Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lending a hand

Since my Hindi is weak (nonexistent) one of the ways I've been connecting with people is to jump in and help them with their various manual labors. This is a good technique. You can imagine what a joyous scene this creates, with everyone gathering around, kids laughing, etc. as the American jumps in to make a fool of himself.

The first day I helped some guys who were digging a ditch by hand in the old quarter. I grabbed the sledgehammer and started whacking away (first you have to loosen up the ground with the sledgehammer before using the pick). It was a good workout. Then I tried to help some men who were doing a small-scale assembly project of school folders -- they were gluing strips on the ends. One guy would dip the strap in glue, one guy would attach it, and the third guy would fold it over. I think I messed up their rhythm -- they gave me a puppy that was nearby and cut me out of the second round. But I think they appreciated the effort. Lets see if this video comes through.

It made me think that a lot of the time we see "Made in India" on something, the work is not being done in huge factories, but tiny little shops and side alleys like this one. Today some guys were struggling loading up their huge cart in the spice market, so I jumped in to help with the lifting. One of the kids sat on the very top when we were done and I got this picture:

Don't know how much I am helping, but I believe I am offering these hard-working Indian people a valuable service: comic relief.

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