eyed from a two-hour nap or I’ve realized that it’s dinner time after getting lost in the depths of YouTube cooking tutorials.
I have reached the cafeteria, yet again. Generally, we have a meal similar to lunch. Other times, a delicious fried rice recipe or terrifically spicy noodles are served. By any means, I feel very lucky to have such lovely meals during my time here in India.
Let the countdown to bedtime begin. I try to hit the hay by 10PM, but as evidenced by the time I’m posting this, I don’t always do well reaching that goal.
By the time I feel tired enough to doze off, a cold shower has taken place, I’ve hopefully read part of a book, I’ve started a draft of a blog post, and I have thoroughly journaled about my day. I do make a sincere effort to write in my personal journal as well as a separate gratitude journal where I list ten things that I’m grateful for that happened that day. Just one day has gone by where I didn’t do those two things (I think a plethora of debilitating flu-like symptoms was good enough reason to skip a day). Anyhow, I would highly suggest that anyone and everyone write in a gratitude journal/regular journal once a day. There are a bunch of intelligent articles as to why it’s good for you, if you don’t trust me.
With that, I think I’ve rambled on enough. Thanks for reading. And for those interested in seeing photos, I promise more will be up soon. Maybe. Peace and blessings.